Mod-makers beware! This week we look at the poor kid who's been thrown out of school after modding it for him and his friends to play Counter Strike in. (No prizes for guessing the impetus behind that investigation.) More upbeat is the cell phone game being devised that will help foreign students acclimatize to campus life in the West. Still more upbeat is the feature on the Super Paper Mario writers, who are a ray of hope for those of us sick of pompous, humorless and gutless game dialogue.

  • Chinese Community Rallies Behind Student Removed From Clements
    So let me get this straight: A talented young Chinese student skillfully creates a virtual map of his school in his own time, fixes his own broken bed with a little industrious D.I.Y. and is then arrested and removed from high school on the grounds that he (and his hammer) may be a threat to others. This is of course an outrageous reaction to the Virginia shooting, and while it is perhaps understandable that the report was followed up by the school in the wake of that tragedy, how sad it is that this young man is suffering such repercussions for the overreaction of others. Was he naive not to take the mod down in light of Virginia? Perhaps, but then he is just a youngster who probably (and rightly) saw nothing inherently harmful in the mod itself. And while it's going too far to say that this kind of presumptuous punishment is more likely to produce another Seung-Hui Cho than prevent one, it is not sending a positive message to other students (particularly Asian students) across the country, many of whom are likely terrified that the Half-Life mod they're currently working on or the short story they've just written might find them similarly ostracized.
  • 'Super Paper Mario' Vs. 'Renaissance.Nerds'
    These Mario RPG/Paper Mario writers do a bang up job. Thousand Year Door and in particular Superstar Saga were two of the wittiest and funniest games I've played, in a way that directly weighed in on how much I enjoyed them overall. Having not played Super Paper Mario yet, I can only hope that the irreverent tone is once again as skillfully implemented. There is so little well-crafted humor in games and far too many examples, as Nintendo writer Nate Bihldorff points out, of games "that take themselves so seriously and yet have to come up with the most convoluted crap to explain this thing you have to do as a video game player".
  • Game combats campus culture shock
    Here's something you don't see every day; a videogame that helps people acclimatize to a foreign culture. C-Shock is a cell phone game for foreign students in Britain's ethnically diverse universities, helping them cope with the culture shock of campus life and what most young Westerners would consider to be everyday activities (smoking; drinking; kissing in public.) A fantastic idea in theory, but one wonders if the game would really do any more than provide a preview of the culture they are entering into; it's not as if seeing these cultural differences in a game-format necessarily prepares you for the impact that culture will have on your life or instantly make you at ease with it. And if the photo in this article is anything to go by, we may want to be wary of scaring foreign students off altogether.
  • What Happened Since Duke Nukem Forever Was Announced
    A cruel, but amusing way to brush up on the last 10 years.

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Andrew Fletcher
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