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Jerry Holkins, Tycho of Penny Arcade fame, penned a comic (shown above) and an accompanying blog post in defense of THQ’s recent comments regarding purchasers of used games. The quick recap is that THQ doesn’t care if used game buyers are upset that purchasers of new titles are going to get a bunch of “free” stuff that a used game buyer is going to have to pay extra for, and Tycho doesn’t think it’s appropriate for these used game purchasers to get angry at THQ over it.

What bothers me about Tycho’s commentary is that he comes across as sounding more like a privileged industry insider rather than the civilian commentator everyone has come to love, and I don’t think he meant to be taken that way.
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The purpose of a review is to evaluate a game by providing a critical statement that is indicative of the title’s merit or lack thereof. As much as some may try to provide an objective opinion, leaving personal feelings, interpretations and prejudices at the door, providing an unbiased opinion based merely on facts is nearly impossible. Even if it were done, it sure as hell would not be very interesting.

The preconceived opinions, attitudes or feelings that make up our prejudices influence how we think about what we perceive. It is because of this that two individuals can come to entirely different conclusions about the exact same experience. One person’s terrorist is another’s vision of a freedom fighter. Similarly, one person’s idea of a perfect game could leave another wanting.

Reviews not only contain bias in order to formulate a subjective opinion on a product, but also within the structure of a review itself. The majority of videogame reviews are rated on a scale of zero to ten. However, it seems the prejudices formulated by the academic background of reviewers and readers have influenced both the use and reception of this scale, giving rise to complications and creating grave inconsistencies in the process.

Our personal biases and life experiences certainly affect who we are and are a crucial part of formulating our opinions. The blending of the academic and critical mindset in ten point reviews does not make a lot of sense and is something that needs to change.

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This is not a piece about Starcraft II reviews. I want to make that very clear; but I do take issue with calling the authors of these reviews “critics,” and Starcraft II is merely the latest title to bring this inappropriate verbiage to light.

To wit, the headline of the GameSpy article was “Critics Praise it, But a Number of Players Have Some Big Complaints About StarCraft II.” The video game media uses the words “critic” and “reviewer” interchangeably, as though they are synonymous. Most of the current reviews of Starcraft II have absolutely nothing to do with criticism.
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I have only pirated one game in my life. I had picked up the Xbox version of the Star Wars game Republic Commando, expecting it to work in my new Xbox 360. That’s when I discovered that the 360 hadn’t been updated yet such that Republic Commando was backwards-compatible, and there was no information about when the next title update was coming which would allow me to play the game. Angry and frustrated, I downloaded a copy of Republic Commando for PC from a bit torrent site. Just a few days later, the Xbox 360 received the needed update to allow me to play the console version, and I deleted the pirated PC version from my hard drive.

The only way I was able to deal with the qualms of Catholic conscience generated by pirating Republic Commando was that, in my mind, I’d already given the appropriate parties my money for the privilege of playing the game – and I was angry. It’s easy to justify this sort of thing when you’re angry.

I was discussing Starcraft II with a friend last night, and he told me that it wasn’t a game he’d be willing to buy, but he might pirate it. As the owner of copyrighted material, myself (a trio of screenplays written in my sordid youth), I am generally in favor of the arguments against piracy. Anyone who works hard to produce a product should be paid for the right to use said product.  In this case, however, I found it difficult to chastise my friend, because I understand his perspective.
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ModNation Racers

I find it difficult to put into words how sickened I am by the current state of play within gaming. The three major console manufacturers are busy flexing their technological muscles, showing us who can make people look like the biggest prats in their own living room – an invisible skateboard ramp here and a twelve year-old imaginary friend there – all the while failing to realise that nobody actual wants to move about while they play.

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Sunday Soapbox: PSP No-Go?
By: | June 28th, 2009

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When I first clapped eyes on the initial images of PSP Go, I was considerably unmoved. And now it seems that retailers are becoming equally pessimistic about the launch, having forecast a retail disaster earlier this week. Things are not boding well for PSP Go.

As reported on Gamer Limit, these independent retailers are becoming concerned by an apparent lack of interest towards the console, after it failed to attract any pre-orders whatsoever. And it’s not hard to see why.

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gitaroomanlives1

I severely dislike the “rhythm game” genre. Ever since Dance Dance Revolution came out, I’ve always found the genre to just be a bit ridiculous. I’m a real musician and I already like to dance – making DDR, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band seem a bit superfluous – but there’s a much better reason, in my opinion: In these games, all I’m doing is pressing buttons to my favorite songs.

There is only one rhythm game I’ve ever played that actually had a thoroughly interesting concept to me: Gitaroo Man. Originally released to obscurity on the Playstation 2 way back in 2002, it got a re-release four years later on PSP. Now, to be honest, I don’t think Gitaroo Man’s gameplay is that great, either; but it certainly got me closer to enjoying a rhythm game than the “big three”  ever did.

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Forza Motorsport 3

Ah, the internet poll: How worthless you are. Cheaters will cast multiple votes on you by refreshing the page or using proxies. You are easily skewed and meaningless as a measurement of anything. Ron Paul is a perfect example on how internet polls shouldn’t be taken so seriously. He would single-handily win them if they actually represented voter intention, but the same didn’t happen outside the internet world.

If you’re like me, who frequents many gaming sites, you’ll notice that most will have some sort of poll. I take my time to vote for my favorite, but at many occasions, my choice isn’t in the lead. It won’t change my opinion towards my choice or prove anything meaningful. Internet polls basically serve as a form of entertainment (GameFaqs’ “Greatest Game of All Time” poll is a perfect example), but to fanboys, they are truly serious business.

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clown

Gamers are growing up, and as a result, so is gaming. Sitting on the top of a mountain after what was almost a ferocious rise, our once marginalized hobby has hit the mainstream. But at what cost? Have we allowed the rest of societies’ ills to flood in and kill the simple pleasure of playing a game, mirroring the same corruption of music and film?

I wrote earlier this week about bloggers and main gaming sites taking shortcuts, churning out simple content to pull hits and fill chunks of dead air on slow news days. Following on from that, my sights are set on Olivia Munn, presenter and “journalist” of G4′s “Attack of the Show” and the furphy around her appearance in, and subsequently also on the cover of, Playboy.

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George War

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling through a drought of new PC games. But instead of randomly purchasing new titles, I decided to go back and play two of my favorite RTS titles: Warcraft 3 and Empire: Total War. During the nostalgic moment, I noticed one distinct element; they both implement the hero system.

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that heroes are important to the RTS genre. On the other hand, it is a concept that is often overlooked. It’s an idea that seems so basic, but at the same time, it gives the genre a much needed boost. For this week’s Soapbox, I will be exploring the relationship between Player and Heroes. Read more… »

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Dearest Blizzard – I have a problem. You see, I’ve developed an unhealthy addiction to Starcraft 2 – never mind the fact that it’s yet to be released – I can’t be bothered to consider such minutia. I’m much too busy re-watching Battle reports, and then absorbing, digesting, and analyzing the excreted remains of every morsel of information you toss my way.

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doom

The thing about great graphics is that they have a habit of being too good. There they are in glorious 1080p, slapping you in the face and squeezing your bum cheeks until your eyes water with joy. In some cases, the detail is such that you’ll feel like you are leading a double life – a part-time human with a job, an angry cat and phone bill and a part-time supercharged weapon of death, wreaking havoc on slimy things with red eyes. It’s a good life if you can get it.

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