411 Games Fact or Fiction 01.24.13: ESRB, Destiny, Dead Island Riptide statue and More
Posted by Daniel Anderson on 01.24.2013
Are we excited about Bungie's new game Destiny? Would enforcing ESRB ratings keep violent games out of kid's hands? Is the Dead Island UK statue over the line? 411’s Stephen Randle and Todd Vote debate these topics and more in this week’s Fact or Fiction: Games!
Hello everyone and welcome to this week's edition of Fact or Fiction. As always, I am Daniel Anderson, and I hope everyone has had a good week. The Patriots lost last week so I am in a pretty good mood. Hopefully we get a good Super Bowl and don't get sick of hearing about the Harbaugh brothers coaching against each other. Anyway, this week we have 411's Stephen Randle going up against Todd Vote. Let's see what they have to say, shall we?
1.) Gas Powered Games laying off almost their entire staff right after starting a Kickstarter campaign is a very shady move.
Stephen Randle - Fact: From what I've read, it seems like they were already deep into development and were basically out of money, so they started a Kickstarter to try and get some more cash to finish the game. According to the guy in charge, after two days he didn't think the Kickstarter was going to succeed (which means all the money goes back to those who donated it, Kickstarter's an all-or-nothing system), so he shut down the project until they could see if it all worked out and they could hire everyone back who wanted to return (and it should be noted that he did give everyone who was fired proper severance, rather than just saying "sorry, we're broke, everyone out"). I think they massively jumped the gun on firing people, and running a Kickstarter in the faint hope that it might get you a massive influx of cash to keep your company running is a tad optimistic at best and yes, pretty shady at worst (also, you probably shouldn't wait until you're two days away from being totally broke to try something like this), but I'd like to believe this whole thing was the result of trying everything they could to stay afloat as opposed to a scam aimed at getting a wad of cash from people.
Todd Vote - Fact: Awful shady on the surface anyways, but if you think about it. Why are they starting a kickstarter fund if they have money? Perhaps the kickstarter fund is an attempt to get a game going with minimal staff, in order to rehire some others after the game is proven successful? While it seems shady, we don't know all the details at play here, so I'm willing to wait and see how it plays out.
Score: 1 for 1 - I don't think they were trying to scam people, but the timing looks really bad.
2.) Congress enforcing video game ratings (like movie ratings) will keep M rated games out of the hands of children.
Stephen Randle - Fiction: It would probably help, and I'm actually not against this because a ratings system that isn't enforced in some legal way is basically meaningless window dressing. I think seriously cracking down on retail outlets selling M-rated games to minors is a good idea, because even though yes, part of this rests on parents paying attention to what their children are doing, retailers shouldn't make it so easy to get around the system in the name of making a buck. The issue is, with digital distribution quickly becoming the norm, it's going to be essentially impossible to enforce ratings when you can just download games straight to your PC or console, which would allow children to bypass the ratings system entirely and get their M-rated games (which, of course, goes back to the parenting thing). However, as long as physical copies of games and retail stores are still used by the majority of gamers, enforcing ESRB ratings will more than likely seriously reduce the number of inappropriate games getting into the hands of children.
Todd Vote - Fiction: Though it is a step in the right direction, ultimately what it will take to keep M rated games out of the hands of children is concerned parents. I have a cousin that started borrowing games from me for his Xbox 360 when he was about 13 or so. I would not let him borrow any game at all without his mother's approval. She wanted to look at every game, and discuss with me what it was about before letting her son play the games. THAT is what it is going to take to make sure the games stay with an age appropriate audience.
Score: 1 for 2 - Nothing will help except parents caring. I worked for Gamestop for a while, and I was constantly cussed by parents when I would have a 12 year old bring said parent up to the counter to buy a Grand Theft Auto game since we wouldn't sell it to anyone under 17. There are parents out there that just don't care what their kids do, and no laws passed will change that. Those same parents will just get frustrated when their kid can't buy a M-rated game and be pissy when they go to the counter to buy the game instead of their kid buying it.
3.) If Missouri passes a 1% tax on violent video games it will be eventually overturned in court.
Stephen Randle - Fact: It's highly unlikely to pass in the first place, and wouldn't survive the first appeal. Enforcing ratings, as we covered in the previous question, is one thing, but this is moves into discrimination and wrongfully punishing a specific interest. The arguments make themselves, really. I mean, they don't get to tax you an extra amount for going to see an R-rated movie, do they? Anyway, a similar idea was already shot down in Oklahoma, and the ESA has publically made it quite clear that they would prosecute the hell out of anyone trying to discriminate against video games, as they did when they successfully sued the state of California a whole truckload of money for attempting to pass similar laws. It's a silly grandstand play in response to the Connecticut shooting that they're trying to pass off as "going towards supporting studies about mental health". If they were truly trying to help, there are plenty of other ways to do it.
Todd Vote - Fact: I would think it would have to be. You can't tax just one part of a video game, can you? Who is to determine what entails a violent act in a video game? Is it okay for Bugs Bunny to smash a piano on Daffy's head, because Daffy will see stars afterwards? But if Agent 47 was to do the same thing, it is considered violent because the duck doesn't get up and walk away? This is not a good route to travel down.
Score: 2 for 3 - It is really funny hearing people complain about violent video games. Anyone ever watch old TV shows? Even shows for kids showed kids with cap guns playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians. Violent media does not cause people to commit crimes. There are just sick people out there and some people will try to find other things to blame a person's actions on instead of just blaming the person who committed the crime.
4.) You are looking forward to hear more about Bungie's Destiny at GDC in March.
Todd Vote - Fact: If only to find out exactly what it is. I'm truly hoping it is not just another shooter. Evidence points to it being something different, but that doesn't always mean it will be. I'm very curious to find out what they will be doing with the game.
Stephen Randle - Fiction: I know, it's their first big project post-Halo, but a) I didn't like Halo and b) I don't care who the developer is as long it's a good game. Show me something, don't just tell me that you're going to show me something later, that doesn't interest me. And yes, part of it is because it's easier to get hyped up about known quantities, but I just can't get excited when all I've got is a name and who made it. Give me screenshots, trailers, a synopsis of the game story, character profiles, anything. Don't just tell me "trust us, we're Bungie" and expect me to care until I know what you're offering.
Score: 2 for 4 - I am interested in getting some news about Destiny, but not obsessed with it. It is a new game coming from an above average team, and that always has me interested. Hopefully after getting some more information on the game that interest is still there.
5.) Nintendo's organizational restructuring will end up making the company stronger.
Todd Vote - Fact: Never count out Nintendo. If they are restructuring, there is probably a good reason for it, and an end game in mind when they started.
Stephen Randle - Fact: Well, it can't hurt, because the past couple of years have not been kind to Nintendo, which seemed to decide to coast on the Wii success and were surprised when people didn't just follow along. The console wars are getting more cut-throat by the year, and Microsoft and Sony won't let you rest on your laurels. The Wii U launch has, in my opinion, been fumbled pretty badly, and we still don't know for sure when those anticipated "big" titles are coming. Somebody needs to grab the tiller and let people know what Nintendo's direction is going to be, and what we're going to see in the future, because they've been relying on momentum and their first-party franchises to carry the load, and right now they have very little of the first and not enough of the second.
Score: 3 for 5 - I think Nintendo will emerge from the restructuring stronger then before.
6.) Dead Island Riptide's mutilated torso statue is going too far.
Todd Vote - Fiction: Why? Why is this being looked at as going to far? We can't give away a statue of a mutilated torso? Dead Rising 2 offered a statue of a tourist looking zombie with blood all over it's face. Hell, Injustice: Gods Among us is offering a statue depicting man on woman violence? Tell me again, why a torso that has been mutilated by a zombie is off limits? Is it because the torso belongs to a woman? Is it because the bikini the torso is wearing looks like the British Flag? I just don't get it... Please explain to me why this is going too far....
Stephen Randle - Fact: How this idea gets down the pipe and all the way to a retail product is beyond me. You're telling me nobody looked at that thing and said "hey, do you think that might cause a massive shitstorm?" Unfortunately, there are still some people who believe that any publicity is good publicity, and this is one of those cases where they might live to regret it. You know what else might sell more copies of your game? How about putting out a good game? I think the funny part is that, had it just been an un-mutilated torso of a girl's chest, they probably would have gotten away with it for the most part.
Score: 3 for 6 - I am not sure if it is going too far, but it isn't something that greatly interests me. Sadly, this game will be associated with the statue then letting the game stand for itself.
Bonus Question: Feel free to talk about whatever you choose.
Todd Vote - I really don't have much of anything to talk about this time. Just workin my way through my back catalog of games that I never finished.
Stephen Randle - Well, my attempts to plow through my backlog has stalled since I discovered that Mass Effect 3 multiplayer is really, really good, but I'm hoping to make a dent in the dozen or so games I have waiting before I start any new titles. Oh, except for The Cave…and that Ni No Kumi game looks interesting, and DMC is annoying enough people that I want to take a look at that…and…crap…I'm in trouble.
That wraps up this week's edition of Fact or Fiction. Todd and Stephen went 3 for 6, agreeing as much as disagreeing. I hope everyone has a good week, and until then, happy gaming.