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Tag Archives: Opinion

Video games owe a lot to President Obama’s administration

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Former President Barack Obama was the most video game-friendly president in U.S. history, a title that he may retain for awhile. It was under Obama’s administration that the Supreme Court of the United States declared video games free and protected speech, afforded the same rights as a Mark Twain short story and a Jackson Pollock painting. It was during Obama’s administration that the federal government was given the opportunity to investigate any real link between violence and video games, but declined to. And it was under Obama’s White House roof that game developers gathered for the first ever White House game jam and an online stream of a video game competition. One could argue that the times, not the president, were what made this last administration so accepting of video games....

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A Nintendo tablet is a fantastic idea

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Nintendo’s next big thing, its Switch gaming console, is essentially a fancied up tablet. It comes with a dock that allows you to play games on a television and small, paddle-like controllers bristling with buttons and triggers that can slide into either side of the Nintendo Switch tablet. But strip all of that away and you’re left with a 6.2-inch touchscreen tablet, or something a bit smaller than an iPad Mini 4, designed for gaming on the go. Which begs the question: Once the Switch hits on March 3 for about $300, will Nintendo’s competition become more Apple and its mobile devices than the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One? Perhaps that wouldn’t be a bad thing. The current state of gaming on Apple devices is a bit of a mess. While you can find robust games that run on the iPad, like...

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Want to know where TV is headed? Take a look at music streaming services

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For a while, industry leaders have said the future of television is streaming. They’re not wrong, but they’re also not entirely correct. The future of television is exclusive streaming via specific apps. Much like how music streaming services have become a battle of exclusivity, the television industry is taking note and following suit. Showtime is exclusively streaming a few of its new Twin Peaks episodes. The CW stopped giving Hulu the exclusive rights to carry episodes of its series the day after they aired, and instead started streaming through its own app. CBS launched its own streaming service, CBS All Access, and confirmed its upcoming Star Trek: Discovery series would be the only place North American audiences could watch the show. As the Television Critics Association...

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One of the best VR experiences is 3 minutes long and costs $3

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Old Friend is a virtual reality music video — although that’s a weak way to describe something this good — and it’s one of the first things I show to friends when they come over to check out the technology. Their reaction is often pure joy. The beat hits them first, and nearly everyone begins to dance before they realize what they’re doing; it helps that you can’t see other people looking at you. The game itself presents you with long, floppy arms to wave around the world. If you look down, you see your own round body with cartoon-style feet. You’re not watching something happen around you; you’re a character inside this very strange reality. It’s a perfectly self-contained music video mixed with a score-less rhythm game, and it only takes a few minutes to play the whole thing. Old...

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The No Man’s Sky that actually exists is my favorite game of the year

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No Man’s Sky is very small. This fact goes against all the marketing and buzz that the game relied on for its first batch of huge sales before the crushing disappointment hit. The universe was supposed to be huge! There were supposed to be nearly unlimited planets and aliens and things to see and do and it would be the best game ever in the history of ever! The reality is that the game — as it was actually shipped and not as it was sold — may be trillions of miles wide, but it’s also only a few inches deep. It’s a game that I can play for an hour or two before I have to get up and do something else, but that hour is perfectly relaxing. That hour became part of my daily routine in 2016. It’s a game that rewards you for being alone, even as some gamers screamed about the lack of social...

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My favorite game of the year is powered by panic attacks and disease

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In a year packed with an eclectic mix of stunning, top-shelf cinematic video games, bizarre little indies and everything in between, I find myself worrying over the precarious personalities stuffed into my personal favorite game of the year. Even now as I type this up, another screen is open to the game and the dozen characters I’ve been trying to cajole into playing for me. My first string is in shambles, their nerves shot from one too many forays into the dungeons of my estate. They suffer from an array of maladies and budding personality quirks. They spend their down time in bars, brothels and the local abbey, preparing for another journey into their personal nightmares. On its surface, Darkest Dungeon (Mac, Linux, PS4, Vita, Windows) is just another medieval fantasy game of...

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Here’s the one Rogue One tie-in book no one else will recommend to you

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has only one full tie-in novel so far. No comic book spinoffs have been announced, either, a big difference from last year’s glut of Force Awakens tie-in media. So there isn’t much out there for the voracious fan hungry for more stories of Cassian Andor’s adventures with K-2SO, Chirrut and Baze’s lives as Guardians of the Whills, or Jyn Erso’s hardscrabble adolescence. I can’t offer you more about the characters of Rogue One just yet. But if what attracted you to the movie was its unflinching look at the real cost of the Galactic Civil War, then you should strongly consider picking up the collected trade of DC Comics’ The Omega Men. Trevor Hutchison/DC Comics The Omega Men #3, cover Writer Tom King and artist Barnaby Bagenda...

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story isn’t a stand-alone film, because those don’t exist anymore

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A stand-alone film is supposed to be a movie that doesn’t take place within a larger story. It’s a way to describe a film that may happen inside a well-known fictional universe, but exists to the side of that central narrative. Or maybe it focuses on the characters and decisions that take place at the same time as a story we already know. But every stand-alone film should, ideally, be a movie that anyone can see without knowing the larger backstory and walk out feeling like they saw a complete narrative that doesn’t set up a sequel. Honestly, I’m struggling to even define the term. That’s kind of the whole problem. But everyone seems to be in agreement that Rogue One is one of them. Wired calls it the first stand-alone Stars Wars film. So does The Wall Street Journal. I’m sure I have...

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Blade Runner’s best scene involved meeting a god who could do nothing for you

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Blade Runner died an ugly death at the box office when it was released, but slowly found its audience over many years and seemingly just as many re-releases and edits of the original film. It’s worth revisiting, especially on the day that we finally see a teaser for its sequel. While most people remember, and quote, the legendary “tears in the rain” speech that closed the film, one of the most terrifying moments takes place when replicant Roy Batty meets his literal maker, Dr. Eldon Tyrell. Without rehashing the plot of the film — and Blade Runner remains one of the best science fiction films ever released, including the muddled original theatrical cut with the unnecessary voice-over — Batty is a synthetic organism with implanted memories that allow him to operate in a way that’s...

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Nintendo’s biggest problem is Nintendo

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The video gaming world owes much to Nintendo, something that is easy to forget. It was Nintendo which, following a crash of interest and sales in video games in the early 80s, managed to not only revive the industry, but reinvent it. The Nintendo Entertainment System brought with it a series of defining firsts. The NES did much to kickstart the medium’s steady rebirth and evolution from children’s hobby to sophisticated, meaningful medium. But the Nintendo of today faces a seemingly endless stream of struggles. And the company’s biggest challenge as it fights to survive an epic console failure in the Wii U is, it seems, the company itself. This year couldn’t be a more stark example of Nintendo versus Nintendo. For each wonderful, innovative bit of tech Nintendo rolls out, Nintendo is...

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