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Gamed: Homicidal hedgehogs, Steam digs deep, and EA’s NCAA Football goes bye-bye

steam saleDuring my years in college, I worked almost full time at a liquor store in a seedy part of town, selling individual cans of beer to people that smelled like the Devil’s testicles and who were later arrested on charges of heroin smuggling (true story). After I graduated, I worked for hospices delivering medical equipment to patients to make ends meet while I tried to polish my writing. My time there was spent making friends with the doomed, and more than once having a charming encounter with infectious materials. It was like Yogi Bear grabbing a picnic basket, except the Yogi in this analogy was a foolish writer, and the picnic basket was a Staph-infected piece of medical equipment someone had just died on that sent me to a decontamination shower. Twice.

What does this have to do with gaming? Absolutely nothing. I’m just laying the groundwork in the futile hope that you won’t hate me as I take advantage of my job as the Gaming and Cinema Editor for Digital Trends. 



Like any job, mine has its frustrations. Long, long hours, the general disdain from anyone that doesn’t respect video games, and I won’t be buying that private island I have my heart set on until I find One-Eyed Willie’s treasure (I give it three years, tops). But it certainly has its advantages and I’m not complaining.

Beyond being able to work in an industry I love, doing the only job I’m really qualified to do shy of busing tables (which I kill at), it gives me the opportunity to go buck wild and write columns like this, recapping the week’s gaming news. It also means that I could legally buy a PlayStation 4 and an Xbox One and deduct them from my taxes – or at least I could if I didn’t mind the almost certain audit that would follow. 

Each week in this new column, Gamed, I’ll break down a story or two that may not have gotten a ton of attention, or even just one that I want to add my take on, and then lay out a few of the bigger news pieces of the week. If you have questions to share in the comments, I’ll try to answer those as well. 

If my takes offend you to the point where you are plotting my death, you should read this column every week for months and tell all your friends to read it too so you can study my habits. The more times you click on it, the better chance you have of succeeding – don’t ask how, it’s complicated, just trust me. If you want to send money so I will eat more, thus fattening me up to make it harder for me to run away, I applaud your moxie.

Your WTF moment of the week

The Daily Mail Accuses Sonic the Hedgehog of murder

sonic-the-hedgehog-wallpapers_20886_1152x864The British press gets a bad rep. Sure, a few of their members have been caught bribing officials and sure they tap the occasional phone. And ok, some of them like to break up important stories with the odd page full of nearly nude women. And yes, maybe there are a few – not naming names The Sun – that have a somewhat fictional view of the news so they just make it up on slow days. But they also have some really exceptional examples of journalism. This, however, is not one of them.

Earlier this week, 16-year old Brit Jake Gallagher suffered a fatal heart attack. It is a tragedy by any definition, so naturally, the Daily Mail decided to sensationalize it. Because they are pricks.

While playing Sonic the Hedgehog, Gallagher collapsed and was rushed to the hospital, where he died two days later after being declared brain dead. Gallagher suffered from cardiac dysrhythmia (“irregular heartbeat”), a term that covers any number of conditions, some of which show no symptoms. In many ways it is similar to a recent event in the U.S., when 16-year old high school basketball player Wes Leonard had a heart attack and died during a game. Like Gallagher, Leonard suffered from an undiagnosed heart condition.

Gallagher’s death is a tragedy that could have occurred in a number of ways, from playing basketball to riding a bike to playing a video game. It has led his mother to call for mandatory heart screenings for high school kids, a sensible and noble goal that could save lives. Instead of focusing on that though, the Daily Mail ran with this headline: “Killed by a video game: Excitement ‘triggered fatal heart attack of teenager who died while playing his Xbox’.”

Calling this “journalism” is laughable at best. Gaming is an easy target, and here in the States especially, violent video games are frequently batted around like a volleyball by legislators looking to score points with their constituents who are happy to know that their representatives are at least conscious, which these days is sadly laudable.

This article takes a tragedy and tries to inflate it by blaming video games. To put that in perspective, that is sort of like covering the story of someone that was struck by a Ford Fiesta and killed, then writing a headline like “Killed by a Fiesta: A Ford car causes the death of a pedestrian.”

Maybe you should stick to wiretapping, DM, because your disrespectful and ridiculous “reporting” needs work.

Hot Coffee and News

Esports Recognized by the State Department as a Professional Sport

World of tanks esports

In a move that allows foreign players to taste the sweet nectar of the United States of ‘Murica, the U.S. State Department has recognized the League of Legends eSports League Championship Series as a legitimate professional sport. That creates a precedent for eSports, and it allows foreign players to apply for discipline-specific visas, making it much easier for them to travel here for pro gaming events.

With luck, that will help America finally begin to catch up on South Korea in the widespread public appreciation of eSports. So far we have barely had a single professional match-fixing scandal, and not one player has been arrested for drugs

NCAA and EA Sports Break Up

ncaa-football-10-ss01One of the biggest stories of the week was the news that the NCAA would not be renewing its contract with Electronic Arts, thus ending the 17-year relationship that produced such classic games as NCAA Football ’07, NCAA Football ’08, NCAA Football ’09… you get the point.

EA Sports followed up this bombshell with the news that it had renewed its contract with the Collegiate Licensing Company, the group that controls the trademark licensing for universities. In other words, the franchise will continue, just with a new title. Maybe now EA’s college football games will actually be able to feature a damn playoff system. If so, we may need to change the genre classification from “sports” to “fantasy.”

Oculus VR Wants the Oculus Rift to be Free

Oculus-Rift-EVE-VROculus VR, the company behind the red hot Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, is looking for a business model that would make the device – which is currently available for $300 as a devkit only – free. There is a few ways this could make this happen, like a price-subsidized headset or a specific ad deal, but the end result would be that anyone could grab one of the VR headsets at no cost. It is an incredibly generous and cool idea, and we applaud them for their customer appreciation. (Commies.) 

Pre-orders for Next-gen Consoles are Double What They Were for the Current Gen

xbox-one-ps4-pre-order-mem-2v3If you asked people a year ago whether they were in a hurry to buy a next generation console, many of them would have said no. Those same people have apparently been replaced by sophisticated pod people with credit cards, who are all over the next-gen systems. Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot told investors that some retailers report seeing as much as double the number of pre-orders for this generation of consoles compared to the release of the last-gen. Several major retailers even list the consoles as sold out.

That’s good news, and it shows people are willing to embrace the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Of course, when the last generation of Xbox and PlayStation were released in 2005 and 2006, respectively, the number of online retailers was nowhere near what it is today, the PS2 was still on its way to becoming the best selling gaming system of all time, and the original Xbox was condescendingly described as “adorable.” How these pre-orders will equate to success remains to be seen.

Steam’s Summer Sale Begins

SteamHave you found yourself sitting around recently, looking at your giant bags of money, and thought “Wow, I have so much extra cash, what can I possibly do with it?” If so, please punch yourself in the throat on behalf of the majority of the world, then head on over to the Steam Summer sale and go nuts. There are some ridiculous deals, some of which are discounted as heavily as 75-percent. If you can’t find something you like, you may be dead inside. The sale ends July 22.

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