To celebrate seven years of publishing, we’ve decided to share some of our best and most popular stories and videos from each year of The Escapist. From forward looking editorials to timely news updates, from humorous webcomics to informative video series, we’ve been proud to bring you the content you’ve seen each and every day here on the site. So revisit some of your favorite stories from years past, discover some new things you may have missed the first time around, and get ready for a whole new year of features and videos and news from your favorite gaming website.

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We already know that videogames make a person healthier physically while they refine the intellect. Well, we don’t know know it, but that is our desperate hope, and there is a kind of purity in that. Outside of these beneficial (and quite probably, imaginary) properties, we are aware that playing these games is completely awesome. That’s pretty much incontrovertible; I don’t have to make up a study to prove it. It was really only a matter of time before the vast majority of human beings realized this fact and began living the meaningful, digital lives that we all take for granted.
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Glitz, not gameplay, is what sells the retailer. Retailers don’t have the time to play every title that comes across their desk and, in many cases, they don’t play games anyway. They look at a video, they look at the materials provided by the sales guy, they make a decision. And that decision is ultimately based on concerns like branding, how much money the publisher will spend on product placement and stocking fees (what the industry calls “market development funding,” or MDFs) – and whether it looks pretty or not.
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King’s Quest IX: The Silver Lining
When it was announced that there would be no new developments in the King’s Quest series, fans took it upon themselves to develop a sequel. A good one too, from the way it was shaping up – if you’re curious, take a look at the trailer. Of course, being as the license is owned by Vivendi Universal (who owns Sierra these days), you can probably guess what happened. The Cease & Desist shut the project down several months back.
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Living Two Lives No Longer
It appears that a bunch of hardware and software companies have been getting together to work on the Trusted Platform Module chip that will house your identity information. The TPM chip is installed in the factory and is assigned an unchangable identifier. In fact, some of these are already in place in corporations, with consumer devices – ranging from PCs to cell phones – to be getting them soon. This will effectively remove the anonymity of the web.
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Publisher sales reps inform Wal-Mart buyers of games in development; the games’ subjects, titles, artwork and packaging are vetted and sometimes vetoed by Wal-Mart. If Wal-Mart tells a top-end publisher it won’t carry a certain game, the publisher kills that game. In short, every triple-A game sold at retail in North America is managed start to finish, top to bottom, with the publisher’s gaze fixed squarely on Wal-Mart, and no other.
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Happily, there is a simple tool at the center of all game design, whose exploration requires no team or cost, and from which any game designer can learn by its consideration: rules. Furthermore, I believe that the creation and selection of game rules is an art form in and of itself. By this, I mean that the rules of a game can give an artistic statement independent of its other components. Just as a poem doesn’t need pictures and a painting doesn’t need music, a game needs nothing else apart from its rules to succeed as a work of art. It can certainly benefit from other elements but it doesn’t need them.
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‘Truth in Videogame Rating Act’ Bill Sponsored
Congressman Cliff Stearns has introduced HR 5912, also known as the “Truth in Video Game Rating Act” to place more pressure on the ESRB to give accurate game ratings and determine their effectiveness. The Act includes terms which would make rating games without playing them to completion unlawful. This would be a radical change from the current ESRB system which relies heavily on developer disclosure rather than hands-on experience. Neglecting to disclose all content in a game or rating a game lower than it should be would also become illegal.
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Ritual’s Future in Question as Employees Jump Ship
With key members leaving the company, questions have begun to surface about the status of the next Sin Episode and Ritual as a whole. The first episode was released on Valve’s Steam service May 10th, 2006. Ritual has stated in the past that they want to release new episodes every six months, but there has been no information or marketing for the next game seven months after the first has shipped. In August, Ritual released the SDK for the first episode, but the promised multiplayer patch has yet to make an appearance.
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I instinctively recoiled from Ada when I first played RE2, thinking her obvious sensuality meant the developers, leaning on familiar and tired stereotypes, had once again objectified a powerful female character. It wasn’t until I sat down to write this article that I realized I’d fallen into the trap of equating sexiness with sexism. Clearly, a woman’s attractiveness to the opposite sex is not an indicator of her explicit surrender to gender-based oppression. Why couldn’t a strong, feminist role model also be beautiful and sexual?
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Unlike industrial-strength miniatures games such as Games Workshop’s Warhammer series, LEGO tabletop games, one and all, play pretty loose. They charm you with humor and frivolity. BrikWars begins with copious etiquette advice for the Enlightened BrikWarrior: “Be a cunning and challenging adversary, but when your opponent blows your prize creation into its component bits, share in his excitement and the sheer glory of destruction. Play as if you were drunk (many players will not need to fake this); when faced with difficult decisions, ask yourself what Homer Simpson would do.”
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Gamestop Manager Refuses to Sell to Stupid Kids
“He needs to be reading a book. He knows how to play Madden before he knows how to do his ABCs and 123s – that’s backwards,” said store manager Brandon Scott, who imposed a policy of refusing to sell games to school-aged children unless an adult would confirm the child’s good grades. As a result, he has so far refused about two dozen game sales, he said, although most of them had returned with proof of good grades to make their purchase.
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Gabe Newell Calls PlayStation 3 a Waste of Time
Newell stood by comments he made earlier in the year, in which he called the PlayStation 3 a “disaster” and suggested Sony should cancel the entire project and start over. “I think (PlayStation 3 is) a waste of everybody’s time,” he said. “Investing in the Cell, investing in the SPE gives you no long-term benefits. There’s nothing there that you’re going to apply to anything else. You’re not going to gain anything except a hatred of the architecture they’ve created.”
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There is also a strange undercurrent: concerns about addiction and worries that games will make otherwise happy kids bloodthirsty killers. One mother of a 30-year-old son believes “there is an army out there of players, connected by the net, even an international one, and it has [led] to some relationships based on a shared interest.” While this is true enough, I don’t believe the WoW guilds or FPS teams are going to lead to what she fears: “a very mal-adjusted society.”
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Punishing earnest customers because you can’t afford game development is like beating your dog because you want a raise. You’re not solving the problem, you’re just being a dick. (Unless of course you’re employed as a dog-beater.) Maybe EA is trying to cultivate some sort of Stockholm Syndrome in its userbase, convincing people that they’re being punished for their own good. Perhaps Mass Effect 2 will include a whip with the collector’s edition, and self-flagellation will be part of the install process.
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While this is the end of Thompson’s legal career, it almost certainly won’t be the end of his efforts to capsize the videogame industry. If anything, Thompson’s rhetoric may become even more heated, as he will no longer be constrained by the guidelines and restrictions of the legal profession – not that such regulation ever had much impact on his behavior to begin with. But his status as a former lawyer, and the circumstances of his disbarment, will be inevitably intertwined with any of his future media interactions, lending far greater accuracy to his credibility than we’ve seen in the past.
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With over twenty different forms, Beyond the Limitation sought to topple the digital titan, only to throw its hands up after eighteen hours of gameplay as the health risks to its players began to mount. “People were passing out and getting physically ill. We decided to end it before we risked turning into a horrible new story about how video games ruin people’s lives,” said Beyond the Limitation member Sylphet.
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Birdo isn’t alone, though. He’s just one of a long line of Japanese videogame characters forced to hide their true sexual identity when their games are localized for a North American audience. While Japanese gamers have been exposed to characters of various sexual orientations, the practice is only just starting to catch on in the West. In the past, games have been changed or censored if they contained such content. Some were never released in America at all.
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That’s the bad news. The good news is everyone’s game ideas suck, so you’re not alone. And hey, now that you know, you can stop wasting your time worrying about it and actually sit down to make a game – or come to peace with your perfectly acceptable game-player-not-game-designer existence. Either way, you’ll stop sending me emails asking me to break your heart.
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Karatechop, leader of The Marvel Family guild, found himself holding Martin Fury, a shirt that adds +34 mana and +34 strength – and also instantly kills all enemies within a 30 yard radius. The item is intended only for the developers, presumably for testing or such things, but when Karatechop found it in his inventory he did what comes naturally: He went out and kicked ass.
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The actual content of the letter is full of the clever humor that Valve seems to pack into everything TF2 nowadays, and even provided a hint about The Ambassador, the Spy unlockable announced yesterday. There’s also a mention of TF2’s April Fools Joke, The Jarate, a throwable jar full of urine. Confirmation of The Sniper’s next item? I hope so.
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“Gutting” is done for both new and used games. This is the reason why, if you are the unfortunate person to get the very last copy of a brand new game, your case/game box has no shrink wrap on it, and has quite obviously already been opened (by me). Ever seen those old movies showing prisoners wearing striped uniforms and breaking rocks with sledge hammers and just looking completely miserable? That’s what gutting duty feels like.
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We here at The Escapist have noticed that whenever we do cosplay galleries from the conventions we attend, you guys really enjoy them. So, given that our issue this week is all about the JRPG, we thought we’d ask our readers to send in their outfits of costumes from the most widely known JRPG long-running series out there.
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As it turns out, when the Ubioft severs go down, no one can play their games and Ubisoft customers get very upset. At around 8am GMT, people began to complain in the Assassin’s Creed 2 forum that they couldn’t access the Ubisoft servers and were unable to play their games. Fast forward ten hours and it seems that the problem still hasn’t been resolved, despite the assurances from a Ubisoft representative that the servers were ‘constantly monitored’
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Mearls admits 4th edition might have gone too far in creating a perfectly balanced game. “We’ve lost faith of what makes an RPG an RPG,” he said, admitting that in trying to please gamers with a limited imagination, 4th edition might have punished those with an active one. “There’s this fear of the bad gaming group, where the game is so good that even playing with a bad gaming group, you’ll still have fun.”
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Less than a month after we had signed the contract, we were forced to break it. Hard choices needed to be made as our money had been nearly depleted, the worst of which was probably that we had to dismiss our employees as we had only money for another month’s salary. This meant they would still be working for a month, but unless we could get more funds somehow, that would be it.
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The scope of this project is a bit absurd, but there’s apparently just something about Pokemon that makes artists want to represent them in other forms. A full set of anime girl Pokemon seems like a more natural step than Lego Pokemon and H.P. Lovecraft Pokemon anyway. Those working on a set of Pokemon in Jello or matchsticks better quicken the pace, because come Black & White you’ll have 150 more to do.
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Paul Christoforo’s history of terrible customer service finally caught up with him when he threatened a smear campaign against Penny Arcade. After realizing that this was possibly the stupidest thing he could have done in the videogame industry, he begged Mike Krahulik to make the collective internet mob back off (that sure as Hell didn’t happen).
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“If you want something, the sales terminal is right there. Prices are non-negotiable. They’re non-negotiable to the Volus, who think of haggling like a religious rite, they’re non-negotiable to the politicians, who think they own this entire space station, and they’re non-negotiable for you … whoever you are.” You look up from your arm and see the man’s face for the first time. He looks haggard, like he’s been alternating a good sleep and a good shave every other day.

“But,” the man replies, confusion apparent in his eyes. “I’m Commander Shepard.”
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Using the word “rape” in an online game is not some kind of longstanding tradition or a definitive part of the culture. I’ve been a gamer for well over two decades, and this term hasn’t been around more than a handful of years. Good-natured trash talk is fine between friends, but that’s not what this is. I’ve played basketball with at-risk youth from inner-city Chicago, and the things they said to me, even when I was being crowded and fouled and knocked to the pavement, were nothing compared to a single hour on Xbox Live.
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Remote-control robots are hardly anything new, but what made this interesting was that Mr. Duc is partially quadriplegic, having lost the use of his fingers and legs in a fall. Mr. Duc would think about moving the paralyzed fingers on his right hand, and the robot would turn right. He would think about moving the paralyzed fingers on his left hand, and his little mechanical avatar would turn left. On a good day, says Mr. Duc, controlling his robot buddy is easy – but too much pain or a wandering mind can cloud the signal.
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There are still a lot of bugs to work out. The exact design of the “shell” would need to be different for each object, and the technique won’t work with light in the visual spectrum, only on a microwave level. Still, there is a lot to be excited about using a “plasmonic” approach to cloaking technology.
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Finally, on our seventh birthday, we want to send special thanks out to all our regular readers, particularly so to those who have been with us since the very beginning. Here’s a list of all the readers who were with us at the very beginning and are still with us today. We look forward to bringing you even more great content in the years to come!

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