WiiWare Launch & Reviews

Today, Nintendo launched the WiiWare service in North America. This is of particular interest to me as I am personally working on a WiiWare title.

I’m actually lucky to play though all of the WiiWare games today (except My Life as a King) today. Checking the competition, I realize that we don’t have competition. Not in the perspective of quality judgments, but for the fact that each of the titles released on WiiWare are very different from each other. There is something different for a lot of different people, which is about what one would hope from a service launch.

The Wired Game|Life Blog does a good job outlining all the launch titles, now with impressions of each title. But if you insist, here’s my quick review of the titles:

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Real Violence and Video Games

Wired Blogs: Games | Gaming, Real Violence Trends Tracked, Charted

It’s easy to claim that gaming violence has no correlation with real world violence, but those arguments are a bit hollow if you can’t provide data to corroborate; or even better, a fancy line graph.

The graph makes no direct claims towards a relationship between real world and gaming violence, though it’s interesting to see an inversely proportional trend of violent gaming releases and incidents of real crime.

For those doubting the graph’s figures, have a look at the data on which it was based: a relatively recent survey of national violent crime rates published by the U.S. Department of Justice.

We have to be very careful with how we state this information.

While it’s easy to jump to the conclusion, these facts can not prove that violent video games cause a REDUCTION of violent crimes. There are simply way to many factors at play to make this claim. This would be a separate set of studies to determine what the real factors are and even then may never be truly ‘solved’.

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The Life of Seg: April 2008 Edition

Checking in on the blog and going to use some lame excuses as to why I haven’t been contributing too much to ye old blog. So I’ll list my lame excuses in hopes the story behind them will produce meaningful content. Yea!

Sam & Max on the Wii

On April 3rd, Telltale Games announced that Sam & Max Season One will be a disc based Wii game, set for release sometime in the Fall. I was even featured on the blog post holding a Wii Remote:

Seg and Andrew Announcing Sam & Max Season One for Wii.

We spent quite of bit of time cleaning up that room, especially all of our retail consoles. We didn’t want people to think that just because we had a PS2 in our media room, that we would release for the PS2 (which we are not doing). As you can see from the photo though, we forgot the PS2 controller right next to the TV. :/

I mention this because it’s a interesting history between Sam & Max on the Wii and me. Back in Aug 2006, a few of the various staff at Telltale were mentioning how point & click games, including Sam & Max, would be great for the Wii. No plans to do so, just that the idea of going to the platform would be nifty. Obviously this lead people to think Telltale was actively developing for the Wii. This rumor propagated. Emily decided to make a post about it to curb the rumor and set facts straight and state while it’s a desire, they need Nintendo’s support to make it happen. A link to Nintendo’s contact page was made. When I saw this post, I wrote up a form letter for people to use. About 3 hours later, Emily updated the post saying Nintendo contacted Telltale and to stop sending e-mails.

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Preserving and Demonstrating History

A few weeks ago, I went to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA with a friend of mine. I had gone to its predecessor in Boston in 1990, The Computer Museum (closed in 1999). While the Boston museum focused on how a computer works, the Mountain View museum focuses on the history and the people of computing. Which, as you can see from the titles of both museums, is a conscious difference of focus.

That particular day I visited the History Museum, a demonstration of the PDP-1 was being held twice that day. I admit that while I knew this was an important device, I was murky at the time as to its exact history. Going to the demonstration made me hurt myself for forgetting. The PDP-1 was the first ‘personal’ computer in the sense that one person could operate the machine rather than a team of computer engineers. This paved the way for the MIT Tech Model Railroad Club to make key software in computer history, including Spacewar!

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RIP: Uru: Myst Online

An end of an era:

Myst Online: Uru Live Season 2 Status

Hi Everybody,

I have some news that some of you have probably not been looking forward to. GameTap has decided to discontinue the operation of Myst Online: Uru Live.

< SNIP >

Ricardo Sanchez
VP of Content and Creative Director for GameTap

I’m upset that the eight year journey has come to a close, but I also think that it’s time for the experiment to come to a rest. Uru was a needed and welcomed experiment in a MMO based narrative, not on combat. The goal was not to level up or defeat the baddie with spells and swords, but to progress and the story line. From this, a very strong and tight-nit group believed intensely in the project and the community they built.

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The Corporation for Public Gaming

“Funds for this game were provided by The Corporation for Public Gaming.”

When television and radio started, different countries took different choices in how the airwaves would be regulated. In England, taxes are levied on all radios and television sets to fund programming. Some countries have all media run directly by the state. In the US, a free market economy was formulated to let market take charge of content generation; A commercial system. But with the commercial system, there was a call for providing content that wasn’t commercially sustainable but culturally important. Content of instructional, educational, and cultural significance that it’s commercially viable but very important. The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 among others did this for television and radio in the United States. I want to have an additional organization for electronic entertainment media.

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A Fat Pipe

Following up from the last post about AT&T, I want to talk about what I want from my cell phone, internet, cable, and the rest of the communication sector: A fat, dumb pipe.

I don’t care about Comcast’s video content. I don’t care about AT&T’s Blue Room or any other crap. I am paying you as a bridge to obtain other people’s content. That’s all I require from you. Why only the fat pipe? Because you suck at content generation. You’re spreading your resources to do something extra and it’s just not working very well.

Thing is, I never asked for you to make your own content. It’s really a non-issue with me. There are millions of other people that can do it so much better and that’s who I want to have access to. I’m paying you to give me unfettered access to other content providers. Is making your own content really helping you out? I would figure focusing on the speed and availability of the content of the Internet would be a bigger drive than your special little video program. I know that on the feature list, saying you have this unique content gives the impression of better value on a flyer.

You know what gets me to stick with your service without disdain? Giving me access to all available content without bullshit. For example, if Comcast spent more dedication and time to improving their horrific customer support, the product would have more value than ‘Channel 1’. Or perhaps finding a better long-term plan to keep the bandwidth infrastructure on par or surpassing the rest of the modern world. Why spend time finding ways to inhibit use of BitTorrent when you can spend that time more productively by improving the network infrastructure.

Please, I don’t care about your content as it is unmatched to what the rest of the world at large can provide. Give me unfettered and uninhibited access to the world, then you have won me over!

Journalistic Perceptions of Gaming

This morning I finally got around to writing that letter to On The Media (OTM) I’ve been meaning to write about. This week’s show had the first mention of a video game device/game that I recall on the show. The “Death Ray” segment had a commentator mentioning PS3’s Blu-ray playing abilities. I don’t find an issue with that mention. I do find it interesting they didn’t mention Microsoft’s investment in HD-DVD via the Xbox 360 add-on yet quoted Bill Gates on his position that on-line distribution is going to trump physical media.

As for the show in general, there is a void of reporting when it comes to interactive media under the realm of games. Taking a look at OTM’s mission statement:

On the Media explores how the media “sausage” is made, casts an incisive eye on fluctuations in the marketplace of ideas, and examines threats to the freedom of information and expression in America and abroad.

In my view, not covering video/computer games is a huge piece of sausage they are missing. So, it’s concerned audience member time:

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Game Innovation?

There’s something that I find funny about a list of ‘game innovations.’ Are we talking technical innovations or creative design innovations? And is there really a difference to begin with? Or should we even care about innovations?

Case in discussion point: Top 10 Game Innovations 2007 by James Portnow on Next Generation. Right point 10, Mr. Portnow seems to describe his own short comings on the topic by not having the language to describe fl0w by thatgamecompany.

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