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The 18th Century hosted the Enlightenment, a movement centered on the questioning of traditional institutions, the rise of rationalism, and the adoption of modern science. A significant element of the Enlightenment was the rise of the public sphere: the areas of social life where people congregate, freely discuss societal issues, and influence political action.

This period was not a single movement, but a public awakening tied to a code of values that inspired conflicting and competing philosophies. The words “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” are regularly attributed to the philosopher Voltaire, and are famous for the characterization of the period. However, they are no less applicable to the state of the contemporary games industry or the internet for that matter. Read more… »

Before I went to film school, I watched the Academy Awards. I believed they were a sincere arbiter of what the “best” movies were in a given year. I did not understand how those decisions were made, but trusted that the people making them had expertise which I lacked, and so I did not question their decisions. I learned in school that a small minority of the members of the Academy were people who actually knew anything about the art of filmmaking, i.e. directors, actors, cinematographers, or screenwriters. The rest of them were producers, agents, distributors, and other “suits” who really only knew about one thing: money.

Hollywood has patted itself on the back with award shows like the Oscars for decades, and no one wanted to see that the emperor had no clothes. Whatever clothes he’s wearing now are being seen on Blu Rays or DVDs sent through the mail instead of through film projected onto movie theater screens, and fewer consumers are willing to purchase those Blu Rays or DVDs every year. There’s a reason why ticket prices are skyrocketing, and why we’re being flooded with a series of remakes. Hollywood is creatively drained. They’ve beaten the tropes to death. The audience has figured out that there’s nothing under the hood, and aren’t willing to pay what Hollywood is asking.

I’m finding distressing similarities in the seeming mentality between those who hand out the Oscars, and those who handed out the E3 Game Critics Awards; considering the similarities between the two industries, the present state of film may say a lot about the future of video games.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a total hypocrite when it comes to videogame difficulty. All at once, I find myself wishing that games presented more of a challenge, yet whenever I play an especially difficult game that makes me lose progress, I feel that my time is being wasted. One thing I know for sure is this: even when trudging through an especially difficult game, I rarely feel truly threatened.

In modern experiences, the simple fact is that true feelings of danger are hard to come by. We’re given experiences with the ability to save anywhere, liberal checkpoints, and overall low difficulty, and in many ways, I wouldn’t trade this for anything. Given this, how can games at the very least achieve the illusion of putting us in grave danger at every corner?

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Electronic Arts’ campaign to fight used game sales, code-named Project Ten Dollar, involves offering free DLC to people who purchase their games new and charging everyone who buys the game used $10 to download that content. There is a version of this campaign called Online Pass, which gives purchasers of new EA Sports titles the ability to play online for free, and charges anyone who buys the game used $10 for the privilege.

Most of the criticism I’ve read about Project Ten Dollar stems from those who may be facing these $10 purchases, and their arguments make little sense to me. Used copies of games usually go for $54.99 at GameStop if the title was released within the past one or two months. If you have an Edge card, you save an extra 5%. Is it worth saving $7.75 at the expense of missing out on a bunch of content? And if someone waits long enough for the used copy of the game to run at $39.99 or less, even if they do spend the $10 for the “free” DLC they have still saved $10 off the retail price of a new copy.

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We’re all busy people, and it’s no surprise that we don’t tolerate a lot of the bullsh*t that games feed us. Recently, one writer for a popular game site refused to review Nier because he couldn’t figure out a fishing minigame, citing that “you shouldn’t tolerate games that waste your time.” Well, that makes sense, doesn’t it?

Aside from his inability to fish in the correct spot, his argument isn’t quite as straightforward as it may seem. While I didn’t exactly love my 20-hour affair with Nier either, and while I agree that games have no right to waste our time, the reality is that even a bad game can be worth our time.

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A lot of people are skeptical about the future of 3D gaming on consoles, but until recently, I was not one of them.  Actually, one of the highlights of E3 I was most looking forward to was finally getting my hands on some of the 3D games Sony announced for the PS3, like Killzone 3 and Wipeout HD.

Maybe I shouldn’t have had such high hopes though, because if there’s one thing life has taught me, it’s that few things ever live up to the hype.  Now that I’ve played multiple PS3 games in 3D, I’m here to explain why the console isn’t quite ready to jump into the third dimension just yet. Read more… »

[We Need to Talk is a weekly feature that puts you in the driver's seat of the discussion. Got something to say? Hit up the comments and keep the discussion alive. Got a lot to say? Register for a Gamer Limit blog and write a response.]

The Electronic Entertainment Expo has a long and strange history; the event achieved an attendance of 70,000 people in 2005 before dropping down to about 5,000 for the two invite-only years of 2007 and 2008. This year, attendance was estimated to be about 46,000, which is a far cry from 2007-2008 levels, yet just over half of the size of the 2005 show.

So the question is: What is the current state of E3, both for the attendee and the non-attendee? After attending this year, I can say one thing for certain. E3 still has a lot of room to improve if it’s going to remain the one event that gamers anticipate all year.

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As someone who has neither been into the Grand Theft Auto series (I know it’s not the same developer or publisher) nor even laid eyes on the original Mafia, I went into the demonstration with no knowledge and low expectations.  When I came out, the first question I asked the proctor was, “When is the release date?”

There’s something refreshing about a game that suddenly spikes one’s interest after a simple 15 minute demonstration.  And whether much of that is credited to how well 2K games presented themselves this year or just the overall gameplay of the demo, they really did an excellent job of getting the public excited for its soon-to-be release.  Lest it to say, it did have some minor flaws, but from my initial impressions, its fun factor is what counts and it definitely delivers. Read more… »

After previewing and then getting a hands-on look at Bulletstorm, I really have no idea what to think about it.  On its surface, the game seems like it caters towards low IQ players who get their adrenaline pumping by smashing wooden furniture.  Basically, it comes off as one of those games where it’d be the focal point of a huge controversy should a kid get an impulsive rush to stab someone while playing it.  In other words, it’s an excellent college frat game.

On the other hand, your ability to rack up high scores is limited by your creativity to kill as many guys as you can in the most diverse and graphic ways possible.  Essentially, if you can’t get a high score, this game makes you feel very dumb for not being able to think in one of man’s most basic instincts, killing.

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Bethesda showcased four different titles, and of the four, Fallout: New Vegas was the most well known.  Ironically, Rage, Brink, and Hunted were the lesser known, but because of their solid display, they quickly became the focal point of discussion whenever Bethesda was brought up.

Simply put, New Vegas was a disappointment for me, and because Vegas was once a place I called “home,” it was the title I was looking forward to most.  While it may sound contradictory, or even slightly biased, my impressions of the demonstration are completely separate from how I feel the overall game will be upon release and with good reason too. Read more… »

Over the course of the last few days, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a ton of producers, play a zillion games, and witness a million more previews.  After a while, one begins to notice certain attitudes from the developers that actually provide a ton of information about their products without much being said.

Games you know that will sell well to the public, but have poor demonstrations, naturally lessen the enthusiasm.  On the other hand, games you may not know anything about suddenly pop-up on the public’s Christmas list due to their solid presentations.  And I’ll be the first to admit, Senior Producer Greg Hounsom sold me on the game.

While it’s impossible for me to know how Brink will do once it’s released, it is a game that instantly went from invisible to a massive fleet on my radar. Read more… »

When we all heard Sonic was trying to make another comeback, we all sighed. As much as we want to see the blue blur return to stardom like Robert Downey Junior’s career, we all felt that the likelihood of it was becoming slimmer with each failed game.

After having the opportunity to play the hands-on demo, I can definitely say that SEGA is taking the right steps to bringing our beloved hero back from the dead.  While it’s tough to say how the public will perceive it, I was surprisingly impressed overall with the demonstration.

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