Op-Ed

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Op-Ed

The appropriate analogy would be the number of people who receive sales circulars for the local grocery store versus how many take that circular to the store, clip out the coupons and buy a ham. A lot of people are registered for accounts on Second Life. These people are all considered residents. But few of them actually play the (not) game.

Op-Ed

All this means, if and when Yakuza 2 does appear, not only will it be facing a console generation gap, but not many fans will be lining up to find out what happens in one of the most convincing gaming worlds ever created.

Op-Ed

The real reason, though, is that I'm changing. Over the last year I've noticed a subtle, but insidious, change in my playing habits that has made me re-examine everything I like about gaming. It's disconcerting, but it's no longer something I can ignore: I'm becoming a console gamer. I've always played console games, to be sure, but I've always thought of myself as a 'PC Guy'.

Op-Ed

This Valentine's Day, if you're looking to land that gamer woman (or man) of your dreams, do what Madison Avenue does, and start by finding yourself a hot chick to show off. Redundant you say? Isn't that the problem in the first place, you may ask? Nonsense. We all know at least one girl who plays games, and believe me, there's a big difference between this "gamer chick friend" and the girl of your dreams. She knows this, even if you don't. So now's the time to finally listen to her, stop imagining yourself in her pants and start using her as bait. Here's how.

Op-Ed

We had a chance to speak with the player in question, who asked to be referenced as Kugutsumen. Kugutsumen infiltrates EVE corporation message boards - via "bribery, social engineering, etc." - for in-game currency as a hobby. In the past, he's spied on the largest alliances in the game in order to provide intelligence to other groups. During a fairly routine run, Kugutsumen uncovered a story that's been circulating the internet over the past few days, a story about cheating developers and the CSRs who tried to cover up their indiscretions.

Op-Ed

Can we be surprised that digital rights management exists, that protecting digital property is of greater significance to companies than improving the consumer experience, that the industries that can be affected by piracy have lost as much faith in their customers as we customers have in their business practices? Whether intentionally or not, Shawn Fanning's Napster was Fort Sumter, and the media industries were understandably shocked to find that the army massed against them numbered in the millions.

Op-Ed

"Does she have breasts? Are they big breasts? Have you seen her breasts? Will she rub them in my face, move them closer to the camera or send me a picture of them? Can I touch them or ... do things to them?" This, believe it or not, is the entire contents of a man's mind in the first five seconds (and every five seconds thereafter) upon discovering a woman who plays games; which is, I dare say, to be expected. Unfortunately, it's what also tends to come out of his mouth. In that vast arena that is everyday life, such thoughts are often put aside if not outright ignored, in order to allow for more civilized interaction. Women need not fear that every other word out of a man's mouth will be in reference to her boobs. Addressed to them, maybe, but not necessarily about them. So why can we not expect the same amount of decorum in the game arena? Women inhabit approximately 50 percent of the meatspace on this planet, so why do so many of us act as if we've never seen one?

Op-Ed

My friends who are into gaming are all professionals with demanding jobs, most of them married or in long-term relationships, all of them with greater pressures on their schedules than guiding plumbers around castles. When I ask what they're playing, they usually have a variety of answers: Some of them play games where you can check your brain at the title screen, games like SSX or Need for Speed; some play online games that can be over in minutes; some dabble with the latest hits - but very rarely do they finish them.

Yet, with all of them there is a common trend - none have the time or patience for the hard slog from A to B that so many games still require.

Op-Ed

All this week, the Slamdance Film Festival has been going on in Park City, Utah. Curiously lacking in the gaming press has been coverage of the festival's Guerrilla Gamemaker Competition. That's probably because all the big news about the event already unfolded over the months leading up to it: Slamdance's initial invite to the creator of Super Columbine Massacre RPG! to submit his controversial game, the game's nomination as a finalist in the Guerrilla Gamemaker Competition, and then, well, let's be blunt: Slamdance chickening out and dropping SCMRPG from consideration due to what they claimed were concerns over legal threats.

Op-Ed

The assaults on games as destroyers of youth have been waxing and waning in relation to the gravitational pull of various election cycles, and we've so far managed to exorcise almost every possible permutation of the "games are bad for you" argument. In fact, the pendulum has slowly started to swing the other way, with a wave of "games are good for you" stories appearing in various news outlets, mainly attributing increases in memory and cognitive ability to games like Brain Age, although some have gone so far as to say that exercising the imagination is good, which, I think, is entirely accurate.

Today, however, is another day, and I've just read what I believe is the most preposterous argument against playing videogames I've ever seen, and it's convinced me that where there's a deadline, there's a way to make really, really bad arguments for impossibly dumb theories.

Op-Ed

My latest nonfiction read was Donald A. Norman's The Design of Everyday Things. Norman's central theme is design - what makes good design, what makes bad design - and it essentially builds a picture of what makes a well-crafted object, room or item.

Op-Ed

I have, as a recovering retailer, run my own midnight opening several times, and I assure you, it's better to control the retail gods than be at their mercy. The sense of vague superiority one might sense from clerks holding the keys to something so desirable is not imaginary, and like guests at Disney World, we are their voluntary captives, subject to ridiculous, overpriced product offers with high profit margins.

Op-Ed

This week, as news of the release of Blizzard's Burning Crusade expansion to the ridiculously successful World of Warcraft MMOG spread across the web like wildfire, a second story appeared. While the first-in-liners settled in behind their computers for a long winter's nap of adventure and discovery in the newly-expanded world of Azeroth, one man quietly announced that he'd already been there, done that and had the "ding" to prove it.

Op-Ed

At first glance, the girl with sparkly flowers painted over her bare nipples didn't seem all that out of place. We were in Las Vegas, after all, and if the city is known for anything, it's vice. A half-naked girl running around with barely-concealed breasts and a see-through miniskirt that showed more than it hinted at seemed like she belonged there more than we did, and who were we to tell her to go put something on? Her house, her rules, as they say.

Op-Ed

"You sure complain a lot about current games," said a friend in an e-mail debate about the state of gaming. "But what is it that you want? Just what are you looking for?"

I gave him some pithy response in an attempt to prove my intellectual and moral superiority, much as most of my e-mail debates tend to end up. But then, in the cold white glare of a looming deadline, a blinking cursor and "Document 1 - Microsoft Word" for progress, I began to wonder about his words.