Controversy Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Controversy RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network IGN releases video apology over review plagiarism Thu, 09 Aug 2018 13:32:51 -0400 Joseph Ocasio

For those not in the know, IGN recently published a review for the indie title, Dead Cells, which was ultimately found to be plagiarized.

The site's reviewer, Filip Miucin, gave the game a 9.7, praising it for its gameplay, among other things. However, Miucin's thoughts were not all his own.

Youtube channel Boomstick Gaming released a video review of the game a week before IGN's review went live. And it wasn't long before the similarities were noticed.

In his own video, Boomstick Gaming's reviewer, Deadite, accused Miucin of plagiarizing his review, with many of their points and analyses sharing near identical wording.

After the accusation, IGN took down the review for further investigation. Yesterday, IGN released a statement on the issue, saying that they have parted ways with Miucin and apologized to their readers, Dead Cells' Developer Motion Twin, and Boomstick Gaming.

Today, the news outlet issued a video apology, with editor Brian Altano presenting it, saying very much the same thing. 

Since the incident, Boomstick Gaming, which had only 11k Subscribers before the event, has now started a Patreon and is currently at 45k subscribers. One of their content creators, Alex, was interviewed by Forbes about the situation,. saying that he had "no knowledge of any of my other content being used by anyone else online."

IGN, meanwhile, will be re-reviewing Dead Cells by another one of their reviewers.

Since Miucin's firing, Kotaku received a tip that showed Miucin plagiarizing Nintendo Life's review of FIFA 18. Miucin reviewed the game on his Youtube Channel and was not a part of IGN at the time of the video's release.

Before Miucin's firing, Youtuber Dreamcastguy also discussed the topic, mentioning that he knew about the situation and had spoken to Miucin. He was told by Miucin that he was under a lot of stress while working at IGN, though Dreamcastguy didn't go into any specifics. 

Overwatch League Suspends Boston Uprising Player Indefinitely over Sexual Misconduct Allegations Mon, 09 Apr 2018 15:00:45 -0400 Lewis Parsons

The Overwatch League has suspended Boston Uprising player "DreamKazper," aka Jonathan Sanchez, age 21, over allegations he engaged in inappropriate contact with an underage girl.

The conversation in question was screenshotted and posted on Twitter, and the 14-year-old fan also released a statement on the social media platform.

The Overwatch League, for its part, acted quickly, moving to suspend Sanchez and releasing a strongly worded statement on Twitter.

Earlier today the Overwatch League was made aware of the allegations against Jonathan "DreamKazper" Sanchez. He is suspended indefinitely while the league investigates this matter.

Boston Uprising likewise released a statement and suspended the player as well.

We take all allegations of this nature very seriously and as a result DreamKazper has been suspended from the Boston Uprising indefinitely. We will not be commenting any further while we investigate the matter.

This incident is the latest in a string of issues hitting The Overwatch League and eSports as a whole recently. Most recently, Dallas Fuel player Son “Oge” Minseok was suspended for account boosting in 2017.

Sanchez has not responded to a request for comment.

Super Seducer: Is It As Creepy and Weird As It Sounds? Tue, 13 Mar 2018 10:06:46 -0400 Ty Arthur

Every now and again a perfect storm comes along for a game that would have otherwise faded into obscurity, suddenly catapulting into the public consciousness due to viral online controversy. That's the case with self-help dating simulator Super Seducer, which managed to land at exactly the wrong place in exactly the wrong time.

Dating sims, of course, aren't anything new, and there's plenty of them with outlandish or humorously offensive themes, so what sets this one apart and makes it such a target for negative reviews at the moment? I'll let the game's description speak for itself:

Learn state-of-the-art seduction secrets from the master himself, Richard La Ruina, in this incredibly valuable live action seduction simulator.

If you’ve ever run out of things to say, gotten stuck in the friend zone, or don’t know when to make your move - then this game will transform your love life forever. 

The focus here isn't on a fictional experience for entertainment purposes, but rather on teaching the male gaming community how to convince women in everyday situations to sleep with them.

Considering how the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are impacting the world right now, this game couldn't really arrive at a worse possible time. The only way they could have botched this more would have been to make Harvey Weinstein or Roy Moore playable characters.

Now granted, Super Seducer most certainly isn't Custer's Revenge or RapeLay, but there's serious division occurring in the gaming community, with some claiming the game is harmless fun (or even helpful for introverted gamers who need a nudge in the romance department), and others staunchly opposed to everything the game stands for.

Thankfully, the overall experience is less rapey than you might think, and there are some lessons in there that, sadly, a segment of the population needs to learn (don't just whip it out and show it off, fellas -- this should be obvious -- and please don't begin your dance floor seduction with a twerk attack). Unexpected issues are even brought up during the game's levels, like how to deal with your intended mark dropping a potentially homophobic comment while you are trying to get in her pants.

Despite the toned-down nature of this virtual pickup artist lesson, Sony has still denied the game's addition to the Playstation 4 lineup, and there's currently a petition going to get it pulled from Steam. I'm not personally a fan of that sort of censorship (I'd rather people read a book and see why its contents are wrong than for it to be banned from the library, for instance), but there are some problematic issues here worth discussing.

Choosing the  That's the one!

Super Seducer's Gameplay

Before getting into the content itself and whether the controversy is deserved or overblown, it's worth taking a look at whether Richard La Ruina's foray into PC gaming is even worth it from an entertainment standpoint.

Honestly, the most fun you will have playing this as an actual PC game experience (rather than using it as a dating education tool) is to deliberately choose the most obviously wrong options.

There are some legitimately hilarious segments when you screw up your seduction on purpose, like using the fact that a girl smokes cigarettes as a segue into asking her to go tripping on LSD for three days at your place.

Some amazing rambling from the pickup guru will have you in stitches, although on the whole, Super Seducer more falls into that category of pointless games that are really just there for the YouTube reaction videos.

An unimpressed female in Super Seducer That's weird, I thought my vast knowledge of hard drugs would impress her.

While some conversation choices switch from good to neutral to bad depending on previously selected options, there's nothing approaching actual branching dialogue that impacts endings or changes the narrative. This notably isn't Telltale: Seduction Edition.

You pick from mostly obvious options in any given scene, going back and doing it over when you screw up, and then Richard tells you what you did right or wrong on the path to finding someone to warm your bed for the night.

Even the slew of animated choose-your-own-adventure visual novels that fill up Steam still have some level of story, but that's completely lacking here. This isn't a narrative, but rather classroom lessons for the romantically challenged.

There's a problem there in using a game as a training manual, as it reduces the fun level obviously, and in this case, also leads to some very iffy advice on how to treat other human beings.

So What's the Big Deal?

Even if you move away from the obvious joke stuff like Hatoful Boyfriend or Dream Daddy, most animated visual novels clearly aren't meant to be taken as anything other than fantasy.

They aren't manuals on how to actually approach people and try to start up a relationship. That isn't the case here, where the full title is Super Seducer: How to Talk to Girls. In the words of developer RLR Training Inc:

As you make your moves, renowned seduction guru Richard La Ruina (featured in Maxim, Men’s Health, The BBC, Piers Morgan) provides you with feedback for every choice you make, delving into the psychology and the hundreds of hidden secrets that separate seduction masters from everybody else. 

Here’s the bottom line: if you make the right choices in the game, you’ll make the right choices in your life. 

Some of these "hidden secrets" in the feedback are harmless -- like nonverbally drawing attention on the dance floor and then starting a dance-off -- but those more fun options that would draw someone's attention and show them your personality are usually the "neutral" answer in any given level. To get the "good" outcome (i.e., seeing her in lingerie on Richard's bed), you need to be more forceful.

To be fair, Super Seducer's approach is less aggressive overall than in some of the other self-help-style seduction training courses (don't immediately kiss her ... but you should go for it quickly; don't try to get her drunk on the dance floor ... but do try to get her drunk as soon as you stop dancing when a lame song comes on), but at its core, the concept revolves around being forceful and getting the answer you want in the fewest possible moves.

Keeping up with this low-calorie, lite version of aggressive pickup styles detailed in other books or seminars, Super Seducer includes an option to tell a potential mark that you enjoy hurting people, which obviously is the wrong choice. That dialog option ends with the guru halfheartedly explaining that "in reality a man should never use superior strength to intimidate a girl."

Jared Leto advising us that violence isn't the answer "Violence has no place, and it's really a bitch move." Thanks for the pro tip!

That advice is sort of betrayed by the strategies presented, though, like standing in front of a woman to stop her from walking away (which is just obnoxious).

There's also a clear focus on not asking questions that can be denied, like "Can I buy you a drink?" but instead issuing direct commands like "Let's go get a drink."

Since the point is to teach obvious things to gamers who have no game, it seems odd that some basic concepts aren't covered at all. For instance, in the scenario of buying a girl a drink after dancing, there's no mention of the prevalent issue of date rape drugs put into drinks. There's no explanation of trying to put a woman at ease by letting her see the drink be made and take it directly from the bartender herself. In this day and age, that's sadly Dating 101, but anything that considers the woman's perception of the experience is entirely glossed over.

Instead, the point in each scenario is generally to try to remove agency from the intended target, making them feel like they need to respond positively to you whether they want to or not. The strategy is focused around giving women as few "outs" as possible, ignoring clear signals that she isn't interested. Like, you know, the fact that she has a boyfriend, or that she's trying to do something else and you are bothering the shit out of her.

Using psychology to find the quickest way to convince a woman to go back to your place might be effective, but it certainly isn't ethical. If both parties are just interested in quick, no-strings sex, then cool, have at it, but this is no way to approach dating or finding a relationship companion.

With the subtitle How to Talk to Women, it's clear this game isn't meant to provide tips on how to get people to swipe right on you in a service specifically meant to facilitate sex. It's about how to convince women in everyday locations -- the coffee shop, on the street, in the office environment (can you say sexual harassment?) -- to go home with you.

A female indicates her displeasure in Super Seducer             It feels like this should be the reaction to a lot more of the options in this game

Seeing This Experience From the Other Side

While amusing from the male perspective, when selecting all the worst dialog options, Super Seducer stands as a very different experience if you think of any of these scenarios from the opposite end.

While dialog options are typically meant to highlight less sexist pickup lines, the overall strategies specifically revolve around removing agency from the target, issuing commands instead of requests and separating them from their friends and familiar locations. To the pickup artist looking for an easy lay, that might be great, but for the person being subjected to those kind of tactics, it's more of a nightmare.

That's exactly what performance art/gaming crossover The Game: The Game showcases, standing as a counterpoint to the lessons in seduction manuals like Super Seducer.

The Game: The Game becomes a horror rendition of the exact same experience, offering a woman's perspective of dealing with men who have read "dating" manual The Game and are trying out the pickup strategies described therein. This timely interactive video is currently an exhibition at the Museum Of The Moving Image, with a planned online game release at coming soon.

  Pushy men using canned lines is every girl's dream date!              

Sex is a normal, healthy part of a relationship, but the approach taken here with Super Seducer is anything but. Having a strategy to limit a person's freedom and keep them in a potentially unwanted conversation with you is frankly pretty creepy.

Although Richard does deserve points for some of the lessons imparted, there's no escaping the fact that the game's intended purpose is to reduce a woman (or any subject of potential affections of any gender) to what is essentially a video game quick time event -- trying to figure out the puzzle as quickly as possible so the sex achievement pops out, then moving onto the next one.

If this were a hentai game for personal gratification, that wouldn't matter, but as a tutorial meant to change your lifestyle, Super Seducer essentially teaches that a person's value is entirely tied to their willingness to provide sexual favors, and features an entirely manipulative focus on approaching women.

Want to know how gamer girls feel about the advice in Super Seducer? Just watch this hilarious clip of two women discussing the options on how to defend yourself from coffee shop creeps who use this game as a training tool ... like fending them off with summoned fart demons.

If aimed flatulence is the response from the intended targets, clearly we've gotten off course somewhere. So yeah, while Super Seducer is wrapped up in a seemingly woman-friendly package, it is essentially as creepy and weird as you'd expect.

Loot Boxes Aren't Crazy, But How They're Currently Used Is Thu, 21 Dec 2017 15:37:07 -0500 ReadyPlayerPaige

Sometimes you have to pay to win, but is the cost seriously worth it? As you no doubt know, loot boxes have created some buzz for good and bad reasons. It doesn't have to be all bad, though. At their core, loot boxes are supposed to encourage people to keep playing and provide rewards based on skill and time invested--not how much money a player can invest. But the way they are used now skews the purpose and turns games into cheap cash grabs at best.

What Is A Loot Box Anyway?

For those of you who don't know anything about loot boxes, here is a little bit of info. Loot boxes, sometimes called loot crates, are virtual items that are used in games for upgrades and character customization. Depending on the game, you can pretty much upgrade everything, from weapons, armor, clothing, to minor things like accessories. Loot boxes have been featured in many games, with two notable examples being Overwatch and Star Wars: Battlefront II.

The Good

Loot boxes are actually very useful in multiplayer games. There is an unlimited amount of items in loot boxes, and the list is endless of what loot boxes can do for players. Providing things that improve the gameplay experience, such as upgrades or unlocking new items, and doing so without charging extra money for it provides a strong incentive for players to come back to the game. This, in turn, keeps the game alive for much longer, while keeping players happy as well. The director of Overwatch, Jeff Kaplan, says that the Overwatch team monitors and re-evaluates their loot boxes to make sure the players are satisfied. Some loot boxes can be earned without spending money, which makes loot boxes much more addictive to players, without being a source of harm, unless you count sinking a ton of hours into the game harm.

Then there are cases where loot boxes or crates don't provide anything vital to the game itself. Aesthetic things like dice skins or an accessory for a character are fun, but don't affect gameplay, as was the case with Armello. With these kinds of loot boxes, it's more a case of giving players the option to spend a little to support the game developers, get something in return, and still keep everyone on the same level.

The Bad, Bad, Bad...

But most people end up focusing only on the bad aspects of loot boxes. Why? Well, what started out from play to win has now turned into pay to win. Take EA's Star Wars Battlefront II, for example. There has been a lot of discussion about how this game was very disappointing  Star Wars fans, and gamers have voiced their opinion that this series has to be moved away from EA. One of the main reasons behind the disappointment and strong views is the controversy surrounding its loot boxes.

EA made a few changes to the system, but the main problem hasn't changed. If you want to upgrade your characters and unlock some of the best gear, you'll have to pay--pay for the random chance of getting what you need or want. That creates a scenario where people with more money naturally get more of a chance to upgrade their characters, and everyone else is left out. In a multiplayer driven game, that's a problem, since it discourages people from coming back to the game. Some gamers naturally find this even more frustrating due to the fact that you have to pay a hefty sum of $60 for this game to begin with, and then pay even more just to have a chance at success.

Then there is the recent conflict over loot boxes should be viewed as  gambling--and for good reason. Basically, you are willing to pay a lot of money to get random items that might be rare. Just like a slot machine, you place a bet, of sorts, on how much you want to spend and pay the game to see if you win anything valuable. Sometimes, the player may get duplicate items, which is yet another major downfall of loot boxes.

Most gamers would complain about this, but many directors do what they can to provide a good game experience. Even though Overwatch had problems with the boxes, they never made the regrettable decisions that EA had. EA uses loot boxes to create profit--not even trying to hide the fact--instead of thinking about what gamers would want. Creating addicts from loot boxes is no way to gain profit and retain players. EA has lost over 3 billion dollars of shares because of this. Not only was the game disappointing, but it cost this company so much money.


Loot boxes can be a great asset for players and companies, but they are not being used responsibly at present. Making a profit isn't a bad thing, since that's what companies are in business for. Hopefully, in the future, other developers will face the kind of backlash EA did and realize that they need to keep the players' wants in mind, along with their quest for profit.

 Voice your opinion on how you feel about loot boxes below, and thanks for reading!

What Makes Destiny 2's XP Gaf So Dirty? Thu, 07 Dec 2017 17:33:54 -0500 Sarah Elliman

Monetization of video games is nothing new in the modern world, with multiplayer being the easiest place for a company to capitalize on the market. As gamers, we assume that we know when companies are being upfront about their dealings and when they are hiding content behind a paywall. But this is not always the case.

Reddit user and Destiny 2 grinder, EnergiserX, decided to investigate the XP system within Destiny 2, finding that there are considerable drops in the amount of XP that is retained while playing the game. EnergiserX found that the quicker you earn XP, the more diminishing returns you receive, recording as much as a staggering 95% XP loss. Even if you play casually you can still expect to lose anything up to 50%, although you will continue to gain XP, just at a much slower rate. This means that your progression speed towards unlocking Bright Engrams, which are earned by filling your XP bar, is significantly decreased the more you play the game.

It's worth noting that Bright Engrams are conveniently available to purchase in the Eververse store using Silver, Destiny 2's premium currency. You can receive cosmetic items such as shaders, sparrows, and ships from these engrams, which don't impact gameplay in any way.

After seeing the extensive amount evidence put together, Bungie released a statement explaining that they had now deactivated the system and would be taking another look at how they could improve upon it.

It is evident from the explanation given by Bungie that they knew the system was flawed, as the game's developer rightly should, and it seems that Bungie hoped that the system would go unnoticed. It therefore encourages players to purchase Silver, to obtain Bright Engrams quicker than they could by simply playing the game. This is purely speculation, but it doesn't look good for Bungie, who have been struggling to maintain good relations with their vocal fan-base since Destiny 2's launch.

EnergiserX stated that "over the 3 hours (he) should have earned 1.5 more bright engrams than (he) did (129,825 XP)." He even worked out how much money he had technically lost, which was the "equivalent of AUD$3.96 lost across 3 hours of gameplay." It's clear what Bungie were trying to achieve by capping the XP gained, and quite frankly, it's unacceptable. 

Many players have been incredibly vocal in airing their disgust with Bungie, considering that Destiny 2 was meant to be a game where you could earn all content through good old-fashioned gameplay. When there is so much of this evidence stacked up against Bungie, it unfortunately paints them in an unflattering, corporate light that players just can't get behind.  

It's also alarming that this was only rectified as a result of being called out on the issue. Why wasn’t it changed before it became public knowledge? There is no logical response other than the fact that they wanted to make a little more money and hid the system from players to do so. So kudos to EnergiserX for collecting such damning evidence against Bungie that shows the extent of their misguided attempt to make a few extra bucks.

This controversy has also come at the worst possible time -- right after the controversy surrounding Battlefront 2’s inherently unfair loot box based progression system has come to light. Considering Bungie's subterfuge with this system and other companies doing similar things, it makes us gamers feel disconnected with these companies who we at one point had great affection for. And with this being the case, it seems that more and more people are favoring indie titles, as smaller studios seem to be much more candid and open with their player-base. 

Ultimately, although the situation was resolved quickly, it was something that should have been solved without community intervention. It feels underhanded, makes gamers feel cheated, and Bungie has lost even more credibility with it's waning fan-base. The rampant monetization of the gaming industry is turning its fans against these companies, and if you don't have the fans on side, who are you making games for? People want to enjoy and cherish games, not feel like they have to hand over their wallets to publishers, that feel more like soulless corporations everyday.

I want to finish by giving shout-out to people like EnergiserX, who make gamers aware of things like this and are helping to push the industry as a whole away from these shady practices. It goes to show how powerful our collective voices can be, which is an inspiring thought.

What do you think of Destiny 2's EXP cap? Do you think Bungie were underhanded? Let us know in the comments below!

EA Apologizes For Microtransactions In Battlefront II; Will Temporarily Revoke It Fri, 17 Nov 2017 10:39:30 -0500 Greyson Ditzler

The recently released Star Wars Battlefront 2 has been receiving a great deal of backlash from fans regarding its extensive microtransactions and loot box system. It has been well documented at this point that the game's credit and reward system seems to be skewed against the playerbase in order to encourage further spending following the initial $60-$80 investment.

Many fans have discovered that in order to unlock and play as even one of the games "heroes" -- one of several major characters from the Star Wars franchise -- one would have to play for upwards of 40 hours. And if someone were to attempt to unlock all of the content available in the game, they would either have to earn credits naturally at a total time roughly equivalent to six months, or skip the whole process by paying a grand total of $2,100 to unlock things right away. 

Naturally, most players of Battlefront II were unhappy with this model, and they weren't afraid to let EA hear their complaints. In response to the backlash, EA has duly responded to the overall negative reaction to the game's progression model. On EA's official Star Wars-related Twitter, developer DICE's General Manager Oskar Gabrielson had this to say:

It's important to note that they did not say they would be removing the loot box and micropayment transaction model from the game forever, but rather until they can make changes to the game that better accommodate the system, downplay its importance, or generally adjust the game's progression. How this will effect the game overall is yet to be seen, and the date when the micro-transactions will return is unknown, but hopefully whatever changes are made are done for the sake of the game and the player.  

Star Wars Battlefront II is available now for PC, Xbox One, and PS4. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news on Battlefront II as it develops!



The Realities Behind Ubisoft's Eden's Gate Cult in Far Cry 5 Wed, 01 Nov 2017 11:09:44 -0400 KatherineZell

On February 27th, 2018, Ubisoft invites you to join them in Hope County Montana to free the citizens from The Project at Eden’s Gate, a cult run by charismatic and insane Joseph “The Father” Seed.

Yes, I’m talking about Far Cry 5.

Ubisoft knew they wanted to bring Far Cry to the United States, but they spent a few years mulling over exactly how they would go about this. In 2014, they started working with this character: “The Father,” a charismatic leader who believes that the world is about to end and that he must "save"—forcibly or otherwise—as many people as possible.

Ubisoft then began building a cult around Joseph with the help of cult expert Rick Alan Ross, founder of the Cult Education Institute. Ross has been working for thirty years to educate people about cults, deprogram former cult members, and illegitimatize cults. He is also the author of the book Cults Inside Out.

Here’s Ubisoft’s video about fabricating The Project.

In the video above at 1:25, we get this quote from Far Cry 5’s narrative director, Jean-Sebastien Decant:

"... often, and that’s what’s really scary, was saying, 'Yes, this exists, and actually it was worse than that,' so we’re realizing that, then again, reality is far stronger than fiction, and we could go actually way further than what we were doing."

Now, let us consider that quote in the context of the trailer: fanatics drowning a person, holding others hostage, and mutilating people by cutting words like “sinner” and “greed” onto their bodies. Was this before or after Ubisoft’s team realized, from consulting with cult expert Rick Alan Ross, that “this exists, and actually it was worse than that”?

This is where the discomfort begins for some Americans. Far Cry has been in Africa, the Himalayas, a tropical island. Players have fought pirates, Africans from an ambiguous failed state, Neanderthals, wild beasts. Now, it’s in Montana with a twisted religious sect of zealots.

Many themes from Far Cry are realities—disease in Africa, for instance—but it is so far removed from the United States that citizens brush it all off as “just a video game.” However, Far Cry 5 is different. It’s like the Waco siege in another dimension with some Scientology on top, so, yes, some people are uncomfortable—perhaps even fearful. Far Cry 5 is in our backyard with characters who could be our neighbors.

Some people feel as though Ubisoft is harmfully stereotyping citizens of Montana. Others praise them for bringing Far Cry to the United States and vilifying a white American. Whatever your opinion, Far Cry 5 is sparking controversy and conversations months before its release. With the care Ubisoft took to create Hope County and Eden’s Gate, I hope we can have meaningful conversations and not forget where fear has lead others and where it could lead us.

What do you think of Far Cry 5’s cult and location? Let us know in the comments!

A Look At The Far Cry 5 Controversy: Should We Be Up In Arms? Fri, 02 Jun 2017 11:01:03 -0400 Ty Arthur

The Far Cry series has traveled far and wide from its roots of exploring an island filled with mercs and then taking a crazy sci-fi turn halfway through the first game. Its even strayed a long way from the series-defining third entry (arguably the best of the bunch), which had me absolutely salivating at the prospect of getting to punch a shark in the face after seeing those commercials way back in 2012.

There was an actual charge of excitement in the air here in my home state when camera crews showed up to shoot a commercial that was widely rumored to be for Far Cry 5.

The resulting short clip -- featuring a man's head being banged against a church bell in the wide open Montana landscape -- had more than a slight feeling of Outlast 2 meeting the Far Cry guerrilla war formula. That feeling was further fueled by the full announcement trailer that arrived not long after.

That excitement was less palpable in the online reaction from series fans, with more than a few expressions of disbelief as people who have never been here wondered just what the heck is so scary about Montana? Could anyone really get into a huge shootout without the whole world immediately knowing about it, or could a resistance believably engage in guerrilla warfare against a militia group?

And of course, in today's everyone-is-offended culture, a certain segment of the gaming populace wasn't thrilled with who the bad guys are in this entry of the series, taking to social media to make their outrage public.

Montana -- We're Scarier Than You Think!

For those who aren't aware of the scale, Montana is a huge, wide-open area that takes the better part of a day to traverse by highway at 100 MPH (that's one of our state's biggest killers by the way -- with hundreds of deaths a year as people do exactly that).

In terms of size, you could fit all of the U.K. into Montana, with room to spare. The state is also perfect for the standard Far Cry trope of hunting animals for crafting components, as we are filled to the brim with wildlife of all sorts -- and plenty of it can eat you.

There are a ton of out-of-the-way places here where the Far Cry 5 scenario of a fringe separatist group could easily occur. Nearly everyone in the state is already armed, and we have plenty of religious fanatics of all stripes.

If you aren't super familiar with Montana history (and why would you be?) we had the Freemen and can sadly lay claim to both the Unabomber and Richard Spencer -- yes, the Richard Spencer from Nazi punching memes. We can also own up to infamous cannibal and serious killer Nathaniel Bar-Jonah -- who actually lived in my town. 

People think of Montana as a conservative Christian bastion – and it is – but the typical concept of evangelical or Catholic Christianity is certainly not all we have here in terms of religious groups.

There's a massive Buddhist gathering in the summer that takes place in the middle of nowhere, and of course we've hosted the Rainbow Gathering. Montana is also home to many Hutterite colonies that still live like its the 1800s -- and in some of those colonies, girls literally can't sit on the same side of the room as boys in classrooms or churches.

Who knows what's happening behind that fence?

In other words, between the hodge-podge of religious groups and massive surface area for seclusion, Montana is sort of the perfect location for Far Cry-style shenanigans.

There's No Room To Be Offended Here

Fair warning: I'm going to get political on you here. For those who prefer to keep their gaming free of that sort of thing -- well, no hard feelings. We'll see you down at the next section of this article.

As a Montana resident, I'm baffled by the conservative and religious groups who are up in arms about the storyline and imagery of Far Cry 5. Headlines like the one below sadly equate the extremist antagonists of the game with Joe Republican.

  Oh Boy.

But frankly, even the more mainstream conservatives in Montana have no room to be upset by the notion that they are pro-violence. To be clear, that's not hyperbole from a liberal -- that's a fact that was clearly observed just last month.

One day before our special election to replace representative Ryan Zinke – who was named Secretary of the Interior earlier this year – Republican contender for the seat Greg Gianforte grabbed a reporter by the throat and repeatedly punched him for demanding an answer about Gianforte's stance on a healthcare bill.

Rather than tanking or even mildly hurting Gianforte's chances, that act appears to have secured his victory in the election the next day, with rank-and-file conservative voters here openly expressing support for his violent assault on the free press. Our state-wide news outlets on social media were flooded with comments in support of the crime.

The situation gets worse when you pivot away from the national party candidates and move over to the fringe. We have more than our fair share of the “don't tread on me” crowd that actively stockpiles weapons and believes the government controls the weather through HAARP.

Think of the farm level from the original Homefront, and you aren't too far off from some of our residents. Remember the Bundy wildlife refuge occupation from early 2016? We're way overdue for something like that – expect it to hit the headlines before too long.

Extremists Are Not The Baseline

Besides the previously mentioned anti-government extremist Christian Freemen group, I suspect the specific antagonists in this entry are based on the real life Church Universal And Triumphant -- another cult right here in Montana that has actually built underground bunkers and stockpiled weapons.

Many of the more level-headed gamers were quick to point out something that the outraged crowd seems to have completely missed: having a fringe extremist part of a religion as a game's bad guy is not an assault on that religion. In fact, the head of the resistance against Far cry 5's fringe cult is a pastor of a more mainstream church.

 Some folks on YouTube left comments that made sense - will wonders never cease?

The fact that people felt they were being targeted by this game is actually rather disturbing, as it indicates they identify with the extremist fringe being depicted, and not with the mainstream center of their particular religious and political affiliation.

One would hope much of that outrage is less than serious, and it does seem like Poe's Law is in full effect with the official petition to cancel the title or change the game's setting and antagonist.

It is entirely unclear if the petition was started by an actually unhinged, hypocritical extremist or if someone on the other side of the political spectrum is making fun of unhinged, hypocritical extremists. Just take a gander at this head-scratching section of the petition:

Enough is enough UbiSoft.  We’ve sat through your multicultural lectures and your preachy games aimed at degenerates and miscegenators.  We’ve tolerated it in the name of gameplay design and innovation.  But no more!  Far Cry 5 is an insult to your fanbase, the Americans who make up the majority of your customers, and it’s time you woke up to that fact.  Change this, or cancel it.

It’s time to draw a line in the sand.  We, the American gamers that make up the majority of your userbase, demand to you cancel this game, or alter it to be less offensive to your main player base.  In these times, you must understand that there might be some violent repercussions if you intend to follow through with your pointless criticism.

Change the villains.  It’s not so hard, really.  Just change the villains to something more realistic.  Islam is on the rise in America, as is the violence of inner city gangs.  Are you scared to do so?  In the words of Boltair – “To learn who rules you, simply find out who’s not being criticized.”

The notion that gamers shouldn't be shooting at digital targets of a certain skin color, nationality, or religious background because America is somehow blameless in all things is beyond ludicrous.

Homegrown extremism exists, there's no denying that. And Americans kill other Americans far, far, far more often than foreign terrorists or soldiers from other nations. It makes sense that eventually they will be the focus of an FPS.

It's Just A Game, Far Crying Out Loud

All of this outrage and resulting push back is predicated on the notion that Far Cry 5 is trying to make some sort of blanket statement or take a swipe at any given Trump voter, and I'm not convinced that is actually the case.

The second half of the announcement trailer, when the banjo comes in and the Dukes Of Hazzard-style car chase kicks in, is getting seriously overlooked here. Even if it has an undertone of religious and political extremism, it seems clear the game is going to be a big, dumb action fest where the antagonists this time just happen to be flag-waving hillbillies.

Was Far Cry Primal a declaration of ill intent against cave men and sabre-tooth tigers? Was its predecessor an assault on the people of Tibet? Should Just Cause 2's ludicrous explosive mayhem have been seen as a legitimate complaint against the nature of southeast Asian nation states?

The simple fact can't be avoided that first-person shooters need someone to be shot at -- and we've already got plenty of games where you gun down people in the Middle East, or Africa, or Nazi Germany, or the jungles of South America, or Asia, or Mediterranean islands, or the urban sprawl of huge American cities.

There's no reason rural Montana and its oddball inhabitants shouldn't get their day in the crosshairs.

Fingers crossed for cow and bald eagle animal companions!

Is All This Yooka-Laylee Drama Going to Impact Sales? Fri, 07 Apr 2017 11:32:23 -0400 Erroll Maas

A few weeks ago, prolific YouTube personality Jon Jafari, commonly known as JonTron, took part in a debate on Twitch with fellow internet personality, Steve Bonnel II, better known as Omnidestiny, after making a series of controversial tweets. During the stream, a number of controversial topics were discussed and JonTron made many disputable claims which could be viewed as hateful or ignorant.


Since the stream, many have been disappointed by some of JonTron's views, while others have been trying to defend them. On March 23, Playtonic Games, creator of upcoming Kickstarter platformer, Yooka-Laylee, released a statement which read:

"In light of his recent personal viewpoints we have made the decision to remove JonTron's inclusion in the game via a forthcoming content update. We would like to make absolutely clear that we do not endorse or support JonTron's personal viewpoints and that, as an external fan contributor, he does not represent Playtonic in any capacity. As such, we deeply regret any implied association that could make players feel anything but 100% comfortable in our game worlds, or distract from the incredible goodwill and love shown by our fans and Kickstarter backers."

Since release of this statement, many internet users have shared their own views on the situation, with some commending Playtonic for their decision while others are seeking refunds. JonTron himself has stated his removal is unfortunate but that he understands Playtonic's decision and wishes them the best of luck with their launch.

The big question is, will this controversy significantly affect sales of the game?

The easy answer is no, probably not, as there are plenty of other more important aspects of said game which are more likely to impact sales.

Minimal Voice Role

Anyone who has played or knows a decent amount about games like Banjo Kazooie, is aware characters don't have fully spoken dialogue, instead having their speech represented by silly sounds.

In addition to this, Jontron only had a minor role, so what Playtonic is removing is rather minimal. Many fans of the game have even claimed if it wasn't for Playtonic's statement, they wouldn't have been aware of JonTron's involvement.

The Update is Optional

Since the removal is coming from an update, those who may not agree with the decision, but still want to play the game can choose not to download it. If the update also contains other fixes, as updates usually do, PC players could always just create a mod putting JonTron's removed part back in.

Geared Toward a Specific Audience

Not everyone enjoys the collect-a-thon 3D platformer genre of the late 90's and early 2000's. This game was initially created for fans of the genre who have felt disappointed by the lack of games in this genre since then, as well as players who felt betrayed by Microsoft's acquisition of Rare and how much the new ownership has changed the company.

yooka-laylee, enemies

Due to the colorful and kid friendly nature of the game,  young children may also be interested. It's a strong possibility Playtonic came to this realization, not wanting to have parents concerned over JonTron's involvement. Although the likelihood a young gamer would be aware of this controversy would be relatively low, Playtonic would rather not take the chance.

Getting Mixed Impressions Regardless of Controversy

A game's quality is typically more crucial than a controversy it's connected to. The review embargo for Yooka-Laylee was just lifted on April 4, and so far there seems to be mixed reception.


Those with nostalgia for the Nintendo 64 era platformers seem to enjoy it enough, while many have also claimed the game has not been modernized to its full potential, with even more positive reviews being on the low side.

Kallie Plagge of Gamespot gave the platformer a 6/10, stating: 

"Ultimately, Yooka-Laylee’s best and worst aspects come directly from its predecessor. Despite attempts at modernizing the formula, its style of gameplay is still outdated, and it doesn’t stay challenging or interesting for long as a result. But if you’re looking for a faithful return to the Banjo-Kazooie formula, Yooka-Laylee certainly delivers,"

Marty Sliva of IGN gave the game a 7.0/10 and said:

"While it lacks the heart and polish of some of its incredible predecessors, it's a good reminder that this genre, once thought to be dead, still has some life left in it."

In our site's review, Ashley Gill gave the game a rather high 9/10 and claimed: 

"Yooka-Laylee breathes new life into the collectathon platformer genre, but those who weren't into it in its heyday may see less mileage here."


On the more negative side, Chelsea Stark of Polygon gave the gave a 5.5/10 and wrote:

"Yooka-Laylee looks the part of an updated platformer, but some of its mechanics should have stayed back in the era it came from. There was a reason we haven't seen more games like Banjo Kazooie on modern platforms, and it wasn't just because Rare as we knew it was gone; its ideas were very specific to a gameplay era that we've evolved past. Fourth-wall breaking dialog, shiny characters and lush graphics can't save Yooka-Laylee from the dated framework that it's built on."

Popular YouTuber, and game reviewer Jim Sterling gave the game a surprisingly low 2/10, finding it unbearable to play, citing poor frame rate and "wonky" physics. In his review he also stated:

"Yooka-Laylee is a game out of time, clinging so desperately to past glories it doesn’t seem to understand the Earth kept spinning after the N64 was discontinued. It’s everything wrong about the formative years of 3D platforming and it somehow retained none of what made the genre’s highlights endure."

The common theme here is that all reviews, positive or negative, seem to agree Yooka-Laylee is a successful recreation of the groundwork laid down by it's predecessors, but a lackluster modernization of a rather outdated concept. The genre Yooka-Laylee was molded from was also from a time when games were still making their first transitions from 2-D to 3-D -- an experimental era when games were still figuring out what works and what doesn't in a three dimensional environment -- so it makes enough sense a game trying to create an improved and more modern version of that could be somewhat difficult.


Yooka-Laylee may only have average sales despite the controversy, but we won't truly know until after the game's release next week.

Yooka-Laylee will be released on April 11th and is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

If You Can Believe it: Evony Is Back, This Time on Mobile Mon, 13 Feb 2017 08:00:01 -0500 Michael Llewellyn

Evony is once again back in the media spotlight with its recent Superbowl TV ad, and credit where credit is due with it's big production values and A list celebrities they crafted a very impressive and epic piece of advertising. With stars like Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead), Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight Returns), Fan Bingbing (X-Men: Days Of Future Past) bringing recognisable faces to the campaign. With the average $5 million price tag just for a 30 second ad during the Superbowl and the multi million dollar production which is planned to span a further 11 episodes throughout the year, the developers Top Games US  are certainly putting their all into "The Battle of Evony" ad campaign.


Having popular celebrities endorse a product is nothing new in advertising but you don't often see ads with as big a scale as this and pulling in reputable very well known actors couldn't have been cheap. It's a respectable ad that while a bit over the top, references the themes and the eras you will be participating in during your time with the game. If you go back just six years the prospect of respectable advertising and Evony being in the same sentence would have been considered absolutely laughable.

Evony LLC's Sleazy Advertising

The company behind Evony gained a reputation as one of the most hated in the industry with allegations of stealing content like images or text that look like it was copied and pasted from Civilization. What really got everyone's attention though was the choice of adverts with scantily clad big busted ladies that they used to spam peoples browsers and social media pages. The original ad campaign for Evony started out quite innocently enough with normal generic medieval knights it wasn't anything too eye catching like this one:


It's quite possible the developers felt that ads like this weren't going to cut it and in fairness it is quite bland. So someone in their marketing team decided a shake up was needed in order to get their game noticed. The answer for them was to get a bit more risque with ads like the ones below.

 As you can see they got progressively worse even to go as far as using images like the one above with the two blonde models from the DVD cover of a pornographic film.

There was a lot to hate about these adverts, they inappropriately resembled something you would see on an adult website. Perhaps more inappropriately for some customers the game itself contains absolutely zero in the way of half naked women. It's a strategy game with more in common with games like farmville or a small scale Age Of Empires rather than a videogame that contains busty maidens in need of rescuing. It was a strange ploy to get new customers and the fact that it used misleading adverts to dupe potential customers into signing up to their game should have failed spectacularly -- It was a deliberate attempt create a massive controversial viral marketing campaign -- Sales data has shown that with enough controversy a game has better chance of selling, and using sex to sell a product is about as controversial but at the same time as common as it gets.

The games developers were villainized in the gaming community and industry alike and the original games lead producer Darold Higa doesn't regret a thing. In an interview with Kotaku he said:

"The whole idea with a browser-based free-to-play game like Evony is to put it in front of a large an audience as possible and say ‘Here you go, try it for yourself'. That was the end message: ‘Look at this'."

With 33 million registered users reported in 2016 the campaign clearly worked in what is a massively crowded market. As of right now there's no sales figures but with the multimillion dollar advert they've just launched and more on the way with some big name stars involved, they're definitely not short of a few dollars. A campaign that many expected (and wanted) to blow up in their faces helped them hit the ground running.

Controversy Continues To Create Cash

Even though Evony dropped its line of the soft porn marketing once it established a strong enough install base to be taken seriously, it didn't and probably never will stop other developers using similar methods to sell their game.

In a $40 million dollar ad campaign developers Machine Zone, hired Kate Upton to be the face of Game Of War: Fire Age in another Super Bowl ad back in 2015. Unlike Evony though she is actually an avatar in the game as the Greek Goddess Athena. That's not a particularly great compliment though. As her sole purpose for being in the game is to use her assets to encourage a certain demographic of male gamers to spend money on microtransactions to gain more success in the game.

Just like Evony the game was met with a lot of criticism from the gaming community and the media in general. Yet, just like Evony's clickbait banners worked for them, Kate Upton's invitations to "come play with me" worked, because their sales figures doubled to pulling in a million dollars a day according to the data figures on Think Gaming. Surpassing Clash Of Clans to reach the top spot -- It is still the number one seller on mobile devices at the time of writing -- It is definitely safe to say that Machine Games ROI (Return on Investment) in marketing this game was definitely a successful one.

There is clearly billions to be made from mobile gaming industry, which was something that seemed unlikely a few years ago. Yet now we see more ads for mobile gaming apps on the television than we see AAA games. These adverts are on all year round rather than just at launch and again with more A-list celebrity endorsements like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Machine Zones other mobile gaming success story Mobile Strike -- that is currently sitting at number 2 on Think Gaming.

One has to wonder if either Evony LLC or Machine Zone would have reached the same level of success without the questionable marketing? We'll never know for sure, but I doubt it. If you back to 1997 there was a little top down 2D crime game called Grand Theft Auto. Which was a fun game but there is no way it would have reached the level of success it did, had it not capitalised on the negative media campaign that rallied against it trying to get the game banned. Going as far as labelling it as a "murder simulator" and throwing around ridiculous statements saying the game shows children a "step by step guide on how steal cars". It worked brilliantly in the developer's favor, because its intended audience bought the game in defiance and it sold millions as a result -- The rest as they say is history.

It's through investing in big budget productions and celebrity endorsements like the ones seen in "The Battle For Evony" adverts, that the developers are hoping to reach a new platform by breaking the mobile gaming market but it was their original campaign that afforded them the luxury of such deep pockets. So in spite of the questionable way they got their success, other small upstart developers have to be looking at ways of replicating that success for themselves. So in all likelihood the use of sex appeal with cheap marketing techniques to sell a game like this is bound to happen again. For Evony it was a quick fix to get the game noticed without investing too much cash in a massive advertising campaign, it developed a large install base and gained some free marketing as a result of the controversy and like it or not, it paid off for them in a big way.

Ubisoft VP Declares: "No More [Paid] DLC... To Have the Full Experience" Wed, 23 Nov 2016 00:21:28 -0500 Nam T. Bui

Representative of Ubisoft said that the company will no longer make their future games require DLCs for full experiences. This statement has been made by Ubisoft's VP of live operations Anne Blondel-Jouin when talking to

Instead, the company is seeking to support their upcoming games in a length of 5 to 10 years, while planning for a deliberate way of monetisation.

"Monetisation is something we have to be very careful about, and my team is in charge of that and making sure we find a right balance."

Said Blondel-Jouin, she then continued into talking about how compulsory DLCs is bad for the gamer.

"It wouldn't work if it was about making it compulsory for gamers. No more DLC that you have to buy if you want to have the full experience. You have the game, and if you want to expand it -- depending on how you want to experience the game -- you're free to buy it, or not."

Ubisoft is well known for practising excessive utilization of DLCs and pre-order bonuses. Almost every major game release of the company's franchises, such as Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Watch Dogs and The Division, usually have a one season pass that contains various DLCs, mostly new missions. Moreover, many of Ubisoft's games are sold in many pre-order editions, with exclusive content for specific retailers, which caused controversy in recent years.

One such notorious case is when the company released Assassin's Creed Unity with the pre-order bonus of a pant that allows the character run faster -- also due to the launch issues with Unity, Ubisoft game a piece of DLC for free. However, Ubisoft has some successful exceptions such as Rainbow Six: Siege and South Park: The Stick of Truth, games that don't require the players to buy DLCs in order to have a full experience.

Top 5 Industry Scandals of 2016 Fri, 11 Nov 2016 02:00:02 -0500 Unclepulky

 When it comes to major industries, controversy will always arise. The gaming industry is no different, and 2016 has been filled with plenty of scandals.

2015 gave us Konami's self destruction as they canceled Silent Hills and broke ties with Hideo Kojima, Bethesda and Valve trying to get people to pay for Skyrim mods, Batman: Arkham Knight straight up not functioning on the PC port, and much more.

And oh boy, 2016 was just as juicy. These are the Top 5 Industry Scandals of 2016.

 5. IceFrog: The Truth Revealed

IceFrog is well known within the gaming community as a long time game programmer, as well as the lead designer of DOTA 2. For the longest time, his real name was a secret, with rumors of what it was popping up every few years.

However, this past Spring, the President and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Riot Games, Mark Merrill, revealed IceFrog's real identity on Reddit. As with the original article on the site -- in which this was discussed -- I will not display his name here.

We still don't know what prompted Merrill to do this, or even if he realized what he was doing when he made the Reddit post, but fans of IceFrog were understandably not pleased.

IceFrog had managed to stay incognito for a decade, and it's understandable how fans saw the reveal of his name as a form of betrayal on the part of Riot Games.

4. Polygon Reviewers: Does a Good Reviewer need to be a Good Gamer?

This past May, the Doom franchise received a reboot. There was nothing controversial about the game itself, most fans and critics responding favorably to it.

No, this scandal stems from the geek news website, Polygon. Like the majority of other reviewers, they gave the game a positive score, an 8.5 out of 10. The problem was that a gameplay video posted alongside the review showed the reviewer's skills at the game to be, shall we say, less than adequate.

Polygon received an abundance of angry comments, their fans outraged that the people they had reviewing games didn't meet their standards when it came to skill.

While no one is asking the reviewing community to be made up exclusively of pro gamers, it is understandable how someone could think that only players who are good at a game can truly evaluate it.

3. The Binding of Isaac: Too Violent for the App Store?

Very early in the year, February specifically, Tyrone Rodriguez, founder of studio Nicalis, revealed that Apple had rejected The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, from the App Store.

The Binding of Isaac is a very Zelda-esque game in terms of gameplay, while also serving as a satire of the Biblical story in which God orders Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. While the original version was panned for being too clunky, the Rebirth version has garnered a very loyal fan base.

Apple supposedly rejected on the game on account of it depicting violence against children. However, there are many depictions of child violence viewable on iTunes.

This had led many to believe that Apple thinks of games as a lower form of media, beneath music, books, and TV shows. We don't know if this is true, but with iOS being a closed system, it's difficult to get around the ban on the game and play it another way.

2. Pokemon GO: The Most Dangerous Game?

One of this Summer's biggest fad's was Pokemon Go. People are still playing it, but in July and August, everyone was playing it. You couldn't go outside without watching a fully grown man trying desperately to catch a Dratini.

The quality of the game currently is questionable, but at launch it was barely playable. Server's would be down 90% of the time, the game was prone to frequent crashing, and the distribution of gyms and Pokestops throughout towns and cities was a mess.

But all of that is pretty inconsequential when people used the game as a means to commit armed robbery.

In the state of Missouri, a fruitful lead, led police officers to finding four people who were suspects in several armed robbery cases in the St Louis and St Charles counties.

As it turned out, these adults, who were charged with first degree robbery, had been using Pokemon Go as a tool to target people. They'd go to a Pokestop of Gym in a secluded area and wait for an unsuspecting player to come by.

This would be bad enough on its own, but shortly after the game's release, stories involving the game were making headlines daily. Dead bodies were being discovered, homes were being broken into, and car crashes were being caused by drivers playing Pokemon Go at the wheel.

So really, only one question remains.

When are the gen 2 Pokemon becoming available?

1. Mighty No. 9: The Final Product

I wanted this game to be good. We all wanted this game to be good. But sadly, for the gaming community as a whole, and especially for the 67,226 people who backed this game on Kickstarter, Mighty No.9 is not a good game.

By the time the game was delayed for the third time, we weren't expecting much. The hype had long died down since the game's initial announcement, and all we were really hoping for was a fun nostalgia trip.

That is not what we got.

Instead, Mighty No. 9 proved to be nothing more than a paint by numbers platformer, with a short campaign, few features worth coming back to, and painfully slow gameplay.

Sure it looks and sounds okay, but that doesn't make up for what proved to be a major failure from Keiji Inafune, and a waste of the almost four million dollars that went into funding it.

Which of these scandals do you think was the biggest? And were there any I left out? Let me know in the comments!

#YouTubeIsOverParty - What happened, and what alternatives are available Fri, 02 Sep 2016 11:02:37 -0400 David Fisher

Seemingly overnight, YouTube's reputation on the internet has dropped from being a beloved platform for user created content to a dastardly policing force. This change in opinion comes after numerous YouTube channels were hit with notifications stating that they were taking away ad revenue for various videos. The reasons for taking down monetization varied depending on videos, but the trend has specifically been hitting videos that fell under the following criteria - according to YouTube's policy on ad revenue:

Content that is considered "not advertiser-friendly" includes, but is not limited to:

  • Sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humor
  • Violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism
  • Inappropriate language, including harassment, profanity and vulgar language
  • Promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, use and abuse of such items
  • Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown

If any of the above describes any portion of your video, then the video may not be approved for monetization. If monetization is approved, your video may not be eligible for all available ad formats. YouTube reserves the right to not monetize a video, as well as suspend monetization features on channels that repeatedly submit videos violating our policies.

Regardless of what one's views are, YouTube's right to enforce these policies that have been around for just over a year now is absolute. Like it or not, YouTube reserves every right to enforce it.

No one can deny that these came on without warning, and it will surely have an impact on anyone who uses YouTube as a main source of income. However, YouTubers have been noticing a bit of a trend in who gets money and who doesn't. This has resulted in a point of contention that has been brought up multiple times since the wave of monetization seizures: censorship.

Censorship vs. Business Rights

The painful truth at the end of the day is that YouTube is not your friend. It is a business set on maximizing its profits. Since YouTube content creators are not employees the payments between YouTube and its creators is more akin to a favor than a debt. Put in plain terms: YouTube owes you nothing, and it is well within their rights to strip you of this 'favor'. It's a harsh reality, but reality rarely isn't.

It is also impossible to argue that YouTube is actively unjustly censoring anyone. As stated, it is well within their rights, and technically nothing is being censored. The reality is: YouTubers are not being censored because they are not having their videos taken down - they are simply not getting paid anymore. Anyone who argues that this is censorship is fighting an uphill battle that cannot be won. That said, this doesn't mean that users aren't being censored indirectly.

All of this is best explained by one of the first newsbreakers of the YouTube monetization shutdown, Philip DeFranco, in the video below.

For those who enjoy reading more than watching videos, the gist of the situation is that individual newsgroups and smaller channels get seriously impacted by this change. While many larger YouTube stars can simply laugh it off and defend it, those who have yet to make it big - in subscriptions or funding - cannot. Many of these smaller channels rely on the income from advertisers to stay online, and not receiving this money could mean being shut down.

Image taken by David Fisher; all rights reserved.

What could simply be nickels and dimes to a larger YouTube channel could mean continuing or ending a career in YouTube skits for a smaller one...

To make matters worse, according to DeFranco there are still advertisements running on major news groups' channels. He gives the example of a CNN broadcast which featured a boy with literally half of his face missing where the advertisement is still clearly seen in the top-right.

This is where we do see an indirect form of censorship. If it can be proven that YouTube is actively shutting down certain ad revenue sources for indie newsgroups that don't follow the mainstream narrative, then that would be considered active censorship. Even if YouTube uses a bot that goes through channels searching for media that can't be advertised under their policy, that would be considered censorship.

Understandably, it may not be clear to all at face value how this could be considered censorship. The reason is that indie news channels that broadcast on YouTube tend to show undoctored clips or alternative views that help build a fuller truth than what gets reported in the news. Not paying these smaller newsgroups means they cannot support themselves, and as such they rather have to lower their rate of posting videos or simply shut down. It is not active censorship, but it could be considered as a form of censoring in a very cloak-and-dagger way.

It hurts more than the madness of politics too...

YouTube user boogie2988 has posted several videos on the topic of suicide in the past. These videos contain various topics dealing with suicide such as suggestions for methods of dealing with suicidal thoughts, the Amanda Todd case, and other such topics. According to boogie2988 these videos recently lost their monetization status as well, and it has actually caused major problems for him.

According to boogie2988, a YouTuber who is well known for his suicide prevention videos, he is quote: "fucked." The reason is that despite his Patreon, sponsorships, and otherwise, YouTube revenue is still a very important part of maintaining his channel.

boogie2988 is already known as a person who not only discusses suicide, but also deals with mental and physical health issues that lead to suicidal tendencies as well. He states that many of his videos break the guidelines set by YouTube - even for those he does not mention suicide in. This is due to offensive language, vulgar language, and even violence in the slightest being "non-advertiser friendly."

While boogie2988 understands that it is likely a bot that is taking down the monetization rights for these videos, and that these were likely put in place to shut down extremist political channels, he believes it is an unfair method as it puts innocent people in the crosshairs as well.

So What Can We Do?

What's next is a question that undoubtedly comes to the minds of anyone affected by this. The obvious answer is to boycott, but YouTube has become such an influential and almost necessary service that it is difficult to turn it down. That said, YouTube creators currently have a chance to make a difference.

The first step would be to make YouTube aware of its flawed system. If enough users make it clear, send in complaints, and so on then YouTube will have to revise its plans - else suffer the consequences. What consequences? Well none other than a mass exodus, of course.

VidMe has already taken advantage of the situation by posting this advertisement calling out YouTube for its failures. While VidMe does not currently offer monetization, it has certainly made it clear with this video that its stance on any form of censorship or guidelines is a liberal approach in the most literal sense of the word.

There are, however, many websites that do provide monetization offers for their creators. Several of these services that work similar to YouTube include: Facebook, Matomy, and AdSense. While they don't work exactly the same in all cases, services such as Matomy and Adsense allow users to add advertisements to their videos hosted on their own website. Many of these services give better rates than YouTube as well, and adngin has compiled a list of ones that are worth checking out.

Closing Thoughts...

Without a doubt, this new policy and its subsequent enforcement will undoubtedly drive some content creators away. Maybe it will even push away some of the more proactive protesters out there. But will it affect anything? Probably not.

The reason is simple: YouTube is a monolithic monopoly. It is a service that has reached near necessity for anyone looking to do anything on the internet. In fact, even if millions of users left YouTube on a valiant attempt to take down the "monster" that it has become, it would only leave a superficial scratch on the platform's numbers as it has billions of users that log in daily.

Image taken from The Transporter 3

YouTube's virtual monopoly pretty much holds YouTubers and content creators at gunpoint as the lack of well-received alternatives are hard to come by...

Any threats made by YouTube stars are in vain at best. Like it or not, they'll wind up crawling back one way or another unless they can form some sort of movement that will seriously impact YouTube's service. One such method would involving getting just about every single popular YouTuber to pull from the site for a period of a month upwards. It's not exactly plausible, nor is it practical to do.

Maybe in time we'll find a way to make YouTube obsolete. Maybe we'll find a way to make YouTube offer fairer ad revenue guidelines. Until then we're stuck with it - for better or worse. But hey, at least us gamers still have Twitch, right?

What do you think about YouTube's new enforcement strategy? Will you stop producing content for YouTube due to these changes? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!


Pokemon GO Community Loses Track of Their Mind After Recent Update Mon, 01 Aug 2016 04:46:01 -0400 Stephen F. Johnston

After the recent Pokemon GO update, it is an understatement to say that the Pokemon GO community has lost track of their minds. As meteoric as the rise of Pokemon GO has been, the backlash after the recent update is equally cataclysmic.

Here are some of the best memes, images and videos showing the community reaction. Many of these are from Reddit /r/pokemongo and Imgur, as both are hotbeds of player reactions -- but taken out of the context of upvoting, there is a narrative created by all the memes, images, and video.

Leading off with the obvious observation:

If you were not familiar with gamers, or are more cynical about them than I, you might think: "Wow, it's just the removal of the visible side of a bug." However, there is more to it. They also banned the trackers that were, for some, allowing players to still track Pokemon. As one of the developers of Pokevision put it:

The issue underlying all of this, that has gone relatively unmentioned, is that Niantic has been communicating with their players through very limited means. Essentially, the line of communications is a few PR pieces on sites like Forbes and their release notes. The Forbes piece was dismissive of a large part of the community, which Terms of Service compliant or not was acting as a release valve for the players -- and the release notes at times have been inconsequential. On top of that there has been no direct to the player base communication addressing anything at all. Which leads to things like this:

So, with the patch notes and PR pieces Niantic seems to be saying:

And players feel like they are saying:

Whether that is true or not remains to be seen, but the rage is real and Niantic needs to get their community managers and communications in gear. Players are OK with bugs, they are OK with missing features, they are OK with waiting. They are not OK with being treated like they are an afterthought of the game development process. They don't like being treated as a goal of that process, instead of a stakeholder in it. When they feel like that, you get this in the heads of players:

And the players feel like this guy is running the show:

And as that rage builds you get an overflow of memes and videos, like these:

And this:

Regardless there seems to be some pretty tone deaf news out there:

While the rage continues on:

The players feel like Niantic is being a bit of a bully and the game has lost some purpose:

The controversy has led to Google updating their help info for the play store:

After all that, hope is not lost:

The fans are still looking to the future:

Have anything to add about the Pokemon GO server controversy? Put it in the comments below!

[NSFW] Localization: Why is it so hard to get the same product? Thu, 14 Jul 2016 15:17:22 -0400 David Fisher

Localization. It's become one of the biggest focal points for the gaming industry as of late as many companies in foreign countries - such as Japan - have been facing quite a bit of controversy in their efforts to sell games overseas. Games such as Fire Emblem: Fates, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, and Bravely Second have all grabbed the spotlight at one point or another in the last year due to drastic "localization" changes.

This, of course, has sparked much debate among gamers. Some argue that the localization changes are unnecessary, while others simply state that we should be grateful for the games even releasing overseas. But does either side have a point?

Today we'll be looking at localization across the industry to answer one simple question: why the hell is it so hard to get a translated version of the same damn product?

[WARNING: This article touches upon mature subject matter not suitable for work!]

Localization ≠ Translation

To begin, we're going to look at a concept that both sides tend to forget: localization is not the same as translation. While I am certain that both sides of this argument aren't absent minded enough to believe that they mean the same thing, they do tend to forget that localization is typically what companies do when bringing games over from Japan and other countries.

It's important to note that while translation is part of the localization process, it is not the only variable taken into account. When a game is brought overseas there are many factors that go into it. According to GALA - the Globalization and Localization Association - some of these factors that apply to gaming include:

  • Adapting graphics to target markets
  • Modifying content to suit the tastes and consumption habits of other markets
  • Converting to local requirements
  • Addressing local regulations and legal requirements

So now we know what localization is all about, but what do they mean for the three games mentioned? Well let's take a look at them individually, shall we?

Visual Censorship

Visual censorship is by far one of the biggest offenses that tends to be brought up. While sometimes these changes are understandable, other times they make little to no sense to anyone other than the most traditional of groups. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE was one of the games found in the latter camp.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is a game that takes place in Japan. The game deals with all aspects of Japan's idol culture. Idols in Japan (such as those seen above) refer to "young manufactured stars/starlets marketed to be admired for their cuteness" (Wikipedia). The talents of idols can include music, modeling, or acting but some also partake in more risque forms of art such as gurave idols which model for magazines that target men or AV idols which is synonymous with pornstars.

In Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, the game's female lead - Tsubasa Oribe - is attempting to become an idol. In the second chapter of the game Tsubasa is faced with one of her bigger challenges which is taking photos for a gurave shoot. This chapter also explores the history of the group's boss - Maiko - who once worked as a gurave idol... at least in the Japanese version of the game.

(Image retrieved via Persona Central - click to expand)

During localization of the game, many changes were made to the more lewd parts of the game. Above we can see the change made to Tsubasa's costume, as well as the photos in the background. The storyline was heavily modified with over hundreds of lines (both voiceovers and textual) being rewritten for the sake of localization. Instead of a gurave photoshoot, the entirety of the chapter is spent trying to get Tsubasa ready for a regular city style fashion shoot.

This change made sense according to North American standards as this could very well fall within the boundaries of softcore pornography. This is primarily due to the fact that semi-nude figures fit under this definition. Since Tsubasa and company are under the age of 18 in the game, it made sense. However, this rationale doesn't exactly hold water after the localization teams changed their ages to 18 and over.

The only reason I could think of for the change happening regardless of the age bump would be that mentioning gurave idols would lead to an adult rating. After all, gurave is only a step under AV idol in Japan. Gurave idols are basically softcore porn stars, and this would prevent the game from getting anything short of an M or A ranked ESRB rating.

This would undoubtedly lead to a much smaller consumer base, and less sales. While on the surface this doesn't make sense - seeing as the main target audience is anime fans - the game's intent was to bring in more fans from either series. If the above is true, then the rationale checks out - even if it is undesirable. Until North American attitudes change, this will likely be the case for some time to come.

Sure, the responsibility of ensuring children don't stumble upon these things arguably falls upon the responsibilities of the adults, but let's face it... North America is infamous for starting up lawsuits for the most trivial things.

Tastes and Consumption Habits

Before I talk about this section in particular, I must note that - unless otherwise cited - most of this section will be on speculation. Why? Simply because we don't have alternate dimension goggles. With that said, let's begin.

Prior to Fire Emblem: Fates' release in North America, rumors of the game's "skinship" minigame being removed ran rampant. While we did eventually find out that there was a replacement, the actual interactive part of the minigame was completely scrapped from the worldwide release. Other parts were removed as well, but this by far was the most controversial aspect.

Now, let me make my own bias in this situation completely clear: I both wanted and didn't want this to be in the game. As a straight male, I much enjoyed the skinship aspect of the game because - despite my satisfaction with my personal life - I enjoyed having that extra closeness to my female companion in the Japanese version of game. That said, I loathed doing the same to the male characters. It just felt weird, and I really felt like I missed out on some great conversations as result (since not all skinship lines are sexual or relationship based until you marry a character).

When it comes to the outright removal of the minigame, I can't say I was exactly pleased or disappointed. Sure, I couldn't pet my waifu anymore in game, but I didn't have to pet the men either to get their conversation pieces which was pretty damn great. Also, playing the minigame over and over tended to cause slight wrist pain over time.

In the words of one of my friends, however, "I would rather have it and not want it, than want it and not have it." In my opinion, Nintendo both hit and missed with their localization of Fire Emblem: Fates. On one hand they managed to ensure players got the entire Fates experience, but at the same time we missed out on one of the small features.

On the business side of things, however, it is more than likely that Nintendo of America benefited from the censorship of the minigame. Fire Emblem: Fates sold 300,000 copies in North America during its week of release compared to its predecessor's sales record in the United States of 180,000. Assuming that the majority of players only bought one version of the game on the first week, we can see that the changes didn't hurt sales. If anything, it possibly boosted them.

Lost in Translation

One of the common complaints I find are about the rampant "memes" in games translated by Nintendo of America's Treehouse team. Believe me, I get it. For once I'd like to escape the internet's rampant doge culture, and the world of YouTube Poop. What people fail to realize, however, is that despite the obvious failures over time there are many changes that were made to ensure that international audiences understand just what's going on.

Everyone remembers the above image. Brock offers Ash and company some "jelly filled donuts" when they are clearly onigiri. It's a terrible mistake that pretty much everyone understands nowadays. The image clearly shows why localization fails, and why the source text should always be followed. However, I would argue that this helps me argue why localization changes need to be made.

Back when you were a child, when you first saw this Pokemon episode, how many of you could honestly say you knew that those were onigiri? Chances are not many of you could. In fact, there might even be a select group of you that genuinely believed they were jelly filled donuts. The reason? Because you weren't exposed to that food in your life.

The same can be said for various other references video games make. Japanese games often cite various things from their culture that you likely wouldn't understand without some serious research. While I am a fan of researching things through and through until you understand them, I'm not a fan of having to put down my controller and figuring out the significance of a golden Chinese dragon as opposed to other ones.

This is why we need localizers to change text in some cases. Sometimes we need something that fits in a country's frame of reference. That said, there are certainly some terrible localizations out there that put a bad name out there for localizers. Just look at Fire Emblem: Fates and its support conversations.

Seriously, Nintendo Treehouse... What the actual f**k was this?

Sometimes the changes are important...

Social Justice - like it or not - has been a driving force for North American media as of late. More and more companies have been catering or adapting to the change of political climate, and this has spawned all sorts of groups ranging from the extremist leftist ranks of the Social Justice Warriors to the difficult to pin down legion of GamerGaters. While the silent majority tends to favor one side or the other in varying degrees (depending on the subject) it is clear that companies have undoubtedly been affected by this online war of ideologies.

One of the oddballs of this change in political climate is none other than Bravely Second which featured a class in Japan called the Tomahawk class. In North America this class was reskinned into the Hawkeye class which looks reminiscent of a cowboy instead of its original Native American counterpart.

The Hawkeye class is somewhat of an interesting phenomenon in the online political war as neither side was entirely satisfied with the change. Take a look at the comments section of the NintendoLife article covering the change for example. While the consensus overall seems to be that the change was made as to not offend the Native American population.

Often times the argument is made that people should just "get over it" or "don't take it personally". Admittedly, I'm often in this camp as many depictions of the various backgrounds I have in my own family tree often have ridiculous stereotypes associated with them. While they get annoying at times, the majority of my reaction is to simply not care. That said, I honestly don't care for others' opinions to begin with. Why else would I write my RR-sama Talks and Rewind Review articles?

My ability to empathize means that I can why some might feel offended though. Some people are more sensitive for various reasons - usually due to personal experience. As such, while I personally found this case absurd, the change was nonetheless made to protect those who might feel as though they are made out to be "savages" seeing as the class name was "Tomahawk" which is a weapon, and the class itself is a scantily clad woman. It's an image Native American populations have been fighting to get rid of for some time now, and whether we want to admit it or not we're all affected by the media - even if the changes aren't drastic.

I do believe that companies could do more to ensure that the changes made are minimal. Consulting with affected groups in surveys or other methods could ensure that the source material remains nearly intact. Going back to my friend's quote, it might simply be safer for the companies to make the changes regardless. It is easier to accept the complaints or slight decrease in sales than it is to fight a case in court for what seems to be a superficial problem.

This brings us to the last two points...

Local Requirements, Laws, and Regulations

Video game companies are in the business of making money. When a game is localized - unless they have in-house staff responsible for this - the game must be outsourced for localization. Even if they do have in-house staff for localization, the company needs to pay those workers for ever localization effort made. Each localization version means more money that needs to be put out to code, model, and translate. As such, after a certain point the costs simply don't match the perceived profits.

According to The Game Localization Handbook by Heather Maxwell Chandler and Stephanie O'Malley Deming, video games have several levels of localization. These range from simply shipping the game overseas, to radical changes to text, voiceovers, manuals, and in some case the very graphics and code itself. Chandler and Deming also note that the last case is by far the most expensive of the options and is typically only done by AAA companies.

With this in mind, we can come to the conclusion that companies likely look for shortcuts with localization efforts. One of those shortcuts could potentially take the form of using a similar localization version for one language in multiple regions - provided the text does not need to be adapted. This would explain why games such as the ones we have discussed have similar changes as games with multi-language support or the same localization team would have to work with the same version of the game.

In the case of Fire Emblem: Fates and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE the swimsuits tend to be more revealing than traditional swimsuits. This isn't so much a problem for the older characters in the game as this is typically accepted (although the game might get an M rating at least). However, the younger characters are where the issues lie.

For example, in Australia the censorship laws are much tighter than they are elsewhere. They also have a law that has been nicknamed the "small breast pornography" law in which pornography and other adult material cannot contain characters that appear to be minors.

Characters such as Elenora from TMS #FE  and Elise from Fire Emblem: Fates would fall under the protection of this law - despite being fictional characters. While they would not be considered as pornographic in their most revealing outfits by most people, Nintendo (and other similar companies) would likely wish to avoid any possible run ins with the law.

With enough research it's possible to find legal barriers that cause all sorts of censorship and localization changes in video games. Inform yourselves, people. It might help you calm down just a little bit.

To answer the question once and for all...

"Why the hell is it so hard to get a translated version of the same damn product?"

This was the question we asked at the start of the article. While we tend to point fingers in this or that direction, it's clear that there are more factors at play than the petty "War of Feelings" that has been ruining people's lives via the internet. Sure, it's part of the equation. There's no denying it. However, the issues that lead to censorship are much bigger than some nobody crying on the internet.

Companies are all about their bottom line. When a video game is created by AAA companies, they aren't concerned with people's feelings as much as they are making as much money as possible without getting into trouble with the law or dragged into court. Sadly, this means that many of our games coming in from Japan and other countries with more adult themes likely won't come to North America or elsewhere in their purest form for some time.

Maybe one day we will be able to play a game that has been translated without localization. Until that day comes, we should try to be grateful with what we do get. Unless you want to take it up with the government, that is. If that's the case... all the power to you.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Censorship Comparison Tue, 05 Jul 2016 09:57:09 -0400 Kevin S. Behan

While the story doesn't change very much, a few altercations have been made to non-Japanese versions of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. Skimpy outfits have been removed, as have references to the erotic side of the idol industry, which the game is based around. Check out the video at the header for a comprehensive view of what's been censored so far.

What's interesting is that the quality of the edited content is rather inconsistent. Sometimes there's a high amount of effort put into it, such as the characters receiving completely new outfits at the end of one quest line -- full-coverage street clothes, as opposed to the bikinis you would be rewarded with in the Japanese version. And sometimes it feels cheap and lazy, like the edits made to the main character's wedding dress get-up:

Censored on the left, original on the right.

Perhaps the strangest part is Nintendo's involvement. Why is this game being so prudishly treated, when Nintendo permitted Bayonetta's sexy costumes resembling Nintendo icons in her game? It's not as though Nintendo is pure itself, with examples like Fire Emblem: Awakening's Tharja. 

What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.

What Wii U game does Miyamoto consider to be the most underrated? Tue, 05 Jul 2016 04:41:13 -0400 Anthony Pelone

During E3, Game Informer caught up with Shigeru Miyamoto, the man behind the beloved Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda franchises, to shoot the breeze over Zelda: Breath of the Wild. However, the conversation apparently turned to asking him what he feels is the most overlooked Wii U title.

His answer: Star Fox Zero, a game he worked in close cooperation with PlatinumGames. The latest Star Fox game garnered a divisive reception, which our own 7/10 review echoes. Regardless, Miyamoto defends his latest work by saying:

“I think, personally, Star Fox is a really fun game if you sit down and play it. I think, for example, an elementary school kid who plays it without any preconceived notions, it would be really fun for them. I think it’s also really, really fun for siblings to play it together."

So that's Miyamoto's two cents, but what about Bill Trinen? The Treehouse veteran was present to translate for Miyamoto, and put his vote behind 2013's Pikmin 3.

"Personally, I think Pikmin 3 is the most amazing game on Wii U. It’s probably one of my favorite games in the last six or seven years. I think that hardly anyone realizes that the multiplayer bingo battle mode was literally the best new multiplayer mode that has been created since Smash Bros. It is so much fun."

Miyamoto, who once championed his work on Pikmin 3 to Kotaku, is still proud of the game, as he adds:

Pikmin is the kind of game that you have to play maybe three times to get the full effect, but you know, people don’t have a lot of time, so they just clear the stage and just move on. Games are becoming more of a consumable product, and it’s getting harder and harder for people to let a game to sink in and enjoy leisurely.”

Miyamoto's use of "preconceived notions" is already generating controversy on places like NeoGAF, although it's important to remember he's specifically referring to children.

Do you agree with Miyamoto's choices? Let us know in the comments below!

Dota 2 TI 2016 Open Qualifiers marred by racism and Valve's poor oversight Wed, 22 Jun 2016 04:12:36 -0400 Ashley Shankle

The International 2016 Open Qualifiers are underway as of today, and this time around any team can register and compete for their chance to face off against Dota 2's most well-known and skilled teams.

The next three days may be exciting for the teams who have entered the Open Qualifiers, but controversy is yet again knocking on Valve's door as one severely inappropriate name has made its way into the competing roster and it's turning heads.

In a brand new example of Valve's lack of oversight over the Dota 2 community a team named the "Alabama N****rs" -- sans the censorship seen here -- is sitting squarely within the Open Qualifiers among a slew of other teams who are almost definitely trying harder to win than to offend and rack up attention. The question here is why are there no filters on Open Qualifier team names?

This isn't the first time Valve's aloofness has caused trouble for Dota

This is one of many instances of Valve taking the hands-off approach to Dota 2 on a professional level, with the game's last public eSports-related controversy being the firing of James "2GD" Harding from the Dota 2 Shanghai Major for being unprofessional while casting and a change in production company mid-event for its poor audio, video quality, and overall management. Why more thought wasn't given to both the casting and the production company is still a conundrum.

The Dota 2 community has always accused Valve of ignoring the game and berated their lack of transparency, and anyone who pays attention to the game's events outside of watching tournaments inside the Dota 2 client has seen for themselves how the company's hands-off approach has become more of a fault than a virtue. Hardcore fans may applaud them for not taking the "carebear" road Riot has with League of Legends, but that same lack of community oversight is bleeding into the game on the world stage and it does not look good.

Legitimacy be damned

These things don't seem to happen anywhere near as often in other eSports titles, so why is Dota 2 once again thrown in the spotlight due to a lack of planning and oversight on Valve's part? A simple filter on team names when registering wouldn't be hard to have implemented, but somehow they failed to go that route and instead are inevitably going to have to step in once again.

Cries of "Free Speech!" may ring out, but the fact of the matter is The International is supposed to be a serious tournament. Even if any team can join and try to compete, there needs to be some sort of oversight on Valve's part. There is no excuse that a name like the one in question is able to make its way into The International 2016's Open Qualifiers. 

During a time where eSports are trying so hard to become "legitimate" we're still seeing this type of rampant lack of professionalism that would be unimaginable in physical sports. The closest parallel one could even draw to this type of offensive name issue in professional sports lies in the football team the Washington Redskins. And in that instance changing a 40 year old team name, even if the right thing to do, is process-wise a much different thing than filtering a team name entered yesterday or last week.

The road to eSports being taken seriously outside of gaming communities is still a long one, but it's difficult to see the road ending in true legitimacy if a game as popular as Dota 2 is continues to see these repeated controversies and roadblocks unimpeded, if not caused, simply by its publisher's own lack of care.

Link is Androgynous; a Female Link Isn't Progress Tue, 21 Jun 2016 16:37:53 -0400 David Fisher

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild looks like an amazing game. In fact, I couldn't get enough of the game while scribbling down notes for my coverage of the latest Legend of Zelda gameplay. Surely this game will be the one that pushes video games beyond yet another horizon just as its ancestor, the original Legend of Zelda (NES), did just over 30 years ago.

Leading up to the E3 event, there were many rumors that Link would have a female equivalent. One such rumor was covered by Nintendo Life where some were suggesting that the two Links on the badge were different. Another suggested that Ponytail Link was the cavalry call of a female hero for the Legend of Zelda universe.  

Social politics then reared its head once more, and as a result gamers and world-changers of all kinds solidified into, primarily, one of two camps:

  1. "Link is a man! He always has been, always will be, and that is how it is!"
  2. "There should be a female Link. We need more representation of women in video games!"

Oddly enough, neither side seemed particularly bothered by the possibility of a female Link. That is, up until a recent interview conducted by Kotaku in which Aonuma stated:

“You know there’s the idea of the Triforce in the Zelda games we make [...] [...] The Triforce is made up of Princess Zelda, Ganon and Link. Princess Zelda is obviously female. If we made Link a female we thought that would mess with the balance of the Triforce. That’s why we decided not to do it.”

- Quote retrieved via Kotaku

Anyone who has followed my RR-sama Talks or Rewind Reviews knows that I'm no stranger to controversy. As such, the question I quickly stumbled upon while reading this controversy quickly became: "How does one mediate between two sharply opposed sides that refuse to yield even a single step?"

Simple. As logical people we look at both sides as we argue a third path.

Link is a male character, and nothing will change this.

Whether you like it or not, Link has an established history as being a male character. Ever since Link's debut on the Famicom in Japan, Link has traveled across Hyrule, across alternate worlds, and even across time as a male. Some might argue that this is a result of male privilege, and maybe it is. I wouldn't really know.

However, I would nevertheless argue that this has nothing to do with privilege. My position on having Link remain a male character is based purely in canon and consistency.

You know... Fire Emblem: Fates is really helping me understand this situation better, even if the edits to the text are sub-standard!

The argument via lore...

One of the major arguments against Aonuma-san's quote is that the nature of Link's reincarnation means each Link is his own person. The argument goes on to state that the reason that a female Link could fit into the canon is that Link isn't just one person. Essentially, the concept of the hero in The Legend of Zelda is one of inheritance, an inheritance that a female character could take up.

However, this is a case of a fallacy of false attribution.

Enter Hylia's Chosen Hero!

When Aonuma stated that Link's change to a female character would upset the "balance of the Triforce" his argument sounded rather weak. However, the Hyrule Historia confirms that his argument is in fact true.

If we are to make the argument that the Hyrule Historia is a tell-all truth of Hyrule's lore, then all content in the book is considered canon. As such, this manga is not only canonical by its inclusion at the end of the Hyrule Historia, but also taps into the lore of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - a game that dives deep into Hyrule's history (and a game I found quite enjoyable as well).

In the Skyward Sword manga (which can be found here), Hylia's Chosen Hero falls after his battle with Demise. However, before his spirit is lost Hylia states the following:

"I will ensure that your gentle, heroic spirit will live on eternally. And I... I shall shed my divinity. The next time we meet, I wish to stand before you as a simple human. Whenever the land of Hylia is in danger... We shall be reborn..."

- Quote retrieved from Hyrule Historia, Skyward Sword Manga

In case this isn't direct enough for some readers, Hylia is literally stating that she and her chosen hero (who is a male) will be reborn eternally as mortals. Like it or not, this means that according to the canon: Link must always be male. This is further confirmed by conversations, plot points, and other events that occur within The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

B-but there was a female Link!

Let me just get a personal note off here: I feel like slapping people with a fish every time I hear people say that Linkle is a female Link. In fact, gaming news groups have still to realize that Linkle is not Link. 

As such, let me set the record straight once and for all: Linkle is not a female Link. In fact, she couldn't be further from it! Even if we entertain the idea that Hyrule Warriors - a spin off title - is canon, we still don't have a female Link. Why? Well, consider the following...

  1. Link is the Hero in Hyrule Warriors Legends. He is the one who bears the Triforce of Courage, and bearing it upon the back of their hand is canonically the signifier of a character being the Legendary Hero.
  2. Linkle cannot be Link - or the Legendary Hero by extension - as they appear in the same cutscene.
  3. Therefore, Linkle is not a female Link, and by extension is not the Legendary Hero either.

Linkle claims to be the Legendary Hero, but this is mostly a delusion put into her head by her grandmother. The only reason anyone in the game entertains the idea in Hyrule Warriors Legends is that her compass strangely glows whenever she completes a mission.

That's not to say we shouldn't have a female protagonist in a Legend of Zelda main-series title!

Seriously though, Nintendo. Thanks for the easy-access analogy here!

I honestly cannot understand how people immediately jump to the conclusion that the lack of desire for a female Link means that gamers are still a "men's club" or that they are sexist. Not wanting a female Link and being a feminist or equalist are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I would argue that wanting a female Link does more harm than good.

The reason is simple: we aren't solving the issue of female representation in video games by swapping out Link's penis for a vagina. We would only be adding to the problem by proving that no one can write a proper female character.

A female hero isn't about what's between the legs...

When discussing the lack of female role models and heroines in video games, a popular argument typically falls into the discussion: "player made characters cannot be considered for representation of women." 

The reason why many female gamers - and game critics by extension - believe that custom characters do not count is because the storylines typically get watered down in order to be gender neutral. This can be seen in many games such as Xenoblade Chronicles X, Mass Effect, The Elder Scrolls, and more. While the stories aren't bad by any means, they don't often address the character's gender, and as such it isn't an accomplishment by a female character.

However, this argumentation only adds to the argument against the inclusion of a female Link to the canon in the following ways:

  • If players have the ability to choose either a male of female Link as the protagonist, the assumption should be that it would water down the plot and invalidate the female Link as a hero, just as it does for any other franchise.
  • If the argument is that using a female protagonist instead of a male one promotes diversity and inclusion, then having only a female Link would fail to promote said diversity and inclusion.
  • In either case the inclusion of the female Link would violate the canon of the series as a whole, thus increasing tensions between series fans and those seeking to promote female equality.
  • As such, creating a female Link can only cause more harm than good.

So does this mean that men and/or gamers are horrible misogynists that cannot be reasoned with, and feminism in video games as a whole is doomed?

Not at all.

Men aren't against the idea of playing as a female character, in fact, more men would play as a woman than women as a man!

Above is an image taken from Xenoblade Chronicles X, a game in which players customize their own avatar to explore the vast lands of the uncharted planet, Mira. The character at the front is none other than your very own RR-sama's character who goes by the name Victoria Coughlan. I, for one, am one of the many male gamers who - from time to time - like to engage in playing as a female character in video games whether it be online or offline.

Now, I won't deny that there are certainly a fair share of male players who wouldn't dare play as a female character. Some people I know avoid playing as female characters, lest their frail masculinity be destroyed before an audience. However, I'd like to believe that I speak for a fair portion of the male gaming community when I say the following:

"We have no problem playing female characters. Sometimes we do it for the advantages and perks of the game, other times we do it just for a change of pace. At the end of the day, we really don't care if the female option is there - as long as it makes sense according to the game."

- RR-sama, via this article 

Of course, I'm obligated to prove this, and so I went out of the way to pull up some statistics. According to a study conducted in 2014, the researchers involved found that more men than women were likely to create characters of the opposite gender. In fact, the gap was rather wide with 23% of men who played World of Warcraft were likely to choose to switch genders for their avatars in game - this in contrast to 7% of women in the same sample.

While the researchers stated that there is a possibility that some may have played opposite to how they would play normally, it does show that there is certainly a fair share of men who would play as a woman given the chance.

Okay, we get it. So why the problem with Link then?

Sometimes the most disappointing answer for either side is the truest one. The fact of the matter is that people don't want a female Link; they want a character that is female in the Legend of Zelda universe. The problem has never been that people need Link to be female, but rather that if there is to be more female representation in the series it needs to be an individual character.

Take a look at the public reaction. While I wouldn't go so far as to call the people crying foul for the lack of a female Link, I would say that most of them are ill-informed in terms of their fandom's lore at the very least. Even those who were sent into uproar about an opposing view article on our very own site share one common element: whether you're a man or a woman, we don't want a female Link.

In fact, look closer at the people commenting. If you get past all the hate, the sh*tposters, and the extremists, you'll realize that no one ever said the game is ruined because there is no female Link. No one said that the game would be ruined if there's a female character. We just don't want a female Link because she is not the character we grew up with.

Of course, there's also a fairly basic reason for anti-female Link advocates, one that goes back all the way to Link's 3D debut.

Link is androgynous

For those who don't know what it means, androgynous is defined as: neither clearly masculine nor clearly feminine in appearance. Link has fit that bill ever since the start of the series. It's the very reason that many people still confuse Link as Zelda or as a female character to begin with.

Link isn't exactly the most masculine character around either. He's no male power fantasy. He's not running around shirtless with a chest full of muscle, he's barely able to stand up straight when he deflects an enemy blow, and he never has a game without at least one cinematic where he is terrified. In fact, most Legend of Zelda titles rarely refer to Link as a male either, instead opting for the "Legendary Hero" title or using the gender ambiguous "youth".

Link's androgyny is best seen in cosplay as both male and female cosplayers are able to pull off the character's design and proportions with relative ease regardless of their build...

This, of course, all ties into the direction of the game's design. During an interview with Time, Aonuma stated the following:

“Back during the Ocarina of Time days, I wanted Link to be gender neutral. I wanted the player to think ‘Maybe Link is a boy or a girl.’ If you saw Link as a guy, he’d have more of a feminine touch. Or vice versa, if you related to Link as a girl, it was with more of a masculine aspect. I really wanted the designer to encompass more of a gender-neutral figure. So I’ve always thought that for either female or male players, I wanted them to be able to relate to Link.”

“During the development of Twilight Princess, I went a different route and created a version of Link that was more masculine. But after Twilight Princess I went back to the drawing board and decided Link should be a more gender-neutral character. Hence I created the version of Link that you see in Breath of the Wild. As far as gender goes, Link is definitely a male, but I wanted to create a character where anybody would be able to relate to the character.”

“So that’s why I think the rumor went around that Link could be a female. Because maybe the users were able to relate in that way.”

- Aonuma via Time

So there you have it, straight from the horse's mouth. Link isn't even supposed to be identified as a purely male character. He is supposed to be your 'Link' as Miyamoto once said long ago.

And it makes sense, really. The issue of Link's gender has only become a bigger problem with the rise of social change, but it was an inevitable issue that would come into light after Link took to the 3D stage. People expect their hero to have a voice, and choosing an androgynous voice is near impossible as you risk the character sounding too feminine or masculine.

In the end, all Nintendo needs is a new character to take a stand against the forces of evil in Hyrule...

Nintendo did a great job with Hyrule Warriors. The game's 3DS port features a cast of 28 confirmed characters, 14 of which are female. I would be hard pressed to believe that every single Legend of Zelda fan who is against there being a female Link didn't play as a single female character in this game.

This game is my ultimate argument against those who say we are missing the point about a female Link, no matter what angle they try to use. We aren't against female playable characters, we aren't against female representation in The Legend of Zelda, we aren't even against the possibility of a Link-like female character.

All anyone wants is Link to be Link. You can do whatever else you want in terms of adding a female protagonist.

Is that really so hard to understand?

What are your thoughts on the male/female Link debate? Do you think we really need a genderbent Link to forward equality? Are you more centered like I am? Leave your arguments in the comments section below!

Chinese Pokémon fans livid at name changes Mon, 30 May 2016 11:51:06 -0400 Anthony Pelone

Here comes another localization controversy, but this time in Asia; to be specific, Greater China. See, the regions of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan have always had exclusive Pokémon names for each territory, but that'll be changing for Pokémon Sun and Moon, as Nintendo is aiming to homogenize them all under the Mandarin language. For example, where in Taiwan the series was once called "Magic Babies," that'll be shelved in favor of "Jingling Baokemeng".

Needless to say, long-time Pokémon fans are not happy with these changes. Those in Hong Kong, in particular, are particularly livid since Cantonese, not Mandarin, is that territory's language. The following quote from Quartz, using the example of Pikachu, explains what makes this renaming so alien:

Pikachu was originally translated as 比卡超 (Bei-kaa-chyu) in Hong Kong. Now it is named 皮卡丘 (Pikaqiu). While the name 皮卡丘 in Mandarin sounds similar to the global name Pikachu (as it was always called in China and Taiwan), it reads as Pei-kaa-jau in Cantonese, which doesn’t sound the same at all.

Public protests, social media campaigns and petitions are well-underway in response to these changes, but it should be noted it might not be entirely Nintendo's fault. Many Cantonese-speaking individuals feel threatened that the Chinese government has been gradually erasing their language as a whole (for instance, fewer and fewer schools are teaching Cantonese), and many suspect this may be another step for such an ambition.

Do you think Chinese Pokémon fans are in the right for their protest? Let us know in the comments below!