Category Archives: Featured

Save Your Money And Stop Pre-Ordering Your Games

Pink and blue aesthetic computer keyboard and Playstation 4 controller
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I loved pre-ordering my video games. There’s nothing better than waking up on release day and dropping by a GameStop to pick it up. I’m not standing in a long line outside the store. I’m not waiting for the Steam version to show the ‘buy’ button.

I already have the game.

I didn’t necessarily pre-order because I wanted the steel book cover or the figurine. I wanted to play the game sooner than most people.

Last year, I stopped pre-ordering my video games, both physical and online copies. Here are three reasons why pre-ordering your video games is going to cost you time and money in the long run.

Release-day Patches

Ah, yes, the infamous release-day patches. Remember when we used to get complete games upon release? Yeah, me too, but that’s no longer the case.

Is a tiny patch going to ruin my gameplay? Probably not, although it makes me lose confidence in the game company.

Pre-order Extras Aren’t Worth It

I’ll admit, there are some pretty cool pre-order extras out there. The Persona 5 The Royal Phantom Thieves Edition is beautiful, for lack of a better term. Do I need it? Absolutely not.

Pre-order extras usually cost more money too. Last time I checked, I play the game, not the extras.

Steam Sales

Did your wallet start sweating profusely? So did mine. Now, I found that if a game is well received, the price stays at $69.99 for a few months. If a game isn’t received well, it starts to drop in price much faster.

This trick works for physical video game copies too. Thanks to Steam, you don’t have to leave the house to get the sale.

Of course, just because the game you’re interested in isn’t widely loved, it doesn’t mean it’s not good. There are many, many reasons why video game journalists and gamers don’t like a game.

What you like is up for you to decide.

The Witcher Season 1 Soundtrack And Other Witcher Content To Tide You Over

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Jaskier:
Toss a coin to your witcher
O Valley of Plenty
O Valley of Plenty, oh-oh-oh
Toss a coin to your witcher
A friend of humanity

From The Witcher – Season 1 Episode 2: ‘Four Marks’ (1×02) | Produced by Netflix

It’s been over a month since Netflix’s The Witcher Season 1 and the hype just keeps getting more hype.

Netflix’s The Witcher Season 1 Spotify Playlist

For anyone that is still singing Toss a Coin to Your Witcher, you can finally sing it on-the-go through your Spotify account. The Witcher season 1 soundtrack is finally here! It is a truly great Friday, indeed.

On another note, the third installment of The Witcher video game series, The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, has more than 100k gamers on Steam playing the game simultaneously, four years after its release date. It’s not unnatural for an online video game to have a high number of gamers playing at once, but it is unprecedented for a single-player RPG game.

CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher video game series

If you still can’t get enough of the White Wolf, there are five video games under The Witcher IP including The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt DLCs, Blood and Wine and Hearts of Stone. Here’s a link to the entire The Witcher video game franchise available on Steam. It will take you several months to get through one video game, trust me.

Now, after you’ve played The Witcher video games, you’ll learn about the in-game card game, Gwent. If you have an abundance of patience, then give Gwent a try. Here’s a link to Gwent: The Witcher Card Game. By the way, Gwent: The Witcher Card Game isn’t on Steam, so you’ll have to download it separately.

Official The Witcher swag

Gamers are also avid video game nicknack collectors. CD Projekt Red, the video game developer for The Witcher video game series, has some pretty amazing swag on their website. If I had the money for a Geralt Ronin Figure, I would buy it in a heartbeat. Here’s a link to CD Projekt Red Store for The Witcher.

The Witcher also has FunKo POP! vinyl dolls. The dolls are definitely much more affordable than the Geralt Ronin Figure.

The Witcher book series and comics

And, of course, we can’t forget about Andrzej Sapkowski, the man who wrote The Witcher book series the Netflix series and video games are inspired by.

Sapkowski’s first book for The Witcher series, The Last Wish, is a collection of six short stories, mostly flashbacks of Geralt of Rivia’s travels. Does this sound familiar?

If you’re interested in reading the book series, you can check out Barnes&Noble’s how-to guide to get started. There are also The Witcher book series how-to guides on PCGamer.com and Reddit. I bet YouTube has a few great book series guides as well.

Eisner Award winner, Paul Tobin, wrote The Witcher comic books based on the video game series. The comic book series have five issues, starting with The Witcher: House of Glass. Upon reading the summary for each issue, it seems like the comic books are a collection of the monster hunter’s travels. Getting himself in trouble again it seems. Check out Dark Horse Comics’ website to get your copy.

Witcher Wiki Fandom

Can you even call yourself a fan you if haven’t gone out of your way to read The Witcher Wiki Fandom? Yes, you can, but learning more about Geralt’s ugly, horrifying, and yet, beautiful world is worth getting lost in an entry about strigas.

The Witcher Wiki Fandom has entries about the books and the video games but remember, the books are the only canon The Witcher source material. Everything that exists outside of the literary IP are inspired by the books and are not canon to the entire storyline.

How are you keeping yourself distracted before Netflix’s The Witcher season 2? Let me know on the comment section below.

5 Reasons To Watch Netflix’s The Witcher

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“Nonsense,” said the witcher. “And what’s more, it doesn’t rhyme. All decent predictions rhyme.”

― Andrzej Sapkowski, The Last Wish

Yes, I have watched Netflix’s The Witcher – twice. Yes, it is as amazing as the fans say. No, you should not take the critics’, well, critique of the show to heart. If you haven’t watched the series yet, here are five reasons why you need to watch The Witcher season one. Now.

1. Netflix hired seasoned, talented actors to bring Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher to life. Aside from being physically capable to move like a Witcher, Henry Cavill is a The Witcher mega fan himself. Cavill read the books and played all of The Witcher video games. Cavill doesn’t just ooze Geralt of Rivia – he is Geralt of Rivia. Anya Chalotra, who plays Yennefer of Vengerberg in The Witcher Netflix series, got her acting start in theatre. Chalotra starred in West End theatre productions and eventually moved onto television. Freya Allan, who portrayed Princess Cirilla, had her share of acting roles as well but none quite as big as her role in The Witcher series.

2. If you haven’t seen the memes, remixes and mashups of Joey Batey’s (who plays Jaskier in the show) Toss A Coin To Your Witcher – you are missing out. I wish they had this song in the Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. I can only imagine.

I recommend you watch the show, so the memes finally start making sense.

3. The Witcher season one follows the stories of the main characters, Geralt, Yennefer and Cirilla or Ciri for short. We are not only watching three different stories but three different timelines, each happening simultaneously. The character’s timelines skip backwards and forwards through time, obviously confusing a lot of fans. This is why I think Netflix’s The Witcher has such high rewatch value. After you see the show once, you have an idea of how the timelines work. The second watch through is so much more enjoyable. Not only that, you start to pick up on small details you haven’t noticed the first time around.

4. The Netflix series welcomes all fans from all avenues. Like most fans to The Witcher series, I started my journey through Andrzej Sapkowski’s mystical whirlwind through the Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt by video game developer, CD Projekt Red. You could have started with The Witcher book series or the video games or even the 2001 Polish movie adaptation The Hexer – it doesn’t matter. Although, I must say, first-timers to The Witcher series may be confused – at least in the beginning. The series has plenty of lore, too much if you aren’t used to high fantasy but there are wonderful resources online that can help you make sense of it all.

5. The Witcher series showrunner, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, knows what she’s doing. Hissrich wrote and produced a number of highly acclaimed shows, including Marvel’s Daredevil (2016) and Umbrella Academy (2019). Need I say more?

Bonus reason: Netflix and Hissrich even got the author of The Witcher book series, Andrzej Sapkowski, in on the action.

Ugh, this video warms the cockles of my heart.

Lastly, no, The Witcher is not the Game of Thrones – this is something completely different. I am going to leave it at that.

From Service To Monetary Gain: Are Microtransactions Changing The Way We Game?

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The obvious objective of video games is to entertain people by surprising them with new experiences.     

Shigeru Miyamoto

To put simply, yes. microtransactions are changing the way we game. Even more so, microtransactions are changing the video gaming industry – for the worst. 

For some, gaming is a way to unwind after a long day. What’s a better way to relieve stress? To win and to win big. New AAA titles make winning easy – and expensive. 

Microtransactions are small purchases, typical in free-to-play games. These purchases can buy character cosmetic upgrades, in-game currency and other upgrades. In online free-to-play and monthly subscription games, these microtransactions start to get expensive. Most microtransactions are bundles under $10, giving you more for your dollar, but better upgrades usually cost more – way more. 

Let’s take, for example, Fallout 76’s Atom Shop (I know, bear with me). Before you can buy in-game items from the shop, you need to buy the in-game currency, Atoms. 

The dollars (USD) to the Atoms exchange rate is as follows: 

  • $5 = 500 Atoms 
  • $10 = 1,100 Atoms 
  • $20 = 2,400 Atoms 
  • $40 = 50,000 Atoms 

Simple cosmetic changes, like clothing, for example, can cost anywhere from 200 to 1,100 Atoms. More highly coveted items like the Vault-Tec Power Armor Paint Set go for 1,800 Atoms. Power Armor not included. 

“Hey, that doesn’t sound so bad! So, what’s the problem?” 

The problem is that microtransactions are a pure money grab. Atom Shop – the in-game currency name is IN the shop’s name, albeit not all in-game stores are this obvious. 

Not only that, some bundles permanently upgrade character stats, making characters impossible to win against in player-versus-player (PVP). Some games even erect paywalls, capping a gamer’s progress at a critical point, a practice typical in mobile games. These paywalls either make a gamer wait a few hours until its removed or pay a sum to continue.

Video games today already costs $70 at release. The prices can change depending on public opinion (does it suck or not), but the change is usually slow.

Once upon a time, video games were a service, meaning publishers created great games, and that was that. There was no sizeable monetary gain in gaming back then. If there was, only specific genres reaped those rewards such as sports and the Super Mario Kart series.  

Today, the video gaming industry is worth $43.4 billion. The industry’s value rises with technological innovations and more AAA titles. 

Gaming is a business after all, but I do believe in not biting the hand that feeds you. 

Why VR Is Not The New Way To Game – Not Even In The Next Year

Black-and-white photo of gamer with Oculus Rift VR headset
Photo by Lux Interaction on Unsplash

The incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you’re actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it’s different from anything they’ve ever experienced in their lives.

Mark Zuckerberg

Virtual Reality (VR) is cool, but it’s not a big deal. For so many years, the gaming devices’ battles were exclusively between consoles and PCs. In 2016, Playstation and Xbox finally had a new contender, and it was determined to change gaming forever – Oculus Rift.

Now, if you followed this story back then, you know how much a single device cost – almost a thousand dollars, before taxes. Today, Oculus Rift is not as obscenely expensive but still more than a fully-geared gaming desktop. Large tech companies like Samsung, Google and HTC believed in the future of VR and invested billions into the project. Little do they know that people still like reality reality over virtual reality.

VR is a cool technology for other things like virtual reality tours and teaching people how to survive crises. For gaming, not so much. When video games upgraded from Pong to 2D to 3D to hyper-realistic graphics, it took time for people to get used to each stage. We are still on the hyper-realistic-graphics stage. Not only that, VR is synonymous to AI. Now that’s an entirely different beast to slay, so I won’t even go there. AI’s bad rep may also have trickled down to VR.

Perception is everything. VR and AI are similar in the same way they are opposite to each other. They’re both still very new technologies that can change the world. No one truly understands their capabilities or if there is a limit to their capabilities. Our current devices all have a “ceiling of innovation,” as I’d like to call it. Once devices reach this ceiling, we have to start looking for new, better ways to deliver information.

VR and AI devices both claim they can help people in some way. Sooner or later, developers will also claim VR and AI are capable of immersive gaming like our current devices. I suppose they can replace consoles and PCs one day. Until VR and AI replace everything, I’m going to enjoy sitting in front of my TV, screaming at people through a headset.

We Need More Interesting Female Protagonists In Gaming

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I love playing video games, but I’m regularly disappointed in the limited and limiting ways women are represented.

Anita Sarkeesian

I am the only female in my friend group that plays video games. And, I’m not talking about cute cell phone games like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood or Alpha Bear (although both those games are great in their way). I’m talking about The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt – with their emotionless, monster-slayer Geralt. I’m talking about Persona 5 – with their dark but honest depiction of Japanese society. Both of these games have male protagonists – only male protagonists, only male viewpoints.

If you’ve played games for as long as I have (over 20 years), then you know the male perspective dominates the gaming sphere. It never used to bother me. I played many video games with a male perspective, but this got me thinking. I like games like Devil May Cry, Kingdom Hearts, The Witcher video game series, and Persona video game series because they have better, more exciting storylines. Each video game that I just listed all have male protagonists. There are, of course, many great games with female protagonists, but not all of them are great plot-wise.

Not to say we don’t have interesting female video game characters in general because we do. What we don’t have enough of are strong leading ladies represented in a non-sexist viewpoint.

I always wanted to play a female protagonist sans the suggestive outfit — a cool female main character. With more than 52 per cent of gamers being female, you’d think there would be more interesting female protagonists. Most games in the Final Fantasy franchise have male playable characters except for Final Fantasy X-2 (Yuna) and Final Fantasy XIII (Lighting). Many MMORPGs and fighting games have female characters to choose from their roster. Newer, AAA titles have very detailed character creation such as Guild Wars and World of WarCraft. You can now make a character in your likeness, a character creation so robust you can mimic your lip shape to your eyebrow raise.

So, what’s the fuss, right? Wrong. There is a fuss.

Female’s representation in video games doesn’t always jive with me. Some female characters are too feminine or nice or “easy” – none of these represent me or singular female experience. I wish there was less over-sexualization of women in video games. I wish female characters weren’t known or addressed as “weaker” than their male counterparts. At the very least, publishers shouldn’t deliberately give female characters weaker stats as “part of the storyline”.

For example, in Final Fantasy X, the female characters had the lowest stats out of the other characters. It meant that I couldn’t go into battle without a stronger, albeit male, character.

If video games today are still profitable with a mainly male perspective, then why bother changing the formula, right? At least that’s what I think some game developers are thinking.

I believe video games are stories. As much as they are an entertainment medium, video games are stories first, like novels. We don’t question nor bat an eyelash for male or female protagonists in actual novels, why do we care more for video game characters? When did the rules change?

Because video games are an experience, you pick up the controller to move the character you become the character. But just like a character in a novel, they have their own story to tell. Your job as a gamer is to get the protagonist from level to level, section to section until they meet their untimely end or not. We can personify the main characters all we want, but they’re only a vehicle to tell us, the gamer, a story. World history and other real-life events inspire video games. Unfortunately, sexism is part of our history.

Video games are just another storytelling medium – like movies, novels, and television shows. But sometimes, I wonder, what would the gaming industry look like if there were more stories told in the female perspective.

Why do you play video games? Do you think there should be more female protagonists in video games?

Share your opinions with me below!

Are Video Games Making Children More Aggressive?

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A game is a series of interesting choices.

Sid Meier

I had no idea what I was doing in university. My undergrad was a long five-year stint. I felt like every university student meme out there, especially when it came to taking the required courses. All first-year students had no choice but to take an academic writing course. It’s a course that teaches university students, well, how to be university students. From MLA, APA to Chicago Style, we learned how to write it all in under four months. I lived and breathed academic writing. 

Our semester-end assignment was a combination of everything we learned and how to argue for or against a topic. Our professor gave us free rein to choose any topic we wanted, just as long as we presented an argument. I was an avid gamer, even in 2011, so naturally, I chose something gaming related. The topic I chose was “The Effects of Violent Video Games on Adolescent’s Aggressive Behaviour: A Short Review.” I realized it was a huge undertaking, but I was interested in the subject matter. 

What I learned didn’t surprise me. 

Through my research on the topic, I learned violent video games can contribute to aggressive behaviour in adolescents – emphasis on can. A child’s temperament, upbringing, socioeconomic status and signs of pre-existing behavioural problems are also important factors that can effect aggressive behaviour. Violent video games alone are not a sole contributor to the makings of an aggressive child. 

What about sex? 

I’m glad you asked. Females and males react to violent video games differently. Females and males react to violence differently, in general. Males are biologically more aggressive than females and tend to be influenced by games more. Even a child’s age can change the way they react to violent games. 

But if this is the case, why are violent video games still considered the problem? 

Once again, there are many factors. Video games, I think, are still a very new form of entertainment. How video games affect our everyday actions is still under a large question mark.

Have you ever played a video game and completely forgot about everyone else? Have you ever spoken to an NPC (non-playable character) as if they were in front of you? Yeah, me too. Video games today are so advance and life-like that people can forget the difference between what is real and imagined. If an adult gamer has moments like this, imagine how difficult it would be for a child. 

There is no perfect answer to this. The video gaming industry is a business. The industry knows what sells and life-like virtual experiences sell, especially violent video games.

Playing video games, nowadays it is considered cool. Gone are the days when sitting in front of a computer or a TV screen for hours was lame. 

Today, we are dealing with a new wave of technologically-savvy young people. We have a bunch of research on how it negatively affects them. Somehow, we have to teach them healthy technological consumption; the earlier we start, the better. 

If you’re curious, I linked a copy of my university paper, “The Effects of Violent Video Games on Adolescent’s Aggressive Behaviour: A Short Review,” for you.

What do you think about the violent video games debate? Should there be more regulation in the types of video games children can play? Should we get rid of video games altogether? Let me know in the comments below.