Is Sniper Elite 3 the first shooter that is boring on purpose?

Shortly after Rebellion Entertainment completing Sniper Elite 3, Jason Kingsley, the studio’s CEO and creative director, brought the game home to let his partner have a look at it. They have both visited firing ranges, and she’s a good shot in real life, he says, so he figured she might enjoy it.One evening, as she began a new mission, Kingsley got up, went to the kitchen, made a pot of tea, poured himself a cup and returned to the living room. She hadn't shot anyone. She hadn't even moved. "I said, ‘What are you doing?'; she said, ‘I'm listening and watching,'" Kingsley recalled. "I said, ‘It's been 12 minutes! You've actually — I've made a cup of tea — I've come back in and you're still in the same place! "And she said, ‘Well, yes, I'm just being very careful,'" Kingsley said. The...

Video Games: The Movie is a missed opportunity

If the game industry came together to make a movie about its own awesomeness, the result would likely look a lot like Video Games: The Movie.Released today on iTunes, it's a stickily adulatory biography of gaming, from its beginnings in an MIT research lab, to today's AAA and indie efforts. Along the way, the film, partly funded via a Kickstarter, humorlessly reminds the viewer just how "amazing" video games are, via talking heads, mostly middle-aged game professionals, with a random selection of TV actors and writers who like games and think they are important. There are also helpful stats from trade body the Entertainment Software Association as well as a smattering of faintly baffling inserted quotes from the likes of Mahatma Gandhi. Rarely does the story, written, directed and...

Here's how Dungeons & Dragons is changing for its new edition

Dungeons & Dragons has been no stranger to reinvention.The 5th edition of the game will officially begin its slow, months-long rollout later this month, with the release of the Starter Set; a kit which will include the barebones essentials of what you need to know to play a basic campaign. In the months following, the franchise's holy triumvirate of manuals — the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual — will be released as well. The game has shifted in the past four decades, bouncing between different rules sets, philosophies and methods of play. Role-playing, character customization and real-life improvisational storytelling has always been at the game's core, but how those ideas are interpreted by the game system has changed drastically edition-to-edition. What...
Roster File

Hot foots, farts and fights — but no bites — in sports video games

It can be an agonizing wait, but if you hold the ball on the mound in MLB 14 The Show, with the game unpaused, eventually you will see baseball's most cherished dugout prank: the Hot Foot.The Hot Foot is one of a series of humorous delayed-game scenes The Show serves up whenever the user is in in the field and holds the ball on the mound, without the game paused, for longer than 30 seconds. The Dodgers busted it out in real life on reserve outfielder Scott Van Slyke on Sunday, to the delight of announcer Vin Scully, who narrated the whole thing like a kindly grandfather diverting mom's attention from the kids' mischief. It was a perfect moment for a team leading a game 6-0, having won 10 of the last 13 to catch first place in the standings. On another continent six days earlier, Luis...

Gender hypocrisy in online games

As a boy, I'd visit my grandparents' house each summer. We'd watch epic tennis games from Wimbledon. This was the 1970s, when top tennis players were big personalities.My grandparents were delighted by boisterous, emotionally hostile male players like John McEnroe, forever hooting at umpires and taunting opponents. In the women's tournament, they preferred mellower players like Chris Evert, over those who seemed more outwardly aggressive, like Martina Navratilova. My grandparents' attitude was not unusual. Very few people found anything odd in this generally accepted hypocrisy. On those rare occasions when women sports professionals actually mattered (tennis, athletics, swimming), the most popularly accepted were 'lady-like,' as my Nan would say. The world of entertainment has changed...
Good Game

As game players diversify, developers start to rethink the stars of their games

As video games continue to become a massive, mainstream form of entertainment, the sorts of people playing games continue to diversify.Increasingly those players who aren't white and male — the stereotypical view of who plays video games — are asking why they don't have the ability to play the games they love as characters that they can more easily identify with. Why isn't there more diversity in the fictional worlds of video games, where players can be anything that game-makers imagine? The topic, specifically the lack of realistic female protagonists in blockbuster games, became a major talking point at this year's E3 after the people behind the next installment of massive hit series Assassin's Creed said they abandoned women assassins in the cooperative mode of their game because...

What is The Pokémon Company?

Pokémon is a series about friendship, competition and jamming fearsome creatures into tiny little balls. It's a quirky, lovable franchise that over the last 18 years or so has won the hearts — and wallets — of millions worldwide. The brand makes up a highly watched kids's show, more than a dozen animated films, a trading card game, merchandise and a video game series that continues to pump out one addictive title after another. But the breakdown of who does what for the mega brand isn't always clear, especially in relation to the generally named apparatus The Pokémon Company. To clear up the confusion, we spoke with the company's director of consumer marketing J.C. Smith and The Pokémon Company International spokesperson Rob Novickas. What is The Pokémon Company? Founded in 1998 in...

Why some fans are battling with Notch over Minecraft changes

Around the world, millions of people enjoy playing Minecraft, one of the most successful video games of all time. But an argument has broken out between Mojang, the maker of Minecraft, and the many companies and people which host Minecraft multiplayer servers, and who charge for their services, which include creating game-worlds and play modes based on the game, as well as the sale of in-game items and currency. Mojang points out that its End User Licence Agreement (EULA) prohibits third parties from profiting from Minecraft in ways that it does not approve. This is an entirely ordinary position for any IP owner to take. However, Mojang did nothing to stop these servers from making a profit for years. Only now is the company threatening to back up its EULA. This has upset a lot of...
E3 2014

What is E3? America's biggest video game event explained

E3 is a hulking, ever changing beast. It will eat your enthusiasm, digest and then evacuate it as a gross and raw and cynical sludge. But only if you let it. It can also be special, in a monstrous sort of way. I did my best to explain various components of this marketing machine and put them into the context of the industry as a whole. I don't know if I quite landed on my intended target, but I think I fell close. I couldn't have done even that without the hard work of many great journalists and videographers. This video has a number of clips from years past and I want to use this post to provide proper attribution. More importantly, I encourage you to take the time to watch these videos. They are like historic relics, as exciting, if not more exciting, that the intensely rehearsed...

Why frame rate and resolution matter: A graphics primer

Graphics has always been the foremost battleground in the console wars. The participants in those never-ending debates try to bring in objectivity by quoting numbers — and in the case of visual prowess, resolution and frame rate are the two figures most commonly cited.But what do they even mean? What's the difference between 720p and 1080p, or between 30 frames per second and 60 frames per second — and is it an academic distinction, or a meaningful one? In other words, why should you care? What are resolution and frame rate, anyway? Let's begin with some basic definitions, for the uninitiated. Frame rate Standard video, such as film or broadcast television, consists of still images that are captured consecutively and played back in quick succession. A "frame" is a single one of...

Why E.T. wasn't the worst game in history

Howard Scott Warshaw is a man with many achievements to his name: licensed psychotherapist, published author, award-winning documentarian, former real-estate broker and developer of the supposedly worst video game ever made: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600.The quality of the E.T. video game has become an urban legend. It's the worst game ever made for an Atari console. It's the worst video game ever made, period. It is so bad, it caused the video game industry to crash in 1983. It is so bad, Atari buried 12 million unsold E.T. game cartridges in the Alamogordo desert of New Mexico, covered it with cement and tried to forget about it. Gosh, critics of the game say. It was truly the worst. Speaking to Polygon from Los Altos, CA, Warshaw can't help but laugh. "It tickles...

Mario Kart 8 will likely be the worst-selling game in franchise history, here's why

The Mario Kart series has long been a sales leader, ranking as the second-best selling game on Nintendo's last three hardware platforms, but even if every current Wii U owner bought the next installment, Mario Kart 8, it would still be the second-worst selling game in franchise history.That's because there are only 6.17 million Wii U consoles in gamers' homes, and that's fewer than the number of copies that all but one previous Mario Kart game sold. The only way Mario Kart 8 could sell more would be by driving gamers to buy new consoles. And that's certainly one of the things Nintendo hopes will happen. In a recent financial report, Nintendo cited Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. as the Wii U's "two main drivers" for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015. The company expects to sell...

Everything you need to know about why Microsoft is getting into the TV business

What are Xbox Originals? Xbox Entertainment Studios has begun development on a production slate of scripted, reality, documentary and feature programs that will begin to roll out on Xbox consoles this summer and continue indefinitely. Microsoft calls them Xbox Originals. These projects will eventually capitalize on Microsoft's library of properties, though most of the shows presented at our media briefing were decidedly smaller endeavors. Wait, isn't Xbox just a video game company? No, Xbox isn't solely a games company. It never was. Xbox hardware has always been Microsoft's play for the living room. They're more explicit with their broader strategy now, thanks largely to the advent of streaming media and the ubiquity of computers and high-speed internet. Over the past decade,...

What is Bruce Lee doing in a UFC video game?

Bruce Lee died in 1973. Twenty years later, the Ultimate Fighting Championship was founded. And 21 years after that, both are appearing in a video game together, EA Sports UFC.The team-up is not without some controversy. Bruce Lee's brand of fighting, distinct though it is, isn't what you see in the UFC. Hardcore MMA fans may dispute his background in jiu-jitsu, a core fighting style in modern MMA. Hardcore Bruce Lee fans might point out modern MMA isn't the kind of street fighting for which Lee was known as a competitor. "They go, 'He'd poke you in the eyes, kick you in the knee and then do something to take you out,'" mused Brian Hayes, the creative director for EA Sports UFC. "We know there are going to be people like that on both ends." Hayes brought all this up when his studio...

On eve of PAX East, organizers promise to start the rebuilding of trust in Penny Arcade

Penny Arcade Expo, once a place where people could go to revel in the shared interests of board games, table-top games and video games, doesn't feel as welcoming as it once did.The show and the brand was tarnished last year by a series of social media storms sparked by insensitive and transphobic remarks by a founder of the more-than-a-webcomic brand. Penny Arcade's fifth east coast expo, tickets for which sold out the day they were made available, kicks off tomorrow in Boston. The show is their first chance to publicly start trying to repair the damage they caused to their brand and community. "I really do believe we're done with these incidents," says Robert Khoo, the business manager for Penny Arcade, whose expositions are a uniquely populist force in video gaming. "These...

Why a deal between Netflix and Comcast matters to gamers

When U.S. cable giant Comcast recently announced a deal with Netflix, in which the video-streaming service would receive a direct connection to the cable company in exchange for an undisclosed fee, it had the tech industry worried.Netflix's performance had been suffering on Comcast's network while its performance on other internet service providers saw little degradation, a fact it made known publicly. Comcast denied it was stifling Netflix's traffic. While the cause of the poor performance was not revealed, the two companies reached an agreement where Netflix would pay Comcast a fee to directly interconnect with the cable company, vastly improving the quality of video streams for Comcast customers. The deal is a boon for Comcast subscribers, who will now experience better-quality...
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