Month: September 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: Week 4 of September

Welcome back gamers to the end of another week, not to mention a close to the month and the quarter.  So many different time periods closing this weekend, headlines were made to coincide, so let’s look at a few that made their way out there.

Medal of Honor fans  who are playing on their Xbox 360s, good news was announced. EA released information that they intend to release a multiplayer beta of the up coming Medal of Honor: Warfighter which will begin in October. Warfighter is the sequel the 2010 reboot of the franchise, where players will take control of various Teir 1 operators.  The upcoming beta will feature the same type of game play, and will feature a new feature called ‘HotSpot’; which players will either attack or defend randomly-selected locations with in the city of Sarajevo, Bosnia.  Stay tuned to Zero1Gaming for developments on this upcoming title.

Grand Theft Auto III saw another re-release this past week on Playstation Network in North America.  The game was released as a PS2 classic, which means there is no HD remake of the title, or trophy support.  GTA 3 was originally scheduled for release back in July, but had to be postponed when developer Rockstar had “complications” regarding licences relating to some of the audio tracks played on the radio stations in the game.  Since the game’s original launch in 2001, the game has made its way from the Playstation 2, to several other platforms.  Arguably the most popular title released for its era, Grand Theft Auto 3 made  its way to Xbox, iOS, Android, OSX, and  Windows; the platform tour is stopping at the Playstation 3.  Grand Theft Auto 3 made its PS3 launch on September 25 in North America, and other regions soon to follow.

'New Super Mario Bros 2' screenshotThis week, Nintendo detailed the first batch of DLCs for the upcoming New Super Mario Bros 2.  The first three releases are set for a Japanese release on October 2.  The DLC will provide new courses for the game’s Coin Rush mode, according to CVG. The ‘Ippatsu Shoubu de Dokidoki Pack’, ‘Gold Mario Go! Go! Go! Pack’ and ‘Kiroku ni Challenge! A Pack’ offer either a spike in difficulty, or task players with collecting a certain number of coins.  This recent installment  features new items such as the Gold Block power-up, the Gold Ring collectible and Gold Mario, who can throw fireballs that can change blocks and enemies into coins.  There is no word when Europe or North America can expect a release.

Back home at Zero1Gaming, we announced earlier this month the upcoming event, LAUNCH: Future Gaming & Digital Conference 2012.  The two day event aims to promote the UK gaming industry, and to connect to people who are trying to break into the industry.  Over 20 different speakers are registered for the conference, including Codemasters, Sega, Microsoft, EA, Activision, Vodafone, Playground Games, Jagex, and more. “The annual conference for nearly 300 people focuses on the developer community and encourages the games industry to start, develop and grow their business hearing from global brands which culminates in this 2-day event which has been built on a programme of successful LAUNCH meetups, seminars and events throughout the year.” said organiser of the conference, Matthew Hidderley of Birmingham Science Park.  To sweeten the pot, Zero1Gaming readers, (this means YOU) who intends to attend, and haven’t purchased tickets yet; Z1G partnered with the convention to offer 60% off the tickets.  Use the promo code “Zero1gaming” to take advantage of this offer.  Launch is scheduled for November 13 and 14.

 

A Serious Topic

I’m going to embark upon a very scary topic that is very dear to my heart, I ask only that you keep an open mind and an empathetic heart throughout. The topic is one that’s getting a lot of attention recently in the feminist circles I run in and is something I personally find disturbing and aggravating. Sexism. More specifically, how video games (and comics and movies) can contribute to our society’s sexist ideas when they could well be doing the opposite.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. “Elise, Feminists are crazy, bra-burning nutsos who hate men.” And you wouldn’t be exactly wrong in thinking this because that’s how the media has painted women like me. I love the men in my life dearly. So, before I embark on this further, let me clear up that a feminist is simply someone who wants men and women to be equal. Like LGBT allies, you do not have to be a part of this group to support those who suffer from oppression. The easiest way to become a supporter of women is to apply the situation to your own life and go ‘would I like this if this were me?’ Because the big secret of women is this; we’re human, just like the guys. We want the same things (at least the ones of us who are sane) as men do.

Since I was a child, I never considered myself a ‘girl’ because being a girl was BORING. I hated the color pink, I hated being shoved into a box and being told “you have to be this way”. This condition of independent thought was only exasperated by having two loving parents who told me, in no uncertain terms that I could be the world’s first female quarter back in a major league if I wanted, that it was ok to play video games and like Star Wars and want to be Qui-Gon Jinn when I grew up.  The reason I wanted to be a boy?  The women I was told to look up to and to emulate were not people I wanted to be.  I wanted to live with honor and be respected.  These are not things fiction often gives to women.

For me (just like you, I’m sure), as a child, video games were an escape from the mediocrity of modern living. I still remember the feel of the old brick black and white game boy in my hands. I rememberI remember THIS guy.playing Legend of Zelda until I couldn’t see anymore. I remember the Pokemon games. I remember getting a PS2 for Christmas. My excitement and love of these things was in no way diminished because of my genitalia or my gender. Imagine being told, since birth, by nearly every media source you run into that you should not love the things you love.

Now, this wouldn’t be SUCH a problem if the men within these fandoms weren’t so blatantly and obviously oblivious to this even being a problem. I am aware this is a blanket statement, but in this recent article from the New York Times it talks about professional gamers heckling another professional gamer right out of the game because she happens to have breasts and a vagina.

How can you help?

Stand up for women. It’s as simple as that. We are not outsiders, we are everywhere. We are mothers and sisters and friends and we deserve better. Do not let women suffer in silence for something they have no control over. Video games are meant to be fun, and they’re meant to be for everyone.

Some of the ways video games (and movies etc…) are sexist are pretty obvious; women with large breasts and tiny waists and perfect faces. This, I am willing to overlook because I happen to think Ezio in Revelations is a damn fine piece of man-candy. But the armor differences are pretty drastic in most cases. The Assassin’s Creed franchise is one that I know of that does not indulge in this practice and instead makes women who have some sort of personality instead of breasts out past their chins. Now, I like looking at the female figure as much as the next guy…er…gal, but when the armor is impractical, it ruins my immersion. This isn’t something that WAS happening, it’s something that IS happening. The God of War people were recently asked why they have no choice to play a woman and their answer was that they couldn’t make a woman look good in armor. The article (which was in Game Informer), went so far as to say that this was insulting to their art-team as well as to the public.

Now, you may still be thinking, “I’m still not seeing how this effects me, as a man”. Objectifying women contributes to rape culture, which is the idea that the victim of rape should be the one who prevents it, instead of men simply NOT RAPING, which seems a simpler solution. Objectifying a woman teaches men and women in our society that this sort of behavior is really ok because ‘she should have stopped him’, or ‘he wouldn’t do something like that’. And if you didn’t know, most rapists know their victims. The upshot of which is that as a woman, I have to view EVERY SINGLE MAN I MEET as a potential rapist. And it’s not just me. Women everywhere within our ‘modern’ society live with the knowledge that they have to be on guard against NEARLY EVERY MALE IN THEIR LIVES 24/7. Now, you might not BE a rapist (I hope that you aren’t), but that doesn’t matter.  And that’s how sexism hurts you.  You are getting judged for other men making horrible decisions and choosing to hurt someone.

Video games are not a place women should have to worry about being treated differently. I can assure you we play just as much for our games and equipment.  Why I love the games I do is irrelevant, I am allowed to exist within the franchise and not just because I’ve been playing video games for as long as I could hold an NES controller.

The other (off topic) concern this brings up is this idea of the fandom vet vs the new player. You have NO RIGHT to tell someone why they like or do not like something, even if it’s for different reasons than you. You enjoy a fandom for certain reasons, and perhaps you’ve known about it for your entire natural life, that does not make you special. It does not set you apart, except that your experience is unique and you were allowed to have that. Do not go out of your way to take this away from others.

Video games are the way our generation expresses itself. They are our lives we live outside ourselves. They are so extremely important. They are the new frontier. Why are women being excluded from this? I feel like fantasy is the perfect place to empower people who don’t usually get a chance to be empowered. Assassin’s Creed recently made the decision to make a black female assassin as a main character in one of their hand-held games. I am pleased with this, but I would have been even more pleased with a female assassin within main gaming platforms. However, I have to give Ubisoft credit for trying to make people instead of sterotypes and this goes for men too.

So please, next time, if you see a woman being bullied because she is a woman, step in. Stand up. It’s bullying and we are better than that. We are the dreamers of dreams. We are the defenders of realms. Stand up for your fellow gamers, do not let your gaming comrades suffer in silence and be a real life hero.

I believe in you.

-E

The Future of British Gaming at Launch Conference 2012

Over the past few years the gaming industry has opened up. For much of the ‘noughties’ gaming design, creation and publishing was firmly in the hands of the major corporations but now more and more independent developers are appearing and creating wonderful games.

During the 80’s and 90’s the UK was a central hub for gaming creations with companies like Codemasters, Edios Interactive and Blitz Game Studios playing large roles, unfortunately during the past decade a lot of technology and talent was lost to places like the US and Canada but, now there is a big push to again make the UK a main player within the gaming industry.

The Launch Conference is taking place in Birmingham between 13th & 14th November and aims to give people an insight, not only on how to get involved in the games industry but on how to start from the ground up.

The Conference is a two day annual event and will feature speakers and presentations from some of gaming’s biggest players who are all there will the aim to help give advice on how to get a career, start a business or promote a product.

In March 2012 the UK Chancellor announced tax reliefs for the gaming industry which will allow the UK to continue the recent boom it has had with independent development and also make the UK a more attractive place to work for the larger gaming companies.

Sega, EA and Codemasters, to name a few, will all be there talking about the challenges the UK gaming industry faces, the prospects for the industry now tax reliefs have been announced and the best way to overcome the difficulties and make use of the opportunities out there.

“The annual conference for nearly 300 people focuses on the developer community and encourages the games industry to start, develop and grow their business hearing from global brands which culminates in this 2-day event which has been built on a programme of successful LAUNCH meetups, seminars and events throughout the year.” said organiser of the conference, Matthew Hidderley of Birmingham Science Park.

Details on the Launch Conference and how to attend can be found here: http://launchconference.co.uk/

Dark Souls: A Newb’s Journey

Thinking that if I was going to write for a gaming website I had better pick up a ‘real’ gamer game, I did go out and purchase Dark Souls.  Granted, it sat on my shelf for two days, the title staring at me like two great, glowing eyes in the darkness.  The inexperienced gamer in me quavered at the prospect of it, though my friend, and primary gaming council, Benjamin was adamant that I play.  I was barraged by friends warning me about the high death rate but armed with a lengthy email of advice from my own gaming Ben(jamin) Kenobi, and a can-do attitude I waded, undeterred into the blackness to face my fears.

I picked a Pyromancer (at the advice of Benjamin, of course), and played my way through the first level.  I was astounded and impressed with the graphics, though having not played Demon’s Souls (and let’s face it, being rather incompetent) I was at a loss for how to even basically grasp the leveling system.  Surprisingly, I didn’t find the dying over and over and over aspect to be a deterrent.  Of course, I’m in my mid-twenties and even children’s games when I was a kid were difficult.  I am finding myself quite enjoying the challenge of not being able to stroll through the levels.

That being said, SOME tutorial or explanation of any of the game play systems would be helpful, even if it was optional for newbs like me.  I do understand that the learning curve for these games is steep and that they’re counting on the gamers not being…well…Katamari enthusiasts like I am, but I still think that the 360 users would have appreciated some explanation.

Having gone target-lock happy after Benjamin explained to me how to do THAT, I accidently killed a merchant and now have to start the game over from the beginning.  I’m really ok with this as I feel more prepared to start now and I DO enjoy that once you do things like this, you can’t undo them, it’s very realistic, but also exceedingly annoying to a new player.I did enjoy the free-flowing battle system.  It feels much more natural than, say, Assassin’s Creed.  Though I am only starting on my Dark Soul’s journey, I am looking forward to continuing my quest and dying many more times in pursuit of gaming greatness.

Weekly Wrap Up: Week 2 of September

Welcome back gamers, we made it to the end of another week, and what week.  Big news came after the announcement of the first next generation console, its release date and pricing; not to mention other headlines that made RSS feeds scroll like a chat room.  Let’s look at what’s happened this past week.

First and foremost, the largest piece of news is announcement that the Nintendo Wii U will release in November.  As part of the release, there will be two different bundles available.  The first bundle is the Wii U basic bundle, which will include, a white Wii U console with 8GB of memory, a Wii U gamepad, AC adapter and a HDMI cable.  The second bundle is the Wii U premium bundle which will feature a black Wii U will include all the above items, in addition, the premium bundle includes a 32GB of memory, a copy of Nintendo Land, Wii U sensor bar, a gamepad charging cradle, stands for the gamepad and console and Nintendo Network Premium membership.  A second premium bundle will be available which will include ZombiU instead of Nintendo Land for slight additional cost.  The Wii U will launch with eight titles with several more titles in the following months.  Tim goes into detail regarding those titles in his articles from earlier this week.  The Wii U basic will launch for £250 ($299.99) and the Wii U premium  for £300 ($349.99), both bundles launch on November 18 in North America and November 30 in Europe.

Game Retail, the entity behind GAME and Gamestation retail stores, announced they would be merging both brand under one name to help create stability and in hope of boosting traffic to existing locations.  These locations endured financial struggles this past year, which led to credit issue with EA.  This issue resulted in GAME and Gamestation locations not being able to stock Mass Effect 3, SSX and FIFA Street.  The downward spiral led to store closures and the company entering administration, this is similar to chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States, until it left administration a short time later.  There were several causes which were blamed for this downward movement of the company; but now the current CEO, Martyn Gibbs, is looking forward, ”The new GAME will combine the best of both brands”.  Gibbs also laid out plans for a intriguing scheme named GAME Hunter.  We will begin to see these changes take place in 2013.

The creator behind Dead Rising, Keiji Inafune, has revealed a new zombie game is in the works.  In an interview with Edge, Inafune teased that the new game, code named ‘Yaiba’ – which translates to ‘Blade’ will feature ninjas, robots and zombies.  “A year and a half has passed after becoming independent, and I have been fortunate enough to announce several projects along the way,” revealed Inafune.“I have announced three consumer titles and three social game titles. I have given speeches in various seminars, panels, universities and schools. I have published three books. I am still aggressively challenging myself in various arenas.  There’s no information of which consoles this title will appear, nor a release date available at the time of this publication.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced plans to open a gaming studio in London, dedicated to tablet games.  The studio, which will open in November, is currently hiring for the following positions creative director, incubation director, studio release manager and product manager.  The studio will be led by former Rare production director Lee Schuneman, “Adding a fourth UK-based studio to the incredible roster of talent already in place not only increases our in-region studio presence, but will allow Microsoft Studios to explore the many creative and business opportunities that developing new games and entertainment experiences on Windows 8 tablet devices and platforms will afford,” he stated.  This studio will focus on the new Windows 8 Tablet OS, which will have two different surface models available at the time of the Windows 8 launch; one running Windows 8 Pro and fitted with an Intel x86 processor, while the other will run Windows RT and come with an ARM-based chipset.  Windows 8 launches on October 26.

That’s it for this week, check back to Zero1Gaming for the latest, gaming news, reviews, and more!