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Sunday, September 29, 2013

This Week In Gaming: Valve Takes Over Your Living Room And Malaysian Politicians Make Stuff Up

Hello everyone, first off, apologies for my lack of updating this blog for many months now. I’ve been very busy with my other writing pursuits but I am now going to try to re-establish a weekly posting schedule for Inner Thoughts of a Quiet Gamer.

In this new weekly feature, I will be covering the latest announcements and happenings within the gaming world which I feel you need to know about. Below each section, I’ve included a handy source link in case you’d like to learn more about a particular story. For more pressing news, reviews, and opinions about the gaming world, be sure to head on over to VGU.TV where you’ll find more work by both myself and my fellow writing compatriots. And now, on to the news!

This Week: September 23rd-29th, 2013

Full Steam Ahead

This week was what many are dubbing “Steam Week” as PC-centric Steam developer Valve made a trio of exciting new announcements which focused on their new mission of breaking down the barriers between PC gaming and “sit on your couch and chill” console gaming.

First there was SteamOS, a new gaming-focused Linux-based operating system which will be free to download and will allow users to play Linux-compatible Steam games natively on their televisions using Steam’s Big Picture mode. SteamOS will also allow users to stream non-Linux Steam games from their default Windows or Mac PC over their home network.

Then there are the Steam Machines; a new series of licensed gaming systems which are being developed and manufactured by several different companies in partnership with Valve. All Steam Machines will come pre-packaged with SteamOS installed and will be available in a number of different makes and models in order to fit a particular gamer’s needs and budget. 

Lastly, for those who prefer to d a majority of their gaming with a controller instead of a mouse and keyboard, Valve unveiled the Steam Controller which features a unique new design that many are calling “futuristic.” Instead of traditional thumbsticks, the Steam Controller features two “trackpads” which supposedly allow for much higher fidelity input when reading a player’s commands. 

A central touch screen and 16 different buttons help the controller mimic all the functions of a traditional mouse and keyboard and Valve has confirmed that the Steam controller will be compatible with the entire Steam library of games, even ones that don’t normally have controller support.

You can check out the full coverage of Valve’s various announcements over at Polygon: http://www.polygon.com/2013/1/8/3852012/steam-box-valves-partnerships-for-big-picture-gaming

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back…
Despite many gamers’ best efforts to show that their hobby is neither the work of the devil nor a catalyst for worldwide perpetrations of violence, there continues to be a constant parade of ignorant individuals who end up putting their own feet in their mouths while trying to denounce video games.

First there was this story from Kotaku about a Malaysian member of parliament named Reezal Merican Bin Naina Merican. Mr. Merican is currently trying to convince his government to ban Rockstar’s recently released Grand Theft Auto V on the grounds that it is too violent. His reasoning is that the game has already been banned in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Only they haven’t. In fact, of the billions in dollars of sales GTA V has already accrued, many of those dollars have in fact come from American and UK-based buyers.

In the above linked clip, Mr. Merican tries to denounce both GTA V and Capcom’s Devil May Cry 3, a game that was released in 2005 mind you, showing just how out of touch and clueless he is about the media he’s trying to denounce. Sadly, according to users who posted on both Kotaku and the clip’s YouTube page, this is actually fairly standard practice for Malaysian politicians; trying to blame video games for the country’s crime and violence issues instead of something that, you know, might make more sense like their uneven distribution of wealth or severely lackluster education system….

My, Oh My Minecraft…

One foreign government’s backwards view of video games is bad enough, but sadly our own country still manages to harbor its fair share of people who’d rather blame video games for violence-related issues. Such a case happened last Friday when a nine year old boy was sentenced to home confinement by a judge after coming to school with a steak knife, a small-handled sledge hammer, and his father’s handgun in his backpack. The boy was acting out what he’d seen in a game according to his father; the game in question? Minecraft. Yes, you read that correctly, Minecraft.

According to the local Florida news team which covered the story, the boy had no intentions of actually using the weapons and instead was just keeping them as a means to protect himself from zombies, which is something you do in Minecraft. The boy’s father later confirmed that the handgun couldn’t even be fired as the firing pin had been removed. 

That still didn’t stop the news network from painting Minecraft, a game which is being used as part of first grade curriculum in other states for god’s sake, in a very negative light; essentially blaming it for the child’s behavior instead of, oh I don’t know, the parent who kept a steak knife, a small sledgehammer, and a freaking *handgun* within easy reach of his child.

That’s the major news of this week folks! Tune in next week to see what new announcements and stories the gaming world brings us!

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