Tag Archives: ECTS

All eyes on Nintendo

We have 9 weeks left, 9 weeks until we are hopefully blown away by the 2018 E3 presentations. This year the stakes are very high. You see, the number one place in not up for grabs, it is there for Sony, there is no chance for anyone to catch up and the next 15 months will give Sony the boost of a lifetime, optionally the strongest boost in its existence. The games are just that impressive. The only worry is, will they all be on time and how long until the next one is released. That last question is actually more important than you’d imagine, and not for the reason you might think.

You see Microsoft fumbled, they dropped the ball and whilst too many are listening to their marketing ‘the Xbox One X is the most powerful gaming console ever made‘ these many are now seeing the negative sides, the flaws. Some are handed how components are held together by thermal paste (I cannot verify that validity), some state that bricking and hardware failures are too often heard (another thing I never heard myself). My issue remains that the entire design was flawed all the way back to the beginning of the Xbox One. Microsoft had the opportunity to fix their gigantic screw up with the release of the Xbox One X, but their ego got the better of them and it is about to cost them even more, more than they ever realised. It is not about the PlayStation, that ship has sailed and it is now almost half an ocean ahead of Microsoft. The setup for the upcoming releases of Sony PlayStation games is more than stellar; it is close to the best setting of amazing games since the release of the PS4 console itself. The only worry is will they all be on time? There are always the hazardous moments that gamers call ‘delays’.

This all matters as Microsoft is about to qualify for a very special award. One that would make Satya Narayana Nadella, Phil Spencer and Bill Gates proud (I guess). You see, Microsoft is about to qualify for the Wooden Spoon award, the award for being dead last. That is not a joke. We are closing in on the moment where the Nintendo Switch will surpass the Xbox One sales. In just over a year the Nintendo Switch got 50% of the total number of sales that the Xbox One had in its total lifetime. What I predicted last year is going to happen, it is still unlikely that it will happen in 2018, but in 2019 the goose of Microsoft will get cooked in the most entertaining way. Fun filled Nintendo does with glamour and joy what the Marketing department of Microsoft was unable deliver, an actual product that brought joy. And now the previous line ‘The only worry is, will they all be on time‘ becomes very much an issue. You see, more and more PlayStation players are moving into the line to get a Nintendo Switch on the side. And it actually works, because these two are in very different gaming lanes and whilst some always thought that having the Xbox One and the PS4 together was a good idea, the bungles of Microsoft is making these people reconsider and they will switch for a Nintendo Switch. I see it as a very good choice; Microsoft has been too stupid for far too long a time.

It is weird because even as Microsoft bungled their E3 in 2016, they actually hit the ball out of the ballpark in 2017. There was a glimmer of hope for Microsoft at that point. I was not convinced, even though I thought that the 2017 show was the best they had given in a very long time, the Xbox One flaws were too clear on the surface and they ignored it in the Xbox One X. So as we await what will happen in 9 weeks, we will realise that if Nintendo does another great show, the date of Nintendo overtaking Microsoft will move slowly and steadily towards the beginning of 2019 and perhaps even towards December 31st 2018, this year the thanksgiving and Christmas season will make all the difference, it will set the stage for the optional new number two console, the Nintendo Switch.

I have no doubt that Nintendo will take that spot, it is merely the fact that, at present, it will not happen before January 2019. That could still change if the Nintendo Show is stealing it this year at the E3 2018 whilst the Microsoft show drops the ball like it did in 2016 and 2017. There is supporting evidence. You see, when I read “While announcing its E3 2018 press conference date and change of venue, Microsoft has promised that the company’s E3 presence will be greater than ever before“, I personally did not see it as the spectacular option to make a change for the better. You see “This year the show will be held in the Microsoft Theater, a separate venue located across the street from the Los Angeles Convention Center” is the indication that once seen together, in the same place as the Nintendo and Sony, the people get to see that Microsoft is losing, losing faster and becomes increasingly less impressive.

That is the war and that is the stage where Microsoft marketing has no chance of staying afloat. Digital Trends gives us the final part with “As Microsoft becomes the latest major player to ditch the E3 mold, it will be interesting to see if other studios follow suit in the years to come. Microsoft will still be present at the convention center with a Mixer booth that will hold play and streaming sessions throughout E3“, you see if you have something truly spectacular, you want the others to stand next to you, fading away as you sparkly shine bright. I remember the ECTS in London (the UK version of the E3 in the 90’s) the year that SEGA had its Dreamcast on show, Sony was not a happy player that year. Microsoft is about to have the same issues and bailed ahead of that inescapable downturn. The E3 booth is as I see it merely for show and presence. The audience at large are all hoping and expecting to see The Last of Us: Part II, not merely a small demo, but a playable part and that is the first of several games that will blow Microsoft out of the water, they have nothing to counter with, they did this to themselves. Yet in all this the Nintendo games are still a little bit of a question mark. Some have been announced, most will be there, but in all, most are hoping to see the Pokémon Switch part as the rumours have been all and about. Others are still wondering if Metroid 4 will capture the awesomeness of the first two and some (including me) are hoping that the first two will make it to the Switch too. Some are all on the Skyrim Switch horse and those are equally ‘demanding’ that fallout will make the jump too. I am not convinced, you see, when you played this on XB1 and/or PS4, you know you will lose partly some of the power of the game, it just does not completely hold on the Switch, that is not bad for the switch, because the game was never designed as such, but those who play the whole part do not want to settle for something that is partial. Yet, that seems to be merely me and most are all on the Bethesda Switch horse, which is a growing community pushing the date of overtaking much closer to December 2018.

In this the 2018 E3 might be one of the most important E3’s that the NextGen consoles have ever faced. Even as Sony is in a happy all rosy setting at present, for Microsoft it will be a day where not one but two swords of Damocles are looming over the heads of these executives. One sword is linked to the failure of the Microsoft show; the second one is linked to the success of the Nintendo show. The most powerful console of the world is about to get bashed twice, once by their own ego, the second bashing will come through the actions of a smashing plumber named Mario, in this specific case in the shape of Super Smash Bros, the enduring agony of Microsoft will not be fixed in the short term, if they had only actually listened to gamers beforehand, their predicament wouldn’t have been anywhere near this bad.

So as we are now swamped by news on all levels on how “Microsoft’s E3 2018 plans will give the Xbox One a chance to shine away from the show floor”, with one source giving us “With the larger venue, Microsoft will be able to host more fans and partners at its press event than ever. Of course, it will all be for naught if Microsoft doesn’t have anything to show off, but the company knows that it is on shaky ground”. The source (@JacobSiegal) is right of course, but the fact remains that when it comes to exclusives at present, Microsoft is clearly a Far Cry behind Sony. Oh, no! Far Cry 5 is there for PS4 too, so there is that loss for them. Yet the pun was intentional. There is a clear visible case that the only reason that Microsoft remained in the game for so long at this speed was due to the unrelenting support from Ubisoft, without them there would be no Xbox One, or the One X at all. Ubisoft set the post high enough for that so called ‘most powerful system’ to be around at all. Even now, we see that as the Ubisoft listing is showing that their games are for both systems, they will also be releasing Switch titles. It is there that the Switch will gain even more momentum, whilst their dedication (Ubisoft) to all consoles give rise to the fact that the slowdown of Xbox One X consoles will remain minimised. So it is in that part that we will see that implied huge display from Microsoft in that place across the street from the E3 will be really heavy on Ubisoft presence, and in all honesty, plenty of Xbox gamers will love that, especially when they are treated to playable multi player parts of the Division 2 (speculation from my side). That is essential as we now see that several exclusive titles for the PS4 will never make it to the XB1x. It will be the other way round for some titles as well, but weirdly enough, none of those titles score anywhere near the excellence of the PS4 games. It seems that the most powerful system in the world gets to lag in more than one area, that whilst Switch is bringing their own remastered titles, like the Spyro trilogy (several sources), what is shown is pretty much amazing in quality, so it is there that my one warning to Sony is given, they were already worried that Nintendo was taking off in stellar ways, Sony will show another worry, not that Nintendo will catch up with them, but that software sales of Nintendo will make a huge leap, whilst the overall sales of PS4 games are extremely excellent, its top increase will merely lag by an optional 1%-2% as many consumers might buy one less game on the PS4 and will change that one title less bought for two Nintendo Switch titles instead, which would make perfect sense in several ways.

We will know a lot more (read: we can predict a few things better) in 9 weeks; I just can’t wait to voice the words ‘I told you so!‘ to Satya Narayana Nadella (apparently the CEO of Microsoft).

 

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A sickly gamer?

The Guardian had an interesting article on Monday. It took me a while to get there, because I am intricately familiar with the subject and the issues. The name of the game is gaming, and in the article titled “‘Dangerous gaming’: is the WHO right to class excessive video game play as a health disorder?” has the interesting question.

So as we read (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2018/feb/05/video-gaming-health-disorder-world-health-organisation-addiction), which holds: “included “gaming disorder” in its draft for the next edition of its diagnostic manual, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which is due for final release this year“, we need to wonder. In the first what constitutes a disease, when is something actually a disorder and more important, is it the first step in getting this label added to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 5, with an update which is supposed to come out at the end of the year. Even in the academic field there is doubt, which Netta Weinstein, a senior lecturer in psychology at Cardiff University voiced with: “I just feel like we don’t know enough yet and we feel we know a lot“. This is merely one voice. This part is important, as we see the following that matters: “the WHO was initially exploring excessive use of the internet, computers, smartphones and similar electronic devices, but determined that the biggest concern was gaming“, in addition we see: “The authors write: “These features clearly have their parallels with substance disorders and recognised behavioural addictions, such as gambling disorder“. They decided to make a dangerous step. As I personally see it, they are comparing apples with oranges, dumping the load into a basket named fruit and walk away. That view is not just supported, by others; Nena Weinstein gives us (paraphrased): “we found very small correlations, if at all, of symptomology with broader life wellbeing. So we actually didn’t find, for example, that symptoms correlated with health directly. It might be that something that we think of as addiction is actually just engagement and enthusiasm“.

That is the part that matters, gaming is about engagement and enthusiasm, now we can agree that some people go overboard. I for one have spent 5000 hours (not all at in one sitting mind you) in the Fallout universe and close to 3000 hours in the Elder Scrolls universe, I just love my RPG’s. The fact that this comprised a total of 5 games makes this the best value for money ever. I have played plenty of other games, and they were fun too. The fact is that the world is changing in several ways, a fact that the researchers are also ignoring. I also like the opposing view given by Prof Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University. With: “The bottom line is problematic gaming. Whether you call it ‘gaming disorder’, whether you call it ‘gaming addiction’, there is a small minority of people out there where gaming has completely taken over their lives“, he has a point there. I have more than once gone so deep and enthusiastic into Minecraft, so when I suddenly realised that I was really hungry and getting tired, I looked up to notice that it was 03:50 in the morning and I remember the sun being up when I started to play. This happens, and it rarely happens, but still it happens. The fact is that the body reminded me and I did not ignore it. I was less positive about his remark: “in extreme cases some people have played themselves to death, though such incidents are extremely rare“, this is a case I remember, some league of Legend player, high on energy drinks playing 23 hours in one stretch. When it happens once, or perhaps less than half a dozen times on a population of 8 billion, it is not a case, it is an extreme outlier. We could in the worst case state that the proprietor had a duty to set a maximum usage of lets state 12 hours per 24 hours. Was that point ever raised?

Weinstein goes on in the debate on why few get addicted. Well, because there are many types of players and there are in equal measure many types of games. We can argue that in my case one style could lead to addiction, but I have a life with other elements too and even as I might spend a large chunk of my weekend on my console, I have lived for the longest time requiring no more than 5 hours of sleep per day, these days are now alas over (hence less gaming), but choosing the fun of a game over wasting money on alcohol in a bar, wasting it on fake smiles in a casino seems that I have taken a healthier life style. The entirely other side is that I even had more time in the kitchen, making my life even better by making myself a nice steak with a salad, a pasta salad or even a nice Bambi-burger or sourdough. I would not go hungry. My only little squandering would be to ignore my Nespresso and go to the Coffee place up the hill (roughly 723.4 metres) and get myself a yummy cappuccino, extra-large of course, sometimes even splash out and have a big breakfast there on Sunday. A walk in the fresh air, sunshine optional and preferred, good food, caffeine for the veins and after that groceries on the way back and the rectangular entertainment from console or Blu-ray, a life of relaxed bliss!

The package could be seen as addictive, gaming is merely one element in all of that. So as people then go with the mention of ‘all that gaming‘, tell me to just watch some TV. So how does that work? Constant badgering from advertising whilst you get hammered by two screwed up reality settings from places like ‘My Kitchen Rules’, or even worse some ‘married at first sight’, so it’s not that the divorce ratings weren’t high enough, we now get some reality TV show where ‘experts’ know what we need, want or desire? How fucked up is the TV nowadays? It is the second part where I oppose her view. With; “at least some elements of modern video games are closer to gambling. The newly popular and increasingly controversial implementation of “loot boxes”, where players pay real money for unpredictable rewards, is increasingly drawing the attention of regulators“, she only has a partial point. As far as I can tell, this was introduced in gaming by the Mass Effect series (I apologise if I am incorrect). You see, that is an option, but the game gives clear warning that you can earn these boxes by playing. Yet some people cannot go that distance. So like Ubisoft who allowed you to unlock all elements of Assassins Creed multiplayer for less than $10, people had no interest to unlock the abilities, they want it all from the start, a level 1 steroid character. So yes, you can buy chests for real money, but the ones I saw have always allowed you to get those chests by playing the game, it merely takes a little longer to get them. The second element that she is not lingering on is what is in such a loot chest. The loot chest is very much like a CCG (Customisable Card Game), each package will cost you around $5 and the 10 cards will give you 1 rage (or legendary), 2-3 uncommon and the rest are common items. So basically after the first 10 packages you only buy them to get the remaining uncommon, rare or even the legendary cards. Loot boxes work in the same way. That origin actually comes from a CCG game called Magic and was introduced by mathematics professor Richard Garfield and introduced to consumers in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast. So, now as it is in video games 25 years later, now they want to regulate it? Oh please, go cry me a river, will you?

Yet Weinstein raises a gem of a point with: “concern about comorbidity (when a person has more than one condition): “We need to know that it is about the gaming itself, or we’re treating something that’s not the actual problem.”“, she poses an excellent issue. You see if we accept that gaming is escapism, knowing what it is escapism from, that becomes the golden question and that is not easily explained.

Prof Mark Griffiths brings another side to the table. With: “I can’t think of a single [case of] addiction where there aren’t any other comorbidities. The addiction is usually symptomatic of other underlying problems. If you’re depressed and therefore you drink heavily, then you treat that with antidepressants“, you see, in that view, if these people escape into gaming, they still might not have a gaming addiction, they merely escape to it and we see the dangers of a wrongful diagnoses. So in the time where the depression is not seen and as these people ‘are cured‘ by gaming less the depression could take over leading to additional harm and even fatality. The problem (as I personally see it) is where is the trigger, the threshold where ‘addiction’ is set at. It is a grey area that cannot be correctly quantified as there are other elements in play. As I see it, it too often relies on what others think is ‘too much’ and that is equally dangerous. The parent who grew up playing outside and as such, junior should be outside, not playing on his console. Do they realise he was playing with school friends in an online 4v4 battle? They are talking to one another on the headsets, so they are still communicating were they not? Our comprehension of several elements is shifting, as a gamer I see the shift, but the people around me do not (want to) comprehend that. It is icky, it is geeky, they do not care.

That part is equally ignored and that is a worry too.

You see social media made the bucket of issues larger, but the level of comprehension beyond using the tool has not increased. That is the danger, usage without knowing what it implies, means or ratifies. Consider the articles like: ‘5 Ways to Generate More Exposure for Your Content Through Social Media‘, to improve your personal PR, or ‘How to Scale Your Social Media Exposure‘, that whilst the people trying to grow followers and to be ‘cool’ have no concept of ‘engagement’ and the use of common sense for that matter whilst exposing themselves to all kinds of risks. Those people will happily sit in any ‘gathering place‘ and remain in negative judgement of a gamer. I remember a nice issue in 1996 in the UK. I was in a bar taking a rest from the ECTS (7 morning presentations on newly released games will do that), so as I was sipping coffee and nodding to someone I knew in the business. He was talking to some girl who was way too good looking for her own good. So when he mentioned he was into gaming, she walked away as he was nerdy. So as she walked away, she had no idea that this was the guy who just made 1.5 million pounds ending with 4 times that much at least over the 3-5 years that followed. You see, even as more and more people are no longer stigmatising ‘gaming’ and ‘gamers’, the issue is that most do it because it is now a $120 billion market and money is money, no matter how you slice it. The actual issue of ‘addiction’ cannot be set for various reasons because it relies on other elements on how you still function when you are not gaming. How you see the world when you are merely shopping for groceries, enjoying a movie, setting in a corner chumping down on ice-cream or engage in conversation with friends. Those are elements that matter and if you can still relate to non-gaming issues with enthusiasm (like how ambulances in Kabul are an excellent way to move C4 from one place to another), we might wonder about the scepticism in all of it, but for the most that person is still OK and unlikely to be a true game addict.

Wasn’t that what mattered?

You see, it is actually the end of the article that had the truffle that mattered; no pig was going to get that one! With “The significance of the WHO’s decision will depend on your point of view. Griffiths admits it’s “a vindication for three decades of research”. Trade bodies such as Ukie naturally resist suggestions that anything their industry produces could be harmful“, this part could actually become the invalidator to his work. Prof Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University seems to forget a few parts. In all this, I have been connected to games and gaming from before that. Gaming had several triggers over the last 30 years. First there is the arcade machines versus the home consoles (and home computers), there is an issue with any emerging technology and the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 are just over 20 years, before that it was all about home computers and the lasting time of a game was no more than one day of game time with only Loderunner to be a larger exception. Even in PC’s larger computers with larger games would be able to get finished in no more than 50-70 hours, and again there is an exception now, it was Diablo. Longer lasting games did not really get to the surface until multiplayer came out and it was not until the Unreal engine took off that people hid for a lot longer behind their computers (overly generalised). Now we can argue that those collecting games were indeed addicted, but were they? What data was there on them? I reckon that it was not until the sixth generation of consoles came out that we have the foundation for some level of actual addiction. Yet when we got back, we forgot the arcade machines. How much money did you pour into those machines? Was it to complete Donkey Kong? Was it to be in the top mention of Space invaders or Pac-Man? Does that make you addicted to gaming, or merely a person trying to pass time or dealing with OCD? I am not sure if I can give the right answer, but between generations 4 and 8 (1989-2012) the market has been in technological turmoil and that is disregarding the massive technological leaps PC’s had made over those years. I feel uncertain that with so many changes in a market that has not stopped running, how can anyone be correctly seen as addicted? For example, who would not spend their entire weekend finding the secrets that Tombraider brought in the first instalment? Who did not run to the shop (and claimed a sickie) the day that Tombraider 2 was released? Who did not drop their jaw the day Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots started on their PS3? That game can still hold up to the most that the PS4 brings to the table today. One view was: “The game has been considered one of the best games of the seventh generation of console gaming and among the greatest of all time“, a view I very much agree with. When perfection, art, challenge and achievement come to the table, the view we have changes, because exceptional quality keeps us at the screen. Just look at all those 4K nature movies Bing Lee sets on the TV’s they really want to sell, that’s not addiction, that is admiration/amazement. So in that all, I think that there is a case that Prof Mark Griffiths might not make the mark on this ‘addiction’ addition, there are just too many variables. And even if we recognise that an unhealthy devotion to games might be worth investigating, it would be to find the underlying cause to it all as Dr Netta Weinstein justifies. In that she is completely correct, so as we realise that Jo Twist, the UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) states the correct part with “We are very concerned about the inconclusive nature of the research and the evidence that WHO is using to base this potential classification on“, she could have (as not seen here) stated the matter a little better than what we got to read.

That is merely $0.04 on the matter (due to the FTSE Crash my $0.02 devaluated whilst writing this).

 

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Evolving our lives!

This article is not for the faint of heart. This is not for the people who think that life is all sunny and joy. So if you are any of these people, then read not on and return when my next story comes online.

You see, in my mental world I am about to pick up an axe, I sneak upon the man who has no idea what is about to happen. I sneak, slowly into the den, the door was open this warm September and he likely hoped for the breeze to cool him down. Suddenly he feel one hot gush of water over his chest, he looks down, it is not water. It is the hot blood gushing from his skull, the blood that rains is his, he cannot shout out, blood is everywhere, he falls on the rug with a ‘thump’, he is no more! I hear the voice from the kitchen ‘what was that dear! Are you alright?‘ I hear the footsteps, she is not walking fast. I move to the left into the shadows, I see her silhouette, she seems to see the blood and that what was left of her husband. I had already placed the hunting knife in my left hand; it slices through her throat in less than a second. She goes down on her knees, looking at me, not having any idea why she is getting hurt. She had died before her head hit the ground.

I get the knife and the axe and roll them in linen. I grab the bottle from the bag and place the knife and the axe within the canvas bag with linen coating. I add ammonia to mask the scent of the blood, in case a police dog gets near. I look at my feet; they are covered in lamb coated overshoes. My overall is thin but sturdy. I take out the billy club. I slowly walk to the staircase; I hear the sounds of gunfire from a video game. I sneak up slowly and see that the door of the room is ajar. A boy sites with his back to me, it is time to put on my ski mask. I slowly sneak in and observe the equipment and I hit him hard to the side of the head and quickly turn the sound up by a lot. Not hard enough to kill him, that is not my goal. He is reeling at the edge of losing consciousness; I slap his face hard with an open hand. The leather glove makes the sound more intense. I pull him up and hit him in the gut with enough strength; he buckles over gasping for air. He looks up in sheer terror. I gag him with duct tape and cuff his wrists at the back, I drag him downstairs.

I place the cable ties on his thumbs and index fingers as close to the Opponens Pollicis as possible. He looks at the bodies of his parents, he is now truly afraid. I look at him and say “Zoe Quinn and Phil Fish did not care for your harassment!” I put the mask on his face; the nails will slowly but not fatally bite into his face. Last I tighten cable ties as much as possible. Within the hour, amputation will be the only option left to him. His life will never ever be about gaming of harassing again! I walk away with the bag in my hand, not giving the little troll a second look. Within the hour all evidence that I ever existed will be gone, so will I and he will only know fear until his dying day!

This is just a story! This is nothing more than a rant of frustration, dressed in the cloth of a short story, dealing with my frustration like Percy Bysshe Shelley, Stephen King or Virginia Woolf. Although I tend to take the high road, this time it is Slate who has the high moral ground (at http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/bitwise/2014/08/zoe_quinn_harassment_a_letter_to_a_young_male_gamer.html), it is an excellent article by David Auerbach about more than just a gaming scandal. I am all about gaming; I have always been all about gaming. The fact that more and more women are entering this field is filling me with joy. Yes, for now this market is all about the man, but consider that over time, we have seen women leading in artistic fields. We have given our souls to Diablo, Minecraft, Oblivion, Fallout and a league of other games. Would it not be great if we get another wave of amazing games? For now Tombraider has sold itself short. The game is nowhere near the first two which broke the mould of good gaming. We saw the rise and fall of Origin, Rare and several others, all bringing us great games. Now women come and I hope we see a host of amazing games to follow. So when I see such hate and harassment from men (99.4233% sure that the harassers are not women) it just pisses me off. The fact that these people are not hunted into extinction gets to me to some degree. I did not get the hate people showed because Caroline Criado-Perez successfully championed for Jane Austen to be the new figure on the ten pound note. For the same reason I do not get the fact that Zoe Quinn is persecuted either. The idea to bring the awareness of depression is a great idea; I wish I had thought of it. It had several review, our own Tim Biggs of the Sydney Morning Herald wrote “Tim Biggs, writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, also stressed the lack of fun in the game, and went on to say that the game was ‘a testing and, at times, a boring experience to go through.’ However, he praised the game’s execution, and acknowledged its importance as a tool for raising awareness of depression and for helping its sufferers“.

OK, not the greatest review for a game, but who remembers Superman for the Nintendo 64? I still consider it the very worst game I ever beheld for reviewing!

So, why is there such an overwhelming hate for these women. This all was brought to light because someone speaking out for them (Phil Fish). I did not play his game either, but the movies and the views give an interesting and original game play. So, it does not look like anything Ubi-Soft releases, but consider that ‘their’ Prince of Persia released in the 80’s (Broderbund released it) had no great graphics either, now it is a billion dollar company, we all have to start small.

So what about Zoe Quinn?

Well, the accusation is that she slept with a reporter to get a better review, but that is not entirely correct either. She got harassed shortly after the release and before her ‘ex-boyfriend’ made his claims. So what is it about this particular group of losers who feel so threatened about women in the gaming industry? They must be losers, because if they were not, then they would have their own brands of success, but that seems not to be the case. I think that if anonymous is the idealist it claims to be, then they would stand up for these women and publish the names and addresses of all of these bullies, you see, trolling is all fine, as long as we all know who you are, they become liable. It should stop two issues with one group all at once. But are the allegations true? Actually, does that matter? Perhaps a journalist got ‘lucky’, perhaps not. The real question is, is it a good game?

Yet, the issue does matter, you see, her ex, who is ‘hiding’ on his blog and accuses her of acts. Hiding the fact that the relationship was a bust and she did not stand still, she created something! Motherboard quotes “he accuses Quinn of sleeping with various prominent figures in the video game industry, including a writer at Kotaku“, so basically she knew a few guys, is that criminal? the information motherboard gave (at http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/zoe-quinn-slut-shaming-the-feminist-conspiracy-and-depression-quest) “Gamers have been complaining about corruption in video game journalism for years now” is not new, look at Gamespot and the massive amount of additional visibility that Ubi-Soft enjoys as a sponsor should raise more than just a few flags. But how far does this corruption go? And it is alleged corruption, the question remains, is it really corruption? I started reviewing games in 1988. I got the games, I wrote the articles and I got paid for the published articles. In addition I got to keep the games. I had to pay for the consoles myself (except for 2) and the chief editor kept the Atari Lynx for himself, an act which was slightly irritating, but not the greatest of issues. I went to the ECTS (the UK edition of the E3) a few times, which I paid for myself and deducted it from my taxes. So where is the corruption? I gave an honest review of the game and sometimes if the game was bad I did not bother writing a review for the simple reason that I only got up to 5 pages per issue, why spend it on a bad game, whilst a good game is so much more fun to review. I also tried to steer away from the ‘big titles’ at times; I did not jump onto Command & Conquer in 1995, like everyone else but choose Wing Commander 4, Tekken 2 and Rayman instead. My ex hated Rayman (the end of level laughter), I never regretted my decision. Everyone wrote about Command & Conquer, I showed them different games. The question still remains, why hate Quinn?

Is it because her ex-boyfriend turned out to be a loser? let’s be clear about this, if he was in a relationship and she did cheat on him, he should be angry and walk away, I do not care, it is her life and her choice and if so he is free to walk away and perhaps be angry for a little while, yet he is the only one with the smallest degree to be angry, the other hundreds have absolutely no valid cause for such trolling and harassing behaviour. Consider that we start trolling all the cheaters, the man too! Spam mail would drop to 0%, there would be no bandwidth left for spam mails, which might be a new novel idea to get rid of spam messages.

This is all so stupid, because in the end, the real gamers want to know if the game is any good. In her case, does it matter? Her game was to bring forward awareness of depression, if that works, what could be better? Even if the game is not the greatest one, it is likely to be a whole lot better than Superman on the Nintendo 64. In the end, I hope groups like Anonymous actually do something to help these victims instead of some political agenda, I wonder how ‘loud’ the troll feels when everyone in the street knows their name and where they live, more even if their mommies and daddies realise what losers they are. It is an interesting form of justice!

To some degree I miss reviewing games, I have seen so many classics be born and evolve. I saw underdogs like Broderbund rise and fall, I’ve seen how new generations love the originality of Loderunner, as much as I did when it got released on the CBM-64 and I saw the giant Elite, move from system to system, only to see the concept evolve into Privateer. Later we see part of the original game on tables and PDA’s, now Elite is back in a state of the art version that is to be released this year, still showing the original logo that was on the box of the CBM-64. Yet, the sandbox part, the travels and another side of the foundations of Elite will be seen in 2015, as we explore the galaxy in ‘No Man’s Sky’, in ways the original designer could never imagine (he only had 48Kb to write the program). As my life is drawing closer to an end, I see that timeless games will continue, bringing joy to a new generation and to generations after that, after I am gone. If the world for us as gamers is to move forward then this cannot be only about the man, women should pick up this torch and bring new options and new levels of gaming. In the end it will be a win-win for all gamers.

When we look at long term playing we have seen the big titles, and we all have other thoughts on what makes the great game, but there is also unison, it seems that the bulk all loves Diablo, even since the original release in 1996, it still keeps us busy. Would it not be great if we see new and more surprising games from female developers? Let’s not forget that one of the most famous developers in the early years for gamers was Roberta Williams, co-founder of Sierra-on-line. The bringer of King’s Quest, as early as 1984, a woman was in our gaming midst and she was as good as any of the male developers, letting these trolls win means that we gamers of all genders are missing out, do not let it come to that!

 

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Smear campaign vs Blame campaign

Another day, another NSA/GCHQ article! I must admit that the thread, not threat of privacy is getting a little too biased. I must admit that slapping the government comes over slightly cheap at this point (for the reason that too many articles out there are more and more based on speculation and less on actual facts). It is also the time I think that Mr John Naughton (the Guardian / Observer) should add a little more balance in his very valid opinions. As his profiles states “John Naughton is professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University“. So the man knows his stuff (and reading his articles makes that clear), and let me be upfront that even though his pieces are definitely opinionated at times, he has not stated anything false or in error (as far as I can tell).

What does bother me to a little extent is that in his article “To the internet giants, you’re not a customer. You’re just another user” (at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jun/09/internet-giants-just-another-customer) he states when relating to Gmail and Yahoo mail “You do however ‘pay’ in a different currency, namely your personal data.

This is the issue I have as well. Especially when comparing to the article “The NSA/GCHQ metadata reassurances are breathtakingly cynical“, where he states “the metadata is what the spooks want for the simple reason that it’s machine-readable and therefore searchable” (at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jul/07/nsa-gchq-metadata-reassurances). This is correct, and it is preferred for automated systems, as it takes one person his/her entire career to get through 1 hour of non-spam e-mail for one area of London. So any chance of getting anything useful needs massive levels of automation. So it seems acceptable to be a marketing outlet (the consequence of a free service), yet the group trying to keep you alive gets tarred, feathered, drawn and quartered for doing their jobs.

I am at times slightly amazed that these security measures are such an issue for the UK population. Let us not forget that the UK had decades of issues as they needed to overcome the ‘difference of opinion’ the UK government had with the IRA. As such they have had plenty of reasons to be cautious, compared the limited amount of events the US went through.

I still remember the 1993 bombing of Liverpool street station. I also remember attending the ECTS (Electronic Consumer Trade Show) 5 months later and that area was still an indescribable mess. So the UK population clearly know the dangers of terrorism.

So is this truly about privacy or fear? Not the fear of being attacked, but the fear others have if someone read the messages they send/receive (and I am not even talking about the actual criminal ones that get mailed).

Consider that there is another attack (anywhere in London) and it was not stopped, because privacy laws stopped the intelligence community. Then what? How long until the press, who is all so up in arms on privacy comes with the text ‘why did the Intelligence community not do more?‘ whilst at the same time making people expectant that in Facebook, Google+, Gmail and Yahoo mail your data can be sold on, your details on parade like a debutante to all eligible data sources who would want to have a go at you. Seems a little short sighted doesn’t it?

I am all for privacy, I truly am! However, data being private does not mean that I am not willing to assist the government in keeping the nation safe. And the argument that ‘I’ was not guilty, so there was no reason, does not hold water here. Knowing who is innocent (read safe) is as important as those who raise flags. A raised XML flag does not make you guilty, 5 raised flags do not make you guilty. Especially when this is about automatic parsing of information (read Meta data). When we look at on how these service giants deal with privacy is actually less important than the fact that their international size allows these people to avoid taxes a lot better than Ebenezer Scrooge ever could. So people are up in arms on what governments know, yet these fat cat collecting corporations paying 0.1% tax in this day and age of economic hardship is an acceptable act? I wonder whether people have their priorities straight.

In that regard it is also interesting to read the Benjamin Franklin Quote “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither“. So many are often so easy to hide behind this quote, when siting issues on privacy, yet in those days of Franklin, they thought of war as a gentleman’s game. You know the time of clean Red uniforms. Stand up straight! Moobs forward! Aim! Fire!
Those people, if they ever saw the Vietnam War in their dreams, would wake up screaming.

In this same way we should regard data collecting a la von Clausewitz “Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain” in that light, the survivor had superior information, which means it is another form of war altogether. Our protectors must get it right all the time; a terrorist, only needs to succeed once. The quote and the premise is the issue we face today and history never properly prepared us for what we now face. I think that under these conditions I prefer the quote “War is such a dangerous business that mistakes that come from kindness are the very worst.” This one is true and also most appropriate. If Privacy is seen as a human right (which it is) and it is a driving force in humanity, then we could see the danger that our Humanity gives strength to the Terrorist (this is of course false), however, in the light of fighting terrorism it does hold a truthful foundation. This brings me to an interesting question I recently saw! “What if the right to privacy depends upon the existence of surveillance and an acknowledgement that some of it, at least, is legitimate?” This is not my question, this was voiced in a discussion paper called “Navigating the Data verse privacy, Technology, Human Rights“, which was published by the International council on Human Rights Policy and can be found at (http://www.ichrp.org/files/reports/64/132_report_en.pdf). It is well worth reading.

The question in my mind is that if we see the news as valid. Is the press on a smear campaign against the Governments? Even though I singled out John Naughton, does not mean that I call him that. His work is amongst the most interesting to read and his writing is pretty compelling, and even though I feel I cannot agree with him at times, he puts down his points clearly and precise. The reason I cannot agree is again the fact that we are expected to be marketed by those offering ‘free’ services, but must oppose those who are out to keep us safe. It seems a very topsy turvy approach from us on keeping ourselves safe.

That makes me think, this could actually be a new Gilbert and Sullivan (read with the tune of ‘A wandering minstrel’ from the Mikado)

A surfing seeker I…
A man of links and searchings
of Mails, Pics and Profiles,
and selling you on my Facebook,
my friend list is so long,
through every like and linking,
and to your e-mail sending
I mine all data for cash!
I mine all data for cash!

So are we giving up essential liberties? I feel we do not, data mining is today’s efficient way of approaching the ‘right’ population, yet this is also a danger! Not of freedom, but of choice. As these companies focus on the options that embrace the bulk of people, the outside innovation will reach us less and less likely. Is that not giving up liberties? As we become part of mass media only, the small innovator will no longer reach us? Who thought of that part of the equation? Actually, John Noughton did raise it in some way in his article “Technology is a double-edged sword” in December 2012. Even though he focusses on Evangelists and Luddites, the outcome is similar. We can look at a coin from either side, but one coin is only complete with both sides.

Consider that the police and intelligence communities are the ‘other’ side (the evangelists), then most people (the Luddites) have a point no less fair, but we must accept that if the people get their way, once things go wrong we have no right to invoke a blame campaign, for the simple reason that with the freedom of choice comes the responsibility of consequence.

A combination of views often forgotten!

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