The Needles

The Needles by Andy Chalk is an ongoing look at the news and events that shape the hobby and the industry we know and love, shot through with occasional outbursts of randomness that can only be found in a gaming column written by a guy who doesn't actually own a gaming console.

The Needles

LucasArts is undestandably synonymous with the Star Wars franchise, but once upon a time, it was known for something else entirely: well-crafted, creative adventure and sim games.

The Needles

The Gamers' Bill of Rights is a nice idea, but Andy Chalk says that when you start picking it apart, it's almost entirely meaningless.

The Needles

Many consumers consider access to "free" games to be an incentive to buy a PC -- and retailers are counting on it.

The Needles

Who needs ragdoll physics and bump mapping when a few lines of well-written text provide all the imagery you need? Andy Chalk examines the wonderful world of MUDs.

The Needles

The life of a videogame collector is one of obsessive organization and acquisition, but Andy Chalk has found some friends to help him with his compulsions.

The Needles

Why didn't Max Payne 2 reach the audience it so richly deserved? Andy Chalk believes it's because the game's mature themes demanded too much from a public not ready to take videogames seriously.

The Needles

EA has earned the ire of gamers, a reputation as an evil empire, and even a lawsuit from ticked-off Madden fans, but Andy Chalk asks, has the company actually done anything wrong?

The Needles

Malygris preps for his close-up on Canadian TV by looking a bit more deeply into the question of videogame-inspired violence.

The Needles

With a name like Stalin vs. Martians, it has to be good. How good? "Pac-Man with guns and weird jokes and bears" good.

The Needles

The loss of two of the ESA's largest members - who would soon have become its single largest member - will likely cause ripple effects with far-reaching and potentially damaging consequences to the organization and the industry at large. But in matters such as these, there are typically many more questions than answers, not least of which is why anyone should care about the ESA in the first place.

The Needles

Life is full of surprises. It starts when you're young: Girls are icky and gross, until the day you realize you'd happily ransom your soul to the devil to get them to pay you some attention. Later, with the acquisition of your driver's license and your first set of wheels you swear you'll never become one of those minivan-owning chumps, and then one day you wake up with three kids, a dog and a need to get them all across town in 15 minutes.

The Needles

For almost as long as there have been videogames, debate has raged over their worth as art. Be it early text adventures or the latest high-tech simulations, long-winded discussions about the artistic merit of interactive electronic entertainment have been as close as the nearest message forum. But there's a more fundamental aspect of our hobby that's undeniably true and yet often overlooked: Art or not, it's all business.

The Needles

I have a lit-up, pimped-out, overclocked rig that's worth more and goes faster than my car. I am disgusted by the weakness of people who complain that standard PC keyboards are unintuitive as game controllers. I beat games like I beat children and small animals: enthusiastically and often.

And I'm looking at the PopCap website.

The Needles

My first in-game conquest, which took very little time to get to, was suggestive but fully covered and, thus, a bit of a let-down. The second, however, showed the goods in a big way, and with that we were off to the races. Killing monsters, it turns out, is the thing Witchers are second best at, and although I had no way of knowing it at the time, The Witcher would quickly have me raising my eyebrows, shaking my head and rolling my eyes as I wandered through a surreal, medieval sexual Olympiad.

The Needles

Let's face it: We're a violent species. We've been beating ten shades of sh*t out of each other since the dawn of time, not just out of necessity but because at some level it's a whole lot of fun, too. Though we can't go around kicking the asses of our fellow citizens with quite the level of abandon we enjoyed a few millennia ago, there's still a little tiny bit of caveman brain inside all of us that longs for nothing more than a bit of skull-busting in the name of survival competition.