Welcome to 'Blogged Out', the news report that looks at the world of developer blogging and the conversations being had with the community at large. This week we visit Chris Bateman, GrumpyGamer, Brett Douville and Big G.
Addicted To Games?
This week we've been reading the blogging of Chris Bateman over on Only A Game
. He's not afraid of the big issues, and he takes some time to get to grips with the issue of addiction and games
. Comparing games with other addictive activities, he suggests that perhaps gaming needs an independent watchdog body to oversee its activities: "I believe we need to insist on a consistent policy on addictive activities. The government isn't going to restrict shopping or work (as they drive the economy), although they may impose restricted hours for shop opening or work (except in the United States where people are apparently allowed to be treated like slaves)."
He continues: "Gambling is similarly regulated, but is generally available for those who want it (except in the US where people are not allowed the freedom of choice to gamble in some States). Pornography and prostitution is also regulated. Games need not be treated any more severely than these other activities, which is to say, all that is needed is a 'watchdog' to establish acceptable boundaries for the industry."
Such suggestions are all very well, but defining what such bodies are capable of is extremely difficult, especially when all the drug comparisons going around are rather ill placed. As a recent New Scientist article
on games addiction points out, games have other factors in their delivery: "Maressa Hecht Orzack, who founded a computer addiction service at McLean Hospital in Boston, US, agrees that the condition has a lot in common with other addictions. What makes it tougher is that gamers cannot simply abstain from using computers - they are now an integral part of our lives. In that sense, it has to be approached in the same way as an eating disorder, she suggests." Watchdog bodies might try to advise on foods, but actually regulating eating habits is impossibility for any official body - and the same may be true of games.
Sony Rooted Out
Another big issue for the games blogosphere this month is Sony's rootkit
(a controversial system to stop copying of music CDs) which, according to a number of reports, leaves PCs open to security vulnerabilities as well as install troubling DRM. Ron Gilbert has some questions
about what it means. Go read. And think.
Gaming By Episode
This week Brett Douville touches on a subject close to my heart
: episodic content and online delivery. He argues that we should not try to compare episodic gaming with episodic TV, since the method or purchase and delivery is so different. "So it seems like a great way to go is episodic content through Steam-like services, where downloads and an active network connection work both ends of this problem."
He continues: "Downloading as a delivery method permits the developer to sell for less and make the same revenue (since the cost of goods is lower), and the active network connection limits the license to one user (or more accurately, one computer). There will be backlash, sure, but there were plenty of people signed up for Steam getting their Counterstrike: Source
on before Half-Life 2
was available -- I think the right carrots will make it a viable approach." Mmm, tasty carrots.
Finally we visit another of games development's big issues, this time from the unique perspective of the satirical 'Big G', who believes that there just isn't enough management out there
... "At the top will be the visionary. He'll come up with the high-level concept like "clone Halo
". He'll give useful feedback like "make it more fun" and "this isn't cool enough". Below him, we have the chairmen of the right and left sides of the screen. Each one is responsible for all the bugs, gameplay and art that fall on their half of the screen. They both are responsible for the board of directors (which of course has a chairman) that includes director of fun, director of ripping other games off, director of doing nothing, director of time wasting, and director of scheduling."
[Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK – his game journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times.]