Category Archives: Culture

Play it now – A King of Shreds and Patches

Play It Now! It’s the early 1600’s, the plague is in town (again), business could be better, and Shakespeare’s gearing up for a new play at the Globe. You’ve got a dinner invitation from an old acquaintance, whose lively and ribald tales stand to brighten things up .

Well, you’d think. In fact, you’ll be lucky to make it through the week with your sanity.

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Vulnerable adults

As you’re probably aware, Australia doesn’t have an 18+ rating for video games (though it does for other types of media such as films and publications). It’s not a stretch to see why. At the time the legislation was applied to video games, such games were the province of the young, and it is only recently that they’ve grown up, right?

Wrong.

From their inception, video games (particularly computer games) were played by all ages.

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Play it now – Ghostbusters

Play It Now! I’ve got a bit of a history with Ghostbusters, the film by Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Bill Murray.

I was working in film marketing and PR at the time, wrestling a startup towards commercial viability. The cinema-release was staggered across some months, in various Australian locations, and I must have sat down and seen the film, in the cinemas, at least 60 or 70 times as a result.

The 1980s were a pretty good era for films that didn’t take themselves too seriously, and the film resonated rather strongly with audiences of the time. Off a 30 million dollar budget in 1984, the film raked in an easy 290 million dollars in cinemas, and another 132 million in rentals, never mind network syndication later on, DVD sales and all of that. The second film, Ghostbusters II, while considered by some to be something of a disappointment, still managed to do almost as well.

After more than 20 years, there’s talk of a third film – a changing-of-the-guard piece, with strong hopes of landing Eliza Dushku (Buffy/Angel/Dollhouse/etc) in a major role – but in the meantime, Aykroyd and Ramis have put together a new part to the story, in the form of a video game, developed in conjunction with Terminal Reality.

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The end-of-year release schedule, and how it messes up the games industry

The games-release calendar generally stinks. Most of the year’s game releases are crammed up from September through November. Games will get pushed out the door, ready or not, just to get them on the shelves by Black Friday or Cyber Monday, with a short-tail of releases winding down through December for those titles that just weren’t ready enough or couldn’t get fabrication time.

The idea, of course, is to make huge quantities of revenue. In practice, though, what’s happening is that the games industry is shorting its own revenues, killing game franchises, and often putting studios out of business.

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An awkward moment

...at least, not yet! Actually, this is a bit embarrassing. You see there was this place called White Lightning Productions (a comics publisher) – well, more specifically their WLP shirts division. I was going to write a piece about them for some very clever, witty and some genuinely laugh-out-loud geek and gamer tee-shirts.

Only now they’re advertising on my sidebar, quite unexpectedly (at least at the time I’m writing this), which makes me feel a bit awkward about actually posting about them. But darn it all, I was planning on writing about them anyway!

doit-d20v So, I’m not sleeping with them (or with Captain Jack Harkness, darnit!), it’s just one of those coincidences.

Deviancy and the balance of immersion

Immersion occupies an interesting and multifaceted place in our societies and cultures. It is a quality of focus and attention. It’s what your boss wishes you had more of when it comes to your tasks and meetings. It’s what your teachers wish you had more of when it comes to lessons and homework. It’s what your spouse wishes you had more of when it comes to the dishes, cooking and the laundry. It’s what your kids wish you had more of when they’re telling you about their day.

And when we wind up immersed in anything else – particularly if it is something personally enjoyable or fulfilling – it is considered deeply suspect and somehow wrong.

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You can keep your E3

It’s E3 time again. What I generally consider to be the worst time of the year for gaming and gamers, edging out the November/December release season (which will be discussed another time) for the real lowlight.

Picture this. What if every upcoming television series and movie were announced at and had trailers at a single weeklong event full of underdressed women, breathless producers, crowds of journalists taking shaky-cam footage, speeches about how awesome the show was going to be, and so on? Of course, by the time the show actually airs, the cast may have changed a little, they’ve got a new director, a new writer, and the drama-thriller is now an action-adventure.

E3’s like that. For games.

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