Op-Ed: Grand Theft Auto V removed from retailer due to guilt and slander – 12/11/2014

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Sexual violence is an ugly aspect of our society that has a lasting impact on the victims. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed in society and taken seriously by the criminal justice system.

Alleging one of the greatest cultural works encourages sexual violence and then strong-arming retailers with guilt isn’t one way to bring better awareness. Unfortunately a victim of domestic violence (going by the pseudonym of Nicole) chose to take this path by circulating a petition that slandered Grand Theft Auto V than bullied Kmart and Target Australia to remove it from their shelves.

It’s important to know that at no point in Grand Theft Auto V are players asked or required to participate in acts of sexual violence. There are also no moments in the game that features the player perpetrating such a criminal act on a female non-playable character (NPC).

The petition that circulated on Change.org claimed that Grand Theft Auto Vencourages and rewards players for sexually assaulting women. Her only evidence is a YouTube video that demonstrates a players encounter with a prostitute, a trivial feature that has been available since Grand Theft Auto III.

This is has not been the first time the game has been denounced for allowing players to have interactions with prostitutes. However most critics who have denounced the content have been taken seriously in resent years. This is due to a story influenced by Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson that presents an in-depth analysis of the American Dream in a post-2008 crash society. Bickering over an insignificant content to the game gives the impression that they are too stupid to understand its literary content.

Unlike the few irrelevant critics, this petition has fooled 40,000 users and convinced many that the game “encourages kids” to participate in some acts of sexual violence. The result has been two major retailers having pulled the game and reignite a controversy that should have been dead. Worse is that Nicole has had the audacity to brag about her action while demonizing gamers.

So it should not be surprising that the gaming community has come to Rockstar’s defense by circulating another petition while denouncing Nicole’s unfounded and damaging accusation.

Many have felt that Nicole’s petition was based on her not being informed of the game’s content and story, but that is just sugar coating it.The content of the petition was not based on misinformation or a response to Gamergate but the intent to damage. This was all about Nicole wanting to advance her own political ambitions by leaching on a social issue that matters to many.

Following in the footsteps of Jack Thompson, anti-video game activist and disbarred lawyer, this has been a moral crusade based on lies to deceive the public. Adding more insult, she is constantly referring to the game as a product targeted to kids while assuming gamers are kids. This despite the fact that the average gamer is in their late 20s and the game was made for adults.

Nicole is no hero looking out for those who been the victims of sexual violence. The real heroes are those who refuse to accept what happen to them while working not only to seek justice for themselves but for others. They are also the ones who are fighting to have the law take the crime seriously while pushing for stronger punishments against rapists.

It should also be noted that Change.org needs to to be held accountable for allowing such a petition to be passed around without checking its accuracy of its claim. Was the petition actually fact checked by an admin or does any social justice warrior gets a free pass?

Sexual violence is a problem that could only be addressed by fighting for the rights of the victims to seek justice, not slandering a work of art. In the end Nicole is no hero, she is just another opportunist pushing her own political agenda on the backs of those who have been the victims of sexual violence.

Written for Digital Journal 
12/11/2014
Original ArticleOp-Ed: Grand Theft Auto V removed from retailer due to guilt and slander

‘Grand Theft Auto: Online’ mod allows players to rape others – 8/12/2014

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‘Grand Theft Auto: Online’ may have been developed to allow gamers to build their own criminal empire online, but some may have take it too far by developing a mod that allows players to rape others.

This mod was developed and used by a few players trying to “troll” the games online community and is not connected or endorsed by Rockstar Games.

The mod allows the player to manipulate their character and the environment to allow them to force themselves onto other innocent players in a very sexual manner. To develop such a mod would require a player to tamper with the game engine, which could get a player banned from the servers if caught.

News of the mod was first reported by players on Reddit with the username, mrerikmattila, who reported having such an encounter with a player named DEEPER_IN_DA_ASS. The user further elaborated the encounter with Patrica Hernandez of Kotaku.

Hernandez elaborates that while such encounter are rare, there have been videos found on YouTube showing hackers sexually assaulting other players in the game. She also hints that Rockstar may need to do another round of house cleaning to crackdown on hackers who tamper with the game engine.

News of the mod has repulsed many gamers who find it to be distasteful and disturbed by the fact some one took the time to make such a program. One user stated on Kotaku, “What the hell kind of person starts playing GTA and thinks, “I wonder how I can make these characters rape each other?” Worse, what kind of person then dedicates actual time and effort to making this a reality?”

Grand Theft Auto V was released on September 17 and it has been highly praised by critics as one of the greatest games developed for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Grand Theft Auto: Online is the multiplayer feature and it went live two weeks after the games launch.

Written for Digital Journal 
08/12/2014
Original Article: ‘Grand Theft Auto: Online’ mod allows players to rape others

Op-Ed: A minor delay is better than a broken game – 7/26/2014

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It appears that the 2014 Holiday season is going to be a dry one for gamers as so many highly anticipated titles have been pushed back for a 2015 release.

Early this week, gamers got the news that Electronic Arts is pushing back the release date of Battlefield: Hardline from October 2014 to an unknown date in 2015. They are not alone as Ubisoft had announced before E3 that Batman: Arkham Knight and Tom Clancy’s The Division would be delayed until 2015. CD Projekt RED has also made the hard choice to push back The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for a Winter 2015 release.

While gamers will be disappointed that they have to wait until 2015 for another Battlefield, long time fans will understand that it was necessary to avoid another disastrous release like Battlefield 4.

Battlefield 4 was a very promising game and superior to Call of Duty: Ghosts in terms of the quality of gameplay. Yet due to a series of of glitches and bugs made the game unplayable upon its release. Hence many disgruntled fans began referring to it as “Brokenfield“.

Sadly a lot of the problems that plagued Battlefield 4 could have been avoided had more time gone into the development process. Yet due to an unrealistic deadlines along with the need to compete against Call of Duty: Ghosts probably pressured EA to sail full-steam ahead into the iceberg.

Common sense would dictate that delaying the game would have been the best action, yet game industry considers such a decision as a catch-22. Its a common belief that the longer a game is in development, its chances of being a disaster increases. Many studios continue to fear releasing a disastrous game like Duke Nukem: Forever while many old school fans still recall how Daikatana sullied the reputation of John Romero (I’m still confident he will have a career comeback).

However many always overlook that games like Duke Nukem: Forever and Daikatana were in development for more then four year while undergoing multiple software changes that forced the development team to start from scratch. Meanwhile Arkham Knight and Hardline are being delayed because more time is needed to fix the glitches and patch-up the bugs.

The decade long murky production of Duke Nukem: Forever has now become the textbook example of how not to develop a game. Production started by 3D Realms Studio back in 1996 using the Quake II engine until they switched to the Unreal engine in 1998. Meanwhile as the industry model began to change in the early 2000’s, 3D Realms failed to adopt while being in constant conflict with its parent company, Take-Two Interactive.

After a long production time, Gearbox acquired the intellectual property and took over the project with the goal of a 2011 release date. When the game was finally released for all major consoles, it was universally panned by both critics and gamers. Despite a decade long production, the game was neither innovative or cutting edge while also suffering from a series of annoying glitches.

Meanwhile successful games that have had long production time have been both innovative and groundbreaking while the staff had been focused on a set goal. The obvious example to look at would be Grand Theft Auto V, which development started back in 2009 and was released in 2013. Rockstar North had setup a series of goals that had to be meet while working with the RAGE engine along with adding components of the Euphoria engine and Bullet Physics.

Finally when Grand Theft Auto V was released in September 2013, it was highly praised by critics and gamers. Its story was highly praised for its in-depth analysis of the American Dream in a post-2008 crash society in a style influenced Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson. It also became one of the biggest selling media properties by generating over $1 billion in three days while going on to generate almost $2 billion by December.

Yet the production of Grand Theft Auto V might be a unique example while Ubisoft has demonstrated that a small delay payoff when the final game is a hit. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and Watch Dogs had their release date pushed back while South Park: The Stick of Truth needed to be delayed as Ubisoft acquired the rights after THQ went bankrupt.

Ubisoft has demonstrated that a small delay is always necessary if time is needed to ensure the game is flawless when hits store shelves. The botched release of Battlefield 4 has taught the gaming industry the backlash of releasing a broken game outweigh the disappointment when it has to be delayed.

Gamers who were hoping to play Hardline or The Division are better waiting for a flawless game rather than playing a broken one in 2014. On the bright-side; Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Far Cry 4, and Destiny should keep gamers entertained.

Written for Digital Journal 
07/26/2014
Original Article: Op-Ed: A minor delay is better than a broken game

Criticism of violent video games has lost credibility – 4/5/2014

Despite advancements in technology along with the inclusion of mature content and themes, criticism of violent video games in the media has been on the decline according to the research of Greg Perreault.

The research attributed the decline to the core demographic became older (average gamer is 30 years old and has been playing for 13 years) and violence in video games having become accepted.

Giving credit to where credit is due; kudos to Perreault for conducting the first study on a trend many old-school gamers have started to notice, that is the controversy regarding violence in video games has died.

Perreault is correct that the core audience has matured and with it has video games as a media while the culture has grown to become a major element of pop-culture. In the 90’s it was just an expensive toy but today they are generating more revenue the movies at the box-office while attracting the talents of Hollywood icons.

During the progression; real scientific studies were done on the effects of video games on the audience and they have killed the myth that it “breeds killers”. Meanwhile studies have unveiled the positive effects video games have on the player such as rapid decision making, better overcoming complex problems, helping to develop effective organization skills.

The end result has been that any outrage about violence in video games can no longer be taken seriously while anyone who brings up the junk science is dismissed.

Such an example to look at would be Cassie Rodenberg and her in-depth critic about allowing gamers to have interactions with prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto. According to her observation of students who played the game; such a feature mentally justifies violence against women while recanting the struggles of a real women who are forced into such a life.

Rodenberg would have made a strong case were it not for one minor problem, she wrote her critical analysis in 2013 about Grand Theft Auto V. In no time readers began to pick apart and destroy her entire argument based on a naive approach to an outdated troupe of moral outrage.

Given how critics have praised the game for its thought provoking story that presents an in-depth analysis of the American Dream in a post-2008 crash society in a style influenced Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson, Rodenberg decision to focus on a controversy that is a decade old and very insignificant to the story gave the impression that she was too stupid to understand the games significance.

However; Rodenberg has not been the only person to debate the subject using an outdated mindset. Nobody could forget about the fake gamers at Salon.com and this example of a childish banter that tries to denounce the violence in video games using junk science and the writers own political outlook.

The very few times a video game has been criticized for its violent content was because of some very disturbing element that should always concern audiences. The content in question have been the obvious issues of rape and gruesome torture. No matter how mature the audience becomes; rape and torture will always be something disturbing while its presence in video games will never be tolerated.

The most resent example was the attention that Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes received after the ESRB listed “Sexual Violence” and “Intense Violence” as a listed content. This of course is referring to audio recordings of Paz being raped along with the open surgery she undergoes after being rescued. Despite the act not visually featured; the context of rape in any media is always going to be disturbing to the audience.

Several months earlier; Grand Theft Auto V was criticized for a plot point that required the player to torture a suspect. While some accused it of glorifying torture, many gamers found the moment to be very disturbing and hard to play.

Finally who could forget the controversy regarding Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and the option of playing “No Russian”.  What made this level disturbing was not the fact the player participates in a terrorist attack against civilians but the atmosphere of the environment with screams of terror in background while people are being butchered as they flee or begging for their lives.

These examples attracted controversy because the content was a subject that the general audience will always find disturbing. It was not a game of simple blood and violence but a moment that the player would never forget.

As video games continue to the advance the story will explore darker and more mature themes that is going to attract controversy. However bickering about the simple of violence is an outrage that nobody is going to take seriously as the culture has moved pass that point.

Written for The Gamers Progress
04/5/2014
Original Article: Criticism of violent video games has lost credibility

Review: ‘Manhunt’, one of the most controversial games, is back – 5/14/2013

ManhuntBack in 2003; ‘Manhunt’ broke all the boundaries for what was considered acceptable violence. Now one of the most controversial games is available for the PlayStation 3 via PlayStation Network.

Manhunt was an unorthodox horror game that broke from the traditional worst creations of science or terrors from other worlds for another demon; the evil of humanity. At best it could be described as is a modern retelling of The Most Dangerous Game.

Gamers take on the role of James Earl Cash; a convict who was thought to have been executed only to wake up in an abandon room. He is greeted by film director Lionel Starkweather (aka The Director) who informs Cash that he has been given a second chance and will earn his freedom if he participates in his snuff film. These films will involve Cash murdering people at different locations for Starkweathers amusement or risk getting killed.

At its core Manhunt is a horror game in the traditional sense but the horror the player must over come is that of human nature. It presents a character study of two evil men, one is a death row convict while the other is an artist with a sinister ambition. Its never explained what Cash did, but one can assume his sins are pale compared to the atrocities of Starkweather.

Adding to the grotesque nature of Starkweather is the performance of Brian Cox, well known to horror fans as the first actor to portray Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter.

Manhunt success was overshadowed by the storm of controversy that followed after its release. The game has been banned in multiple countries while some had to rewrite their rating the code.

Yet a lot of people overlook the fact that Manhunt was released during the height of the popularity of torture porn. But credit needs to be due for Rockstar’s attempt at actually making a horror game that had a focus on fear rather than solely on grotesque violence.

Final Score: 4/5

Written for Digital Journal
05/14/2013
Original Article: Review: ‘Manhunt’, one of the most controversial games, is back

‘Max Payne 3’ delay causes confusion – 5/30/2012

The box cover for ‘Max Payne 3’

Rockstar Games delay of the PC version of ‘Max Payne 3’ has caused some confusion among gamers and retailers despite making the announcement on May 22.

The PC version was originally scheduled to be released in the US on May 29, 2012, but it was pushed back to June 1, 2012 so it may coincide with the games international release.

Jennifer Kolbe, Rockstar’s VP of Publishing, stated in a press release, “Our community has always preferred a single worldwide launch date, and while we couldn’t make it happen for the console versions, we decided to work toward a global release for Max Payne 3 on PC.”

While the announcement was made last week, the news had caused some confusion among retailers and news sites. Gamespot.com and Dell.com still list it as having a May 29th release while the games Wikipedia page was recently edited to include the June 1 date.

Several retailers in the Bay Area were also confused as they were expecting a May 29th release. These retailers still had the original May 29 release date posted while gamers who had pre-ordered had not been informed about the change.

Despite the delay, Max Payne 3 was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on May 15 and has been well praised by fans and critics.

Max Payne 3 is the third game in the award winning game series that has blended the story elements film-noir with the choreographic-style action of John Woo. The first game was released for the PC and consoles in 2001 and was followed by a sequel in 2003.

Written for Digital Journal
05/30/2012
Original Article: ‘Max Payne 3’ delay causes confusion