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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Inner Ramblings Of A Videogamer Interviews Indie Developer Kitatus Studios About Their New Kickstarter Project: Distro Horizons VS Galaximo's Army

(Please note. Unfortunately Distro Horizons Vs. Galaximo's Army Kickstarter campaign was unsucesful. Kitatus Studios have moved on now to launch a Indiegogo campaign that can be found here Distro Horizons - 3D Collectathon Project,

"Distro Horizons Vs. Galaximo's Army" is a 3D collectathon project created by Kitatus Studios. Inspired by the greats (Banjo Kazooie, Super Mario 64, Crash Bandicoot, Conker's Bad Fur Day), Distro Horizons takes what made the collectathon genre so great and propels the genre into the modern day!"

Recently I had the privilege of conducting yet another exclusive, in depth interview with UK based indie developer Kitatus Studios, where I was offered a sneak peak into the world of their up and coming 3D open world collectathon project, Distro Horizons Vs. Galaximo's Army.

Many of the members of Kitatus Studios have prior experience in videogame development, and with Distro Horizons Vs. Galaximo's Army, they hope to offer gamers a new and enjoyable experience that old fans of  collectathon games can enjoy as well as newcomers to the genre. Distro Horizons draws strong inspiration from past 3D collectathon titles, such as Banjo Kazooie, Super Mario 64, Crash Bandicoot and Conker's Bad Fur Day. But also offers new and unique ideas, as well  implementing modern day gameplay mechanics the likes not seen in past collectathon titles.

Check out the exclusive interview below, along with some screenshots from the Kickstarter demo of Distro Horizons Vs. Galaximo's Army.

(This Interview was conducted over Skype chat.)



TIR: So, first of all. Tell me a little about your company Kitatus Studios, and the people involved in creating Distro Horizons VS Galaximo's Army?

KS: Well, we're quite a small indie company, about as small as indie companies get. There's 10 members as of now, but we all double up on our work. For example, we have our art director who also doubles up as our marketing director. So even though we're a small group, we have a few people doing many things, as apposed to a large company like say EA, who has many people doing a single thing.

KS: This really helps with communication, so we don't have to worry about anyone being left out of the loop if say, we decide to shift direction or implement new ideas.

TIR: It is true that in many large developer companies, there does tend be a lot of miscommunication going on due to the sheer size of the teams.

KS: Definitely, it's a big positive that comes with a having a small company. Also, I might be the project lead, but it doesn't mean I'm captain of the ship and I say "full speed ahead," everyone here has their say on how we should go forward or what should happen next. But from the outset, we always wanted to make a collectathon game.To be honest they're one of personal favourite genres of all time.

TIR: Same here, (laughs)

KS: Fantastic (laughs)

KS: Well, in the beginning, the art director and myself were sitting there discussing what kind of main character for Distro Horizons wouldn't "suck", and suddenly a cat came into the conversation, and then a cat-man and well there you have it. It's the same way Hideo Kojima went about developing Metal Gear Solid 2, where yeah, you might have job that doesn't involve actually designing anything but it doesn't mean you don't have input on the project because at the end of the day, everyone who's part of the teams name is going to be associated with the game, so you may as well be making something you're proud of.

KS: Basically, everyone here gets to have input, and we have all contributed to what is now known as Distro Horizon.

TIR: That sounds like fair approach. So, onto the next question.


TIR: The collectathon genre has been somewhat absent from video gaming for a while now, why is it that you chose to develop a game like Distro Horizons, as apposed to a game for a more popular genre?

KS: The art director laughed when I explained this to her, but basically I'm getting board of shooting things. Everyday you go down the to your local video games retailer, or go online or check out Steam daily deals, and pretty much everything is about shooting things. The industry has become oversaturated with shooting games, and yes they sell well, but they're not the only genre worth playing. Indie developers should be the ones trying to break the mould, we should be the ones to go against industry trends and to try to provide gamers with something fresh, interesting and enjoyable to play.

KS: As I said earlier, collectathon games are one of my favourite genre of games. So when I was discussing what kind of game to make with Scarlet, our art director and marketing manager. Conkers Bad Fur Day came up and we starting think "Why aren't there many collectathon games around these days" and that got us thinking about games such as Banjo Kazooie, Super Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot. They're the types of games that you can think back on and recall all the memorable experiences, exploring unique worlds and meeting fun, interesting characters. You can't really get that same experience with games like Call Of Duty or Battlefield because they're grounded so firmly in reality.

TIR: It's true that a lot of games we played in the past are still good games in their own right, many still hold up well today.

KS: That's the thing. Just look at the recent HD port of Banjo Kazooie 2, it still stands the test of time today, and it's success serves to prove that the genre is still relevant. I know people that never go the chance to play it when it first came out, and many of them really enjoy it because the gameplay mechanics are timeless.

TIR: I agree, the game holds up very well considering how long ago it was released.

KS: Exactly. What we want to do is bring back the collectathon genre, but use new skills and tools that weren't available back when these games were first released, and improve upon them by adding our own ideas, and unique gameplay mechanics. I want to create something that I would sit down with and think "Wow! This a really fun game" because that's what Kitatus Studios is all about, creating fun and unique games, that hopefully other people will find just as fun and timeless as the games I enjoyed playing in the past.

TIR: Ok, so we'll move on to the next question.



TIR: You recently started a Kickstarter campaign for Distro Horizons. Can you tell me a little about why you turned to crowd funding? And what a successful campaign will mean for the future of Distro?

KS: We've turned to crowd funding because up until now, Distro Horizons has been funded purely by the art director and myself. And, I'm not going to lie, making a video game puts a tremendous amount of strain on your resources. Realistically, yes we could make a game without crowd funding but it's not going to be the Distro Horizons that we want to give gamers, it's just not going to have the polish and everything that we so want to offer.

KS: When creating a game, you need animators, you need riggers, and you need to live at the end of the day. We do have funds of our own, that we got together before I quit my job to focus on the project. But obviously, that's not going to last forever, so we need help from gamers so that we can bring the world of Distro alive in a way that's not just to our tastes, but that we feel other gamers will enjoy and want t be a part of making a reality.

KS: The great thing about Kickstarter, is it lets gamers have their say about what they want to see and what they think doesn't work. With Kickstarter, gamers can help shape the game and feel more a part of the world, the characters and the story. We really want this to be a community drive project as apposed to just some guy in the a suit giving us a check to do what we want with.

TIR: I'm sure people will be glad to hear that. Allowing potential consumers to have input in a project they like the look of really is one of Kickstarters greatest strengths.

KS: Exactly, that's why I always want Kitatus Studios to be an indie company. I don't want a big publisher pulling the strings to make more money, I want to create games that people will enjoy.

KS: We want it have it so that people can say "Oh, wouldn't it be cool if in this boss battle, he would transform into to some giant Hoover or something" That would just make it more of a community driven project, instead of just about making money. That's not what we're about, we don't do this to make money we do this to create experiences for people to enjoy.

TIR: Ok, sounds great.

KS: Thanks.

TIR: Moving on again. You've stated on you Kickstarter page that you won't be making any DLC for Distro Horizon, is there any reason in particular for that decision?

KS: That's correct. It was hard to explain to the team exactly why at first, because they just heard "No DLC" and well everyone does it these days right? But I think people need to realise that DLC can actually be a bad thing, because some companies, especially large AAA developers, like to hold back content to sell to you later down the line.

KS: The main idea here is, we're not going to hold back content to sell you later. If you buy Distro Horizons you won't need to worry about us trying to charge you £10 down the line. When you buy the game that means you'll be getting the whole game, and if we ever feel like we want to add something down the line, we'll save that for the sequel if the consumers want one. Actually I wouldn't really call them consumers, big companies see people as consumers and just focus on how many more they can acquire by making their game accessible, and how much money they can get through DLC, or expansions, or charging for horse armour.

KS: But that's not who we are, we're about making games for gamers. If someone purchases our game then we want them to be getting all of it. We want gamers to feel like "I'll get a game from these guys, because at least I know they won't be trying to charge me for cut content a few weeks or months from now"

TIR: I'm sure a lot of people will be happy to hear that, it has become somewhat of an industry trend to hold back content to be sold to consumers at a later date.

TIR: I'll move onto the next question now.


TIR: Can you tell me a little about the plot and story of Distro Horizons?

KS: It's pretty simple when compared to many other games, but basically. The story goes, Distro lives with his family and has this little stuffed animal called Teddy, who he plays with like a little friend. It's a nice little family, all Hunky-dory. But one night, as Distro is going to bed a shooting start flies across the sky, but instead of Distro making a wish for his stuffed Teddy friend to come to life as many would probably expect.

KS: There's instead, a huge crashing sound from outside, Distro goes out to check what it was and sees that his parents were abducted by Aliens. He then chases after the Aliens who have his parents, with his little Teddy on his back, but then he also gets abducted by the Aliens.

KS: Afterwards Distro and his family get taken to Galaximo's big Alien space ship. Galaximo is the villain in the story and his plan is to abduct all the creatures from many different planets, and make them his slaves in order to build his Mega Kingdom.

TIR: Oh,  right. He does sound like a villain.

KS: Distro is then sent the the prisons on the huge Alien ship, but at that time notices that Teddy isn't with him anymore. So he's confused and worried because Teddy is his best friend, even though Teddy isn't real he's still his best friend, because, well Distro's a bit special like that. But, at that moment Teddy swoops down and saves the day, and breaks Distro free from the Aliens keeping him captive.

KS: We've not yet come up with a name for the Aliens, we'll maybe go with something weird, I like weird. (laughs)

TIR: (Laughs)

KS: Although, maybe we'll ask the community for some ideas, since I think that kind of community input would be great.

TIR: That sounds like a good idea.

KS: So, anyway it seems that Teddy has become "real" somehow. The story then moves onto Distro and Teddy breaking into this big control room, which is going to be the hub world that links to many different dimensions by collecting vinyls. Yeah vinyls (laughs).

TIR: Oh, really? (Laughs)

KS: Yeah, music vinyls that will power up a massive music system that's going to break down the shield on Galaximo's little chamber, so they can get in, stop him and save all the people who've been abducted. So, yeah it's pretty random, but we here at Kitatus, as you've probably guessed right now, don't do normal (laughs)

TIR: It seems so (laughs) But it's certainly interesting.

KS: Thank you.

TIR: I'll move onto the next question now.


TIR: Are there any video games in particular that helped inspire the creation of Distro Horizons?

KS: Yes, actually I've got a small list of them. I've listed a few of them on our Kickstarter page already but I'll just run down the list here.

KS: We've got Banjo Kazooie, because how can you not be inspired by that game? We've got Conkers Bad Fur Day, and we've then got Crash Bandicoot. Saying that though, the finished product will be far more open world than Crash Bandicoot, but we've still drawn heavy inspiration from that franchise. Obviously we've also got Super Mario 64 because that was the king of collectathon games as well as platformers.

TIR: That's certainly true.

KS: And you may or may not have guessed already, but we've also drawn inspiration from The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker, not to mention pulling a leaf out of the Jet Set Radio art style. Now, we're not trying to make the game look "Cartoony" but we certainly wanted a cartoony element to be present.

TIR: Iwas going to say that the character design looks similar to those you'd find in Wind waker.

KS: It's funny how that happened. You see we're using the Unity engine to build the game, and whilst testing the animations of some fat type of monster whilst using Distro's character model, it swelled his his head up to a stupid size. But oddly enough it worked, it fits the kind of world we're looking to create.


TIR: So, in what way does Distro being a "cat-man" play into the game?

KS: Well, he was actually going to be a "cat-vampire" just prove how weird we can get (laughs) But we decided to tone it back a bit because Vampires are obviously closely associated with blood, so in the end we felt that such a character would remove the kind of child like daydream feel to the game.

KS: There is a reason we went with a "cat-man" design, some of which have to do with the skills you'll learn or the way you'll traverse the world. So.we Have a few ideas of what we're going to do, however because we're still so very early into developing Distro Horizons, I don't want to say anything definite that unfortunately might not make it into the finished product.

TIR: Well, that's understandable

TIR: I'll move onto the next question.


TIR: What aspects of the collectathon genre do you hope to bring forward to today's gamers?

KS: The main aspect we want to offer gamers is big open worlds, those where you can go off the beaten path and discover hidden areas. For, example imagine coming across a tiny mouse hole, but when entering it you suddenly come to this massive room that you never knew existed .We want to give gamers a sense of achievement and wonder when discovering something hidden away.

KS: Obviously it's important that gamers know where they should be heading, but we don't want to force them down path A to B. We're not looking to hold gamers hands, we want to encourage gamers to cut loose and try to discover all the secrets scattered throughout the games world themselves. So, that' definitely the biggest aspect of the genre we're looking to incorporate.

KS: But at the same time, we want to incorporate modern gameplay mechanics such as gaining experience from killing enemies, that can be then used gain new skills and to make Distro more powerful. In a lot of collectathon games, enemies are just there to get in the way and can often be a chore to fight, but by incorporating a level up system, it adds an additional layer and gives the enemies a bigger purpose as apposed to just being an annoying inconvenience for the player.

KS: We want to keep the collectathon genre as intact as possible, but while at the same time adding new layers that don't seem intrusive but feel natural. There have been a few gameplay mechanics that we put in, but had to remove because we felt they didn't work or fit well in the genre.

TIR: I do like the idea of including a levelling system.


TIR: Can you tell me how many levels the game will have? Also, do you plan on having any boss battles?

KS: The levels are actually split into different dimensions. We call them "Dimensions" because each new stage is actually a new world, completely different from one another.

KS: We have 9 main dimension and then the boss battles at the end of each. But when I say "dimensions" instead of "worlds," it's because they all have a completely different art style. They all work as if they are part of a separate game whilst still offering players the same basic controls. Basically, each dimension will require the player to traverse them in unique ways and will offer unique and interesting obstacles.

KS: I'll let the lid off of this just for our exclusive interview. We hav very a special dimension, dimension No. 7 I think it is, called "Master Ginrei's Video Game Challenge" It's going to be very much in the style of something you'd find in a Saints Row game. Where we'll be basically taking the mick out of various video games all one after the other as quickly as possible.

KS: What we want, is to have it to so that even though you're jumping from one dimension to another, you still feel like you're playing Distro Horizons, you still feel like you're in the same game. It sounds really confusing when taking about it, but it will make sense when players get to experience it themselves.

KS: As for the boss battles, we were actually really inspired by Crash Bandicoot's boss battles, specifically in Crash Bandicoot 3. I'm not sure if you've ever played the game, but you'd complete a certain number of levels and I think on the 3rd level you'd enter a Boss battle, the level would be completely different to those before hand and would also offer different gameplay when compared to the how you normally played the game. Some would require you to use new skills you'd learnt in the previous levels, or use the environment to your advantage. Basically they were just very fun, well crafted Boss battles.

KS: What we plan to d,o is to have the different dimensions in the game centred around the bosses, and have each boss battle be unique and require the player to use new skills and tactics in order to beat them.

TIR: That sounds very interesting. The way you travel to different dimensions and fight unique boss battles, sounds very much in the spirit of the classic collectathon games many of us played whilst growing up.


TIR: So moving on, Who are your intended target demographic? For example are you aiming to appeal old-school fans of the collectathon genre, or are you hoping to appeal to as wide an audience as possible?

KS: We want a wide audience, but then again we don't. I know that's kind of odd for a company to say, but we want to attract a specific group of people. Yes, amongst those people are the fans who enjoyed collectathon games growing up, but we also want to attract gamers who like the idea of Distro, who enjoy the concept, and also those who may never have gotten a chance to play a collectathon game before.

KS: Personally, the main audience for Distro as far as I'm concerned is for kids and teenagers, those who may find themselves alone a lot or who've got nothing to do. Of course kids and teenagers have many other games to play these days, but do we really want them growing up and looking back on COD or Battlefield and the like? Or would they have better memories of playing a game similar to the fun, open world collectathon games we grew up playing, tand hat still hold up today?

KS: Of course that's not so say adults won't find enjoyment in the game, in fact I'm certain they will.

TIR: It's true that young gamers today, tend to play many games that have a heavy focus on visceral gore, sex and guns. Instead of, well not "child friendly games" but games that can be enjoyed by all ages.

KS: Exactly, that's why I'd like to encourage younger gamers to start playing not "child friendly games" but "child compatible games" Where, yeah, the game may be aimed at an older audience, but you haven't got all the graphic violence, sex and gun crime that appear in many of the games younger gamers tend to want to play today.

KS: What I want to offer gamers with Distro, is a more innocent alternative. Something that gamers of any age can sit down with and enjoy, simply for it being a fun and enjoyable game.


TIR: So, moving on gain. On What platforms are you planning on making Distro Horizons VS Galaximo's Army available?

KS: Well, we have four main platforms currently in mind, those being PC / Mac / Linux & Ouya, yes even the Ouya (laughs)

KS: I know some people see the Ouya as a "failed console" but personally, I see it as a console lacking in worth while games. I'm not saying Distro Horizons will suddenly make the console appealing to gamers, but it certainly can't hurt having more games available on the platform. Also, having our game available on as many platforms as possible could only be a good thing.

KS: We have more platforms we'd like to have Distro Horizons available on, such as mobiles and the like, but we'd want to incorporate a model where gamers get to purchase the parts of the game they want to play. We're not sure if that kind of thing would work since it's a very foreign method of distribution, but we'd like to try, if the game reaches the stretch goal. For now though, the four platforms mentioned above are what we're currently developing for.

TIR: Ok, next question. Will the characters in Distro Horizons be voiced? Or are you going with written text only?

KS: Well, we're in talks with an actor who's very interested in voicing Distro. However, we're currently not ready to announce whether we'll be using voice actors or just text, because to be honest we're not 100% sure about that ourselves at the moment.

KS: It comes down to the question of whether or not people will be bored just reading a bunch of text on screen, or whether or not people would even want voices in a game like this.

TIR: That's understandable, there are many pros and cons either way. The Legend Of Zelda for example, has been without voice acting for years, and the fanbase is split right down the middle with people arguing for or against voice acting.

KS: With the Zelda franchise, I think that it's become such a staple of the series now, that if Nintendo were to add voice actors it would just alienate the fanbase. We really just want to weigh out the pros and cons and see what the best choice for us would be.

KS: Actually, that many be a good question to bring up the community.

TIR: That sounds like a good idea. It's a question many gamers will have an opinion on, so it's certainly worth bringing up with the community.

KS: I think we'll do that, we'll bring it up with our Kickstarter backers. After all that's the beauty of Kickstarter, we get to turn to the community and say "Hey, this is your game what would you want?"

TIR: So  moving to the final question. Is there anything else, you as the developer would like to say about your project, that I might not have asked already?

KS: What I will say is, a lot of people have been viewing the Kickstarter page lately, and reading the indie database page, but sadly not watching our video and just scrolling through or clicking off altogether. 

KS: Yes, we're an indie company, so we're not going to get the most exposure. But just because we don't have thousands upon thousands of pounds in order to create a AAA title, doesn't mean we're going to make a terrible game.

KS: A small indie developers game is just as much a game as say COD, Zelda or even Braid and Super Meat Boy. The ideas behind Distro Horizon are built on love for games, we may not have the budget needed to market the game and get it on the side of busses or whatever, but that doesn't make Distro Horizons any less of a game compared to those coming from big publishers.

KS: If you love games then support indie developers, because we're making games that gamers will want to play and enjoy. Not because we want to make a ton of money, money isn't what we're in it for, we're in it because we love making games and we want to offer gamers the best experiance that we can provide for them.

TIR: Ok, I think we'll end it there. Thanks for joining me today Ryan, it's been a pleasure talking with you and I wish you the best of look with Distro Horizons VS. Galaximo's Army.

KS: Thank you, it's been pleasure talking with you too.

(This concludes the interview with Kitatus Studios)

And there you have it, Kitatus Studios Distro Horizons Vs. Galaximo's Army, certainly sounds very interesting. Personally, I really like the ideas behind the project and look forward to seeing more of the game, as well as what unique elements Kitatus Studios can bring to the collectathon genre.

If you're interested in finding out more about Distro Horizons Vs. Galaximo's Army, or want to help fund the project. Head over to Kitatus Studios new Indiegogo page Distro Horizons - 3D Collectathon Project, where you can also play a bare-bones demonstration of what the team are hoping to offer.

You can also follow Kitatus Studios at their official Facebook page @kitatus_studios_facebook and Twitter page @kitatus_studios_twitter to keep updated with their project.

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Thursday, 23 January 2014

Gamers, Start Holding Publishers And Developers Accountable!


Many of you may have noticed a few story's here and there regarding Microsoft and Machinima getting caught trying to "bribe" popular video game related youtube channels (basically asking them to not say anything negative in regards to the Xbox One) I know this is pretty much "yesterdays news" but I'm bringing it up again now so we can avoid any knee jerk reactions.

It's no secret that certain video game publishers and developers have been responsible for questionable business practices, and anti-consumer behaviour, all in the name of expanding their profit margins and many of which have had a direct negative impact on the gaming community, and gaming as a whole.

With that being said, I pose a question to you all. Should gamers be holding video game publishers and developers responsible for poor services and anti-consumer behaviour? Well yeah, of course we should. That's the obvious response and the answer I'm sure most of you would agree with, but as is often the case, our actions are not always representative of our convictions.

Machinima and Microsoft offered a +$3 CPM bonus to those who willing to promote the Xbox One. In essence bribing youtube channels to speak highly of a product that quite frankly has quite a lot of negativity surounding it already.

First of all, yes Microsoft and Machinima were both in the wrong. Machinima may be taking the brunt of the gamer backlash now, but they certainly wouldn't of gone ahead with such a underhanded scheme without Microsoft giving it the OK. But hey, bribery in the video games industry is nothing new, there are many stories about video game companies offering financial and/or material rewards for those willing to bend over for them, but the fact that this is still an ongoing issue is very disconcerting to me. However, I believe I know what the root of problem is.

Video game publishers and developers are directly responsible for the continual development and distribution of popular titles and franchises that we know and love, that being the case we are all too often, all too willing to forgive and forget when we have been crossed or wronged. Many of us now are far too busy fighting amongst ourselves for the sake of our chosen creed, all too willing we are to defend our chosen company's poor decisions lest we provide more ammunition for the other side, not realising that we all share a far more damaging common enemy. If we could only look past such petty disagreements such as who's plastic box is the most superior, then maybe we could get on with preserving our remaining and declining consumer rights.

Take EA for example
Electronic Arts (aka EA,) a company that looks set to receive the award for worst company in America for the 3rd year running, yet they are still going strong and still up to their old tricks. EA have been at the forefront of anti consumer claims for quite some time now, with one of the most recent claims being linked to Simcity 2013 and the controversial decision to have the game playable exclusively online, only to have the whole thing blow up their face when nobody could access the servers at launch. You'd think they'd be more prepared after such a PR disaster but no. Battlefield 4's launch was also plagued by a great many server errors, bugs and glitches, rendering the game pretty much unplayable for many.

EA may be one of the most popular publishers to hate on, but they certainly aren't the only company responsible for some very questionable activities.

Why is it that so many people are choosing to forget that Gearbox screwed over countless gamers? Oh yeah, Borderlands 2...
Gearbox Software, developers of the highly successful open world FPS franchise, Borderlands, were also subject to anti consumer claims along with Sega last year, regarding Aliens: Colonial Marines. After a lengthy 6 year development cycle, a number of development diaries, trailers, screenshots and a now infamous "vertical slice gameplay trailer" all of which consumers were led to believe were representative of the finished product.

However, upon the games official release gamers were outraged after receiving a broken, buggy mess of a game that consumers later found out Gearbox had in fact outsourced to Time Gate Studios. If that wasn't bad enough Gearbox had also decided to take the funds Sega provided them for work on Aliens: Colonial Marines and instead used it to develop a sequel to Borderlands.

Now, I know there are quite a few hardcore Borderlands fans out there, but can even you honestly condone this? Simply put, what Gearbox did was wrong, more than that it was anti-consumer. They lied to Sega and all the fans who waited 6 years for what? An atrocious Aliens game. Every dollar, heck every cent that Gearbox has earned off of Borderlands 2 provides them with negative reinforcement and is akin to gamers literally telling them "Well done", you may have screwed over thousands of gamers but at least you made a fun game." I don't know about all of you but that just doesn't sit well with me.


Gamers should be holding publishers and developers accountable for these poor business practices, but instead many of us are giving them a free pass, due either to being long time fans of the companies themselves or any of the IPs that they own, or due simply to the fear that if something were to happen to one any of the companies mentioned above, or any company who is responsible for a game or franchise we enjoy, that we may loose that game or franchise forever.

Basically, what we are doing is choosing to overlook poor business practices and anti consumer behaviour, due to publishers and/or developers holding video games to ransom. We are choosing to condone these companies decisions to screw over consumers because they are in charge of providing us with our favourite hobby.

Personally? I don't like this, I don't like the fact that many companies walk over their consumers, creating cash barriers and new policies, knowing all to well that we will abide by them in order to get our fix.

If you take anything away from reading this blog then let it be this. Always hold video game publishers and developers accountable, especially if they are pushing for anti-consumer services and/or are attempting to implement certain features that will only prove beneficial to them. Remember that most companies will cave well before they choose to go out of business or risk looking like the villain.

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Monday, 23 December 2013

5 fun Christmas themed games to put you in the holiday spirit

The holidays are here and Christmas day is all so near.

It's that time of year again, when we all like to spend quality time with friends and loved ones, exchanging gifts, eating good food, being merry and playing video games!

And to that end I've compiled a list, and I've checked it twice, of 5 Christmas themed games that are fun, interesting and/or utterly bonkers. These games are sure to put just about anybody in the holiday spirit.

So, without further adieu and in no particular order.

#1- Christmas Nights (Sega Saturn)

Christmas Nights

A bit of an oldie but a no- brainer for those who've played it, Christmas Nights is a two-level expansion on the original platformer Nights into Dreams for the Sega Saturn.

The great thing about this game is, depending upon the time of year, environmental elements of the game change. Meaning that during December players are treated to not one, but two festive, Christmas themed levels!

Not only do the environments of these two levels take on a Christmas theme, but so too do the NPCs, some even appearing as little elves in costume. But it doesn't stop there, the background music also gets replaced with an instrumental of ‘Jingle Bells.’

While there are many who may have missed out on this wonderfully Christmas themed experience, those gamers who did get to experience Christmas Knights remember it quite fondly.

#2 - Elf Bowling (PC)

Elf Bowling

I'm not quite sure what it is about Elf Bowling that makes it so enjoyable, maybe it's the fact that you get to roll a huge heavy ball into a bunch of idling elves. No wait, that's exactly it!

Released for the PC in 1998, Elf Bowling pits Santa Claus against elves who have gone on strike. Being the great diplomat Santa Clause is known to be, he decides the best cause of action is to use them all for target practice by bowling huge, heavy balls at them, while they stand at the other end taunting and mooning him.

I really don't know what else to say here, while being a very out dated looking game, Elf Bowling is just so stupidly fun not to like. You won't find many other Christmas themed bowling games, and the fact that this one is so fun and cheeky makes it a must play.

#3- Santa Jetpack: Magic Sleigh (Android)

Santa Jetpack: Magic Sleigh

Developed by PimPum Games, Santa Jetpack: Magic Sleigh is a simple but fun, mobile game to put you in the holiday spirit. And best of all, it's free to play.

The game puts you in control of Santa Clause piloting his jet-powered slay (Evidently the reindeer are on strike now too) you'll need to avoid crashing into floating ice blocks and penguins, while trying to collect the many gold coins scattered through out the levels, as well as 3 illusive gold stars.

Santa Jetpack: Magic Sleigh may look like a simple retro style, side scrolling, collect 'em up, but it has a lot of charm. The fact that it's also a Christmas themed game is just icing on the Christmas pud.

So, if you're in need of some light, Christmas themed entertainment to tide you over till Christmas day, you can't go far wrong with Santa Jetpack: Magic Sleigh.

#4- Santa's Rampage (PC)

Santa's Rampage

By far the most demented Christmas themed game on the list. Developed by RuneStorm and released in December 2013, Santa's Rampage is a FPC (First person cleaner) game, where you play the part of a cleaner who is tasked with cleaning up the visceral after carnage of Santa Clause's violent rampage.

"Tragedy! Santa; the toy giving folk-hero, and purveyor of fine Christmas goods, has had enough. Endless requests from greedy children wanting more and more every year, tax increases, pressure from elf unions, bills, reindeer!"

None of the carnage is ever shown, but it looks to be that the Elves at Santa's work shop where getting a little tired of their inhumane work conditions, and gave Santa an ultimatum "Meet our demand or we quit." This seems to have been the straw that broke the reindeers back, as Santa instead looses his mind and goes on a murderous killing spree, butchering all of the Elves and Rainder leaving quite a bloody mess behind.

So it's the players task to collect, and dispose of all the body parts, mop up all the blood and generally tidy up the place (presumably while Santa does some hard time)

Honestly, Santa's Rampage premise is ridiculous, but it is also incredibly interesting from a (what if) point of view. And while it may not be the best game to get you in the holiday spirit, it is fun and certainly one of the most unique and original Christmas themed games available.

#5- Borderlands 2 “How Marcus Saved Mercenary Day” (DLC (XBLA/PSN/PC)

Borderlands 2 How Marcus Saved Mercenary Day

We all know by now that nothing ever goes well for the inhabitants of Borderlands, but it turns out they can't even enjoy the holidays in peace.

Snowmen are causing problems and as if that wasn't enough, the Abominable Mister Tinder Snowflake is also spreading the winter time blues. So, it's up to Marcus to spread some warm holiday cheer with a little help from his arsenal of large, fire spreading weapons.

This Borderlands 2 Christmas themed DLC is well worth checking out, if you're looking to get yourself in the holiday mood. It offers players a bunch of new festive collectables, heads and skins, and is a great way to share in some holiday cheer with a friend.

Well, there you have it. 5 fun Christmas themed games to put you in the holiday spirit. Whether you're looking for something fun, interesting or absolutely bonkers you'll find something in this list to keep you entertained over the holidays.

Thanks for checking out my blog, while you're hear why not let me know what your favourite Christmas themed video game is by sharing it in the comments section.

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy holidays everyone!

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Saturday, 9 November 2013

The farce that is current video game journalism


A lot of you may have noticed a few "video game journalists" (Adam Sessler being one of them) acting rather un-professional lately, by either constantly contradicting themselves, making ludicrous, biased statements and generally just being pretty crappy at their jobs, whilst at the same time making the whole profession look bad.

Not that this is anything new in the world of video game journalism, in truth the bar has been pretty low for some time now, due to petty console wars and fanboyism being rampant in the industry. Choosing to take one side and blindly defending it at the cost ones reputation and credibility, is a practice many video game journalists eventually seem to succumb to (To be fair though, the unwritten rule does seem to be to choose a side or take heat from both) This may be due to the fact that no matter which side of the fence you choose to stand on, you'll always have an army of fanboys eating out of the palm of your hand, so long as you're whispering sweet nothings to them about their beloved and chosen preference. Not only does this practice bolster a persons ranks, it also insights flame wars due to the anger and uproar coming from the other side.

There's usually two possibilities when a video game journalists starts talking nonsense, they are either a fanboy who wants only to look for the best in whatever they are defending or attempting to put on a pedestal. Or they have an agenda, and are willing to use misinformation and even lie through there teeth in order to further whatever goal they have in sight. There's always the third possibility that they've gone stark raving mad, but more often than not it's one of the other two.

Now obviously there are people with legitimate "non biased" personal opinions, right? Well, in reality it's simply impossible for anyone to truly draw their opinion from a well of pure thoughts, because "opinions" no matter what you may think will always be objective, containing personal and biased ideas, formulated through pre-conceived notions and preference. For example, I'm not a fan of sports games so my opinions about them will always be negative in comparison to those who enjoy them, even if I try to look at them objectively it's impossible for me to formulate an opinion with nothing to draw from, I could try to be subjective and look for what others may like about them, however it would still be a biased opinion based on personal assumptions and pre-conceived notions.

A person is not able to formulate an opinion without personal and biased viewpoints inevitably effecting their final conclusion. However the difference with fanboys and those with a personal agenda, is that fanboys tend to avoid even looking at what they like in anything but a positive light, where as those with an agenda choose to spread lies and misinformation knowing full well that what they say is nonsense. My point being? There are far too many fanboys and those looking to further their career at the cost of their credibility currently calling themselves "video game journalists"


Flame bait, I'm really not sure what should surprise me the most, how old the practice is or how painfully effective it continues to be.
Flame wars are the bane of genuine journalism, they make it incredibly difficult to talk openly and intelligently about current, pressing matters due to the close minded people who flock to them, in order to either troll, defend or denounce whatever the articles chosen topic happens to be. However they are incredibly handy at directing traffic toward particular websites especially those with an agenda, remember that many of these "video game websites" aren't interested in publishing facts, news or even intelligent opinion pieces, they simply want "hits" and flame-bait, in the form of reviews or articles is the perfect means to get them.

That being the case, is there really any wonder as to why there is so much blind, fanboy driven nonsense being posted on numerous video game news and information websites all over the Internet? With so much misinformation, blatant lies and biased opinions disguised as facts coming from supposed video game journalists, you'd think we'd all be more inclined to take what we hear with a pinch of salt. But no, gamers, or better yet people, are fickle, if we have a preference for something (which we all do) we naturally like hearing that it's doing well, we also like knowing when it's ahead of the competition. Further more, we like to imagine that the success of whatever we may happen to be a fan of is somehow also our own success, but in these delusions we allow ourselves to be lied to, all so that we can brag about being better than those who support "the losers" all while the exact same nonsense is happening on the other side of the fence.

The console war is not the sole problem, the console war provides competition, it also prevents any one company from gaining a monopoly and forces the console manufacturers to try to out-do one another. But it also breeds contempt, not solely due to people believing their chosen allegiance is superior, but because people begin to deliberately ignore where their favourite companies are going wrong, too preoccupied with hating on the competition and all too willing to lap up whatever nonsensical drivel people in the industry, or even video game journalists are spouting.

As The console war round 2 kicks off, it will yet again be up to gamers to decide whether or not they want a clean fight and real journalistic coverage. Or more sucker punches, fanboy drivel and flame-bait articles.

So what can be done? Well, my advice to all of you is to stop fanning the flames. It's simple really, as soon as you stop paying attention to flame bait articles, journalists screaming for attention or just talking nonsense, then all the genuine video game journalism will be pushed to the front. I'm not saying everything will be fixed over night, but trying to fight fire with fire has proven time and time again to be futile. As for the fanboys, well there's always going to be fanboys, but the more legitimate journalism we have available to us the more easily we'll be able to call them out and put a stop to their misinformed claims or outright lies.

Like most everyone reading this blog, I enjoy playing video games and I honestly care about the video games industry. If this blog has opened anyone's eyes to the many issues currently plaguing video game journalism, or even just made you think twice about clicking on a blatant flame bait article, then I consider that a small victory for us all.

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Thursday, 31 October 2013

The 5 best Horror games to play this Halloween



You really can't beat a good ol' Survival Horror game, cautiously wandering the lonely, creepy, creaking corridors, pre-emptively cringing as you open a door or turn the corner, and conserving your health items and ammunition for whatever unspeakable horrors may lay waiting just ahead. Of course none of these moments match the sheer terror brought on by actually coming face to face with the stuff of nightmares.

The list that follows might not contain certain games that are widely regarded as the most "scary" available, but each one has offered (for me personally) some of the best tense moments, creepy atmosphere, and most legitimate scares around. So dim the lights, grab an extra pair of underwear, sit back and enjoy my list of the (The 5 best Horror games to play this Halloween)


No.1) Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly (aka Fatal Frame II) Platforms: (PS2), (Xbox), (Wii)

Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly

From Japanese developer "Tecmo" Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly is a Survival Horror game in which you play as a young girl named Mio Amakura, accompanied by her twin sister Mayu Amakura, who at the start of the game both find themselves having accidentally wandered into the "The Lost Village" Now why exactly the village became "lost" to begin with will remain a secret due to spoiler related reasons, but I can tell you however that the villagers don't exactly take kindly to outsiders just wandering in, even more so now that they're all dead and vengeful. The basic setup is pretty standard for a survival horror game, you've got a creepy setting which is the village and the surrounding area, with lots of puzzles, locked rooms and keys to find. And a lot of mystery surrounding the villagers, and their strong affinity for "twins" an "endless ceremony" which prominently features their involvement, not to mention discovering the answer as to just why exactly everyone in the village is now dead and not quite loving it.

As you make progress the plot naturally starts to unfold, you'll also come across documents and journal entries that help better explain the events that transpired before whatever calamity fell upon the village. But the main appeal of any Project Zero game comes from how you actually fight with the ghostly inhabitants, you see your one and only weapon is a camera, known as the "Camera Obscura" capable of taking pictures of ghosts and other spiritual entities, and exorcising their souls. However simply taking pictures of ghosts does very little damage, the trick here is to allow them to get as close as possible while allowing your cameras spirit energy to build up, preferably waiting until the ghosts warped, distorted mug is face to face with your own and then in the split second as they are about to attack, you can perform what is known as a "Fatal Frame" dealing far greater damage. That's right, to effectively defeat the now damned villages inhabitants you need to get as up close and personal as you can with those ghostly goolies.

The game boasts many ghosts that could make for sufficient nightmare fuel, such as the Wanderer (Miyako Sudo) the Woman in the box, as well as (Akane Kiryu) & her twin Doll, but none are quite as visually imposing as "The Kusabi" Due to being tortured and broken in life The Kusabi returns as one of the most vengeful and scary ghosts in the entire game, if not the franchise. However even The Kusabi pails in comparison to "Sae Kurosawa" in life a young shrine maiden who lost her twin sister (Yae Kurosawa) and was then forced to perform the "endless ceremony" alone, but shortly after returns to the world of the living as the most hate filled and vengeful spirit the franchise has seen to date. The insane laugh Sae makes as she stands over the butchered remains of her fellow villagers wearing her white blood splattered Kimono, is one of the most legitimately terrifying things I've witnessed in a video game.

Check out this video of Sae's terrifying introduction, if you dare.


No.2) Resident Evil 4. Platforms: (GameCube), (PlayStation 2), (Microsoft Windows), (Wii), (mobile), (iOS), (Zeebo), (Xbox 360), (PlayStation 3)

Resident Evil 4

Brought to us in an age before Capcom sort of lost the plot a bit, Resident Evil 4 is a "Survival Horror" game with a slightly bigger focus on the action when compared to it's predecessors, it's an incredibly fun, well paced and, and well... OK OK, so maybe Resident Evil 4 isn't the "scariest" game in the franchise, but I'm sure we can all agree that it's still miles scarier than RE 5 or 6. Anyway, what a lot of people often forget is that Resident Evil 4 boasts one of the most legitimately terrifying enemies seen in the franchise thus far, the Regenerador. Damn these things were scary! Apparently they are experimental bioweapons created by implanting leech like Plaga into a human host. Slow moving and seemingly lacking in intellect, but capable of near-instantaneous regeneration, they are able to take incredible amounts of damage and even decapitation of their limbs! That's right, take out their legs from under them but don't get too close or they'll wriggle over and take a chunk out of you.

A Regenerador can be killed eventually by succumbing to their injuries but your best bet is to use a sniper rifle from a distance and equip the infrared scope to locate and destroy the Plagas inside the host. What? The Regenerador not scary enough for you, you say? Alright, how about the Iron Maiden? Basically a Regenerador with a multitude of spikes expanding and contracting out of its body, the image of one of these things awkwardly slumping itself your way is enough to give even the most hardened Survival Horror gamer the goosbumps. Honestly the only thing you'll find creepier than these two inhuman variants in RE-4 is their breathing you hear echoing throughout the research facility on "The Island" whenever one of them is lurking in the shadows.

This video shows exactly why going toe-to-toe with an Iron Maiden is a terrifyingly bad idea.

No.3) Outlast. Platforms: (Microsoft Windows), (PlayStation 4 Q1 2014)

Outlast

Outlast is a "psychological horror" video game developed and published by Red Barrels Games, a company founded by people previously involved with video games such as Prince of Persia, Assassin's Creed, Splinter Cell and Uncharted, it's also the scariest damn game likely to come out this year.

Outlast puts you in the shoes of "Miles Upshur" an independent journalist given a lead regarding some unusual goings on at Mount Massive Asylum, a "massive" asylum based in the remote mountains of Colorado, and long-abandoned home for the mentally ill, but now recently re-opened by the “research and charity” branch of the translational Murkoff Corporation. Miles breaks into the facility only to encounters an impaled SWAT officer and his decapitated crew, who before snuffing it tells the journalist to get the hell out of the asylum while he still can. Only whilst making his way to the exit Miles is attacked by a very large and powerful inmate named Chris Walker, who throws him through a window, and down onto the atrium floor below. It's upon regaining his consciousness that Miles then meets "Father Martin" who refers to miles as his "Witness" After passing out for a second time Miles wakes up to find himself trapped by the horrors within Mount Massive Asylum.

Unlike your typical monsters, mutants and ghouls seen in many other video games, Miles enemies are the now escaped inmates, known as "The Variants" tortured, mutilated and driven beyond madness and beyond recognition, these unfortunate souls now stand between you and your escape. Armed with only a video camera and it's night-vision function, Miles must make his way through Massive Asylum doing his best to avoid The Variants, by creeping, crawling, and hiding in the shadows as well as lockers and under beds, Miles can also use his video camera to record events, as well as find confidential files that offer a deeper glimpse into the events that led Mount Massive Asylum into ruin.

Throughout the game you will hear talk of a seemingly supernatural entity known as the "Walrider" and even bare witness to footage of the asylum's security forces being brutally slaughtered by it. As if being locked up with a bunch of crazed inmates, a murderous doctor and a less than helpful Priest wasn't bad enough, Miles now has to worry about coming face to face with a ruthlessly violent supernatural entity. I must say that the atmosphere and pacing in Outlast comes together perfectly, offering some truly tense and creepy moments, as well as some terrifying jump scares.

Whatch the Outlast Official Trailer (Full Version) to get a taste for the terror within.


No.4) Dead Space. Platforms: (Microsoft Windows), (PlayStation 3), (Xbox 360)

Dead Space

Dead Space was developed by Visceral Games and published by EA. Now while the latest release in the franchise is widely regarded as a disappointment by most, due to its departure from Survival Horror elements such as a creepy atmosphere, a need for ammo conservation, and you know, being scary, in favour of action, large set pieces and Hollywood-esque story telling. But the original Dead Space still holds up well even by today's standards.

Stepping into the space-boots of Isaac Clarke, a ship systems engineer, players must fight for survival against an Alien horde that has infested the mining starship "The Ishimura" (aka Stone Village) along with slaughtering the entirety of the crew, and then reanimating every corps via bio-recombination transforming them into "Necromorphs" In order for Isaac to effectively battle the Alien threat he must decapitate them limb from limb using a wide array of guns, engineering tools used as make shift weapons, as well as using his powers of telekinesis and a Stasis module for temporarily slowing down time.

Dead Space boasts a myriad of cringe worthy Necromorph monstrosities, but none are more terrifying or relentless than "The Hunter" biologically engineered by Doctor Challus Mercer on board the USG Ishimura. It was created by inserting a piece of necrotic tissue, obtained from the flesh-like growths covering some sections of the Ishimura directly into the cranium of a live, unknown crew member. Yikes! As if regular Necromorphs weren't difficult enough to kill, The Hunter due to it's ability to quickly regenerate any and all limbs is pretty much invincible, the only sure fire way to survive an encounter with one is to blast of its limbs and use you "Stasis Module" to produce a temporary time dilation, basically slowing down time in order for you to make a strategic retreat.

This short trailer for Dead Space conveys perfectly the loneliness,despair and terror felt whilst actually playing the game.


No.5) Silent Hill 2. Platforms: (PlayStation 2), (Xbox), (Microsoft Windows), (PlayStation 3), (Xbox 360)

Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 was brought to us by Japanese video game publisher and developer Konami. Ask any Survival Horror buff what their favourite Survival Horror game is and chances are they'll reply with "Silent Hill 2" and with good reason, the game offers one of the best "Physiological" Survival Horror experiences you could hope to find, not to mention boasting some of the most creepy, chill inducing and just plain terrifying monsters to be found in the genre.

In Silent Hill 2 players take control of mild mannered James Sunderland, who is on his way to an old holiday resort called "Silent Hill" after receiving a letter from his wife asking for him to meet her there. The thing is though, James's wife has been a bit dead for a while now so naturally he's a little perplexed as to what's going on. But not really having anything better to do James continues on his way and upon reaching the town of Silent Hill, begins his gradual decent into despair.

Just about any monster in Silent Hill 2 can act as sufficient nightmare fuel, but one monstrosity in particular has gained a cult following all of his own "Pyramid Head" If you're even remotely familiar with the Survival Horror genre then chances are you've already heard of this pyramid shaped helmet sporting, broadsword wielding behemoth. What many people may not be aware of however, is the significance of Pyramid Heads design. You see Silent Hill likes to get under the skin of its victims by creating monsters based on their fears, regrets and repressed emotions. Pyramid Head being no exception, represents James's repressed sexual desires that are not being met now due to his wife being dead, amongst other things... But I won't spoil the mystery for those looking to experience the game themselves. What I will say though is that James Sunderland has been a very naughty boy and Silent Hill has crafted the perfect vessel, Pyramid Head, in order to bring down the towns own special brand of punishment on poor ol' Jimmie boy.

Here's a video showing the numerous terrifying encounters James Sunderland has with Pyramid Head.
(Warning! there are spoilers contained in this video)

So, do you agree with my list of The 5 best Horror games to play this Halloween? Or is there a game you would swap out to replace with another? Let me know what your favourite Horror game is and why in the comments section.

Thanks for reading my blog and I hope you all have a Happy Halloween!.

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Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Let's Play Phenomenon


Today I want to talk about the cultural phenomenon that is the "Let's Play" and how important I feel it is not only for gaming as a culture but also for the industry.

First of all, what is a "Let's Play"? Well for those of you not already in the know, basically a Let's Play in regards to "video games" is a video in which you watch another person play through a video game, usually whilst offering commentary for the viewers during the play through. Now the basic definition alone may not sound very entertaining, but the fact that Let's Plays have taken the Internet by storm these past few years, becoming some of the most popular and viewed videos available on YouTube and other such video hosting websites says otherwise.

So, just exactly why are Let's Plays so popular? I mean video games are by and large a interactive form of entertainment, and for the most part are best enjoyed by actually playing them yourself, right? However as I'm sure is the case for many gamers out there, there are or have often been times when watching others play a video game, be they friends, siblings, parents or guardians, can be just as enjoyable and entertaining as playing yourself. Now the reasons as to why this is the case are varied and many, but it is often either because watching a person play who is exceptionally good at a game, seeing how someone responds while playing, or if they simply have an entertaining personality, can be entertainment in and of itself. The same rings true with Let's Plays, only instead of sitting in the same room watching someone play you can now watch and follow their progress online.

Putting it simply, the advent of YouTube and other similar video hosting websites, has allowed the makers of Let's Plays to offer their viewers an experience similar to that which many have had whilst watching friends and family play video games, allowing for them to make that very experience a form of entertainment itself.


The very fact that Pro video gaming has rose to such prevalence as a spectator sport serves to further prove the entertainment value found in watching others play video games.

There are a great many YouTubers who have gained popularity and recognition through making Let's Play videos (as well as offering news, reviews and opinions) such as Angry Joe, the cast of Smosh Games and ClevverGames, "Cryaotic" (aka Cry, aka ChaoticMonki) as well as "Michelle" (aka Mynx, aka TheRPGMinx) But few are quite as popular or as well known as the Swedish born YouTube personality "Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg" (aka "PewDiePie") First gaining popularity and recognition through playing Horror games such as Amnesia: The Dark Decent and it's various custom stories, the majority of entertainment and appeal of Felix's early videos came not solely from watching him play whilst doing commentary, cracking jokes and referencing pop culture, but from watching him run back and forth screaming uncontrollably whenever a monster would appear, befriending various pieces of furniture like "Mr. Chair" and the golden statue "Stephano" and yelling out his popular catchphrase "BARRELS!!!" whenever he comes across his self proclaimed nemesis "the barrels" all while attempting to progress through the game. Also Felix always makes sure to keep his audience feeling involved (or as he calls them, his "Bro's") and at the end of each video will "Bro fist" to the camera as a thanks for watching.

Felix, whilst slowly building up his fanbase began to diversify his videos, incorporating more story driven games and showing his fans Let's Plays of many lesser known but incredibly good Flash and indie games such as Ib, Two the moon and Mad Father. Now boasting a YouTube subscriber count of over 14,000,000 and counting (earning him the guinness world record for most subscribed YouTube channel) along with world wide recognition. "PewDiePie" has also found himself mentioned and/or referenced in one way or another in various indie and Flash based video games. Also, his recent Let's Play videos of popular titles such as The Last Of Us, Outlast and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs have been some of the most highly viewed videos regarding those games, and at the time of writing his current Let's Play of Beyond: Two Souls looks to be no exception.

Whether or not you're a fan of PewDiePie in particular, you really can't deny the entertainment value and appeal that Let's Plays offer.

Let's Plays have become such a popular form of entertainment that even companies like Rooster Teeth (Creators of popular Internet shows such as Halo spoof "Red VS Blue" and "RWBY") have created their own Let's Play channel on YouTube, aptly named "LetsPlay" Not to mention popular video game journalists and reviewers such as Zero Punctuation's Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, reviews editor for Destructoid.com and host of Jimquisition "Jim Sterling" as well as YouTube personality, PC game critic and self titled "Cynical Brit" TotalBiscuit, have each taken to making Let's Play videos.

Now some may argue that Let's Plays actually decrease the potential sales of a game due to potential consumers having already seen a play through, but there is just as much evidence to suggest otherwise. Where as many video game demos are known to be designed to paint a game in a positive light by showing the most appealing parts, Let's Plays offer a way to actually see how a game plays from start to finish enabling the viewer to see as much or as little of a game as they desire, also allowing a potential consumer to make a far more educated decision as whether or not to make a purchase. Now in no way am suggesting that Let's Plays should be used to base all of our video game purchases off of, but they certainly give you much more well rounded view of a games pros and cons, and the fact of the matter is that if a popular Let's Play personality enjoyed playing a game and/or their viewers found the Let's Play enjoyable, then there is every likelihood their fans would want to purchase said game, therefore leading to a potential increase in sales.

Believing the above statement to be the case, it does strike me as very odd seeing as just how many companies there are in the industry, that have gone out there way to censor Let's Play videos. Surely they must realise the potential for free publicity, right? Well apparently not. Nintendo have had numerous videos (Let's Plays or otherwise) removed from YouTube under the pretence that the uploaders are "infringing on their copyright" while this accusation may be the case when it comes to a full Let's Play showing of the entirety of a game and/or key moments in it, it does not explain why they have felt the need to have had numerous cutscenes and even trailers for their games removed under the same pretence.


While Nintendo have every right to defend their copyrighted products and material from misuse, censoring and removing videos on YouTube and then stating that they want a cut of whatever profits the uploader may have earned,  or may go on to earn through further uploads of Nintendo licensed games, sends a very poor message to their fans and potential consumers.

Sega also has a history of removing user uploaded content from YouTube under the pretence of "copyright infringement". Most notably back In 2012 when Sega went "nuclear" on YouTube taking down everything and anything related to their Shining Force franchise (fan made content, trailers you name it) in a apparent attempt to put their upcoming release of Shining Force for the PSP at the top of the search list. Why exactly Sega felt the need to go to such extreme measures is anybodies guess, but the fact that user uploaded content can be so easily removed like that without there being any genuine legal issues or concerns is very disconcerting, especially for those who heavily rely on being able to freely upload such content.

The censoring of content on YouTube goes further than simple copyright concerns and petty marketing tactics. Recently, Day One: Garry's Incident developers "Wild Games Studio" had a rather critical review of their game (uploaded by PC game reviewer and critic, TotalBiscuit) taken down under accusations of copyright infringement. However TotalBiscuit  himself commented back saying that he had received his copy of the game from the indie developers under the understanding that he would be uploading a video review for it, going on to further state that since Wild Games Studio had not seen fit to also remove the many other less popular videos of the game under the same claim of copyright infringement, that they were merely using the pretence of copyright infringement as a means to censor criticism of their game.

Wild Games Studio's accusations against  TotalBiscuit for his apparent infringement on their copyright, has got to be one of the worst, most deplorable misuses of the copyright act to have occurred on YouTube.

Video game companies should not, must not, be allowed to have criticism of their game pulled from the net under the false pretence of copyright infringement. This is blatant censorship and further highlights the gaping hole copyright law currently presents for those companies who wish to undermine freedom of speech in order to censor negativity regarding their products.

Marketing is a costly process that can often end up costing video game companies more than the price required to develop a game. One would think then that due to the sheer amount of subscribers many popular makers of Let's Play videos have, that more video games companies would be reaching out to them in order gain free publicity. There certainly aren't many who would pass up the chance to be the first to Let's Play the opening section of Assassins Creed 4 or Killzone: Shadow Fall, in order to help spread word of the game while potentially increasing their viewer base.

While it is true that some Let's Plays actually do infringe on current copyright laws, the fact of the matter is that such user generated content is only going to increase in popularity. Just maybe instead of content being censored or removed due to outdated modes of thinking, maybe more should be being done to make the copyright act more applicable to modern day society.

So there you have it, Let's Plays are important because they offer us entertainment while also potentially educating us on our future purchases, not to mention helping spread the word for games that may have otherwise gone under the radar, and for offering another avenue to help further popularise big budget AAA titles as well as smaller indie games.

If I've gotten any of you interested in Let's Plays then I highly recommend checking out the LP uploaders I mentioned earlier.

Thanks for reading my blog, if you'd like to add anything or disagree with any of my points, please feel free to leave a comment.

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