Gamers With Jobs podcast

I’ve been listening to the Gamers With Jobs podcast lately. It’s weekly, it’s very well done and these are simply smart, fun people discussing what’s going on in the industry. They have interesting guests. They’re (grown-up) gamers, not journalists. The show can be lengthy, but it’s always interesting. The whole Gamers With Jobs angle is different from the other videogame online offerings, which is of course refreshing.

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Politically correct

At times it feels like all the world’s in a huge game, certainly when you’re playing a culturally transparent title like Final Fantasy XII, so maybe stories like this Chinese MMO operator banning men from playing female characters – requiring webcam authentication that you’re, in fact, a woman, should you wish to play as one – are welcome. The world is getting smaller, but I have a feeling there are some cultural barriers we may not be able to cross, real or virtual. These may not have been an issue before, but as technology is enabling us to connect, we need to find ways to manage ourselves on a human level.

culture Games

Some $10M of advertising outdone by amateur website (Halo 3, YouTube, Consolevania)

I expect to be playing Halo 3 in ten days. Before that, Microsoft is doing its best to overwhelm us with advertising. Witness the teaser advert.

You know, I would’ve loved to post the videos directly here, but it looks like Google doesn’t like posting YouTube content. They are allowing it, sure, but I couldn’t complete the process of registering my blog for posting YouTube content. God, I thought I was reasonably tech-savvy.

Having watched the previous movie (“Believe”), witness the fine and entirely truthful spin the guys at Consolevania put on it.


Fragile egos (Microsoft, Linux, Sony, Wikipedia)

So Microsoft is banning people from Xbox Live because their names have “Linux” in them. They’re being flagged as “inappropriate language”, which is just ridiculous. Sure, it’s their playground and sure, the terms of use clearly state that Microsoft calls the shots however they feel. But this is just damaging them – acknowledging that they’re afraid to let a competing platform be mentioned on their gaming service makes them just look so… small.

Especially since they have actual problems with the Gamertag language. You know, with actually inappropriate words. There are tons of examples and you’re likely to come across several in any given Live game – and that’s just in English, the other languages (if Finnish is anything to go by) are faring even worse.

But never one to fall behind the times, Sony has been up to childish internet bullyism, too! The vandalization of the Halo 3 entry on Wikipedia is something you’d expect from a junior PlayStation fanboy, but not from someone working in the Sony UK offices.

Big players need to behave like ones to be taken seriously. There is such a thing as “your level” and it’s entirely up to your own behavior how low it’s set.


The last Bioshock article you will need to read

Gamers With Jobs has an excellent article up shedding considerable light into what’s going down in Bioshock.

Author Julian Murdoch sits down with Ken Levine and after interesting stuff on overall design and AI – some of which sounds so good that I’m afraid we’re bound to be disappointed when it’s finally here – we get the goods on what the game is about. I have always been a great fan of games with meaning, just on a principle. With titles likes Bioshock, it’s starting to feel that videogames are finally growing up. Not that I can mention too many games with alike weight, but Haze comes to mind.

Although I have to add that Eurogamer’s article, probably based on the same PR visit to Irrational as Murdoch’s, is also very good.

Eurogamer has really been stepping up their game lately, delivering quality videogame journalism, piece after piece. But they’re certainly not alone – when I gave up reading other print magazines than Edge, I thought I was giving up on quality articles. But now I have more stuff lined up in browser tabs and temporary bookmarks than I have time to read. This Bioshock article has been sitting in a tab for 29 days! And I’ve entirely given up on keeping up with The Escapist, which is certainly a quality weekly release, because I just don’t have the time to read it. Damn, some time management may be required here, because I don’t want to miss out on quality stuff.

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Journeys past and revisited, yet ahead (Zelda, Final Fantasy XII)

We bought Final Fantasy XII for the PS2 just now and I’m so psyched to get into it. The manual makes it sound very complicated indeed, yet I’m confident I’ll get the hang of it, after innumerable hours of effort put into it. Too bad I will need to share Playstation time with my wife, who’s a lot into RPGs.

It’s been some time I last played a Final Fantasy. I’ve gone through VII and VIII twice, although I have yet to actually complete either… stuck in the grind before the last area, if I recall correctly. I’ve also played V and VI on a SNES emulator a lot, although having failed to complete those, either. XII is interesting to me because it’s earned the highest accolades from both of my trusted reviewers (Eurogamer: 10/10, Edge: 9/10), including Edge magazine’s game of the year 2006, and also because it’s largely the child of Yasumi Matsuno, the creator of Vagrant Story and its world Ivalice, which serves as FF XII’s setting, too, along with the revered Final Fantasy Tactics.

At the same time, another gamer has embarked on a journey to revisit the Zelda series he so loves and while at it, continue the journey by playing the later Zelda games he’s never got into. Fascinating stuff, if thoroughly nostalgia-tinted.

But with FF XII, I’m kind of torn. I’d like to go home and boot the Playstation right now, but on the other hand, I want to set aside a whole day and really get into it. Hey, is that a summer vacation around the corner?

culture Games

Mitch Gitelman on review scores (OXM, FASA, Shadowrun)

Mitch Gitelman is the head of FASA Studios over at Microsoft, the makers of some noteworthy Xbox titles, including Crimson Skies. He is not fond of the reception Shadowrun is getting, which I can fully symphatize with. So he decided to volunteer for the Official Xbox Magazine OXM podcast, “because the reviews of my game suck ass”. The result is interesting indeed, something of a rare public exchange on the subject of reviews between journalists and game developers.

He raises solid points and I also fully understand the reviewers, too. Well, the ones I would call journalists and not “fans who have learned to type”, as it’s put regarding some reviewers. For instance, Shadowrun is criticized a lot for having only two game modes and nine maps. Well, I’ve played a lot of Battlefield 2 and way more than 90% of my time has been spent playing a grand total of two maps. I have only played one game mode! So why the perceived need for more? I’ve dabbled in the other maps and there’s maybe one or two among them that I like, the rest is just filler. Counter-Strike is also played on two maps almost exclusively, and in two game modes. Ditto any other FPS you care to mention, I’d wager.

Check out the podcast here, it’s good stuff, made the commute fly by. This really does reinforce the image I have of OXM, that is, it’s not a Microsoft operated media outlet but actually an independent publication. Which I would probably buy if it weren’t for the ridiculous price point in Finland.


The SimExchange

Cnet news ran a story on the SimExchange’s surprisingly accurate predictions of the videogame market. It is a prediction market for the videogame industry. You get virtual money to spend on videogame titles and platforms.

The idea is that the stock exchange structure works very much like the real market does. Expensive rates reflect a game that will do well in the real market.

Indeed, the SimExchange’s predictions have been as good as and even better than those of the industry’s leading analysts.

I signed up immediately to see how I could do, focusing on the Xbox 360 titles. What’s in it for me? Nothing but bragging rights and satisfaction if I do well. It is fascinating, though. The prices of titles seem to be very well in line with their expectations, for the most part. I could immediately see several as of yet under appreciated titles I could get for cheap, confident in knowing that their price will go up.

I did blow off a lot of my starting allowance until I figured out how it worked (I’m a novice in stock terminology and basics), though, so a lot of catching up to do.


Just for fun

There was a column in the Finnish giveaway newspaper “100” on Wednesday by Tarja Veiniaho, in which she told about her 9-year old daughter’s age crisis. The girl was worried that she hadn’t been playing enough; that she’d grow up and couldn’t play anymore. The mother wrote that compared to that realization, the age crisis of the 30, 40 or 50 year milestones is nothing.

It’s possible I’m not reading this correctly, but I suspect that she meant it literally. I can say that sometimes I do long for the carefree times of playing all day. But most of the time I don’t long for times of playing, because I continue to play.

Too many adults forget play. It isn’t considered grown-up to play. I’m certain that I’ll live longer because I continue to play, and certainly I’m happier because I continue to play. I recall several comments by girls of my age from years gone, ridiculing the boys for continuing to play. Girls grow up faster and sadly it’s the way of our society that growing up means stopping to play.

I think that the very usual 50s age crisis is a sort of realization that you’ve been “grown up” for long enough, now you can play again. The kind of playing we practice changes with the times; kids play with dolls, adults might play with cars.

Do stuff just for fun.


Halo science 101

This guy needs to get out more. I bow very deep before the presented effort, however.