April 24th, 2006

More GP Readers in Pixelante Shirts !!

GP readers have now bought 116 Pixelante shirts. We'd like to sell a total of 150, with all proceeds benefiting the Get-Well Gamers Foundation, so if you've been holding back, now's the time to order!

This morning we have two new pictures of GP'ers in their Pixelante shirts. First is Awol1010, who is staring down video game critics.

Below we have GP reader Crummy, who writes, "...quality shirts, I'll recommend em to my friends.

Airport Security Is No Game... Or Is It?

In our post-911 world, we can all agree that it's important for the people screening our luggage at the airport to pay close and constant attention to the x-ray display. Unfortunately, the critical task of searching for contraband is also repetitive and boring. What can we do to make sure the folks paid to keep knives, guns, and bombs (and my grandmother's crochet hook) off commercial flights stay alert?

Drawing inspiration from the Crypto-Gram newsletter and A Theory of Fun, Tony Walsh suggests in his Clickable Culture blog that we make a game out of it.

"Most massively-multiplayer games feature mind-numbing tasks (known as "grinding") as part of the standard game-play experience, and have never been more popular," reasons Walsh, who offers a few suggestions for livening up airport screening with game tech.

"The game will use an augmented-reality overlay and pre-screening process to superimpose collectible items atop screened items... This will immediately attract the attention of the player and require further investigation."

"Obviously, there's the incentive that people's real lives are at stake, and there's the whole idea of keeping the real job you signed up for, but let's assume these are already accounted for as incentives. Let's set up player characters, inventory items, and a leaderboard." Collectible items would be used to purchase upgrades and character accessories through an in-game store.

Taking a page from SETI@home, Walsh adds that gamers from all over the country could participate from home, adding dozens of extra sets of eyes to the screening process.

AE: While parts of Walsh's solution seem unfeasible, the idea itself is sound. Using game-like systems to help ensure employees are both productive and engaged is a winning concept. After all, there's a reason office workers spend half the day playing Minesweeper.

-Reporting from the San Diego "no fly" list, GP Correspondent Andrew Eisen

E3: Ten Things I Hate About You

Okay, so GamePolitics does not really hate E3. In fact GP loves E3 - so much. This year's expo will be GP's ninth E3 and he hasn't missed one since 1998. But some things about the show are annoying.

This column originally ran last May, just as the 2005 show was wrapping up. GP reprints it today in the hope that some of the people who are either running E3, exhibiting there or in charge of the City of Los Angeles are paying attention.

1.) A press appointment is made with a company at the show, at their request. You arrive at the scheduled time, but the folks at the media check-in desk don't seem to know who you are. Please, companies, coordinate the scheduling, especially when your in-house people are working with contract PR firms.

2.) You make it to the appointment, sit down with the company rep, and he/she asks, "So what can I tell you about XYZ company?" Well, they invited you. You didn't invite yourself. You would assume they had something they wanted to say. Duh.

3.) Worst of all, you can't even find the PR check-in. E3 is loud, crowded, and cluttered with huge displays, flashing lights, and noise. When a firm buries their PR desk somewhere in the back of all that stuff (hello, Microsoft, are you listening?) it can easily add 10 minutes to your arrival time. If you are on a tight E3 appointment schedule, this sets your whole day back.

4.) Okay, we'll give the PR folks a break - for now - and move on to the attendees. As mentioned, E3 is an absolute, three-day mob scene, with upwards of 60,000 folks crowded into the LA Convention Center. It's hard enough to keep moving. What makes GamePolitics crazy are the attendees who are walking ahead in the traffic lane, and suddenly stop to stare up at some whirling bright lights or booth babe. Or maybe to have a conversation with a friend they bumped into. That's when our latent South Philadelphia cab driver persona emerges. Hey, buddy, move it to the side of the road!

5.) Attendees who take pictures of booth babes. Haven't you ever seen an attractive woman before? GamePolitics doesn't even want to think about what use these pictures are put to later on. Ewww.

6.) Fanboys posing as media. You're embarrassing yourselves. Understand this: journalists don't cheer at press conferences.

7.) Speaking of press conferences, that scheduling one-upmanship game played by Microsoft and Sony (in 2005) must never be repeated (and looks like it's not this year). First, understand that there is history here. Since the Xbox came along, MS always had their press conference Monday night. Sony always held theirs Tuesday morning, and Nintendo followed Sony's about mid-day Tuesday. This pattern has been more or less carved in stone, and GamePolitics and, one supposes, many other attendees, base travel plans upon it. Consequently, we booked a Monday flight back in January (2005) that would allow us to get there in time for the Xbox event on Monday night. When Sony came along and moved theirs to Monday afternoon, we were screwed since there was no way to get there in time...

8.) In the E3 press room, there are rows and rows of computers, thoughtfully provided by the ESA for the use of media covering the show. These media members need to think of things to write and construct articulate sentences. They are on deadline. So why do we have to listen to the person at the next workstation jabbering on their cell phone? GamePolitics is simple-minded and easily distracted. It's damned hard to compose copy with someone else's conversation flowing into one side of your head. Please, E3, make a no cell phone usage policy in the computer area. And while we're on the topic, turn your damn cell phone off during Doug Lowenstein's keynote speech, too.

9.) This entry is about Dem Bums of Los Angeles. No, not the Dodgers. The homeless who populate Figueroa Street, panhandling money from E3 attendees as they walk to and from the show, or out to dinner, or Starbucks, etc. In a city where they enforce jaywalking, why can't this be addressed? GP isn't being heartless here, but some of the panhandlers can be persistent, even abusive.

10.) E3 hotels are getting harder and harder to obtain if you are not with a company that is purchasing a big block. ESA, please make it a little easier on your small company attendees to find a room.

Silent Hill - Play the Game, Skip the Movie

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Sony Studios' just-released Silent Hill movie, based on the critically-acclaimed video game series, brings new meaning to that particular cliche.

In general, successful film adaptations work by either faithfully translating their source material or approaching their story from a fresh and unique angle. Director Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy operates on the former premise; Darron Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, the latter.

With Silent Hill, however, director Christophe Gans not only manages to fail on both levels but achieves the unlikely feat of making the divergent approaches work in opposition to one another. Gans can't seem to decide whether to replicate the original Silent Hill game or take in film in another direction entirely. This, however, is but part of what's wrong with Silent Hill.

Since the failed movie version is based on video game source material admired not just for its heart-stopping fear factor but its originality and intelligence, the film's abundant shortcomings will be a sore disappointment to legions of game fans who thought they saw breakthrough potential in the games-to-cinema genre.

A veteran cast likewise seems powerless to save Silent Hill, despite having proven themselves in other films. Cast members include Radha Mitchel (Pitch Black) and Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings). Read more...Collapse )