Street Fighter Daily Quests – And Thoughts on “Games as a Service”

TL;DR: I would love Street Fighter V to have daily and weekly quests! Oh, and voiced emotes for communication with your online opponents.

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I’m sure many of you loved fighting games when you were younger. Remember your high school and college years? Street Fighter, Tekken, King of Fighters, Mortal Kombat… We would spend so much time having so much fun with our friends, taunting each other and trying to land that oh-so-elusive “in your face!” combo.

But then these games kind of went away. Some of us still play them, a few of us still love them, but for most of us, it’s not the same. I’m hoping Street Fighter V manages to recapture some of that feeling.

This would need to happen in two stages. First, the obvious one: make a super fun game and get people to check it out. The series has become more popular in recent years (thank you Internet), and Capcom seems intent on making it more accessible to new and returning players (easy to learn, hard to master) so I’m hopeful many of us will want to try it out. Let’s assume that happens, and people get into it.

 

“With today’s Street Fighter IV,
there is no real incentive
to come back and play more.”

 

Then you get stage 2: keeping people engaged. And that’s even more tricky.

With today’s Street Fighter IV, there is no real incentive to come back and play more. Well, the enjoyment of playing the game of course, but pfft! everyone knows that’s not why people play. 🙂 I like seeing my rating go up, but there’s no in game “reason” to play every day or every week… I think if you see where I’m going with this. (more…)

July 27th, 2015 | No Comments

An ode to Job

When I first started watching Banshee, I thought this was kind of a crappy-but-fun show. Full of raw violence, bordering-on-pornography sex scenes, ridiculously outlandish storyline, silly comic book-y vilains… Yeah, that would be fun for a couple of episodes, and then I’d move on. Well, Banshee is all that, for sure. There is no sugar coating it: it’s trashy, and it’s certainly not for everyone. But it’s also so much more! It’s not the best show ever produced, but it is a bloody damn excellent one.

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I could get into all the reasons why I think it’s so great: visceral action (some of the best fight scenes I’ve ever seen, TV and cinema included), excellent acting (not only do most of the performances make these outlandish characters believable, they also make you feel for them – before you realize they’re deeply troubled and twisted people, the lot of them!), outstanding writing (more happens in half a season than in two seasons of any other show; there’s no stretching things out forever just to milk a story; finish the story with a bang – or ten – and then make another story, even more satisfyingly eye popping than the first!), and so much more. The “easy things” in this show (sex and violence) are augmented by realized characters and incredible writing and production values, in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen before (at least not for something “trashy”). So I could spend 30 minutes telling you about everything that’s cool about this show, but instead I’ll focus on one thing: Job, wonderfully portrayed by Hoon Lee.

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March 11th, 2015 | 1 Comment

On gaming, women, ethics, and Gamergate

Hi all,

I wanted to say a few words about Gamergate. That’s not an easy task. The problem is that it is a very complex topic, easily mired in semantics and empty arguments. Discussions usually get derailed when people try to address the topics of ethics in video game journalism, and women’s representation in video games and the video games industry.

In order to keep my articles on topic, I chose to write three: one for each of these, and one for the topic I actually wanted to tackle. The aim is to compartmentalize the discussions and to avoid launching into unrelated circular debates, which ends up obfuscating the real questions.

So here are the three articles:

If you do me the kindness of reading them, please keep in mind the topic being addressed by each. The first one obviously touches on the other two, but does so through its specific lens, which is very limited. If you find you would rather get a serious discussion on those, the other articles are what you’re looking for.

I would also like to add a few disclaimers, so all the cards are on the table and you can judge these with all the information:
I am a life long gamer and have owned and enjoyed almost every gaming machine out there; that goes almost without saying. I could also be considered part of the gaming press, or at least gaming media: I have done freelance work for various publications when I was in Japan at the turn of the century, and have published sites, blogs and podcasts on video game related topics since the mid nineties. Finally, I was, until very recently, employed by a large video game developer as a PR manager, which makes me affiliated with the industry itself as well.
I suppose that makes me biased on all fronts. Personally, I like to think it also makes me informed on all fronts.

October 30th, 2014 | No Comments

On the nature of Gamergate

If you haven’t read this post, please do so first. Thanks!

Hi, how’s it going? Me? Oh, I’m great. Ok, this is going to be… interesting.

So I’ve been looking into Gamergate in the past few weeks. I’ve read a lot of articles about it, neutral, pro and con. But I haven’t limited my edification to “press” sites or blogs; I’ve gone through the hashtag on Twitter on a regular basis, I’ve browsed through Reddit and 8chan boards, I’ve read literature and documentation and watched videos that were linked from there, and more.

I honestly think I’ve done my homework, and I honestly believe I understand a reasonable amount of what makes the Gamergate movement. I’m sure many people will disagree with my characterizations, probably on both “sides” of the issue, and that’s fine. This is my assessment, and I believe it to be accurate, but you don’t have to agree.

One thing I would encourage you to do though, is to read the full article before commenting or deciding that I’m wrong or right. This is a very, very complex topic, and you can’t get the full picture by just reading the first few sentences.

Also please note that I’m not doing a “History of Gamergate” here. I’m just trying to give my understanding of what it is and how if functions today.

Ok, first things first: what is Gamergate?

Here is the easiest way I can summarize it: at its core, it is a hashtag that anyone can use to speak up, and that most are using to voice concerns that have to do with gender issues and ethics in gaming.

Who are the people who are part of Gamergate?

Members of the Gamergate movement are the people who identify themselves as members of the Gamergate movement.

That’s it. There is no official structure or organisation, and it can be anyone who uses the hashtag. Which is why it is also so difficult to understand.

How big is this movement?

Nobody knows. A few dozen thousand people maybe? Hard to say. The Gamergate hastag has seen over two million Tweets in two months, and is still active. Let’s say each Gamergater averages 10 to 20 tweets per month; we get 50 to 100K individuals. But really, this is shoddy guestimating. Again, nobody knows. What we do know is that it’s not an insignificant number of people.

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October 30th, 2014 | 6 Comments

On women’s representation in gaming

Before you read this post, please read that one first. Please. I’ll repeat the main point here in case you don’t: this article isn’t about ethics in video game journalism, and it isn’t about Gamergate. Gamergaters I’ve come across have consistently told me the movement was *not* about women. Well friends, I’m taking you at your word: this doesn’t interest you. I have other articles on those topics that do.

It’s really quite simple, and fairly easy to understand: games have been targeted at an exceedingly young white male audience, and the representation of women in them has been lacking at best, and insulting at worst. Some might disagree with the “at worst” part, but I don’t think many will disagree with the “at best” one. The only disagreement there would be about the reasons, explanations and justifications for that “lacking” representation. For most people though, it is likely linked to the fact that games are created almost exclusively by men. That much is difficult to dispute.

For my part, I tend to think of the result as insulting and embarrassing. Not as a feminist, but as a human being, who also happens to consider women to be human beings. I don’t agree with everything Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu and others are saying, but only because I don’t think anyone ever agrees 100% with anyone else when discussing a complex topic. You can only fully agree with someone if they’ve simplified the discussion to the point that it looses its meaning. So I don’t agree with everything. But I agree with most things.

I can summarize it this way: in 20 or 30 years, when we look back at the games we were creating and playing, we’ll be embarrassed for how they “treat” women. The same way that we are embarrassed today when we look at how films or TV presented people of color only a few decades ago. Those seemed “reasonable” at the time, too.

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October 30th, 2014 | 5 Comments

On journalistic ethics in gaming

If you haven’t read this post, please do so first. Thanks!

Journalistic ethics in the video games press… That is one tough nut to crack.

Short version: There isn’t more of an issue today than there has been since video games were invented. Actually, there is probably less of an issue than there has ever been, for a number of historical reasons I won’t get into here. Issues in video game journalism exist, but no more than in other similar large industries. Also, they are discussed (and addressed) as they appear, usually by the gaming journalists community itself, which is important. Nobody is blind or hiding some kind of wide epidemic or conspiracy in that field. Thanks for reading!

Long version:

First, let me say this: if you think it’s a simple issue (“just be independent, damnit!”) then you are suffering from a serious lack of understanding of the mechanics of entertainment media, the economics of the web, and the curse of the human condition of “needing to eat to stay alive in order be able to keep creating media”. Also, while the core of the issue of ethics can be discussed and is important, it certainly doesn’t revolve around the media’s relationship with tiny indie developers or individuals’ support of crowd funded projects. So if we really want to discuss ethics in game journalism, let’s do that.

First, let’s look at three basic elements:

  • The core issue in all journalism is indeed about being independent. About being able to write what you really think.
  • The main impediment to independence in journalism is your subject matter pressuring you to alter your reporting.
  • Creating media, like any other enterprise, costs money. And to get money, we have two options:
    • Get customers to pay
    • Advertising
    • That’s it. There isn’t a magical third bullet.

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October 30th, 2014 | 2 Comments

A note to English speakers

Dear English speakers,

Interacting with a bilingual community is often a delicate balance, especially on social media, but it is something that is really important to me. I usually try to post mostly in French from morning to mid-afternoon Paris time (when the ‘mericans aren’t all awake yet), and in English in late afternoon and at night. This isn’t a hard rule, just one I try to follow more often than not, usually erring on the side of the more universal “burger speak” (sorry Brits, I couldn’t find a cutely offensive image for you guys. They were all just offensive. That’s right, I haven’t forgotten Waterloo).

Anyway! In the past couple of weeks, the French/English balance has been a bit out of whack, and I wanted to take a few minutes to explain what’s been happening, in case you’re not aware.

The core of it is that I am soon going to be leaving my day job (or, as people sometimes call it, my “real” job) to dedicate myself to the noble art of Podcasting and independent media. As you can imagine, it was a really tough decision (my job was really cool), but I am beyond excited about what’s coming next.

Still, excitement makes for poor sustenance.

Tweet

Thanks for the laugh, Graham!

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September 13th, 2014 | 7 Comments

Why Privacy Is Important For Humans Beings

“If I have nothing to hide, I have nothing to fear”

Not so long ago, this phrase could have produced the intended result: to convey the idea that surveillance does not negatively impact the general public. Today, many will respond with some variation of the phrase “those who give up a little privacy for more security deserve neither”. Most of us now instinctively understand that privacy has value. But when we try to dig deeper and ask ourselves why it is important, we usually can’t put it into words. We know it matters, and we know it has something to do with freedom and fundamental rights, but for many of us it’s difficult to articulate. Here’s my attempt.

The actual Benjamin Franklin quote is “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”. Ok, easy enough: privacy = liberty = freedom. But why?
My answer is this: simply put, the issue is that we act differently when no one’s around. Alone in your home, you might start singing to the radio. When you’re walking in the street, you might flick a booger (!). When your friends aren’t looking, you might watch that chick flick they’d mock you for. So on a philosophical level, the simple fact that we act differently if somebody is watching means that “being watched” affects our freedom to act as we’d like, and thus that some privacy is essential for people to act freely.

Nobody is saying you need that “real privacy” all the time (we do live in society after all), but you do need it sometimes, because that’s when you can be your unrestrained self, outside of social conventions. The lack of privacy forces you into “social mode” all the time. We need social conventions, but human beings need “alone time” as well. And if you start observing people all the time, it follows that you invite “societal rules” to be by their side all the time, thus robbing them of their freedom to act outside of social rule. That, I believe, is what privacy provides. And I’m no psychologist, but I would suspect that the feeling of oppression is sure to follow fairly quickly… We’re talking about emotional pressure here, but the word has other uses for a reason.

Put in simpler terms: try thinking of “surveillance” as an acquaintance being in the same room as you, even when you want to be alone. They’re not being harmful, they’re just there, having coffee, and occasionally glancing over. Of course it’ll affect what you do, and that restricts your freedom. That’s what the lack of privacy does.

I’ll stop there, as I think we get the idea. I could extrapolate to other areas, like the difference in how we approach privacy in the physical and electronic space. It is a core issue to our discussions about surveillance programs, but that would be a whole other discussion. My aim here is simply to try and explain why privacy is an essential freedom, which I hope I have. I’ll leave the extrapolating to you…

Note: I first mentioned this topic on This Week in Tech #426, where I was invited as a guest. If you’re interested, you might want to give it a listen.

 

October 14th, 2013 | 1 Comment

What do you get someone who has everything?

So I’m 40 today. I warrants a blog post I guess.

There are two things I want to do to mark the occasion.

The first one is to show this picture of me, because it’s silly in a cute way and I like it.

sharky

It was taken a few years ago in San Francisco by one of my best friends. I think one of the reasons I’m so eager to share it (again) is that somewhere deep down, it shows I’m comfortable enough with who I am that I don’t need to disguise myself into a suit and tie, or into “someone cool”, or just in something I’m not. This wasn’t necessarily obvious when I was younger; I’m sure many of you will know the feeling. Also, it’s just an awesome picture!

The second thing is about looking back, and looking at where I am now. Pretty standard stuff when you reach that point in your life I’m sure. In my case, I can’t help but feel incredibly thankful.

  • I’m thankful for my parents and family, who have raised me through war and exile, through almost wealth and almost poverty, and who have shown me how important it is to stay the course in finding yourself.
  • I’m so thankful for my wife, whom I love beyond words. She makes me whole and I am so lucky to have found her I can’t even understand how it could have ever happened. She’s so beautiful and intelligent and funny that I still wonder how she ever agreed to marry me.
  • I have a host of fantastic friends, both offline and online. I’m not only proud to call them my friends, but they’re also such great people that it makes me feel better about who I am for having their friendships.
  • I’m lucky enough to have found something I’m truly passionate about, that I’m able to take part in and contribute to in my modest way. And through that, I have found and become part of a community of people, well known or just random listeners, that amaze me every day by their kindness and intelligence and willingness to engage and share their time with me.
  • I’m also lucky enough to be working for an amazing company that makes products I not only love but am also really passionate about and proud of.
  • And last but not least, I’m lucky enough that I was born in this society of privileges, where healthcare and education are free, and where technological progress makes magic real.

So yeah, I do have everything, and I am so very thankful.

Which begs the question: what do get someone who already has everything? Every year on my birthday, a few of you take the time to wish me a happy birthday, and that is awesomely cool. But how about this: if you want to do a little something for me today, I’d love it if you didn’t just tweet or Google+ of Facebook me, but instead took that time to tell someone in your life you love them. Your parents, or your sibling, or just a friend… Why not? I’m sure most of us don’t do it enough, and believe me, once you have a roof over your head and food in your plate (and maybe a cool smartphone in your pocket), love is really all you need. So come on, go forth and spread the love a tiny bit more today. And then you can tell me about it on Twitter/Facebook/Google+. 🙂

Here, I’ll start: I love you all, and thank you for making my life amazing.

 

September 21st, 2013 | 20 Comments

True love

engagedSo I’m getting married in a few days…

Wait, let me back up a bit.

When I was a kid, I was pretty sure I’d find true love. I though I’d see a girl one day, and I’d look into her eyes, and she’d look into mine, and I’d see stars and I’d know that she was the one, and that’d be that.

And then I grew up.

I held on to that idea for quite some time actually, and I waited for the girl with the stars in her eyes longer than I should have. I had my first girlfriend when I was 10 or so (we never dared kiss, even if our friends were hiding us from prying eyes on the school playground). Around 13, a really cute 14 year old used me to get her ex back (I waited by the phone all day). Around 22, I had a thing with a girl who’s boyfriend was abandoning her, and I hurt her when I didn’t understand she wasn’t serious about us not being serious (I still feel bad about that one).

Then a few real relationships (with actual love), a few crushes (those hurt way more than they should), and a healthy share of enjoyable one night stands (and too many not enjoyable ones, too)… And after a while I came to the conclusion that love wasn’t all it was cranked up to be.

It’s not like I gave up on the idea of loving someone, or on love as a concept even. I just realized that the hyper-romanticized idea of love didn’t actually exist in the real world. You know the one: what we’re being told about love in the poems, and the songs, and the movies. Complete abandon, infinite bliss, and the juvenile certainty that things last forever… All that crap.

Based on 30+ years of reliable empirical evidence, my conclusions were that you could probably have very strong feelings for someone, care for them deeply, and want them to be safe. And if you were lucky, they’d want that for you too. And if you were really lucky, you’d also think each other was hot, and then it would probably be cool to get married, or spend the rest of your lives together, or whatever. And that was that.

 

And then I met Sonja.

If I could sum up the first few weeks of our relationships, I’d say it was unbelievable. Quite literally: if someone had told me a story like that, I simply would have not believed it.

The instant I met her, I thought… she was hot. Don’t judge, that’s what we all do.

The instant after that though, I starting thinking there was something special about her. She was just different from any other girl I had ever met. The way she smiled, the way she talked, the way she looked at me… I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but there was definitely an attraction there. (And thankfully, the attraction was mutual, as I later learned.)

As we started seeing each other, I realized she was as cool as she was hot. And clever, too. She would call me on my bullshit like no one else did. And how she made me laugh! Like only my very best mates ever could. She was so perfect, I wasn’t really sure what was happening; if she was for real, and if she was actually finding me good enough for her (I still don’t understand how that happened, by the way).

And there was the other side of things: how comfortable I was with her. Totally and completely myself. I didn’t have to pretend, I didn’t have to change myself at all… I started it I guess: I didn’t want another thing where I’d try to be someone else for a while, and then struggle to be myself again, so I was me from the get go. And, surprisingly enough, she liked me anyway.

After a few months, I was pretty sure I was going to ask her to marry me at some point. By the time I did, I was 200% sure I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.

And somewhere along the way, I started understanding the stuff they talk about in all the poems and the songs and the movies. It was like before that, I could hear the words but they felt foreign, like something I was being explained. But now I was like “yup, that’s exactly it, right there with you bro!”. It was like part of the same club with them, and we were talking about some secret we knew but others might not. And I know that there are a few of you reading this that are smiling, because you understand exactly what I’m talking about.

So I’d like to talk to the others for a few seconds

And that’s the whole point of this whole article really: to let people know that true love (or whatever you want to call it) wasn’t just invented by writers with too much time on their hands. We all wonder whether it’s real or not when we first hear about it. And some of us never get an answer… Well I got mine: it’s real. And more importantly, if you haven’t found it yet, I’d say you should probably keep looking for it. I’m not saying you should stick to your OCD “perfect mate” checklist forever, and I’m not saying you should look for someone that’s pretty or clever or likes you the way you are. What I’m saying is, when you find that person, you’ll know. You won’t wonder, you won’t ask if he’s truly committed or if she’s too annoying. You’ll just know you’re really in love, and what came before was just a faded photocopy of it.

So, that’s that. I can see the stars in her eyes, and I’m getting married in a few days. 🙂

Hugs to absolutely all of you!

July 20th, 2013 | No Comments