Games news – Ads, reality and academic gaming, and more pirating

The BBC News is going mad on game stories just now, and quite rightly – there’s loads just now.

Adverts in games, games based on real news events, academic studying of games and also the continuing practice of piracy of big release titles…so, without further ado…

I think the most interesting article today is the one regarding reality gaming based on actual news events.

Gonzalo Frasca, a games developer from Uruguay, got the idea for news based video games from working for the Spanish CNN website. From there he’s produced a game based on the events from September 12th onwards.

It’s very interesting because it’s a no-win situation, and the instructions even sell the game that way.

You can’t win and you can’t loose. This is a simulation. It has no ending. It has already begun. The rules are deadly simple. You can shoot. Or not.

It allows you to bomb areas where terrorists can be seen, they are depicted in black with civilians in white. The more terrorists you kill the better, but when you kill civilians or destroy their homes, as they walk by the dead bodies and destroyed buildings they start to get upset and turn into terrorists. A very interesting concept, and highly simplified, but still an effective message.

It opens a new realm of reality gaming from the current likes of Medal of Honour, Conflict Desert Storm, etc. Which depict actual events and ask you to recreat them and win. These games tend to focus on the gameplay and not so much the scenario and teachings, and this could be an interesting step forward.

However, isn’t the most important part of gaming playing to win, and I think that is where this concept falls down. There’s still a way to bridge between entertainment gaming and effective educational gaming, even if that entertainment is based on real events.

The next story is something that I’d love to get into, there’s an PhD in Games studies in Copenhagen! The BBC discuss the very charmed working lives of those at The Center for Computer Games Research at Copenhagen’s Information Technology University.

Academics study the impact of gaming from all aspects of life, how they are played, how the are made, and how people can learn and interact from them. All this to understand how games can be made better in the future and more educationally effective.

This means not only the theoretical discussions and debates, but they get to sit down and play games all day. Imagine this, they have a giant flat panel screen with a surround sound system. Behind that sits every console that is available and a suite of games to play…I mean study! I did say study didn’t I?

We’re still not sure what games are. That will hopefully be a question that takes us a long time to answer.

Unbelieveable. I want a job like this…although the commuting would be a nightmare from Scotland, surely I could do an overseas course and just sit at home and play? Please??

This has to be my favourite quote. What an excuse to have some fun. However there is a serious side to it, perhaps they can assist in the growing fad of blaming computer games for the psychotic nature of some of our race, and even help to make games more educationally and sociably accessible and effective without enfringing on their sheer fun and excitement factor.

Looks like gaming companies are increasing the amount of adverts in video games, and the type of advert as well. BBC News identifies the move from simple billboard advertising of related products to the inclusion of interactivity on products in games.

For instance Worms 3D allows your character to drink a can of Red Bull to help them jump higher, and in Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow players learn how to use their Sony Ericsson phone.

So the gaming companies think this kind of activity is more realistic and provides for a more all round gaming experience, that and sells products and gets them lots of money!

The next stage seems to be real time served ads, and why not? A load of the new game releases are internet connected, you have to be online to post your scores, or play against others. So why no slyly feed a set of adverts to the game, or depending on your profile supply ads that are geared towards you uniquely.

It’s all getting highly commercial, and pretty soon it might not be the fun that it once was. Can we maybe keep concentrating on the game please?

Finally. Pirating. Oh don’t worry I’m not going to go off on one. BBC (what a great site for information) are saying that GTA: San Andreas is currently out and available on the internet.

Okay, so to put it in perspective there will probably only be a few true sources with a million others disguising viruses and different programs under that name just to waste time, piss pirates off and cause damage to their systems. It’s also only going to be able to be used on modified PS2’s, which might restrict the online element. However it is another hard hit for the big releases.

Now let’s face it, this isn’t a big smack in the face against the corporates of this world. It’s not like you’re stealing from Bill Gates and getting through to them about Open Source and designing for their customers and things like testing.

This is taking from companies who are creating some really excellent and greatly anticipated games, and for a huge audience who really does want the original and appreciates the work put it. These people even include pirates.

Yes, yes, they are making a profit, that’s how companies work, and you would do that too if you were running a company, but at least they put shed loads of work into producing something that is of really excellent quality and the consumners really want and enjoy! I might not be harping on if it was the new Leisure Suit Larry game or similar.

So it’s not something that’s going to attract me, or a lot of others I would hope. It’s nothing more than an annoyance and a spoiler – if I hear anything about it that is, and I’ll be actively avoiding it. I hope most of the fans of Halo 2, Half Life 2 and GTA: San Andreas are waiting for their official copy!

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