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Critical News Rundown

Andrew Fletcher's picture

"It's time for the big E3 round-up!" is what I might be saying now if I could be bothered to trawl through every commercial games site digging out the links to videos you've already seen. Nope! This here's a good old-fashioned GC News hoedown: Iranian propaganda games, a beard-stroking discussion about comic book authors writing for games, and the customary do-gooding story about games-for-good (which nobody plays) being counterbalanced by two or three about other games (which everybody plays) sowing the seeds of humanity's downfall. Oh yeah, and a really popular game title in the teaser to make sure everybody reads it. This week: Halo 3.

[NB: Due to a moral miscalculation, there will be no 'do-gooding story about games-for-good' this week, but double the number of 'games are evil' stories. Enjoy!]

  • With Fanfare, Iranians Launch Anti-U.S. Game
    Rescue The Nuke Scientist, probably not at E3 this year, is looking to be the most high profile (and presumably most polished after 3 years in development) of anti-US propaganda games. Is the use of gaming as a battleground for propaganda an attempt to capture the hearts and minds of the young? An inevitability given the prominence of the medium today? Or is it the best way to normalize violence and violent sentiment towards a perceived enemy of the nation, given the medium's casual attitude to killing and vigilantism? It'd be an interesting experience to play the game and see how it engages with the genre staples and cultural norms of equivalent Western movies and games. But I think I'll wait and see what IGN give it.
The Darkness - comical!
  • Why game developers need comic book writers
    This The Darkness-inspired piece from the now-actually-quite-good-sometimes Games Radar is a neat insight into a medium whose mutual respect for gaming not only exceeds that which we have with haughty Hollywood, but might actually be more beneficial to those involved, at least according to the bubble-fillers interviewed here. There's no doubt in my mind that novelists and screenwriters still look down on videogames as a lesser medium, unwilling to explore its potential and only dipping their toes in for some quick cash when they need it. But the successes of games like The Darkness and (a personal favorite) Rogue Trooper suggest that comics and games may have a more intimate connection. Actually, that's probably balls, and cross-media success simply comes down to thoughtful and thorough implementation, no matter what mediums are involved. I just felt Rogue Trooper deserved a mention.

  • EA unveils Wii stabilisers
    Yes, we like this. Conceptually, at least, it is one of the most sweeping and convincing steps taken by a developer towards all-inclusive difficulty design. The hardcore will blanch at the idea, of course, but then it's not for them. Or maybe it is. Anyone who's spent many a tedious hour introducing a non-gamer friend to a multiplayer game they can barely understand, let alone play competitively, should probably hope EA pulls this one off. If they do, I could see an optional ‘Family Play' control scheme become something of an industry requirement on appropriate titles.

    EA's Family Play

  • id Software (interview)
    Tom Willits: "One of the things that I see with my kids—I have a ten-year-old—is that they love to play online games and get together, and when they play these games, their world shrinks. They're solving problems and playing against each other or with each other, amongst all these different cultures and people throughout the world, and I believe that when our kids get older and become the politicians of the future, it will probably be a more peaceful world because they have grown up knowing that they can just play with people from China or Russia and everyone's the same and everyone solves problems together. So I actually have a brighter outlook on the future based on the social interaction, the social connectivity that we have in videogames in our youth."

  • Murderer's mum blames games
    Ooohh... this one's going to get you all riled up. The mother who didn't realize that games had age ratings. The suggestion that her teenage son used PlayStation games to 'practice' his murder on a nurse (whom he stabbed 72 times). And the tabloid paper gleefully capitalizing the most SHOCKING words in their SORDID reporting of the CONCLUSIVE PROOF of gaming's COLD-HEARTED DEPRAVITY.

    Resident Evil 5

  • African Women's Blog Critical of Resident Evil 5 Trailer
    You can see where she's coming from. And for a moment let's cut the phony self-righteous crap about 'no one made a big deal about RE4, which was the killing of “inhuman savages” as white people', and 'why isn’t San Andreas racist, you play a black guy killing white guys?' It is not a clear-cut double standard when you look at the injustices and prejudices of recent human history. Yes these are more enlightened times, but a game in which a white American protagonist engages in what is essentially a gruesome mass cull of crazed African villagers is unlikely to evoke a shrug of indifference from, say, someone whose grandparents were lynched by the Klan. A particularly tasteless reference, granted, but I would say Africans and African-Americans have a right to be wary of such extreme media images as those presented by Resident Evil 5. Personally, I think the atmosphere and intensity Capcom have set up for the game (in the trailers alone) is sensational, but I can absolutely see how concern has arisen from certain quarters.

  • Nintendo recalls Mario Party 8 in UK
    Rather amusingly, it was for using the exact same word as forced Ubisoft to withdraw all copies of Mind Quiz from European shelves. [Tera talks more about that incident in her recent blog post.]

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I love to say "I told you so!", and...

"I could see an optional ‘Family Play' control scheme become something of an industry requirement on appropriate titles."

Within a week of writing this little prophecy, it has satisfyingly come to pass as Publisher X uses EA's Family Play model as their reasoning for asking Developer Y to implement a Remote-only control system for their upcoming Wii game, "Title Z".

Sorry for the secrecy, but the important thing is: I was right. :D

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