Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dumped by Amazon

The more astute reader may notice I've removed the Amazon banner ads from this blog.  This is due to the fact that Amazon yesterday dumped its California affiliates.  Amazon did not do this randomly; it was a response to Jerry Brown signing onto the budget, which included collecting taxes from Internet businesses maintaining a physical presence in California.  I do not know the ins and outs of all this yet, as I am still examining the budget, but it does cut into a lot of people's revenue.  (My other blogs, which can be found at the bottom of this page, will have the Amazon ads cut, too.)

What does this have to do with video games?  Not much, really, other than I may end up closing a few of these blogs and turning my attentions elsewhere.  I will also no longer be providing links to Amazon on the games I write about.  I'll send my readers elsewhere ... until those businesses follow Amazon's lead.

I believe Amazon acted in haste when it did this.  A knee-jerk reaction to a knee-jerk budget.  Perhaps it was hoping to cause Brown to rethink things.  I am not privy to that.  All I know is that Amazon moved fast and without so much as a nice kiss good-bye.

For those who are boycotting Amazon over this, let me recommend Play-Asia for all your video game needs.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer:  Clicking on an ad may earn me a small commission ... but not from Amazon, and nor will I spend that money there.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Supreme Court Vs. California's Parents

Every description is worse than the last.  You can shoot people.  You can torture them.  You can tie them up, hack their heads off, wear their skins and defile a nun.  Like music, comic books and the Internet, "violent" video games have been under the attack for the negative effect, as vague as it is, that they have on our children.  Columbine is dragged out (though if anyone took the time to read the FBI's report on that incident you would see how little effect violent video games had on that) time and time again.  The GTA series and Call of Duty are dragged through the mud.  Every argument is some variation on the same: These games are destroying our children.  No real evidence is given.  None is needed.  When children are at stake it is good enough to just make claims ... or so the general line of thinking has gone.

Until now.

The Supreme Court has ruled that California, my home state -- the one that can't balance a budget without yanking away funding to schools and poor kids -- can't regulate the sales of violent video games to minors.  It has recognized that children's parents should be the gatekeepers and not a government that seems to only care about children when it is convenient.  Kudos, Supreme Court, you did right.

It should have never gone this far.  Really.  It should not have been an issue.  Violent video games exist, just like violent movies and violent books.  They are not every game or even a majority of the games (depending on your definition of violence).  In fact, it seems like the production of "questionable" games has been on the decline.  Since these things exist, it is up to the parents to monitor what their kids are playing and, more importantly, actually communicate with their children about them.  I know it is a strange, New Age idea to actually talk to one's children and treat them like individuals capable of making good and bad decisions (a process learned from their parents), but as a parent it is your job to do just that.  I'm a parent.  I talk to my child about everything.  I discuss the pros and cons, and I don't shy away from discussions about violent video games.  Again: It's my job.

Parents are very happy to give up powers to the state.  The less thinking that goes into raising their kids, the better.  Not all parents, but enough that this fight had to go to the Supreme Court.  And now the decision has been handed down.  A decision that is well-reasoned and filled with common sense (two things lacking in many parents I know).  The parents who will feel slighted (and they are legion) will throw up their hands and cry, "What about the children?"  Well, what about them, parents?  Now that the responsibility is in your court, what will you do?  Will you ignore the problem, or will you have an actual conversation with your child?  One that compares reality to fiction, the horrors of war, anti-social behavior and sexual stereotypes?  Or will you go back to asking legislators to do your job?  The same legislators you don't trust to do anything else.  Keep that in mind.  In the end, your kids can see through your hypocrisy.  Let's just hope they make better decisions than you ... despite your parenting.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Sims Reproduce on Facebook -- One More Thing to Ruin Friendships

EA is bringing The Sims to Facebook in an attempt for you to get more ridiculous wall posts reminding you that Jenny got a job and Mark is dating Linda.  Just when you thought FarmVille posts about getting fence posts was bad enough ...

I have a version of The Sims for the PS2.  I have not played it a lot.  (I did recreate the family from The Devil's Rejects and made a killing room where I let people die.  I also had fun watching them clean up their urine.)  It takes micromanaging to a new level that sometimes make watching paint dry seem like an extreme sport.  So, no, I will not be playing this game on Facebook.

I know fans of this franchise are a rabid bunch.  Many of the people I know who play it quite often can't really manage their own lives, and they obviously don't get the definition of irony.  Many others find it an amusing use of time.  I beg to differ with that one, but what do I know?  I enjoy watching old Stacey Keach movies.

EA is doing this for one reason only.  It's the same reason that defines every company's existence.  Money.  Games on Facebook rake in a huge amount of money every year by people tired of the same ol' same ol'.  They want to buy better in-game items instead of earning them or whatnot.  That's fine.  Capitalists are a lot like vultures.  If there is money to be had, they are circling the body, and Facebook is nothing but a big, rotting body.

I can only imagine the fallout of this, though.  Facebook ruins friendships and working relationships.  I've seen it happen first hand.  What happens on Facebook doesn't stay on Facebook, and people take this social networking crap way too seriously.  With what I can see Sims people doing, I can only imagine the wreckage of friendships, partnerships and marriages.  ("Your Sims dude was flirting with my sister's Sims dudette.  We're through!")  Far from being concerned about that, however, I actually find it kind of amusing.  Maybe this Sims invasion (similar to the bedbug invasion that dominated the news a while back) isn't such a bad thing after all.  The amount of entertainment that could possibly be gained from not playing the video game could far surpass the little entertainment involved in playing it.  This could be the most fun Sims game ever.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer:  Clicking on a link may earn me a commission, which I shall use to purchase a game room for my Sims people.