Archive

Archive for the ‘wii’ Category

Are You Embarrassed by Your Video Games?

April 17, 2010 2 comments

I have a long and inglorious gaming history. My Twitter profile states I am an “Avid (but useless) gamer”, which is pretty accurate.

Online games are pretty easy places for an old fart like me to get embarrassed, but I was pretty bad back in the days of my first multiplayer experiences – Hexen on the corporate LAN after hours. I did better playing the original Worms multiplayer, which is still one of the most fun online games ever.

Fast-forward a few years and Battlefield 1942 was the next online lowlight for me. Perhaps using a tag of ‘fragbait_newboy’ was asking for it. I spawned so often in that game I considered changing my tag to frogboy!

I’d like to think my online inabilities are due to age and declining reactions, so perhaps Microsoft need to take pity on folks like myself. Forget “Live”, let’s petition them to create a service just for us old folk, so we don’t have to put up with all those young kids with lightning fast thumbs.

Walrus
Walrus

Interactive gaming has perhaps the greatest potential for embarrassment, though. We have a Wii Fit Balance Board, which appraises your levels and makes your on-screen avatar, or Mii, look how it thinks you are. Wii Fit told me I was fat, and morphed my Wii into something resembling a Walrus.

Nintendo also has a vitality sensor now, designed to monitor you during physical activity. Some games can now use the sensor to detect your ‘fear’ level and back off on the scares. So not only does it insult you physically, the Wii is now capable of questioning your manhood!

We are now approaching a new era in embarrassing possibilities, though, with the advent of Project Natal from Microsoft. A recent demo of Natal was impressive mostly for the fact that the motion sensing system detected the gamer as female!!! How the hell does it do that? More importantly, will it detect my man-boobs and perform gender reassignment!

Advertisements

What techy/nerdy things were ‘must haves’ for you over the last decade?

February 12, 2010 3 comments

There are far too many things I consider that I can no longer live without! Some gadgets, some trends, all life savers in their own way. The Top 5 are below, with some honourable mentions.

And in no particular order …

1) TV on DVD
With the shortening of the window from broadcast to DVD release, TV on DVD really seemed to come into its own in the last decade. (Stargate Universe is taking the you-know-what though, releasing a ‘Season 1.0’ DVD before they even complete the season!) I have to admit, I love me my TV shows, but I simply can’t stand half of the crap on these days. It’s mostly reality shows I hate, and there seem to be a LOT of them. Finding a good show you missed the first time round, and then being able to sit night after night and just enjoy it all is fantastic. It also gives you a chance to unearth some real gems – like the UK version of “Life on Mars”, and the follow-up “Ashes to Ashes” (both available from BBC worldwide). Catching up on a still-running show is a pain though … we are now fully caught up on Chuck and almost so on Dexter. After weeks of continual enjoyment, waiting a week for the next episode seems an eternity 🙂

2) TiVo / PVR
If you have to watch a current show, a PVR is the way to go. It’s not just for the odd time you miss a show either, being able to skip ads, or fast-forward through them if your TV provider only offers crappy low end PVR’s. I would be lost without my PVR. Pausing live TV, skipping back to re-listen when the kids start fighting and you miss something – it’s a God-send if you’re a parent. When you think back to the days of VHS tapes (or Beta if you picked the loser), and SP, LP, SLP, snapping tapes, crappy recordings etc. etc., the PVR just seems so civilized. TiVo wasn’t available in Canada when I first got my PVR, perhaps any users can enlighten me to what I’m missing, and whether it’s worth moving up to?

3) Universal Remote
Much like the PVR, I didn’t know how much I needed a Universal remote. I have a rechargeable Logitech Harmony model, and it easily replaced four remotes. The setup is not quite as easy as they make out (you need a net connection, to install the required software, to know the models of all your equipment, and be fairly tech-savvy). Once set up though, your profile allows changes easily, and you can transfer the profile easily if you upgrade or switch models of remote. The only thing it can’t control is my PS3, but I know Logitech does offer an adapter. RF models or adapters are also available if your equipment is out of line-of-sight. You may think why bother, but getting a decent, high-end Universal will more than pay you back.

As an aside, I would like to thank all the useless 10-pin bowlers at Dell Canada. My wife won our Harmony remote by bowling a meager 135 at a Dell event!

4) Xbox 360
Avid followers of my blog will know that I was a pretty hardcore PC gamer until fairly recently. Even after my first 360 RROD’ing it’s still my primary game platform now though. The vast library of games, and those damn achievement points, make it virtually indispensible – in fact, we have two of them in the house. I don’t share well with others, so the kids had to get their own! I sometimes worry that my kids’ childhood memories of ‘playing’ with their father will be of co-op Left 4 Dead, and not picnics, swings, and such – but as long as they are happy memories, is that a bad thing?

5) PS3
We are a 3-console household, having all the next-gen consoles … you will note we are now at #5 on the list, and no Wii though. The PS3 is simply a great piece of hardware. Not only is it rivalling my 360 in terms of game-hours played, but being our Blu-ray player and media server, it is definitely used more than the 360. The wireless streaming of content to my TV from the TVersity software on my PC is virtually seamless. A little IP spoofing later and voila, Hulu direct to my TV. The 360 was useless wirelessly for this.


Honourable Mentions

We still play the Wii now and then, but the lack of serious games make it more a novelty. Wii Sports still gets played the most, and to be honest, I’m disappointed I got Guitar Hero and Rock Band for the Wii, instead of waiting until I had the other consoles. Wii Fit had some potential too, and it’s failure probably says more about my lack of willpower than anything bad about the product – although it did rather rudely tell me I was fat. I guess the truth hurts!

I never embraced on-the-go Internet, I never saw the point of it. I finally got an iPhone just this Christmas, so one week of the last decade is far too little time to make this list. Having my first data plan, and a smart-device capable of easily making use of it, has been great though. I’m not sure if my Twitter followers like the idea of me being able to share so frequently,  however.

I consider Xbox Live as a separate beast from the 360 itself, and what a beast it is. 20 Million users, and unlike Twitter or World of Warcraft, I don’t see it plateauing any time soon. My Gold membership is up next month, and to be honest, I won’t miss it. I play online so infrequently now it won’t get renewed. yes, it’s only $5 a month, which is nothing for what it is, but that’s at least three extra coffees from Tim Horton’s every month!

The indisputable winner as gadget of the last decade was the iPod. Again, I never had one. I had mp3 players, and loved my Sony-Ericsson Walkman phone, but rarely used it, as my commute is short, and I’m not often away from direct sources of music (read that as ‘rarely off the couch’).

‘On Demand’ will probably be the way of the next decade, but made enough impact over the last  few years to signal its intention. TV shows and movies have been On Demand for a while now, and it sure beats the days of waiting for that movie or show to start on pay-per-view. On Demand is all about control, and the digital infrastructure is now in place for it to really make an impact. Digital delivery and On Demand may be the death knell for the neighborhood video store.

I’m often told that once you go High Def you’ll never go back. I have had a HD capable TV since the last soccer World Cup in 2006 – I love LG, really I do! I have just never gone that extra step and got the HD-PVR and package to utilize it. I’m pretty happy with the definition I have. Perhaps it’s like the Harmony, I may not be able to live without it once I go that route, but for now, I can’t miss what I don’t have.

Blu-ray movies are pretty much the same as above. We own about a dozen Blu-ray movies now, and while I see the quality, it’s more the capacity that excites me. The disks mean lots of room for special features, extra content, additional commentaries – the works! So why are companies cashing in by re-releasing old movies with little or no content on Blu-ray? I guess I answered my own question there – but I’ll still watch First Blood about every month 🙂

What do you consider indispensible in your life?

The (Video Game) Worlds Worst Vacation Spots

January 25, 2010 4 comments

With crappy weather dominating this January, the mind starts wandering to getting away from it all – but be careful where you decide to vacation. Hopefully this guide will help you to avoid those spots that will ruin your trip, assuming time and space are no impediment. You won’t find many of these locations on SellOffVacations, but what the hey!

We’ll start with the kids. If you’re in the deep south, be sure to avoid Whispering Oaks Amusement Park. Although the ride lines will be short, there are health risks – above and beyond those generally posed by deep fried food and collateral damage from civil war re-enactments. You might find the odd garden gnome, but don’t assume that means this place is Travelocity recommended!

Pandora might look like a beautiful vacation spot, but there are reports of unrest from the indigenous inhabitants. Reports also suggest that James Cameron is considering buying the whole planet as a second home – and I don’t know anyone who could stand a full week of Cameron talking incessantly about his latest project.

If adventure holidays are more your style, you could be considering a Himalayan odyssey… Don’t. A Mr. Sullivan from Uncharted 2-ers was recently arrested for fraud after bilking several groups of tourists out of monies paid in advance for guided mountain tours. His associates are still at large.

If urban decay is okay with you, you may be considering City 17, Jacinto, or Karachi. Even google maps won’t help you if you book your trip to Karachi with Infinity Ward Travel. The locals won’t be much help either, since all the street signs are in Arabic, and they speak English or Urdu. City 17 is no better, and Jacinto – well, unless you’re into bugs & worms, or want to try out the seismograph app on your iPhone, give it a miss.

With renewed interest in Renaissance Italy of late, package tours to Florence & Venice are very popular. Beware though, pickpockets are rife, and an increased crime rate means you will be lucky not too see the odd dead body. The chances are that someone in your party will also be hurt by falling archers!

The best idea is to just stay at home and play more games!

Suggestions for additional locations are welcome, just leave a comment. Also, any places you WOULD like to go on vacation from the video game world?

Achievement Whoreing

January 13, 2010 4 comments

I freely admit I am a nerd, never denied it. I also answer to geek, and a few other names I’d rather not share on a public forum … an achievement whore, however, I’ve never been called.

nullI just “finished” Assassins Creed 2 (yes, I was bloody confused as well, even after seeing the whole Truth video), yet my PS3 Trophy list shows I am at 90% complete. As usual, there are a few achievements/trophies I don’t have yet. I don’t mind missing ones like having to kick a guard while in the flying machine, I have enough issues just getting through the missions, never mind doing it with flair! It’s those damn collectible ones I hate. I currently hate feathers. It’s not that I don’t have the patience, well, not if someone has kindly provided a detailed map of the locations (yes, that’s how I got all the shards in inFamous). Actually, I guess I don’t have the patience, at least not to do it myself. If it’s not part of the game per se, I simply don’t have the motivation. It got me wondering, who does?

A while back, I saw this story on Kotaku.com, and I kid you not, I was genuinely saddened. I wasn’t jealous, I wasn’t mad, I felt genuine pity for that girl and her comrades in the “boosting” club. She freely admits that she doesn’t even enjoy 65% of the games she plays. So what’s the point? Why would you subject yourself to horrible games, and spend a TON of money, just to get a ridiculously high gamerscore? Prestige? Are you impressed, or, like me, just find it somewhat repulsive, or unfathomable?

In a former life, I studied psychology, so I started wondering why people do this. Now, granted, this is more the realm of sociology, sociobiology, or anthropology – but hey, I may as well use that 9 years of university for something. Now, try and stay awake, who knows, we might learn something. It strikes me that this finding feathers lark is somewhat similar to the same mentality that drives people to collect those God-awful porcelain plates, or stamps – the “hunter-gatherer” mentality. We, as humans, probably lived as hunter gatherers for more than 2 million years, so is it any surprise that some of that behaviour still lurks in our DNA somewhere, I think the term is vestigial … game designers figured this out a while back, although I’m sure they described it in a far more interesting way!

Now, some collectibles do offer something, like the shards in inFamous that helped you level up, or Cog Tags that expanded the back-story. They offer something more than just the achievements you get for finding them. The Glyphys in Assassins Creed 2 are a great example of this. You can play through the game without ever finding a glyph and do just fine, but finding them all gives you a great insight into the background of the game world, and the puzzles, while frustrating at times, can be fun too. The Assassin Tombs are also good. You can finish the game quite easily without finding one, but getting Altair’s Armor is pretty cool, even if it does make the game a bit too easy at times.

If it weren’t for true in-game achievements, however, my gamerscore and trophy collection would be even weaker than they already are. By this, I mean those achievements that you get for simply playing through the game in single player and finishing the main story line. Each DNA strand complete, each chapter, each mission, depending on the game, gets you achievements, and at least rewards you in some way for continuing. The problem with these is that you should want to play through for the fun of it, not simply to get rewarded. It almost cheapens the experience. Giving you a reward for doing something you planned to do anyway actually makes it seem less rewarding, if you follow me. Getting additional achievements for completing the game on harder difficulty levels seems fair to me, for some reason. Perhaps it’s my guilt at the fact I always play on normal 🙂

Activity achievements are the ones I have a real love-hate relationship with. You know the ones, kill 50 people with weapon X, or kill 3 people at once using a particular move. They can be fun, rewarding, frustrating, and downright annoying – all in equal measure it seems. I played through Uncharted 2 a second time just to pick up some of those trophies, although that game was so good, it really didn’t seem like a chore. Some of these also seem really arbitrary though, and really forced. Killing 20 people with grenades WHILE hanging from a wall? Er, okay. These seem to reward the especially skilled and patient, so I’m SOL, and it explains why I only completed 87% of inFamous.

The achievements that the boosters really cheat on are the online and co-op ones. I don’t play a lot online, I had so many bad experiences that I just can’t be bothered anymore. I will never come close to “completing” a game like Left 4 Dead 1/2 or Gears of War 1/2, as they feature so many online achievements, and that’s fine. I got my moneys-worth out of each of those games, and still enjoy playing them. The GOW single player campaigns were epic and wonderful.

With 20M users on Xbox Live, developers would be silly to ignore online only achievements and trophies. Let’s not beat around the bush either, Microsoft manipulates developers to include those online achievements to keep Xbox Live ticking over, as if it needed the help! Cheating to get achievements by allowing your opponent to kill you, beat you, or whatever, seems to be the way of the boosters, and is what I really don’t understand. If your life is so empty that you can only gain self-esteem by having a higher gamerscore than someone else, I think you have far bigger problems than being an achievement whore.

My bottom line is that games are meant to be enjoyed, they are, after all, games! If you enjoy hunting down those last 2 treasures in your Villa (hint: check out the well), that’s fine. Personally, I won’t be looking for the last 20+ feathers in Venice, though, it’s simply not fun for me.

The Most Dangerous Jobs for Video Game NPC’s

January 5, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve been playing a lot of Assassins Creed 2 lately, and it got me thinking that being a Venetian Archer has to be one of the most hazardous jobs for any video game NPC in history. You have a pretty short life expectancy, then you end up sliding off a roof into the street after getting a throwing knife in the back, or an assassins blade in the lungs or heart. To add insult to injury, you then get your body looted and are dumped in a pile of hay. At least the people of Venice are appalled by the looting of your body – although I notice none come to your aid.

Things have never been great for NPCs though. You can pretty much guarantee that, as an NPC, if you are dressed the same as a bunch of your mates, you are not long for the game. You might re-spawn eventually, but, much like the Cylons, I’m sure it’s not pleasant. Think of all the poor henchmen in Batman: Arkham Asylum. They stand there in their identi-kit clothes, while Harley and all the important side-kicks and other villains have great outfits, but at least Batman never actually seems to kill anyone. Wearing a Nazi uniform is also pretty much immediate death in video games!

NPCs are carrying on a great tradition of ‘extras’. I’ll bet the first extra that put on a black hat in a cowboy movie figured that someday he would be a lead actor – how wrong he was. Yes, just stand on that roof… and be sure to stick your head out, cover is only for the good guys. The same was true of any red-shirted Star Trek crew member picked for an ‘away mission’. Guy FleegmanI don’t recall anyone ever surviving a hostile planet in Star Trek if they were wearing a red shirt, at least NPCs in today’s video games usually get camouflage outfits. Guy Fleegman (Sam Rockwell) in the great Star Trek spoof “Galaxy Quest” knew this – “… I thought I was the crewman that stays on the ship and something is up there and it kills me. But now I’m thinking I’m the guy that gets killed by some monster five minutes after we land on the planet.” – and it made for a great running joke. Ricky Gervais aside, has anyone ever stood up for the lowly ‘extra’ ?

Very few NPCs get recognition, they are, like their movie counterparts, the nameless rabble in the background. You can be memorable if you are the ‘love interest’, like Chloe or Elena in Uncharted 2 (the lovely Claudia Black and Emily Rose respectively) … but does anyone really remember who even the main bad guys were?** If a character-driven blockbuster game like Uncharted 2 doesn’t even make being an NPC a great gig, what hope do lesser NPCs have! Most games just assign their NPCs as expendable, run-of-the-mill military types, aliens, horde, or cutesy characters … how many ghosts did Pac-Man kill in the 80’s, and where are PETA while Mario is still killing Turtles by the shell-full?

If you’re a regular reader (which pretty much narrows it down to ONE of my children – you know who you are!) you know Zombies feature big for me. As an NPC, if you spawn and you realize you are, in fact, a Zombie, you may as well just start writing a will. There is the odd chance you could be a “special infected”, but only the elite zombies are playable – so it’s still not looking good for you. If you find yourself in a bathroom, standing in the corner of a hotel room (facing the wall), wallowing in mud, or wandering around the food court of a mall, get your affairs in order… and for God’s sake, if you hear a clown, don’t follow him!

As Josey Wales said, “Dyin’ ain’t much of a living”.

** As an aside, Harry Flynn (Steve Valentine) and Zoran Lazarevic (Graham McTavish) were the ones I had in mind.

‘Noughty’ & Newsworthy – Part 4: Video Gaming

December 30, 2009 1 comment

The past decade has really been a great one for video games.

PC Gaming

Over the decade I have gone from a staunch PC gamer to a totally cross-platform lunatic. I finally got my dream rig this year – an Alienware PC – just in time to finally accept that gaming has moved to the consoles. So I now have a 360, PS3, and a Wii. Most big cross-platform titles are still available on PC as well, but you have to wonder for how long. World of Warcraft (WOW) still keeps over 10M subscribers glued to their PCs every month, but role playing titles, often only found on PC, have been showing up on the consoles too. Even a game like Civilization came to the consoles – with a very solid port, and garnering many positive reviews.

I’m not sure if PCs can compete on the big titles anymore, but as long as games like WOW keep updating and providing new DLC, gaming rigs will still survive. I’m afraid I have turned to the dark side though, I just can’t justify the constant upgrading to keep up with the latest games when I know they will all run flawlessly on my consoles.

The Xbox 360

A console is only as good as the games available for it, and that simply makes the 360 the best around. It still boasts the biggest library of titles available, many top exclusive titles (none bigger than the Halo and Gears of War franchises), and a great library of DLC from Xbox Live Marketplace. Couple all that with fast load times, quick updates, and the addition of social networking, and it’s a tough act to follow. 2 Million users logged into Facebook through Xbox live in the first week of its introduction alone.

Microsoft also had a VERY strong E3 this year, with a couple of Beatles, some great game announcements, and, of course, Project Natal details. Things look good for the console for the foreseeable future. Online is still where the Xbox kicks some serious ass, and the Xbox Live community is staggeringly big. Halo 2 kicked it off in 2004, passing 7M users in 2007, 10M users in 2008, and now standing at somewhere in the region of 20M users! Now, you have to balance those numbers with the recent banning of up to 1M users from Live for using modded consoles – but that still leaves on hell of a lot of people looking to kick your ass online!

One of the most overlooked pluses of the Xbox is gamer points. I’m not one that desperately hunts achievements, usually preferring to get them as they come. but it’s hard to pass up going after that achievement when it comes close. I’ve been playing lots of Left 4 Dead 2 recently (see my Raptr.com profile for proof!) and I found myself seeking out clowns, swampy mudmen, incendiary ammo, and I swore to beat that damn Moustachio! It’s hard not to get caught up in getting those in-game achievements … and that means more gametime, and more attraction for the console. PS3 trophies just don’t have the same appeal yet, and I’m not sure if they ever will.

The PS3

We got a great deal on our PS3 – my wife works for Dell, and it was open box. Without that deal I would not have owned one – and I would have missed out BIG time. I am now officially a Sony fan-boy. What a great piece of hardware the PS3 is… and there’s the problem. It’s a great bit of kit, but until recently it was only being used for Blu-ray movies and as a media server, streaming content from my PC to the TV. The PS3 kicks the 360’s ass in terms of a media server by the way. the TVersity software and the (built in) wireless capability of the PS3 is a great media server combination.

For me, though, I still played most games on my PC, or the 360. Then Uncharted came into my life, and Little Big Planet. I started paying more attention to the PS3 for games. This year alone Killzone 2, InFamous, and my game of the year, Uncharted 2 all made being a PS3 owner a wonderful experience. Add the (rather useless IMO) exclusive content for Batman:Arkham Asylum, and it was a big year for PS3 exclusives.

Sony also had a good E3, and then to finish the year, Sony finally tore down the last barrier to PS3 ownership, dropping the console price with the introduction of the new slimmer (and cheaper looking/feeling) console. There is now no reason not to get a PS3. So go get one!

The Wii

Nintendo really did something amazing in the ‘noughties’, bringing a whole new generation of people to gaming – your grandparents! Okay, so the Wii isn’t just for kids and grandparents, but Nintendo really made a fantastic family-friendly product, and there is nothing funnier than seeing your grandma kick someones butt at Wii bowling! The Wii made gaming accessible to everyone, bringing casual gamers to the console more, and making millions of others into casual gamers. Anything that gets your butt off the couch can’t be all bad.

The Wii also heralded a new direction in the console wars with its innovative control system. This year at E3 it was notable that a lot of time was devoted to showing off the Sony motion control and Microsoft’s Project Natal. The Wii balance board also took things in a new direction, with Wii Fit trying to not just get you active, but coaching you toward fitness goals. I got one, it pretty much just sits there now, mocking me … which is a lot nicer than when it rudely told me I was fat.

Portable Gaming

Games on the go have become big business, with the DSi and PSP Go being the most recent hardware to allow you to play great games virtually anywhere. The evolution of portable hardware is too complicated to go into in detail here, but new hardware now offers great graphics and gameplay, and game publishers are making sure that top titles find their way onto these smaller screens, in one form or another.

Apple’s iPhone also deserves special mention here. The iPhone has now come of age as a true gaming platform, but more than that, the App Store has allowed small developers to get some great games into our hands. The future is bright for the little guy with a big idea if he is willing to go the iPhone route.

Gaming Comes of Age

On the back of the success of consoles, gaming has gone from the realm of nerds and geeks to being seriously mainstream. Video game revenue now surpasses movies (and has since 2007), and gaming was one of the sectors to see the least shrinkage during the recent economic meltdown. The line where gaming and mainstream media meet is becoming seriously blurred. Uncharted 2 plays like a blockbuster move, which was the intention, and Left 4 Dead was conceived along similar lines. Movie stars now routinely voice game characters, and story is seen as just as important as game play. Games are becoming a media experience, not just a diversion.

The only problem I see is that since games have become such big business, it is virtually impossible for a small software house to invest the time and money required to produce a top game. You NEED to be aligned with a big publisher, and small shops have been absorbed into bigger ones, or disappeared altogether. The iPhone may become the last bastion of truly innovative, wacky games – as big software houses can’t take the risk on something that may not go big. It almost sounds like the way movie industry went.

I won’t bore you with my list of ‘games of the decade’, as there are already hundreds of lists out there – suffice to say that as a gamer this has been a wonderful decade, and I eagerly await the next one. Who knows, perhaps Project Natal won’t be lame, and Alan Wake will really get released this time.

‘Noughty’ & Newsworthy – Part 2: Blood

December 24, 2009 2 comments

You might have sensed a bit of a theme so far in this ‘noughty list’, i’d love to say it was intentional and I had some grand plan to guide you through the decade as I see fit – I don’t. Just bear with me for a few more posts.

BLOOD

A couple of themes I’d like to address under this trend. Obviously Blood follows on from the Vampire thread too, but one of the biggest literature titles of the decade took Blood in a whole new direction. The Da Vinci Code went from being a great summer page-turner to becoming a media sensation, but not without several controversies on the way.

Dan Brown weaved a seemingly plausible thread through his book, positing that Jesus may have been married to Mary Magdalene, and have fathered a child. The whole crux of the story being that this bloodline might exist to this day – with this fact being covered up by the Catholic Church – and that the Holy Grail of legend was not a cup, but the literal Blood of Christ passed down through the generations. The book was heavily criticised by scholars and theologians, but it didn’t stop it becoming a huge success, spawning Da Vinci Tours, documentaries, and a very mediocre film. Brown was even accused of stealing the idea for his book from other sources, without anything really coming of the claims. The Da Vinci Code was without doubt one of the media stories of the decade.

Hollywood is really missing a trick here though. What if a Vampire bit one of the descendants of Christ – you could really get some mileage from a Vampire Messiah movie!

As well as Vampires and Da Vinci, blood came to the fore again in the debate over violence in video games. Blood and gore in games has certainly been ramped up this decade, with many titles falling foul of ratings boards. Australia seems to get a lot of press regarding ratings, with Left 4 Dead 2 (L4D2), the great zombie shooter, one of the recent games to come up against the fact that Australia has no game rating for 18+ titles. I play L4D2 with my kids (who are 11 & 13) – so perhaps I’m not the best person to pass judgement on this – but it’s my blog, so who else is going to? L4D2 features some pretty graphic decapitations, gushing blood, and spatters of blood on your ‘screen’ – using a chain saw on a group of zombies will actually leave you barely able to see as your vision is blocked by so much blood.

Photoshop'd Ralph Lauren Model

Photoshop'd Ralph Lauren Model

Personally, I don’t see this stylised violence as a serious threat. I grew up watching Wile E. Coyote getting abused in ever more creative ways, and it did not make me run out and drop an anvil on a neighborhood dog – but perhaps that’s too simplistic a view. I am more concerned about moral ambiguity in games than violence. I will gladly play L4D2 with my kids, but wouldn’t dream of playing GTA4 in front of them. Perhaps that says more about my moral compass, or lack thereof, than anything else. The recent controversy of the Modern Warfare 2 ‘airport sequence’ is of more interest to me than blood spattering my screen. I find the way woman are portrayed in games like GTA4 far more disturbing than taking an axe to a zombie … in fact, as the father of two daughters, I think the Ralph Lauren picture shown here has far more chance of screwing up kids than computer game violence!

See another horrific RL ad, and other ridiculous uses of Photoshop here – http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/2009s-top-25-most-ridiculous-uses-of-photoshop

I’m pretty sure my kids are smart enough to figure out that killing zombies with a molotov cocktail is not something that should be imitated in real life. Ads such as this, however, filter into the subconscious, and can have a far greater effect. I have yet to be convinced that playing violent video games inures kids to real world violence, or encourages them to be more violent. In my opinion, the evidence is simply not there. Will ads like this lead to body issues in young girls? It’s far more likely.

You can find Part #1 of this year end blogging extravaganza here

Merry Christmas all!