Op-Ed

Join The Escapist's writers and editors each weekday afternoon for an look at the issues important to you.

Op-Ed

Imagine if a dozen Peacebombers showed up at a homeless shelter to pitch in during a tough snowstorm, or a large-scale project resulted in several dozens at a Habitat for Humanity build site.

What if they helped to find a missing child?

Op-Ed

I was 10 years old when the town of Arlington, Texas outlawed Dungeons & Dragons. This was in the mid-80s. The furor over the game's demonic content and "dangerous" subtexts was at its height. Pamphlet's like Jack Chick's Dark Dungeons were circulating at PTA meetings and Sunday school classes, and news pundits and newspaper editorialists were denouncing the game as contributing to all manner of ills, from juvenile delinquency to gruesome murders and disappearances.

Op-Ed

As the dust from the Guitar Hero II downloadable content pricing flap settles from nearly universal offense to a mildly simmering annoyance, the real source of the animosity seems to be that gamers, yet again, suffered under the illusion that Activision, Microsoft, Harmonix or whoever the hell chooses the price for this stuff, wouldn't naturally maximize the cost to the breaking point of what the market will bear.

Op-Ed

When I brought home the Universal Gamer Remote, the first question asked of me was "Why?" Answering it, I felt like an infomercial host.

"It solves the problem of clutter in your living room," I blurted. I got a blank stare in response.

"Are you tired of always hunting for the right remote control? Imagine using your cable box, television, Xbox 360, PS2, DVD player and audio device all with one remote!" I entreated. Still nothing.

Op-Ed

Scott "Lum the Mad" Jennings has something to say about Sony Online Entertainment's new Vice President of Business Development & International Operations.

Op-Ed

The return to the movie theatre of the Turtles, and other lapsed franchises like Transformers, Batman, and Superman, has some interesting lessons for gaming franchises. The question here is not why the Turtles are making a comeback - our generation, bankrupt of its own ideas, is easily swayed by nostalgia, even for things that weren't really that good in the first place - but if people bought into Turtles then and buy into Turtles now, why didn't they buy into them in the intervening 15 years

Op-Ed

For a lot of modern games, though, there's a lot more to it than just the game mechanics. Games aren't just the rolling of ethereal dice or leaping over pits anymore. The best games today have characters you can care about. They have stories you can get excited about and new ways to explore familiar concepts. In some cases, truly great games have to be sequels.

Op-Ed

In Lost Planet I was hoping to find something special and unique. Something worthy of the Xbox 360's technical prowess and Capcom's stature as a gaming powerhouse. I was looking for a blend of East meets West; a Japanese game for a Western audience (as the advertorials suggested); and a thrilling story into which I could lose myself over the course of a long weekend. I was, in other words, looking for my next "great game." I found it, but as usual with Capcom games, the good was mixed with a significant amount of bad.

Op-Ed

In a family, it's an inevitability, like growing older, feuds over the Thanksgiving table or getting married. Someone, somewhere, is going to find religion, and since he's family, you're going to have to put up with him.

Op-Ed

In the age of the internet, as worldwide communication confirms that misery loves planetary company, online customer surveys, review sites, blogs and forums have become a self-sustaining orgy of endless criticism, commentary and review. It seems if something can't be rated according to a linear scale, it doesn't even register on our cultural radars.

Op-Ed

Like a lot of geeks, I have a touch of the OCD. You wouldn't know it from my workstation, my apartment, the clothes I wear or my general demeanor, but it's there. Look under the carefully disheveled surface and you'll see it festering like a bad case of herpes, just waiting to break out.

Op-Ed

I have some friends in PR and marketing. They're not major fans of my work sometimes, and with good reason. I often have less than flattering things to say about their role in the grand scheme of things, the circle of life governing this, the gaming industry. That's not to say I don't appreciate what they do (quite the contrary), but I spend far more time focusing my words on how they get in my way than how they help me - and you - get what we want out of life. A good advertisement, in the words of David Ogilvy, sells the product without drawing attention to itself, and that's something I can get behind.

Op-Ed

This essential freedom central to many upcoming games is widely praised by players. In reality, though, is this freedom really all that great for gaming? Now that it has begun to take its place in popular culture, and attention is finally beginning to be paid to stories in games, will personal narratives help or harm gaming's path to media acceptance? Is a personal narrative within a game ultimately "better" than a canned story created by the designers? Those are big questions and can be broken down into a number of elements: validity, meaning, emotion and community.

Op-Ed

Jim Greer is an old-school idealist. Co-Founder of independent game community site, Kongregate, he was formerly Technical Director at EA's casual game site, Pogo and before that worked on a number of games, including a few entries in the storied Ultima series. Last year he decided to make a go of building his own independent game site and co-founded Kongregate.

On the face of it, that's all you'd need to know, really. Former minion at one of the largest casual game sites in the world breaks off and founds one of his own. Happens every day. The game industry is literally rife with such stories, and most of them end in failure - or smashing success. To try and guess which category Jim Greer will fit into, one must dig deeper.

Op-Ed

The brightly colored gems shimmer as I run my mouse over them. They disappear with a satisfying chime when I line up three in a row, heightening in pitch and volume during a chain reaction. Another sounds when I make a row of four and generate a sparkling Power Gem. The best is when I swap out the Hyper Cube. Lighting flashes out at the climax, and each gem shatters with a satisfying crash.

Twenty minutes later, I've scored 826,790 points. The rest of my game stats do not matter. Not the number of special gems I created or the longest number of cascades, just the score.

Once in, you just can't stop. Nothing holds me quite like it. Not Bookworm or Mahjong. It's Bejeweled2 or nothing.