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August 4, 2008

Thai Teen Claims GTA Made Him Do It

In yet another ridiculous story, a 19 year old Thai man apparently attacked and killed a cab driver and then told police he did because he wanted to reenact a scene from GTA IV. The story is on GamePolitics and honestly the whole thing sounds fishy to me. Fishy in a number of ways. First of all, if you can't tell the difference between a game and reality it seems unlikely that you would even make it to 19. Second of all, it is well known that the Thai government is censorship heavy. They've been talking about banning "unacceptable" video games for years. I know it sounds a bit X-Files, but the conspiracy theory makes a lot of sense to me. It seems quite possible that a teen attacked a cabbie, got arrested, and the political machine forced him to make a statement that he did it because of GTA. And voila, now there is "just cause" to ban video games in Thailand.

There's a better account of it on Reuters that has more facts. The follow up story on Reuters talks about stores pulling the game from shelves.

Continue reading "Thai Teen Claims GTA Made Him Do It" »

April 7, 2008

first posting from BlackBerry

The first entry in this blog to be submitted by BlackBerry is this. I'm not sure I could keep typing to make this as long as a typical entry. I could never go to a meeting and take notes like this. I can't type nearly fast enough for this to be worth it, although for a short posting the convenience can't be beat. If I had a decent keyboard I could work like this.

April 1, 2008

Security Implications of Nintendo DS and Sony PSP

I had a really interesting talk about a month ago with some staff members from a maximum security facility for minors somewhere in the USA. I agreed to keep tany identifying information confidential and it is irrelevant anyway. They wanted to know what I thought about the security implications of residents (mostly teenagers) having Nintendo DS and Sony PSP in the facility. They had seen that I write a lot about network security for different magazines and sites and also seen this blog so they thought I would be a natural choice to speak about these issues. I thought it was an interesting exercise.

On the surface, what harm could there be from allowing some kids to play portable video games? It doesn't seem like such a bad thing.

This is what I came up with. There are probably more things that can be done that I might have gotten to if I had some more time to brainstorm.

1. The Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP can physically be used as weapons. You could hold one in your hand and hit someone with it. You could sharpen a stylus and shank someone with it. You could break a UMD and use the sharp edge to attack someone. If you allow the kids to have the device then you have to allow the chargers and maybe the headphones; the cords of either could be used to strangle someone.

2. The Nintendo DS has a plastic blank filling the compartment where a GBA cartridge gets plugged in. The inside of that blank can be used to conceal contraband. Likewise with the UMD bay of the PSP, and maybe even the Memory Stick Slot of the PSP.

Continue reading "Security Implications of Nintendo DS and Sony PSP" »

October 16, 2007

TNA Bound for Glory!

TNA Bound For Glory
Gwinett Center, Duluth GA
10/14/07

As part of Midway’s weekend of TNA they took about 50 journalists to witness first hand the excitement of a live TNA professional wrestling event. Although the action was clearly staged (many times I saw the participants laughing or counting with each other to make sure that the timing of the stunts was correct), it was thrilling. It was like a Broadway show, but one based on violence and acrobatics. And the crowd loved it. They ate up every minute of it, every 2 and a half count, every act of bravado, and every broken chair.


If you'd like to view the slideshow click here.

Continue reading "TNA Bound for Glory!" »

April 3, 2007

Grand Theft Auto IV To Turn Manhattan Into Wasteland

The trailer was released for Grand Theft Auto IV yesterday. Besides making the game look like a whole lot of fun, it has sparked quite a controversy. Quite a silly controversy might I add. An immature, mind numbing controversy. In a story as old as time itself, some old men are blaming something that they can't understand or control for issues (such as crime, drugs, and poverty) that they can control but fail to do so.

I should start off by saying that I am qualified to write about this. I have appeared on television dozens of times to discuss the effects of video games on violence (and vice-versa). I have written extensively on how video games affect our society's psyche. I steadfastly believe that there are issues in our society that are far greater than video games, but video games are an easy target when someone is looking for a scapegoat. There has never been a scientifically viable study that indicates that video games cause violence.

Games don't kill people, people kill people. If a child is raised properly, then he or she can learn the difference between right and wrong even in they play video games. It is a parent's duty to raise their child properly and instill a firm sense of ethics. Walling off your child from video games will not make up for a lack of parenting skills.

I'm also a New Yorker. I love my city. I would never do anything to harm it. We're fourth generation New Yorkers and I was raised to respect my city. But facts are facts. The city is filthy. Many areas are not safe. People get shot to death. People get mugged. Drugs are rampant. Children are raised in poverty.

In a statement, the mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “The mayor does not support any videogame where you earn points for injuring or killing police officers”.

Guess what, Mr. Mayor? Video games don't need your support. I know that you are rich and powerful and think that you're the king of the city (and maybe someday the world), but the video game industry is doing rather well despite lacking your endorsement.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly went on to comment, “It’s despicable to glamorise violence in games like these, regardless of how far-fetched the setting may be”.

And do you want to know what I think of you, Commissioner Kelly? I think that maybe you should stop your men from shooting unarmed minorities 41 times. Maybe you should focus your attention on why your men have to shoot and kill a man on the night of his wedding. Maybe you could ask your men to stop dragging shackled prisoners down flights of stairs. Maybe you should train your men to be courteous and responsive and to stop acting like thugs. (although, as an aside I did have a positive interaction with the NYPD a few months ago). Maybe, just maybe, you should focus on the real life issues faced by your department and not try to sidetrack everyone by blaming a game.

Continue reading "Grand Theft Auto IV To Turn Manhattan Into Wasteland" »

February 28, 2007

Check this Out

I found out from my web analytics solution, VisiStat, that my Are Gamers Antisocial or Do Games Make Them Antisocial has been linked to from all over the web. It's really interesting to read what other bloggers think of my idea that games are being designed to make us sit alone and play.

Here's a partial listing of others and what they have to say about the topic:

Gamedev.TW
Joystiq.com
Nerd NYC
AGFC
WOWinsider
Warcry
http://www.bildirgec.org

And this is my favorite, a technology ethics class linking to my post:
http://ethics.csc.ncsu.edu/social/technoharm

February 27, 2007

Site Improvements

I've been busy lately trying to add some functionality to this blog. I recently learned an awful lot about cgi/perl and now I can post to Game On! by email. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is. I get a lot of email with news and press releases. The old way involved cutting and pasting from the email into the blog and then rebuilding the blog. That could take a considerable amount of time. So I found a script called Meow , downloaded it, modified it to meet my needs, and that now handles picking up the email from an account, parsing the text, and entering it into the database.

Then I found a perl script that rebuilds the blog (publishes the database out onto HTML pages). It really didn't meet my needs at all. I had to recode a lot of it to get it to run in cgi. I am not a programmer. Never have been, never will. This was like a herculean task for me, sitting here with my perl and cgi books. The script that I downloaded was mt-rebuildall, but I don't recommend it. Apparently the right way to handle rebuilds on a frequent basis is to run PHP and dynamically publish. I don't want to do that because I believe that it is faster to serve up static (ie, pre-built) pages when the user requests them. Why should you have to wait an extra few seconds for the page to build?

What made the whole problem really interesting is that this blog is hosted at an ISP that doesn't allow cron jobs. So I wrote a bunch of perl scripts to run on my other server that call the cgi scripts on this server to import the email and rebuild the blog.

I've noticed that some of the postings under the News section are pretty screwed up. I think meow isn't parsing the text correctly, but I don't have time to keep programming so it'll have to stay this way.

Continue reading "Site Improvements" »

February 25, 2007

Mr. Doodley Doo

I was only able to create my scripts because of the inspiration provided
by Toto's licks.

Posted using Meow

February 24, 2007

Midnight Test

Let's test the e-mail posting and the rebuilding scripts.

Posted using Meow

Test Remote Post and Auto Rebuild

did it happen?

Posted using Meow

What's with the rebuilding of the index

does it happen automatically?

Testing Rebuild

Test test test

February 23, 2007

Cron Test

will this get posted automatically?


Posted using Meow

Test

Is the cron job running?

Posted using Meow

Remote Posting







If this message successfully posts then I will have figured out how to
post via e-mail.  I downloaded a cgi/perl script called meow from rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://www.ebackend.com/meow">http://www.ebackend.com/meow/

and
customized it to fit my environment.  I'm very excited because this
should simplify posting all the press releases that get sent to me.



Posted using Meow

February 9, 2007

New Toy

Ive got my hands on a Nokia N800 and Im having a great time with it. Now Ivé got the Internet in the palm of my hands. I can carry this thing around and log on wherever thereś an access point. The chat application is pretty cool but it doesnt´always work. I think it has more to do with Internet latency than anything else because at home i can stream video over the WLAN and it isnt´jerky.

Continue reading "New Toy" »

February 1, 2007

Yahoo Article About Wii Parties

I was reading this article about Wii parties. Apparently the Wii is a cultural phenomenon. I think it's true. I brought the Wii to Thanksgiving and Christmas and everyone had a great time. We had multiple generations playing. Everyone loves the motion sensitive controller. I love it. I'm excited about what developers will do with the control system as they learn to understand it better. It's such a creative thing, that little Wii.

January 12, 2007

Fun With Statistics

Isn't it amazing how Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all claim to have dominated the holiday season? It really is true that you can find/manipulate statistics to show anything you want. And it doesn't take a master's degree in epidemiology to see it. Read the two press releases I posted today and you'll see what I'm talking about.

I realize that this is not a real market survey, but in NYC it was pretty clear who the winner was. I didn't hear a single person even mention Xbox 360. I heard a lot of people say they stood on line to get a PS3 just so they could turn around and sell it on Ebay. Needless to say, there was daily buzz about the Wii. Everyone wants a Wii. Matt, can you get me a wii? Wow this thing is really cool - I want one.

Of course, my friends, family, and family friends in NYC aren't really a very good sample of the entire country.

I'm looking forward to hearing more stories about who won the holiday season.

November 10, 2006

The Wii is Here! The Wii is Here!

My Wii just arrived from Nintendo. I'm totally psyched to start playing it. It came with the remote and the nunchuk controller as well as Zelda and Excite Truck. I've played some games on it before so I know what the controls are like in general, but I can't wait to connect this thing and play with it...all...day.

June 8, 2006

Nintendo to Win Console Wars

GameDaily has an interesting article today about a press conference that Tokyo Nintendo President Satoru Iwata gave. He said that Nintendo intends for the Wii to be a successful business within the first year. They aren't going to lose tons of money just to build and distribute the console like Sony and Microsoft. And at the same time they're ramping up production of the DS Lite.

Continue reading "Nintendo to Win Console Wars" »

May 4, 2006

500 Entries and Counting!

I can't believe that I'm posting my 501st blog entry. I remember back when I hit 100 and I thought that was something special. It's been a wild ride so far, from site design to daily editing this hobby keeps me busy. This site is a labor of love. I don't make any money from my ads. I'm lucky enough if I can bring in enough to defray my hosting costs. But I get a kick out of posting stories and then using my website analytics package to see who reads them. The coolest thing is that I've got readers from all over the world, not just from the USA.

Next week it is off to E3 where I ambitiously aim to blog the show. Of course, I'll never be able to blog the whole show but I can certainly blog my meetings and demos. This should be fun.

Here's to another 500 entries!

March 31, 2006

Coverage for Sale! Placements for Sale!

Wagner James Au wrote a fascinating article for Kotaku's Preview Ho blog column about websites that sell placements. This is when a web site, like GameSpot or IGN/GameSpy, sells a prominent link to a story. So you go to GameSpot.com and IGN and see a list of featured reviews or featured previews and it turns out that the games listed there weren't selected because they are better, but rather they were selected because a media buyer bought that placement.

From the article:
This source sent me some invoices for a game studio client. (For good measure, I faxed copies to my Gawker editors.) Several were from Gamespot, and while most of the items referred to legitimate ads, a couple mentioned something called "Front Door rotation"-- or what Gamespot staffers refer to as a "gumball". Gumballs are those thumbnail screenshots you see on the front page of Gamespot, when you visit the site-- clicking on these takes you to an article about the game.

In the Gamespot invoice I looked at, a gumball for two weeks cost the media buyer's client over $7000.

"You can purchase messaging plus units that increase the likelihood of an article about your game showing up on their front page," the source said. In other words, if you want your game to get more editorial prominence, you pay extra.

Then the source showed me an invoice for the same game, this one from
IGN/Gamespy. What Gamespot calls a gumball, Gamespy calls, less charmingly, a "Gamespy Spotlight". But the content and the principle is basically the same: the Spotlights are those thumbnail screenshot links that you see on the site's front page. "What you're looking at on the front page is not what the editors decided is the best game," the media buyer informed me.

Of course, when contacted directly, both sites saw nothing wrong with what they had done.

Continue reading "Coverage for Sale! Placements for Sale!" »

March 28, 2006

Half Life 2 on Xbox's Poor Sales

There's an interview with Gabe Newell today in GameDaily. I've spoken with Mr. Newell in the past and he's a pretty interesting guy.

Anyway, there's a paragraph there that says "That product was the first big retail disappointment we've had in the history of the company," he said. "So that sort of caused us to scratch our heads a little bit. We've never missed our forecast on any significant product before, so the fact that that product under performed by somewhere between the factor of two to three was really surprising to us. We still haven't figured out what the hell that meant."

I figured out what the hell it meant. I figured it out when Half-Life 2 arrived in the mail and I put it in the Xbox. That game sucked. Something was lost in the transition from PC to Xbox that rendered it boring. I still remember sitting there with my friend Mike and the two of us were trying to jump over some pipe and crawl under some steam. What the heck was that? I didn't know Half-Life 2 was a platformer.

Continue reading "Half Life 2 on Xbox's Poor Sales" »

March 22, 2006

Are Gamers Anti-Social, or Do Games Make Gamers Anti-Social?

Many times I've heard people say that gamers are anti-social. We'd rather sit in front of a console than go out and meet people. We'd spend umpteen hours in an online community before we get together with friends. I even know a married couple who spend more time together in the online world of Everquest than they do in real life. The question is, are gamers anti-social to begin with, or do games make gamers anti-social?

I play a lot of games and it used to be that there were a lot of 2 player games. By 2 player I mean games where 2 people can sit in the same room and play the same game together. Split screen first person shooters, racing games, fighting games, and sports games used to be the best gaming experience. Some of my fondest memories of my 20's are of playing NBA Live or Madden NFL together with friends. Not to mention Gauntlet, or other RPGs like Baldur's Gate. It was so much fun to get together, hang out, and play games. That's far from anti-social.

There are fewer and fewer games like that today. The trend is to make everything single player on a single console and multi-player is online only. I've even heard of game developers who feel that this is a step forward, that multi-player split screen was primitive, and that online is the only way to play. RPGs are no longer multi-player on the same console. Some FPSs don't even have a split screen mode, or even worse they (Black) don't even have multi-player.

Continue reading "Are Gamers Anti-Social, or Do Games Make Gamers Anti-Social?" »

March 9, 2006

A Frustrating Lack of Save Points

Today I am the Gaming Curmudgeon. I have a major gripe against the console gaming community. There simply aren't enough save points or checkpoints in games. This means that every time I make a mistake I have to start the level over again. After a while this isn't fun anymore. It just becomes memorizing a series of steps that work and trying to figure out the end. It is a puzzle, but not a good one. It sucks the enthusiasm right out of me.

PC game designers understand this and they usually have a ton of save points or checkpoints. This allows you to play freely and save regularly so that when you die you don't lose too much of your game. This is the way it should be done.

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February 13, 2006

Go DS, Go DS, Go DS!

This is from GameDaily's James Brightman:

The Nintendo DS is the new king of consoles in Japan, stripping the scepter and the crown from the almighty PlayStation 2, according to a report in the latest issue of Famitsu (as translated by GameSpot).

With 4 million units sold, the DS was the top-selling console in Japan last year and DS software seemed to dominate the weekly charts on a regular basis. While the portable market here in the U.S. has been cited as one of the reasons why the industry set a new record at $10.5 billion, in Japan the Nintendo DS almost single-handedly spurred growth for the first time in years and revived a slumping video game market.

DS software in Japan easily outsold PS2 software during 2005. The dual-screen handheld had three games that sold one million copies or more; the PS2, meanwhile, only had one title that passed the million mark, Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts II. With four of the top five selling titles, DS games accounted for 41.4 percent of game sales in the country, while the PS2's share fell to 36.2 percent. By comparison, Sony's console claimed 55.4 percent of game sales in 2003 and 57.1 percent in 2004—what a difference a year can make!

And it doesn't appear that Japanese gamers' interest in the Nintendo DS is waning at all. A recent Famitsu poll indicated that many consumers are looking forward to the new DS Lite redesign, which goes on sale March 2nd in three colors: Crystal White, Ice Blue, and Enamel Navy. 63.4 percent of poll participants answered that they are pleased with the new look and they're glad to finally get a brightness control for the handheld. 8.8 percent said that they're already satisfied with the current design and aren't impressed by the new look; some also said they believe it's an excuse to raise prices. Another 27.8 percent remained neutral or said that they would need some hands-on time with the new unit before making a decision.

A closer look at the poll, however, reveals that while 63+ percent may be looking forward to the new DS Lite, only 29.3 percent thus far are actually committed to purchasing the handheld. 34.6 percent said they don't plan to buy it and 36.1 percent said that they haven't made up their minds yet.

Still, looking back at all the rampant skepticism when the DS was first announced, it's remarkable to see how popular the handheld has become despite facing tough competition from Sony's PSP.

Continue reading "Go DS, Go DS, Go DS!" »

January 9, 2006

Live Postings

I'm pleased to announce that I bought a Verizon Wireless PC Card for BroadbandAccess. Now I've got broadband speeds almost everywhere that I go so I can take my laptop to meetings and demos and post my notes online. So now things like previews can get posted while I'm in the demo. I don't know about you, loyal reader, but I think that's pretty cool.

Continue reading "Live Postings" »

December 19, 2005

Evil Souls

Today there is a transit strike in NYC. I am very bitter about this and as far as I'm concerned anyone who goes on strike in the middle of a recession because they want a 27% raise is a greedy pig. And this whole time we were focused on the terrorist threat. We never realized that the real threat wasn't Osama Bin Laden, it was our very own transit workers. These filthy greedy pigs think that they can bring our fine city to its knees.

Continue reading "Evil Souls" »

December 15, 2005

Milestone Reached

I've been running this blog for a while now. I'm not really sure when this started, but it was sometime over the summer. Today we hit 100 entries, and by we I mean me who wrote 98 of them and 2 other authors who each wrote 1. This is a lot of fun, and it means something to me to be able to share my gaming experiences with those of you who visit the blog. I'm starting to get some notice, too. It used to be that publishers wanted to meet with me so I could cover their game in PC Magazine and I would mention the blog. Now I'm getting meeting requests from publishers who want me to cover their games in the blog.

Continue reading "Milestone Reached" »

December 1, 2005

IEMA Reaction Statement re Clinton/Lieberman Game Bill

The impetus for this piece of legislation appears as fundamentally misguided as it is fatally-flawed. The IEMA retailers committed voluntarily to a self-regulatory enforcement system substantially similar to the motion picture business, which the very same legislators hold up as the "Gold Standard." While our success rates may not be as consistently high as movie theatre owners, it is important to note that they are leveraging a system which, through decades of reinforcement, has become a part of the collective unconscious.

We are making significant and tangible progress and have successfully implemented policies and procedures in each and every member company store across the country in just two year's time. We have also replaced
valuable in-store signage with ratings education information displayed at the point of merchandising and/or the point of sale. And while we acknowledge that the "human factor" will always be our greatest challenge (making sure that parents and store-level staff are as committed to the same end as retail corporations), we are convinced that we have done our part. The Government has not and should not involve itself in determining what movies to watch, what music to listen to, or what games to play.

Continue reading "IEMA Reaction Statement re Clinton/Lieberman Game Bill" »

November 22, 2005

Streaming Music from PSP to Xbox 360

Right now I'm streaming Sonic Youth off my PSP onto my Xbox 360 to play in the background while I'm playing NHL 2K6. Now that's cool. If only I could get the 360 talking to Windows Media Connect on my desktop I'd have access to my many gigs of mp3s.

Continue reading "Streaming Music from PSP to Xbox 360" »

November 20, 2005

Xbox 360 Arrives!

I'm so excited. It arrived on Thursday night and I've been playing PGR3 and Kameo almost non stop. The scenery in PGR3 is simply amazing. I love racing across the Brooklyn Bridge and looking out over the East River. And Kameo, I can't put it down. The worlds are unique and involved, the graphics are beautiful, and the concept is great. You play as Kameo who needs to free elemental spirits and then use their forms to free her family being held captive by her evil sister. The evil sister has made a pact with the Trolls and they're out to get you. As you take on these elemental spirites you get different attacks. So far the best is being able to play as a giant weed and beating up trolls to set other weeds free. You can also be a pile of rocks that shoots the rocks at enemies and then they roll back and become part of you again.

On the negative side, the damn thing has a power transformer that is bigger than a Yorkshire terrier. It's pretty close to the size of a can of tennis balls. Who wants that in their living room? Oh well, enough bitching.

Nina loves the 360.

nina-360-opt.jpg

Continue reading "Xbox 360 Arrives!" »

October 21, 2005

Every Game Site Needs to Have One of These

What would a game site be without a mascot?
ninaps2-opt.jpg

Continue reading "Every Game Site Needs to Have One of These" »

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