Foxconn interns alleged to have sabotaged the PlayStation 4

A forum post published by users claiming to be Foxconn interns alleged that the PlayStation 4 was deliberately mishandled and sabotaged during the manufacturing process.
Several posts about interns sabotaging the PS4 during the manufacturing process had appeared on message boards in China. These post failed to attract attention until reports emerged regarding problems with the system followed by a forum posted on IGN.com by a new user claiming to be a Foxconn intern.

The post claims that the user, “qbroid,” along with interns in the same position, made efforts to sabotage the PlayStation 4 during the manufacturing process. “qbroid” reinforces his story by also posting claims made by other interns on how they deliberately mishandled or tampered with the console.

“qbroid” states that the sabotage was done in retaliation for how Foxconn mistreated them. The post said: Since Foxconn are not treating us well, we will not treat PS4 console well.

In early October, it was reported that Foxconn was forcing student interns from the Xi’an Technical University to work overtime to assemble the PS4 or risk having their diplomas withheld. The allegations came a few days after Foxconn CEO Terry Gou stated that young people are interested in “easy and relaxing jobs” at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

Foxconn is one of the largest manufactures of electronic products with clients like Apple, Sony, and Microsoft. It has also become infamous for its labor practices and working conditions that have driven several workers to commit suicide.

Written for Digital Journal
10/7/2013
Original Article: Foxconn interns alleged to have sabotaged the PlayStation 4

Waiting to buy a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One could be the smartest thing you do

The gaming industry is going to enter the eighth generation of consoles this month, but it may be better to wait before wasting your hard-earned money on a product that will probably be defective.

Like all new technology, the first models will suffer from software glitches because the development team was under pressure to release them on the market around the same time as the competition. Looking back at past trends and current problems in the industry provides a strong case for waiting to purchase these systems.

Xbox gamers will recall the early days, when some of the first models of the Xbox 360 had a defective disc reader. This flaw resulted in a circumferential scratch on the disc that rendered it unusable. It was discovered that some disc drives lack a mechanism to secure the disc solidly in place.

If an Xbox 360 owner was lucky enough to have a proper disc reader, then he risked facing a hardware problem that resulted in the system crashing and the console becoming inoperable: the Red Ring of Death. Affected gamers had to mail their defective console to Microsoft to have it repaired. Microsoft never officially revealed what caused the Ring of Death, but speculation was that it was either a central processing unit (CPU) failure or the use of a poor-quality solder.

Meanwhile, the first models of the PlayStation 3 had hardware that was difficult for developers to work with, which resulted in fewer games being released at launch. Also, the new software was incompatible with so many PlayStation 2 games that the feature had to be abandoned in the slim models.

Back when PlayStation 2 dominated the market after the failure of the Dreamcast, the first models had a disc reader that would wear out and result in the system being unable to read any disc inserted into the console. Sony offered to fix the disc reader and provide a free game while some retailers offered a trade-in for the new PS2 slim.

So has the game industry learned how to minimize potential hardware failures? Of course not! The market has grown so that highly anticipated games will compete and outperform movies at the box office. However, the industry is under such great pressure to move products that testers may overlook serious hardware flaws.

Rumors have emerged that there may be major problems with the Xbox One’s operating system and that Microsoft will be unable to resolve it in time. Adding to the speculation are several games journalists claiming that Microsoft is allegedly pressuring them to not publish reviews until after the official launch.

Supporting the rumors is the fact that Microsoft had to redesign the Xbox One after its Orwellian features and draconian style of digital rights management (DRM) caused an uproar in the gaming community. The system had been in development since 2011, but after its controversial unveiling, the development staff had eight months to remove the unpopular features and ensure the console could function properly. Hence, it’s very likely that gamers might experience major system problems with the first models of the Xbox One.

On a smaller scale, there have been countless examples of how ill prepared the industry has been for highly anticipated launches. Most of these nightmares have been in the last few years.

The most recent example would be last month’s launch of Grand Theft Auto Online, which suffered from technical glitches on day one of its release. Due to system problems, gamers were unable to play the game, and the few that could ended up losing their characters after developer Rockstar fixed the glitch.

In March 2013, Electronic Arts had major problems with the release of Sim City. The game suffered from gameplay glitches while server crashes made it unplayable for a weekend. Worse is that the DRM required players to be connected to a dedicated server even if they were playing the single-player game. This contributed to EA being voted “Worst Company in America” by The Consumerist readers for the second year in a row (beating Bank of America).

That pales, however, to how ill prepared Blizzard Entertainment was with the highly anticipated PC release of Diablo III in 2012. After a decade in development, the game suffered from major glitches when players tried to create a profile and was followed by multiple server crashes. Blizzard underestimated how well the game would sell. Even though Diablo III was a major hit, its success was overshadowed by its disastrous launch.

The first models of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are going to have some major problems while later models will have those resolved. It’s better to wait until they do rather than have a system crash just as you’re about to play a brand-new game.

Written for GameBeats 
11/5/2013
Original Article: Waiting to buy a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One could be the smartest thing you do

Metal Gear Solid V: Will gamers be playing as Snake or Jack Bauer?

Konami shocked the gaming community when it unveiled that actor Kiefer Sutherland will play Snake (aka Big Boss) in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The news comes after months of speculation when its was learned that David Hayter, the actor who has provided the iconic voice of Snake since Metal Gear Solid, will not return.

Obviously fans were shocked by the change up and have been sharing their mixed reactions. Some have welcomed the change as a new perspective on the character while others are furious that the game has rejected the spirit of Snake. Its common to find gamers having some doubt that Sutherland could bring the same character motif as Hayter. The fans do have a valid point.

When gamers get the chance to play Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain; will it feel like they are taking the role of Snake (aka Big Boss) or the role of Jack Bauer?

Despite his reputation as an respected screenwriter; Hayter’s performance as Snake has been engraved into his legacy (like Sean Connery as James Bond). Meanwhile Sutherland is iconic for his role as Jack Bauer in the acclaimed series, 24an espionage-themed drama that focus on the 24-hours time period of Agent Bauer and members of the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU).

The linguistic dialect and its personal traits of a character have always been driven by the actors who have portrayed them. Yet the problem presented is the actor who has been synonyms with Snake is being replaced by an actor who is synonyms with another iconic character. While they may be iconic heroes admired by action buffs; Jack Bauer and Snake are two different characters.

On the surface; Snake was influenced by the character Snake Plissken (played by Kurt Russell) from the classic John Carpenter film, Escape From New York. After the events of Snake Eater, Snake (aka Big Boss) has become a character driven by resentment who at first is trying to find a purpose to fight. By the start of Peace Walker; Snake has established his own private army to provide needed service regardless of nations or ideologies. Meanwhile he seeks to fight for a cause that he believes in which brings him into conflict with his former colleagues. Hayter’s performance gave Snake the same kind of tone projected by Kurt Russell but with a more dramatic respectability.

Unfortunately Bauer as a character is nothing like Big Boss.

Jack Bauer is the personification of a hero America needed to look up to in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. He is a loyal government agent who has to do what is necessary to protect American citizens from terrorist threats. Like Snake; Bauer shares a similar military background with his involvement in clandestine operations as a member of Delta Force. During the series, he has made so many personal sacrifices while his loyalty has been tested at the hands of incompetent bureaucrats, trusted colleagues and crooked men of power. Sutherland’s performance as Bauer has developed a character that is guilt ridden and trying to overcome past regrets.

Therein lies the problem; Sutherland’s performance as Snake may not be the character gamers want but instead a projection of Bauer. For gamers who have been playing the series from the beginning we have grown accustomed to having Hayter as the voice of Snake. But by using Sutherland; gamers are going to have a radically different mental projection of Snake. At best gamers could play a Snake that has become more battle harden in a way that only Sutherland could depict. Or gamers may have a mental projection of two characters morphed into one.

In the end all speculation games have will be put to rest upon the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Written for GameBeats
06/9/2013
Original Article: ‘Metal Gear Solid V’: Will gamers be playing as Snake or Jack Bauer?

Why shooters should stop imitating Modern Warfare

Call of Duty is a unique franchise, for twice in one decade did its revolutionary game-play redefine a genre and set the new standards for other games to follow. One has to appreciate the first time when it broke with the “lone wolf” concept while pushing the Quake III-engine to its limits.

The second time; Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare took what made the franchise successful and introduced a fast-paced action game-play set in a visually detailed environment while making the game itself user friendly. This was the final push that made video games a respectable media and a major part of mainstream culture.

However it became less about making an actual game and more about making a game that tries to be an action movie (an issue pointed out by Luke McKinny in 6 Video Games That Just Didn’t Get It). Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was great the first play through but over time it loses the fun and it feels like you have no say in the action except for “kill or be killed”.

Unfortunately because of Call of Duty’s popularity; FPS (first person shooter) franchises have attempted to imitate its success. A few have done it successfully by borrowing some of its desired elements while many have just done a “copy & paste” the content into their games.

Medal of Honor, Crysis 2 and Killzone 3 are good examples to look at for games that have borrowed elements of Call of Duty successfully. Both used what they felt was needed to enhance the game-play without having to compromise the aspects that made it a unique game.

On the other side of the spectrum you have games like Homefront, Battlefield 3, and Goldeneye 007 that took the “copy & paste” approach. Homefront was over hyped as a new style of shooter created by John Milus only to be nothing more but a watered down Call of Duty. Battlefield 3’s single player campaign was heavily panned for being too much like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 at a slower pace. It was the Call of Duty-aspects in the Goldeneye 007-remake that robbed gamers of what made the original so unique.

Like with the sand-box / crime trend that was started with Grand Theft Auto III; developers are taking a style that is popular and imitating it in the laziest way possible. Also like Grand Theft Auto III; for every original work that was released the market was flooded with five clones.

The harsh point is that, just like Grand Theft Auto, the game-play aspects that have made Call of Duty a success only works with Call of Duty.

Sadly one could not expect for this trend to fade away soon due to the volume of success and cost effective production. For example: 24 hours after its release; Call of Duty: Black Ops sold 5 million units while earning $360 million, that is double the success of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt.1 on its opening weekend. Meanwhile: Grand Theft Auto IV made $500 million during its release week but was produced on a budget of $100 million (making it one of the most expensive games developed). Call of Duty: Black Ops had an estimated budget of $10 million.

With this volatile market; the gaming industry is taking a cue from Hollywood and playing it safe. So while Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 may not have added anything new for the FPS-genre; it has made Activision a lot of money at a small production cost. Unfortunately too many developers will very poorly try to imitate Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 in 2012 thinking it will produce the same results

Written for GameBeats
12/12/2011
Original Article: Why shooters should stop imitating Modern Warfare

Why is gaming culture misogynistic?

The question was brought up recently in the Mother Jones article “Why It Sucks to Be a Woman in the Video Game Industry” by Interactive Editor Tasneem Raja.

Raja’s article examines the sexism women deal with in the gaming industry from sexual harassment and disparity in the compensation structure to having female developers go unacknowledged for their accomplishments.

One could just brush all that off as some liberal publication trying to preach about feminist ideology. Unfortunately, Raja is not the first writer to bring up the misogynistic aspect of video game culture.

Back in 2010, David Wong, Senior Editor of Cracked.com, examined the gaming culture’s attitude toward women and the industry’s depiction of them in “5 Reasons It’s Still Not Cool to Admit You’re a Gamer”.

Most notably, Wong cites an article from The Guardian about the sexual harassment women gamers are subjected to online. The best example of this is when females play with male avatars just to avoid the “Tits or GTFO” remarks.

Several months after Wong’s article, Seanbaby (iconic humor writer and avid gamer) wrote in his column about the misogynistic undertones of Red Dead Redemption. He even explores the obvious sexism in the “Dastardly” achievement/trophy, which is unlocked after the player sets a hogtied woman on the train tracks and witnesses her death.

Flash forward to July of 2012 when Cracked writer J.F. Sargent wrote “5 Prejudices That Video Games Can’t Seem to Get Over“, which had a section dedicated to games that degraded strong female characters. The article gave a lot of attention to the feminine traits displayed by Samus Aran in Metroid: Other M (a lot of it based on Abbie Heppe’s review for G4).

Why is gaming culture so misogynistic?

The best answer regards the upbringing many gamers had during the ’90s up until the mid ’00s. During this era, gaming was part of geek subculture and so was often ridiculed by mainstream culture.

Gamers were more likely to be outcasts in high school, which made them the victims of taunting and teasing. It’s likely that many had bad experiences with women or relationships in their youth while being stereotyped as “virgin for life.”

Later in life, these gamers became adults and entered this industry just as video games became accepted by mainstream culture. Unfortunately, these gamers still harbor the old animosity toward women.

Their life experience has conditioned them to see women as nothing more than useless sources of pain and pleasure.

Another perspective is the influence of pop culture on the narratives of video games. Cinema and comics of the mid ’70s to late ’80s has had a major impact on the development of video game stories; however, most of these films often placed women into the “useless chick role” or had strong but overly sexualized female characters.

Sure, there’s exceptions to the rule that gaming culture is misogynistic. But trying to write up a list of “strong video game heroines (not overly sexualized)” tends to be limited when all you have is:

· Jill Valentine (Resident Evil & Resident Evil 3)
· Rebecca Chambers (Resident Evil 0)
· Claire Redfield (Resident Evil 2)
· Samus Aran (Metroid)

End of list!

Gaming is supposed to be a fun way for people to escape their boring and mediocre life for a few hours (or more). Video game culture has recently become part of pop culture, but it won’t become socially progressive if it continues to have such a demeaning outlook toward women.

Written for GameBeats
12/3/2012
Original Article: Why is gaming culture misogynistic?