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Critical News Rundown

Andrew Fletcher's picture

In a week of frank admissions and accusations, FOX 6's Brad Hicks labels the DS an attractive tool for child molesters, Doug Lowenstein steps down from the ESA with a few stinging parting shots to the industry, and online retailer DVD Empire says goodbye to its games section due to unreasonable economic hurdles. Away from commercial pressures, meanwhile, independent and charity-funded games appear to be exploring whole new gaming horizons.

  • Nintendo Hand-Held Child Molester Target
    Not being a DS owner, I haven't been able to ridicule this Fox report as much as other forum commentators, who are rubbishing the suggestion that the handheld's wi-fi reach could extend to over 300 feet. However, I couldn't help be tickled as to the alarmist tone of the piece, which seems almost satirical in its righteous indignation. But aside from the fact that the story is based on speculation and has no actual incidents to draw upon, it does raise (or resurrect) the question of child safety and privacy in general when using wi-fi technology. The DS may not have the reach claimed in this story, but doubtless its successor will far exceed it. Will this news piece sound so dismissible in 5 years time?

  • Filmmakers at Sundance look to indie video game industry
    Though it never really drives in any specific direction, this article is a neat summary of the "there's more to games than dumb fun" argument so well born out by the conscientious non-commercial games that it name checks. Darfur is Dying and Food Force are both excellent eye-openers to their respective subjects, which are to my mind far more impactful and memorable when experienced interactively than they are through traditional media like TV news reports. But individual triumphs aside, the games are also beacons of hope towards the idea of genuinely new gaming genres and innovations flourishing outside of the mainstream.

  • Retailer Slams Game Industry “Greed”
    This statement from online retailer DVD Empire serves as an interesting demarcation of the commercial differences between videogames and other entertainment media. Brutally honest where other retailers would 'professionally' sweep the issue under the carpet, I really admire the management for speaking up against the cruel imposition our industry puts on the small retailer. They're not the only losers, of course, as high street stores lose plenty of business to aggressive online discounters and if you're thinking the developers who actually made the game are blowing their noses with all the cash being fought over then you are (in most cases) mistaken. But whether or not you agree that "80% of the games created are crap", there is enough hard economic truth in here to suggest that if retail prices are to remain half-way reasonable as game budgets skyrocket, we may see more and more small retailers fall by the wayside over the coming generations.

  • D.I.C.E.: Lowenstein Ends ESA Career With A Bang
    As he steps down form his post as president of the Entertainment Software Association, Doug Lowenstein—who you may remember from a previous News Rundown suggested changing the way we refer to games—has made a brave and admirable attack on the industry, in defense of the medium itself. Certainly, the lazy attitude he is referring to is clearly apparent whenever someone from within the gaming industry, press or audience casually dismisses any criticism of their beloved medium from outside of it. Lowenstein instead suggests singing up to the ESA's Video Game Voters Network as a starting point for defending the work of industry envelope-pushers or our personal right to consume certain media. Elsewhere in the speech, Lowenstein also slammed the immaturity of the games media in general and suggested that "the gaming press legitimizes Jack Thompson". With Manhunt 2 recently announced, the odds seem good that we'll be revisiting these very same issues come the summertime?

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Brad Hicks blog

Brad Hicks makes a reasonable response to all the fan-boy flaming he got over the report:
http://community.myfoxmilwaukee.com/blogs/brad_hicks

Sensationalizing the stories on TV news is nothing new and let's-shock-the-viewer angle early on in the report is so cliche its almost laughable. However, once the report gets past that, I think its a pretty fair report and does a job of covering the bases and not get any of its basic facts wrong (like the DS plays DS and GBA games). I do strongly agree that at the end of the day, parents are not aware of the Picto-chat feature and that they need to be more aware of the potential dangers.

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