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Currents Top Ten I Square Enix Makes Forbes' List I Sega Buys TMS I Xbox Live to Close Temporarily I Sony Rewards Student Programmers I Wal-Mart to Set Up Xbox 360 Kiosks I 3rd Party Developer Releases PSP Hard Drive I Game Arts Bought Out I Walk of Game Taking Votes Stock Ticker I Opinions
CURRENTS
Issue #25 Silver Lining October 22, 2005


Front Page

It's Currents' 25th issue, so it's the silver issue. Come celebrate with me and all of my zoo animal friends including Tiger the giraffe and Water Buffalo the parakeet. It'll be like a traditional human celebration, only backwards. Instead of riding ponies, you can ride baby people. Instead of eating cake, cake eats you. Fun house mirrors make your hideously deformed face into one worth looking at occasionally. You'll have a blast, so come on down.

In other news, if Jack Thompson happens to read Currents, he's going to get an eyeful of what gamers really think of him with this issue. I've posted all the opinions I received this week at the end of the issue, so enjoy them. If you wrote me and you don't see your letter below, then you typoed my e-mail address. And considering that clicking on my name opens up your mail client and fills in the address for you, you've probably got more important issues to worry about than Jack Thompson. I even swam through my spam folder for you guys, so now I have to shower again. In the meantime, have yourself a merry little read.



 Currents Top Ten

It looks like a 25th issue isn't the only reason to celebrate this week. There's an RPG in the Top Ten, and it's a GameCube game. Those human baby rides are going to get a lot of use now.

If this double-whammie isn't good enough for you, then maybe some more info will help. SOCOM 3 takes the top stop for the week and EA continues to dominate the remainder of the list with its 06 sports titles. Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness, the aforementioned GameCube RPG, is debuting at 6th place. Other than the specifics, the list has little to separate it from the lists of previous weeks.


Position Title Publisher Platform
1 SOCOM 3: U.S. Navy SEALs SCEA
2 NBA Live 06 EA Sports
3 FIFA 06 EA Sports
4 Far Cry Instincts Ubisoft
5 FIFA 06 EA Sports
6 Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness Nintendo
7 Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves SCEA
8 NBA Live 06 EA Sports
9 Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks Midway
10 FIFA 06 EA Sports


Source: GameSpot



 Square Enix Makes Forbes' List

Square Enix

American business website Forbes.com made a list this week of the top firms in Asia. Most of these top firms (38 of them to be exact) are stationed in Japan. And one of these top 38 Asian firms in Japan happens to be RPG giant Square Enix.

In related news, this story has broken the record for shortest story ever.


Source: Forbes.com



 Sega Buys TMS

Sega

Sega recently announced that it had acquired the majority of stock shares in a Nagoya-based animation company called TMS (Tokyo Movie Shinsha) Entertainment. This increased Sega's holdings in the company from 35 percent to 50.2 percent.

Because Sega now holds a majority of TMS's shares, though just barely, this means that TMS will now become a subsidiary of Sega. TMS is known best for working on anime series such as Lupin III and Detective Conan. The company is also known for its work on the small screen versions of popular video games such as Hamtaro and PoPoLoCrois.

Sega's acquisition of an animation firm could mean many things, including possible future television endeavors by the company, so keep a look out.


Source: GamesIndustry.biz



 Xbox Live to Close Temporarily
Xbox

Microsoft is closing the doors on its Xbox Live service, and then reopening them the next day. Though the closing might make loyal Xbox Livers growl with displeasure, the reason behind the closing should make them drool with anticipation. The changes are being performed to get the Live service ready for the launch of the Xbox 360 next month.

The closing is scheduled for October 24 and service will be completely back to normal by the 25th. The Xbox Live service will receive a number of improvements and enhancements in order to prepare it for the addition of Microsoft's next generation console.

These improvements include the addition of Xbox Live Marketplace and a record system that keeps note of each player's gaming accomplishments in every 360 game that they play. The records will also be posted on Xbox.com for easy bragging capabilities. Unfortunately, though, these new services won't be available to gamers until the Xbox 360 is launched on November 22.


Source: GamesIndustry.biz



 Sony Rewards Student Programmers

Sony

Students attending Scotland's Abertay University are in for a treat -- well, at least three of them are, anyway. Sony Computer Entertainment is awarding prizes to three AU students in recognition of their exemplary work on console game development.

The first prize went to James Bird for his work on the PlayStation 2. He won a PS2-Linux game development kit, a cheque, and a certificate signed by Paul Holman, vice president of technology at Sony. The two runners-up, Grant Norrie and Laurence Emms, were each awarded a cheque and a signed certificate. All three students were later treated to a masterclass on Sony's upcoming PlayStation 3 console and its recently-developed cell architecture.

Abertay University began offering classes in console game programming, specifically focusing on PlayStation, in 1998. In 2002, the focus shifted to the PS2 and classes utilized PS2-Linux kits donated by Sony. Students are introduced to console programming in the second year, and the class ends with the creation of a full and complete video game. Sony rewards the student developers of the best three games each year.


Source: GamesIndustry.biz



 Wal-Mart to Set Up Xbox 360 Kiosks

Xbox 360

Just as you've probably guessed from the title of this story, Wal-Mart will be setting up Xbox 360 stations for impatient gamers to whet their next-generation appetites before the console's release next month. What you probably feared from the title of this story, however, is that none of the games on display at the kiosks will be playable. This is the unfortunate truth, unless you don't have an internet connection and are unable to download the videos to your computer without even leaving the house.

The Xbox 360 itself will indeed be on display, though. And the demo disc that it will be playing should contain videos of 10 games that will be available when the console hits store shelves.

The kiosks will also allow customers to download content onto memory cards that they bring into the store. Though the kind of memory card necessary for the content download wasn't mentioned, some might guess that you would need an Xbox 360 card. There was also no word on the kind of content that can be downloaded.

The 360s are slowly arriving at Wal-Mart stores across the continent, so if your local store doesn't have one in yet, it's probably because they're just waiting on a Microsoft representative to come in and hook it up. Give it a little time and you'll be watching and downloading Xbox 360 content until your ears bleed.

[EDIT]: I received an e-mail this morning from a Mr. Jon G. He provided eye-witness testimony that the Xbox 360 kiosks at his local Wal-Mart do indeed provide two playable demos. Though most of the games on display were only videos, the kiosks did provide playable demos of Kameo: Elements of Power and King Kong. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.


Source: GameSpot



 3rd Party Developer Releases PSP Hard Drive

Sony

Datel, a third-party hardware peripheral developer, has come out with quite the expansion set for Sony's PSP. The package includes a four-gigabyte hard drive, a rechargable battery that lasts twice as long as the PSP's current battery, a PC software CD, and a USB 2.0 cable in order to transfer files between your PC and PSP.

The CD contains PC connection software and tools to convert video files into types that can be viewed on the PSP. The package is expected to retail for approximately $200, U.S. Check out the pictures below for a better look at how this set comes together.




Source: CodeJunkies



 Game Arts Bought Out

Video game developer Game Arts, probably best known for its Lunar and Grandia RPG series, has been acquired by another game developing firm. GungHo, publishers of the popular MMO Ragnarok Online, is the proud new adoptive father of Game Arts. There is no news on how this acquisition will affect the development of Grandia Online, if at all.


Source: Next Generation



 Walk of Game Taking Votes

Television, movie, music, and radio stars get their names immortalized with a star on Los Angeles's Hollywood Walk of Fame. Well, you say, that's a bit unfair. Game developers are entertainers too; how come they don't get immortalized on sidewalks? Well now they do, more or less, so rejoice and be glad.

Called the Walk of Game, it is a landmark that honors the icons of the video game industry. The Walk is located in San Francisco, within the Sony Metreon Center, so honorees can be assured that their stars will remain free of chewing gum, litter, saliva, and/or other bodily fluids.

How does the Walk of Game administration decide who gets a star? They don't; you do. Gamers anywhere in the world can log onto www.WalkOfGame.com to cast their votes for who should be the next inductee and recipient of a star each year. Voters choose from a predecided list of nominees created by the folks at Walk of Game. In fact, voting for the next recipients of the award is going on right now and is set to conclude at the end of the month.

The stars themselves are 24" x 24" and made of steel. From the nominees that can be voted for, the top two in the category of Liftime Achievement will receive a star, as will the top four in the Games/Characters group. To date, stars have been awarded to Shigeru Miyamoto, Nolan Bushnell, Halo, Link, Mario, and Sonic the Hedgehog.




 Stock Ticker

This week's prices are much less pretty than last week's, but it's not all bad. Not at all. Half of the companies are down for the day, four are up, and one is breaking even.

Though analysts are predicting sluggish holiday sales compared to last year's sales, holiday sales are usually still higher than they are for the rest of the year. So if you buy stocks before the holidays and sell them on Christmas morning, I wonder if you'd squeeze out a little profit. If you're wondering the same thing, talk to a financial adviser. Good luck.

Back to the week, Activision is seeing the biggest increase of the day by $0.53. The biggest decrease of the day is goes to Sega by $0.45.

Parentheses denote negative numbers. Prices as of market closing 10.21.2005


Symbol Company Market Standing Change
SNE Sony NYSE 32.69 (0.17)
MSFT Microsoft Nasdaq 24.78 (0.01)
NTDOY Nintendo PNK 14.05 0.10
ERTS Electronic Arts Nasdaq 54.77 0.47
SQNXF Square Enix PNK 26.97 (0.14)
KNM Konami NYSE 20.40 0.00
ATVI Activision Nasdaq 21.20 0.53
MWY Midway NYSE 16.86 0.01
SGAMY Sega PNK 18.05 (0.45)
UBSFF Ubi Soft PNK 47.20 (0.11)

Source: CNN Money




 Opinions

As promised, here is what you think about Jack Thompson. I got responses from three readers and one RPGamer staffer, Cortney Stone, Head of News.

Though the turnout was less-than-stellar, the responses I got were well-thought out, well-written, intelligent opinions. I really appreciate the responses for those who wrote in; thank you.



From T_H_Locke, Reader


Jack Thompson.

A name known far and wide.

When I first heard about this gentleman, it was in an article that I read in Electronic Gaming Monthly. The article done on him was well written and made me believe that he was a person that had good intentions. His pitch was definitely convincing and I was intrigued by what he could bring to the spectrum of videogame entertainment and he was doing a great job.

Until he found his buried treasure.

When the infamous ‘Hot Coffee’ incident came out, Mr. Thompson knew that he found his foothold. To a certain degree, I feel that he has become tainted by this ‘treasure’ of his. After he found out about it, he had to go all ‘OMGZZZ!!1 HOT COFFEE!!’ over the media and damage his credibility. He’s plastered his theory all over the media and the net with the use of scare tactics and below the belt punches. He has lashed out against pro-supporters of videogames from the executives of companies to the average fan in one way or another through the usage of legalese or pure cut-and-dry insults. What he is trying to do is silence the videogame companies from publishing explicit material. Isn’t that a violation of First Amendment Rights?

Mr. Thompson, through the use of any tactic he can obtain, is trying to completely mute the videogame companies from releasing any material that might in the least attack at the very core of family values that the United States were built on. Mr. Thompson, what made you an expert on family values? The last time I saw your profession, it was in law and the practice thereof. Please leave family values to the experts.

Also, the more recent outlandish tactics that he has used is the creation of a videogame according to his standards. The overall description of his ‘game’ uses overused clichés and characters strangely related to real-life people. Mr. Thompson, if you really want to create a game, at least come up with your own honest-to-goodness material.

Besides, the audience that Mr. Thompson is trying to talk to are people who have had some interaction with videogames from the very concept of Pong and around that time. Whenever I see Mr. Thompson talk about videogames, it feels that he is generalizing the industry into one stereotypical package that he can wrap and put a bow on. Definitely another insight that could have used a little more research on.

I feel that Mr. Thompson has been sullied by this little treasure that he found and I must say that I am not pleased by it one bit. The fact that he has been on major shows and applauded actions taken by big name people only suggests one thing to me. Mr. Thompson isn’t concerned about the average person any more. I sense a bigger agenda behind this; an ulterior motive if you will. This can only be helping him publicity-wise and what better way to achieve that and receive deals from companies or even a Presidential nomination in the future if he ever decided to.

Mr. Thompson, you need to sit back and listen to tapes of yourself for a good while. Then maybe even you would see that most of what you say is utter hypocrisy.




From Silver Cyanide, Reader


Jack Thompson is, generally speaking, a total idiot that makes George W. Bush look like a physics Nobel prize winner. He is unable to take arguments or discuss intelligently with anyone, sending hate mail as response to his own emails (that usually contain a large number of errors in reasoning) and attacking gamers directly when challenged on his ideas. As a large number of good americans, Jacko believes that being Christian gives him all the rights in the universe, but little does he know that according to his propaganda, the Bible should be rated M for Mature due to violence, sex and blasphemy. His latest "modest proposal" may make some people think he is close to Swift, but as a student of english literature in a university (for unlike what Jack Thompson thinks, some gamers DO have an education, it only makes me cry that he would use the same name as this masterpiece of satyre.

Nobody can take Jacko seriously anymore, not even his mother.




From Nwash, Reader


Thompson is perhaps the worst example of what is wrong with political debate in this country. Like many others who have chosen to speak up for a cause, he has adopted a thick wall of perceptual defense. The evidence is in his reaction to gamers who submit arguments defending video games; he essentially calls them too immature to understand the issues involved. That is really assumption and personal attack, not rational argument. Indeed, I believe this serves more to defend Thompson's ego more than anything else; by labeling gamers as too immature and stupid to understand the issue, he absolves himself of having to listen to the opposing point of view. He avoids the risk of being wrong by denying the possibility that it is true. Classic perceptual defense.

There also seems to be a clear sense of utilitarism in his actions; that an ethical perspective that is essentially summed up in the common phrase "the ends justify the means". As he claims to be a Christian, one would think he must have sense of ethics, after all. While I won't assume that, I think it's more likely that he has decided that negative influences in video games is such a great evil that the lesser evil of hypocrisy is justified in trying to remove the greater evil--perhaps dishonesty as well, but I'm not aware of any specific example. It seems like the flaw in this approach would be pretty obvious; you only end up damaging your own cause engaging in hypocrisy and any degree of deception. In fact, you damage *far* more than that. You damage society itself by encouraging cynicism and distrust; you make us wonder about almost everyone speaking out in support of a cause. You contribute to burying truth beneath the misunderstandings, lies, and biases that already cloud it. You do extra damage because some are convinced by these tactics, but they are convinced not by rationality, but emotion; peripherally, not centrally persuaded.

So, while the gamer in me says "Yes, Thompson, continue to harm this cause I oppose with your douchebagery," everything else in me says, "Shut up and listen for once, Thompson, and all the others like you." I see people like Thompson as a much larger problem that spans much more than just this debate. Unfortunately, I think he's too focused on this debate to realize and understand this, and besides, I'm a gamer. I'm too immature and intellectually deficient to understand anything as complex as this, after all, and so I am obviously wrong.




From Cortney Stone, Head of News


Personally, I think Thompson is doing a fine job...of hanging himself. Let's just let him keep making his own rope. Every skewed argument, every sweeping generalization and stereotype, every hurled insult, every letter and fax and interview further distinguish him as unprofessional. The best we can do as gamers is to take the high road, be professional but firm about our rights, and let him hang himself.




 Back Page

That Jack Thompson. What a character. And now he wants to take on web comic site Penny Arcade, which to my knowledge doesn't develop violent games. I guess that first amendment must really bug the heck out of the guy. Fortunately, though, thanks to the second amendment, we U.S. citizens can protect ourselves from the likes of Jackie-boy. What a great country we live in. (Cue waving flag in the backdrop and the National Anthem) We'll let Francis Scott Key play us through the credits.


Elliot "O Canada" Guisinger


Carlisle@RPGamer.com

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