|Hello everyone! I'm back again, this time to dive into more details on the collection of playable home-consoles on display at the 2012 Houston Expo. (Part #1 of my coverage is here. Part #2 is here.) For Part #3, I shall also recap the 1-hour presentation given by Joe Crookham of Classic Arcade Works on how to replace your battered and failing arcade cabinet with a faithful reproduction. Additionally, I'll give you an overview of the delightful conversations I had with Joe, about his business, how it's going for him, and his plans for future expansion. So with no further delay, onwards...|
|Hello everyone! Welcome to Part #2 of my coverage report on The 2012 Houston Arcade Expo. (You can flip through Part #1 of my coverage here.) For this article, I'm back with details on the many amazing machines that were available at the show. I'll get to the interviews in Part #3 and Part #4 of this series. Check back soon for those. For now though, it's time to enjoy more of the eye-candy!|
Hello again dear readers, it's great to be back! Once more, my inner arcade- and computer-gaming aficionado has burst out of the dreary doldrums of "Crazy-Busy Normal Life", after being confined for just too darn long. I did so with some gusto this time, and took the opportunity to shamelessly gorge myself on an enormous and truly delicious smorgasbord of gaming: The 2012 Houston Arcade Expo.
Even as I write these introductory words, the whole 2+ day event is STILL going on. While it's scheduled to officially wind to a close in the next hour or so, from all the good folks I chatted with, the talking and story-telling and drunken networking will likely go on until dawn. For my part though, I had to throw in the towel a little bit early. For starters, I had to dash home and start cracking on this set of articles for you fine folks!
Not to mention that my ears are absolutely ringing from the roar of 120+ pinball and arcade machines running full-blast, and my eyes feel like they're covered in plastic-wrap. (Note to self: When binging for 10+ hours on video games and pinball, remember to blink.)
Had an amazing day at the Norbreck hotel at Replay 2011. Met a lot of great people and the atmosphere was just awesome! And it is happening again tomorrow!
Retro geek heaven this is! I'll be going again in 2012 - it will be held in Manchester city a few weeks earlier even!
Everybody who's been gaming or awhile is well aware of the Videogame Crash of 1983, a period that saw the collapse of the American console market and a strange period when many people thought the videogame was dead. The causes are numerous and hotly contested, but it's likely just an unexciting story of a bubble that popped. One strain of the story I've always found interesting as it is improbable, is that two games are primarily responsible for the crash: Howard Scott Warshaw's E.T. and Tod Frye's Pac-Man, both for the 2600. In both cases, we're talking about massively hyped games that sold tremendously well, but then got returned to stores in droves. My thought for today is whether something like this could happen again--could a rapid-fire succession of massively disappointing games topple the industry like it did in the 80s?
We've recently seen five games that by all rights "should" have been great--expectations were high, fanboys numerous, and, for the most part, very talented people were in control. However, in each case, the major critics either dismissed them as mediocre or blasted them as if they were almost personally offended by their perceived lack of quality:
Duke Nukem Forever. Metacritic score: 55.
Alpha Protocol Metacritic: 72 (Gamespot: 60, IGN: 63).
Hunted: The Demon's Forge. Metacritic score: 63.
Alice: Madness Returns. Metacritic score: 75 (IGN: 65).
Dungeon Siege 3. Metacritic: 73 (IGN: 65, Gamespot: 60).
Even Nintendo seems to be having problems. Despite the waves of hype the 3DS is currently receiving over the re-release (yawn) of Ocarina of Time, I still see the whole thing as another Virtual Boy with a much better marketing campaign. I see an upcoming backlash, though, as more purchasers find that they aren't getting full refunds when they try to return the devices that give them headaches. That's the kind of episode and bad publicity that can make anyone think twice about buying a game. As for Nintendo's new console, it sure looks like that "U" stands for "Useless." Sony, of course, is unlikely to ever recover from the PSN nightmare, and Microsoft doesn't seem far behind. Even if the new console is great, who can justify it in this economy?
We've heard often about the dangers of videogame addiction, defined by WebMD as a "clinical impulse control order" similar to gambling, drug addiction, or masturbation. Fortunately, some game publishers are joining forces to do something about it, including Nintendo, Activision, and Blizzard. As Larry Probst of Electronic Arts puts it, "We're fed up with viewing children and thirty-something year old men merely as markets to be ruthlessly exploited. Instead, we wish to leverage our resources to promote prosperity, justice, and goodwill." But what's the plan? It's a simple but cunning plan that might just work: design videogames that will themselves help treat and potentially cure videogame addiction.
I've been reading Ian Bogost's book Unit Operations lately. It's fairly dense and clearly of interest mostly to academics (Bogost's background is in comparative literature), but I like his line of questioning very much. Here's a quote I particularly like: ""Instead of focusing on how games work, I suggest that we turn to what they do--how they inform, change, or otherwise participate in human activity" (53). He envisions a comparative videogame criticism that would go far beyond the usual talk of technology and narrative to "understand how videogames reveal what it means to be human" (53). I'm really looking forward to reading how Bogost himself answers these questions, but wanted to ponder them myself a bit first, and I invite you to join me.
Well, this is certainly nothing new for those of us who spend a lot of time indulging in our favorite hobby, but some cognitive scientists at the University of Rochester have finally confirmed it: "playing action video games trains people to make the right decisions faster." Here are some of the skills you'll pick up playing videogames:
While Matt and I are still hard at work on our upcoming feature film documentary, Gameplay: The Story of the Videogame Revolution, there comes good news related to the producer and financier, Lux Digital Pictures, in a story from indiWIRE, which can be read here. To summarize, Lorber Films will be releasing two of Lux Digital Pictures' recently completed films, “American Grindhouse” and “Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue,” to theaters in both the US and Canada. This is great news, as it's amazingly difficulty to get even limited theatrical distribution for indie productions, and bodes well for Gameplay's future.
As a reminder, Gameplay: The Story of the Videogame Revolution, is a feature film documentary that celebrates the amazing story of videogames, focusing on the industry's most decisive moments throughout its history. Comprehensive in scope, the film covers games from all genres and platforms, from the late 1950s into modern times. Featuring interviews with industry greats such as John Romero (Doom), David Crane (Pitfall!), Steve Meretzky (Planetfall), Todd Howard (Fallout 3), and John Smedley (EverQuest) - plus many others - Gameplay offers an in-depth look at the industry that has redefined popular entertainment. The film explores the impact of mega-hits such as Atari's Pong, Nintendo's Super Mario Bros., and Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, as well as the role played by revolutionary technologies like the CD-ROM and the Internet. Loaded with high-quality clips from hundreds of vintage and modern games, Gameplay is a film no gamer can resist.
The film is being written and produced for Lux Digital Pictures by Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton, authors of Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time (Focal Press, 2009), Dungeons & Desktops: The History of Computer Role-Playing Games (A.K. Peters, 2008), and Wii Fitness for Dummies (Wiley, 2010). Matt and Bill are also the founders of Armchair Arcade, recognized by PC Magazine as one if its Top 100 Websites. Lux Digital Pictures has produced several recent, critically acclaimed documentaries, including Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue and American Grindhouse, which covers the history of horror and exploitation films, respectively. While Gameplay naturally touches upon controversial topics such as violence and sex in games, the overall tone is overwhelmingly positive. Lifelong, passionate gamers themselves, Barton and Loguidice are committed to ensuring accuracy, fairness, and integrity in all the topics covered in the film.
The official Facebook fan page.
It seems that outside the hardcore gaming community, many people still think of games as simple pastimes; casual activities with little redeeming value. Relatively few I've talked to consider it a legitimate hobby or craft.