Futurama
Tuesday, 04 December 2007

Speaking of good tv shows that got cancelled too early, Futurama has a new dvd that just came out. :)  If Fox would learn to stop screwing with the time and days that shows are on, I think some of their shows would do better.  Of course, most stations seem to do this way too often.

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Company mergers/buyouts
Monday, 03 December 2007

Everyone has probably heard about this already, but Blizzard and Activision are merging to become Activision Blizzard.  Technically it is Vivendi's gaming group not just Blizzard, but Blizzard is the largest piece of it.

As a gamer this bothers me.  I really haven't seen many mergers and buyouts result in good things for us gamers.  Usually we just see more, faster produced crappy sequels and then eventually the smaller studio has their name/studio killed and they get completely absorbed into the other company.

First Bioware and now Blizzard.  This is not a good trend for the RPG genre.

And what kind of name is Activision Blizzard?  I hope they really don't actively use this.

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Another rumor
Monday, 03 December 2007

Wow, there seems to be a lot of rumors lately in the industry.  Harvey Smith mentioned some bad things about the development of BlackSite: Area 51 recently in an interview.  Now there are rumors that someone high up at Midway called this interview "his public resignation" and now Harry is no longer at Midway.

This is one of the reasons why you don't get as much real interactions with people at larger developers or publishers.  There is always the danger of saying the wrong thing and getting fired.  Even worse is if you work at a developer and you piss off your publisher.  Not only are you likely to lose your job, but you potentially screwed everyone else at the company.

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Biased reviews
Friday, 30 November 2007

You have all probably already seen this, but numerous sites like slashdot have picked up a story about a Gamespot reviewer getting fired because Eidos didn't like how he reviewed one of their games (i.e. he gave them a bad review).  This particular story looks like it is still in the anonymous tip/rumor phase so who knows if it is correct or not. 

Whether it is true or not is mostly irrelevant though (except to the reviewer that might have been unjustly fired), because we all know this really does happen.  I know that most review sites probably aren't in bed with the large publishers, but the question is how many of them are?  And for those that are, how many free points do they get in their reviews?  Now this is kind of annoying that some sites will artificially boost review scores from some publishers  The part that really sucks though is that sites like metacritic that gather many reviews and takes the average will also get boosted, but now all of the games from smaller publishers or indies look bad in comparison.

Of course, the main problem is that the system is inherently biased.  Most websites make their money from advertising and this advertising comes from the people that get their products reviewed.  So it's obvious that the more advertising money you throw at a review site the better your chances of getting a good review.  Also, if you don't get your good review you can pull or threaten to pull all of your advertising money.  You can also punished the site, by no longer giving them interviews or previews of future games.  The bigger the publisher/developer the more of a threat this is.  Another potential problem with advertising and reviews from the same game on the same site is that if the advertising only pays when clicked then the better the review, the more likely readers will click on the ads, and thus the more money the site makes.

Anyways, to boil it all down, a person or company essentially works for the people that pay their bills.  In the case of most review sites the big publishers pay their bills, so they are basically working for them.  Now the good review sites constantly fight against this natural bias and work for the people that they should, the gamer.

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New violence media "study"
Thursday, 29 November 2007

There is a new study that was recently published over at Journal of Adolescent Health about the impact of media violence.  As usual, there are all kinds of problems with the study.  I'm not going to cover all of them though, that would take forever. :)

The first major problem is that this study didn't actually bother to do any new research.  It is a meta study - basically a study of other studies.  A meta study isn't necessarily bad or anything, but considering I've never seen a well thought out study on the effects of media on violence, I would guess that most of these studies were probably flawed.  A meta study based on other flawed studies doesn't really mean very much.

Second, it mostly focuses on children and says very little about adults except for the conclusions.  Children are basically sponges.  They absorb just about everything and will repeat just about anything until they learn better.  Parents don't really need a study to figure this out.  This is where responsible parenting comes in of course.  Anyways, what does this have to do with adults?  Adults actually have the capabilities to view or play something violent and not repeat it in the real world.  Even if they were primed, aroused, and desensitized as the study suggests, the average adult is quite capable of making a choice not to be violent.  This being a big difference between an adult and a child.

Third, them implying that media violence is the 2nd worst thing when it comes to public health is pretty flat out stupid.  Let's see if I can think of something worse, how about overeating?

I'm still not buying this desensitization part anyways.  I've played many violent video games, seen many violent movies and tv shows, and watched a lot of news.  That doesn't really mean that I'm not going to be effected if I ever saw a real dead person.  It sure doesn't mean I can kill someone without some major emotional response.

Personally, I think the people that did the study started out trying to prove that violent media is bad, not trying to do an objective study.  There are just too many quotes from the study that are things like "playing video games, most of which contain violence".  Really, where is the proof of this?  Of course, I'm guilty of the opposite, but I didn't perform a study and submit a writeup to a scientific journal.

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