Opinions & Features
published Monday, Jun 13th

Mourn those lost. Worry about how to sell games another day.

The annual E3 gaming conference is taking place in Los Angeles this week, and many of the world’s biggest gaming publishers are lining up to show the public their latest big budget offerings.

LA Convention Center (via PrayitnoMany of the new games presented will share a common theme: guns.

The mid-90’s represented a turning point for the gaming industry, in which its focus on shooters grew stronger — going from Quake to Goldeneye, to more recent celebrated games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield.

The mass-market appeal of shooters such as these reached fever-pitch in recent years, with annual installments and frenzied launches marking what are now some of the biggest money makers in all of entertainment (raking in over half a billion dollars in just a matter of days).

For the past several years E3 has attracted critical commentary on the volume of games involving guns.

Some of that criticism is based on just a sheer lack of variety, yet sometimes it’s due to the real-world parallels that can be drawn. Sometimes those lines are obscure, but for E3 2016 the parallel for some is ostensibly clear.

Following yet another horrific mass shooting in the U.S, in which over 50 people were killed, some members of the gaming community are now beginning to question the role that such games play. Not only in promoting gun culture, but in how their flashy presentations can often seem tone deaf — particularly in the wake of such tragedy.

Chris Plante and T.C Sottek, writing for The Verge, pulled into question EA’s press conference for its apparent disregard for the very real events that had occurred just hours prior in Orlando.

Battlefield 1

The Verge editorial questions the morality of showing footage where “humans kill each other with hyper-detailed guns” so soon after the worst shooting in the history of the United States.

EA’s conference is the first of many taking place this week, showing new ‘gun games’ like Titanfall and Battlefield. Yet, as The Verge points out, such heavy focus on the shooter genre is not the practice of just a single publisher, adding that E3 as a whole “regularly celebrates graphic violence”.

Many have taken The Verge article to be a either a cheap shot towards the gaming industry, or click bait at a time of mourning. Whatever you consider it to be, one thing is clear — the issue the editorial is attempting to address is by no means a binary one.

The Verge piece isn’t attempting to shame EA and others for the games they create. Nor is it a criticism of the gaming industries creative output.

Instead, I believe the commentary (misjudged or not) was attempting to start a timely dialogue on the brazenness with which various gun fantasies are flaunted, trailer after trailer.PS4 Controller - Blue

American gun culture, violent games, and popular entertainment in general have a longstanding (and lucrative) relationship which isn’t going away anytime soon.

The popularity of such entertainment has long been questioned, be it in games, TV or movies, such as those from Quentin Tarantino. Arguments on the how and the why are endless.

People will draw parallels, lines will be drawn. This is inevitable. Some will blame games, others won’t. Sometimes it will be justified, sometimes it won’t be.

Real people died, and hours later a corporation took to the stage to showcase how you can kill people in their new game. It makes for a flashy headline, but the connection is often tenuous and the subject much more nuanced.

Games are often a scapegoat, and gamers are often defensive. Either way, distinguishing fantasy from reality and remembering real people have suffered is what matters right now.

Nobody is calling for end to this form of entertainment, however we should take this as an opportunity for consideration, reservedness and to reflect on how popular gun-toting media fits into and informs our culture.

No matter what your stance, we should first and foremost mourn those lost. Worrying about how EA and others sell their games can be an issue for another day.

Mario Kart 8 for Wii U - Link DLC by
published Wednesday, Aug 27th

Mario Kart 8 DLC Delivers, Fails On Price Parity

An untimely listing spotted on the Nintendo UK website Tuesday let slip details of planned downloadable content (DLC) for Wii U hit Mario Kart 8.

The webpage details how classic Nintendo character Link from The Legend of Zelda series will surprisingly be made available as a racer in one of two upcoming DLC packs. A range of new tracks, characters and karts were also revealed ahead of schedule, with plenty of callbacks to other well known Nintendo franchises such as Animal Crossing, Excitebike and F-Zero.

However, it wasn’t only the content that got spotted early — both the release schedule and pricing for the DLC was also erroneously on show. 

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published Sunday, Aug 10th

Who Cares About 1080P & 60FPS? I Sure Don’t

Maybe it’s just me, but I find the ongoing obsession with discussing and dissecting every game apart to see if it holds up to the seemingly ‘holy grail’ metric of 1080p and 60 frames-per-second thoroughly dull.

The ‘attaining’ of these numbers are always being debated on forums, columns and news articles across the gaming web. Yes, obviously the strive to push the industry forward technologically is a wholly valid and worthwhile goal, but it’s also one that at times is downright boring.

Endless articles berating a game for not quite offering up a consistent 60 frames-per-second or not looking quite sharp enough are everywhere.

Wii U eShop by
published Friday, Aug 01st

EA Announce New Gaming Subscription Service — Nintendo Should Do The Same

EA announced a new subscription service Wednesday, giving those willing to pay a monthly fee unlimited access to a select library of games. Nintendo should do the same.

EA’s offer is this: pay £3.99 per month and you gain access to a handful of hit games to play, such as FIFA, Madden and Battlefield. The service goes by the name of ‘EA Access’ — you can think of it as a mix between Netflix and PlayStation Plus. If you stop paying, you stop playing.

Currently in beta, EA’s new service is open to Xbox One owners only for now. Those who sign up will find they  have access to just four games to start with — those are Battlefield 4, FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, and Peggle 2.

Although the service is in its infancy, and some may have doubts about it, the basic idea is a sound one — I mean, the days of owning physical games are numbered anyway right? So what should Nintendo be doing?

The Last of Us by
published Wednesday, Jan 22nd

Gamebrit Game of the Year Awards 2013

Gamebrit Game of the Year Awards 2013

2013 was a year with plenty of videogame scandal, from EA’s botched handling of the Sim City launch, Ashes Cricket’s sudden removal from shelves, Nintendo’s continued Wii U struggles, to Microsoft’s embarrassing about-turn on its Xbox One policies.

However, issues aside, the industry continued to push the medium of interactive entertainment forward, offering a breadth of refreshing and new experiences.

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published Monday, Dec 16th

Is PlayStation Plus Worth It Now?

Back in 2010 we weighed up whether PlayStation Plus, Sony’s then new subscription service for PS3 owners, was worth your cash.

At the time we judged that perhaps the £39.99 annual entry fee wasn’t really worth laying down the cash for. Yes, you may have got your moneys worth in terms of access to games, but with the titles on offer not providing a compelling enough reason to commit, the service proved hard to wholeheartedly recommend. Not only that, but when staked up against Microsoft’s rival Xbox Live service, Sony’s alternative take on a console subscription service was viewed negatively, namely for not providing key features such as cross-game chat.

Since then a lot has changed, and it’s clear that PlayStation Plus is an ever evolving service. So with PlayStation 4’s now in homes across the country is the annual subscription worth your cash today? We take another look to give you our revised thoughts.

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published Tuesday, Nov 19th

Multiplayer Memories — Burnout Paradise

With this console generation coming to an end it’s hard not to get nostalgic about what has made these past several years so memorable. So, we’re looking back at what titles have been the highlights, especially when it comes to gaming with friends.

Danny Lilley reflects over one of this generations most unique and enjoyable multiplayer experiences. Nope, it’s not an entry from the hugely popular Call of Duty, FIFA or Battlefield franchises, but 2008’s Burnout Paradise from Guildford-based Criterion Games.

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published Tuesday, Sep 10th

Sony Aim To Reinvigorate The Vita With A New Model And TV Box

Although the Tokyo Game Show may not get underway until Thursday, September 19th Sony Japan preceded it with a rather revealing PlayStation conference.

Alongside confirmation of a February 22nd, 2014 PlayStation 4 Japanese launch date (a whole 3 months after us Brits will see it), Sony also built upon their recent Gamescom showing to further push the PlayStation Vita as an appealing handheld for the masses, introducing a new refreshed model.

Can Sony tempt prospective buyers with a revised Vita console along with something that very few people expected – PlayStation Vita TV.

Xbox One PS4_thumb by
published Saturday, Aug 24th

Xbox One or PlayStation 4? Whichever You Choose, You Win

Back in May Microsoft’s Xbox One was unveiled at a special media event, bringing with it a number of ill-favoured key policies, such as enforced Digital Rights Management (DRM), a compulsory Kinect camera and a £429 price tag (the latter of which was announced at E3). As a result of these unpopular decisions Sony’s PlayStation 4 quickly became the leading ‘next-gen’ choice in many gamers minds.

However, a lot has changed since then, with us now arriving at a point where things are a lot more even. So, with the playing field levelling out, does it really matter which ‘side’ you pick?