Game Eaters

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Publishers and distributors to blame for piracy

I was reading this entry in (in Spanish) about Spanish gamers fighting for the re-edition of ICO for PS2 in Spain. There is already an online petition in the works. What's the big deal? The game is going to be re-edited in Europe, given the success of Shadow of the Colossus. But not in Spain.

For those who can read Spanish, this is what Playstation Spain says about the game. For the benefit of those that cannot, this is the crunchiest bit:
[...] Ico will be again on sale in February, to coincide with the [European] release of Shadow of the Colossus, and to please those fans who wish to enjoy this sensational game themselves. The bad news is that this title, of infinite sensibility, did not make many fans in Spain, so it won't be re-edited in this country. But if you can speak English and are curious about it [...], it may be worth it to spend a bit more and get an import copy.

I could talk for ages about the problems for monolingual Spanish people to speak English, but that's not the point. I could also talk about the problems there are in Spain to get hold of console games (PC is infinitely more popular)--my brother was telling me how Mario Kart DS was sold out in lots of places, and it seemed the re-stock may take a few months (if it takes place at all). I could also explain how current games (and consoles) are much more expensive in Spain, and how ordering a PAL copy of ICO will be not easy to get for less than 75$. But I won't... today.

Spain is one of the countries where piracy is most common in the world. It's part of the picaresque, I guess, and part of the culture--if we can get away without paying, we will. Of course, they can blame on the popularity of pirate copies for the limited releases of games. However, it is also true that they do not make it easy for gamers to get legal copies. As it turns out, the second-hand market constitutes a very, very small percentage of the Spanish videogame market. There are also very few specialized shops, and only in the largest cities.

The other problem is the choice, which is also very limited. My brother told me a couple of months ago how he went to FNAC, the main entertainment store in Madrid, and they only had 5 games for DS. 3 were the different versions of Nintendogs, which at least is a relief, because they were not FPSs or driving/sports simulation. RPGs have a really bad reputation in Spain, after a two notorious cases of murder related to table-top RPG and Final Fantasy VIII. So basically, there is not much to choose from, even if you're affluent enough to buy the games. What can Spanish gamers do? You can try import, but the generally limited second-language capacities of many gamers, and the general reluctancy to online orders make that an exceptional choice.

There's also the problem of translation--gamers expect games dubbed in Spanish (there was a petition for the dubbing of MGS3), which increases the cost of the publication of games. So gamers are to blame for this as well, and sometimes they get what they deserve--the infamous dubbing of Halo in Mexican Spanish is an example.

I guess that, as long as Spanish gamers are treated with this contempt -- refusing to release a great game in Spain, even if it is a European release -- Spanish piracy will continue thriving.

Monday, January 30, 2006

You too can be a fighter pilot!

A link for this mini-game was passed along to me by a friend, who informed me that it's used to test fighter pilots. If you can get up to 2 minutes, then maybe the Air Force is in your future (^_^).

Try it here.

As far as games go, it's kind of interesting. Despite appearances, there is no randomness. In other words, it is possible to "master" this game by pattern memorization. That said, it gets pretty darn hard no matter how well you know it. So, couple of changes I might make:
  • Randomize the speed that the blocks bounce off the walls.
  • Add a scoring system that awards points for the shortest distance to a block.
Beyond those, the game would start to look very different I think.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Second Coming of DS

It's smaller, it's whiter, it's got 4 brightness levels!

Nintendo DS Lite

Release Date: 2006-03-02
Price: 16800 Yen
Old Size: 149 x 85 x 29 = 275g
New Size: 133 x 74 x 22 = 218g

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

At least SOMEONE gets it.

I feel like I've been screaming into the wind for years about the moral depth of Hideo Kojima's work, but if we see more articles like this I won't be hoarse for much longer.

State co-opts DDR to make kids less fat.

Score! Educational gaming moves up a notich as West Virginia teams up with Konami to use Dance Dance Revolution in school.

Bringing the health benefits and enjoyment that DDR provides to school children is a great way to combat childhood obesity that is caused by the sedentary lifestyle of today's kids. DDR has been a proven success in schools and this program with the State of West Virginia demonstrates the positive effects that can come from making DDR a part of one's daily routine.

How's that for serious gaming? What do educators do when they need a REAL educational game? They go to a REAL developer. Rock on, Konami.

Now if only games designed for education could be as good as DDR...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Now Jack targets MGS. How low can he sink?

In the last couple of days, there's been some controversy about a guy who killed himself while posting at the Metal Gear Solid Unofficial Site forum. You can read the whole story at Gamepolitics. Of course, our friend Jack Thompson could not resist jumping on the wagon, given that the words "videogame" and "kill" appeared in the same paragraph, and that someone had actually died. He did not lose time to post in forums, writing insulting remarks for the whole gaming community. Since he's long run out of arguments, he resorts to plain abuse. He's like a bully that has lost a fight, and just starts kicking around in fury, just trying to hurt whoever's at hand, not wanting to stop because he'll have to bear his own shame. (BTW, what he does in the posts quoted is legally called libel.) We don't need to insult him back, he does a pretty good job of presenting himself as a *adjective of your choice* after reading the quotes.

This is the comment Jack posted in the same blog (the comment has been erased from the forum):

Your "gamer friend" will find peace through the Lord, Jesus Christ, but sadly it's too late for that.

There is a void in every heart. You can fill it up with the things of God, or the things not of God. This unfortunate soul chose to fill it up with combat games. The playing of these video games is masturbatory activity, meaning senseless self-stimulation. If you gamers could use a dictionary you would know that that term is not necessarily a sexual one.

The real tragedy here extends beyond the life and death of this one fellow. There are literally millions of young people and young adults whose despair is deepend by turning to the things of this world and then finding them meaningless.

All of you gamers need to put down the controllers and get a life. The utter inanity of the vast majority of postings here shows how vapid "gaming" really is.

You are one of the cheerleaders for this wasting of time and the wasting of lives. Do you feel any remorse for having contributed to this "culture of death?" Of course not. Hey, let's all play MORE games, and ignore all the really productive things to do with our lives.

Let's pretend to be shocked that a gamer might descend into deeper depression, as his gamer "buds," knowing he was killing himself, couldn't figure out how to call 911 themselves for him. That would have involved leaving their computers I guess.

He continued with his insulting remarks at the GameFAQs forum:
Yesterday Dennis McCauley reported, by starting this thread, the suicide of an American "hardcore gamer" who alerted his fellow gamers that he was dying. My posts in this regard upset many of you. So, I should like to sincerely apologize for the following:

1. Noting that this is not the first time Metal Gear Solid has figured in a suicide. See my op-ed in the Washington Times at The Wellsboro boy committed suicide in the bathroom when his attempted "Columbine" went awry. His father correctly blamed the game.

2. I should further like to apologize for pointing out to pixelantes that obsessive play of such games feeds depression, and that the "gaming community," especially those in the industry that design these games to be addictive, are partly responsible for his demise. I apologize ahead of time for contacting his parents and telling them they should get a lawyer and sue the makers and distributors of Metal Gear Solid. I won't be that lawyer, but I'll help them find one.

3. I apologize for having to yet again change my email address in response to the great video game defenders of "freedom of expression" who inundated me with criminal threats, extortion, obscene emails, criminally harassing phone calls, and other stuff I had best not specifiy. Oh, and John at XXX-XXX-XXXX, I guess you missed the fact that the last punk who did this wound up in jail in Houston. Nice going, ace. Ever hear of "caller ID?" So, yes, I apologize for once again proving by your vigilantism what hypocrites drive the "gaming community." You people, along with Dennis McCauley, are so clueless that you actually conducted here, at this site, a "pixelante t-shirt contest," not even grasping the fact that a pixelante is one half rung above a bludgeoning skinhead, or cracker if you prefer that term.

4. Finally, I most sincerely wish to apologize for pointing out now that the European press got the facts in this story correct and Dennis McCauley did not. The gamers who had his phone number, his roommate who acted too late--all of them could have and should have gotten the police over there immediately, not "persuade him to call the police." The guy was committing suicide for Heaven's sake! You call the police immediatley, give them the phone number, and they can then instantly get in gear (metal gear, if you prefer) and get over there. Gamers are so out of it, they can't figure even that out.

Dennis McCauley concludes his crocodile tears, let's congratulate ourselves for being such a loving "gamer community" with his bathos-filled "May you find peace, gamer friend." Dennis, and the rest of you, pay attention: You find peace in Jesus Christ, not in GTA or Metal Gear Solid, or 25 to Life. You find it only in Him. The gate is narrow. Further, he was much more than a "gamer." In fact, his gamer status helped kill him, along with those who sucked him into the culture of death that games foment. And Dennis, he was NOT your "friend." You never knew him. You and the gaming community don't want to know him. Because if you know him, which is necessary to be a "friend," you will find that his real friends helped construct for him a world, a death style, that helped take him away to eternity.

I have sat with families touched by such tragedy. I understand it. You all couldn't care less. For that, I sincerely apologize, and for saying this yet again: Put down the controllers and get a life.

Jack Thompson

Of course he can't be the lawyer to sue the makers of MGS, since his license will be revoked for malpractice one of these days.

There should be a reference to him in MGS4.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Silent Hill Trailer.

Find it here.

Doesn't look bad. Looks like they played the fucking games.

Still though... maybe I'm just too jaded, but Silent Hill should, ideally, be the best horror movie since The Shining. At best, this looks like it'll be a decent Hollywood adaptation of the look, feel, and premise of the games. Yet somehow I doubt the storytelling ambiguity will be as... ruthless.

Silent Hill is just about the most disturbing horror IP of the last 10 years if you ask me. Stupid voice acting aside, it achieved the same elemental terror of Blair Witch, Jacob's Ladder, Night of the Living Dead, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It wasn't "just another horror story." It was, for me, one of the defining horror stories of contemporary society. Themes of societal collapse, the disintegration of the family, and body horror have never been more visceral or vivid. Though Silent Hill was a Japanese game, it captured for me the anguish of America's self-destruction. It's horrors were unspeakable: the Holocaust meets Middle America.

Maybe this is why I'm disappointed that the Silent Hill movie looks merely "good." It has the potential to be a definitive piece of horror cinema, just as it is a definitive piece of horror gaming.

Silent Hill has some incredibly potent imagery, and the filmmakers look like they've at least realized it's something they can take seriously. But it still looks like it's going to be a monster-oriented CG-fest. A scary monster-oriented CG-fest you can take seriously... but still a CG-fest.

Oh well. I'll see it of course.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Gamer Vote

Thomas H. Buscaglia, "The other game-crazed Florida attorney," has written a short-but-sweet article challenging gamers and developers to turn their name-calling into voter action.

...treat this as a call to arms. Get out and vote. And when you vote, make sure that you learn the position that the candidates that you are considering take concerning freedom of speech and how it implies to computer and video games. Otherwise, you may end up working in an industry that is significantly handicapped due to restraints on expression that none of us want to have to deal with.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Truth and Reconciliation

Not a new news item, but still an interesting video clip of a high school orchestra performing a familiar piece from Halo. (WMV)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Live Action Mortal Kombat

This is a very interesting remediation of videogames into home videos. I'm proud to say it's been made by Spanish people ;) The title is Mortal Kombat: La Pelicula (that is, The Movie), and depicts a fight between "Maraka" and "Chupetin" (Little Pacifier, like the thing for babies).


Saturday, January 14, 2006


If you did not get Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney before Christmas, and you still want it, get ready to pay double. The game has been discontinued all over the world. That means, it's no longer being distributed. Your only chance of getting it is by buying it second hand, and those copies are going for $50+ already.

Why the hell did Capcom discontinue a game that has been both critically and commercially successful, after less than three months in the market? The shops we asked were sold out, and have not received any more copies; it's not that copies were covering in dust and they decided to pull them out. Whatever the reason, it's the first uber-stupid decision of the videogame market of the year.

I have to say I was suprised it was released outside Japan, but I just can't understand why Capcom decided to pull it out of the market. Is it that they think people are not going to play games that do not require button-smashing? One of the coolest things about the DS is that there are really original and different games for it, unlike the other next-gen consoles released last year. If publishers are going to bet for the games they think people want to play, that is, sports simulators and FPS, then the videogame market is going to be extremely boring. Academic-wise, yours truly would rather go back to her Shakespeare, rather than studying Halo 35, if that's what the future of videogames will be like :'(