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Video games aren’t entertainment, they’re how I go outside

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People play video games for a variety of reasons. Some play for enjoyment. Others for competition. I play to escape. For the last few weeks I’ve been unable to leave the house. This isn’t anything new for me; the thought of being in public has been a huge fear for years, ever since I started experiencing panic attacks in my late teens. I still find it nearly impossible to pass over the threshold of my front door; it’s as if I’m being blocked by some kind of invisible wall. The name of my condition is agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is a panic disorder involving the fear of any situation where escape may be difficult, although it’s often mischaracterized in pop culture as a general fear of going outside. It affects roughly 2 in every 100 people in the UK, and usually begins between the ages of...

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Video games can and should inspire entire societies to do better

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If the medium of video games wants to be considered great art it needs to move beyond simply motivating the individual and strive to move entire societies. "If you want video games to be treated as art, some, not all of you, are going to need to step it up," Dr. Jeff Norris, mission operations innovation lead at JPL NASA, told a gathering of developers in Las Vegas this week. Speaking at this year's DICE Summit, Norris pointed to the seminal work of Chesley Bonestell, a pioneer in the creation of art that blended scientific fact with best informed guesses to deliver stunning images of space. It was through that work, Norris argued, that the American people were both convinced of the potential of — and motivated to back — early NASA projects that helped land mankind on the moon and...

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Nintendo Switch’s control options won’t be optional for some

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I’m not one to balk at the idea of owning multiple controllers for game consoles, but I had hoped I wouldn’t be forced to do so with the Nintendo Switch. I have two different fight sticks for my PlayStation 4 and a handful of different USB controllers for my PC, and I own every iteration of the Xbox controller. I’m comfortable with spending money on different controllers for different purposes, or even multiple controllers for the same console for when friends come over. But the Joy-Cons and their adaptability are one of the Switch’s biggest selling points for me. The two little controllers that come with the system can be docked to the console, removed to be held in each hand by a single player, or used separately to accommodate two people and the system. The system even comes with...

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Playing World of Warcraft is now the fastest way to earn Overwatch loot

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Blizzard introduced a new feature that allows players to use the WoW Token market to exchange their World of Warcraft gold for Battle.net balance, which is store credit that can be used to buy Blizzard software or to purchase microtransactions in any of Blizzard’s games. WoW game director Ion Hazzikostas said the players with enough extra gold to sell were dedicated WoW players, and they were using their Battle.net balance mostly within the WoW ecosystem; they were buying cosmetic items in the WoW cash store and paying for account services like name changes and server transfers. But that’s thinking small! The new Token system means that you can earn everything from new cards in Hearthstone to more loot boxes in Overwatch by grinding for gold in WoW. And doing so is, in fact, much...

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Why Jimmy Kimmel needs to make the Oscars political

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Late night host Jimmy Kimmel confirmed in a recent interview that he wasn’t going to make the Oscars overly political. Speaking to Variety ahead of the biggest award show of the year — the third most-watched special event from last year — Kimmel said while acceptance speeches from actors were sure to get political, he didn’t want to come out attacking President Trump or the controversy surrounding his executive orders for 10 minutes straight. “I don’t think it will be very political,” Kimmel said. “There will be some element of that to the show. A lot of it depends on what happens.” Kimmel’s attitude toward the monologue and the way he’ll approach the biggest stories of the day is a direct contrast to the way award shows have been playing out this year, and also how last year’s Oscar...

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The Han Solo prequel cast looks so damn white

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The Han Solo prequel anthology film doesn’t have a name — but as of today, it does have a cast. And boy, it’s uh ... kinda super white. Lucasfilm Left to right: Woody Harrelson (top), co-director Christopher Miller (bottom), Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Chewbacca (presumably Finnish actor Joonas Suotamo), co-director Phil Lord and Donald Glover It’s not helping that baby-faced directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are in the mix, blending in too well, age-wise, with the young Han Solo crew. It’s also not helping that confirmed cast member of color Thandie Newton is absent, leaving Donald “Lando Calrissian” Glover as the lone representative of the Han Solo prequel’s racial bonafides. Lucasfilm TFW you...

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Why Sonic Mania is my most anticipated game this year

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The first time I played Sonic Mania was a revelatory moment for me. I’d seen the footage from San Diego Comic-Con, and everything certainly looked right, but after two decades of disappointing Sonic games, I tried to temper my expectations. It wasn’t until I got my hands on the game for the first time at PAX West that my doubts completely vanished — it turns out, Sonic Mania is the real deal, and that fact alone has made it easily my most anticipated game of the year. But what exactly is it that Sonic Mania does right that so many other games have gotten wrong? Above, we’ll take a deep dive into what Sonic Mania is, why it’s special, and what exactly sets it apart from all the other failed attempts to make a good 2D Sonic game — plus, the surprising reason the game is called Sonic Mania...

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The three reasons YouTubers keep imploding, from a YouTuber

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You know that PewDiePie guy you’ve been hearing about lately? I have a funny story about him. I made this YouTube video back in 2012, wherein a bunch of us mocked PewDiePie using a satirical version of The Fine Bros.’ “React” videos. I made the centerpiece the fact that, back then, PewDiePie tended to use the word “rape” quite a bit. Please note, as many get wrong, I don’t think he was making rape jokes at all; it was just yelling the word more than anything. The video blew up a little and prompted him to make a specific apology video to his viewers. PewDiePie has since actually turned over a new leaf. He had a video called “Old vs. New PewDiePie” in which he watched his old content and appeared to be a little surprised at his original self. In fact, he contacted me and we had a very...

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Catherine is unflinching, messy and uplifting — just like real life

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Catherine is one of the most divisive games I’ve ever loved. The game makes many people uncomfortable, which is a completely understandable reaction. Catherine is a game about a bunch of flawed men and the unlucky women in their lives. The main character is cheating on his fiancee. It’s overtly gory, sexual and weird. It’s also a puzzle game. It’s really hard to describe to people, in general. Polygon/Atlus Co. It looks like this. And I love it, because it’s a game about making mistakes and becoming a better person. Or not. The choice is up to you. I’m not trying to talk anyone out of their negative Catherine feelings. Your comfort levels are your own. But there’s a reason a game about cheating men and the women they hurt is so fascinating. Vincent’s...

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The limits of free speech (when you have 50 million YouTube subscribers)

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There is an increasing amount of noise surrounding “freedom of speech,” “fake news,” and everyone’s right to be heard. This has particular bearing on the gaming community, where the term “freedom of speech” is often used incorrectly. On the other hand, online personalities are often playing a role in game marketing, and issues with GamerGate and other hate groups latching onto gaming means that games, studios and publishers are confronted with the task of moderating community and forum posts and interactions while being told they are censoring others. Hence, depriving someone of their right to free speech. As an entertainment attorney with over seven years of experience in a practice dedicated exclusively to gaming culture and industry, this has been an ongoing cause for concern. It’s...

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