Game Addiction Author At Odds With College Colleagues

January 6, 2011 -

A Herald-Tribune article details the odd work situation that Ryan Van Cleave finds himself in since writing his book, "Unplugged: My Journey Into the Dark World of Video Game Addiction." The topic of his book, game addiction, does not sit well with some faculty and students at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., where he teaches English and writing, because the school has close ties with the field of video game development.

The article describes him as somewhat heretical, because the school teaches computer animation, comparing him to a Hershey employee warning consumers not to eat chocolate.

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GameStop Enjoys Record Holiday Season

January 6, 2011 -

Video game retailer GameStop reported record sales of $3.02 billion for the nine-week holiday season that ended on January 1. This marked a 5.4 percent increase over the same period last year, driven by Kinect sales, and "strong sell through" of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 titles such as Call of Duty: Black Ops and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. The company also reported 32 percent growth in gift card sales during the month of December.

New hardware sales improved 7.4 percent based mostly on the successful debut of Microsoft's Kinect. New video game software sales increased 3.3 percent.

Play World of Warcraft Using Kinect

December 28, 2010 -

Researchers at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies have software that enables PC games to work with Microsoft's Kinect sensor. The software is called Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit (FAAST). It apparently emulates custom configured keyboard controls that are activated by body movements.

The most interesting part about this software can be seen in the video embedded in this story - it shows researchers playing World of Warcraft using the Kinect and the toolkit.

While the software is interesting for games, it may have other more practical uses such as "active gaming" to fight childhood obesity or "motor rehabilitation" for stoke victims.

Check out the video. For a technical overview of the software, check out ict.usc.edu.

1 comment | Read more

Report: Blizzard Dealt With Data Leak as Cataclysm Launched

December 8, 2010 -

While Blizzard was launching its biggest product of the year, behind the scenes it was having some serious problems with a data leak in China, according to a report on VentureBeat. According to that report, citing several news stories from MMOGameSite, Blizzard's release schedule and subscriber numbers were leaked from its China offices, and the general manager of the studio, Ye Weilun, was subsequently fired for it - allegedly.

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WOW Pet and Make-A-Wish Foundation

November 30, 2010 -

Blizzard let us know that it has released two new World of Warcraft pets in the Blizzard Pet Store: Lil’ Ragnaros and the Mookin Hatchling. The Moonkin Hatchling is of particular interest to us because 50 percent of the proceeds go towards the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Last year Blizzard did something similar with the Pandaren Monk and ended up raising an impressive $1.1 million USD for the organization dedicated to making sick kids' dreams come true. Each pet cost $10 from the Blizzard store. Here's more on the Moonkin Hatchling:

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George Mason Teacher Lectures on Game Addiction

November 17, 2010 -

A George Mason University teacher believes that society is blind to the permeation of videogame addiction in college students; a problem so widespread that she believes it is swelling the number of dropouts.

Demonstrating less tactfulness than Rush Limbaugh (yes, that was odd to write), Erica Jacobs kicks off her column by alluding that Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho’s addiction to Counter-Strike contributed to his actions, before recounting the tale a student of hers told about a roommate at school that became so addicted to World of Warcraft, he eventually dropped out.

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New WOW Companions on the Way

November 12, 2010 -

Blizzard Entertainment this week debuted two new World of Warcraft companions - and they do more than just follow you and are look cute. The new companions are the Lil' Ragnaros and the Moonkin Hatchlin. Announced at BlizzCon earlier this year, both will be just like the Pandaren Monk when they debut on the Pet Store: proceeds will go to charity. Here is more from Blizzard:

"They’re cute, they’re portable, and they’re coming to the Blizzard Pet Store. But before they arrive, we wanted to give you a sneak peek of our two newest companions: Lil' Ragnaros and the Moonkin Hatchling. As announced at BlizzCon, the Moonkin Hatchling will follow in the charitable footsteps of the Pandaren Monk, with sales helping to benefit a good cause. More details, including the availability date and specific plans for the charity partnership, will be announced in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned!"

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World of Warcraft Blamed for Teen Murderers' Actions

October 30, 2010 -

Video games are the focus of a murder involving two teen boys from British Columbia. In March 2010 two teenage boys from British Columbia (18 and 16 years old) raped and killed an 18-year-old girl named Kimberly Proctor. The description of the crime is horrific: after the crime, the two boys mutilated and burned the body under a bridge.

Later the younger of the two alleged murderers bragged about the murder in World of Warcraft to a friend. He bragged about the crime to his friend and sent him newspaper clips detailing the crime. Naturally, the media wants a reason, and World of Warcraft has become a target.

The headline from CTV News gives you an idea where this is all heading: "Teens moved from online violence to real-life murder."

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WOW Romance Spurs Felony Charge

September 22, 2010 -

An underage World of Warcraft player’s dalliance with a fellow female player resulted in the arrest of a 35-year old Lowell, Michigan woman.

Angie L. Jenkins was arrested after traveling to Amherst, New York on June 11 to meet a 16-yeard old boy, who she ended up having sex with in a parked car. Jenkins, according to the Buffalo News, is believed to be the first woman charged in Western New York with using the Internet to entice a minor into sexual activity.

The two met while playing WOW in 2009, and both initially lied about their age, with the boy claiming he was 20 and Jenkins saying she was 21. At a later date the boy confessed to being only 15 (at that time), which Jenkins said didn’t matter. Jenkins reportedly kicked off discussions about meeting in real life and also “initiated the sexual contact” once they did meet.

Once the FBI uncovered Jenkins’ WOW screen name, and provided a subpoena to Blizzard, they were provided with her name, address and telephone number.

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Chinese Gamers to Feel Lich King Wrath at Month’s End

August 24, 2010 -

Blizzard and Chinese game operator Net Ease will officially launch the World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King just a few short weeks after it was finally approved in the Asian country.

According to a joint press release from Blizzard and Net Ease, the expansion will go live in mainland China on August 31, almost two years after it was launched (November 2008) in Europe and North America.

Net Ease CEO William Ding stated, “We are fully prepared on all fronts to provide great service and support to all of the new and returning players throughout China, and we look forward to welcoming them to Northrend.”

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Blizzard Wins $88M from Girl Operating WOW Private Servers

August 18, 2010 -

In case you missed it, World of Warcraft developer Blizzard recently scored a whopping $88,594,539 judgment against a company that was operating and charging players to access World of Warcraft emulator servers.

The ruling was handed down on August 10 by the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California and targeted Alyson Reeves, who was operating under the business name of ScapeGaming. The huge dollar figure was calculated by combining the $3,052,339 the defendant received from users of her service via Paypal, statutory damages of $85,478,600 (calculated by multiplying ScapeGaming’s 427,393 users times the statutory minimum of $200 per “act of circumvention and/or performance of service”) and another $63,600 in attorney’s fees.

Additionally, if Reeves has trouble paying, she will see post-judgment interest accumulate at the “rate provided by law” until the entire sum is recovered.

Court documents reveal that up to 32,000 players were using the organization’s servers each day.

A statement from Blizzard on its victory read:

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Skulls Removed, Blood Changed for Chinese Lich King

August 17, 2010 -

While the Chinese Ministry of Culture finally gave the go-ahead for the not-too-distant release of the World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King, a taste of some changes Blizzard had to make to models in the game are detailed on a website dedicated to Chinese gaming.

A handful of images appearing on ChinaGame.178.com show the removal of mostly skulls and bones from models in the approved version. Another image also appears to indicate that sprites used to animate blood loss and/or splattering were changed from red to green.

In the images below, original models are on the left while the purported Chinese-approved modifications are on the right.

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A Possible Future Where World of Warcraft is Free

July 1, 2010 -

In a PC Gamer interview Blizzard said that it may, at some point, consider making World of Warcraft free. Blizzard's Tom Chilton said the company is open to considering different subscription models for the MMO based on a number of factors including external or internal competition in the MMO space. This could include the other secret MMO project the company is working on, serious competition from another company or a change in the space itself.

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WOW Players Get StarCraft II for Free - in South Korea

June 28, 2010 -

If you're a World of Warcraft subscriber you will get StarCraft II for free.. if you live in South Korea. Blizzard's promising RTS sequel is the greatest thing since sliced bread in the region, so the company has decided that WOW faithful deserve a reward. According to an IGN report Blizzard announced the news at a recent StarCraft II event in Seoul, South Korea to the delight of fans. The deal allegedly lasts as long as a player’s World of Warcraft account is active.

Lead producer Chris Sigaty said during the event that the move was "a way of giving something back to such a supportive and skilled community of players."

While this is a kind gesture on Blizzard's part, it is also a very clever way of further driving subscriptions for World of Warcraft. It would be fair to say that the StarCraft franchise enjoys ridiculous levels of popularity in the region, with shows dedicated to the game, multi-million dollar competitions televised on TV and Internet Cafes in the country driven by consumers who want to play.

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Activision: 70 Percent of Income Comes From Non-Console Games

June 22, 2010 -

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said that he is confident that the company's online strategy will help it to weather the storm as sales models shift from disc-based to digital. He also added that 70 percent of the company's operating profit comes from "non-console based video games."

For a better understanding of what that means, a quote:

"Today, probably 70 percent of our operating profit comes from non-console-based video games. So, while you might see a month-to-month change or volatility against expectations, that doesn't really get us too concerned." Operating income for Activision's January-March 2010 quarter alone was $511 million.

While one might want to tie that number to DLC sales from games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, but a spokesperson for the company told Gamasutra that Kotick's statement doesn't include console based content of any kind. Maryanne Lataif, VP of corporate communications for Activision Blizzard, told Gamasutra in a phone call that "non-console-based video games" means just that.

1 comment | Read more

Getting Real: Blizzard's Real ID

June 15, 2010 -

Blizzard has announced Real ID, which it calls a "completely voluntary and optional level of identity that will keep players connected across all of Battle.net." The first game to get support for Real ID will be World of Warcraft.

The idea is to give Battle.net users a way to connect with real friends using real names and give them a means to communicate and share independent of the Blizzard game they might be playing at the time. Your Real ID friends will appear under their "real-life names" on your friends list, when chatting, communicating in-game, or viewing a character's profile. Real ID friends can also see who's on each other's Real ID friends list, making it easy for players to connect with other people they might know.

For World of Warcraft players this allows for cross-realm and cross-game chat - for example, when you friend is play StarCraft 2 you can harass him or her while in World of Warcraft.. And when you "friend" someone once you will see all the characters they have created in Blizzard games to date. Apparently this will even include "future games" someone might be playing like betas and beta content.

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Numbers Game: China’s The9 Invests in Red 5 Studios

March 22, 2010 -

Chinese game developer and operator The9 Limited has entered into an agreement with U.S. online game developer Red 5 Studios that will see the former acquire a “majority interest” in the latter for approximately $20.0 million.

The9 previously operated World of Warcraft in China, before losing the WOW license to its Chinese rival NetEase. The9 still operates games such as FIFA Online 2 for Electronic Arts, in addition to its own games, such as World of Fighter and Atlantica. In its most recently reported quarter, The9 reported a 94.0 percent decrease in revenues to approximately $3.7 million U.S., versus the same period from a year earlier. It cited the loss of its WOW license, which expired on June 7, 2009, as the main reason for the drop.

Given that Red 5 is made up of former executives and game developers from WOW-creator Blizzard Entertainment, the deal seems to make a lot of sense, at least on paper. Red5, however, says that it “can’t tell you" what it's working on.

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Research: Gamers Spend a Lot of Money on MMOs

March 9, 2010 -

A new survey from Today’s Gamers takes a look into the big money arena of massively multiplayer online games.

The report focused on the U.S., UK, Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The U.S. boasted 46.0 million MMO gamers, of whom 46.0 percent paid for the privilege to play their online game of choice. Those who did pay to play an MMO spent a total of $3.8 billion on subscriptions, virtual currency, game purchases and other micro-transactions, which works out to $15.10 spent by each U.S.-based MMO gamer per month.

Following the U.S. in total dollars spent on MMOs were the UK ($270.0 million), Germany ($250.0 million), France ($220.0 million), the Netherlands ($65.0 million) and Belgium ($55.0 million). The UK was tops in terms of monthly amount spent on MMOs with a figure of £10.60 (approximately $15.89 U.S.) per gamer.

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Games Help One Person Deal with Chilean Quake

March 5, 2010 -

The earthquake that rocked Chile last weekend killed hundreds and affected the lives of thousands more. Zam has a story on how the survival of a game-related accessory contributed a little hope to one of the quake’s survivors.

A 33-year old woman gamer named Karen, who lives in Santiago, was playing Guitar Hero: Metallica with friends when the quake hit. Many of her possessions were strewn about and destroyed as a result of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake, but the survival of one specific object, a World of Warcraft Blood of the Horde stein, gave her a reason to believe that the rest of her family in Chile had survived the quake intact.

She wrote an email to the Taverncraft, the stein’s maker just days after the disaster, writing:

All i wanna say that you made a good product and little stein give me hope, and have family in Concepcion and the other region that are the most affected for the earthquake and when I see the stein without a scratch for me was like ... yeah maybe my family made it too... that day I couldn't sleep... and only yesterday i have news all my family from the south are alive :)

Karen also told Zam that she and her friends have continued to play games as a way to get through the aftermath of the earthquake.

4 comments

Blizzard Grants a Few Wishes with Charitable Contribution

February 17, 2010 -

World of Warcraft maker Blizzard Entertainment has donated $1.1 million to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The contribution came about as a result of a special WOW-initiative that allowed players to purchase a special in-game pet, the Pandaren Monk (pictured). The donation represents 50.0 percent of the sales of the pet in November and December of last year.

Blizzard made the donation yesterday at its headquarters in Irvine, California and also invited 15 Make-A-Wish kids to attend, who were entertained by the WOW-development team and offered a look behind the scenes of the game.

David Williams, Make-A-Wish Foundation of America president and chief executive officer stated, “Thanks to Blizzard Entertainment and World of Warcraft players around the world, we will be able to grant the heartfelt wishes of even more courageous children with life-threatening medical conditions.”

6 comments

Family Brawl Kicked off Over WOW

February 17, 2010 -

A mother asking her son to stop playing World of Warcraft caused a Swan to turn into an ugly duckling, sparking a family battle that involved four generations.

The Herald Tribune carries word of James Swan (pictured), a 27-yeard old Manatee County, Florida resident who was drinking and playing WOW last week. As Swan grew more boisterous in the course of playing, his mother, Hazel Summerall, attempted to get Swan to shut off the game. Summerall placed a hand on Swan’s shoulder, at which point he grabbed her by the hair and threw her on a bed.

Swan then threw his own son onto the bed, causing Summerall to rush for the phone to dial 911. Swan ripped the phone off its mooring, smashed his own head into the wall for effect and then turned his attention back to his mother, choking her. At this point Swan’s grandfather intervened, grabbing a handgun and, following a brief struggle, fired once, wounding Swan in the head.

Swan was apparently wounded only superficially and refused treatment before being arrested.


|Via Wow.com|

20 comments

NetEase Granted Burning Crusade License

February 16, 2010 -

Following a prolonged battle and a series of false-starts, China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) has finally given the official go-ahead for NetEase to operate the world of Warcraft expansion The Burning Crusade.

In granting the license needed to operate the game, GAPP said that NetEase had “taken necessary corrective measures." The decision came down on Friday wrote Digital East Asia. GAPP had previously suspended NetEase’s permit over what it termed “gross violations” of regulations.

In related news, China Tech News offers word of a new Chinese initiative spearheaded by game operators that will educate parents on how to best oversee their children’s online game activities.  Game operators Wanmei.com, Tencent, Shanda, Netease, Changyou and Giant Interactive are particpiants in the program, which will provide a variety of support materials for parents and also provide the means for parents to suspend or cancel their children’s accounts.

Digital East Asia also shed light on a series of YouTube videos (pictured) that lampoon the World of Warcraft Chinese debacle and use the situation to provide commentary on the rigid state of Chinese censors. The Wall Street Journal said about the video, “…its subtext is a broad, biting allegory of the fight against government Internet controls, peppered with allusions to a list of real-world conflicts in China over the past year.”

Part 1, with English subtitles, can be found here.

3 comments

Chinese WOW Bickering Continues

February 8, 2010 -

If you thought that the trials and tribulations of Chinese World of Warcraft operator NetEase were over, think again.

In response to orders from China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), NetEase has suspended new user registrations for the game. The suspension is expected to last a week and was done in response to GAPP claiming that NetEase had committed “gross violations” of regulations, reports Reuters.

GAPP ordered NetEase to stop charging users to play the game and had returned a NetEase application to run the WOW expansion The Burning Crusade. NetEase, however, had continued to operate the expansion, claiming that it was in compliance with local laws. NetEase has once again resubmitted its application to GAPP to operate the WOW expansion.

NetEase has been stuck in the middle of a government turf battle for at least several months now, as GAPP and the Ministry of Culture battle over which bureau has the right to govern gaming within China.


Estavillo Drops All Suits

February 2, 2010 -

We will have to find a new nickname for professional plaintiff/serial suer Erik Estavillo, as he is dropping all his lawsuits.

Estavillo wrote that his medical conditions, particularly symptoms related to panic disorder and Crohn’s disease, contributed to his decision to abandon the cases. He indicated that the long wait for cases to be heard was starting to get to him, causing his doctors to advise him to walk away from the lawsuits in order to improve his health. Estavillo also provided us with some individual reasons for dropping each case, mostly due to those being sued making improvements or fixes which seemed to appease Erik.

Estavillo had sued Sony over being banned from the PlayStation Network following Resistance: Fall of Man online gaming sessions. He had alleged that Sony was ineffective at stopping players under the age of 17 from playing the game and that banning him from the network amounted to theft, in regards to his PSN pre-paid points. Estavillo wrote that a signup page for PSN appears to have been added, which requires a parent or master account to add a new account to a PS3, addressing his concern of younger kids playing the game.

Erik has also sued Microsoft over a red ring of death on his Xbox 360 and Nintendo over a Wii system update that rendered his homebrew channel unusable. Estavillo said he just learned that Microsoft is not charging 360 owners to fix a console that received a RROD and that he has found many websites that would easily allow him to re-install the home brew channel if he so chose to do so.

A suit against World of Warcraft maker Activision Blizzards had alleged that characters in WOW walked to slow, thus enabling the game’s publisher to continue to reap monthly subscription fees as it took long periods of time just to travel in the game. Estavillo notes that now, it appears that WOW avatars walk much faster in Ghost mode.

Another factor in dropping the suits was that Estavillo could not afford to pay the process server fees needed to serve the people he had subpoenaed for some of his cases. Those subpoenaed by Estavillo had included Bill Gates, Winona Ryder, Depeche Mode’s Martin Lee Gore, Lady Sovereign and Krayzie Bone.

Estavillo will also drop his most recent case, which targeted a variety of gaming and popular websites for libel.

28 comments

Social Interaction as a Lynchpin of Gaming

January 27, 2010 -

A love of the social aspects of videogames tends to drive any perceived dependence on games more so than a game’s activity itself.

This is the angle a Kent State University article takes in examining the aspects of what fuels gamers to keep on playing, in addition to the subject of whether or not the term “addiction” is fair to use in relation to videogames. KSU Sophomore Brian Clark weighed in on the latter subject, stating that the use of such a term was misleading:

Rather than craving the game itself, they crave the interaction they get in the game so rather than going out and having a real life social interaction, they’re having social interactions with other people on a game.

The piece notes that a definition of someone addicted to videogames, as put forth by the American Medical Association (AMA), is a person that “has more control and success over his or her social relationships in the virtual world than reality.”

World of Warcraft was mentioned often in the piece, with Clark admitting that a friend of his had a reliance on the online game, which Clark, again, attributed to the social aspect of WOW. The additional factor of playing a game that never really ends only increases the difficulty of putting a game like WOW aside noted student Connor Shivers.

Achievements can also be a powerful lure for gamers to keep playing. Clark’s previously discussed WOW-loving friend also became reliant on them, “He would play some Xbox games just for the fact of getting achievement points (on Xbox LIVE) and feeling like he accomplished something.”

GP: The definition as defined by the AMA probably needs to be updated as more and more relationships that begin in virtual worlds cross over to the real world. I would venture a guess that most hardcore gamers have befriended a fellow gamer via an online guild or clan and then met up with them IRL.

25 comments

PBS Prepping All Encompassing Look at Digital Life

January 20, 2010 -

The Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) investigative show Frontline will air a deep look into how digital media and the Internet have transformed human lives and the subject of videogames is featured heavily in the program.

Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier will debut on February 2 at 9:00 ET. The 90 minute show was produced by Rachel Dretzin, who also created the recent Frontline special Growing Up Online, and will feature commentary from Douglas Rushkoff. Segments include Living Faster, Relationships, Waging War, Virtual Worlds and Learning.

Many individual videos are already available for viewing on the PBS website and a trailer for the show offers a quick overview of what it’s all about.

The Waging War section features game-related topics such as the military’s use of virtual reality training, as well as looks at both America’s Army and the Army Experience Center.

Virtual Worlds contains a cornucopia of videogame segments, including the use of virtual reality therapy for veterans, gaming addiction, professional gamers, violent games, Second Life and about 20 more pieces.

Another cool aspect to the program is that the Digital Nation website launched about a year ago ago in a bid to let users collaborate with the project by sharing their own experiences.

Fulfill Your Obligations, Even in Games

January 13, 2010 -

A Florida man has been arrested because he didn't play fair in World of Warcraft.

According to an Associated Press report out of Clearwater, 23-year-old Christopher H. Bouffard was arrested on Monday after he collected $760 from at least two people in exchange for World of Warcraft characters that he never delivered. He was arrested on charges of scheming to defraud and two counts of grand theft.

The incidents occurred in 2008, when Bouffard allegedly solicited the money in exchange for the characters, but cut off all contact with the individuals once he received the money.

He was being held on $20,000 bail. No word on what Blizzard plans to do with his account, or whether he even had one to begin with.

9 comments

Escapism as a Positive

January 13, 2010 -

Using Avatar as a benchmark, a USA Today opinion piece praises the mainstream adoption of fantasy in media such as movies, novels and videogames.

The author wonders if the popularity of World of Warcraft, The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter indicates that today’s society is obsessed with escapism, or the ability to leave the real-world behind for the chance to immerse oneself in a fantasy world.

The scribe answers with a resounding no, and offers a positive spin on the new state of geek (and gaming) culture:

I've met hundreds of gamers and geeks. Their reasons for embracing fantasy and gaming aren't about mindless escapism. Games teach social skills, leadership and strategy; they inspire creativity and storytelling.

They provide rites of passage, accomplishment and belonging, even belief systems. They let people safely try out aspects of their personalities — often dark, evil sides, or extroverted or flirtatious — that they can't or won't flex in "real life." The games connect folks to magical thinking, to nature, to a primal, pick-up-your-battle-ax and kill mentalities long suppressed by so-called society.


As an added bonus, the author writes, the ability to insert ourselves into a different world—even if only for a short time—allows us to mitigate the “minutiae of our modern, mundane troubles.”

Amen.

6 comments

China Decision on WoW Coming Soon

January 4, 2010 -

It appears that China's feuding regulation agencies may have made peace that could lead to gamers in the country being able to play World of Warcraft again.

According to a brief item in JLC Pacific Epoch, China's General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) and the Ministry of Culture have come to an agreement about whether NetEase has been illegally operating its license for the MMORPG World of Warcraft. According to "an unnamed insider." the two sides apparently have agreed that regulations were broken, as the story says that a "punishment" will be announced in mid-January.

It remains to be seen what the punishment will be, but at least a decision appears close. The case has been in limbo since mid-September after GAPP told NetEase to stop charging for new WoW accounts and halted its review of an application by NetEase to allow players to play the WoW expansion, The Burning Crusade.

If the sanctions stop short of completely shutting down NetEase in China for its "illegal" activity, it could pave the way for resumption of gameplay on NetEase servers when the sanctions are lifted. If GAPP and the MoC go so far as to ban NetEase from operations, WoW parent Blizzard Entertainment may be forced to find another company in good standing to operate its WoW servers in China.

1 comment

WOW Playing Fugitive Busted with Help of Blizzard

January 4, 2010 -

An Indiana man wanted on drug charges was tracked down in Canada, thanks to his World of Warcraft addiction.

Following a 2007 warrant issued for his arrest, Alfred Hightower of Howard County, Indiana had fled to Canada reports KokomoPerspective.com. Hightower was wanted on charges of dealing marijuana and both schedule III and IV controlled substances.

Detective Matt Roberson began tracking the wanted man using information obtained from a childhood friend of Hightower’s. Roberson eventually learned of Hightower’s dependence on WOW and subpoenaed Activision Blizzard for more information on the fugitive.

The publisher's cooperation seemed to surprise Roberson:

“They don’t have to respond to us, and I was under the assumption that they wouldn’t,” said Roberson. “It had been three or four months since I had sent the subpoena. I just put it in the back of my mind and went on to do other things. Then I finally got a response from them. They sent me a package of information. They were very cooperative. It was nice that they were that willing to provide information.”

After zeroing in on Hightower’s location using a combination of WOW billing address, IP address and Google Earth, Canadian authorities were alerted and Hightower was nabbed in Ottawa, Canada and deported to Minnesota, where U.S. Marshals held him for Howard County authorities.

The article also features a link to a WOW Armory listing for Hightower’s character, a Level 80 Tauren Shaman.


Thanks Dan!

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Matthew Wilsonhttp://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/11/music-publishers-finally-pull-the-trigger-sue-an-isp-over-piracy/ this is just stupid.11/29/2014 - 12:56am
Papa MidnightWhat Andrew Said. I also got directed to a Blu-Ray for Dragon Ball Z.11/29/2014 - 12:38am
Andrew EisenI don't get it. That's a link to a Dragon Ball Z set.11/29/2014 - 12:21am
MaskedPixelantehttps://hmv.ca/en/Search/Details?sku=763440 Real life Metroidvania.11/28/2014 - 8:33pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/nov/25/lee-rigby-report-internet-firms-safe-haven-terrorists-pm wow... come on uk really?11/28/2014 - 2:39pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.nintendolife.com/news/2014/11/two_tetris_downloads_to_be_removed_from_the_3ds_eshop_in_europe Tetris to be removed from the 3DS VC at the end of the year in Europe. Other regions unknown, but will probably all happen too.11/28/2014 - 9:16am
Andrew EisenThe story you just linked to? The story you asked if anyone had seen? Yes, THAT obnoxiousness. I've heard it parroted for nearly two years now.11/27/2014 - 7:57pm
ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen: That shes an ex con man?11/27/2014 - 7:54pm
Andrew EisenI've heard the same obnoxious horse poo for years. It's nothing new.11/27/2014 - 7:45pm
ZippyDSMleeAlso anyone see this? http://guardianlv.com/2014/11/anita-sarkeesian-unmasked-feminist-icon-or-con-artist/11/27/2014 - 7:28pm
ZippyDSMleeEvil within is a badly designed game.11/27/2014 - 7:28pm
Andrew EisenSure but you said "widens," hence my confusion. Looking into it, yep, there's a tweak to completely re-frame the image, adding more info at the top and bottom. You apparently need a fairly beefy rig to keep it running smooth when you do that though.11/27/2014 - 6:48pm
Matthew Wilsonthere is vertical fov, not just horizontal fov11/27/2014 - 6:38pm
Andrew EisenWell, you can widen it to 3:1 or even 10:1 but I don't know why you'd want to. From what I understand it's the missing visual info at the top and bottom that some object to, not that there isn't enough on either side.11/27/2014 - 6:36pm
Matthew WilsonI think it widenss the fov, so you get to see more.11/27/2014 - 6:31pm
Andrew EisenI don't see how as doing so would not add any visual information to the top or bottom of the screen.11/27/2014 - 6:04pm
Matthew Wilsonfrom what I read, getting rid of the black bars and stretching it out made for a better play experience.11/27/2014 - 5:59pm
Andrew EisenFrom what I hear, there's a ton of "look up and shoot at the guys above you" stuff in the game that the wider frame doesn't accommodate such actions well.11/27/2014 - 5:55pm
Andrew EisenHaving a game run in scope is not necessarily a bad thing but like any aspect ratio, you have to compose your shots correctly.11/27/2014 - 5:55pm
Neo_DrKefkaThe Evil Within was pretty bad and to make it worse the way the screen size made it hard for you to see even on a big screen it really hurt the game. Being Artistic is great but when you focus on art rather than what sells you run the risk of that happen11/27/2014 - 5:33pm
 

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