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What yah looking at Big Brother?
Posted on Wednesday, December 18 2013 @ 15:35:18 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

As the holiday season is upon us I am reminded of Santa Claus making a list and checking it twice, because he knows who is naughty and who is nice. Santa’s a damn spy and I don’t want a plump, old dude of no relation to my children checking on them throughout the year. I’ll buy their presents myself! So who has been actually watching us all year? Some would say the U.S. Government and others would agree, but what does that mean to me? Is the U.S. Government as innocuous as Santa Claus?
 
As the media continues to cover information released by Edward Snowden, one of my favorite pastimes, video games, has been brought into the fray. Specifically, it is now believed that the U.S. amongst other governments has been spying on online communities. As a multi-billion dollar industry with a multi-million participant user group, I could see this as a possibility. So what does that mean? Am I going to be playing Diablo 3 with Tingzor and bang, boom, pow…real-life Counter-Strike is going to unfold in my living room? Possibly, yet realistically it’s highly improbable. But the government has been snooping on me…they gotta stop this or else…?
 
It was interesting to see how up in arms people get about the “Government” collecting information on them when we volunteer information on a regular basis, the scope of which is relatively unknown due to the enigmatic user agreements we enter into every time we use a great deal of today’s technology. Just a few of the routine user agreements I have been graced with agreeing to are as follows: I-tune/Apple – for my I phone Google – for my android phone (would you like access to my location too?) PSN – to play online EA Origins, Rockstar, Ubisoft, insert publisher of game who requires you to accept their terms before playing their game. ISP – You get internet but don’t go trying to download stuff off Pirate Bay Samsung – Android phone but Samsung product, lets add a layer so everyone is covered I suppose This would equate to just one day's worth of provisions my technological activities are supposedly governed by. Note: If you have ever taken the time to review these agreements side by side you will undoubtedly come across terms which conflict by their very nature. Digging deeper you could actually get into cross referencing the citations and case law referenced in some of them and realize the following: (1) You may not be abiding by all the terms found in the numerous user agreements you have entered into; (2) Not many people sit side by side all of their user agreements to see the inherent conflicts; and (3) If you did the diligence, who would change all of the agreements to conform to you as a specific user?
 
I use the user agreements as an example of how a legally binding document can be both superfluous and inherently non-sensical when placed into real-world perspective. So, when someone says, “Oh my God, the Government is spying on me!” I have to take it with a grain of salt and say, “Okay, so what have they been doing with it?” with a typical response of, “I don’t know, it just makes me uncomfortable to think someone is watching everything I do." If you were aware of being watched all of your life and nothing directly related to their snooping ever negatively impacted your life, would you still care?

I remember once telling my uncle that I don’t get it. Politicians simply repeat a particular message and people as a group start to believe and be swayed regardless of the accuracy of a statement. Furthermore, why do so many people vote along party lines without researching each candidate? He said something that made perfect sense… ”Nephew, not everyone has the time or acumen to research a particular candidate. Aside from that, there are a lot of people far more focused with attaining their next meal, having a roof over their heads, or just making ends meet, that the government’s activities are to some extent inconsequential to their immediate needs." If you were a poor person the day before the election you will more than likely be a poor person the day after the election. If the government has been collecting data on you this long and has not directly utilized it to reprimand you specifically, then how much impact does it really have now that you are aware?  
 
I get that the argument can be made, then, that the Government can do whatever it wants and we should just be okay with it… nah, not so much. I think simply from an individual perspective that monitoring has relatively little impact on me currently, so I am not up in arms. Of course the practice could be abused, innocent people can become victims, etc… but I grew up in a neighborhood where individuals have and continue to be profiled without ever having been justified by having a federal profile as a reference.
 
There are many battles to be fought with regard to maintaining civil rights and providing checks on the government but collecting information in an environment where information is ever prevalent and publicly available seems to make sense to me. In an ideal situation we could limit government information collection to only “criminals” while also granting them the ability to anticipate threats without a resource such as “information”. In the real world however, individuals both good and bad as well as public and private entities gather information in order to make informed decisions. The methodology for gathering information in a constantly changing environment is of a dynamic nature so I “get it”. I like my individual perception that at least some of the snooping leads to the prevention of some crimes. I am not saying it is the best way to protect a society, but “best” is relative to the perception at the time. I can rationalize why the action occurred, whether good or bad so in this specific case I just don’t have the desire to be up in arms.
 
In conclusion, I get more freaked out by what information private companies are gathering on me through the ever prevalent user agreements. It just seems a bit suspicious that I have to agree to the terms of my internet provider, then to Sony to use its network and to update its firmware, then to the publisher of a game, and possibly to a subsidiary who manage something like an EA Origin. When I had a Super Nintendo I don’t even think I knew what an agreement was. Furthermore, the idea that the end users of many of these systems are kids without a legal background seems a bit entertaining to have them waive certain rights with both parties consenting to understanding the agreement entered into…but I guess it falls on the parents to make sure that when the kid turns on the system or inserts a game that they do not agree to any terms or conditions until their folks have had ample time to review said agreement.
 
Now that I think about it, it would be really cool if a legal firm did a little expo on what have I signed up for: an examination of current user agreements in the video game industry.

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted originally on December 10, 2013, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan

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I ain’t scared of no ghost! Now clowns on the other hand…
Posted on Monday, December 9 2013 @ 16:47:07 Eastern

I recently read an article discussing Shinji Mikami’s (Evil Within) revelation that it is simply getting harder to scare gamers. Sir, I agree! As I roll into my 30’s I have developed a rather tragic condition, called “Fearlessness”…nah just kidding it has simply become much tougher to get that old scary feeling. You know, the one where you are so scared you try to scream but nothing comes out (oh yeah that is some good scariness, and has only happened to me once). See, even writing about the fact that I don’t get scared easily anymore is in and of itself quite scary as I can only genuinely hope that no one on the internet is like, “oh, I’m going to show you scary”…please don’t.  I’m not interested in that type of weird scary…just make me a video game that scares the crap out of me and that will suffice.
 
When I was a kid my grandma would watch Return of the Living dead and it would scare the bejesus out of me. You go to sleep and when you wake up if the house is silent, it’s time to make some noise to remind folks that even with all those top notch special effects from 1985 this was not real. Childhood is a good time for being scared, with a lack of experience and knowledge you are ripe for the scaring. As time passes and you move into adulthood, your fears change from that which you don’t know and understand to more immediate and real fears. So the games that are scary for kids won’t simply work for adults. We all know adults still get scared, it’s just that different things scare them.  I have played enough scary games to know that regardless of the consequence I can simply restart and try again. So then how do you scare the crap out of adults consistently?
 
I honestly believe the key to scaring adults is going the psychological route vs. gore and shock. Here are some general features that would freak me out but have not been implemented as of late if ever. When I think of what would scare me now I instantly think of Psycho Mantis and the way in which the boss fight went far and beyond convention by literally taking control of different aspects of the then current console. It was so novel and yet has not been expanded or improved upon.
 
We have been well aware of the Rockstars, EA’s, Ubisofts, etc… collecting our gamer information, so why not utilize that information to tailor a uniquely horrific experience to gamers. One of the biggest issues with something being scary is novelty. If you don’t play a scary game soon after release some of the most shocking aspects are discussed due to the internet and social media diluting the effect for many late consumers, however if implemented correctly the story would actually by unique to specific gamer profiles. Think of walking into room in a game like Max Payne and being in what would be considered a thanksgiving scene only to see characters playing Madden specifically the last game saved on November 26th with teams and scores synced with the game. This would be subtle, as numerous other aspects of the game would be tied into gamer profile, trophy achievements, etc…It would be the subtly that would be unnerving. No one element would encompass what gives you that de ja vu feeling but rather it would be the sum of the experience having you wonder how much of my information is found throughout this game. This would drive you to also play on to not only see what information the use but how…nothing is quite as engrossing as trying to figure out what else makes my game different from my buddy’s and how much do they really know about me.
 
See, you would have the over arching story which I would aim at a current psychological thriller theme being populated with 50%-60% unique personal information. I would keep the character to one life with average abilities. No stat building or grinding, not even super action oriented. Slow down the pace but keep it driving maybe need to kill 1 person the entire game or piece things together a la Momento. I am thinking of maybe a Persona 4/Yakuza style of pseudo realistic with the ability to do side activities (such as games but good friggin game, like crazy taxi, etc...only maybe 1 generation behind, get some of those short pretty games from last gen launch and tie them in).
 
Now for some more fun, all we have discussed is the actual in game usage of personal info to freak you out. What about when you are not playing? The PS3 now has the ability to auto start to complete downloads and updates, how about tracking usage patterns of users and force start the PS3 when the game is normally played if in the drive and display a message like…,”are you there?”, “We’re waiting”. They are also now promoting cross play between the Vita, PS4, and Mobile Phones you gotta use this synchronicity to scare the **** out of people. Have the PS4 app change your phone desktop picture to reflect a graphic in-game screenshot from one of your recent forays into it.
 
Predictability is the bane of fear. When developers try to create a scary game they seem to forget that the system as a whole can accomplish so much more with regard to keeping an experience fresh and innovative. The first forays into this may need to be a first party developer/publisher because they may be permitted the most leeway with regard to modifying system code to allow for some of these ideas but I am telling you if Naughty Dog can create a horror game (not suspense LoU) and implement some of these mechanics you will scare the **** out kids and adults alike.
 
As an adult what makes games less scary is the idea that I understand that each and everyone has a start and end determined by when I turn it on and off but take away that control in a very subtle way and you would be surprised by the freakouts. I could just picture some kids sitting in the living room and the Playstation turning on and asking whether Frank is around? And then going into a full on script about how it feels for people to think it’s just a game and then start rumbling controllers, turning the camera on,  and google searching sentient beings etc…think evil GladOs. Putting a face (more accurately a persona) to the “They” are collecting my personal info will freak people out in and of itself. With so much potential you just gotta think about not only how can you create scary software but rather how can you maximize the overall fear experience via a combination of hardware, software, and accessories.
 
The cool part is you can get approval from the user to do all of this by simply putting a user agreement upfront and asking them to agree before they can continue. Apple says agree or take it back for a refund! 

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My experience at the Rockstar Diner: GTA V Revisited
Posted on Tuesday, November 12 2013 @ 17:17:09 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.


While enjoying a hot bowl of Pho, I was texted by a buddy of mine who inquired as to whether I had gotten onto GTAV Online yet. As some of you may be aware, this has been an issue of contention for me. See, when GTAV came out I ranted and raved to my friends about how great it was based on the single-player experience. Thus, it came as no surprise when my friend reached out to get a match going with me, but alas I had to decline. In pondering how best to articulate my experience with GTAV  I came up with the following analogous offering:

The setup: It is a beautiful sunny day in anywhere America and after having a hell of a night it is time for some breakfast. It’s been advertised all over the news and different media forums that, Rockstar Diner has some of the best steak in town and they recently brought in a new omelet specialist straight from France. So anyone with a taste for the sublime should definitely get the Steak & Eggs special. I enter the restaurant…

Hostess: Well, hello! Welcome to Rockstar Diner. You can hava a seat wherever you like

*Hostess guides me to my table where I take a seat. She advises that my waiter will be with me shortly. Waiter approaches…

Waiter: Hello! Welcome to Rockstar Diner. Can I get you started with something to drink?

Me: Nah, water’s fine. I also know what I want to eat, though.

Waiter: Cool. What yah thinking?

Me: Can I get the Steak & Egg combo (Item 5 on the menu)?

Waiter: Sure can, how do you want your steak?

Me: Chef’s preference I hear you guys make some of the best steak in town

Waiter: Yeah, we do! And just your luck we also got a new French chef who specializes in omelets, so you are in for a treat!

Me: Sweet!

Waiter: So... I take it you want an omelet with your steak?

Me: Yeah, if that’s “the goods” then let me at it,

Waiter: Perfect! I will bring it out as soon as it's ready.

Me: Thanks, man.

*About 15 minutes have passed and I can see the waiter approaching with what looks like a plate of “amazing”. He places the plate in front of me and begins…

Waiter: Hey, I just wanted to let you know the omelet is going to be a few minutes longer but we pride ourselves on our steaks and so I brought it out as soon as it was ready. Once again my apologies for the delay with the omelet, but I think you are really going to enjoy this steak and the omelet will be worth the wait

Me: No problem, man. This looks and smells great. It’s all going in the same place so just bring out the eggs when they are done. Thanks

Waiter: Oh, will do sir! Enjoy and please let me know if you need anything else. I will be back with your eggs shortly.

*I look at the plate. The steak appears perfectly cooked, the hashbrowns are crisp and buttery, while the toast isn’t burnt, just a nice golden brown. In fact, had I just ordered the steak and sides I would have been not only content but rather impressed. I sampled the sides first, so as to delay the inevitable first bite of this delicious steak in hopes that the final piece of the epicness that was this meal would be presented in time for that first bite. I started with the toast and then moved onto the hashbrowns. This was a magnificent meal, even the sides were in and of themselves impressive. As I completed the last bite of the sides, I looked around the diner in hopes of seeing my waiter with what can only be perceived at this point as the coup de grace to this masterpiece of a meal. No luck though, so I proceed into my first bite of steak... it was simply delicious. This type of deliciousness does not last on the plate long.

*35 minutes have now passed and what once was a magnificent pile of deliciousness is now nothing more than a dirty plate. I glance around looking for my waiter and catch his eye. He strolls over to the table.

Waiter: What did I tell you? Was the steak amazing?

Me: Fuck, yeah! I am no critic, but with a steak like that I just had to post a review on yelp prior to completing the meal… 5 stars man! Epic meal!

Waiter: I told you so… glad you liked it. Can I get you anything else?

Me: Well…yeah… my omelet man…

Waiter: Dude… was that not the best steak you’ve had?

Me: Yeah. I just said so...

Waiter: That’s what I am saying…

Me: What?

Waiter: The steak… it was great man!

Me: Okay…what the hell is wrong with you? I ordered steak…and…eggs. What about the damn eggs?

Waiter: Wasn’t that steak great, though...?

Me: I swear to God if you say one more thing about how great that damn steak is and don’t give me my eggs I am going to go Trevor up out this *****…You know who Trevor is right…right?

Random Customer 1: Hey the omelet's friggin amazing I ordered the same thing and can vouch that it is pretty damn amazing!

Random Customer 2: Yeah bro, chill out man. This omelet is amazing it just completes the meal.

Waiter: Listen sir… you ordered the steak and eggs, but that doesn’t mean you are going to get both. To be honest if we don’t bring out the items at the same time it’s considered two totally different menu items.

Me: What?

Waiter: Look…those folks ordered the same thing you did and got their omelet…why are you making such a big deal about it. It’s great!

Me: So I order steak & eggs. Right?

Waiter: Yup.

Me: So that means I am ordering both together due to the “and” correct?

Waiter: Yup.

Me: You brought me out a great steak. Right?

Waiter: Yup.

Me: But you never brought me any eggs…?

Waiter: Yeah... but.... that’s because you ordered steak and eggs AND it didn’t come out together, so after that the eggs are a separate dish and whether you get them today, tomorrow, after several patches, it’s different you know?

Random Customer 3: Dude, the eggs are great and sorry you didn’t get any but get over it. Stop whining. You heard what the waiter said… It’s separate you douche! Everybody else likes them

Random Customer 4: *whispers* I hear you, man. I ordered the same thing and I got the same bullshit response. So after a while I just kind of went with it. You know if 3 of 4 diners say it’s separate after the fact then you know... what’s the big deal?

Me: I don’t know, man. I just wanted to get what I paid for…I thought folks would be a bit more empathetic but this is seriously some twilight zone ****. Who does this and what the hell is in that omelete that has the other customers oblivious to the plight of their peers? 

*Fast forward to November 6, 2013, patch 1.05 installed, yet still no damn eggs? No cloud base server working and a broken multiplayer in which I can't access my saved character (one character I think level 1 or 2, I guess a few points should be awarded for that 1 hour session I got to save a few weeks back...I have tried to get on about 15-20 times over the past 30 days 1 out of 20 aint bad right...here's 2 points)…just a bunch of folks talking about how great their omelet is while I paid the same amount and you know…never actually got what I paid for…but it’s separate…it’s different…you know

GTA V in my opinion was a great single-player experience, but also a game horrendously delivered to its users as a whole. I have no issue with the delay between the single player and multiplayer portions but when **** goes awry with the latter portion, please don’t blow smoke up my ass and ask me how about that single player. I am glad that many people eventually gained access to the multiplayer portion (some of my friends and family included), however, if on November 6, 2013 even after patch 1.05 and well over 30 days into release I still get the, “Sorry Rockstar Cloud Servers are offline would you like to continue without saving” …Epic Fail!

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted originally on November 6, 2013, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan

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Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Full Burst Review Rebuttal
Posted on Wednesday, November 6 2013 @ 15:32:32 Eastern

Dear Ryan,
 
I had a chance to read your review today regarding Full Burst and as a fan of the series I just wanted to play devil’s advocate (aka: pseudo fanboy) for a moment. I am all good with your score but just wanted to ...   read more...

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The Segregation of Online Communities…it’s only natural.
Posted on Wednesday, August 28 2013 @ 16:31:52 Eastern

There has been quite a great deal of discussion regarding the under representation of minority groups in video games and in the industry as a whole. From these discussions, further topics branched off into online bullying/harassment as well as how to...   read more...

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X-Com: I know my enemy
Posted on Friday, August 23 2013 @ 13:00:00 Eastern


Well I was going to do a really nice piece last week on the “GaymerX” Convention and had all types of insightful responses to BTS and yet something went terribly awry…or amazing. I received my $14 used copy of X-Com: Enemy ...   read more...

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Damn...Damn...Damn...I think I might be a "Gamer"
Posted on Friday, August 2 2013 @ 08:38:20 Eastern


I was reading through some of the comments in the article Identity Crisis: What Makes Someone A “Gamer”, and I found the definition which resounded most with me was provided by Yossarian29:

I feel like when I strike...   read more...

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PS4...Xbox1...yada yada yada...Let's talk about the games!
Posted on Wednesday, July 17 2013 @ 14:14:35 Eastern



With all this “who ha” about next-gen hardware it seems that one fundamental aspect of gaming is being overlooked…the idea that certain game mechanics will be perfected in the next generation. Wait what, “perf...   read more...

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The Great Migration: Current Online Communities
Posted on Monday, March 4 2013 @ 13:49:29 Eastern


Late in February, it was announced by Sony that the PS4 would not support backwards compatibility. Well, what’s going to happen to my clan, elite status, the war on Tachanka, etc…? When we transitioned from the PS2 to the PS...   read more...

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Season Passes...for every season?
Posted on Tuesday, February 26 2013 @ 12:34:23 Eastern


When Rockstar Games introduced the first season pass via L.A. Noire, it seemed to be quite a novel and great idea. In essence I would get a discount on all future DLC for what was going to be another epic Rockstar title. Blinded by the l...   read more...

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