Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tuesday Games: DC Shooting

Doesn't this mean violence is going down?

By now, most of you have heard about the shooting in a naval yard in Washington DC. I hadn't heard about it until I called my dad and asked him why the flags were at half-mast. Frankly, it's horrible and I'm appalled at how these things keep happening.

Also appalling? The media has, yet again, pointed the finger at video games being the root cause of this incident. Of course they did. Right away, let's just point out that there is almost literally no actual science that supports any of these claims. Let's also mention that I've been to panels about this exact topic (Kelli Dunlap Rules!). There is an unbelievable amount of bias in the media about this topic, and I'm pretty tired of it. Take a look at most of the articles that are out there about this incident. Almost all of them make mention that the perpetrator was an avid video gamer. To the point that he would play shooters for 16 hours a day or more... y'know... like a normal person...

A lot of these stories are careful not to point out a direct causal relationship to his violent act and his gaming habits, but in mentioning video games at all, they're playing to a social stigma that already exists. I really wish there was some way to educate the normal masses on what science is and how it works, or better yet, how it explains things in our world around us.

Kotaku has an excellent article with some pretty awesome video clips about the shooting. Fox News has a very great way of pointing out things that have summarily been proven to be incorrect or just wrong. At one point in a video in the article, the host brings up the comment "Every time something bad like this happens we look at is there a connection between video games and the shooter?" Then he proceeds to talk about all the most recent and heinous shootings and their perpetrators. Has it not registered to anyone that video games are so popular that it is reported that 97% of teens play games, 50% of which in the last day or so? Or how about the fact that the Entertainment Software Association says that the average gamer is 30?

Later, a comment is made that violent video games need a warning. Are they talking about the ESRB rating that says when a game is made for a certain age group? Or do they mean a warning that says a game might be addicting (although that science is dubious at best!)? With both of these comments, the shooters were old enough to legally purchase and own the games they played.

Then one of the hosts suggests that we gamers need to have "frequency testing" to determine how often these games are being played. Should I even need to go into why monitoring video game usage is not something that should happen? Why not monitor alcohol consumption for people? I know plenty of people from college that nearly failed or did fail because of the amount of booze they consumed. How about those parents I know that consumed so much alcohol they couldn't be a person, much less a parent. Let's monitor their usage. Are you telling me, media people, that Video Games are that big of a threat? Big enough to warrant monitoring?

There is an entire episode of Penn and Teller's Bullshit! about this EXACT thing, it's worth watching (there is some adult language):

Sigh, I could talk about this all day.

Hit me with comments,

PS Please read the Kotaku Article, it's fantastic.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

DC Comics Forbids Gay Marriage

Today I bring to you an article that features a double whammy: A topic that's hot right now, and a topic that's related to something nerdy: Comic Books. As the title tells: DC Comics is forbidding the depiction of a gay marriage between Batwoman and her girlfriend. Interestingly, at the same time, the creative team responsible for this comic has quit. Coincidence?
Kate's proposal to Margie
Batwoman is, of course, the female counterpart to Batman. These days in comics, Batwoman is the caped identity to a woman named Kate Kane. Her story is currently being published in what's called the New 52. The New 52 is a DC reboot attempt where they cancelled all existing comic book runs and rebooted 52 new ones. In typical Gotham fashion, Kate became the Batwoman after a series of traumatic events in her life. Her mother and twin sister were abducted by terrorists and executed in front of her before she was saved by a military task force. In an effort to try and bring direction to her life, she joined the marines but was dishonorably discharged after they found out she was a lesbian. As a side note it's interesting that this character has been gay for the entirety of her run in comics. She finally found direction in her life when she was about to be mugged/raped/killed and was saved by the Batman. Eventually Kate met a police officer named Margie Sawyer. Sawyer is a police captain working in Gotham who is in charge of a special unit.

The two writers, J. H. Williams III and Haden Blackman, have been writing this comic for over 3 years now. It is a very sudden change, but apparently there was a lot happening behind the scenes that lead up to this decision. An official statement was issued by the writers that outlines a lot of problems that people have suspected. For example, twitter posts as well as the official statement point to last minute changes, and insisting the authors ignore previous histories of characters. To put it simply, the authors felt like much of their creativity was being restricted. Some of those last minute changes came after months and years of planning - enough cause to make any sane person angry. On this issue they were told that they could engage the two characters but that "no marriage could result." Williams and Blackman are slated to leave the comic after December.
She liberated the hell out of herself.
This is not the first time DC has made a controversial decision. Indeed, lately DC seems to be tripping all over itself. In fact, DC making bad decisions has become a thing. Personally, I'm a little irritated by their missed opportunities. The New 52 was rebooting some powerful women characters that could have been a spectacular opportunity to break out of the sexism of comics. Instead, we get Catwoman in a 2 page panel where she's boning Batman. Oh, I forgot to mention that this same Catwoman comic shows her boobs and butt before we see her face. Another of their series, Starfire, depicts a very powerful super woman named Starfire. Their version of the "liberated" female character is dressing her in the smallest bikinis imaginable and having sex with everyone she meets. To translate, DC tells us it's okay to exploit women, but not to show them getting married. To be fair, they might not be against gay marriage, just marriage in general. When's the last time you saw a comic book character get married? Y'know, Marvel had a gay marriage just recently...

Oh DC... what have you done this time.

Thoughts? Comments?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuesday Games! 9/3/13

These past few weeks have seen some interesting developments in the world of Video Games. Of note: PAX 2013 took place and it was the 10th one ever. It's pretty great knowing that I was able to attend it once, and I'm hoping to go back next year. I've compiled a short list of video games and news about what's coming up in the near future. Just a few games that caught my eye...

PAX 2013

Probably my favorite piece of gaming news for now: PAX Prime was this past weekend in Seattle. Some of you may remember that I attended last year, and it was totally awesome. There are tons of panels, tons of booths, and tons of people to see and talk to at PAX, it's a pretty awesome time. There are a few noteworthy things that came out of all the PAX Prime news this year, but what most caught my eye is the new game by Gearbox.

A new Homeworld game is being made! Homeworld is a sci-fi series that was based around fleet actions. It's a real-time strategy game that is so expansive that you were allowed to build massive fleets of capital ships, escorts, and fighters. It was so in-depth, that you could actually follow the actions of individual fighters. It was a difficult game that required a high attention to detail. The new game is called "Shipbreakers" and appears to be a brand new game rather than a remake. Should be fun to see, it'll be produced by Gearbox Entertainment. Check out some of the news sites for more info, there's a lot of indie stuff that came out of PAX this year.

X-Com: Enemy Within

It has come out recently that there is going to be a pretty large expansion to X-Com Enemy Unknown, a game released this past year. They are adding the option to upgrade your soldiers with cybernetics and genetics. It would appear they are making an attempt to balance the game more between humans and aliens. My guess is that this will make the game much more aggressive, allowing humans to charge up the middle better than they used to.

It's going to be a large expansion, requiring a full separate game for those people silly enough to buy it on console. I was a huge fan of the original, so when it came out I made sure to purchase this remake. It does pretty good service to the original, but there are a few things I would have changed. Regardless, I still spent many hours playing this new version and quite enjoyed it.

With this expansion, it feels like it will play more like a new version of the old Syndicate game. Some of you may get what I'm talking about. It was a pretty awesome game back in the 90s... back when games were still difficult (ahem!). I played Syndicate a ton, so making this game feel more like that is a bonus in my book.

Space Hulk: Deathwing

A studio called Streum on Studio is creating a new Warhammer 40k Game called Deathwing. The idea is to bring the awesome action of the Space Hulk boardgame, and the original Space Hulk video game, to a new generation of gamers. It will be an FPS game taking place on huge, dilapidated space ships called space hulks. In this universe, their ships are massive, reaching more than 15 kilometers long on some of the larger ones. What will make this game interesting is that these ships, similar to our own ocean-going vessels, are limited on space. A hulking space marine in a huge set of armor can't move around all that well in cramped corridors.

I think the game could be an excellent combination of horror and action. The player will be fighting an alien species called the Tyranids - which is what the Zerg from Starcraft are based upon. In a simpler explanation, the aliens are giant insects that consume everything in their path. In particular, they will consume any biomass they encounter to add to their own species. Think of them as a biological Borg species that adapts what it consumes. I think this makes for a potentially awesome game, and I pretty much have no choice but to buy it.

There you have it. Looking forward to some upcoming games. Talk at you again, soon!