Blog: Game Junkie

Games writing: be transparent and honest with your readers

10:00am 20 Nov 2013


SquareEnix's Hitman Absolution has hit the headlines online this week - but not over whether it's a good game or not (I haven't played it but word is it's an OK stealth game but not a very good Hitman game) but over online trade site MCV's round-up of European review scores. 

Trouble was, MCV's initial story just concentrated on reviews that praised the game, ignoring any critical or middling reviews. Ben Kuchera, at Penny Arcade report sums it up excellently here, but essentially what MCV did was report the high praise that Absolution was getting from a few select review sites but neglected any negative press the game was receiving. It did, though, in it's initial story single out British webiste Eurogamer's 7 out of 10 for the game, calling the website ""grumpy Eurogamer" and calling it the odd one out.

But when commenters on the initial story started listing review after review that had given the game middling scores, MCV updated its story with this: "The Internet masses seem to be up in arms that we dared to neglect to mention the reviews from the likes of Videogamer, GameSpot and PC Gamer which were more in line with Eurogamer. "The truth is we hadn't seen them. So feel free to hunt those down for a broader perspective." 

This isn't the first time MCV has courted controvesy, though: a few weeks ago one of MCV's writers Lauren Wainright allegedly threatened Eurogamer with legal action after Eurogamer published a piece on the preception of gaming journalism ethics. Interestingly, Wainright now no longer works for MCV. Coincidence?

Sure, MCV is a trade magazine and not a consumer publication but it should still adhere to basic journalistic practices - honesty and transparency. But the whole affair has highlighted the relationship between gaming writers/publications and publishers/PR.

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So long, and thanks for all the fish....

05:00am 17 Sep 2013

It is with a heavy heart  that I write this. After almost six years, this will be the last Game Junkie blog on Stuff.

I started this blog almost six years ago basically because I'm passionate about video games and thought a blog where gamers could discuss gaming issues and talk about their hobby was needed. I never did it for the money (I was never paid for a blog post and it's never been part of my day-to-day job): I did it because I love it and found time to write it.

Sadly, due to my moving on from my current job and circumstances beyond my control, I can no longer justify writing the blog. And that saddens me.

Writing the blog has been a blast and it's been gratifying seeing what is now such a vibrant and vocal community grow from a small seed planted all those years ago to what it is today. I thank every one of you for visiting and commenting and making the blog what it was. I shall miss writing it and miss you all. I'll stop or else I'll start crying.

I'm not giving up video game writing, though, far from it: you can't get rid of me that easily.

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Nintendo 2DS: Good idea or waste of time?

05:00am 17 Sep 2013

Nintendo3DSOvernight, Nintendo, king of the handheld and purveyor of everything Mario, announced a new handheld that plays Nintendo 3DS games in 2D.

According to gaming blog VG247, the 2DS will be available on October 12 (that could just be Europe and the US: not sure about New Zealand or Australia), ''the same day as Pokemon X and Pokemon Y'', and is ''designed specifically as an affordable entry point''. It will play the entire library of packaged and downloadable games for Nintendo 3DS, only in 2D.

VG247 reports that Nintendo has said that the 2DS offers ''many of the same hardware features as Nintendo 3DS" such as dual screens, game-play controls and touch-screen features, and is backward compatible with the existing library of more than 2000 Nintendo DS games. However, though it has dual screens it's a slate-type device, meaning it doesn't have a clam-shell design like the 3DS. It's designed to plop into a pocket, apparently.

Releasing this device could be seen in one of two ways: Nintendo is desperate to hold on to its handheld dominance so much that it's releasing the 2DS in an effort to attract younger gamers to its stable or it's an incredibly smart move to broaden Nintendo's appeal.

Personally, I think it's the latter option. Since the release of the 3DS, I've heard from many parents worried about letting their young children - I'm talking under 10 years old here - play games on the 3DS because of the 3D. Well, the 2DS puts those fears to rest: there is no 3D effect to screw around with young Johnny's eyesight.

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Don't judge a video game by its voice actor

11:45am 26 Aug 2013

blogsplintercellSplinter Cell: Blacklist is a prime example of why I shouldn't judge a video game by its cover - or in this case, its vocal talents.

Along with many, I was slightly aggrieved when I found out that Michael Ironside, long the voice of SC's undercover operative Sam Fisher, was no longer doing the voice of Fisher in Blacklist. I think I even commented on Twitter that to me, Ironside was Sam Fisher. Ironside's voice, with his gravelly tones, was just synonymous with Fisher.

Well, I owe the new voice of Sam Fisher - Eric Johnson - an apology. He does a good job in making Sam Fisher his own (though he has a hard act to follow with Ironside) and after about an hour, I'd got used to it. Sort of.

I'm working my way through the single player campaign, which sees Fisher and his fellow operatives in Fourth Echelon having to stop a terrorist group called The Engineers from carrying out attacks in the United States, and it's entertaining (perhaps not as good as Chaos Theory but certainly more engaging than SC: Conviction), with locations allowing for multiple entry points and different ways to take out foes, which is what you'd expect with a Splinter Cell game. Fisher's friend Anna Grimmsdottir is back, as is the mark and execute feature that was in SC: Conviction.

Something that I'm really enjoying, though, is the co-op mode where you can team up with a friend to tackle a variety of missions.

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Game achievements: A sign of success or just faffing about?

10:30am 21 Aug 2013


AchievementunlockedblogBrothers: A Tale of Two Sons does game achievements a little bit different from the norm.

I know I've bleated on about the downloadable game before - a game that I loved - but I'd missed a few achievements along the way, so yesterday decided to get them. I got all but one, and in doing so, Starbreeze Studios and 505 Games showed me that they know how to do game rewards that are inventive and interesting and that they put a lot of thought into rewarding a gamer's success.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons has only 12 achievements (on Xbox 360), giving you 400 points, but my word, they're inventive achievements. Achievements that will make you smile and say, "Top work, lads and lasses. Top work." Well, they made me smile.

Brothers: A Tale of Two SonsIn Brothers, you don't get an achievement for using a bow and arrow three times in quick succession on the same enemy (for starters, there isn't a bow and arrow) or for finding three pieces of a magical suitcase, but you get achievements for things you wouldn't expect and that are not plainly obvious. I only put two and two together for some of them by reading the achievement details in-game, which is something I often do first with many games.

One achievement, Turtle Soup, was unlocked in a winter location. I came across a giant turtle on a piece of ice, wailing and looking frustrated. I noticed a path to the left off the main route I was taking, and guided the two brothers (using the dual-stick control method) along it, finding three baby turtles lying on their backs, separated from their mother. Using the stronger of the two boys to drag each turtle up a slight incline, I dropped each down an icy chute into the water below, triggering the familiar Xbox 360 "Achievement Unlocked" sound and a cutscene showing the reunited family swimming off into the sunset. OK, they didn't swim off into a sunset but the mother had been reunited with her babies. 

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