In the face of recent wins, Nintendo's lack of online functions is no longer forgivable

Nintendo is a company that, for better or worse, is completely blind to the trends and innovations of the gaming world around it. This allows the company to make interesting and bold leaps with its software and hardware, but it also means that Nintendo is often laughably behind the rest of the gaming world when it comes to basic features. Small steps are being made to fix this issue, but the baffling lack of competitive online or account-based features make the Wii U feel like a prior-generation console. At this point we're not mad at Nintendo, just disappointed. Especially after the release of games like Mario Kart 8 that help breathe new life in the hardware, and a wonderful slate of games shown at E3. The problem A recent update to the Wii U allows you to move your content to...

No skin thick enough: The daily harassment of women in the game industry

Content warning: This post contains graphic language, slurs and triggering content"Women are the niggers of gender," the email said. "If you killed yourself, I wouldn’t even fuck the corpse." I blinked at my phone, fighting simultaneous urges to hurl my phone across the room in anger and cry. Later that day, someone texted me my address — telling me they’d "See me when I least expected it." I haven’t been out to my car at night by myself since January 2nd. My name is Brianna Wu. I lead a development studio that makes games. Sometimes, I write about issues in the games industry that relate to the equality of women. My reward is that I regularly have men threatening to rape and commit acts of violence against me. If you are a woman working in the games industry, especially in a public...

Gaming's favorite villain is mental illness, and this needs to stop

One of the most destructive aspects of mental illness is that it is invisible. There is no obvious physical indication that someone is struggling with a mental health concern.They don’t swell up or wear a cast or waste away, evoking the sympathy and understanding of those around them. They sit at their cubicles or their home office desks or behind their bathroom mirrors and often suffer in silence. The discussion surrounding mental health can also be invisible. It’s one of the least-understood public health concerns, despite how common mental health problems can be in the population. This lack of open conversation creates an atmosphere in which mental health issues and the people who live with them are stigmatized and made to feel like outsiders, unable to address their concerns with...

Quit Twitter before you're hard, quit Instagram before you're soft

It took New York a decade to turn me. Friends in the city said it would make me a bit tougher, a bit gruffer and a bit harder, but I didn't believe them. But it has, and I should leave. I'm a Midwest boy. We had a good run, but this is probably for the better.There's a saying that you should leave New York before it makes you too hard and leave Northern California before it makes you too soft. I believe the notion originates from Mary Schmich's "Wear Sunscreen," a commencement speech that became the unlikely spoken-word jam of the summer of 1999. I appreciate the advice, and I'd argue it applies to more than just the geography of where we live. This week, I can't help but feel these clear rules whenever I sign into social media. Quit Twitter before you're too hard, I think. And quit...

Dark, satanic and dangerous: What we need from the new Doom

The original Doom games were much more interesting than their sequels and the games influenced by their design would suggest.The color palette was rich, filled with deep greens and reds, bright blues and the beginnings of the brown-and-gray aesthetic that would be popularized in Quake and has since ensnarled so many modern, often boring first-person shooters. The levels popped, and often reminded me of the aggressively bright coloring of early punk records. Doom was the first game many of us felt we had to hide from our parents; it felt like something that was better kept in our sock drawer, next to the dog-eared copies of pornographic magazines. The game was fast-paced and bloody, but more than that it was legitimately shocking for the time. Bodies hung from the ceiling, and gore...

QuakeCon is a PC gaming haven, and no company can change that

The first QuakeCon was organized in 1996 by a handful of id Software fans, who wired their computers together between rooms and hallways in a hotel near id Software's Mesquite, Texas office.The few dozen attendees at the beginning of the event came together to play Quake over a LAN connection on a large scale; an opportunity that brought attracted over 100 gamers to the event by the end of the weekend. When id Software caught wind of the convention, they stopped by to commune with their most diehard fans. John Carmack led an informal group chat with the attendees, where he discussed the technical ins-and-outs of the company's games, and got feedback from fans that would help shape future titles. This year's QuakeCon is an important one for the history of the event. It's the first year...

GaymerX is necessary, but it may not be here next year

GaymerX is a convention for LGBT gamers, allies and friends, with the aim of making everyone in the community feel welcome and accepted.It's like any other gaming convention, full of panels, parties, and devs and publishers showing off their games, but with an inclusive focus and run by people from the community. I spent the weekend attending, and it was a rousing success. The con made a splash on social and drew a large crowd, even though it was competing for mindshare with such massive events as EVO, the DOTA tournament The International and the final game of the world cup. "I was glad there was that much buzz!" GaymerX president Toni Rocca said. "Last year, we kind of got screwed in regards to press." Rocca noted that there's been an expansion of coverage concerning issues of...

Please pay attention to my Patreon career

Back in my day, journalism was the guarded property of liberal arts graduates and the common man had no hope of mastering its dark complexities without years of study in dank classrooms. That time has passed. Today, the first step to becoming a successful games journalist is to ask yourself: Am I ready to become a games journalist? If the answer is yes, congratulations! You are now a games journalist. An active writing career can be maintained by anyone with one toe dipping into the cool Evian waters of Reddit while the other foot is tucked into the thick beaches of the Wordpress platform. That's how I know, looking into the deep pools of their naked eyes, what they really ask when they say "How, Emily, do I become a games journalist?" What they mean is "Will my Patreon be successful?" ...

Yogscast Kickstarter failure is a painful reminder of the risks of crowdfunding

The Yogscast's Yogventures was the first Kickstarter I ever saw that set off alarm bells in my head.If you've never heard of The Yogscast, understand that it is huge. Originally started in 2008, The Yogscast has grown into one of the most popular YouTube groups. Its main channel has over 7 million subscribers, with individual videos regularly receiving over 500,000 views. They're a big deal. They're not a flash in the pan. Building off that success, The Yogscast lent its name and host likenesses to a Kickstarter from Winterkewl Games. The game, titled Yogventures, was to be an open-world sandbox title emphasizing adventure and player control — not unlike the kind of games The Yogscast had become popular from making videos about. The Yogventures Kickstarter quickly raised over $567,000...

The Last Dragon: Why one ecologist struggles with video games and extinction

I seethed with anger while watching a dragon being hunted in Dragon Age: Inquisition.Maybe it’s the lack of context; there’s been no opportunity to explain why this dragon is being hunted in a short walkthrough. Instead we’re being treated to what is essentially a blood sport. Murder for the sake of murder. Wounding an animal for the "pleasure" of maiming. My discomfort is also due to my profession. I’m an ecologist — my life and career is dedicated to the protection of endangered species across Britain, safeguarding them from the typically irreversible damage caused by human development and expansion. If someone wants to develop a plot of land or convert an existing building to a new purpose, an ecologist like myself is required to survey the area for protected species first and...

You don't have to be okay with the violence in video games

Ubisoft published a gameplay trailer for Assassin's Creed Unity in which 15 people are stabbed to death, mostly via wounds to the neck and throat.It's okay if that makes you uncomfortable. The two-minutes of footage is trimmed from an extended gameplay demonstration shown last month at E3. It's fair to assume this is the footage Ubisoft believes is the best gameplay, the stuff more casual fans should be sure to catch. It makes the biggest impact in the shortest time. In the brief trailer Arno, the game's new hero, walks through the beautifully rendered Paris of the French Revolution, leaps from a perch atop a cathedral and participates in copious amounts of murder. That the trailer doesn't include every kill from the extended gameplay session speaks to the game's death count. I was...

What's the scariest thing in the world? Ask your teenage daughter

I’m driving my eldest daughter Alia home from kung fu lessons. She’s telling me crazy stories about her job as a pizza delivery girl.Apparently letting a seventeen year old girl drive alone through dark streets to knock on a stranger’s door is perfectly okay so long as she’s wearing a pizza uniform. I’d be terrified to do her job, and I tell her so. She puts on a brave smile and says the only time she was scared was when a man answered the door almost naked. "I wanted to hurl his pizza away and tell him to put some pants on." Alia tells me. I laugh and say that she’d make a great video game character. "Ninja Pizza Girl." When development is a family business Conversations about video game ideas have always been a part of our family life. My wife Nicole and I have spent our entire...

The dice can kill you: Why first edition AD&D is king

I remember the first time I played AD&D First Edition with a good Dungeon Master. All the episodes prior to that featured my own poorly plotted adventures in some thinly veiled Lord of the Rings knockoff or a friend’s horrible "Let’s kill you all with pit traps in Tomb of Horrors" power-trip extravaganza. What the fuck, right? We were 14 and we didn’t know any better. I think I included a blaster from Gamma World because it seemed cool. Then we rolled a bunch of dice and everyone was dead. It was probably one of the worst sessions ever DM'd in the history of humanity. At some point my friend said he had to go do homework just to get away. I didn’t play again for a long, long time. But there was some part of me that hoped D&D could be better than that, if we could just grow up and get...

This free, quick game shares the risks and rewards of coming out

For a young LGBT person, coming out can be really, really hard.Minor spoilers for Coming Out Simulator 2014 ahead Everyone has a different experience, but inevitably, it changes your life and it changes your relationships. It can also be a horrible nightmare. LGBT youth are routinely bullied, not accepted by their families and even kicked out of their homes for being queer. The statistics are depressing, and the reality of the situation is that it's scary for everyone, whether their parents, loved ones and friends ultimately accept them or not. But it's also the only way forward for most queer people, since the alternative is to live a lie. Coming Out Simulator 2014, by indie developer Nicky Case, is a deeply personal adventure game that details precisely that struggle with humor and...

MMOs are at their best when they're not cloning World of Warcraft

I love World of Warcraft. You'd be hard-pressed to find an MMO player who doesn't love it — or at least didn't love it at some point in the past ten years. That's the problem. MMOs continue to be released every year with gameplay built primarily around aping World of Warcraft's approachable style. Tens of million of people have already devoted hundreds of hours to Blizzard's behemoth. That has to be a majority of the total audience for the massively multiplayer genre, and they've already experienced the pinnacle of that style of gameplay and know that they can return to it for ten year's worth of expansion and patch content at any time. I've been playing two massively multiplayer role-playing games that draw a lot from the World of Warcraft model: Wildstar and Final Fantasy 14. I like...

You shouldn't pre-order Alien: Isolation (or any other game)

Pre-ordering a game doesn’t help the consumer. It helps everyone else. That’s the reality of the situation. Good pre-order numbers sound good on earnings calls, and they’re evidence of an upcoming successful launch. They can be a PR weapon if a company wants to crow about strong early support for a title. They’re treated like money in the bank, and rightfully so: A customer is more or less committing to buying a game before they’ve read a review or heard from others who have played the game to completion. Pre-orders help publishers, we know this. Pre-orders also help stores like GameStop manage inventory. Selling new games is a low-margin business compared to selling accessories, used games, and the other trinkets you find in the store. This is why you’re always upsold when you go...
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