Archive for the ‘My Industry’ Category

Spin off Site

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006

I’ve taken the url www.grassrootgames.com and am starting to focus it together as my gaming dedicated site.

What does that mean?

Well, for one, I won’t be inundating this site with as much gaming related stuff.

Two, I’m making my mark on the game industry in what I hope is a more substantial way than by pushing pixels on a cellphone.

Three, I’ve embraced the definition of “Grups“.

Censorship

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

A brief bit of news first off: Forum on KQED will be having an hour long discussion on internet games and the social, political and economic influences that drive them. That’ll be the 10 o clock hour. If you can’t get 88.5 KQED on your radio, you can still listen live via http://www.kqed.org.

Now the meat.

Last week, I attended a discussion on censorship in animation. Mainly it was Marv Wolfman and Ken Pontac discussing their experiences regarding their respective titles. Mercifully, Happy Tree Friends had no involvement from BSP, which is the Bureau of Standards and Practices, which allowed them to make HTF as twisted and grotesque and deliciously dark as it is. However, Ken did have many other interactions with BSP, which he was more than happy to share with us.

The requests from BSP usually border on the inane, fearing to avoid offending anyone, and in the process, pleasing no one. The group needs to think about the lowest common denominator in terms of sense of humor and appeal to that. Anything even mildly raunchy such as a burp is under scrutiny.

The thing is, forms of the BSP exist in every form of media. In film, it’s the MPAA. In comics, it’s the CCA, in video games, it’s the ESRB.

And trust me when I say that the requests from these guys really run the gamut.

Now the problem is three-fold. One, why do these guys form? And two, who gives them power? And three, what can be done to limit the stupidity?

Oddly enough, the answer to all three problems has something to do with the government.

These bodies form because they are self-governed forms of regulation. They have power because the people involved in the medium understand that if they don’t self-govern, then the government gets involved, which is infinitely worse. The third question is a bit leading. It’s actually not stupidity, it’s the level of granularity needed in order to subdivide content into accurate ratings. Given accurate ratings, the populace can then make informed decisions, thus negating the need for government intervention, which quite frankly, has better things to worry about *cough*war*cough*, instead of video games.

Let’s talk about accuracy for a second. Now, there’s been a scandal over the “Hot Coffee” mod and a scandal over Oblivion’s female skins. Let’s get something straight here. People had to MODIFY the original game in order to access these assets. These assets were never intended for public viewing. One was a scrapped sequence in the interest of good taste and it was cheaper and easier to avoid the sequence as opposed to ripping it out completely. The second was because the clothing system is extremely complicated and it’s easier to handle it with a minimum of fuss.

First off, my suggestion is that MODS should not affect the rating of the game once it has been rated. Special features on DVDs aren’t necessarily rated, why should aftermarket modifications be subject to rating? Second, given the creativity of the Oblivion and the depth that it takes, I applaud the innovation they used in doing the clothing system. They should not be penalized because someone outside of the company modified the game.

The problem about this is that Take 2, the publishers of Grand Theft Auto, handled the situation incorrectly. They tried to worm their way out of it, instead of standing up and saying, yes, we put that in there initially, and yes, we changed our minds because we thought the sequence was in poor taste. However, we cannot control the actions of our audience.

A poor analogy here would be gun manufacturers getting sued for the deaths of people just because one user went nuts. And that’s a device doing what it’s DESIGNED to do. Incidentally, gun manufacturers have been sued for that very reason, and they won.

So now here’s the new problem. Because people feel that the ESRB isn’t doing a good job, the government feels like it needs to get its big ham-fisted mitts into the mess. What will that lead to? Basically over-regulation over a first amendment right. Much of the government’s legislation seem to try to address the needs of the core individuals by stifling the actions of the outliers. And by doing so, they stifle the actions of the core individuals, hindering them in creativity, output and basic comforts.

The reality is that the government has limited powers and attempting to stifle these forms of media cannot bode well. If the government really is interested in freedom, then the best they can do is educate people so that they can make informed decisions.

My Industry

Thursday, August 3rd, 2006

I’ve been pondering my industry for the past couple of weeks, trying to get my thoughts together in order to make a coherent post regarding it.

My industry, as I refer to it, is the video game industry.

What fascinates me about the industry is that it overlaps with so many other aspects of our society. It’s entertainment media, but it goes beyond passive entertainment into the realm of interactivity. As far as interactivity goes, some consider it a profession, categorizing it under a sport, but is still scoffed at, seeing as how sports imply some sort of physical exertion. They’ve been under fire politically, as many forms of media have endured. They have yet to transcend into the realm of art…or have they?

There’s the potential to teach, and the potential to harm. Like any form of technology, it doesn’t do anything new, it just lets us do things faster.

It follows the 4 rules of entertainment media that I’ve coined:

1. It’ll be heralded (incorrectly) as the savior of society.
2. It’ll be persecuted (incorrectly) as the downfall of society.
3. It’ll replace another form of media as the dominant form.
4. It’ll be replaced by another form in time.

Basically those four rules mean that no matter how cool or how evil or how impressive media is, it’s not the end all be all of everything. Each medium, and each corresponding technology for that matter, has its supporters, has its detractors. Each medium doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but along a continuum, where it fits in logically with other media.

The key thing to note is that since each medium is in the continuum and they all experience the same type of support and detraction, that we can learn and predict the trials and tribulations we’ll face. And in doing so, be better prepared to handle them.

I’m starting a weekly piece where I take a look at different mediums and their relationship with video games.

Top 10 Most Violent Children’s Games

Friday, July 21st, 2006

the Phat Phree -The World

From Phat Phree. I’d like to point out that no video games made the list. 😀

Thank God for John Stewart

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Recently, US politicians have been up in arms about the violence in video games because it’s the “in” thing to do. Basically, an undefendable scapegoat. Thank God there’s John Stewart.

This clip is the intro of the show, and then cuts into the ridiculing of older people out of touch with reality and begging for a few votes.

Stop Blaming the Content : A Rant

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

An excellent rant by Drost over at 2old2play.

Basically, it echoes my own personal sentiment, that people need to step up in terms of parenting and stop blaming video games and their content for their messed up kids.

It’s a perception that adults have that games are just for kids. Once they stop thinking that, they’ll be able to take things like Mature ratings on games seriously.

Anyhow, he puts it much more eloquently than I do, so go over there and read it.

Ubisoft Wins Court Non-Compete Order Against Tremblay

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

Here’s the full article on it, from Gamasutra.

Now, I understand that each company doesn’t want to have their IP carried over to other companies, and that they have these safeguards in place to prevent people from doing such things. I also understand that considering this guy’s position, he should have known better. I suppose all these years inflicting hellfire on people, he thought that he had become immune to it.

Bad move, buddy.

But here’s what concerns me. Okay, this law protects the large companies from losing IP, but people still need to eat and they still need to pay their bills. If they choose to leave a company because another competitor pays better, or treats them better, or is geographically better, how is that a crime?

Yeah, yeah, I realize that there are laws in place to prevent poaching of employees. It can be used as an underhanded tactic to cripple a company. And I do mean underhanded, since the loss of manpower can effectively put the company into a scramble as they try to fill positions. I mean, business is war, but going from grunt to management isn’t like a field promotion after your CO’s had their head blown off.

Master of Timing

Monday, May 8th, 2006

Wow, 3 times in a day. That must be a new record. Okay, I know this will come up as the following day, but only because WordPress is supremely anal about keeping time. Which is okay with me.

Anyhow, I was going over my calendar and realized that the day of the Relay 4 Life walk is the same as the last day of my class. Whoops. My incredible powers of timing really put these two together in fine fashion. Well, we’ll see how it plays out. I may end up running home to upload my material while the rest of the team hoofs it.

2 weeks left.

Plus, E3 starts tomorrow. Most people like it because lots of stuff gets revealed, and I’ll admit that I get sucked into the glam and glory. But it’s a schmoozy event, and while I have nothing against those, I really just like the academic atmosphere of GDC.

Plus, having had to deal with insane managers who place a lot of emphasis on E3 (some deserved, and some not so deserved) and being forced to work killer hours in the minutes up to the event, I don’t really have that much love for the event. I know E3 builds are glammed up, and that some of them are just rushed betas that won’t contain actual material once the game comes out. In some ways, E3 hinders the dev process because the time spent making a pretty build for E3 could be spent on a working build for RC1. Granted, that’s a little jaded, but I’ve read plenty of post-mortems where the team wished that they didn’t need to create an E3 build.

I’m glad that there are no booth babes at E3 this year. Go on, send your hate mail, give me your snide comments, question my sexuality, all that bullshit. Look at it this way. The industry has been around for a fraction of the time as other forms of entertainment media, such as film, tv, literature. But we’ve had to endure many of the issues that they faced in their time, namely politics, violence, and censorship. It’s about time we as an industry grew up a little bit and showed some maturity. To deal with the critics and to move the industry forward.

What’s E3 about? It’s not about half-naked girls strung over cars. It’s about the games. Let me repeat that for the people in the back row. IT’S ABOUT THE GAMES. Some companies get it. Look at Nintendo. I don’t remember seeing too many half-naked Japanese girls at their booths. For crying out loud, their mascot is an overweight Italian plumber! But their games, that’s the important thing. Their games turn heads, make imitators salivate, and make the masses beg. And where are they now? Kicking ass and taking names.

Strong women in gaming? Everyone knows Lara Croft and her two sidekicks, but how about Alyx from Half-Life 2? The woman kicks a lot of ass, and guess what, she’s fully clothed! What about Jade, from Beyond Good and Evil? Underrated game, strong heroine, good action, and guess what, she’s fully clothed too. You see where I’m going with this.

Video gamers are described as 18-34 mental masturbators. Let’s move beyond that perception.