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Opinion: This was a bad week gamers, but here are some stories that weren't

This week sucked, but let's not dwell on it
This week sucked, but let's not dwell on itThis week sucked, but let's not dwell on it (photo via Playstaiton YouTube)

This last week saw some of the worst behavior and actions the gaming community has ever seen. We've seen everything from blatant threats of harm to developers and content creators, to SWAT teams busting in to a YouTube/Twitch content creator's office and what amounted to a terrorist threat in the most dangerous of "pranks".

I'm not going to mention the names, link the articles, or drum up the stories of the past here, because quite frankly it makes my stomach turn thinking of what people can do to other people and think that everything is all in good fun, or that there's no real harm in anonymously attacking another person. Instead, I wanted to highlight some of the stories that actually show the great community we have, the cool things we have coming our way, and the good/fun news we got this week.

Patrick Klepek's always worthy 'Worth Reading'
Patrick Klepek's always worthy 'Worth Reading' Photo courtesy of Patrick Klepek Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/user/patrickklepek)

Patrick Klepek's always worthy 'Worth Reading'

If you don't already check out this weekly column by Giant Bomb's Patrick Klepek, give it a go.  Klepek puts forth articles, videos, tweets, and more to satiate that oh-so-intense gaming hunger you have.  The articles in particular are fascinating and may not be on the front page of your IGN and Kotaku, which goes a long way to refine your taste, and keep you busy.  

How 'Kingdom Hearts' united Polygon's Alexa Ray Corriea in their time of need
How 'Kingdom Hearts' united Polygon's Alexa Ray Corriea in their time of need Photo courtesy of GiantBomb.com

How 'Kingdom Hearts' united Polygon's Alexa Ray Corriea in their time of need

Polygon's Alexa Ray Corriea is not only an incredible journalist and reporter, but those that have followed her for a bit know she holds a mind blowing amount of passion for JRR Tolkien's works and is beyond thrilled about the upcoming Shadow of Mordor.  This piece caught my eye as a front page opinion piece, and within the first paragraph, she had not only my attention, but my feels as well.  The piece delves in to the unifying nature of a game, the oft unmentioned power that games have to bring us together, and how her family's pact to play Kingdom Hearts 3 is reminiscent of similar pacts we all have more than likely made with friends or family.  

 

This story is so absolutely touching not just because it's deeply personal (a fact that Corriea should be applauded for, opening up on such a wide platform) but that the detail and tact with which she describes every aspect of the story.  Readers can immediately tell that this story is an experience that not only deeply affected Corriea and family, but that the fond memories of building the relationship with her family to the strongest it has been, is tied so directly to a video game.

 

If it isn't immediately apparent, this is not only one of my favorite stories of this week, but of the year, and possibly one of the best opinion pieces I've ever read in regards to the gaming community.  

Anita Sarkeesian puts out one of her best videos yet, with facts are hard to argue
Anita Sarkeesian puts out one of her best videos yet, with facts are hard to argue Photo via Feminist Frequency Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/user/feministfrequency)

Anita Sarkeesian puts out one of her best videos yet, with facts are hard to argue

Sarkeesian is nothing if not polarizing.  I can't say that I personally agree with every single thing that is said in each of her videos, but the fact remains that each of the videos are well researched, extremely well thought out, and lay out facts with evidence in a way that make you examine the games you've played in a different way.

 

I recently got in a discussion with a friend on social media regarding the latest video, and while the discussion was indeed interesting and respectful, it caused a bit of reflection on my part as to what the Feminist Frequency and Tropes vs. Women in Video games really stand for in my opinion.  

 

Watching the latest entry in the series made me realize that not only is Sarkeesian's view important, but the way that she articulates the thoughts and lays them out is vital to the conversation of the portrayal of women in games.  I realized that one of my favorite games, Red Dead Redemption, had instances of violence towards women in a fashion that was entirely brutal, and I didn't bat an eye while playing.  Sure, I did my best to save the women as they were thrown to the ground in front of the Armadillo saloon, but when they were brutally butchered in the dirt street, I cast a casual glance, maybe said something along the lines of "aww, damn" and rode off to lasso more bandits.

 

Shawn Vanaman of the Idle Thumbs podcast, and Campo Santo studios, echoes my sentiments after watching the video as well,

I remember seeing that and not feeling the same way, I mean I obviously felt terrible, like I felt like *shudder* when I saw it, but I just killed the guy really fast...But then seeing it from the third person, it's a completely different emotional feeling.

 

Vanaman illustrates the same feeling I had watching the video, I did my best to save the women in both Red Dead and Watch_Dogs, but if I didn't the game continued. I left the scene, no care for the gruesome scene that just unfolded directly in front of me, and continued.  Vanaman brings up another point during the podcast that really struck me as well, 

Nevertheless, seeing all of that content, in aggregate...it's so f***ing boring, it's so boring, it's just so homogeneous and cliche.  You can see the inexperience of the author creating it.

 

I'm not saying that either opinion, design decision, or person is right or wrong.  These are just some thoughts and emotions that came to me while viewing this video, and as I mentioned, I don't think Sarkeesian hits every nail on the head.  The points, examples, and concepts she brings up do necessitate discussion, and those discussions both from the enthusiasts and developers themselves will see the industry we love grow exponentially as a medium.

'Idle Thumbs' covers the week that sucked, and makes us beg for logic
'Idle Thumbs' covers the week that sucked, and makes us beg for logic Photo via IdleThumbs.net

'Idle Thumbs' covers the week that sucked, and makes us beg for logic

There's a point in this week's Idle Thumbs podcast where Chris Remo, Developer, Composer, and all around smart dude, laughs.  It isn't a unique moment, and it isn't from the gut.  It's a pure laugh of frustration.  He vents his frustration with Twitter, the relationship between journalists and developers, and what real reporting is.  I feel for him, as a budding journalist and trying to make my own relationships, I want to be sure not to comprimise integrity, but who's to say that my audience won't call me out for being close to a developer or PR rep. But how the hell do I provide unique stories if I'm not allowed to be acquainted with or familiar with these people? 

 

I highly recommend giving a listen to the show, if you don't have the full hour, at least the first half of the show is incredibly enlightening, and honestly everyone that loves this industry needs to give it a listen. I agree with what's said, and think it's extremely eloquently put.  I don't want a world where we are forced to treat everything like Objective Game Reviews.

In a Kansas City Shuffle, Twitch is acquired by Amazon
In a Kansas City Shuffle, Twitch is acquired by Amazon Photo via Polygon (http://www.polygon.com/2014/8/27/6075147/twitch-amazon-deal-analysis)

In a Kansas City Shuffle, Twitch is acquired by Amazon

If you actually called this one, drop everything, we're going to Vegas you beautiful bastard.  Twitch has become nothing short of a phenomenon. And with being a phenomenon come certain perks, like being able to court some of the biggest names in tech as potential buyers.  After a May rumors that Google would purchase Twitch, and rumors the deal was essentially sealed, news that Amazon was going to, and then swiftly did purchase the online streaming service was unexpected at the least.

 

After the Google news, YouTube was in a tizzy about the potential negative ramifications of having the largest online video site owning the largest gaming streaming service.  Encouraging rumors of the Google/YouTube acquisition was Twitch enacting limitations and restrictions on audio played during streams, as well as new archiving guidelines, similar to YouTube's current guidelines.

 

Then a few days ago it seemed as though the sun broke through the clouds for game streamers, Let's Players, and gaming talk show hosts.  Amazon was not only rumored to, but had crept in under the cover of night and purchased Twitch for $970 Million. Twitch CEO Emmett Shear had this to say about the acquisition,

Today, I’m pleased to announce we’ve been acquired by Amazon. We chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster. We’re keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon’s support we’ll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch.

 

If that statement doesn't encourage some sort of confidence that our precious Twitch.TV will only get better, I'll be surprised if you smile when babies laugh.  

 

Polygon Deputy Reviews Editor, Phil Kollar put up a great piece of analysis of the acquisition, and why gamers got the best possible outcome.

Gameranx Editor Holly Green found herself in 'Fallout: New Vegas'
Gameranx Editor Holly Green found herself in 'Fallout: New Vegas' photo via Polygon (http://www.polygon.com/2014/8/28/6074131/fallout-sexuality)

Gameranx Editor Holly Green found herself in 'Fallout: New Vegas'

Holly Green, Managing Editor for Gameranx, sounds off in an opinion piece posted to Polygon that is intensely personal, emotional, and indicative of our ability to identify with games and characters if executed properly.

 

Green titles the article "I had to become someone else to discover who I loved".  If that doesn't grab you right away, it's hard to tell what will.  The article is an exploration of self, through a side quest found in one of the best games of the last generation, Fallout: New Vegas. Green lays out some great backing data and studies, that illustrate that gamers will impose certain projections upon their character. Green said,

Even when the avatar bears little resemblance to who we actually are, this relationship is so tangible that it can actually influence our behavior and impact our self perception.

 

I won't ruin the story for you, because it truly does need to be read and digested, as it's deeply emotional and quite unique in the greater landscape of gaming currently. Green also totally deserves your attention on Twitter as her sense of humor can turn your day around.

Cannata and Carboni launch 'We Have Concerns' podcast, might make you smarter, won't make you dumber-er
Cannata and Carboni launch 'We Have Concerns' podcast, might make you smarter, won't make you dumber-er Photo via We Have Concerns Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/wehaveconcerns)

Cannata and Carboni launch 'We Have Concerns' podcast, might make you smarter, won't make you dumber-er

Full Disclosure: I have personally backed this Patreon campaign with a whopping $5 a month, you're welcome Cannata/Carboni.  

 

I stumbled upon this podcast after a few episodes were already on iTunes, and I don't think I fully realized what it was until I let an episode play through and sink in.  Running about 20 minutes each, Carboni and Cannata take suggestions or articles submitted via social media and play around with what the ramifications, benefits, or just insane possibilities things like salmon cannons present.  Does that monkey really own that photo? Does he really though?  

 

A mix of humor, science, philosophy, and some damn fine voice work once in a while, We Have Concerns can serve as a great commute listen.  Episodes are on a fairly consistent 3/week schedule, and the Patreon campaign is ongoing.  

Jimquisition agrees with me, so I'm right
Jimquisition agrees with me, so I'm right photo via The Escapist (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/9676-Everythings-Awful-But-Its-Not-That-Bad)

Jimquisition agrees with me, so I'm right

Jim Sterling, an industry lightning rod for the fact that he knows what he is talking about, and stands up for his opinion, as well as consumers, serves up a dose of positivity to get us through the week.

 

Sterling explains that games like Legend of Grimlock happened, and it's great, and it's what the games industry really needs. It's everything that AAA publishers wouldn't touch with a chainsaw gun.  Sterling sums it up quite nicely,

A bunch of other developers are making a killing by seeing the gaps in the market left by the trundling behemoths in the triple-A sector, and they're humiliating the competition by managing their budgets, pricing accordingly, and giving people the kind of games they really had been asking for."

 

With games like Journey, Transistor, Super Time Force, Fez, Super Meat Boy, Resogun, the list truly goes on with innovative titles that keep us interested, and hopefully sooner than later, challenge the triple-A industry in to adapting to the changes, instead of simply finding new ways to charge us more.

Gaymer X rebranded as GX: Everyone Games, launches Kickstarter
Gaymer X rebranded as GX: Everyone Games, launches Kickstarter Photo via GX: Everyone Games Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gaymercon/gx3-everyone-games)

Gaymer X rebranded as GX: Everyone Games, launches Kickstarter

GaymerX, a conference intended to unite gay gaymers, and create a "safe place" for the LGBT members of the gaming community at large has gone through a bit of financial turmoil and trouble in the past, more so unsure of if the next year would even happen than anything negative or nefarious.  GaymerX is now GX: Everyone Games, an all-inclusive, non-judgemental, and totally rad conference remaining in the SF Bay area.

 

GX represents a huge step forward for the gaming community, and I sincerely hope this Kickstarter meets its goal, as none of the staff is taking any salary for their labor of love until they reach an estimated $157k.  GX shows that while we aren't anywhere close to tolerance in gaming, we're at least making some movement.  It shouldn't matter who you are, what your gender is, or what your orientation is. Gaming by definition should be inclusive.  Our darling industry is still going through growing pains, but things like GX shine as examples that the right people are making good things happen.

Lockout is opening the door for 'Halo: Master Chief Collection'
Lockout is opening the door for 'Halo: Master Chief Collection' Photo via IGN.com (http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/08/28/lockout-is-being-remastered-for-halo-the-master-chief-collection)

Lockout is opening the door for 'Halo: Master Chief Collection'

Gamespot showed an incredible walkthrough of the new Lockout map for the upcoming Halo: Master Chief Collection, and does it get my nostalgia a jones'in.  I wasn't necessarily too hyped for the collection, but after seeing the work, love, and detail going in to recreating a series that literally defined and introduced me to multiplayer gaming, I cannot wait.  I still recall my now wife, then girlfriend, staying up to play Halo 3 until 4 in the morning, zombie shuffling home from class, and jumping right back in for a good 2-3 weeks with my roomates (that's love).  

 

Lockout shows me that 343 is serving up this dose of remembrance with utter TLC, and this again, in an utterly awful few weeks, made me smile.

Xbox One gets preloading early with 'Destiny'
Xbox One gets preloading early with 'Destiny' Photo via Bungie.net

Xbox One gets preloading early with 'Destiny'

Not only is time crawling until September 9, but I keep making the mistake of watching videos, interviews, and gameplay of Destiny (damn you MoreConsole). Microsoft confirmed that Destiny will indeed be able to be preloaded on Xbox One, a previously unconfirmed fact and point of frustration for those trying to get the midnight jump on loot grabs.  

 

But seriously, is it September 9 yet?

Teen girls don't care what we think of Kim Kardashian
Teen girls don't care what we think of Kim Kardashian photo via Kotaku (http://kotaku.com/teen-girls-dont-care-what-we-think-of-kim-kardashian-1611225640)

Teen girls don't care what we think of Kim Kardashian

"Do you know why she got famous?" I asked my sister.

"Yeah."

"The sex tape..."

"Yeah..."

"And you don't care?"

"Not really."

 

Kotaku's Patricia Hernandez jumps in to a phenomenon of an app and jumps in to the popularity, and enigma that is Kim Kardashian. Not only that but Hernandez explores her personal journey from ignorance of Kardashian's activities and relevance, to a truly interesting viewpoint on feminism.  A fascinating line lifted from the article;

But as Samantha Allen writes over at The Daily Dot, "It's not that Kardashian doesn't work; it's that her work is not recognized as legitimate within a sexist world that sees feminine culture and lifestyle as frivolous pursuits undeserving of any serious attention.

I'm just as guilty at assuming that not only does Kardashian "not actually do anything" but this article at least got me thinking differently, and that means Hernandez did a good job as a writer.  I leave you with the end of the article, and my personal favorite excerpt;

 

While the adults of the internet argue about the merits of Kim Kardashian and her game, teen girls everywhere continue to gleefully tap on their screens, unaware of our debates and our thinkpieces. They're too busy having fun.

Phil Spencer takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Phil Spencer takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Photo via Xbox Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUDqeXVgoOE)

Phil Spencer takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The Ice Bucket challenge is indeed a social sensation, I've taken it myself, and seen plenty of videos.  I have to admit that seeing Phil Spencer be such a good sport really made me happy.  What made me even more happy was the challenge to Sony's Shuhei Yoshida and Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime. What would have made it better? Major Nelson taking the challenge.