Musings on E3 and Childbirth

Friday, June 15, 2012 at 9:58 am
Landyn cover.jpg

At about 5:45 a.m. on the morning of June 4, I was heading down the road with my family en route to the hospital in Lake Havasu, Arizona. My sister-in-law was scheduled for a C-section, and my new nephew, Landyn, was expected to enter the world at around 8 a.m.

The little guy came on schedule, but with a bit of fluid in his lungs. As a result, Landyn had to be put into an oxygen tank for the first day of his life. We weren't able to hold him yet, and that was seriously tearing at the old heartstrings.

I stared through the window as my nephew kicked the air, occasionally popping his eyes open for a quick, blurry peek at the world around him. I made my way into the room my sister-in-law would call home for the next few days as she recovered. Only an hour or so out of surgery, she was still pretty groggy from the morning's ordeal.

Eventually she turned on the television and started flipping through the channels, not looking for anything in particular.

"Wait, go back," I said as a familiar logo featuring a pair of letters flashed across the screen. I had forgotten Spike would be broadcasting E3 content this year and, I'm a little ashamed to admit, my morning was suddenly brightened by the fact that I could jump in on the EA press conference that was about to kick off.

More >>

Necessary Elements of a Perfect Party Game

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm
Can party games be more than this?

(Editor's note: Sorry...scheduling error! Little re-post if you don't mind!)
The other night marked the birthday celebration of a good friend of mine from college. The gathering began at a restaurant and bar, but as the evening wore on we all went back to an apartment and fired up a Wii. The first game decided upon was Mario Party 9.

I know I work in the video game press, but I had no idea we were up to Mario Party 9. Mario Party apparently has become the Nintendo equivalent of Now That's What I Call Music!, which now has about five hundred versions? Right? I feel like there have been enough editions of Now That's What I Call Music! that literally anything that anyone has ever called music has been featured on a Now That's What I Call Music! CD.

Anyway. I had not played Mario Party 9 before, but I quickly understood that it features the same type of micro-game-laden, frenetic, chance-based gameplay that is so common in party-oriented titles that aren't Rock Band.  Before long we were knee-deep in stars and toadstools.

But while Mario Party's board game / mini-game feel is certainly one way to make a video game meant to be played in a party setting, it's not my ideal. The party game of my dreams is a game that both emphasized each party-goer's individual skills while also exposing to the party which players are hyper-competitive dicks. It is half hopscotch and half gladiatorial deathmatch. It is both hilarious and unfailingly logical. And it adheres to the following guidelines.

More >>

Space Invaders On Your Walls

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 10:00 am

These Space Invaders stickers from Blik are too cool not to share. We've tested out Blik's stuff before and love it, so naturally these retro game decals get our seal of approval. Stick 'em on, take 'em off, defend Earth from nasty aliens. Good stuff. Check 'em out right here

2012 E3 Assessment: Yea or Meh?

Monday, June 11, 2012 at 10:00 am


As we bid adieu to another Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), it occurs to me that this year's offering was a bit on the boring side. There were a few shining moments, some nifty tech demonstrated, and a few pleasant surprises, but no one thing that really jumped out at me. I've seen some internet grumbling that this was the 'worst E3 ever' ('ever' in all caps, naturally), but it didn't strike me as that bad, just predictable, and ultimately, too safe.

Watching the footage this week, 2012's E3 looks like it was a fair to decent show. That isn't to say that nothing piqued my interest, but this year's offerings were far from knocking out of the park. While some the new technology coming our way was interesting, as I followed this week's coverage of the event I did not notice many video games that grabbed my attention. If I could sum it up, this year's E3 seemed more about where video games are at right now in the current generation, and the uncertainty of the future of the industry.

More >>

Humble Indie Bundle Not So Humble Anymore

Friday, June 8, 2012 at 10:00 am

If I could completely subsist off of independent video games, I would. In the last six weeks, I've played through Journey, Limbo, Bastion, and Braid again, and I'm working through Catherine (bigger, but still). I love how off the wall they get. Give up more intangibles with fewer tangibles. That sort of thing.

So, I'm pleased to announce that the wonderful Humble Indie Bundle 5 will be offering donors these games, on PC, Mac, or Linux:

-Amnesia: The Dark Descent

And the Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP. And, if you spend more than the average donation, which is about $7, you'll be getting yourself Bastion and its soundtrack. Which are both very, very awesome. Money goes to help sick kids. So don't be a dick!

Slacker Radio Gift Certificate Giveaway!

Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 10:00 am
So, news is Slacker Radio is making its way to Xbox Live. And wouldn't you know it. We have FIVE premium gift certificates to give out -- each lasting 3 months -- for you lucky readers out there.

A little background, then off to the contest! Slacker offers three kinds of subscription packages: first is the free one, which gives listeners access to a giant library of music. Only downside is the ads. You have to listen to them

Then, you have Slacker Radio Plus, which is $4 a month, which gives you ad-free radio, including ABC & ESPN Radio, with comprehensive lyrics and unlimited song-skips. Top tier, which is what we're giving away, is Premium -- which gives you total access to the whole library, and allows you to select specific songs, artists, and albums without the radio selecting. On to the contest!

More >>

Five Of The Best Videos From E3 So Far

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 10:00 am
E3 is in full swing. For the most part, there is a surprise here and there, but we aren't seeing anything so mind-liquefying or culture shocking as we always expect during this season. This HD generation has creaky old bones. Opulence has already been witnessed in years past. Seventh generation born franchises are getting deep into their third and fourth iteration.

But we've seen a few videos for games that offer up some real potential excitement. I'm going to list them for you as games to keep an eye on. Or, if not, at least something to feast your eyes on for the time being.

More >>

Rendered Unwinnable - If History Was an Adventure Game

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 5:00 pm
Adventure games -- the cruelest form of video game.

One of the delights of studying history is looking back and wondering what the world would be like if the great figures throughout the ages had been a little wiser, or a little crueler, or a little drunker. The events of the past are full of circumstances that, slightly altered, would result in a completely different present for us all. History is rife with close calls; things that, if they didn't go exactly as they did, would have spelled calamity. To be a world leader is to walk a narrow path -- one false step, one missed opportunity, and it can mean that you will never achieve your goals.

Modern video games, where autosaves and adjustable difficulties all but ensure a player's eventual success, usually don't have these kinds of stakes. But there is one type of video game that mirrors the stark calculus of history, that will give you no quarter if you fail to do everything exactly right:

Old-school adventure games.

More >>

The E3 Press Conferences (So Far)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Want to catch up on the E3 press conferences from yesterday? Here they are. Microsoft is above. Sony, EA and Ubisoft are below. Enjoy. 
More >>

Diablo III's Record-Breaking Day

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 10:00 am
Yes, we know E3 is happening right now. We'll have some of the latest from the show in a bit. Until then, would you like to see just how much money Diablo III made in a single day? Of course you would, especially if it's in handy infographic form. Check it out below. 
More >>