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Video game controversies

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William Volk may not be the world's oldest game designer, but he's up there. He started out as a play tester for Avalon Hill in 1979, and since then has worked for Activision and other major players in the game space. His current job is with PlayScreen, where he's working on their Word Carnivale iOS game, which is not violent at all. But over the years Volk has worked on slightly violent video games and has watched public outcries over video game violence since 1976. He's also tracked how much less violence we've seen since lead was removed from gasoline. (Editorial interjection: Aren't most remaining pockets of massive gun violence in cities where many poor kids grow up in apartments that have lead paint?) Due to technical problems during the interview, some of the conversation is missing, primarily about the recent spate of multiple murders. It seems, for instance, that Newtown shooter Adam Lanza was heavily into violent video games, which is sure to spark plenty of new discussion about how they affect players. But then again, as Volk reminded me in an email, "If people were influenced by video games, a majority of Facebook users would be farmers by now," a meme that has been floating around Facebook since last year, if not earlier.

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Much personal rage was felt last week after the announcement of the makeover in store for Lara Croft, Tomb Raider’s DD-cup heroine. Gone are the comically oversized, anatomically impossible breasts. She now gets to wear an actual outfit comprised of garments one would reasonably wear while engaged in a bloody crime fighting mission: a shirt that covers her midriff and a pair of pants that covers her ass. So far, this is (sadly) exciting progress in the realm of women’s representation in video games. Game makers have apparently moved beyond the “fuckable vixen/hero” trope. Great. But what terrible trope have they replaced her with?

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Star Soldier

Title : Star Soldier
Publisher : Hudson
Game Type : Shoot Em Up
Console : PSP

Price : £19.99

First shoot 'em up release on the system and what a way to start the party with this update of the timeless PC Engine series that actually has more in common with the GameCube and PS2 cracker. Still the timed high score challenge is kept in there with its roots in the PC Engine Caravan contest. Speed of hand eye co-ordination is the key to clocking up a big score as bonuses are awarded for rapid destruction of incoming waves of enemy ships. The code has been optimized to fit the PSP's dimensions with the console being held vertically suiting the genre perfectly. And ergonomically it works like a dream too. Additional ships have been constructed and its now autofire so you don't have to worry about being able to see whilst frantically hammering the fire button. A very nice shooter, another medal to the Hudson lapel.

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dlc quest.jpg[Written by Mike Rose on Gamasutra.]

A couple of Xbox Live Indie Games developers have seen notable increases in sales of their games, due to two separate forms of cross-platform and cross-game advertising.

Going Loud Studios founder Ben Kane revealed that, since being a part of Gamasutra sister website Indie Royale over the weekend, with a PC version of his games DLC Quest and Lair of the Evildoer available via the latest bundle, sales of the Xbox version of DLC Quest have quadrupled.

DLC Quest had sold 134 copies on XBLIG the weekend before the Indie Royale bundle -- however, during the bundle this past weekend, the XBLIG version saw 506 sales in total. The game has been available via XBLIG for around four months.

"To move over 500 copies this past weekend on Xbox is nuts," he said. "It also has a pretty big implication -- you can do cross-platform advertising or word of mouth and have an effect on 360 sales."

He continued, "There's sort of been this age old wisdom that you can't really successfully advertise for XBLIG on PC or mobile, because there's just too much of a gap between looking at something on your PC, and then going and playing it on your Xbox."

However, he says that this past weekend has shown him that "at least to a certain extent, it can be done."

Elsewhere, the developer behind Minecraft-inspired XBLIG hit FortressCraft revealed via Twitter that another of its XBLIG games, Steam Heroes, has sold more than 10 times as many copies as it had previously, simply by offering an unlockable item for FortressCraft when you buy it.

Back in October, the company added a special in-game item for FortressCraft, that is unlocked by purchasing Steam Heroes. Sales of the game immediately rocketed following the inclusion, with 10 times as many people buying the game over the next couple of months than had purchased it over the 12 months prior to that.

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Be a part of the most exciting and innovating computer entertainment in North America. Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (SCEA) markets the PlayStation® family of products and develops, publishes, markets, and distributes software for the PS one™ console, the PlayStation®2 and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems and the PlayStation Portable (PSP™).

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 Eloquent Fist (New)

Title : Eloquent Fist (New)
Publisher : Marvelous
Game Type : One on One Beat Em Up
Console : PSP

Price : £27.99

Akihabaras influence is hard to miss in this girl on girl collaboration of cos play inspired fighters with maid uniforms, kokosei and even the obligatory eye patch. Further eye candy is provided by the luscious cel shaded graphics that work like a dream on the PSPs screen. Inter spliced into the action are an array of pyrotechnics which really give a satisfying feel of welly behind the specials. A dream otaku title for those proud to wear their anime T shirts.

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Power Instinct Bonnou Kaihou

Title : Power Instinct Bonnou Kaihou
Publisher : Excite
Game Type : One on One Beat Em Up
Console : PS2

Price : £27.99

With backgrounds that vary from a Shinto shrine to a department store sale, Power Instinct on the PS2 will feel very homely to those familiar with the denture wielding obaachan from the previous versions, though the canine impersonator makes a serious rival for your credits. Each character can transform into their alter ego adding much fun and frolics to bouts. Success boosts your card collection which can be viewed in the Gallery mode. A very unique fighter that oozes with sheer insanity making it stand tall in the 2D fighting genre. Also known as Shin Goketsuji Ichizoku.

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In this reprinted #altdevblogaday-opinion piece, Bane Games' Alistair Doulin discusses separating gameplay from code to make it "engine agnostic", and notes why others should adopt this approach.

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