The Internet Rage Machine

Peter Cohen, iMore:

These days the Internet Rage Machine swings into overdrive at the drop of a hat. Everyone uses almost every excuse to get angry about whatever they can. Because rage drives traffic, and traffic can drive revenue when you run a web site that’s dependent on page impressions and unique visits to generate traffic for advertisers. For some people, it’s all about going viral and getting eyes on your pages.

And for others, it’s just about venting your spleen because it’s the Internet, and that’s what people do because they’re angry all the damn time or they just want to be heard and acknowledged.

Context aside, Cohen crushes Internet rage. If you’re going to offer feedback, positive or negative, make it specific and constructive. If you’re going to vomit nonsensical ignorance/hate/rage, don’t. I’m done listening.

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‘Everything is going to be OK. <3′, regarding Microsoft’s Minecraft acquisition:

It was reassuring to see how many of your opinions mirrored those of the Mojangstas when we heard the news. Change is scary, and this is a big change for all of us. It’s going to be good though. Everything is going to be OK. <3

If I were a Minecraft player, these words would not bode well with me.

John Gruber after Apple’s September 2014 Special Event (iPhone 6, Apple Watch):

Believe it or not, this might be the biggest tech news of the day in the Gruber household.

I believe it.

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4K and the Console Gamer

John Archer, writing for Forbes:

What every single person who gets caught up in these hilariously petty arguments fails to recognise is that actually the PS4 and Xbox One are both past their sell by dates. In fact, they’ve been living on borrowed time from the very day they launched. Why? Because neither of them truly support 4K.

This argument might initially seem a stretch to ‘normal’ people not involved day to day in the inner workings of the AV industry. But I’m confident that within as little as 12 months most of you will agree that their inability to deliver games at a ‘4K’ or Ultra High Definition (UHD) resolution of 3840×2160 pixels – or something close to it, at least – will make both the supposedly ‘next generation’ consoles feel like yesterday’s news.

I don’t know anything about John Archer or his qualifications so I take his opinion about 4K penetration with a grain of salt. However, I would love to believe that 4K will be taking the speedy and monumental strides Archer claims. Relinking to my (premature) excitement about the adoption of 4K.

But where does this fit in with console gaming? Contrary to Archer’s argument, I don’t believe the core console gamer will put up much of a fuss as long as 1080 is the maximum render their console of choice offers. If anything, there will be a continued and tired assault from PC gaming enthusiasts as to why this is a sign that PC gaming is better. Though he’s speaking on the software front, I believe the points made Polygon’s Chris Grant on console software’s generational obsolesce are relevant.

I won’t lie and pretend that the resolution differences between the Xbox One and PS4 don’t bug me. Even if a huge difference between the two can hardly be seen, there is discomfort in knowing that the specs of the Xbox One can’t quite keep up with the PS4. This coming from a guy that continued to enjoy the original Wii long into the PS3/Xbox 360 cycle. But when the difference is as stark as two-fold, graphical comparison must be shelved and each individual system taken on it’s own merits. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was a hell of a sight on Wii. Likewise, The Last of Us seemed to be on another level against other PS3 titles. That said, it is a far cry from saying core gamers will be upset about not performing at 4K if neither of the HD Twins can perform at that rate.

I won’t hold my breath, but wouldn’t it be something if the Wii U’s successor rendered 4K resolutions in time for the next-gen Legend of Zelda?

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‘The most radical thing you can do to support women’

Anita Sarkeesian, as quoted by The Verge:

One of the most radical things you can do is to actually believe women when they talk about their experiences.

Falsehoods about me are initially pushed by detractors who use them to post to 4Chan and Reddit to rally more people to the cause. It’s bouncing from Twitter to Tumblr to Facebook to YouTube and back again. Once the cascade reaches a critical mass, it no longer matters what the facts are. It becomes a viral meme.

I really wish I had the privilege see Sarkeesian speak. Such an inspiring and perseverant woman. Opening and closing to a standing ovation at the XOXO Festival. Amazing.

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Poisoned Well

Zoe Quinn, as quoted by The Guardian, on Gamergate:

I think right now the well is incredibly poisoned: it’s likely a losing battle and that’s incredibly disappointing. I also feel like discussing ethics and fairness is antithetical to a campaign originated in and motivated by a fair bit of misogyny and harassment.

Does it say anything that my Twitter usage, gaming news consumption, and overall web browsing is down by a considerable amount?

It is exhausting to think that digital mobs and trolls may never be stopped due to the anonymous and unquantifiable nature of the digital space. I was young and dumb too, saying things in Quake and Starcraft chat rooms that were likely horrific by today’s standards. But I was an in monitored child. It wasn’t until real classroom debate, introduction to socially aware music and film, and being called out for my idiocy in person by a respected peer that I wised up.

Is that what we are dealing with? Are these children? Adults? Are they bluffing for fun? How many are there? A handful? Dozens? Hundreds? What failed their social growth?

In the real world, we can identify the source of seemingly monstrous shadows. In the digital world, shadows are the source.

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Will Ferrell’s SuperMegaBlastMax Gamer Challenge

Hello people of the video game universe…its your friend Will Ferrell!

How would you like to join me for a delightful evening of playing video games together? The only appropriate answer is YES!

I want to throw one of the coolest video game events in the history of mankind, possibly even dating back to the time of the dinosaurs, and I’m extending this challenge to gamers: Raise $375,000 for charity and children with cancer and then I’ll host the event on October 26th…..AND, one lucky winner (aka one of you reading right now) could join me for this life altering moment in beautiful San Francisco!

I’ll bring the roll of quarters, all I ask is for you to make a donation in support of children and families suffering from cancer.

Sounds like a good contest/kickerstarter for a great cause. Head over to for more information.

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Chocolate-Covered Broccoli

Daphne Bavelier, TEDxCHUV: ‘Your brain on video games’:

Now, at this point, a number of you are probably wondering well, what are you waiting for, to put on the market a game that would be good for the attention of my grandmother and that she would actually enjoy, or a game that would be great to rehabilitate the vision of my grandson who has amblyopia, for example?

Well, we’re working on it, but here is a challenge. There are brain scientists like me that are beginning to understand what are the good ingredients in games to promote positive effects, and that’s what I’m going to call the broccoli side of the equation. There is an entertainment software industry which is extremely deft at coming up with appealing products that you can’t resist. That’s the chocolate side of the equation. The issue is we need to put the two together, and it’s a little bit like with food. Who really wants to eat chocolate-covered broccoli? None of you. And you probably have had that feeling, right, picking up an education game and sort of feeling, hmm, you know, it’s not really fun, it’s not really engaging. So what we need is really a new brand of chocolate, a brand of chocolate that is irresistible, that you really want to play, but that has all the ingredients, the good ingredients that are extracted from the broccoli that you can’t recognize but are still working on your brains. And we’re working on it, but it takes brain scientists to come and to get together, people that work in the entertainment software industry, and publishers, so these are not people that usually meet every day, but it’s actually doable, and we are on the right track. I’d like to leave you with that thought, and thank you for your attention.

I’m currently playing Valiant Hearts: The Great War. In speaking to the colleague that recommended the game, I told him it feels like perfect edutainment. An extremely engaging action-puzzler, rich with gorgeous music and gut-wrenching narratives, that also aims to teach the historical significance and effects of World War I. A new brand of chocolate.

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Anamanaguchi on Song Exploder

Peter Berkman and Ary Warnaar, Anamanaguchi:

There’s a big community of people who will take old Nintendo’s from 1985 and use them as synthesizers; people in Sweden, New York, Japan, London; taking apart these old video game consoles and old home computers and using them as synths instead of game consoles. They’d write software specifically for producing music on them.

The appeal isn’t necessarily using the actual console. The appeal is the limitations. You get such a shortened language of electronic music. It really simplifies the idea of how to build the sounds that you want from the simplest building blocks. It’s kind of expanded to using this language of simple digital music but applying it to everything else as well.

The cool part about the NES as a sound chip thingy, you get all this bit-quantization which means it has 16 values for volume. When a note fades out, it looks like stairs instead if a diagonal line.

First off, Song Exploder is a brilliant podcast by Hrishikesh Hirway. Rather than explain it in my own words, here’s the official description:

A podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.

If you’re not subscribed, do so now.

I have been a fan of Anamanaguchi since hearing Another Winter in the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game demo in 2010. The song sent my mind racing back to the NES era gaming. There is such a comfort in 8-bit sounds.

Anamanaguchi has put out two EPs, a series of singles (including my personal favorite, Airbrushed) as well as a debut full-length in the form of a kickstarted double LP titled Endless Fantasy. Last year, I had a great time writing up an experimental dual-review of the record against Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City which you can find here.

Give this Song Exploder episode a listen. It’s fascinating to learn what goes on behind electronic (namely chiptune) music.

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Rose Gold Lining

Mackenzie Craven, Rose Gold Lining:

Let’s rewind. I’m 26 years old. Freshly married. And healthy! That young, dumb kind of healthy that convinces you it’s okay to only see the doctor when you need a prescription filled. You drink green smoothies and run half marathons, therefore you’re untouchable – right? Life has been good in this blissful, newlywed, dumb-healthy bubble – perfect, even. Filled with morning coffee and walks to the farmers market hand-in-hand with my husband, Kenny. Bike rides to the breweries, hikes with our dog Hugo. I ate the chia seeds and I wore out my running shoes, so I was completely blindsided by my diagnosis. I have breast cancer?

Brilliant, brave, and honest. One of the best pieces I’ve ever read. Take a moment to read and appreciate this woman’s work. #KenzieKicksCancer

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Social Justice Warriors?

An all-star roster of games journalists joined Adam Rosser on BBC Radio 5 live’s Game On for a discussion on the “social justice warrior.” Some of my favorite moments below:

Pat Garratt, VG247:

I’ve seen many squabbles on the Internet and they do sort of go the way of the dodo. I think what we are actually seeing is this section of the gaming community is about to be pushed out. I think that’s why their so angry. It’s literally like taking a toy away from a child. If you actually take a toy away from a child, they just completely freak out. This is exactly what is happening, I think.

Dan Person,

There’s an awful lot of psychology and studies into this idea of the online personality; This idea of the power of anonymity, and the keyboard warrior and what that kind of does to people when you take away the consequences of actions in that way. That’s still a relatively new area of study. The Internet is certainly, in human terms, a very recent invention.

I think when you get unfettered and unregulated communities of young, let’s face it, mostly men who are operating in this way without any kind of adult or intelligent supervision, they can become very quickly violent and vile and unpleasant. That echo chamber can accentuate that effect. And then when somebody comes into the playroom and says, “hey guys. You know you should stop doing that and perhaps behave like adults,” there is often that phase of tantrum, basically. And if those children happen to be handling a large blunt object, then that can become dangerous.

Keza McDonald, Kotaku UK:

The Internet gamifies people. It turns you into someone who’s not a real person. You’re some imaginary thing on the end of a Twitter handle. It makes it easier for people to behave inhumanly towards you. Anyone who basically decides to do cultural criticism of games that goes beyond just the assessment of software will probably come up against people who ask them, “why can’t you just talk about the game?” Again, for these people, games are systems that are self-contained and for them the community and the world of gaming is also a system that is self-contained. So as soon as you start trying to place it in a real world context or you start talking about it in a way that they’re not used to, I think that it really confuses people and upsets them.

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