Op-Ed

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Op-Ed

Due to popular demand, we're going to give a sort of poetry circle / book club thing a try. Vishnu help us.

The game for August is Psychonauts, the wacky, but surprisingly deep platformer by Doublefine. This one got a lot of critical acclaim, but tanked at retail. Which means its right up our alley.

Check out Lara Crigger's fantastic article on the game.

Op-Ed

The problem is that, at least here in America, Ebert is right. As a result of social pressures, gaming is not an art form in the United States. It's not art in Britain or Germany or Australia. Maybe it's art in France; they've given Miyamoto medals, after all. But around the world, gaming is restricted, hemmed in and censored by organizations thinking of the children so we don't have to.

Op-Ed

This is the kind of song that made Guitar Hero the dream machine it is today. Wailing solos, long slides and furious fretwork ... If we could do these things in real life, we'd be rock stars. But playing a real guitar is hard. And the graphics aren't as good. And, let's face it, not everyone is cut out for life in the fast lane. Sure life is sweeter when you're on the bus, but that bus never stops, and sometimes, you just want to sit at home on the couch and eat Chinese food, while taking five-minute-at-a-time journeys down the road of rock. And for those times, "Round and Round" will do nicely.

Op-Ed

Team Humidor, the faithful editors of The Escapist, has been sweating for weeks over what we hope will be the best collection of issues about games and gaming yet.

Op-Ed

I think the answer lies in the community-building nature of our pastime. Gamers have invested their lives into a hobby that, unlike most others, does not weaken its grip in the rocky wasteland of adolescence and remains a calling into adulthood. Gaming is a link not only to our past, but as a high-tech industry, it embraces the technology that can link us together.

Op-Ed

I'm a big sports fan - I won't lie. I watch them, I play them and I read about them. A lot of sites run what are called "power rankings," a ranking of every team in a league, which evaluates each team's chance at winning a championship relative to everyone else. As a season goes on, the power rankings change as injuries, trades and reality enters into the mix. And I thought, "Hey, the game industry is pretty competitive. Why don't we have something like this?"

And lo, The Escapist Power Rankings were born. Below, you'll find a list of 20 of the most significant players in the industry, along with five cellar-dwellers.

Op-Ed

Removing a story from its natural medium, in many cases, is a waste of a perfectly good story. Though there are a few exceptions, in general, ripping a story from its original format tarnishes the experience. Gamers may know this lesson even better than the most cynical book lover. Just the same, it seems like a videogame is optioned for a movie adaptation every other week. This past Tuesday's showing of a live action snippet of a possible Halo movie did nothing to alleviate my frustration; though it was well put together, it had the ambiance of a fan-film set in the world of the Alien movies.

Op-Ed

That E3 has fundamentally changed hasn't quite sunk in yet. It's part of the reason I didn't go this year, because I hadn't accepted the certainty of change. It's difficult not to reflect on previous shows where one would quickly lose track of all the new games. Suddenly we have been thrust from the world where LucasArts alone might announce six games at E3 to a scenario where Wii Fit and Scene It! are worth mentioning at major press conferences.

Op-Ed

Veterans of decades of E3s at the LACC can no longer dangle their attendance badges like ears collected from Southwest border raids, signaling to all their superiority. At this point, there isn't a single soul who's yet navigated the gauntlet of ballrooms, boardwalks and shuttle buses awaiting us in Santa Monica, and this is as good as it is bad.

On the good side, we'll probably score a number of impromptu meetings with Important Persons, just by happening to be near their conference rooms when some poor sod scheduled himself to be there immediately following his previous meeting six hotels away and didn't make it. On the bad side, we're just as likely to be that poor sod.

Op-Ed

I think it's extremely laudable that developers are willing to take on issues like religion, politics and science. Where I take issue, though, is central to the medium: choice. In a movie or a book, we need to rely on the content to provide us with multiple viewpoints. If a film wants to ram a single interpretation down our throats, our only real alternative is leaving the room.

Op-Ed

With the shiny, new, "invite only" E3 about a week away and sales, manufacturing and other various numbers streaming in, now is as good a time as any to take another look at the state of the industry.

For starters, and this is not purely fanboy nonsense, the PS3 is in trouble. The good news for Sony? So is the Xbox 360.

Op-Ed

Rumors have been flying all year that PC MMOG elephant Blizzard was either working on a console MMOG or not working on a console MMOG. Meanwhile, the new consoles have continued to gain traction, bringing the long-hyped possibility that a console could rival the PC in both power and software offerings even closer to a reality. So where are the MMOGs?

Op-Ed

My article in Issue 101 of The Escapist, titled The Breasts that Broke the Game, discussed the ESRB's decision last year to re-rate Oblivion from a "T" for Teen rating to "M" for Mature, based, in part, on the availability of a mod that could render all of the game's female characters topless. The proximity of the announcement from the ESRB to that year's E3 trade show meant the gaming press was focusing on other issues, and an important moment in the history of game rating was passed over in the wave of E3 hype.

Response to the article on the forums was heated, indicating there were many sides to this seemingly naked issue. The ESRB took the most vigorous exception to the piece, suggesting that, in fact, boobies did not break the game.

In a follow up interview, ESRB President Patricia Vance spoke with The Escapist on a number of topics, outlining for the first time ever, their specific reasons for re-rating Oblivion (and it really wasn't just the breasts).

Op-Ed

We thought we'd chosen a safe, although titillating, assortment of stories from across the spectrum of gaming's history to highlight for our "controversy" issue. Stories that, although controversial in their time, were now more or less moot points. Stories we could safely poke with a sharp stick without fear they'd leap up and bite our faces off. In fact, we intentionally avoided the Hot Coffee and school shooting minefields for Issue 101, mainly to avoid muddying the waters of introspection with any misplaced moral panic.

Boy, did we have it wrong.

Op-Ed

The little console that could conquered our hearts and homes, blowing away analyst and fan expectations with sales so high it's still almost impossible to find one in stock. However, with the six-month mark come and gone, the first adopter crowd is starting to grumble. Discontent is setting in among the people that waited in line and those of us who managed to snipe one via relentless page refreshing. We've saved the princesses - Twilight and otherwise - and gorged ourselves on nostalgia at the Virtual Console buffet. Wii Sports tried our patience and hurt our elbows, and we've finally put it aside until the next time we've had enough drinks to make it sound like a good idea. It was fun while it lasted, and it's a neat concept, but it needs more. Now, the little white box lurks under the TV, unused for weeks and months on end, and we wonder if this is it. The revolution we anticipated seems to have fizzled out, especially when the PlayStation 2 is still the place to go for neat games on the cheap.