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Games Ain't Toys for Little Kids. Games Are Culture

Posted by AndyLee Friday September 26 2008 at 1:25AM
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Truth, Lies, and Video Games

By Michael Thompson

If the mainstream media is to be believed, video games are about as healthy as cigarettes, except they cause psychotic breaks instead of cancer. Politicians use this artificially created fear of games as an excuse to pass legislation to criminalize the sale of certain games, although so far, each of these pieces of legislation has been successfully challenged and overturned in the courts. While more people than ever are playing games, and the audience for those games is expanding to include people of both sexes and all ages, the media's reporting on the industry and its effects on children remains reactionary and woefully misleading.

One of the biggest misconceptions about games is that they're the domain of adolescent boys. According to the Entertainment Software Association, the average age of gamers is now 35. Approximately 60 percent of gamers play video games with their friends, 40 percent of gamers in the US are women, and almost a quarter of all video game players are over the age of fifty. If video games are so popular and widely enjoyed, why are they still vilified in the media?

The full answer to that question is complicated, but the short-and-simple version is that, all survey data aside, video games are still a new form of media that older generations by-and-large rarely see or experience first-hand. Human nature is simple: we fear what we don't understand.

Politicians have made a point of trying to limit the sales and content of games they find morally objectionable, but the industry has managed to legally overturn every piece of legislation with an undefeated record of 9-0. This intimidating track record might not stall every attempt, but it sends a powerful message. The fact that gamers are making up an increasing percentage of voters might have a little something to do with it, too. At least part of this recognition is due to groups like the Entertainment Consumers Association, the Entertainment Software Association, and the ESRB making an effort to educate both the general populace and elected officials about the reality of video games. The gamers themselves have stepped up, and have become their own PR machine, showing the world that our favorite hobby is enjoyed by good, upstanding people.

Games are still perceived by many as toys, and toys are meant to be played with by children. But the idea of little tykes playing with mature content is more than enough to get concerned parents up in arms. "I think [this attitude is] due in part to the misperception that video games are primarily intended for kids," said Patricia Vance of the ESRB. "When you juxtapose that mis-perception with the presence of mature content in a video game, it causes concern. The more games are thought of in the same way as movies and TV shows, the more acceptance they’ll gain, and that’s been happening more and more in recent years."

These two ideas about games are at odds: one group sees them as toys with inappropriate content, and the other sees an emerging art form that is giving movies and music a run for their money, quite literally. Now that games have managed to infiltrate the popular culture at large, the politicians are becoming even more alarmed, and the expensive campaign to pass laws controlling the content of games and their sales may find new allies.
 

Politicians have made a point of trying to limit the sales and content of games they find morally objectionable, but the industry has managed to legally overturn every piece of legislation with an undefeated record of 9-0. This intimidating track record might not stall every attempt, but it sends a powerful message. The fact that gamers are making up an increasing percentage of voters might have a little something to do with it, too. At least part of this recognition is due to groups like the Entertainment Consumers Association, the Entertainment Software Association, and the ESRB making an effort to educate both the general populace and elected officials about the reality of video games. The gamers themselves have stepped up, and have become their own PR machine, showing the world that our favorite hobby is enjoyed by good, upstanding people.

Full Article

Sex Sells MMOs

Posted by AndyLee Wednesday September 24 2008 at 5:03AM
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A friend of mine, who is a careful mother of 2 children, recently complained to me about the MMO Conquer Online. She let her kids play the game and thought the game was fine for children until one day she logged on the homepage of the game - co.91.com, and found a picture of a girl with her legs opened wide.

When I saw the picture she mentioned, I thought she was a bit over-protective, like other parents. Nowadays kids know far more than their parents think they do. Girls with miniskirts on the street are 10 times more seductive than the picture in question, no need to mention other mediums like TV and movies, which are all full of sex and violence.

On the other hand, I have to admit that sex and violence do sell well, and have become essential elements for game developers to hook gamers. Just Look at how Age of Conan hyped about female characters’ breast sizes, and girls with ridiculously bouncy boobs in Blade & Soul. How can someone with such cumbersome assets possibly heave them around in melee combat?

For Conquer Online, actually its character design was quite conservative. But now the developer started to follow the west and Korean counterparts’ step. The new class Ninja’s design is much bolder than before. Anyway, sex sells, especially in a market which is mainly consist of male adolescents.
 

In the end, don’t blame the game companies for losing their professional ethics. They just feed their customers what they desire. The true is that we can hardly find an “innocent” medium for kids now.
 

Stereotype Fails, Study Shows Online Gamers Ain't Overweight Couch Potatoes

Posted by AndyLee Monday September 22 2008 at 5:21AM
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PALE, overweight couch potatoes. That's the stereotype of avid online computer gamers, but these joystick junkies are actually in better than average physical condition, a new US survey suggests, although they may be less healthy mentally.

Researchers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, the Palo Alto Research Center, also in California, and the University of Delaware in Newark, quizzed 7000 players of the role-playing game EverQuest II about their physical and mental health. Participants were offered a specially created virtual weapon as an incentive - the "Greatstaff of the Sun Serpent". The researchers then combined the survey responses with statistics about players' online activities and playing habits.

The results suggest that adult gamers have an average body mass index of 25.2, compared to the overall American average of 28. The average gamer also engages in vigorous exercise once or twice a week, which the researchers say is more than most Americans. The reasons for this are not obvious, although the team suggest it may be because more educated, wealthier people are attracted to computer games, and these people also tend to take better care of their health.

"Average gamers engage in vigorous exercise once or twice a week"The downside, however, was that the gamers reported more cases of depression and substance abuse than their compatriots. "They may be drawn to use the game to help deal with emotional distress," says team member Scott Caplan of the University of Delaware.

For more information, click Online gamers are fit - physically if not mentally.

 

Are Free MMOs Taking over The Market?

Posted by AndyLee Friday September 19 2008 at 4:23AM
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The free MMORPG market is growing at an incredible pace and now there are hundreds free MMORPGS for players to choose from. As the competition becomes unprecedentedly intensive, developers have to keep improving their games in order to survive in the industry. The once wide quality gap between the free MMO and the P2P MMO is fading away. More and more players are used to “the free lunch”. They stop their subscription of P2P MMOs and shift to different free new games constantly. So, will the free MMO completely dominate the market in a near future?

As the P2P MMOs tend to have superior graphics and elaborate quest system, they are for the hardcore gamers who are willing to pay a monthly fee and spend several hours on the game every day. However, for those causal players who play game less intensively, the subscription is not good value for money. Therefore, the free MMO is an alternative choice for gamers who just play games occasionally and want to save money. Also, when there is no new content to hooking players into the old game, players will probably just leave to a new game. The massive amount of free to play MMOs are placing great pressure on P2P games.

Critics always complain about free MMOs’ lack of storyline and cheesy graphics. However, as I said before, MMOs are all about social interaction. Most “casual gamers” don’t give a damn about splendorous graphics, deep and intensive libraries of lore or epic length quests. They just want a virtual community where they can meet people, customize their characters, make friends, and go PVP. Conquer Online for example, as a free MMORPG which was published 5 years ago, has poor graphics and storyline. However, with the decent community design and vivid Chinese culture, Conquer Online still is one of the most popular F2P MMORPGs. The number of registered is still growing even under today’s intensive competition.

Conquer Online's Avatar Design Event

   

In conclusion, I don’t think free model will replace the subscription model completely as major developers will still control the hardcore gamer’s market. But F2P is becoming the mainstream business model of the industry and it indeed lets more players enjoy the fun of MMOs.

WotLK Release Date Now Officially Confirmed

Posted by AndyLee Thursday September 18 2008 at 5:31AM
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With many rumors about Wotlk release date, Blizzard finally confirmed Wrath of the Lich King will be released the 13th November 2008.

IRVINE, Calif. September 15, 2008. Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced today that World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, the second expansion for its award-winning subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), will arrive in stores on November 13 in North America, Europe, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Russia, and November 14 in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. The expansion will be available in Korea and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau on November 18. Details regarding the launch of Wrath of the Lich King in mainland China will be announced at a later date.

Read more here.

Are Games Killing Gamers? Tips for Healthy Gaming

Posted by AndyLee Tuesday September 16 2008 at 5:44AM
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Via: CGENetwork 

Ethical Issue #1 - Healthy Gaming Tips
Author: ZoRrO (Daniel A)

At present most gamers, both teenagers and adults, around the globe spend more than 4 hours a day playing video games. It is clear that people who use their computers extensively for playing video games tend to suffer in many social and academic aspects. As your doctor may have said countless of times, everything should be undertaken in moderation. Although a lot of us endeavour to limit ourselves it occasionally becomes extremely difficult due to peer pressure or the satisfaction of achieving. In most cases people tend to lose track of time and get carried away quite easily. However there are some serious health issues which you should all be conscious of when playing video games.

Here are some tips which will help reduce the chances of harming your body in the long term.

•Taking regular breaks
Regular breaks help your body recover from uncomfortable positions and help reduce the risk of long term health risks. Taking a break every 30 minutes should be enforced, even if it is only to grab a cup of coffee. The main objective within this scenario is to keep your muscles moving.

•Proper positioning
Posture is highly important while using the computer to ensure you maintain a proper posture be sure to change your seating position frequently to help avoid discomfort. Ensure your chair is set to help your lower back. To prevent lower limb discomfort ensure your feet are flat on the ground, with your legs and feet forming a 90 degree angle. Keeping your hands and wrists straight can also prevent blood clots. Finally ensure your monitor is positioned straight where your neck does not have to move to view any particular side or angle.

•Repetition
Clicking the same buttons on your keyboard or mouse can cause repetitive strain injury (RSI) in the long term. Simple steps such as light touches on either device will help reduce the forces acting against your finger tips. It is a good idea to take advantage of shortcuts or macros within any game as it will reduce the amount of keys required to complete any given task. Relax your arms and hands as much as possible when you are not playing, and ensure your arms and wrists maintain relaxed position while using either device to reduce the applied pressure.

Symptoms which should be observed early include, lower and upper back pain, stiffness of the arms of leg appendages, sleepiness, neck pain, muscle spasm, eye syndrome (lack of moisture, pain includes itching, fatigue and burning sensations), headaches, blurred vision, increase sensitivity to light. Other computer addictions include irregular mood swings, unbalanced diet or forgetting meals, tiredness or lack of sleep due to heavy gaming. All these symptoms are serious and affect your mental and physical states over a long period of time. If unattended many illnesses may erupt in the near future. Remember to look after yourself and to take things in moderation.

Is WOW beginning to die out?

Posted by AndyLee Friday September 12 2008 at 4:13AM
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To players, one of the most appealing features of MMORPGs is the massive community in the game world. In this virtual atmosphere, you can meet people from every corner of the earth and grind out levels for hours… but eventually we will tire. And that brings us to today’s topic – is the most successful massive multiplayer role-playing game, Blizzard’s epic World of Warcraft becoming less massive?

WOW has more than 10 million subscribers round the world. But this huge population is divided into countless servers, which “effectively” reduces the game community size. Moreover, WOW’s enormous landmass, which was highly appreciated by the players, now has begun to show its flaw. The players are scattered in the huge maps, reducing population density. The new influx of new players is starting to decline and the veterans are all stick to high-level regions.

When I started my WOW journey recently, omg… it felt like wandering round a ghost town. As most of players are either grinding in the dungeons or on the way to the dungeons, my newborn Belf paladin can hardly meet someone for help. It was more or less the same as playing a single player RPG to me.


Now people all talk about WOW killers. Players are all looking forward to a MMO with revolutionary graphics and gameplay which can liberate them from their burnout of WOW. However, I consider that to a MMO, the massive community is more critical than the graphics and gameplay. If you’re being critical of graphics and gameplay in MMOs, it may indicate that you’re tiring of this genre. I mean let’s face it, if you take the MMO out of MMORPG, that’s 50% of your processing power saved, and with single player RPGs can always outperform MMOs when it comes to complex storyline quests, submersive roleplaying and gameplay speed (no connection to wait for, right?). Maybe we should try out other games instead.

At their core, MMOs are about sociality and communication. For those F2P MMOs, though their graphics and gameplay can’t compare to WOW, the size of their community, high population density, ability to customize yourself are pretty good. Players can also enjoy the engaging MMO atmosphere elsewhere. Just look at Conquer Online, the Chinese style F2P MMO. As published 5 years ago, its 2.5D graphics are outdated. But when you enter in the main towns of the game, you can immediately see players all chatting, trading and dancing. Players can meet people from different parts of the world, quest together, go PK noobs or join in guild wars. This is a real MMORPG.



To help its players customize their MSN and forum avatars, Conquer Online recently launched the avatar event. Players can either use the official CO theme avatar, or design their own avatar to use as MSN and forum icons. I found some designs from the players are truly impressive. Are you looking for a cool avatar? Have a try here.

   
 

Conquer Online: Slaughter Monsters and Enjoy Moon Cakes on Chinese Mid-Autumn Day

Posted by AndyLee Wednesday September 10 2008 at 5:53AM
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September 14th will be the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is one of the most popular East Asian festivals. Mid-Autimn festival is a beautiful and appropriate time to celebrate the abundance of the summer’s harvest, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest, pay homage to the Goddess Chang’e and enjoy delicious moon cakes

Conquer Online, the renowned Chinese-style f2p MMO is hosting a special event to celebrate this festival. The moon cake, which equals to the mince pie in Xmas, is essential part of celebration of Mid-Autumn day. So the in-game special quest will let players to slay pitiful monsters and collect various kinds of ingredients to make their very own moon cakes.

     

When you are tired of grinding, there are also other interesting things to do! An elaborate e-magazine can let non-oriental players have a glance at the cultural background of this festival. Players can even paint their own moon cakes in the flash game. Finally, you can go to local Chinatown and buy some moon cakes to share with your family! (recommend lotus filling)

Ninja, One of The Most Popular Class in MMO?

Posted by AndyLee Tuesday September 9 2008 at 5:32AM
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Conquer Online, TQ Digital's free-to-play, Chinese style MMOG's first expansion, The New Dynasty was revealed. In this expansion, just like other games' expansions, players can find many brand-new features, such as new interface, new character hairstyles, new gears and new profession - Ninja. Recently MMOSite interviewed the chief designer of Conquer Online and published some exclusive information about this upcoming expansion, especially the most attractive new class.

According their design concept, Ninja will be an assassinator (well, also most players' concept), which means powerful attack and weak defense. Ninja will be able to equip weapons in both hands, use shuriken and transform into wood when being attacked. As a PVP oriented MMO, the balance between different classes is a critical problem for the game designers. The chief designer guaranteed that Ninja will not break the balance between the professions.

Full Article

 

 

Good Ideas and Bad Ideas about Gaming

Posted by AndyLee Monday September 8 2008 at 4:12AM
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Royallush from MMOsite.com suggested 5 good ideas and 5 bad ideas about gaming. I found it truly hilarious. Have a look at these ideas and I am sure you will be enlightenmed. Please give your good ideas and bad ideas.


(1) Good Idea:
Putting age ratings on games so 12 year olds don’t pick up games that have soft-core porn such as hookers, or other detailed acts of violence.

Bad Idea:
When the 12 year old is able to buy it anyways since mommy or daddy don’t care about what they are doing, for said parents to then get upset and try to blame the game companies for making it in the first place.

(2)Good Idea:Playing MMO games with the intentions of meeting and playing with people from all over the world with common goals and interest.

Bad Idea:
Trying to pick up a date who happens to be underage, then running away with her, only to get busted by the cops because you had to have that Powage License plate. Oh yeah, and she’s like 14. What the HELL were you thinking?!
 

(3)Good Idea:
Being dedicated to your Guild online, putting in time and effort because it’s all about the group.

Bad Idea:
Being TOO dedicated to your Guild online, playing for more hours in a raid then you work at your full time job, your family, and real life friends. The instance isn’t going to disappear if you leave your chair…

(4)Good Idea:
Becoming very good at first-person shooters and other violent games such as Halo, Counter-Strike, GTA, and others.

Bad Idea:
Deciding to act out these actions in real-life and letting games take the heat for what you did. Most violent crimes aren’t game related at all, since it’s considered a hobby. Sure, someone that decides to go nuts might play games, but it’s hardly the root of why they did it…


(5)Good Idea:
Role-playing on online games, even a little bit of adult fun.

Bad Idea:
Being a GM and caught in the act, only to then be plastered on 4chan and every other game site known to gamers. Seriously man, you deserved that.


 

Full Article

CG2008 VS Chinajoy2008 - which style showgirls do you prefer?

Posted by AndyLee Friday September 5 2008 at 4:06AM
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Game Convention 2008, which is one of the major world game exhibitions, has ended in Leipzig, Germany. Just like the Chinajoy2008 in July, game companies were hyping to their best for their upcoming games. Apart from the elaborate game preview, the eye-catching showgirls were another way to attract gamers’ attention. Violence and sex – that’s what gamers are looking for! So in this post, I would like to make a comparison between the showgirls of these 2 major game exhibitions. Stop grinding for a while and check out the eye-candy.

Coffee or tea, which one do you prefer?
 

GC Showgirls

Chinajoy Showgirls

Convert your girlfriend to a gamer!

Posted by AndyLee Thursday September 4 2008 at 3:37AM
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My last topic is pretty hot. Thanks for sharing your opinions. Although people blame grinding for a lot of the shortcomings of online games, in fact many of us enjoy it. Grab a coke, sit in front of the screen and kill mobs of bad guys for a weekend. Grinding has become a life-style!

But the problem emerges... If you are a guy and have a girlfriend, she’s bound to get cranky, and complain about being ignored when you are busy slaughtering monsters in your gloomy dungeon. Has your girlfriend threatened to break up if you don’t quit gaming? Some of my friends did meet such a dilemma.

So why don’t you just try to turn your girlfriend to a gamer? In that case, guys don’t need to worry about girls’ whining. Instead, they should focus on using their own computer. An article from Kotaku gives a pretty good summary of how to get your girlfriend into the gaming world.

Full article

1) Give your girl a game that’s tailored to her interests; don’t force her to play a game just because you like it.
2) Play co-op, not competitive. Some girls are unnerved by 13-year-old trash-talkers.
3) Don’t force her to identify herself as a gamer; it’s enough that she’s playing a game.
4) Spend as much time doing what she wants to do in her life as you expect her to spend time gaming with you (basic rule of relationships).
5) Don’t act like an asshole while you’re gaming – it makes games into the enemy.
6) Don’t belittle her choices of game; maybe she likes Barbie’s Horse Adventure.
7) Let her backseat game you and don’t argue with what she tells you to do; if she tells you to make Master Chief jump to his death, just do it – it’ll be fun for her and get her one step closer to trying it herself. (That’s my own personal rule.)
 

Some hot gamers from MMO Conquer Online

 

More pics-> here <-

Hate grinding? So why can't we have different way to level up?

Posted by AndyLee Tuesday September 2 2008 at 5:38AM
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Killing monsters, gaining exp & gears, it is the fundamental way to level up characters in most MMOGs. Undeniable more and more players are tired of this endless grinding. Can we have totally different ways to upgrade characters?

Neramaar from MMOsite Writer Club has given some suggestion. Let’s have a look whether these ideas "can save the MMOGS from the grim fate."
 

Crafting:

Currently, the most common implementation of crafting is that the crafting skill has it's own level aside from your main level, or your 'fighting level' as we'll call it from here on. In other words you have a separate level to indicate how well you can craft. This however can't help you progress through the game. On the contrary, you need to increase your 'fighting level' in order to increase your crafting level, as most games will only allow crafting to a certain point before you are forced to go back to fighting.

What if crafting was a class of its own? Or even better, what if we called the class inventor and combined crafting with an entire new system that allowed people to combine ingredients and minerals together to discover new recipes that they could then share with their friends and sell to other players? The only way to level your character would be through crafting items and inventing new ones. But, what about end-game? Well, maybe Inventors are the only one's capable of carrying rare minerals that are only found in the hardest dungeons. Every group worth their salt would need to bring an inventor with them to refine the rare minerals they find, and upgrade their weapons.

While the fighters slay deadly foes and save the world from the horrors beneath the surface, the Inventors would scurry around the now safe areas mining and refining, upgrading and inventing to their hearts content. Naturally the only way for them to level would be by finding these rare minerals, and inventing new and powerful weapons and armour for the fighters. Inventors might be able to branch out and specialize in different areas, some choosing to specialize in potion making, others in enchanting weapons or creating new ones. The possibilities truly are endless.

Exploring:
Imagine a game where you didn't have a world map, well you did, but it was empty. Filling required you to not only explore every section of the game, but to document every part of it, take notes of the dangers within, and then sell you're findings to the highest bidder. To do this you would have to choose the Explorer Class, and sacrifice the glory of battle for the more subtle indulgence, lore.
Personally, this would be my favorite type. I would love to record every detail of a brand new world, every corner of a dungeon, every nook and cranny of every field and swamp. I wouldn't be very good at fighting, I might carry a flute that when played could put enemies to sleep whilst I recorded my findings on a scrap of parchment, and I would need to hire fighters to help me progress through the dangerous parts of the world. Fighters would need me though, as without me they would have no way to complete their maps, or organise their next voyage into a forgotten dungeon. Crafters could use me to mark the location of rare minerals on their maps, making their future journeys much easier.

Great explorers would be famous, known for their attention to detail and commitment to the role. The best fighters in the land would buy maps only from those explorers they trusted, guild masters would be on the hunt for master explorers, those that had seen the land and knew where it's greatest treasures were kept. Explorers could branch off into specific trees, such as mastering boss locations or treasure nests. This in itself would add incredible depth and life to the MMORPG genre.

Training:
Imagine a game in which skills were learned not from NPC's, but from other players. Hunters, as we could call Full sizethem would be tasked to find and study the rarest of creatures and enemies in the land, learning from the skills and combos that could be found nowhere else. Once learned these skills could be taught to fighters and explorers to help them on their adventures through the land. Whilst teaching fighters new and never before seen skills and combos, Hunters could help Explorers with the locations to never before seen beasties and locations.

I suppose the 'trainer' idea could use a little more work, but this is all just off the top of my head. The point is that with a little innovative thinking so much could be done to change the way we play games, and revive the soon to be destroyed MMORPG genre.
 

You can have the full article here.