Shouting About Unimportant Things.

In the wake of my most recent blog post, I had this posted on my GB wall.

Slang_N_Bang posted on yukoasho’s wall.Mar 6, 10:28pm

It's video games, it's fucking video games. Stop acting like GG is about anything serious. It's about a so-called crusade in "Entertainment Reporting Ethics". ALSO CRITICS AND DEVS ARENT JOURNALISTS

I can't say I'm surprised that some people decided that venom was the best response. I also can't say I'm entirely faultless. I'd assumed that everyone had heard of the baleful "joke" that Tim Schafer made at the expense of women and minorities who don't agree with his ideology, and decided not to go on about it here. However, it seems I have to go on about it, so here goes.

At GDC 2015, Tim Schafer decided to, with all the subtlety and tact of a Tetsuya Nomura character design, mock minorities and women in the #NotYourShield camp by implying they were all sock puppets, fake accounts created by white male misogynists on behalf of #GamerGate.

Now, the reason I posted those other videos on my previous blog post was to counteract this assertion. There are more than a few women and minorities who don't agree with the ultra-leftist ideology that is being spewed by the anti-GG camp, and that none of them - none of us - are sock puppets. We exist, and we don't need Tim or anyone else telling us what to think, and what to believe.

Now, whatever view you may have on GG or Anita Sarkeesian or any other such topic is neither here nor there. However, I should hope that we all can agree that people who express their opinions and are willing to listen to others are at the very least entitled to have their existence acknowledged, are entitled to a place at the debate table. The present reality, however, is that there really isn't a debate table so much as an arena full of rabid dobermans on the far left and far right ripping into each-other, like every other debate in the modern United States, and arguably throughout the western world. I truly believe that we're at a point where no one really cares about the status of women and minorities in gaming anymore, and are instead using that talking point as a bludgeon to further deep-set political and ideological dogma. What more proof is needed than someone mocking women and minorities for not towing the company line.

And that it's this man in particular is especially harmful. While I've certainly got no attachment to his games, there are many others who love what this guy has brought to the industry with games like Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, Day of the Tentacle, Brutal Legend, and so on. Lots of people looked up to this guy, above all others, would be tempered and wise enough to be a unifying voice, rather than a dividing one. Instead, he goes up on stage at a prestigious event and opens up wounds that were on the verge of healing, and here we are again.

While I don't really have a "side" in the debate, I've never been shy in expressing my sympathies toward the #GamerGate and #NotYourSheild movements. It's no secret that modern games media is very chummy with developers and publishers, and is more likely to protect than criticize them. I find established reviewers to be less trustworthy with each passing year, and I often look to alternative media when trying to figure out issues in gaming from people without a clear political bend. As such, I've been called a misogynist among other things by any number of people, here and elsewhere. However, that comment on my wall strikes me as the most odd attempt to silence dissent.

Slang_N_Bang posted on yukoasho’s wall.Mar 6, 10:28pm

It's video games, it's fucking video games. Stop acting like GG is about anything serious. It's about a so-called crusade in "Entertainment Reporting Ethics". ALSO CRITICS AND DEVS ARENT JOURNALISTS

If what people are complaining isn't a serious issue, than why post this on my wall? Why shout me down if it's "just video games"? Is asking to be able to trust reviewer opinions too much to ask? Is expecting people like Patrick Klepick to give fair reporting to both sides of this or any number of issues a bad thing? And while I'm at it, why does gaming media get to call itself journalism when it wants to be taken seriously, but then retreat to being "bloggers" the instant hard questions come up? If this isn't really a problem ,and I'm just imagining things, why post something like this on my wall, instead of just leaving me alone?

Perhaps the anti-GGers protest too much?

In the end, I think that's all I ask. Not anything special, not any sort of elevated position. Just leave me, and people with opinions like me, to talk. A place at the table is all anyone wants, because no matter what some say, this is an important issue, and it deserves to not go away.


A message to Tim Schafer

I'm sure you all have seen the hurtful "joke" Tim Schafer put out at GDC2015. I could go on and on about it, but I think that this says it better than I ever could.

You don't stand for me, Schafer. And those in the gaming media using minorities and women to deflect criticism of your rottenness, know that you're running out of shields, and you'll have to clean up eventually.


This Right Here Is Why Digital Everything Is a ROTTEN Idea.

As most people know, PSN and Xbox Live have been on and off, though mostly off, the past few days. The culprit is apparently a DDoS attack that "hacker" group Lizard Squad had been promising for quite some time. Now, let's be clear - this is crap. Hopefully, every last member of Lizard Squad will be found and be made into nice leather handbags, and people who enjoy playing online will be able to get back to it sooner than later.

Also, let's not kids ourselves, PC elitist bastards - this can happen to Steam or Uplay or Origin or anyone else. That the consoles were targeted is little more than a desire to screw over the most people on Christmas of all days, when tons of consoles were being given as presents. Put bluntly, the only thing saving the various sundry PC platforms is the lack of massive new users on this otherwise joyous holiday.

Either way, this is miserable for all PS4 and Xbone gamers. And yet, perhaps this is a needed dose of reality.

We live in an age where more than a few people are advocating the end of not just physical goods, but of ownership in general. More than a few people are tying their purchases to DRM platforms and digital console purchases, throwing their ability to use the products that they're paying a considerable amount of money to the hands of fate. Be it on PC, Xbone, or PS4, companies are pushing hard to convince us all that nothing can go wrong, and that digital distribution and DRM are not only okay, but preferable to traditional ownership.

Well, during this blackout, I've been able to fully use all my PS4 games, and the couple games I have for my new Xbone. I didn't need to worry about whether I already had them installed, or if I needed to finish the installs, or if I'd be able to re-download something in case a deletion is needed to make room for a new game. Basically, it's been business as usual for me, and for those of us who haven't surrendered all our consumer rights to the fragile ether of the internet.

This isn't the first time this happened, of course. In late June to mid-May of 2011, an actual hack of the PlayStation network forced the service down, as well as compromising users' personal information. Sony threw a few (digital) games at their customers, and endured several lawsuits from the data theft.

Now this isn't anywhere near as bad, at least as far as anyone knows. All signs point to this being no more than a bunch of kids slamming servers to the point of compromising functionality. And that, my friends, is the issue.

By going all-digital, especially DRM-based digital, consumers leave their gaming choices to the fates. If a game isn't installed when the servers are being crapped over, the player is SOL, with no real recourse. It's a matter of luck whether a game, or in this case a whole network, won't go to crap at the very moment a user has free time... Especially in high-profile times as the holidays.

I'm reminded of the raving Xbone fanboys who, after the 180, petitioned MS to stick to their original DRM plan. Could anyone imagine how bad this would have turned out if that were the case? People getting Xbones on Christmas Day, only to hook them up and find them little more than paperweights. Sitting there every hour, trying to see if XBL is on long enough for the check-in... This would have been far, far worse than it is now.

The issue isn't with using the internet, obviously. The issue is that so many people seem willing to let the internet use them, effectively. By being completely dependent only on the internet, without any way to function offline, we open ourselves more and more to this sort of attack, and with life as hard as it is already, do we really need to enable a bunch of script kiddies to ruin our gaming?

I know I won't. The digital-only zealots can have that headache, and for me, it'll be business as usual.


The Games Are All Right.

As we approach the end of the year and look back, people would be forgiven for thinking that the gaming world was on fire.

The ongoing gamergate incident saw gamers facing off against political extremists, gaming press, developers, and ultimately one another in a war of words and absolutist ideologies that not only won't go away any time soon, but will almost certainly flare up into an all-consuming conflict again. High-profile releases like Assassin's Creed: Unity and Halo: The Master Chief Collection have had botched releases, and even more, like Watch Dogs and Driveclub, were massive disappointments. Of course, I can't forget Microsoft's $2 billion Minecraft purchase, which had people all over the Internet mourning the massively-popular block-building game's apparent demise.

It's easy to forget, then, that some pretty damned good stuff has come out. Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, and Bayonetta 2 were enormous highlights, proving Nintendo still has a place in the industry. Not only that, but there have been some sweet titles outside of Nintendo's system as well. We have had arguably the freshest Call of Duty since Modern Warfare come out this year, a fantastic pair of Warriors games, a new Tales of RPG (Xilia 2), a host of sweet smaller games like Putty Squad and Trials Fusion, a masterful re-imagining of the classic run-and-gun FPS style with Wolfenstein: The New Order, and even - of all the left-field shit imaginable - a physical console release for last year's FPS slice-and-dice katana fest, Shadow Warrior. The PS4 has had a resounding success in retail, and even the Xbone has made something of a comeback, the two of them combining to prove that console gaming isn't anywhere near dead, and won't be any time soon. GoG got freaking Disney on board to re-release some of the most enduring LucasArts games of the nineties and oughts, and has grown into a legitimate alternative to Steam for many smaller titles. In fact, there's been plenty of reason to be a happy gamer this year, despite the issues that are catching all the headlines.

Obviously this industry has issues, and the sooner they're addressed, the better. However, let's not lose sight on the fact that, overall, it was a pretty good year, and with hope for more awesomeness on the horizon. Thus, while we rightly rage at the things going wrong, it's worth it to take a moment to think of stuff that's been good this year as well, and celebrate the triumphs as much as we decry the tragedies.

So how about it? What do you all think has been good from 2014? I'd love to hear what you guys think about the positives of the gaming year, so let's have some happy time, shall we?


Assassin's Creed and the Gaming Press.

Yes, this topic gets me in trouble regularly, but I'm quite moth-like at times, and it's such a pretty flame...

As we all know, Ubisoft rushed Assassin's Creed: Unity out the door in a pathetic state, which anyone with a lick of sense could tell was going to happen by the fact that embargoes were in place until 12 hours post release, most likely in order to make sure no pre-orders got canceled.

Now, unlike most, I don't particularly harbor any ill-will at Ubisoft. At least no more than usual. I don't buy their games until I've seen media on them, simply because they, along with EA, have proven incapable of consistent quality. However, while their business practices are deplorable, they're not unexpected.

Unfortunately, the games press' compliance is also not unexpected. We can go on and on and on about how Ubisoft was scummy for issuing the embargo, and of course they were. However, a corporation is, at the end of the day, looking out for itself beyond anyone else. In theory, the games press should be on the side of its readership, or at least beholden to the most basic principles of honesty. Instead, the industry agreed to this embargo. While Ubi might deny review copies, embargoes aren't legally enforceable without contract. Therefore, the problem here isn't Ubisoft being jackasses, but with the games media being completely on the take.

Here we are, presented with yet another example of how the games press isn't looking after the best interests of its readers, but instead playing along with the industry standard of appeasing the publishers in exchange for access. This isn't a good thing, and seeing reviews only pop up after millions of dollars have been collected on a travesty such as this only serves to support the notion that there are no ethical standards in the press.

So, what should the press do? Don't sign the damned contract! If you're denied access, say so. Put it on the front cover that Ubisoft refused to work with you because you wouldn't play along with its marketing team. At least everyone will understand ahead of time when the review comes late because you had to buy the game yourselves. Show a bit of backbone and stand up to someone at least once!

Of course, that will never happen. With a press that's obsessed with keeping the flow of easy access and free goodies going, we're never going to see a games outlet say "No, we're going to do right by the reader." Indeed, we're the last thing on the gaming press' mind, at least until the time comes to paint us all as misogynist babies.

Thankfully, I had the good sense to stop buying AC games a long time ago, but it irks me that a press that's supposed to stop people from being hoodwinked like this was instead helping by agreeing to the embargo and putting nothing at all on their front pages until Ubi said it was OK to go ahead.

At least it wasn't an indie game by a woman, I suppose. The press would be ripping into anyone daring to criticize it then...


Twitter is Garbage, and Rumors of the Death of Gamers Have Been Greatly Exaggerated.

Well, it's been a while since anything excited me enough to write a post.

As most of you know, two sets of extremists - militant far-left hardliners and worthless internet troglodytes - have been waging a war for the last month or so, with normal, run-of-the-mill gamers in the crossfire.

One of the most intense salvos in this war was every Giant Bomb member's favorite writer, Leigh Alexander, declaring that "gamers were dead," or that people with a passion for gaming are no longer relevant, because they're all sexist pigs and the industry is better off not focusing on them. The problem isn't the blatantly inflammatory language, but rather the flawed premise.

the ESA likes to trumpet around the stat that over half of people playing games are female, and that's true... If you include social and mobile gaming. Now, ignore the issues that plague mobile and social gaming for a moment, how most who play will never pay, and how saturated the F2P market is. By putting every part of the gaming market under a catchall umbrella, the ESA is hiding the ugly truth - that most people buying games and paying most companies' bills are men. This is a problem, because the ESA is effectively putting up a smokescreen for AAA developers to hide behind. "Nope, nothing to see here, plenty of women play games! We don't have to do more to get people in!"

Fact is, you're not going to find a lot of ladies who spend enough time (or, more importantly, money) on games to make a dent in traditional "Men first" thinking. Honestly, I don't think it ever will, especially now with industry folks essentially saying - and the ESA endorsing an attitude of - "women can stay in their mobile ghetto, we've done enough."

However, some people who may or may not have good intentions are seeking to purge sexuality from games as a means to bring women in. Spearheaded by female supremacists like Anita Sarkeesian and leftist clickbait rags Kotaku and Polygon, a large movement has emerged, equating sexuality with sexism. From Dragon's Crown to Bayonetta 2, games where women have low cut dresses, tight-fitting clothes and sexy struts have been branded with the scarlet letter of sexism, which only serves to anger people who maybe do want to see more women playing games, but don't approve of the witch hunt we've seen relatively recently. Yeah, there are games that are just stupidly pandering, games that truly do push a sexist worldview, but they're nowhere near as prevalent as female supremacists on the far left would have us believe.

On a side note, the Anita Sarkeesians of the world conveniently forget that many gamers joined the chorus of attacks on Metroid: Other M regarding the degrading way Samus was portrayed and her "battered wife" relationship with Adam.

What needs to be done isn't some purge of sexuality, but rather a broadening of what can be done in the media. The existence of Bayonetta doesn't exclude Alien: Isolation, the Super Mario Bros. series doesn't exclude The Last of Us. The issue isn't to make women into a perfect feminist mold, but to make games that feel authentic, like the stories come from the heart, that the people in them are people. If a woman is scantily clad, she shouldn't be a shy gal, or a general in a unit that's generally fully-armored, or other nonsense like that. This I think will happen eventually, as the medium continues to mature.

Lastly, I think both sides would do well to stop holding Twitter users and forumites as the representatives of the opposing view. I read a very interesting article on the BBC about the toxic nature of online interaction. Yes, the GamerGate war was mentioned at length, but the overriding point was that, for the most part, online debate is poisonous, to the point where people who aren't screaming little shits are leaving forums and social media because it's more trouble than it's worth. The fact is that, for a discussion this important, we have to push away the screamers, the intolerant, the agenda-pushers, and filter the noise out to the best of our ability until the only thing left is people willing to have a conversation. And for everyone's sake, stop using Twitter and social media! For any hope of serious discussion, we need forums to be moderated, and for those moderators to be as impartial as possible. Otherwise, only the status quo will survive.


So about that Kinect...

Well, it's not every day that I wake up to a bomb exploding in my face.

Well, let's talk about the Kinect.

It once watched your every move. Now it simply cries.

So now the 180 is complete. Effective June 9th, a $399 version of the Xbone will be available without the Kinect. Also on June 9th, the requirement to have Xbox Gold to use apps like Netflix and Youtube will be dropped, but that's small potatoes. Come June, the price advantage Sony enjoyed will be gone.

However, so too will anything making the Xbox One anything more than a weaker version of the PS4.

Mind you, this isn't a death knell for the 360. The PSOne and PS2 weren't the strongest of their generations, nor was the 360.

However, those systems had a sheer deluge of quality games to make up for it. Particularly pre-2010, the Xbox 360 was the console to get games on. It had an amazing variety of titles, and the multi-platform games performed better there. Somewhere along the way, however, Microsoft started resting on their laurels. They culled off most of their 1st party development talent, leaving only Turn 10 and 343 Industries left. They leaned harder and harder on non-gaming audiences and left gamers in the dust. As performance parity was established between the PS3 and the 360, Sony leaned heavily on their first-and-second party studios, with hits like Uncharted, Killzone and The Last of Us. Sony once again established the PlayStation 3 as a console for gamers, while MS was re-branding the 360 as the all-in-one entertainment device for which gaming was a secondary consideration.

Indeed, 2010 marked the year where Microsoft was struck by the same hubris that had captured Sony in 2006 and hasn't let go of Nintendo since 1996. Much like with the PS3 and the N64, the Xbox One was ruined by the company behind it simply taking consumers for granted. MS didn't think it needed to serve us, because they believed we were in their pocket. One need only look at the Xbox One reveal 11 months ago.

We clearly didn't matter. And we continued not to matter until the PS4 was effectively positioned, both at its reveal and at E3, as the culmination of a generation's worth of soul-searching and much-needed restructuring at Sony. While Sony was wooing and wowing the people they'd turned away with the PS3 and rebuilding the tarnished image of the PlayStation brand, Microsoft was busy having its own version of Sony's embarrassing E3 2006 press conference.

Now, to Microsoft's credit, they've been rapid about changing many of the worst issues. The DRM that people raged against was removed, along with the region locking, while the system went from having Kinect be plugged in at all times to having the Kinect be something you can keep in the box and never use again if you so choose.

However, Microsoft maintained for months that they would never remove the Kinect from the box. It, along with the ransoming of Youtube behind the Gold paywall, were the last straw. If they bent on these, they would be broken.

Well, now they have bent on the very last issue. And now, they have to prove that they haven't broken. And it comes down to one thing.


Now let's be clear; Sony will always have the more powerful system. Sony's will always be the system that is easier to develop for. When a third party game comes out that really taxes the two systems, the PlayStation 4 version will run better. However, Microsoft can help close the gap by improving the development tools for the system, and continuing to optimize the firmware to tap whatever else was reserved for Kinect and the cloud nonsense. It falls on MS to bend over backward to support 3rd parties in the development/porting process.

They need to move beyond just "bro shooters." The Xbox 360, especially post-2010, wasn't really worth owning if you weren't much of a modern military shooter fan or a huge Call of Duty online player. The system needs platformers, action-adventure, RPGs, sims, fighting games, everything that makes a diverse library, and they need them in abundance. And since Japan has almost completely returned to ignoring Microsoft, limiting the parity between the two systems' library, well, that leads to the next point.

Microsoft desperately, desperately need to re-establish a robust lineup of first-party studios. Put bluntly, 343, Turn 10 and whatever studio ends up being stuck with Gears is not enough. They need multiple developers to establish a strong exclusive lineup, a bunch of games that cannot be found on the PS4, and thus not be included in the debate about which version has a better frame rate or which version has better textures or what the hell have you. Microsoft needs exclusives, and they need those exclusives to be permanent, so they need to make them in-house, and for that, they need to build up a stable of first-party studios that exceeds that of Sony and Nintendo, and they need to do it yesterday.

Microsoft has done an amazing job fixing the problems that plagued the Kinect. As was pointed out on the new Bombin' the AM, Microsoft has shown an agility up until now that should be praised. Sony took years to course-correct the PS3.

However, up until now, all of Microsoft's moves were just reactions. The time for reaction is over. Now is the time to do something that doesn't merely follow Sony. Now is the time to make decisions that excite us on their own, lest Sony continue to jab them for being a me-too company. Now is the time to act.


So I Got the Super Retro Trio...

A few days ago, my Super Retro Trio arrived in the mail, and I've been playing with it.

Play ALL the games!

The system's a pretty good piece of kit, but there were some small issues.

First off, all the cartridge ports are astoundingly filthy. There's this weird, oily black grime deep in all three ports that have to be resolved for proper function. Seriously, in the Genesis port, I couldn't use the lock-on feature for Sonic and Knuckles until this was resolved, and many NES games just wouldn't run on first try, or at all.

To clean the ports, you can either use the original systems' cleaning kits if those around, or you can use a game cartridge as a cleaning kit instead. You'll want to make sure to fully clean the game you intend to use for the purpose before beginning. Once done, it's a two-step process. First, insert and remove the game five times, clean the connectors with alcohol-soaked Q-tips, and then repeat until the black gunk you're cleaning off with the Q-tips is not as jarringly black as when you started. The cartridges will have a far, FAR tighter grip as a result, which leads me to believe that this was meant as some form of lubricant, and you'll likely have to do this for a half hour on each port the first time you go, and you'll still have to Q-tip the games after use. I might just make cleaning these ports a weekly thing for a while, see if I can't really make a dent in the remnants of that junk.

Also, the insides of the control pads have a similar issue. Upon taking one of the controllers apart, I noticed that both the boards and the pads had quite a bit of grime as well. Cleaning those is done with Q-tips and alcohol as well, though it'll likely take a long ass time for the boards, as it's layered pretty thick. Thankfully, the rubber pads were easier to clean, but they weren't of the highest quality either. I'm probably going to get some new SNES rubber pads, as the shell is designed just like the OEM controller, and the replacements should fit right in. However, even with the stock rubber pads, the controllers will feel great after they've been cleaned.

Lastly, the reset button. I had to press it a ton of times to get it to work reliably. I can only assume that they're using the same shitty lubricant as the ports, meaning I might have to take it apart and wash the button and spring.

Once all that's done, you have what is a pretty damn nice system. Like I said, once the ports are clean, it fully supports the lock-in feature of Sonic and Knuckles, and all the other Genesis games I've tried so far have had no issues. The SNES is equally impressive. While I don't have the Megaman X games to try out, I can play Super Mario RPG (made in Japan version) and Earthbound with no issues whatsoever, which impressed the fuck out of me.

The ONE issue I have is the NES portion. While it's mostly just as great as the other two, the standard Castlevania III and Dragon Warrior I incompatibility persists, and while Dragon Warrior III runs, the sound is absolutely atrocious. The sound for Crystalis is also mangled. While I don't have Journey to Silius, I can only assume that also has issues. Thankfully, these issues can likely be addressed through modding, and I look forward to seeing what Satoshi Matrix and other modders do to address the issue.

While the OEM controllers have an SNES layout, it's important to remember that they connect to the GENESIS controller ports, so they can't be used in an actual SNES the way the Retro Duo controllers can. I sent my Genesis off to get repaired, so I can't say with 100% clarity whether the controllers will work in an actual Genesis, but I imagine they would. If you'd rather go original, though, you can switch between Genesis and SNES/NES with a flick of a switch. It's important to remember that, while the Genesis port can play all three systems (playing SNES with a Genesis pad sucks, BTW), the SNES and NES ports cannot be used to play games other than those originally intended for those pads.

The button layout when playing NES and Genesis games on the SR3 controller takes getting used to. For NES games, NES B maps to Y and NES A maps to B. For Genesis, Genesis ABC map to buttons YBA, while Genesis XYZ map to buttons LXR. It takes some getting used to, and you WILL likely have to go into the options screen for the Genesis Street Fighter games, but after a while, it'll become second nature.

Lastly, the video quality. It's only Composite or S-Video, but the quality is pretty damned good for those connections. No jail bars, and the NES portion isn't over-saturated the way it was with the Retro Duo.

Overall, the Super Retro Trio is a fine bit of kit, and worth a place in any gamer's library. Be warned, however, that it's going to take a bit of elbow grease to get the most out of the system.

Oh, and the smell of plastic is strong with this one.

(EDIT: I originally stated that Genesis XYZ mapped to XLR on the SR3 pad. This was in error.)


Harbingers of the End, and why they're so damned ridiculous.

There's been a bit of discussion... Actually, there's been a shit ton of talk about whether the eighth generation of consoles will be the last. The idea that we're never going to see a real PS5, Xbox Two or whatever nonsense Nintendo cooks up is an asinine one that is, unfortunately, shared by many short-sighted pundits (are there any other kind?). Let's examine three of the most prevalent reasons people are predicting the death of the console market.

Number 1: Cumulative console sales are down in 2014 compared to 2007.

Cumulative sales compared to 2007 are a bit of a false correlation, because it ignores something that was happening in 2007, mainly the mad frenzy that people had for the Wii. Seriously, that system was hard to find for much of the year, even going into 2008. In reality, as Machinema points out here, the PS4 and Xbox One have both outsold their predecessors quite handsomely, comparing the first four months of each system's life. There is a huge, HUGE demand for this stuff, so why would any company turn down free money? This is especially true of Sony, for whom the Computer Entertainment division is one of the few bright spots in a relatively bleak landscape.

Number 2: Smart phones and tablets are taking over!

Are they? Without concrete software/micro-transaction sales or ad revenue, it's hard to say, but for this statement to be true, it would have to be a guarantee that everyone buying smart phones and tablets are gaming on them. Obviously that's not the case. There's probably more than a couple of smart phone and tablet users who have no interest in playing games on them. Maybe they're using them for music, or movies, or web browsing in Starbucks, or - GASP - actually calling people and doing business-related things. While there may be some consumption of passive media on game consoles, people buy them mostly for gaming, as Microsoft is learning now as Sony builds a large, commanding lead in the race.

Furthermore, smart phone and tablet gaming is a different beast. The free-to-start model, as Satoru Iwata so eloquently termed it, is far and away the prevalent business model for phone and tablet gaming. The problem is that, rather than getting money from a large number of people, they tend to rely on whales, or people willing to spend a very large amount of money on a game. That's why so many phone/tablet games play similarly to Facebook games, with energy bars, absurd grinding requirements, or other ways to make actually playing without giving money on a continuous basis a chore. And the games that don't use that tactic? The "cheap app mentality" has been engrained in many people, and they won't buy something unless on the iOS/Android stores unless it's extremely cheap. It's even showing in PC gaming, where more and more people won't buy games at full price, opting instead to wait until some stupidly low Steam sale hits. These aren't really a problem in the console space, as AAA games rarely go on sale, and even more rarely end up selling for pennies on their original price.

In addition, while smart phones are becoming more and more powerful, are we truly to believe that more powerful home hardware won't come out to match? PCs are already more powerful than the PS4 and Xbox One if you're willing to pay a whole bunch of money, and in six-to-eight years time, those prices will come down enough for a stupidly awesome console to come out in the future.

In reality, smart phones and tablets haven't even killed off the handheld gaming market. The 3DS is a juggernaut. It's served to prop up Nintendo, who would be in a far, FAR worse position right now if not for the dominance of the 3DS.

Number 3: Digital distribution, cloud gaming, etc...

This is perhaps the greatest fallacy, that most users don't want to go to the store anymore. This despite hundreds of millions of CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays being sold yearly. The problem with many who make this particular argument is that they're coming from the view that most people are highly connected individuals like them, who have absolutely amazing internet and no trouble downloading or streaming anything at all. The problem with that is, in large parts of the US and much of the larger world, that internet speeds are somewhat lacking for increasingly bandwidth-intensive tasks such as HD streaming and game downloading. Also, there's definitely value in increasing the options for impulse buys and the like by having things on a shelf. Look at the Vita, for example. The system has a large, vibrant selection of digital titles, but the selection of physical titles is nothing less than abysmal. By contrast, the 3DS is the reverse: not a very great eShop, but a large selection of physical games. Perhaps its coincidence that the 3DS is so far ahead of the Vita that the latter isn't even worth discussing, but I can't help but wonder if the small selection of physical games, and the resulting smaller retail space it receives (seriously, go to a Wal-Mart or a Toys R Us, it's sad to see the Vita tucked away in a tiny corner like it is) are perhaps effecting exposure.

Then there's cloud gaming. Look at the sad state of OnLive right now. It's mostly been derided as a laggy, lower quality experience, and it never really caught on. PlayStation Now has had good reviews, but so far, the only servers people have tried it on have been in the convention centers where Sony's been showing it off. Where the rubber hits the road is whether someone in Miami, probably connecting to a server in St. Louis or something, can play lag-free Call of Duty multiplayer and not have the image look like someone smeared Vaseline on the television.

Of course, this all ignores the currently hazy outlook for net neutrality in the United States. If ISPs are given free reign to discriminate against certain types of traffic, the prospects of digitally downloading large games are going to look even bleaker for most Americans. Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and the like fighting like mad for the right to extort internet services, mostly to protect their cable services, and the price might be too high for Sony, MS and even Valve to pay every single ISP the potential millions, if not tens or hundreds of millions of dollars needed to get on the "fast lane." Without that privileged access, downloading that 13GB Dead Rising 3 update's going to be a lot more of a hassle...

Put shortly, consoles (and physical games) are likely to be here for a long time to come. The pundits are making the classic mistake of assuming one thing will destroy the other, rather than compliment it. Remember when the Wii came out, and everyone was having a similar discussion? About how, rather than making large, immersive games, companies would instead focus on cheaper, gimmicky waggle titles? Did that happen? No, it didn't. TV didn't destroy radio, internet hasn't destroyed TV, and the prospects for tablets to kill off consoles are pretty damned low.

Put short, consoles aren't going away any time soon, and I'll see you all in six or so years for the PS5 launch.


Gender, Equality and the Search for Common Ground.

I hate this topic so very, very much. I spent way longer than maybe I should have contemplating whether I wanted to type this here blog out, but here goes.

Sexism in gaming. Yes, I'm going into that tornado, even knowing what I'm about to subject myself to.

See, the second-to-last The Point has me once more thinking about this topic, and while I agree that it's something that needs to change if gaming is to ever evolve, I also think that the topic has to nuance itself a bit more.

See, while there are discussions about what happens in the workplace of gaming - where the real issue is - so much of our time is spent talking about character appearance. Once a woman in tight outfit or a low-cut blouse comes on screen, that's what they are. No one talks about her personality or role in the story (save when a Mario game comes out and the tired Princess Peach rants are recycled). Nope, it boils down to tits and ass, because heaven forbid women be beautiful, right?

I find it funny because the PS3/360 generation has given us some of the most interesting female characters in recent memory, from Bayonetta and Morrigan (Dragon Age) to Oerba Yun Fang and Crystal Dynamics' recent re-imagining of Lara Croft. Even characters like Sheva Alomar, Anya Stroud and Princess Hilda have their moments.

Unfortunately, when the discussion only ever goes negative, when the Anita Sarkesians of the world turn every low top and pretty face into some attack on all women everywhere, it obscures the real problem - that women working in the industry have a shit time in a lot of companies.

Also, the assumption that "dudebro" games are somehow what men want to be is pants-on-head retarded, not to mention very, very selective. The assertion that games like Gears of War are "power fantasy," or that all - or even most - men want to be the sort of mindless slabs of beef that detractors think of the Gears characters is a prime example of the misandry that prevents either side from finding common ground.

On a side note, the word "misandry" wasn't in the Firefox spell checker. That should tell you everything you need to know about how one-sided the sexism debate is.

So what common ground do all gamers, male and female, have?

1. We like video games. No shit, right? We don't like being pigeonholed into the nonsense of casual/facebook/social games.

2. We're getting increasingly tired of the increasingly iterative business model of so many games companies. We like variety, so long as the games are still fun.

3. We'd rather not have characters in larger games be cardboard cutouts or tired ass cliches. Interesting characters make for better game stories, which helps with long games, especially marathon-length RPG games and similar.

4. We want the most qualified, passionate people making these things, as that's the best way to make better, more thoughtful games.

I'm sure we can come up with more common ground, but that's a good place to start. None of these things are helped by women being made unwelcome or uncomfortable in the gaming industry. Nor is it helped by harassing and punishing female gamers. Indeed, quite the opposite is true; by narrowing who is allowed to work in gaming or play games, stagnation will reign supreme, at least until gaming dies entirely, which is entirely possible given how shaky many game companies' financial standing seems to be.

None of this precludes women (or men) who dress or act in a sexually provocative manner. Sex, as we all know, is pretty cool too. The issue is when sex appeal is all that a woman has, which is what makes games like Scarlet Blade such a chore to play. Fun, interesting ideas, depth, these are universal things that both men and women enjoy.

We also enjoy being respected. No one wants to feel like they don't matter or, worse, like they're being pushed out because of their gender (or religion, sexual orientation, etc, etc...). A welcoming industry integrates diverse people into it, and thus has more and more diverse ideas, which helps to combat stagnation as you have different people coming up with ideas to please more and more diverse audiences.

That, in the end, is why sexism in gaming needs to be approached in a deeper way than "this character has huge tits, BURN THE WITCH!" Ending sexism in the gaming workplace helps us all, making for more and more diverse ideas. And ideas, in the end, are what gaming requires to survive.