Tag Archives: Gaming

Belgium bans “loot boxes” in video games

Microtransactions have been a hot topic in the gaming industry. The question has been, should they be allowed in games? Well, one country has decided that one form of microtransactions is illegal.

Belgium has decided to ban so called “loot boxes” from video games in their country, labeling it as gambling. This is just a week after The Netherlands declaring some “loot boxes” as gambling as well.

The Minister of Justice in Belgium has said that publishers of games that have “loot boxes” risk fines or prison time if these games with loot boxes are distributed in Belgium.

Games like FIFA, Overwatch and CSGO were determined to promote gambling and thus will be subject to Belgian gambling laws. Star Wars Battlefront 2 was able to escape the ban to due the outcry of there being loot boxes in the game when it was released, the publisher, EA removed them.

The main reason for the decision from Belgium is to stop minors from being exposed to gambling when they are only trying to have fun, the Minister of Justice noted.

Publishers who don’t remove the “gambling” from their game could face up to five years in prison and fines up to $800,000.

However, for those who hate these loot boxes in America, don’t expect anything to happen since most forms of gambling are legal.

Lindsay Lohan Loses Lawsuit Against Take-Two

The never-ending lawsuit between Lindsey Lohan and Take-Two Interactive has finally ended in favor of the makers of Grand Theft Auto 5, but next time, they may not be so lucky.

The real life Lindsey Lohan and the GTA 5 character "Lacey Jones;" photo from digitaltrends.com
The real life Lindsey Lohan and the GTA 5 character “Lacey Jones;” photo from digitaltrends.com

Judges from New York state’s highest court ruled in favor of Take-Two Interactive in a lawsuit case. Lohan had sued Take-Two over the likeness of the GTA 5 character “Lacey Jones” who only appeared in one mission during the storyline game in a random event. Lohan had been fighting the case since 2014 which was called a “publicity stunt” by Take-Two.

Lohan’s case nearly was dismissed in 2016 but she was able to get her case to a New York Supreme Court judge who ruled against her. Then she appealed her case to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the decision of the state’s judge.

The unanimous ruling did find that video game avatars constitute a portrait of someone. However, Lacey Jones, described as a “beach-going young woman” lacked characteristics that reasonably identified the plaintiff.

Lohan’s lawsuit will most likely end here unless she can prove and show how the ruling and New York’s privacy laws conflict federal Constitution laws. If she can prove that, her case could reach the U.S. Supreme Court but the possibility of that happening is slim to none.

Even though Lindsey Lohan didn’t get the result that she was looking for, the ruling is very significant in New York. Video game avatars can be a likeness equivalent to photographs, films, or other depictions under the law.

Video game companies will have to watch twice before making a character that is similar to a celebrity because otherwise, they could end up in court and lose.

 

The Latest Update on GTA Online on PC Results in Many Bans

If you are a PC gamer with Grand Theft Auto 5 Online, you may had gotten banned for no apparent reason.

GTA Online's latest update is NASCAR on steroids but some PC users are unable to play due to a ban; photo from egmnow.com
GTA Online’s latest update is NASCAR on steroids but some PC users are unable to play due to a ban; photo from egmnow.com

After the “Southern San Andreas Super Sport Series” update, many users on PC have been reporting a wave of bans, either mistaken or for no good reason. Users on PS4 and Xbox One have not had the same bug as of now. Most of the bans on the PC have only been for 30 days instead of a lifetime but it still frustrates players who want to play the game and the latest update.

It is believed that Rockstar’s “anti-cheat” system has failed and according to one player on the GTA Online forum who has their own “anti-cheat” software, everyone in his session was labeled as cheating even though they haven’t been.

The system is singling out everyone who might be an illegal-modder which has resulted in bans for many who have done no wrong.

While it is natural for someone who has been caught cheating to say that they haven’t been, something has been amiss with the recent bans. Most of the players that have been banned have fewer than 10 hours of game time which suggests overreach on the game moderators’ parts.

Another thing that might be causing the bans is that some users do have a modder on their PC but the modder is only being used offline, not online.

Neither Rockstar or its parent company, Take-Two Interactive have made a statement to the GTA Online forum or a public statement about the situation.

‘Freemium’ and DLC is killing gaming

Remember the days when you’d buy a game and you’d get a 100 per cent completed package? Now, it’s the norm to expect a half-finished game that’ll get fixed later on with downloadable content, or DLC.

In the beginning, DLC was a welcome change to gaming. It meant you could get more from your already complete game in increments. It gave you a reason to keep coming back to your already great game. But now it seems that games are intentionally giving you less content so that they can charge  more to get the full experience.

Clash of Clans. Graphic from Neo Seeker
Clash of Clans. Graphic from Neo Seeker

The problem  got worse with a system called microtransactions. This system of DLC has always been a common element of mobile gaming. It’s when you play a game that has an artificial currency, such as lives in Candy Crush or gems in Clash of Clans. You can get them yourself over long periods of time, or you can pay and get them instantly. This currency can be spent in the game to speed up your upgrades and reduce the time it takes for you to be able to play again. It goes without saying that many of the highest-level players are the ones who spent money.

This is the problem gamers have with “freemium,” or pay-to-win games. They’re used to games where the best players rise to the top and  casual gamers have to work to earn their place of respect. With microtransactions, it‘s just the opposite. Skill becomes  irrelevant, and the richest players win every time –which is fine for mobile gaming , where the most casual gamers will be.

That all changes when microtransactions are introduced into console gaming. EA was shameless in their experimentation with this form of bleeding their fans dry. We paid $60 for Dead Space 3, and were surprised with a cool material crafting system you could use to create and modify weapons. We were even more surprised to see that you don’t have to grind through hours of killing enemies to get these materials; you only had to pay $0.99 apiece for the new guns. You can then easily breeze through the game on your first run without much worry. It was a slap in the face to fans of the franchise, for selling out to the casual gaming crowd.

But that’s the way things are now. Games are released unfinished, and all it takes is an apology and an update to make things right. Mass Effect 3 was criticized for having the worst ending of all time, leaving fans to make extensive videos rationalizing why anyone would ever make an ending this bad– but developers fixed it with a downloadable update. You can also pay along the way to open up missions and unlock characters that would dramatically change the course of the game. Or you could not, and only get some of the experience.

Evolve is undoubtedly the most recent culprit and one of the biggest offenders of charging for complete content. At launch, you’re given a selection of three monsters and twelve hunters, which you had to unlock by playing in a certain style and by all-around being good at the game. Either that, or buy the shortcut. On day one, you could see people playing as the most overpowered monster, because they spent the extra money to win before anyone else could earn it.

Many games nowadays have a ‘season pass’ option, where you pay a one-time fee and it pays for all of the content for that year. Evolve has this as well, for $20. But there’s still a total of $74.49 worth of skins and other content that isn’t covered by this season pass. That’s more than double the original price of the game — just in added content that doesn’t even change the game.

This is just one step in a slippery slope, where games will give you less, and charge you for more, despite not even changing the base price of the product. We’ve seen this with Destiny, Titanfall, and Assassin’s Creed: Unity, and it’s become the norm for nearly every game that has come out this year. It’ll only get worse, because this business model has worked for mobile gaming–so these video game publishers want to push it onto the rest of us.

This is the end of the article. Sure, it’s abrupt and doesn’t seem like a sensible stopping point, but if you want the rest of the article, it’ll be made available in two months for a small fee of $14.99. Enjoy your incomplete content.

Law, order, and video game ISIS

Gaming has always been that one habit that people are hesitant to tell others about. It’s mostly because the default image that pops in a non-gamer’s head is that of a fat kid with an overabundance of Doritos and Mountain Dew raging at his TV screen. Whether they’re bragging about the things they’ve done with your mom, or tripping over themselves at the first girl who hops in a game lobby, gamers aren’t well liked by a great number of demographics.

It doesn’t help that every time a shooting happens, the news media tries to find which violent video game to point to as a possible motivator for such an act. In fact, the media as a whole doesn’t seem to understand gaming at all–and when it tries, it seems to miss the mark every single time.

A recent “Law & Order” episode aired, loosely based on the events of what has been dubbed Gamergate. It’s a scandal that involves accusations of both misogyny and journalistic ethics. It’s a topic that deserves further explanation, but I’ll do so after you watch the episode.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7faUHdlh9g

Putting aside the fact that they felt the need to use and explain just about every outdated and unused piece of gamer lingo, this episode tried to take on way too much. Granted,  Gamergate is a monster of an issue to tackle with multiple facets that someone from the outside would never understand.

To grossly oversimplify, the actual Gamergate started after evidence came out that a Kotaku reviewer had given a game good review because of an intimate relationship he had with the developer. It raised questions about corruption in gaming journalism, due to the fact that many large game developers have been known to give sponsorships and other gifts to entice positive reviews.

It then devolved into an issue of trading sex for coverage, after a writer put out a prolonged blog post about how his ex-girlfriend Zoe Quinn had cheated on him with another writer. As a natural internet reaction to this blog post, people began to question if this is true for all female game developers.It further descended into madness from there.

New characters started to spawn into the Gamergate battlefield after feminist blogger Anita Sarkeesian took this opportunity to criticize the gaming community and the culture that surrounds it. She made the points that games often portray women in scantily-clad clothing or as supporting roles for the male protagonists. In doing so, she inadvertently generalized gamers as sexists, largely due to what they are exposed to in games.

As one could imagine, gamers didn’t like being labeled, and she became a vilified character among the community–but championed by many feminists who have long held the idea that video games aren’t a safe place for women. It got worse, however, when Sarkeesian began receiving death threats that prevented her from speaking at several events. This helped to serve her point that gamers are these monsters that want to silence women.

There’s plenty more that I’ve unfortunately had to leave out, but there’s a lot of bias and contradictory information that tends to muddy the water. The point is that it’s a big deal due to the fact that it hits on about four different issues at once. The media completely dropped the ball on the issue by siding against the gaming community, because it’s a community that’s already so misunderstood by the general public.

It’s almost too easy to get it wrong, because it won’t matter to the general public (who don’t care enough to make the effort to understand). It’s so much easier to write gamers off as sexist nerds than it is to understand that this is an issue of journalistic ethics. Yes, it’s wrong that a select few took it upon themselves to send death threats to any female who covered the issue from a feminist standpoint. Yes, it’s wrong that there aren’t more realistic female protagonists in games. However, it’s also wrong to use an entire demographic of gamers as the scapegoat any time anything goes wrong in society.

The reason gamers appear so defensive about what they do is because of negative media portrayals. After making the point that a shooter enjoyed playing violent video games , news anchors always seem to encourage family to talk to their loved ones. This often results in the taking-away of said violent video games. There’s an inherent distrust of the media every time they decide to cover gaming, because they always get it wrong.

What “Law & Order” did here was a prime example of why there was a need for gamers to speak out against the media in the first place. This hypothetical video game equivalent of ISIS will only further make the non-gaming community wary of gamers and what twisted ideas they have in their heads.

Maybe we need more gamers in the media, or maybe the media just needs to do more research before they try to cover topics like this. Gaming impacts such a large demographic that it’s impossible to generalize everyone to one collective hive-mind. We’re not all sexists, and we’re not a mean joke away from shooting up a school. We’re everyday people who happen to enjoy escaping this reality to one with less rules.

Twitch plays Pokémon and so does the rest of the Internet

In the most rapidly growing fad on the Internet right now, an anonymous Australian Reddit user started live streaming of a modified version of Pokémon Red. Members of the chatroom can input commands to control a bot. This group-play of a traditionally single-player game is at the center of a self-proclaimed “social experiment” known as “Twitch Plays Pokemon.” Continue reading Twitch plays Pokémon and so does the rest of the Internet

Games to play if you don’t have a modern gaming system

A lot of people who haven’t played video games before may wonder why gamers are so attached to them. So, I’ve compiled a list of games you should play to better understand gamer culture. Without further ado, here are four fantastic games you should play that don’t require a modern gaming system: Continue reading Games to play if you don’t have a modern gaming system

OnLive: the future of gaming…or not

OnLive is being billed as the future of video gaming. To explain Onlive is sort of difficult. It works via the principle of cloud processing. Cloud processing is where the majority of the processing and the work that would normally be associated with something like playing a video game or running a CPU-intensive program is done in a remote location and the results are streamed back to you.

Onlive plans to use cloud processing to run video games and then stream the video content back to the individual’s computer or OnLive console. The idea behind this is that it would eliminate the need to constantly buy games. Instead, one would sign up to a subscription service, allowing them access to the Onlive system. From there, they would be able to purchase licencing for games stored on the Onlive servers. No more waiting to receive a game disk or even download and install it. Also, there would be the entire death of the whole console-wars concept, since what would be updating would be the massive amounts of servers that would be required to run this system.

Onlive often-times seems as though it is going to run purely upon voodoo magic. Many of the designers’ concepts and ideals seem rather unrealistic. One of the major claims that the makers of Onlive are claiming is that Onlive will eliminate lag all together. While that seems like a great idea, how will there not be lag when the video stream on which you are playing is streamed to you from a central server somewhere? Another one of the company’s strange and somewhat premature claims involves claiming to have a massive community when the system has just entered beta.

Most recently, Onlive got a huge shot in the arm as far as its finances were concerned. It looked as though the Onlive project was going to be a pipe dream lacking serious capital to help support the massive amounts of servers required to for the system to work as proposed. The sudden addition of sponsorship by AT&T is making people look again at Onlive’s somewhat outrageous claims. Perhaps there is more to it than a company just trying to drum up business.

While this concept seems rather ideal at the time being, it may be harder to take off in the gamer community that still looks somewhat wearily at the latest and greatest concepts of motion-capture gaming. To them, this will just seem like one more abrupt change for the game community, a change that will take more of the material aspect of games away. However, there is something to be said about being able to hold a game in your hands and know that you own it. That will ultimately be lost by this streaming gaming concept.

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