The Great Console of China

Using RSS feeds is a fantastic way to get news on your favorite websites without having to actually click into the website every time. I’ve been using the RSS feed reading app Flipboard for a few months now, and I’m now also using The Old Reader.

One of the things that have been popping up lately, but not garnering front page news, is the fact that current generation video game consoles are heading over to China.

Consoles banned in China

So far, the two major players in the console war, Microsoft and Sony, have not been able to sell their gaming consoles inside mainland China. The reason, according to Kotaku:

“Consoles have been banned in China since the year 2000,” Lisa Hanson from market researcher Niko Partners tells Kotaku. “The government thought that was the best way to protect Chinese youth from wasting their minds on video games, after a parental outcry.” The following year, online gaming exploded, and the market size hit $100 million. So the ban, Hanson says, “didn’t stop the ‘problem’.”

 

Then, there’s piracy:

Sony did sell their PS2s in mainland China, but as the same Kotaku article reminded us, the pirate tendency that runs rampant in China has rendered the move a disaster.

Sony released the PlayStation 2 in China in January 2004. The launch was a disaster with rampant game piracy and of the hardware itself. While it wasn’t exactly the financial success Sony might have been hoping for, it did build a brand name for the company. Nintendo’s Wii has been copied by a Chinese company and released as the “Vii”, a game system that runs preloaded motion controlled games. Sony’s PS3 has been knocked off as “The Winner”. Pirated versions of console and PC games are prevalent.

 

10 years later…

So 10 years later, I’m reading about the consoles being optioned to sell in China again. First, the XBox One is announced late April, and just today, the PS4 is also announced to be going to the most heavily populated nation.

While on paper, it may seem like a fantastic idea, but considering that the PS2 was one of Sony’s largest console triumph, and it was still pirated to an early grave, what would be in store for the PS4?

Gaming digitally

One thing that has really changed since the disk-based PS2 days, and that is digital gaming. However, stringent DRM on digital game files still won’t guarantee that piracy wouldn’t swallow the profit margin entirely, as the current piracy market has proved that there is always a workabout around digital locks.

Possible preventions

  • Cheaper hardware and software

While this may not be fair to other markets, the fact that other, knockoff products are extremely cheap (under $100 AUD, or even less) mean that to create a competitive product, Sony and Microsoft would have to put onto the shelf an equally cheap product.

  • Exclusive content

This would have to be done concurrently with the previous point, but having exclusive content for the region (the way that Australia and New Zealand gets special ANZ editions) could be enticement to spend some extra money for the official versions. This might not work if piracy gets their hands on it, however.

  • Locking software

The last, and antagonistic suggestion, is to simply ship consoles that lock up if it detects a pirated game being played. This can be maintained through mandatory firmware updates – that is, to not allow the console to function without updating to a new firmware update – so to overcome any hacking that may occur between firmwares. This might be the least pleasant option, because it creates a distrustful atmosphere that places onus on the consumer instead of the publishers to fix a problem.

In any case, it seems that the console war is going to wage on the biggest (and most flooded) market in the world. Whether that would work out, only time would tell.

Alex.

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So Fuck You, You Can Go Cry Me An Ocean

[Save Rock And Roll – Fall Out Boy ft Elton John]

I’m mostly going to bitch about the episode of Glee where they commemorated Finn/Cory, and also catch up on my life. (I have to write these little intro excepts because Tumblr cuts it off pretty fast and I don’t know how to fix it.)

First, the Glee rant. For those of you somehow not in the know, the actor for the main role of Finn Hudson, Cory Monteith, passed away during July from a drug OD. He was struggling with drugs all his grown life, so it wasn’t exactly completely out of the blue, although he was supposed to have gotten better from the rehab stint he did a month prior. And also a quick disclaimer: I understand there are some strong and loyal Glee fans out there and since I’m going to be tagging this post, they might come across it. I want to make this clear: I mean no disrespect to him, to his work, or to his legacy. You’ll see that my rant is mostly about how the show treated the tribute to him, but some may overlap into sensitive areas.

The tribute episode for him, titled “The Quarterback“, mostly depicted a period of time after Finn’s death, where actors from the previous seasons as well as the current season paid him tribute through each of their storylines and song. It showcased the grief experienced by Finn’s mom, his stepdad Burt and his step-brother/co-Directioner Kurt; Puck his best friend from high school; Santana, the chick who he lost his virginity to and who was horrible to him most of the time; Mercedes who was just his friend but I think the actress was probably really close to Cory in real life, so she got her own song; Will, the teacher; Sue Sylvester, who actually had a really touching and out-of-character scene over him, which I again suspect came as a result of Jane Lynch being very close to Cory; and of course Rachel, aka Lea Michele, aka Cory’s real life girlfriend/fiance or however they were. Then, of course, everyone else were also featured crying and etc.

The entire episode, I felt, was a way for each cast member to properly say goodbye to Cory in a place where Cory meant a lot. And in that, it was very good. The emotions were extremely raw, and I even overlooked the bad lip syncing done when Rachel did her solo, because it was obvious that Lea was breaking down, and that was real. For the same reasons, I overlooked Sue’s huge character discrepancy because I know from interviews that Jane Lynch respected and loved Cory a lot, and of course she wanted a way to say goodbye properly on screen. For the most part, I think that all the monologues were either well structured, or at least forgiveably deviant. But, I had a problem with the story for the episode.

Because, see, Glee is a show about issues. It’s a musical dramedy, which tackles all and almost every hot button issue that comes around, which may be relevant to the target demography (teens and young adults). They had homosexual relationships, bullying, suicide attempts, trans-gender, divorce, adultery, teen pregnancy, hell they even had a school shooting. So when the episode started with Kurt’s voice over saying that Finn had already died, and that they did not want to go into the ‘how’ despite so many people asking, I was extremely annoyed.

Yes, this was a clear reflection of the real-life situation where all the tabloids wanted to talk about was that Cory died from OD, and how tragic it all is, when all they want is some privacy for the family. But in the show, in the story continuation, why couldn’t they address the OD? How is drug use and abuse not a common issue among the demography? There are so many ways which the OD could have been written into the episode without evening changing much of the script, and they really could have hit home the impact of an OD for some of the audience.

They could have easily had Puck feel extreme guilt that he didn’t look out for Finn at a party, where he OD’d. The survivor’s guilt storyline is almost identical to the real one that happened. It would have been a matter of a few extra words to put in Puck saying something like, “I was the screw up, not him. So why am I still walking around?”

Will could have gone through self-blame, thinking that he wasn’t father enough to Finn, and didn’t give him enough guidance, only to realize in the end that he did all he could, and ultimately Finn made a bad, fatal choice.

They could have easily had either Kurt or Rachel go through the stages of extreme anger at Finn for having done something so dumb, and died from it, and finally succumb to the real grief that is in their hearts, but they didn’t. They had a chance to show kids who may be experimenting dangerously with drugs that it could end horribly and hurt everyone around them, but they didn’t. They didn’t even so much as put a whiff of it. We don’t even know if Finn died from an accident or foul play.

And, I understand it was out of respect to Cory that they didn’t talk about the dark side of his life. I understand, most likely, that FOX probably didn’t let it happen, or the producers were worried that an episode might glorify drug use and ODing, and make matters worse. But I just feel like, with so many other teen after-school specials having dealt with the topic, that they definitely could have done something about it. It was a missed opportunity to take a tragic death and bring some good into it.

Alright, that’s it for the Glee rant.

Recently, I’ve been working a lot. The new manager has been very tough on everyone, but he has also trained me up in a lot of areas. I am now moderately confident in my coffee skills, and with more practise I’m sure I’ll be rather competent. I also got a new phone, the Sony Xperia Z1, and of course I ran it under the tap because the motherfucker is waterproof. I’m finalizing the steps to studying next year, and now I’m just waiting for summer to properly roll around so I can wear the new sunglasses I got from ASOS.

I’ve also been playing a lot of Phoenix Wright instead of Pokemon, and it’s quite gripping so far.

That’s all for now. I think I should find a theme for this blog but I feel like that’s not really my thing. Maybe the theme for my blog could be themes.

Alex.

I’m Boring But Overcompensate with Headlines

[The Takeover, The Break’s Over – Fall Out Boy]

Pokemon X & Y is coming out in less than two days, and since I’ve basically had my name down for it since the day it was announced back in February, you can say that I’m close to dying, thinking about how far away Saturday is.

Unlike the launch of Pokemon Black and White, and their sequels, I was up close and personal with all the details every step of the way, digesting and re-digesting all the Nintendo Directs that came about. I had my finger on most of the official news and discussions. But, in the last week or so, I started to not read TOO much of the discussion, especially the unofficial ones, because it turns out, most of them are leaked spoilers.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that having trailers, bits of info, released images and gameplay footage etc is a good thing. I especially hate those “cinematic” game trailers that show mostly excellently rendered cutscenes, or just plain non-game scenes, and it gets you all excited for the premise of the game (which is also important) but the game itself ends up not being what you expected. This happened to me a LOT with Assassin’s Creed (all iterations), because I was settling down for a game where I go around kicking ass and in general being an assassin, but the trailers never actually mentioned anything about me having to spend 90% of my time staying under the radar and sitting on benches or whatever. I’m not saying that’s not a good part of the game, but I personally don’t have the patience to have to do that, I’m the type who goes in guns blazing.

I digress. I was really excited for Pokemon X & Y because from almost the get-go you got to see gameplay footage. And that’s really, really important to me, especially for Pokemon, because I’d definitely expected a 3D Pokemon game when I heard there would be a 3DS, and trust me, I’ve definitely had my long-winded rants about how there should be a Skyrim Pokemon mashup. When I saw how this new generation came so close to my dream of having a lower third-person camera POV gameplay than the overworld sprite so prevalent in the series so far, I because crazy excited. I knew, of course, that this game couldn’t be my Skyrim Pokemon (I think the only thing that could be Skyrim Pokemon would either be a Skyrim modded to be Pokemon itself, or Virtual Reality, or, I don’t know, real life but with Pokemon) but it was a HUGE step closer. The more I pored over that first trailer, the more I was sure that this game would be bigger than the rest – and the rest were already too big for my comprehension.

As the months went on, we got to see more and more of the game. Yes, there was that weird sword Pokemon, which is probably going to be pretty awesome but from first glace it looked strange. Then we saw the Mega Evolutions, and as much as it sounded like a hassle, I was pretty sure I’d be jonesing to evolve everything into Mega if I could. Finally, we saw the secondary evolution of the starters, and this is where I bring up my point.

I was listening to Tiny Cartridge’s latest podcast, where they discussed the huge amount of leaks that’s been taking place for the game, as well as the consequences. Now, because I’d been on purposely avoiding anything that would spoil my first moment ripping the plastic off my Pokemon Y (then taking a photo for Instagram because why the hell not), putting it into my fully charged 3DS (then taking a photo of the title screen again because we live in a SHARING TIME), then playing the crap out of it until that 3DS dies, I’ve also managed to avoid all those leaks. In fact, because I only follow some official blogs on Tumblr and Twitter, and because they’re considerate, I’ve completely missed that the leaks existed at all. There were a few that came through, and I’ll discuss it now.

So one of the huge leaks that came through was actually the final evolutionary stage of the starters. When I saw the official release of the secondaries, I thought, “man, Fennekin kinda evolves unexpectedly,” because like the million others, I was going to go for that adorable little fennec fox. The secondary doesn’t look as powerful as I’d hoped, but it still looks cool. But when I saw the final evolution’s leak, I thought, “aw, so Fennekin didn’t go the way of Torchic and end up a BAMF!” And, looking at the leak of Froakie’s final evo, I actually started considering getting Froakie instead. (This is sort of what influenced me to ditch my usual fire starter choice and go for Oshawott, but also because Oshawott is pretty rad in itself.)

The podcast mentioned how leaks actually hurt, because it takes away your moment of discovery. Before I saw the leak, I was still pretty set on Fennekin, even though the secondary looks odd, because Fennekin will end up being Fire/Psychic, which is strong both again the pure Grass which is Chespin’s final, and the Dark half of Froakie’s final. But after seeing the leak, I was actually considering Froakie. Now, that’s pretty unfair to Fennekin, who would have otherwise been picked because I didn’t know, and by the time I’ve trained my little fox (I’m going to call it Mako because Avatar), I’m not going to care what it looks like, I’ll love it. So, I guess in that sense, the leaks do hurt, because it takes away the joy of coming across a Pokemon for the first time, wondering what the hell it does, thinking “hey, I’ve been in this area for like 20 minutes and I haven’t seen one yet, this one must be rare!” and capturing it only to see 5 pop up in a row…those are all part of the fun! If I avoid one Pokemon just because I saw it on a leak and thought “pfft, looks dumb”, then I would be missing out. Besides, I’m hardly a player for collecting, battling or EV Training. I play games for the sense of achievement and for the entertainment, so it doesn’t really matter if the ones I catch are strong or not!

So, it is annoying that certain people in Canada and Europe had gotten their hands on a copy almost a week and a half early, because retailers began to sell them (annoying because I work for a bloody video games store and I don’t get those perks). It is annoying that they’re posting spoilers which may be huge (for example, I’ve now seen a list of which Pokemon can and cannot Mega Evolve), such as Gym Leader lineups etc, or spoilers which are inconsequential but took away the joy of finding out for ourselves. It’s also annoying because Nintendo painstakingly took the effort to make sure everyone started on (almost) the same day, and now these guys have got a week’s headstart in the new world.

But is it illegal? (Well, yes.) Is it wrong of them, and they should be blamed and fined? (Well, the retailer probably broke some sort of contract.)

At my own volition, I went and found the list of Mega Evolutions to look at. At my own volition, I watched a video of Fennekin’s final evo. But it will also be at my own volition to choose Fennekin anyway, or change to Froakie when confronted with those three Pokeballs. It is my choice if I choose to remember all the little details that I got spoiled on when I play, or just concentrate on the game at hand. It’s not my fault that some players got it first, and the fault lies so far away that I can’t do anything about it anyway, so I might as well find something to do in the meantime, go to work tomorrow, then wake up on Saturday and head down to my store and get the game. 

I’m tagging this pretty heavily, so if by chance I get a lot of traffic and someone read through all of it, shoot me a comment! Tell me what you are going to pick for a starter (and also what your Kantos starter will be). Tell me how well you’ve kept away from the leaks and spoilers, and also tell me if you care about leaks like these. Or just comment anything, really.

Alex.

I am human and I need to be loved

[How Soon Is Now? – The Smiths]

I am running a bad habit of writing things once a week and recapping.

Last Friday, we caught up with Cathy, Jalex and Sheina for karaoke, and I brought along Mela to showcase. They were all very accepting of her, and when Mela went to the bathroom, they said to me very seriously “you better hold onto her!” Afterwards we went to hotpot with Mela’s friends in Box Hill, and the guys ensured that we ate our $25 dollars worth.

On Sunday I had my dreadful 9 am shift, which meant that I had to get up at 6 to catch the first train into the city. I pumped myself full of sugar and caffeine, and faced my morning shift – which was VERY relaxing, just very early – with the charisma and energy of a squirrel on speed. Went back to the Glen to hang out at EB Games with Mela in the last hour of her shift, then had lunch before heading off home.

On Monday, I went to Knox, as I always do, before Mela’s shift. SHE BROUGHT MY N3DS! She was originally going to make me wait until Christmas to have it but, what a nice girl! We walked around, ate food, then sort of just hung out in the library and I read my instruction manual cover to cover.

On Tuesday, we went to Chadstone to hang out with Jen (not mine, hers), and saw New Year’s Eve. It wasn’t BAD, but comparing it to Love Actually, it had its pretty fall-through moments. The storylines weren’t really explored enough, that it felt rushed, and there wasn’t this nice sweet ending. I did like that Zac Efron didn’t get the hot girl, but this sweet cute middle aged woman, and I did enjoy that some of the big names were just side characters – with the exception of Abigail I-forgot-her-last-name-the-girl-from-Little-Miss-Sunshine, whose awesome acting skills were stifled by her rigidly stupid role as an impressionable teenager, caked in makeup so she’d look like her “mom”, SJP – who, course, had years shaved off her character, being paired up with Josh Duhamel.

And, today, I went to Mela’s house to watch Love Actually and cuddle, before going back to Glen for her work. I got Mario Kart 7 3DS and my hand started cramping from playing it so hardcore.

Tomorrow is a rare day off – because it’s so hot and I’m starting to become short on cash – and the 2 days after that I have work, then it’s Christmas! This year I totally forgot to watch Lovely Complex. I should dig out the disks that I burned it onto and watch it ASAP!

Can’t wait til our own NYE.

Alex.

Do You Dream I Would Be There?

[Through With You – Maroon 5]

Today I went to Steve’s place for a night of gaming. Brought my laptop to ‘lan’ and everything, but in the end everyone just played on the Wii.

When I got there, Swang was the only girl there, so I gave her someone to talk to. After a long while, Mandy arrived. There’s not really a point in recounting gaming except the highlights, like when we were playing that Raving Rabbids game, and in one of them it required some dancing, and Mandy decided to punch me in her enthusiasm to win.

In fact, both Mandy and Swang are very vocal gamers. Very grunty.

Had pizza for dinner, the traditional meal of teenagers. I was holding onto a stack of those plastic plates when Jacky ripped it out of my hands, and cut one of my fingers. YES I SHALL WHINGE ABOUT IT!

Met an incredibly cool girl called Gloria. We got along very well, very fast, because we both picked on Swang and her atrocious skills at Mariokart. It got to the point where Mandy, Gloria and myself would yell at Swang “LEFT, RIGHT, GO STRAIGHT” and the moment we stopped, Swang would crash into a wall.

I have never laughed so hard, I think, as I did today, as we were watching Swang trying to finish a race. In fact, the one race that she not only did not come 12th in, the one that she finished, the one where she actually beat someone else present in the living room, was one worth celebrating.

Anyway, that post was basically there to remind me of the memories of tonight, and not really to entertain you.

Alex.

P.S., thought for today: it is one of the most irksome feelings when you get home after a huge night out laughing heaps and talking to people and generally trying to impress people, and you realize you had a small piece of noticeable food lodged between your front teeth. I wish someone would just tell me earlier on in the night, instead of me going home feeling like I was pretty awesome and instead find a bit of food stuck in my teeth.

P.P.S., today was actually my 100th Project 365. Pretty awesome huh? I forgot to take a picture with Mandy.

P.P.P.S., speaking of Mandy; while the hoodie she gave me is insanely comfy, it sheds like a dying cat.