||Too Drunk and Still Drinking
||November 19, 2005
Why all the alcohol, you ask? It's for celebration, of course. 'But Elliot,' you say, 'this is only the 29th issue. What ever could you be celebrating?' Well, my dear, dear readers, if you ever happen upon my staff bio and take a gander upon my Vital Statistics, you may notice that today marks one year to the day since I was originally hired here at RPGamer. 'How wonderful,' you say, 'might I fix you a sandwich and a glass of water?' Why, how generous of you to offer, friend. I would love such spoils. I can't believe it's already been a year; it feels like just yesterday. Alas how the time flies. So join me, won't you, in a grand feast with dance and song? It will be a celebration to shake the heavens themselves.
I've got another special surprise for once you're all partied out: a brand new issue of Currents! I know, I know -- I'm too good to you. But what can I say? I'm just an amazingly brilliant, nice guy. And my beautiful rendition of the Star-Spangeled Banner can bring even prison inmates to tears. So go on and read while you can still see by the dawn's early light.
Child's Play, a video game community charity for children, has decided to do a little extra for this year's holiday season. The organization has made plans to hold an auction on December 13, in Bellevue, Washington. Tickets to the event will be priced at $100, and the event will include a live auction, a silent auction, and a dinner.
Attendees will have a chance to bid on autographed game consoles from gaming culture website Penny Arcade, the founders of Child's Play. Other items on the auction block include limited edition laser cels, game collections from Wizards of the Coast, and tours of nearby game development studios, such as Bungie. Those who are interested may also bid on the chance to be featured in a future Penny Arcade event.
Proceeds from the auction will go directly toward the charity's network of participating children's hospitals. Such hospitals can be found in over 12 states, Nova Scotia, and Toronto, with hospitals in the United Kingdom and Australia expected to join the network soon. Since Child's Play was founded three years ago, it has raised nearly $1 million in toys, games, and cash for sick children.
"Kids around the world speak the language of fun and games," said Robert Khoo of Child's Play.
"With the gamer community's continued generosity Child's Play is helping to raise the spirits of children during hospital stays." For more information on the Child's Play charity, visit the organization's website.
The Illinois bill barring minors from purchasing mature video games, which was signed into a law to take effect on January 1, 2006, by Governor Blagojevich, may never fulfill its destiny. The bill, called the Safe Game Illinois Act, is scheduled to be ruled on by a federal judge before long.
Shortly after the act passed through the state legislature and received the governor's signature, it was attacked by lawyers representing the video game industry, who called the bill unconstitutional. For two days, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly heard testimony based on scientific evidence in support of the gaming bill from Dr. Craig Anderson of Iowa State University and Dr. William Kronenberger of Indiana University. The judge also heard testimony from scientific experts on behalf of the video game industry.
The judge has promised to make his ruling on the injunction request and on the merits of the case before December 2005, or in other words, very soon. An interesting note, however, is Judge Kennelly's comment that the scientific evidence supporting the bill was "unconvincing."
Researchers over at Berlin's Charité hospital have made a surprising discovery after conducting a study involving extensive video game playing. People who play games a lot may become addicted to them in a similar fashion that heavy drinkers may become addicted to alcohol.
In one study, the researchers used a subject pool of 30 participants, half of which played video games occasionally, and the other half played them excessively. Gamers classified as "excessive" first had to meet three criteria for dependency: insatiable yearning, withdrawal symptoms or a neglect of other interests in their lives.
Subjects were then shown a series of images depicting video games, alcohol, and neutral objects. The brains of gamers categorized as excessive had considerably stronger reactions to the images of games than did the brains of occasional gamers. The excessive players also had considerably weaker reactions to the other two types of images.
"Excessive playing of computer games presumably activates the same structures in the brain as drugs do," Sabine Grüsser, of the Interdisciplinary Addiction Research Group of the Charité hospital, highlighted.
In another study, 7,000 gamers were asked about their gaming habits while researchers recorded data on aggression and tendencies toward violent behavior. Though around 12 percent of those asked did express addictive behavior, researchers found no correlation between excessive video game playing and aggressive behavior, breaking Jack Thompson's heart in two. Right down the middle; clean break.
I suppose this helps explain the recent deaths and child negligence associated with World of Warcraft over in Asia. Maybe someone should develop a patch to help fend off these addictions.
For the last week, electronics retail giant Best Buy has had its secret, surprise plans for the launch of Microsoft's Xbox 360 console splattered all over the internet for everyone to see. What was the company planning to do to celebrate the ushering in of the next generation? Apparently, these secret plans consisted mainly of quickly selling out of consoles. This information was leaked by a mole way up in Best Buy's corporate office, and, needless to say, the company didn't take the leak sitting down. Measures were quickly taken to stop the flow of information from the internet source -- the website Kotaku.
Best Buy sent out a cease and desist letter to Kotaku, and after some dirty remarks and sarcastic comments, the website eventually complied and took down the news stories. Unfortunately, the damage was already done as news of the launch plans continued to be spread by those who read the stories during the week that they were up through word of mouth.
Nintendo's wi-fi service has had a successful public launch. Unfortunately, like most new things, it has
also run into some minor technical difficulties. After some players made complaints about being unable to
play online, Nintendo reported that the "Global Wi-Fi Service is experiencing intermittent problems."
Evidently, this problem mainly affects players of Mario Kart DS. There seem to be no problems as of
yet with Nintendo's other online title, Tony Hawk's American Sk8land.
Though the specific cause of the problems wasn't published, Nintendo did offer a suggestion as a
possible fix for the issue: "Our experience has shown that the majority of problems with wireless
multiplayer gaming are caused by signal interference from other devices (wireless LAN, microwave ovens,
cordless devices, computers). We recommend moving to another location or turn off the interfering
In the German town of Erfurt, a school shooting took place in 2002. The incident claimed many young
lives, but more recently, it's being used as ammunition to launch a campaign against violent video games in
Germany. This campaign doesn't just seek to keep violent games out of the reach of minors, but to ban such games
from the country altogether. You see, Robert Steinhaueser, the 19-year-old perpetrator in the shooting,
liked to play Counter-Strike.
Andreas Scheuer, a member of German parliament who serves under the conservative Christian Social Union
has been quoted as saying that violent video games "have no place in Germany's bedrooms." He continues by
saying that although parents should be held responsible for the content their children are exposed to, the
government could do a much more efficient job of the duty by simply banning all violent games from Germany,
similar to what Australia has done.
Naturally, the game industry immediately stood up against this campaign. "As far as we are concerned,
there are no such things as killer games, but adult games," said Olaf Walters, head of the German
interactive entertainment software association.
The Ticker is looking much prettier this week. Although, I curse both Electronic Arts and Activision for keeping this week's list from being red-free. Didn't analysts predict that they'd have relatively much better sales this season than anyone else? Why are they the only two companies in the red, then? They're both even down from last week. Maybe fiscal success has a tsunami-like effect. First all the water, or success in this case, gets sucked rapidly off of the beach. Give it a few minutes, and that success comes rushing back 600 feet high at mach 2, killing everything in sight. Yeah, that's probably it.
The biggest increase for the day goes to Midway, which scored $1.02 more on Friday than it was at by the end of the previous day. On the less fortunate end, Electronic Arts takes the biggest dive today, losing $1.19 of value from each share of its stock. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your small window into the video game market.
Parentheses denote negative numbers. Prices as of market closing 11.18.2005
Well, my one-year anniversary here at the site has come and gone. Will I still be around for a two-year anniversary? Who knows. As long as I don't screw something up and set the site ablaze, my stay here should hopefully be a long and fruitful one. I've even got some new, top secret projects in store for you all. Ah, I've said too much already. You'll just have to wait and see now.
Also, while speaking of the future, I should let you all know that there will be no Currents next week. I'll be home in Virginia with the weekend off from school and RPGamer. Normally, I'd have someone fill in, but everyone else here also has that weekend off. So unless I can find someone crazy enough to work over Thanksgiving, there will be no column.
Lastly, I finally beat Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow and oh boy was it good. I'm now working on the seemingly impossible Julius Mode, so I'll let you know how that turns out. Until next time, have a good Thanksgiving -- unless you're Canadian, in which case I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. See you in two weeks.
Elliot "Ceeeeeeelebrate good times, come on!" Guisinger