Gaming

DLC: Keeping the Industry Afloat

The Mortal Kombat franchise is no stranger to controversy. It caused a furore for its ‘realistic’ depiction of violence when it first appeared in the arcades back in 1992 leading to the creation of the ESRB a couple of years later. Mortal Kombat X, the tenth installment in the series, has been released to critical acclaim and once again its release has caused a stir in the gaming community. However this time the blood and gore have nothing to do with it. Mind you, the game has both by the bucketfuls. In fact I would say that its the goriest game in the series and one of the most deliberately violent videogame I have ever played. However it is 2015, and most people are unruffled by virtual blood. After all we regularly get to watch horrific executions of innocent people by ISIS on the news. The cause for the commotion this time? NetherRealm/Warner Brother’s decision to monetize the game post launch, hide characters behind a pay wall and offer DLC which is already on the disc.

They're bleeding us dry
They’re bleeding us dry

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Gaming

Videogames: Just Grow Up!

For some time now many industry insiders have been wanting gaming to grow up in order to cater to a more mature audience. This goes beyond having R rated games due to the inclusion of nudity, violence, alcohol consumption and what not. It means having more titles which directly or indirectly tackle issues such as politics, philosophy, human emotion and difficult life experiences. To do this developers and publishers need to move away from catering exclusively to the (admittedly large) crowd who is only interested in mindless fun. Of course this is easier said than done. As much as I wish it was otherwise ‘provoking thought’ will likely never be as popular as ‘providing fun’ and successfully combining the two is a tall order.

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Mushrooms. Not to everyone’s taste.

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Gaming

League of Legends: No Laughing Matter

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Unlearning a skill is much harder than learning it. League of Legends has taught me that. I used to play the game some years back. I cannot claim that I was ever ‘good’ at it but I can safely say I was adequate. Despite there already being a vast selection of characters back in 2011 I played virtually all my games using Nunu, a snowball throwing boy riding his yeti friend (or at least one assumes they are friends). Moreover I played The Twisted Treeline almost exclusively. This is a 3v3 match played on a smaller two lane map. My hardcore friends back then used to point out that this was, in fact, a ‘fun’ diversion to what should have been the meat of the game – The Summoner’s Rift – a 5v5 game taking place on a much larger and more complex map. They would argue that competitive tournament play was 5v5 so any other mode was not ‘real’ LoL. I often shrugged off their hardcore sensibilities and soldiered on with a couple of friends who used to play as casually as I did. Continue reading

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Blizzard’s Titan Fall

Once again... this is the wrong Titan
Once again… this is the wrong Titan

Blizzard has cancelled project Titan.

Yes, go ahead, check your calendar. Its nowhere near April first.

Mike Morhaime, the big man at Blizzard, told Polygon that Titan is no more. Mike cited genre fatigue, lack of faith in the project and a change in mentality in favor of smaller games  as the main reasons why 7 years of development were scrapped.

This news trashes my own predictions on the details surrounding Titan. Yet, in my defence, those predictions were made in a different era. MMOs were thriving. Wildstar and ESO were hotly anticipated titles still in the works. They were meant to breathe new life into the genre (they didn’t). WoW was seeing declining numbers but many assumed it was just a phase (it wasn’t). Many MMOs were already switching to free to play – but I was assuming that it was because the model appealed with the user base rather than a decline in interest. Continue reading

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Death to the Male Power Fantasy

Again I find myself writing about this hot-button issue. I apologize to the people (all three of you) who have been long time followers of this blog for this sudden shift in focus. However I find myself commenting a lot on this topic in fora and comment sections. Indeed this is a reply I wrote on one such section but I felt there is some worth in sharing here… at least to be able to link to it from elsewhere.  

Every body wants to be Superman. Even the girls, presumably.
Every body wants to be Superman. Even the girls, presumably.

Undeniably, many triple A games are male power fantasies. They are designed to appeal to a youngish male demographic. They make the player feel heroic, special and powerful and this is done very deliberately. Each gender is catered for in different ways by different media because each gender, as a rule, is attracted to different things. Men are usually attracted to male power fantasies therefore they tend to love action movies. Women usually seek something that stimulates them emotionally so they veer towards romantic comedies or drama. So, if triple A videogames are mostly consumed by males what is wrong with focusing on what men find appealing? Moreover, if there is this huge untapped female audience for triple A games, wouldn’t the capitalistic nature of the industry dictate that publishers would strive to make games which also appeal to women? Isn’t it telling that they didn’t?
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A Response to Anita Sarkeesian

Its been a while. I have crawled out of my inactivity because I felt compelled to share my thoughts regarding Anita Sarkeesian’s latest Tropes vs Women video called ‘Women as Background Decoration (part 2)’. Full disclosure. I am not a fan of Anita. I am very much in favor of gender equality but hate modern day feminism. Also I have not watched all of the videos in the series because, frankly, they get my blood boiling in all the wrong ways. However, after watching this video I had to share my thoughts somewhere, and since comments are disabled on the video, I thought of using this here blog. I will not regurgitate what the video contains. In fact I am assuming that, if you decide to keep reading, it means you watched the video. For the sake of brevity and focus I will stick to two points. 

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Too Soft for Dark Souls 2

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Cue a famous Cutting Crew song

Dark Souls 2 is upon us. Which means we will all be discussing death and dying for some time until we come to the same brilliant conclusion that being alive is a much preferable state to be in. The Souls series is notorious for its unforgiving nature. Make a mistake and you pay with your life. Kind of. It would be more accurate to say that you actually pay with your time. Players have an infinite amount of lives available to them in-game but, if you are like me and have other commitments in your finite life, you have a limited playing time. And with so many games to play the titles you dedicate time to have to be meticulously selected. Continue reading