Gambling or Greedy?

My professional writing professor has to be one of my favourite of all my first-year professors. He treats us like paying customers, because we are, and allows us to write to write about topics we have a personal interest in. I hear from other students that this is not always the case among professors, which makes me extremely glad to have had him twice this year. My most recent report was based on loot boxes in video games and the continuing development of various countries delving into the possibility of labeling the practice as gaming. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

Gaming has evolved a great deal from the rudimentary Pong made in 1972. Modern games can transport consumers to fantasy lands, put them in control of their favorite sports athlete, or help them create a “life” to hide from their real-world problems. However, a common trend has begun to emerge: loot boxes. These boxes are essentially virtual slot machines containing various in-game items, which range in value and rarity. These once light-hearted prizes cost real world cash while purposefully not disclosing the odds of receiving a given item. These practices have recently reached a breaking point in the gaming community and have gotten the attention of law-makers across the globe. But are these rewards predatory in nature and thus should be classified as gambling or is it up to the consumer to educate themselves on the industry’s practices?

Loot Boxes & Star Wars Battlefront II

On November 17, 2017 Electronic Arts (EA) released Star Wars Battlefront II, and with it, Pandora’s box. EA is far from the first developer to include loot boxes in their game, yet, the gaming community at large saw it as the most egregious inclusion of the system to date, earning EA the most down-voted post in Reddit history (Reddit, 2017). Everything from progression, characters, weapons, and more were tied to the loot box system. This lead representatives from the U.K., Belgium, Australia, and United States to investigate if these systems should be classified as gambling or just simply greedy.

Gambling or Greedy

On November 27, 2017 “Hawaiian state Reps. Chris Lee and Sean Quinlan vowed to take action and protect kids from EA Star Wars game’s monetization practices” (Kim, 2017). But without loot boxes falling under the legal description of gambling they have a tough road ahead of them.

A key factor in deciding if that line has been crossed is whether in-game items acquired ‘via a game of chance’ can be considered money or money’s worth. In practical terms this means that where in-game items obtained via loot boxes are confined for use within the game and cannot be cashed out it is unlikely to be caught as a licensable gambling activity. (UK Gambling Commission, 2017)

This obviously is not the result gamers were hoping for, yet, the fight is not over as Rep. Chris Lee explains “this game is basically a Star Wars-themed online casino designed to lure kids into an addictive cycle of gambling money for a chance to win game upgrades” (Kim, 2017). Showcasing how destructive these systems can be for those who suffer from addiction, a 19-year-old Reddit user by the name Kensgold told Kotaku “he had indeed spent $13,500.25 in games like Counter-Strike: Global OffensiveSmite, and The Hobbit: Kindoms of Middle-earth over the past three years” (Gach, 2017). If you were to search for stories of people who ruined their lives from gambling you would undoubtedly be overwhelmed. Then why should we look to protect gamers when there is no addiction protection for regular gambling? Alex Hern of The Guardian explains the system is a sort of weaponized behavioural psychology that perfectly exploits all the weaknesses that make people so susceptible to addiction (2017). “The desire for one more go, the misplaced belief that an unlucky streak must come to an end, the hope that continuing to bet will reverse the losses already incurred” are all present (Hern, 2017). The main concern is that “kids have all the typical responses that adults have to gambling in these transactions, without any of the impulse control and awareness most adults have” (Hern, 2017). What kind of long-term habits are being created at a young age by spending money on a chance to gain an item?


It is this last point that I think is both overlooked and most relevant. To gamble one must be of legal gambling age. They are old enough to make their own decisions and live with the consequences. These exploitative practices, however, are present in games rated teen, making them available to all ages. In the case of Kensgold, “he says the lure of spending money for rewards in his favorite games started when he was only 13… he even got a second job to fuel his addiction” (Gach, 2017). There needs to be more research done into the effects of participating in gambling-like activities at a young age “because parents are not interested in whether an activity meets a legal definition of ‘gambling’. Their main concern is whether there is a product out there that could present a risk to their children” (UK Gambling Commission, 2017). In the meantime perhaps passing a law making it illegal to hide the odds of acquiring items within the boxes would be a good first step. This issue has just begun and it is up to legislators to protect children, regardless of the legal definition of gambling.

Reference List

Gach, E. (2017). Meet The 19-Year-Old Who Spent Over $10,000 On Microtransactions. Retrieved from Kotaku:

Hern, A. (2017). Video games are unlocking child gambling. This has to be reined in. Retrieved from The Guardian:

Kim, T. (2017). State legislators call EA’s game a ‘Star Wars-themed online casino’ preying on kids, vow action. Retrieved from CNBC:

Reddit. (2017). This comment from EA got the most downvotes in reddit history. Retrieved from Reddit:

UK Gambling Commission. (2017). Loot boxes within video games. Retrieved from Gambling Commission:




Backlog Game Reviews: Dragon Age Inquisition

In a generation of expansive western RPG’s Dragon Age: Inquisition falls just short of being a must-have. Succeeding the events of both the first two games Inquisition has you facing the threat of total world destruction as ‘The Herald of Andraste’. A prophet in simplest terms. Tasked with saving all of Thedas and perhaps the world, you set off with a certain amount of animosity surrounding you. Following the short tutorial and initial story beats you awaken in a makeshift town charged with closing the Breach. Without spoiling too many story elements, you and the Breach are intrinsically tied which serves as the main motivation for all your choices and actions in the game. So how does the newest entry in the series stack up?


With the war between mages and templars portraying just how badly Thedas is in shambles following the events at the Conclave you feel a great need to find a resolution and return Thedas to peace. Or at least a veil of constraint. While I wouldn’t say it is the most intriguing BioWare plot I’ve played the character development is where the story really shines. Whether the supportive, friendly Varric, distant Solas or discriminatory Vivienne each companion has their preferences. Your actions and conversations with each character will directly affect their relationship with you and the Inquisition. Will you give Cole a chance or banish him from the Inquisition? This is but one of many choices that will shape how the Inquisition views you and your cause. In terms of stand out story beats, there was only one, when the members of your group name the Inquisitor. Depending on how you choose to play this moment out you may not see it as such however for myself, I had been rejecting any and all claims that I was anything other than a normal guy. So then to have everyone unanimously go against me and demand I take charge left me feeling fairly upbeat.


Dragon Age has blurred the lines between tactical and action combat much more successfully than Bioware’s other series Mass Effect. Inquisition is no different here. Other than the odd camera glitch tactical mode is extremely useful and even somewhat necessary on the harder difficulties as your companion’s AI can be frustratingly stupid at some points. The depth and customization of the gameplay is fantastic. At the beginning of the game you’ll choose your gender, race, and class. Depending which class you choose (warrior, rogue, mage) you’ll then have multiple sub-classes to put points into and eventually even specializations which unlock some interesting options. The only issue I found with the gameplay isn’t more than a personnel issue. Due to choosing a mage class for my character it kind of limited my ability to play with party makeup. Let me explain. On easy, I’m sure you could walk into a fight with four rogues, three mages, and one warrior etc. and be completely fine. However, with how much damage your enemies put out on hard I found that unless I went in with either a two warrior, one rogue, one mage setup or a two warrior, two mage setup I was doomed (And you usually wanted to have a rogue for unlocking doors so even the ladder composition wasn’t very viable). Therefore there were quite a few characters I never was able to bring along for a mission due to me filling the mage role already. Perhaps this has more to do with my skill and less to do with the game but I kind of doubt it. You need those warriors to soak up as much damage as possible and without them I struggled. A minor complaint but it would have increased my enjoyment a little bringing some opposite personalities on the same mission just to hear the banter that goes on in the background during missions.


Thedas is an expansive, yet contained land. One area will be completely open and establish your sense of exploration while the next is a single, guided pathway. Each area, regardless of structure, has a unique backdrop. From dry deserts to flourishing forests the beauty of Thedas is on full display. In terms of content in these regions, it’s insane. It took me 54 hours to roll credits and I skipped tons of content. This may be my one real criticism of Inquisition. While having a limited amount of content isn’t the answer I don’t believe filling the world with mindless busy work is the answer either. Many quests, whether at the war table or directly within an area, felt pointless other than to gain power (the “currency” required to unlock story missions). I can’t help but compare this to The Witcher 3 which undoubtedly has way more side quests. However, the difference is in The Witcher each quest feels organic as if the world is progressing without your influence and you can choose whether to intervene or not. Dragon Age severely misses this and therefore I felt no obligation to complete half of the side quests.


Now for the burning question, how do the dragon fights stack up to other games. I say pretty damn well. Now I only defeated three out of the ten optional dragons plus the story mission to make four in total. There were a few similarities between each dragon but overall the differences between each really made them stand out. Unlike other games where fighting a dragon means walking around, waiting for it to land, and then beating the crap out of it for five seconds while it sits motionless. Rinsing and repeating the process until dead (I’m looking at you Skyrim) these fights were seemed fairly dynamic with each dragon having at least one unique attack and seemingly different attributes (preferring to fly, wing attacks, swinging tail etc). Thus I’d say the dragons are really where this game shines and if that’s what you’re looking for I definitely recommend it.


When I began writing this review I really wasn’t sure whether or not I would recommend it to the average gamer. Now I have a pretty clear idea who might and might not enjoy this title. First, if you’re a fan of the Dragon Age series, go get it. It’s a good game with a few issues that you’ll easily be able to overlook due to your fandom. Next is general RPG fans. Honestly, I can’t in good conscious recommend this title to you. In my opinion there are many other RPG’s out there that do what Dragon Age does better. If you’re looking for a completely open game where you can do whatever you can imagine I would recommend Divinity Original Sin 2. If you’re looking for something with an incredible story I would recommend The Witcher 3, or actually even Dragon Age: Origins. Obviously there are countless RPG’s out there and these are just a couple that jumped to mind but my point is when there are games that nail certain aspects why play a game that does a little bit of it all but nothing spectacularly. Now I don’t want to sound like I’m down on the game, I think it’s a good game and if I had to put a score on it I would probably put it at 7.5/10, mainly due to the great characters, dragon fights, and combat. I just think there are other games out there now that your time and money investment would be better spent on. But that’s just my opinion, I’d love to hear from you. What did you think of Dragon Age: Inquisition?

E3 2017

As of yesterday the press conference portion of E3 2017 has come to an end. For the past four or five years I’ve watched every single E3 press conference both to keep up on where the gaming industry is headed and for some simple entertainment. If you don’t know what E3 is it’s basically the gaming industry’s equivalent to CES (Consumer Electronics Show). In fact E3 was born because many game publishers grew tired of being treated poorly when they attended CES in the 1990’s. They would have to set up in tents which were located behind the pornography booths, a great way to reel in the average American. So in 1995 the first E3 was held and it’s been a yearly expo ever since. It once was the premier expo for companies to show off their new titles and hardware however with the rise of publishers holding their own, smaller events for individual games I would argue E3’s importance has waned slightly. Nonetheless no single weekend gets gamers around the world more excited than E3. The past three years Sony, in my opinion, has dominated the press conferences almost with ease. So how did they stack up this year? Let’s take a quick look at each companies showing and you can decide for yourself.


First up on Saturday was Electronic Arts. The publishers of Battlefront, Mass Effect, Battlefield, and pretty much every sports franchise known to man. It’s been a few days since I’ve watched the conference so I’ll do my best to recall everything they showed. First off was NFL Long Shot. A new take on the NFL franchise with an in depth story mode called, you guessed it, Long Shot. Basically what the NBA2K and FIFA series have been doing. It’s great to see some spice being added to an otherwise extremely stale series that could basically be considered roster updates. Next was Battlefield 1 DLC. Cool. FIFA 18 The Journey: Hunter Returns was announced, continuing the story/be a pro mode they started last year. Then the most awkward moment out of any of the conferences happened. Jesse from the BFvGF YouTube channel was supposed to introduce Need For Speed. What he actually did was struggle to get a single word out. A minor hiccup in the grand scheme of things but still unfortunate. So Need For Speed Payback is a thing. The trailer was almost beat for beat the beginning of Fast and Furious 4. Makes you wonder why they don’t simply re-brand the game Fast and Furious at this point. Then came A Way Out. Easily the game of the show for me. It’s a CO-OP prison escape game that tells a story from both characters’ perspective. Unless I’m mistaken which is quite possible, this is the first ever mandatory two player story game. It looks amazing. EA followed that up with NBA Live which still looks like shit. I have no idea how they can make FIFA, NFL, and NHL so high quality but never, ever create a good looking NBA game. Looks like 2K will continue to have a strangle hold over the basketball franchise’s. Battlefront 2 closed out the conference with 30 minutes of gameplay. Sounds great in theory, slightly boring in reality. Looks like a great game, I loved the old ones but never played the previous as I didn’t want to pay $79.99 for a half baked product again. I’m looking at you Destiny. Overall, not the conference for me, without the announcement of A Way Out I would denounce it a complete failure.


Personally I felt Microsoft had their backs against a wall coming into E3 this year. There had been so many rumors of a new Xbox being revealed and expectations were running away. Starting off the show, Phil Spencer explained they had 42 games to show, easily the most out of all the companies at E3. I was happily surprised; at the beginning. Unfortunately it was quantity over quality this year. Within the gaming Industry there has been the thought that the “middle” ground of games has fallen out. AA and A quality games have almost completely fallen out in favor of indie and AAA quality games. However watching Microsoft’s conference you wouldn’t think that to be true. Other than Anthem, which looks many, many years out (despite the apparent 2018 release window)  and Forza Horizon 7 I don’t think there was another AAA game among everything shown. Now that isn’t an issue for me, there are many quality games made without having a AAA budget behind them. However, when you’re showing a new Xbox within the same conference you have to show me multiple reasons why I need to rush out and buy the Xbox One X for $499. That’s right $499 for an upgraded Xbox One. Sure it does 4K, so fucking what. This may be the Sony fanboy in me but what games on Xbox are a must buy? Halo? Not there. Gears of War? Also not there. Currently Microsoft has three different versions of Xbox One. The original, the S version, and now the X version. I unfortunately see the exact same thing that happened to Nintendo with WiiU happening. No regular consumer will even know what the differences between the S and X are. They will see the cheaper price tag on the original and pick that up. I foresee this console bombing. The only thing that this upgrade brings is better graphics and load times and if you care that much about graphics you should be in the PC space. I don’t understand these mid-generation upgrades, who is the audience for these products? Anyway, rant over. I mentioned Anthem, a game that looks like an online multiplayer game with a vibe of Destiny and Mass Effect mixed together. Looked fantastic but there’s no way it was running on a console. More than likely they were running it on a super powerful computer, so what will it actually look like? Now some quick fire Xbox exclusive games: Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves, Cuphead, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Tacoma, and State of Decay 2. All cool games, none are really a killer app though. Then they had some third party presence including Assassin’s Creed Origin and Metro: Exodus. Both look like great games, however when neither are exclusives why would I buy an Xbox? PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was announced for a console released on Xbox. Great news for Xbox owners. The footnote on the conference was Xbox One backwards compatibility being extended to the Xbox Original catalog. My take away from all this is great news for Xbox owners, they have some great games coming to them in the next two years. But again, for having a brand new piece of hardware which you’re looking to get into some new consumers hands I think they failed to give anyone a single reason they absolutely need to purchase the One X. If anything I’ll pick up a used Xbox One to play Anthem when it comes out and sell it immediately afterwards. If you’re an Xbox fan I’d love to hear what you thought of the games shown, and if you’re planning on picking up an Xbox One X.


I’m going to steal a line from ProJared on YouTube for this one. “Wow Bethesda if I wanted to watch someone jerk themselves off for that long I would just go on Omegle.”   Basically Bethesda wasted everybody’s time with this one. The couple things they showed that were mildly impressive was Fallout 4, Doom, and Skyrim in VR. Could be cool, could be just as janky and awkward as it seemed in the presentation. Next up was some Elder Scrolls Online updates which is great, new content for their MMO fans. However it’s what followed this that disturbed me the most. The Bethesda Creation Club. Glorified, dumbed down mods for Skyrim and Fallout 4 in which you have to pay ACTUAL money for each individual mod. What the fuck. I am a huge Skyrim fan, easily my favorite game ever, and I’ve grown to respect and love Bethesda’s products. Which is why it pains me to really go in on them here but I have to call out bullshit when I see it. Paid mods? Seriously Bethesda? First off, FREE mods are on every single platform for their big titles. Secondly, there are literally YouTube videos of modders trying to make Skyrim look completely unrecognizable. You think you’re going to release a mod so impressive no one has ever seen something like it before? I guarantee you won’t. Lastly, Skyrim is almost six years old. Stop. Just stop with the Skyrim shit. I get it, it was huge but it’s time to move on. Please don’t give them your money for this. Please please please do not. But guess what!? They followed this up with you guessed it, MORE SKYRIM. This time Nintendo Switch Skyrim, showing Link Amiibo compatibility and motion controls. Oh boy. Following that nonsense they revealed Death of the Outsider, a DLC story pack for Dishonored 2 as well as Quake Champions and their plans for a massive tournament. Alright finally some things I can get behind. I personally don’t play either of these titles but Dishonored is a great franchise from what I can tell and Quake was one of if not the very first esports games so great to see them trying to get an arena shooter back into the mix. Then we got a lengthy cg trailer for The Evil Within 2. Awesome trailer, extremely twisted and visually stimulating but lacking a certain amount of oh I don’t know game play? Wolfenstein II The New Colossus closed out the conference and honestly looked amazing! A great end cap to an overall lack luster showing. Easily the worst conference of E3 in my opinion. Too much focus on old games, paid mods, and poor showcasing of their two or three new games. I was honestly shocked Todd Howard the Director of Bethesda Games Studio wasn’t anywhere to be seen but after watching the conference in it’s entirety I wouldn’t want to be there either.


Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle was first out of the gate for Ubisoft. A game that had received a ton of hate before it had been shown this year. However the showcase did well to show why this isn’t just a game for children. It has XCOM style tactical combat which seems fantastic. Releasing August 29th this could possibly be another mover of units for the Switch but we’ll have to wait and see. Another short showcase of Assassin’s Creed which was shown at Microsoft’s conference followed. Looks great, it’s more Assassin’s Creed. Hard to tell what they improved during their year off. The Crew 2 was announced next showing that it’s broadening the usable vehicles to boats, planes, bikes, cars, trucks, rally cars, basically everything. The VR game made with Elijah Wood named Transference was up next. Can’t really tell what it’s about other than that you’ll be going into other peoples consciousness. Wish they would have elaborated a little more on that one but alas. Next was Skull & Bones, a naval pirate game basically elaborating on the warfare from Assassin’s Creed Black Flag but without any of the good parts. It’s a multiplayer online game, and I don’t think you can actually get out of your boat. Or maybe you can and they just didn’t show any of that. Could be cool if there is more to the story but if it’s just an online naval warfare game I foresee it flopping worse than For Honor. The next Just Dance was revealed. And moving on Starlink Battle For Atlas, a toy to life space ship fighting game will be coming out next year. You can physically build a toy ship and place it on your controller which changes your ship in game as well. Steep Olympic DLC was next, nothing really to comment on there. Then the big guns came out. Far Cry 5. The move to America has me extremely interested in this iteration as well as the inclusion of AI companions. Sounds cool, they worked perfectly in the showcase of course but we’ll see how they work in game. My only experience with companions is Skyrim and oh boy that was terrible. Entertaining, but terrible. Then they closed out the conference with Beyond Good and Evil 2. The pre-rendered trailer looks amazing but they’ve teased this game before so who knows how far out it actually is. A fairly decent conference overall but nothing that blew me away. Far Cry 5 looks great, I’m excited to see how Assassin’s Creed pans out after taking a year off, and the idea of Beyond Good and Evil returning after so many years leaves me impressed. But it’s Ubisoft, they’ll find a way to screw it up, or laden it with micro-transactions.


Naughty Dog kicked things off with Uncharted The Lost Legacy. A standalone $40 game that brings back Chloe (my favorite character other than Sully) and teams her up with Nadine in a new adventure. The witty banter you expect from an Uncharted game is alive and well in the story trailer they showed and I’m looking forward to this one, especially seen as it is priced appropriately. Then came a DLC story pack for Horizon a game which I still badly need to get my hands on (curse you bills and responsibilities). Looks great, but also didn’t really show much of what you’ll actually be doing. Then they showed a game play portion of Days Gone, an open world zombie game. They showed this last year and I really wasn’t impressed however this year made the game seem much less scripted and more dynamic. Monster Hunter World followed up Days Gone. I’ve never really been a fan of the series but it looks fantastic graphically. I know my friend Jacob is extremely stoked for this one. The remake of Shadow of Colossus was shown and it really didn’t do much for me. Fans of the series were hyped on the internet but after how badly Japan Studio botched The Last Guardian I won’t be touching this one. Call of Duty World War II looks interesting, don’t know if I’ll be picking this one up either. Kind of burnt out on Call of Duty to be honest but maybe this will be the year I jump back in. Then guess what!? Fucking Skyrim VR was shown. I have nothing more to say. This was the introduction to the VR section for Sony. Star Child, The Impatient, Final Fantasy XV Fishing, Bravo Team, and Moss were all VR titles shown in short sequences. Other than the bullshit Final Fantasy Fishing game they all look like full fledged games which is fantastic for the future of VR. God of War had a story and game play section and even though we saw this last year I’m incredibly excited for this game. I’ve never been interested in God of War previously as it has never had a compelling story or character but this time around Kratos is a father and it seems like the whole game is about him teaching his son how to be a warrior. Could make for a much more intriguing game this time around. Detroit Become Human had a lengthy showing this time around revealing a new character and showcasing how different each scene can play out depending on your decisions. If you haven’t played Heavy Rain first off shame on you, this comes from the same company and their games are the only franchise I know of where your actions and decisions truly change the outcome of the game. Characters can die, mistakes can be made, triumphs can be had, overall Heavy Rain was one of my favorite games. However, they also did create Beyond Two Souls which was a terrible, terrible game so we’ll have to wait and hope this one turns out to be more Heavy Rain than Beyond Two Souls. Destiny 2 trailer was shown, but everyone knows about that already. Finally was Spider-Man. Looks…like Arkham. More high flying obviously as Spider-Man is much more about finesse than pure strength. If you’re a fan of the combat in the Arkham games or even Shadow of Mordor you’ll know what you’re getting here. Great for superhero fans, doesn’t do anything for me. If I’m being honest, Sony’s conference was about exactly what I expected. Last year was such a great conference with so many new games shown that they had no hope of upping the ante. All the games shown looked fantastic but we’ve seen them all before. I’m a fan of Sony obviously but I can’t give them a glowing review for showing so many games we already know about especially seen as most are either 2018 releases or later.


Nintendo began with Xenoblade Chronicles 2. A game I know literally nothing about. Seems fun though. Kirby was up next, another game I have never played but Kirby fans were stoked about this one on the internet. Looks fairly similar to all the other iterations but what do I know. A core Pokemon game is in development for the Switch but they didn’t show anything, not even a title. Good to hear but hard to care when you can’t even show a title. Their next announcement was Metro Prime 4. Again nothing shown but at least we got a title eh? eh? Fans have been pining for this series to come back but again, literally no info about it. Don’t think you’ll be getting that any time soon. Yoshi was up next, showing a cool new mechanic where every level has two sides which you can switch between. Fire Emblem Warriors had some cut scenes shown but again I know nothing about this game and what they showed didn’t help me any either. Then guess what!? Skyrim. Eugh. Zelda had some DLC showcased, a harder version called Master Mode I believe and then a story expansion as well. More Mario + Rabbids was shown. Following that cross platform Rocket League was announced, meaning no matter what platform you’re on you can play together (Except Playstation because apparently Sony’s stock holder don’t want it…). Ending the direct, conference, what ever you want to call it was Super Mario Odyssey. It looks fantastic, they showed Mario’s ability to take over whatever he throws his cap at. I’m intrigued with this new ability and the game in general. Nothing crazy here but good to see Nintendo is supporting the Switch with a diversity of their properties, unlike the WiiU.

The Wrap Up

Unfortunately this years E3 was not for me. That’s okay though I understand there is a diverse group of gamers in the world and I’m sure some thought this was the best E3 ever. I really thought Microsoft would come out swinging and prove to the world why the Xbox One X is a must buy. In reality they proved it’s just another piece of hardware that will fall to the wayside, similar to the PS4 Pro. If I had to pick a “winner” of E3 2017 it would have to be the micro-transaction loving Ubisoft. They had the most surprises with something to actually show from each title. I do firmly believe they will pull a classic Ubisoft and find a way to ruin them but if they somehow leave the micro-transactions behind and focus on making each of their new titles great it could pan out. Even though Microsoft didn’t wow me I would definitely place them firmly in second place simply because of the sheer amount of new IP they showcased this year. EA, Sony, and Nintendo all were fairly close in my opinion with Bethesda pulling up the rear. A far, far away rear. So that’s the end of my E3 2017 coverage. Hopefully you found a game or two you’re excited about! Let me know in the comments which games you’re most anticipating and if you’re planning on picking up an Xbox One X, I’m intrigued to hear what the buzz is around Microsoft’s new hardware.

My Gaming History

With the release of Skyrim: Special Edition this past Friday I’ve been feeling quite nostalgic. November 11, 2011. Five years ago Skyrim was first released, and it was quite an interesting time in my life. Two to three months before the game was set to come out podcasts began going up analyzing trailers, game play, and interviews with the developers. I would stay up till midnight or later each night “doing homework” listening to them. I was completely lost in this game and I hadn’t even gotten my hands on it yet. It was the only midnight release I ever went to, with Rielen Anton and I think maybe Nathan Wandler and Ryan Melle. I can’t be too sure though, my memory isn’t quite what it used to be. Shocking, I know. My first two days with the game I put in 18 hours. Now you either had one of two reactions to that and it tells a lot about who you are. Either, what the hell are you doing with your life? Or, dude big deal I had 20 in two days with *insert game title here*. This was the beginning of me identifying  more as a gamer than athlete without me really realizing it at the time. Shortly after I began watching everything Greg Miller and Colin Moriarty (then IGN now Kinda Funny), read countless game reviews of games I never intended to play, and watched E3 along with other gaming conferences religiously. Of course I had been playing games for years up until this point and my history with gaming has definitely been a major factor in defining who I am today.


Really it was 2001. Christmas of 2001 to be exact. This is one of cloudiest memories I can recall, yet it’s still somewhat there. My older brother (I think) gave me a GameBoy Advance with a Spyro game. Now at this point I’m six, and not a clever six year old. I never got past the early stages of that game, but it was the first game I ever played so it still holds a place in my mind. In early 2002 we moved to a new house and my older siblings left behind their N64 when they left for university. This is where gaming took on new meaning for me, with my brother living in Edmonton I basically saw him once, maybe twice a year if I was lucky. Thus I began playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time just like he did. I was a stupid little kid though, I couldn’t figure out what to do. It quickly became my way of connecting with my brother, we’d play a bit every time he came home. When he wasn’t there I’d run around the world, get to the next dungeon and then leave it alone for months, knowing I’d pick it up the day before he was set to come home just as a quick refresher. This went on for a few years and I don’t think I ever actually beat the game. However if you were to ask me what my favorite games ever were, it’d always make the list due to what that time meant to me. Other games I played during that time were Mario 64 (another game I was too stupid for), Mario Kart 64 (the reason my younger sister stopped gaming with me), and Tetris Attack (Super Nintendo). Let’s talk about this one for a bit. First off if you haven’t played Tetris Attack you need to. It is superior to regular Tetris in every way. In fact I thought that’s what Tetris was so when my girlfriend in high school wanted to play with me I went in expecting that and was disgusted with what I actually got. Haven’t played Tetris since, garbage game. I was also playing a ton of wrestling games and GTA: Vice City at my buddy Tanner Doiron’s house. My parents wouldn’t let me play anything above T rating at this point, which brings me to my next era of gaming…


During this time I started spending a lot of time playing games with Dylan Harty. We played Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald on GBA  but more importantly he introduced me to Halo and Halo 2 on Xbox. This was late in the Xbox’s life cycle but I didn’t know anything about the industry yet. Remember, stupid little kid. Alas, I bought an Xbox thinking I’d be playing Call of Duty and Halo just like all my friends. Psych! For a second I had forgotten what house I was living in. A stringent catholic household. My parents eventually loosened their grip but now was not the time. I can’t even tell you what games I owned for the system other than NHL 06 (which I played nearly daily), Madden NFL 08, and Mercenaries (an open world, faction war game). There was the UN, South Korea, China, and the Mafia? You worked with each faction taking missions to kill North Koreans. Had to push for that one, but it’s rated Teen Mom! My siblings had always been Nintendo kids before me and I now understood why, they had good E rated games. This was probably my biggest misstep in my gaming past. I know I had at least thirty games for the system and I can’t even remember more than three. Wait, that’s a lie. I sunk hours on hours into Star Wars Battlefront II, probably the saving grace of my investment.


After coming off the Xbox I wanted to get back into Nintendo. So me and my younger sister purchased my brother’s GameCube with Mario Kart Double Dash, Super Smash Brothers Melee, and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Those three games alone were enough to keep us entertained for countless hours, we even took it traveling with us in the van. With both of us in sports at this point we traveled a ton so it got a good amount of five inch screen time. It might have been a bit bigger than that, but not much. Still a TV screen in our van, we were living the high life bro. This Incredible little machine completely rejuvenated my fandom for Nintendo just in time for the Wii. Motion controls? That sounds so cool! The Wii had already been out for a while at this point and I honestly can’t remember if it was Christmas 2009 or Christmas 2010 we received a Nintendo Wii with Mario Kart and Mario Galaxy. Two incredible games, the only two. We also got tickets to go to DisneyLand, which was the much better gift, though my face doesn’t show that in any of the pictures my parents took. Unfortunately I was in my ‘I don’t fucking care about anything’ stage and even had a mohawk when we went. You’re so sick bro. It wasn’t my parents fault the Wii was an absolute joke of a system. I even bought Call of Duty Black Ops on it. Nintendo fucked all of us fans real hard and sold out to the casual market. That’s why even your grandmother owned one. Now there’s gonna be some Nintendo fanboys who disagree with me and are gonna point to it’s sales as a counter to my argument. I’d actually point to the sales figure as supporting my point and throw in it’s pathetic attach rate (how many games per system purchased) as more support. It was an anomaly, they captured the casual audience, similar to mobile gaming. Casual gamers aren’t going to support your software, they’re fickle.  Nintendo thought they struck gold though and doubled down with the Wii U. We all know how that turned out. Fool me once Nintendo, but I digress. In 2011 we went to Toronto to visit my brother in his tiny ass apartment. That’s Toronto for you, expensive as hell. So with six of us there we all slowly started to go insane. The only way to curb that for me and my sister was to play games. My brother had a PS3 at the time and with it Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. My sister and I instantly fell in love and we agreed we were splitting the price for a PlayStation when we got home. This about brings us back to Skyrim, though that’s not quite where my story ends. Four days after Skyrim release Assassin’s creed Revelations released with a download link for the original Assassin’s creed. Now I had played some multiplayer at my friend Jackson Wenzel’s house and had loved the stark difference between the usual death match that had plagued online games since COD’s rise to power. So I jumped in and loved both the original but more so Revelations. Similar to how Nintendo screwed me so did Ubisoft I was sold on the series and then they come out with AC3. Garbage, just absolute garbage. Ubisoft lost all my good will, and then I regrettably purchased Watch Dogs for PS4. Once again, garbage. But I’m jumping way ahead, I guess recalling all the poor life choices you made has that effect. Stupid kid. Our PS3 really became an escape for me. My relationship with my parents hit an all time low during this time and I can remember multiple days, weeks even where I wouldn’t leave my basement except for school, basketball and to eat. It was my own fault though and I knew that. Looking back I’m sure my parents had an idea what I was up to way before they ever caught me. Games were my escape, my stress release, my world in a way. I was going to school, getting high, going to practice, getting high. It was a viscous circle and the only time I didn’t feel the need to smoke up was when I was gaming. The worlds I went to in games kept my mind occupied.


As you may or may not know I only spent one year in University. Not shocking since some of my most vivid memories are staying up till 3 am playing GTA V after tripping at my buddies dorm room. Games were no longer enough to keep my mind at bay. I look back at that time and really just feel disappointment. GTA V may be one of my favorite games of all time, it really is incredible. However, similar to Ocarina of Time, what was going on in my life effected me more than the actual game itself. Because of that I have a real foul taste in my mouth whenever I think of GTA and don’t know if that will ever completely go away.


After dropping out I moved in with my two best friends and we all split a PS4 and TV. I’ve had incredible experiences with the machine including Destiny, Shadow of Mordor (My only platinum), and Overwatch. This spring/summer I also beat Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us. Each and every game leaves a small mark on me and teaches me something about myself. However, I’m not the same kind of gamer I once thought I’d always be. I’m not the same kind of person I thought I’d always be. During high school I was putting in anywhere between 15 and 40 hours a week and was on for at least a little bit every day. Now I would guess I’m somewhere between 2 and 15 hours a week and go days at a time without playing anything. There’s multiple causes for this, fitness being the biggest for sure. It’s a better way of spending my time and a better stress relief. When I first began blogging I really thought it would be mostly centered around gaming, and in fact almost gave my blog a gaming related name. Here we are 18 posts later and this is only the second one. Thank God I had some vision eh. Looking back gaming has been with me through every up and every down. It helped me create great friendships, escape reality, and yes even learn some problem solving skills. I’m still not sure whether or not I’ll jump back into Skyrim as I’ve already put about 300 hours into the original game. It’s vast for sure, and I’ve been craving a good non linear, create a character experience. However, I’m sure The Elder Scrolls VI will come out next generation so I could just wait. Probably won’t though, stupid kid.




PlayStation 4K

A few weeks ago a rumor began circling the gaming industry that both Microsoft and Sony had been exploring a kind of half-step if you will in terms of a new console. Before we get into how a mid cycle console release would cannibalize the market, especially with the release of VR just around the corner, let’s look at what we know.

Patrick Klepek’s article over at Kotaku was the first I read, there may have been others earlier but Kotaku is my go to source and I trust Patrick’s journalism over almost anyone else in the industry. The sources used here seem to be developers that Sony revealed their plans to in order to receive feedback on the machine and see the perception of their proposed 4K machine. The rumored upgrades are the previously mentioned 4K resolution as well as an upgraded GPU to help support PlayStation VR games in the future. When pressed for answers a Sony representative gave the classic response they’ve been giving press for years “We can’t comment on rumors or speculation.” Perhaps there is more to be learned from head of Xbox, Phil Spencer who stated “I’m not a big fan of an Xbox One and a half.” seemingly being of a mind that a half step is just that, half an upgrade. “If we’re going to go forward with anything, like I said, I want it to be a really substantial change for people-an upgrade.” (Techradar)

It’s interesting that what confirms this Sony rumor more than anything else is a quote from Microsoft, irony at it’s best. Reading between the lines I completely believe the PS4.5 or PS4K (whichever you prefer) is real. Whether or not it will come to fruition or not is yet to be seen, public reception has been mixed, for a few reasons. As of January 5 2016 Sony has sold 35.9 million PS4’s globally. That means in just over two years on the market PS4 has become the eighth best selling home console of all time (not including handheld consoles). So you’re telling me there’s a room of brilliant businessmen looking at those sales figures and what they came up with is a new system? You know what console gamers love? Multiple skus! No, that’s why we’re console gamers and not on PC. Simplicity. Sony has customers, not unlike myself, who can in no way afford to purchase a new console. These are the customers, by the way, that supported Sony and PlayStation 4 during the early stages of it’s release and made it the success it is today. I can’t help but feel slighted that those who have waited will be able to get there hands on a superior version of hardware. And we aren’t taking about a PS3 Slim kind of upgrade here, I understand why changes and improvements are made to systems, to generate sales. But if the rumors are true regarding resolution and GPU upgrades specifically then this is a vast improvement over the current system and almost a brand new box entirely. Which brings me to another dilemma. If both consoles are on the market side by side that means games will be released on both, or does it? We all remember Batman: Arkham Knight and what a huge embarrassment that was on PC. How that game ever got released is beyond me, you’re better than that WB. But this isn’t something new, PC ports get shit on all the time. Now take this harsh truth and apply it to having two separate PlayStation machines with different capabilities. This would end up with dumb downed versions of games for the current version, which would most likely lead to a slow painful death of the current sku. Or an upgraded console that never really takes advantage of it’s power. With Microsoft seemingly uninterested, developers may come to the conclusion that their larger audience is on the current systems and the PS4K may become an afterthought and be ignored in terms of optimization for the platform. There is a trump card though, and that is PlayStation VR.

PlayStation VR will be launching this fall and has already met criticism from some for not being as powerful as it’s counterparts Oculus and Vive. I, along with many other supporters argue that benefits of price of entry and ease of use greatly outweigh this. However, those at Sony may not agree and have come up with a solution, release a more powerful console alongside the system labeling it as the best place to play. This would put a strain on the price of entry argument in favor of PS VR as purchasing a console along side the system would raise the price tag to around $1000. Of course Sony won’t tell the consumer you absolutely must purchase the new console to run VR but as a new consumer technology do you really want a weaker, lite version right out of the gate?

All VR talk is complete speculation as we know very little but it’s an idea I first heard explained by Colin Moriarty of Kinda Funny and it wouldn’t shock me one bit if it came to be true. Another possibility I’ve heard is to try and steal the thunder from Nintendo at E3 who is almost definitely going to be showing off the NX. A major misstep on Sony’s part if it were to be true, though I don’t believe it to be. Nintendo’s fan base has shrunk to almost nothing due to weak home consoles with down right pathetic third party support, no need to worry. I would love to see Nintendo return to glory as the company I once knew and loved as a young boy but if the controller I’ve seen thrown around the internet is true I have zero faith in their direction. But alas, a story for another time.

I really do hope PS4.5 rumors die as quickly as they appeared and this turns out to be nothing. But I fear for the worst. If you’re optimistic about the new system I’d love to hear your opinion as personally I see little to no benefit. Unless you’re sitting on a ton of cash that you can purchase whatever the hell you want whenever you feel like, then I don’t need to hear from you because you’re exactly who Sony’s betting on, which disappoints me. Listening to the fans who supported you through the downright awful years of PS3 and delivering on the PS4 is the reason it is so successful now. Please don’t fuck this up Sony.