This week finds Sony both backtracking on their force feedback promises (that is, not to have any) but looking ahead regardless with a generally promising suite of PS3 plans laid out at this year's Game Developer's Conference. But if you suffer from fear of change, then fear not: we also take another look at the impact of game violence on real life violence, ask what the links between them may be, and come away with absolutely no answers. Phew!
- PlayStation 3 - the next level
Eurogamer offered up a decent, speedy round-up of Sony's interesting keynote at the Game Developer's Conference this week. In it Phil Harrison does his best to restore some confidence in Sony's PS3 vision, or at least convince us that they have one at all, with a number of announcements designed to make us see Sony's latest system as the future all-conquering, top-selling games console it once seemed certain to be. Some will still point out that the lack of any blockbuster software promises or demos intrinsically handicaps a speech like this, but we all know that Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid and Gran Turismo will eventually turn up and shift millions of PS3s, so it is at least comforting to know that some thought is finally going into making their latest home more than just a PlayStation update. The 'Home' infrastructure seems predictable and derivative in retrospect, but is still a more appealing and involved front-end application than any other major system can boast and if Little Big Planet lives up to its promise, it ought to at least reinvigorate interest in the platform genre and could spark off a new era of user-created console gaming.
- do video games kill?
This staunch rebuttal to the accusation that videogames are to blame for violent youths and school shootings seems as one-sided as the reports it is attempting to discredit, but basically it amounts to this: look to societal causes first and don't blame violent entertainment. But with psychological studies continuously serving up conflicting results as to our vulnerability to popular media, I'd like to see such concerns put into better historical context, and that goes beyond just mentioning that "they said the same thing about comic books". What can we say about the way public executions or Colosseum fights either impacted upon or grew out of the societies of their day, and how much safer is the virtual bloodlust of the average teen in 2007? More than anything, it frustrates to find this argument continually reduced to a black or white reasoning that suggests games are either harmful or they are not. Personally, I do think there is something quite dark, perverse even, about the satisfaction gained from a bloody headshot or grisly chainsaw killing, and that deserves unbiased analysis. But whether this reflects a broad cultural degeneration, a specific psychological imbalance or is actually a perfectly healthy way to satisfy primal urges in the modern world is far from clear-cut, and the issue has certainly not been clarified enough that we can confidently legislate against such games with anything more than speculation.
- Sony and Immersion sign new rumble agreement
Does this mean a Sixaxis2 controller could be around the corner? It'd certainly be an interesting development given Sony's 2006 line about force feedback being unable to co-exist with the motion sensing technology in the PS3's joypad. But then SCE President Kaz Hirai's suggestion that this deal paves the way for "new and innovative products incorporating [Immersion's] technologies" already kind of steps on the toes of Sony Worldwide Studios President Phil Harrison who recently dubbed rumble a "last generation feature".
- Strategy Guide Author to Race Famed TransRockies Course
A quick shout-out to Doug Walsh here, a friend of GameCritics.com who is braving a 350-mile bike ride through the Canadian Rockies under sponsorship of strategy guide publisher BradyGames. Doug, better known to readers as prolific forum poster EnduroGamer, wants to shatter the myth that gamers cannot balance their couch-based entertainment with more energetic, outdoor pursuits: "Videogame addiction is a serious issue and I imagine it can lead to childhood obesity, but it doesn't have to. I want to show those who demonize videogames that even a ‘professional gamer' like me who makes his living playing and writing about games can still lead a healthy, active lifestyle. It doesn't have to be one or the other." Best of luck from everyone here at GC, Doug!