Games Inbox: Do you not have enough time to play video games anymore?

Posted on March 27, 2017  in Video Games

gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

All or nothing

Long-time reader, first time writer. I’m 26-years-old with a full-time Monday to Friday job. I have been gaming since the release of the first PlayStation and have had some unforgettable experiences. Crash Bandicoot, Burnout 3, GTA: Vice City, Pokémon Gold, Uncharted, The Last Of Us, Dishonored, God Of War… I could go on. These are just some of my gaming highlights across the generations.

I still love my games, however I feel that I’m playing less and less than even two or three years ago. It’s not that I don’t have the time; it’s just that with some games that I have bought recently, and think are great, there is so much to do in them now that I feel almost overwhelmed by them.

I bought Metal Gear Solid V at launch and 18 months later am still at only 40% completion. Same goes to Fallout 4, except I must’ve played it for less than 10 hours and haven’t touched it in over a year. Dishonored 2 is waiting patiently in the wings of several other games to get a run out as well. Fantastic games, but I can’t get into them for any sustained spell to complete them, at least story wise.

Certain games such as Uncharted 4 though, I have completed because they are more linear in premise. But let’s face it, Uncharted 4 is magnificent. I am currently making my way through Rise Of The Tomb Raider. I’m thoroughly enjoying it, but even it has a plethora of content that I feel like I’m struggling with. I have an almost OCD-like tendency to search every nook and cranny before moving on to the next area for fear of missing something.

Just something I’ve always done throughout my gaming history, which means that my playthroughs tend to be bloated by the average standard. The point I’m making is, absurd as it may be, is that I’d rather lie in bed and watch my TV, than put my brain into gear to do some proper gaming, and that makes me kinda sad inside. I’ll always game, but I’m finding the time I put into them increasingly sporadic.
Mark G

An empty galaxy

So just finished the new Mass Effect. Well, it’s a bit blah, with its story almost too sequel friendly, so you won’t give away the over-arching plot of the trilogy. But what got me was how they went out of their way to limit the species in Andromeda, wholesale wiping out the supporting species in the original Mass Effect. That was part of its charm, there were over eight original species in the first Mass Effect and in this one we get two!

First the Angara, that remind me of the cat species from Wing Commander, and the Kett (come on BioWare) for all purposes the Borg of Andromeda using genetech… that’s it! Where are multisexual species? Where are gas species? Where is the originality?

Oh, and speaking of originality. There was one original planet and the rest were two desert worlds, one ice, and one temperate – big but empty. You just get the feeling this was a survey-made game. Now the graphics are broken definitely, but no excuse to abuse the female developer online.

The gameplay just became a Vanquish clone after 20 minutes. The tactics went out the window and it was dodge/shotgun for the win. The multiplayer was more fun, but a bad microtransaction game. Other highlights were the online issues, bad user interface, and just general myopic view of the game universe. Anyway, off to trade it in.
jake armitage69 (gamertag)/fallofman (Steam ID)

GC: BioWare has refused to describe it as the start of a new trilogy. It’s hard to tell if they’re being coy or just hedging their bets. But we’d be willing to bet all the missing aliens turn up in DLC.

Spending binge

Before Xmas things were looking bleak: no job, no games, and zero reason to think things would change.

Then the big day: Uncharted 4, XCOM 2, Street Fighter V, and Zombie Vikings: Ragnorok on disk.

Followed by the great PlayStation 4 store sale for digital copies of Oddworld, ADR1FT, Helldivers, and Lords Of The Fallen.

Suffice to say I am very happy with my crop that is still keeping me busy.

What is really getting at me is XCOM 2. I love it and bloody hate it at the same time. As soon as I make any progress, the difficulty ramps up significantly; my best soldiers die during overwhelming combat situations and I curse the TV. It’s on normal difficulty, aahhhhh!

I’m very taken with Mass Effect: Andromeda and Horizon Zero Dawn, but didn’t take the plunge as I still don’t have The Witcher 3 Game Of The Year Edition or Shovel Knight. I would add that I haven’t been able to open my copy of Retro City Rampage that I got digital as well.

Nintendo’s Switch and Zelda: yes please, my birthday is May. Unless Metro themselves would like a reader to submit some extended playtest features after lending me their one for a while?

Although the thought crossed my mind it may be a good time to secure a Wii U, except there seems to be a no-show on heavily discounted hardware?!
dangero27

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

Show and tell

I find it hard to argue with the complaints that Microsoft has dropped the ball this generation. Although I’d argue that the current problems are simply the dead air between the initial, disastrous Xbone direction, and the changes Phil Spencer has initiated. Assuming he’s sensible, which he seems to be, that’s going to involve a lot of new IP and ideally new studios. That’s the sort of thing that takes years to come through, not months.

The problem is, as you can see from the current mood, is that unless fans start to see major change, or at least a detailed promise of what it will be, this year than I think they’re going to give up. This E3 has to be a winner for Microsoft and if it’s a wet squib I think they’re sunk.

I think they realise this, but I am concerned we’ll have to sit through lots of tedious tech demos for Scorpio that don’t necessarily have anything to do with any real games. Again, you’d hope Microsoft realise this would be mistake. But they do love their tech demos…
Corborite

And a bottle of rum

I thought Sonic Mania was coming out during the summer anyway, so the delay makes no difference to me. It does look like my Mega Drive dream sequel come true. One thing that concerns me is how many new levels will there be?

There are two old levels now, which have some changes to them. Green Hill Zone is very different from the original and Flying Battery Zone. I haven’t seen enough to comment. I want to see at least seven brand new levels. Inbox magic please don’t let me down.
Oni-Samurai (PSN ID)

And a bottle of rum

You mentioned Super Mario Run under performing because of the high price (for a mobile game) but for me the bigger issue was the always online requirement. It may just be me but the only time I play games on my phone is when I need to kill some time but don’t have internet access.

So the fact that it only works when there is an internet connection made it pretty unappealing to me. Did they ever give a reason for this?
Hasan

GC: Piracy. As bizarre as it seems piracy rates for smartphone games are often much higher than for console or PC titles, so for a game with a one-off fee that’s a big problem.

Get a clue

So Dark Souls III’s last DLC is out this week. So what’s the bet that it will contain any hints about what’s next? If they really do end the series there it will earn a lot of respect from me, given how many franchises just go on forever, getting slowly worse with each one.

Presumably whatever they do next will still be similar, as Bloodborne was, but I I’d much rather see a new twist and a new setting than just Dark Souls IV. So go on From, give us a clue for what’s next!
Mooney

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Fan perspective

Hardcore Crash Bandicoot fan here. Been playing Crash since the first one launched on the PS one and bought the other two when they launched, can’t wait for more Crash.

Here are ideas for improving and elevating the remastered game to new grounds.

More levels
Ideas for brand new levels for the upcoming Crash Bandicoot game will always be a brand new challenge, but as always there are room for even more levels in the game. But which of the games? The first, second, or third? I would put an extra room in an upper level in Crash Bandicoot 2, and an extra platform in the warp room on Crash Warped!, making Crash more diverse with different levels added.

Racing levels
With the bike racing you could have boosts with big jumps over a huge water stream.

Get chased! levels
With the get chased! level there is more room for different creatures chasing you. Maybe a tiger or maybe a cheetah, or a snowy chasing level with a polar bear at the North Pole. Something like this would make it better.

Boss levels
With boss levels, you can give the bosses extra characteristics. Ninja sharks (water boss) ‘n’ more.

Fly in levels
With only one or two flying levels in the whole of Crash 1, 2, and 3 there could be more stuff happening, like going through caves to fight off enemy planes.

Under the sea levels
As Crash is geared up to enter the water again he faces more challenges such as whales, sharks, crocodiles, swordfish, and more. With more watery creatures that could kill Crash it would give more stuff to avoid or spin to either pass or destroy enemies.

More customisation and animations for Crash
The more animation Crash gets, the more eye-catching he will become. So you can have him wear a T-shirt at the start of a level, and anyone can customise colours and emojis. And whenever Crash spins to either hit boxes and/or kill enemies the shirt rips off him and then it becomes normal afterwards. This would give fans more customisation for a T-shirt crash wears and tears.
reaneysd

Inbox also-rans

So what are the chances of Bayonetta 3 for the Switch? I’m not joking when I say that would actually convince me to get one.
Camo

GC: It’s impossible to say. Bayonetta 2 wasn’t a hit, but then we can’t imagine Nintendo thought it would be – and they still put her in Super Smash Bros.

Does Horizon Zero Dawn have the best graphics ever on console? I’d say yes. But sense the closest competitor is Uncharted 4 it’s Sony who are the winners either way.
Grant

This week’s Hot Topic

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Gannet, who asks you what you want the next sequel to your favourite franchise to be like?

Big name sequels have varied widely in quality lately, from Zelda: Breath Of The Wild to Mass Effect: Andromeda – proving that no series is too old to impress or too popular to fail. So what do you want your sequel of choice to be like? What changes and improvements would you like to see, and how big a shake-up does the franchise need?

This has to be a game that has already been announced, or has a very good chance of happening – like Red Dead Redemption 2 or the promised new Assassin’s Creed – but beyond that you can imagine whatever you think is a good idea. Including giving the franchise a rest for a year or two, if you think that’s best.

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

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Some Young Staten Island Cancer Patients Given Carts of Video Games

Posted on March 26, 2017  in Video Games

Children diagnosed with cancer on Staten Island will now have a new
way to sneak some fun into their hospital stays.

Staten Island University Hospital surprised cancer patients in the
pediatric unit with two video game carts.

“Not only are they playing the game and actually exercising
their creative abilities, but they’re also interacting with their
friends, they’re interacting with other kids in the hospital, and they
are able to create new social experiences through the video
games,” said Zach Wigal, the founder of the group, Gamer’s Outreach.

The carts feature an Xbox with more than a dozen games such as
Madden, NBA Live, and Minecraft.

The presenters of the carts said the games will not only comfort the
patients but will also allow them to expand their minds.

“Minecraft, believe it or not, is a building game,” said
Jim Weller, the project manager at the hospital. “So they get to
build their own world, build their own house.”

Charity Gaming is an organization that provides games to children
with chronic diseases. It raised over $4,000 to cover the cost of the
one of the carts.

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'We're gamers too,' says blind video gamer about accessibility in mainstream games

Posted on March 26, 2017  in Video Games

Nintendo’s Switch console came out earlier this month and now the party game 1-2 Switch is gaining a lot of attention for being accessible to blind and visually impaired gamers.

“Being able to play that with my friends and not have a disability hinder my playthrough, it was amazing,” said Steve Saylor, a blind gamer from Toronto.

He said the 1-2 Switch contains unique features that make it possible for him to play. 

“The text was really big on screen. I can sort of stand back and read it without any problems. And for them to describe things in audio on how to play certain games is really great,” he said.

Saylor has a condition called nystagmus which causes involuntary eye movement and makes it hard for his eyes to focus.

Steve Saylor Switch

Steve Saylor is able to play Nintendo 1-2 Switch because the text on the screen is big and game instructions are described in audio. (YouTube)

His vision is severely impaired — even with glasses on, something that’s six metres away looks like it’s 60 metres away. 

When he plays video games, he stands just over half-a-metre away from a big-screen TV.

Saylor likes to play story-based games such as the massively popular The Last of Us, Witcher 3 and Mass Effect. Role-playing games usually move at a slower pace and don’t rely a lot on hand-eye coordination, Saylor said.

“Anything that’s like an Assassin’s Creed or a Skyrim where essentially it’s a lot of text and a lot of complex movements that you have to make, it’s hard for me to get through…because I don’t have that eye-hand co-ordination that other people do,” he said.

He likes first-person shooters such as Call of Duty and Battlefield.

Even if he’s not particularly good at a game, he will still post his playthrough to his YouTube channel as part of a series he calls Blind Gamer. His channel is meant to show that blind people can play video games, too.

The Last of Us

Steve Saylor posts playthroughs of games, such as The Last of Us, Battlefield 1 and Mass Effect to his YouTube channel. (YouTube)

Saylor said he likes playing mainstream games as opposed to audio games, which are targeted to blind and visually impaired people, because he can play mainstream games with or alongside his friends. 

“It levels the playing field and it allows for a small moment in time for someone with a visual disability to actually kind of feel normal in a way,” he said.

“Not to say that we’re not normal, but it allows us to feel like we’re gamers, too. We want to be able to play these games. I really hope developers can see that and develop that further.”

EA tapping into accessibility gamers

Electronic Arts, one of the world’s largest gaming companies, is working on incorporating accessible features in its games. This would help the roughly half a million Canadians and 25 million Americans who have significant vision loss.

Karen Stevens, an engineer for Madden NFL, has recently taken on the role of an accessibility advocate for EA. She’s the one responsible for the accessibility features in Madden. 

In her role, she reaches out to visually impaired gamers to find out how to make their games more inclusive. 

Madden NFL

The accessibility settings in Madden NFL 17 are optional and online opponents can’t see the settings you choose. (Electronic Arts)

“We have brightness and contrast support to help people with low vision. In the same line we also added in a resize feature so icons on the field — like pass icons — catch icons were about twice as tall and twice as wide as an option so people could see them easier,” she said.

The reason EA is doing this is simple, she said: The company wants people to be able to play the games it makes.

Virtual reality as the future of accessibility 

As for the future of accessible games, Saylor said virtual reality may be a good option for visually impaired and blind gamers.

The first time he tried virtual reality was also the first time he was able to play a video game without his glasses because the screen was so close to his face. 

“It makes it so much easier, more accessible. That’s kind of where accessibility can be pushed, and I hope that it can be pushed in that direction,” Saylor said.

One company that has successfully created an inclusive VR experience is The Campfire Union in Winnipeg. 

Campfire created a 360-degree video for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights that brings viewers into two women’s co-operatives in Guatemala.

The video was closed-captioned, bilingual and tested to make items in the video distinguishable for those who are colour blind.

It also featured hands-free navigation that’s equivalent to a mouse pointer, so viewers could select items in the video just by staring at them.  

These are the kinds of features John Luxford, chief technology officer at The Campfire Union, hopes to see in the future. 

Virtual reality is still in its infancy and has no real standards to dictate things like how players need to interact with items or how they should move around, he said.

“This gives us an opportunity to look at inclusiveness and look at accessibility right off the hop and design those things deliberately and from the start,” Luxford said. 

“I think what will happen is for the next few years it’s probably going to be somewhat of a Wild West, and you’re not going to see a lot of commonality between things. Then standards will start to emerge. And I’m hoping one of those is a strong emphasis on inclusiveness.”

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This VR Cat-Tracker Puts Your Pet Into Video Games

Posted on March 26, 2017  in Video Games

An animated cat avatar is animated based on a real cat’s movements.

One of the most appealing aspects of VR is how the medium (theoretically) allows us to transcend the possible, creating experiences that before we could only dream of. Sometimes this is the power of flight or fighting dragons. But allowing the mundane to enter into the realm of virtual reality is also thrilling.

A new project from the studio Triangular Pixels decided what we really need in our VR worlds, as we do everywhere else, is cats. They strapped a Vive VR tracker, which records motion and translates it into VR animation, to a house cat. Based on the cat’s movements, an analogous cat avatar in the VR world would perform different actions, like walking, sitting or—most cats’ favorite pastime—lying down. You can see some adorable photos of the cat in question here.

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The resulting video shows an angular cat avatar wandering around Triangular Pixels VR game Unseen Diplomacy. In the future, trackers like these could be used by anyone on their own pets, or even small children. Unfortunately, there’s no word on how far we are from a VR headset fit for cats themselves.

Source: Triangular Pixels via The Verge

More from Popular Mechanics:

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The 11 best ski and snowboard video games of all time

Posted on March 26, 2017  in Video Games

There are still a fair few weeks left of the ski season, but before long it’ll be time to hang up the boots and find something else to keep ourselves occupied until next season begins. Away from the slopes, snow-themed computer games might be the next best thing when it comes to getting your fix of winter sports action.

Here’s our roundup of some of the best ski and snowboard video games, past and present. From the first Eighties retro fun to the latest mobile-specific adventures, which of these made you guilty of spending a few too many hours gazing at a screen? 

Steep (2016)

Xbox, Playstation 4 and Windows

This open-world extreme sports game gives you the chance to unleash your inner freeriding daredevil as you explore the loftiest peaks in the Alps, whether that means carving a death-defying line down Mont Blanc or soaring off the edge of the Matterhorn. Skiing and snowboarding are just the start – paragliding and wingsuit flying give you extra challenges and even more access to untouched terrain, while a first-person camera option puts you right in the thick of the action. 

Nintendo Wii Fit Ski Jump (2008)

Nintendo Wii

Hands up who remembers standing in front of the television on Boxing Day attempting their best Eddie The Eagle posture on the family’s new Wii Fit? The Nintendo console sold out in record time and saw us all practising our squats in order to beat grandad at the next family party. Many of these now lie dust-laden under the stairs, but the game still has a multitude of fans. The current Wii Fit record for ski jumping stands at 404m, held by a number of players across the world – but not this guy.

Cool Boarders  (1997)

PlayStation 1

The Cool Boarders series has four editions, which were released between 1997 and 2000 and have kept gamers entertained ever since. However it’s the third instalment, which went on sale in 1998, that gets most attention. Players could choose between five different mountain locations, 13 characters – with names such as Travis, Sasha and Blake – and 11 boards, then compete in six different events such as big air or slopestyle. The challenge of mastering new five-button commands became strangely addictive.

Slalom (1987)

Nintendo VS and NES

Slalom displays Eighties gaming graphics at their best. The game was originally developed for Nintendo’s VS arcade machine and later made it into the homes of millions on the iconic grey Nintendo NES console. The aim of the game is easy enough – complete a series of downhill slalom runs while navigating various obstacles in a set time period – and it’s gaming at its simplest and greatest. Almost 20 years after its release, it’s easy to recognise the ideas of Slalom in recently developed mobile apps.

Ski Safari (2012)

iOS, Android and Kindle Fire

With a four-and-a-half-star rating on the Apple App Store, the mobile-only Ski Safari made game of the week in the US, Canada, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand following its release in 2012. Now, Ski Safari 2, released in 2015, is in the top five paid apps in over 40 countries. Gamers can enjoy a range of adventures that arguably don’t involve that much skiing skill – with levels in the African jungle and the Wild West. It’s more family-friendly than freerider favourite, but the smile of the adorable skier Sven, who’s constantly escaping death by jumping, gliding and flipping his way out of the path of an avalanche, is gloriously addictive. 

SSX (2000)

PlayStation 2

When PlayStation 2 was launched at the turn of the millennium, along with it came what many gamers consider to be the greatest snowboarding video game ever made, SSX (short for snowboard supercross), which brought winter sports to a whole new audience of screen-staring teenagers. The aim of the developers was to make players feel they were part of an eight-way downhill competition live on TV. SSX was praised for its authentic looking snow and the variety of tricks you could pull off with the click of a remote control. The original game was redesigned in 2012 and rebranded SSX: Deadly Descents, with fancy new graphics and more extreme courses.

Skiing Yeti Mountain (2015)

IOS and Android

One gaming reviewer said, ‘Skiing Yeti Mountain is a future classic. The quintessential winter sports experience on mobile.’ It’s a weighty claim, but with five out of five stars on the Apple App Store, it seems the developers might have nailed it. Maybe it’s the retro Nintendo-style graphics or the simple thumb-swiping control, which allows you to navigate your rider down an obstacle-ridden course, that keeps gamers coming back for more, and with hundreds of levels to complete in search of the elusive Yeti there’s plenty of time to be wasted on this one. 

Shaun Palmer’s Pro Snowboarder (2001)

PlayStation 2

With endorsement from one of the forefathers of extreme sport, Shaun Palmer, the self-taught snowboarder who went on to become professional, this game looked set to be a guaranteed success following its release in 2001 due to its high-profile connections. The game allowed wannabe riders the chance to explore the settings of eight real ski resorts with the aim being to pull as many stunts as possible at any given opportunity to gain points. However, critics found the game struggled to be an authentic representation of what it’s really like to be a snowboarder, but with a Noughties soundtrack, featuring the likes of Papa Roach and Alien Ant Farm of Smooth Criminal fame, it epitomises the ‘go hard or go home’ era of extreme sports. 

Alto’s Adventure (2014)

IOS (including Apple TV), Android and Kindle Fire

The design of Alto’s Adventure is positively stylish, making it perfect for big-screen gaming on the new Apple TV device. Described as ‘an endless snowboarding odyssey’ by the developers, the game even has changing weather conditions for each quest on Alto’s adventure. There’s nothing new about the objective of the game, which is to complete challenges, such as travelling a set distance, crossing dangerous gaps and grinding across rooftops, in order to collect rewards, but the design makes you feel like you’re playing an adult video game rather than stealing your kids console for your commute to work.

Amped 2 (2003)

Xbox

This entry from Microsoft’s Xbox encourages gamers to seek lifelong commitment to snow sports, with its career mode. Improve your spins, flips and tricks and you’ll progress – but make sure you do them in front of photographers in order to improve your media score. The game was created long before the days of Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, but this type of scoring is scarily realistic, reflecting the real-life progression of a professional winter sports athlete.

Skadi (2017)

iOS and Android

Somewhere between a game and a conventional skiing app for your phone, Skadi includes a “ski safari” function – select the resort you’re in and set your ability level, and the app will generate a route for you to explore, complete with audio directions through your earphones. But what gives it a different twist is the GPS-powered augmented reality gameplay, where you can use the piste map to collect crystals, hunt ibex, power up with magical potions or speak to mysterious dwarves who can help or hinder you on your journey. 

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Razer zVault doles out free goodies for playing video games

Posted on March 26, 2017  in Video Games

razermambawirelessgamingmouse3.jpg

Razer’s Mamba wireless gaming mouse is one of the items you can earn.


Razer

You’ve put hundreds, maybe thousands of hours into your favorite PC games. What if a company offered free goodies if you simply do more of the same?

The company is Razer, game hardware maker extraordinaire; the program is called zVault, and the rewards are reasonably generous: high-end wireless mice, keyboards and headsets are among the items you can claim. And all you’ve got to do is install Razer’s software, use it to launch Overwatch, Dota 2, League of Legends, CS:Go or Paladins, then keep on keeping on with your favorite games.

Just know the time investment won’t be cheap: Since you earn 180 “zSilver” an hour and max out at 900 zSilver a day, it sounds like you’d need to play five hours a day for four weeks straight just to earn a $20 mouse bungee.

(You can earn additional credit for buying games through zVault, too: 100 zSilver per US dollar you spend — as long as you convert your money to Razer’s “zGold” currency first.)

I did a little quick math and here are some other rough conversions which might put the offer in perspective, assuming you aren’t using zGold:

  • 25 hours for a $5 discount (converts to about £4 or AU$7)
  • 500 hours for a $70 backpack (converts to about £55 or AU$90)
  • 1,083 hours for $150 Razer Mamba mouse (converts to about £120 or AU$195)
  • 555 hours for Razer’s light-up mug holder (no joke), a zSilver exclusive item

Yeah… that’s a lot of gaming. Here’s what Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan had to say about that on a Facebook Livestream, though: “Dude, we’re the only fricking brand in the world that pays you to play video games.”

What a quote.

Besides, Razer tells CNET the currency doesn’t expire (unless you leave your account inactive for two years), so perhaps it can’t hurt to try racking up the points?

Mind you, the software *will* track which games you play and when, but Razer says it won’t share your data with third parties unless you explicitly consent.

Personally, I’m going to skip this one: After Razer’s Synapse software crippled my wireless mouse last year — with no way to fix it and no help from customer support — I’ve been a bit distrustful of the company’s software.

But that’s just me. I certainly won’t blame you for trying for these neat freebies.

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Lifestyle › Japanese college students discuss whether kids should be allowed to watch anime, play video games

Posted on March 24, 2017  in Video Games

TOKYO —

Considering the copious amounts of anime, manga, and video games that Japan produces, one might assume that the whole country has a more or less favorable image of those three media categories. That’s not the case, though, with a not-insignificant number of parents seeing Japan’s most iconic pop culture representatives as a detriment to their children’s mental development.

Japanese website My Navi Gakusei no Madoguchi recently polled current university students in Japan whose parents had prohibited them from watching TV, reading manga, or playing video games while growing up and asked them if they intended to do the same if and when they had children of their own in the future. While the researchers collected answers from only 81 respondents (34 men and 47 women), they received a wide variety of thought on the pros and cons of letting young children indulge in the popular forms of entertainment.

37 percent of the respondents said that they plan to raise their children as they themselves were raised, not allowing them to consume anime, manga, or video games. Though that makes the group the minority, it’s still a surprisingly large contingent of early-twentysomethings to be championing such a strict parenting policy.

Several cited concerns that the unholy triumvirate of manga, anime, and games would hamper their children’s studies. “I want my kids to get into a good college,” stated one of many who equated the hobbies with reduced academic performance. “I have an image of kids not studying very much if they spend too much time playing games,” worried another, and at least one respondent said she had experienced such a phenomenon first-hand after getting into college. “Once I became able to read manga and watch anime, the amount of time I spent studying dropped,” recalled the 19-year-old freshman.

Another reason multiple respondents plan to keep anime and games away from their kids is a fear of it negatively impacting their physical well-being or social circle. “I want my kids to play outside energetically. [Games and anime are] bad for their eyes,” declared one survey subject. “If they don’t play outside with friends when they’re kids, they’ll have problems when they grow up,” fretted another.

On the other side of the debate, though, the 63 percent who plan to give their kids more freedom than they enjoyed had counter arguments for many of the points mentioned above. Not being able to play video games at all can actually make it harder for some children to make friends, as more than one respondent remembered feeling left out of fun conversations among game-loving classmates. “I’d like them to have common interests they can talk about with other kids,” said one proponent of more lenient parenting.

Others on the pro-anime/game side argued that as far as mental development is concerned, learning self-control and time management are as important as achieving high test scores. “I want my kids to learn how to judge for themselves whether it’s time for work or play,” hoped one, while another said “Rather than being banned from enjoying those things, the important thing is for them to learn to know, on their own, when it’s time to stop.”

One of the strongest supporters of pop culture felt as he did because “Games and anime are a part of culture, and I want my children to experience them.” That might sound like a lofty estimation of entertainment media, but even things that were originally made to provide fun or enjoyment can eventually become part of a society’s shared cultural experience, like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings have in the West. One man in the survey even went so far as to say that he hopes that through experiencing the variety of perspectives portrayed in fiction, his children will become more flexible and open-minded thinkers.

Finally, there were those who plan to let their kids enjoy anime and manga for practical reasons. “If you tell kids they can’t enjoy those things at all, that just makes them all the more likely to get completely absorbed in them,” felt one respondent, echoing a theory that we’ve heard before.

Perhaps the most rationally minded comment came from the man who said “Doing anything to excess isn’t good for you. There’s nothing wrong with games in and of themselves,” which explains why the majority of the survey respondents concluded that prohibiting them outright is going a step too far.

Source: Nico Nico News via Jin

Read more stories from RocketNews24.
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How a blind man plays mainstream video games and the future of accessibility in games

Posted on March 24, 2017  in Video Games

Nintendo’s Switch console came out earlier this month and now the party game 1-2 Switch is gaining a lot of attention for being accessible to blind and visually impaired gamers.

“Being able to play that with my friends and not have a disability hinder my playthrough, it was amazing,” said Steve Saylor, a blind gamer from Toronto.

He said the 1-2 Switch contains unique features that make it possible for him to play. 

“The text was really big on screen. I can sort of stand back and read it without any problems. And for them to describe things in audio on how to play certain games is really great,” he said.

Saylor has a condition called nystagmus which causes involuntary eye movement and makes it hard for his eyes to focus.

Steve Saylor Switch

Steve Saylor is able to play Nintendo 1-2 Switch because the text on the screen is big and game instructions are described in audio. (YouTube)

His vision is severely impaired — even with glasses on, something that’s six metres away looks like it’s 60 metres away. 

When he plays video games, he stands just over half-a-metre away from a big-screen TV.

Saylor likes to play story-based games such as the massively popular The Last of Us, Witcher 3 and Mass Effect. Role-playing games usually move at a slower pace and don’t rely a lot on hand-eye coordination, Saylor said.

“Anything that’s like an Assassin’s Creed or a Skyrim where essentially it’s a lot of text and a lot of complex movements that you have to make, it’s hard for me to get through…because I don’t have that eye-hand co-ordination that other people do,” he said.

He likes first-person shooters such as Call of Duty and Battlefield.

Even if he’s not particularly good at a game, he will still post his playthrough to his YouTube channel as part of a series he calls Blind Gamer. His channel is meant to show that blind people can play video games, too.

The Last of Us

Steve Saylor posts playthroughs of games, such as The Last of Us, Battlefield 1 and Mass Effect to his YouTube channel. (YouTube)

Saylor said he likes playing mainstream games as opposed to audio games, which are targeted to blind and visually impaired people, because he can play mainstream games with or alongside his friends. 

“It levels the playing field and it allows for a small moment in time for someone with a visual disability to actually kind of feel normal in a way,” he said.

“Not to say that we’re not normal, but it allows us to feel like we’re gamers, too. We want to be able to play these games. I really hope developers can see that and develop that further.”

EA tapping into accessibility gamers

Electronic Arts, one of the world’s largest gaming companies, is working on incorporating accessible features in its games. This would help the roughly half a million Canadians and 25 million Americans who have significant vision loss.

Karen Stevens, an engineer for Madden NFL, has recently taken on the role of an accessibility advocate for EA. She’s the one responsible for the accessibility features in Madden. 

In her role, she reaches out to visually impaired gamers to find out how to make their games more inclusive. 

Madden NFL

The accessibility settings in Madden NFL 17 are optional and online opponents can’t see the settings you choose. (Electronic Arts)

“We have brightness and contrast support to help people with low vision. In the same line we also added in a resize feature so icons on the field — like pass icons — catch icons were about twice as tall and twice as wide as an option so people could see them easier,” she said.

The reason EA is doing this is simple, she said: The company wants people to be able to play the games it makes.

Virtual reality as the future of accessibility 

As for the future of accessible games, Saylor said virtual reality may be a good option for visually impaired and blind gamers.

The first time he tried virtual reality was also the first time he was able to play a video game without his glasses because the screen was so close to his face. 

“It makes it so much easier, more accessible. That’s kind of where accessibility can be pushed, and I hope that it can be pushed in that direction,” Saylor said.

One company that has successfully created an inclusive VR experience is The Campfire Union in Winnipeg. 

Campfire created a 360-degree video for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights that brings viewers into two women’s co-operatives in Guatemala.

The video was closed-captioned, bilingual and tested to make items in the video distinguishable for those who are colour blind.

It also featured hands-free navigation that’s equivalent to a mouse pointer, so viewers could select items in the video just by staring at them.  

These are the kinds of features John Luxford, chief technology officer at The Campfire Union, hopes to see in the future. 

Virtual reality is still in its infancy and has no real standards to dictate things like how players need to interact with items or how they should move around, he said.

“This gives us an opportunity to look at inclusiveness and look at accessibility right off the hop and design those things deliberately and from the start,” Luxford said. 

“I think what will happen is for the next few years it’s probably going to be somewhat of a Wild West, and you’re not going to see a lot of commonality between things. Then standards will start to emerge. And I’m hoping one of those is a strong emphasis on inclusiveness.”

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Police: Mother strangles 6-year-old after telling him to shut off his video games

Posted on March 24, 2017  in Video Games

(PHOTO: Austin Police Department)

An Austin woman is facing criminal charges after she allegedly strangled her 6-year-old son to unconsciousness after she became angry at him for not shutting off his video game.

According to police, Sara Inez Gonzales, 36, is charged with injury to a child, a third-degree felony.

It happened Sunday at approximately 8 p.m. at 4809 Spring Meadow Cove.

Court documents say Gonzales’s son was playing video games in his room, when his mother came in and started yelling at the victim.

Police say Gonzales’s mother was in her room when she heard the altercation, but noticed when it became very quiet. When Gonzales’s mother went to check on the victim she noticed her daughter on top of her grandson, strangling him.

Gonzales’s mother stated she noticed the victims face and ears were bright red and it appeared the victim was not able to breathe. Gonzales’s mother yelled at her daughter to leave the victim alone, but Gonzales told her mother to “get out.”

After running to her room to call police, Gonzales approached her mother and physically attacked her. Gonzales’s mother stated her daughter scratched her arms and face and at one point pinned her down against her bed.

Police say the victims grandmother was able to escape from Gonzales and yelled at her grandson to lock his bedroom door, and made a call to police.

On March 20th, the victim was interviewed at the Center for Child Protection in Austin.

The victim had stated he was in his room playing video games when his mother came in and started yelling at him. The victim stated he did not know why his mother became upset but said as he was lying on his bed when his mother started choking him.

According to documents, the victim stated he was not able to breathe and recalls yelling “you are choking me” before passing out.

After hearing his grandmother intervene, the victim stated he locked the door and barricaded the door with chairs and boxes until police arrived.

When interviewed by police, Gonzales stated that she did not mean to hurt the victim.

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Mother strangles 6-year-old after telling him to shut off his video games

Posted on March 24, 2017  in Video Games

by Sinclair Broadcast Group

Parents arrested after 8-week-old baby left in parking lot Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (CNN Van Video via KTRK)

Two parents were arrested after an infant was left in his carseat at a Houston parking lot Wednesday.

According to KTRK, Sara Shibley and Gary Collins were due in court Thursday morning.

Witnesses said they couldn’t believe what was happening when they found the infant alone.

Authorities believe the baby was alone for 45 minutes in the parking lot until someone noticed.

The boy is now in CPS custody until family members can step in to help.

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