Category Archives: Opinion

Save Your Money And Stop Pre-Ordering Your Games

Pink and blue aesthetic computer keyboard and Playstation 4 controller
Photo by Lucie Liz from Pexels

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.

Gamechangers: Final Fantasy X – The Last Great Final Fantasy PT I

Final Fantasy X Extended Trailer

Listen to my story. This…may be our last chance.

Tidus, Final Fantasy X

In 2001, SquareSoft released Final Fantasy X. It was a game of firsts for the franchise and for Playstation 2 console. Final Fantasy X was the first game in the series to have fully voiced characters and three-dimensional backdrops as supposed to pre-rendered scenes. Final Fantasy X was also the first Final Fantasy game featured on the Playstation 2.

Final Fantasy X was my first Final Fantasy game. For so many gamers, it remains not only a classic but rivals the story and characters of Final Fantasy VII. Now that’s saying something.

I first discovered Final Fantasy X in the CD compartment of our Playstation 2. I was eight years old then. My fingers pushed the eject button on the console and out came the game. The CD’s cover art featured Tidus, Final Fantasy X’s main character. Tidus stood in an ocean, knee deep in water. A mix of sun and cloud covered the sky as he stared forward.

The cover art didn’t make any sense to me. I thought it was weird, but my eight-year-old self gave the game a shot anyways.

It is true what they say, beauty truly is skin deep. Final Fantasy X is more than what the cover art could express. From beginning to end, Final Fantasy X is a masterpiece.

You follow and control Tidus in the Final Fantasy X’s world, Spira. The first scene starts the gamer off easy. Tidus runs across his hometown Zanarkand to a blitzball tournament, the game’s underwater sport. I gazed at the new and fantastical world. The colours were drab in brown and yellow tones. The mood felt solemn. A radio host spoke in the background about a man named Jecht, Tidus’s father and a beloved blitzball player. I reached the end of the map and a CGI cutscene begins. This beginning cutscene that sets the rest of the story into motion.

Watch the Final Fantasy X Story timeline to get a gist of the story.

My mouth remained opened the entire cutscene. Dark clouds surrounded Tidus as he slowly becomes sucked into it. The screen suddenly turns white.

“What’s going to happen now?” I thought. This is how it felt like to play Final Fantasy X.

The story surprised me and continued to surprise me.

Every character storyline and every plotline twist was unprecedented. SquareSoft gave the gamer a chance to get to know Tidus. By the end of the game, it felt like I traveled with a friend.

I’m trying my best not to spoil you. If you ever play Final Fantasy X, you are in for the ride of your life.

Finally Mourning The Loss Of Final Fantasy XV

Woman with glasses in an arcade
Photo by Ryan Jacobson on Unsplash

“Prompto, Gladio, Ignis. I leave it to you. Walk tall, my friends”.

– Noctis, Final Fantasy XV

Ten years – that’s how long fans waited for the next numbered Final Fantasy game. Boy, what a ride. What. A. Ride.

After multiple delayed launches, a name change and a complete story rework, what we got was Final Fantasy XV.

I remember driving down to my nearest GameStop to buy Final Fantasy XV Day One Edition for the PS4. The store’s midnight launch party only 12 hours before was cancelled. The winter storm died down overnight. My brother and I were surprised by the lack of attention the game got in-store.

Fresh copies of the game covered an entire shelf, waiting for its next gamer. I quickly grabbed the game and ran to the cashier. The game I waited ten years for was finally in my hands.

Final Fantasy XV – Stand Together Trailer

From beginning to end, I was enthralled by Final Fantasy XV’s characters and beautiful open world map. I was overwhelmed. I had so much to see and do. My eyes were going through a sensory overload. This is exactly how I want to feel everytime I play an open world game.

Noctis, Prompto, Ignis and Gladiolus are my favourite characters in any video game genre ever. These characters’ bromance are not only believable but enjoyable to watch. Their in-game banter is meticulously timed with every game play action and scene. These tiny, tiny details is why I still play Final Fantasy XV today.

My first few hours in FFXV took my breath away.

The next 20 hours or so, well, it wasn’t the best.

Final Fantasy XV’s main story felt rushed. To this day I still don’t understand the story. Some how daemons taking control of Eos (the game’s world) didn’t seem like such a bad thing. I loved the world but I wasn’t attached to the other characters that inhabited it. I only cared about four characters. So what if all the other characters disappeared? If my boys are alright, then so am I.

The sidequests were boring and unfulfilling. NPCs were also boring. After I finished the main game and extra dungeons, the game replay value drastically plummeted.

I was sold on the world but not the story.

First 12 minutes of Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV movie

I still love the game in spite of all the criticism. Even when Square Enix cancelled their second set of DLCs, Final Fantasy XV: The Dawn of the Future, I was still supportive. I even bought the other four DLCs and Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition for the PC. I watched the Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV movie and all five episodes of Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV anime. I also plan to buy the Final Fantasy XV: The Dawn of the Future novel. I was a mega fan from release date to the DLCs cancellation. I was loyal to the bitter end and I didn’t mourn the loss of the game until now.

Square Enix, FFVX’s game developer, are masterminds in creating video game worlds. They revolutionized the RPG video game genre. FFXV is still a good game but honestly, it isn’t their best game. I know this, other gamers also know this and video game journalists also know this.

Final Fantasy XV is a perfectly unfinished masterpiece. I’m sad the game fans were promised is gone. The original story ideas are probably sitting in a game dev’s computer right now. We’re never going to know the true potential of Final Fantasy XV’s gameplay, characters and world.

As for me, I still need more time to mourn the loss of Final Fantasy XV. After ten years of patiently waiting, I’m not sure I’m going to get over this disappointment anytime soon.

Why Are Video Game Award Shows So Cringy?

Falling confetti
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Ah, yes, award show season. It’s a time to celebrate the achievements of gaming’s best from game development studios to game devs.

Now, I realize gamers aren’t exactly known for their extroverted demeanor but do we deserve – nay – need video game award shows? I can barely watch one all the way through. I dislike any and all video game award shows. I know they exist but not enough for me to pay attention to them .

My first and last video game award show was VGX 2013, previously known as the Spike Video Game Awards. If there were some redeeming quality it would be the video games and the video games only.

I’ll let the AngryJoeShow explain just how bad VGX 2013 was.

Here are a few reasons why video game awards shows are so cringy (in my opinion):

  1. Clueless celebrities as hosts or guest stars (as in they aren’t gamers, at all)
  2. Impersonable hosts
  3. Jokes seemed forced and don’t always match the subject matter
  4. Not-so-subtle advertising (does anyone remember Robot Razer?)
  5. Blatant video gamer stereotypes
  6. More emphasis on popular video games than good video games (no, they are not one in the same)

I also heard The Game Awards 2019 was pretty cringy. No, I am not going to watch it to find out just how cringy.

What do you think about video game award shows? Do you look forward to them every year? Let me know in the comment section below.

China Introduces Gaming Curfew For Minors – Is This The Right Move?

Child holding stuffed animal over their shoulders
Photo by Kevin Mueller on Unsplash

The worst thing a kid can say about homework is that it is too hard. The worst thing a kid can say about a game is it’s too easy.”

Henry Jenkins

On November 5th, the Chinese government introduced its gaming curfew for minors. Chinese children are only allowed 90 minutes of game time on weekdays and 3 hours on weekends.

With so many ways to play video games, is China’s video game ban going to work?

The government seems to think so. The new rule is a preventative measure, ensuring young kids do not become addicted to video games. You know what they say start ’em early.

But the new curfew is only for online gaming networks, not all types of video games. In this case, I think the Chinese government is concerned about games like Fortnite and League of Legends, two games that show the worst of online gaming culture.

The online gaming culture is, for lack of a better term, toxic. Many online gamers become highly engrossed in the game and invest hundreds of dollars in loot boxes. It’s easy to become carried away when you can pay to win.

Online gamers can become rude and irritable if they don’t get their way. I suppose that can be for anyone, but missing a “wombo combo” isn’t worth losing your mind.

It’s still too early to say if the curfew will be effective in preventing video game addiction. I think this starts a conversation about parents roles in their child’s online gaming consumption. Parents and guardians should learn about the effects of online gaming addiction, and not leave them without blame.

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

PC gamer playing in front of desktop computer
Photo by Fredrick Tendong on Unsplash

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.

Going On Pink And The Aesthetic-Gaming-Device Craze

Guy wearing pink sweater tossing blue Playstation 3 controller in the air
Photo by Florian Gagnepain on Unsplash

Everyone has played video games at some point these days, and video games are fun.

PewDiePie

The Quartz Pink Edition Razor gaming devices directly calls to my girly side. As a girl gamer, I’ve always wanted aesthetic gaming devices. The black and red or black and green gamer colour scheme isn’t my colour.

Even though this iteration of Razor gaming devices isn’t new, the rise of aesthetic gaming devices is.

Remember, when being called a gamer meant instant social Siberia? Today, being called a gamer is a badge of honour. The types of games people play say something about themselves. Your video game sub-genre preferences say something about the kind of person you are. If you play predominantly single-player games, then you must be an introvert. If you play League of Legends, you must be an extrovert (and somewhat of a spaz).

Similarly, your gaming device brand preference shows if you’re a serious gamer or not. Highly-stylized devices with bright neon colours not only grab our attention but casual gamers’ attention. More and more people buy gaming devices for the look, not necessarily to utilize its capabilities.

Do you buy gaming devices according to brand, or do you pay more attention to the look?

Share your opinion below!

We Need More Interesting Female Protagonists In Gaming

Toy queen archer
Photo by vinsky2002 on Pixabay

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?

PC gamer playing Fortnite on desktop
Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash

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.