Days after the Australian Government announces that it is releasing an R18+ rating for videogames, news breaks of an unimaginable act of terror in Norway, killing 91 people. The thing about these two seemingly different situations is that the mass murder/terrorist involved in the Norway killings wrote a manifesto about what he planned to do. It included hundreds of references to the bible, references to video games and how he was trying to “bring about a revolution” against Muslims in Europe. Anders Breivik was a self-confessed “conservative Christian” who enjoyed Modern Warfare and hunting.

R18+ Ready

Back here in Aussie-Land the leader of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) announced that the tragedy in Norway was a good enough reason to ban violent video games. Using the same argument that they’ve been using for years, the Australian Christian Lobby try to point out that introducing the rating would allow high-violence video games into the hands of young, impressionable Australian kids and turn them into murdering, drug-taking hooligans.

Australian morning TV program Sunrise hosted a “debate” on the topic with Jim Wallace from the ACL and Kotaku editor, Seamus Byrne. Byrne had said that in Breivik’s manifesto, there were references to the bible, but Wallace and the media were only focusing on the video game references. Byrne also made mention that if the references to video games were being bought under the critical view, how can you avoid the references to Christianity and not bring them into a critical light, also. He says that not all Christians should be held responsible, but the right-wing conservative Christian views were the far more influential position in the manifesto.

Jim Wallace responded with (sic) “That was a cheap shot, as it always is with these people to distract from the main point at hand” which in his mind is video games. He also makes reference to 112 people who are academics and experts who say that there is a link to violent behaviour and violent video games, but doesn’t give out any names. Wallace read aloud a short from Breivik’s manifesto which says, “I see Modern Warfare 2 more apart of my training than anything else.” Now, this seems completely unreal to me. I was reading on Kotaku that soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan said that playing Modern Warfare 2 wasn’t like taking work home with them because the game is so unrealistic and that it doesn’t depict true war battles and strategies.

Thus ended the debate. The ACL get the last word which portrays Byrne as a supporter of the Oslo shootings.

I am astounded that such nonsense comes from someone who believes in “intelligent design” when he shows no intelligence for himself. Wallace continues to create propaganda against common sense rulings like R18+ being introduced because it would cause more violence and horror in the world and turn children into monsters, which the rating is against. The R18+ rating is designed to ensure that games like Modern Warfare 2 (which is rated R18+ in other Western societies) aren’t in the hands of <18 year olds who may or may not be able to comprehend the ideas in the game.

Even Brendan O’Conner, Federal Home Affairs Minister, has been quoted as saying

R18+ Ready

“Look, because there is a madman who has done just such atrocities in Norway, I don’t think that means that we are going to close down film or the engagement with games,” he said. “I think it really points to, of course, a person who – clearly there is something wrong with this person to sort of cause such devastation in Norway. But I’m not sure that the argument goes that as a result of watching a game you turn into that type of person. I think there is something clearly intrinsically wrong with him.”

I’m shocked and disappointed by Mr. Wallace, whose faith compels him to believe in compassion and love, would use such a tragedy to get his political point across. It shows how easily faith can be swayed by one’s own agenda and not for the good of the nation.

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This week has been a tragic week for the usually peaceful European country of Norway.

On the 23rd of this month, a car bomb was detonated near the Prime Minister’s house in the capital of Oslo. It has been confirmed that up to 9 people were killed in the blast and several more were injured.

While this was happening, a Norwegian man named Anders Behring Breivik was heading to a youth camp on the island of Utoya. Dressed as a police officer, he introduced himself as such, said that his presence at the camp was a routine check due to the attack in Oslo then indiscriminately opened fire on the young people, their supervisors and parents who were attending the camp. Witnesses say that he had several guns and plenty of ammo. They also say that people were swimming to the mainland to escape the anarchy. Footage which was later released sees the shoreline littered with people who drowned trying to save themselves from a grizzly end.

What makes this horrific tragedy possibly a little worse for the gaming community are the rumours that Breivik used the popular First Person Shooter “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” as a “simulation” for his shooting spree, which has killed 82 people. Taking the unfortunate toll of the dead up to 91.

Breivik describes himself as a conservative Christian who enjoys hunting, playing World of Warcraft and Modern Warfare 2 on his now deleted Facebook page.

Violent video games have always been used as a scapegoat for tragedies like this because of their nature. Games like Call of Duty reenact battles from the past and you get “achievements” for certain milestones. However, it is important to note that dozens, if not hundreds, of studies have been done into the links between violent behaviour and violent video games in children and adolescence. While some say that yes, there is a link between the two, many studies have said that the subjects involved in the studies who displayed violent behaviour after playing these games already showed signs of a violent nature, but video games are not the only reason human beings become violent. Other studies performed say that violent games do not desensitise people to violent situations.

In any case, the terrorism displayed in Norway this week will shake this peaceful country to its core and will be remembered for years to come as the people ask “Why? What did we do to deserve this?”

Source

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Today, the Australian Attorney-General’s met to discuss two issues. One of those was the introduction of an R18+ classification for videogames.

Brendan O’Conner has said during the press conference that he is aware that the average age of an Australian gamer is 30 years old, that there were too many games classified as MA15+ which should have been classified under a higher rating and that he doesn’t want to see the matter return to another AG meeting.

However, the rating has not been introduced as of today. The NSW AG abstained from the vote, which means that not all of the states and territories have voted and such the motion can not be passed.

Brendan O’Connor also mentioned that some games will be reclassified so that MA15+ games will be re-rated as R18+ so that they aren’t played by gamers that the games aren’t appropriate for and that he also hopes that it will only be a matter of months before the classification may be introduced. Brendan O’Connor does make mention that some things will still be refused classification under the laws set down by the Commonwealth of Australia. He says that the introduction for an R18+ will make it easier to filter games for appropriate age groups.

One journalist asked the NSW Attorney General Greg Smith if there would be any backlash from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) who oppose the R18+ being introduced. Smith doesn’t think there will be a huge backlash from the ACL.

This is a historic moment for Australia since this topic has been on the agenda for 10 years.

Hopefully this will clear up any confusion for parents and make sure that children aren’t getting their hands on things that aren’t appropriate for them.

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As I mentioned last night, I’m dying of man-flu (or more likely just have laryngitis). I’m taking this time to catch up on my writing and gaming and you get to benefit from this.

Today, I’ve knocked out a few hours of Borderland with Boyfriend.

My boyfriend and I both enjoy gaming a lot but we don’t have many two-player games on either Xbox, PS3 or our computers. So when the Steam Summer Camp Sales had Borderlands on sale for a ridiculous price (I think it was about AU$7.99) we both jumped at the opportunity to have this game available for our nerdy gamer dates.

It took a little while for Borderlands to grow on me but with some Single-Player action along with the LAN games I’ve been playing with Boyfriend I’m starting to grow quite fond of Borderlands. The graphics aren’t what I’m used too but the more “realistic” graphics you see in games today wouldn’t suit the weird, comedic type of character and plot the game has.

I’m feeling somewhat refreshed by Borderlands. Now, if I could only stop dying so often…

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Bleurg, I’m sick as a dog and for the next few days and I could possibly be spamming Daily Rade. Giving random reviews, thoughts and opinions on games.

Currently, I’m playing L.A. Noire on Xbox, replaying Portal 2 for the third time (no matter how much I hate it) and Borderlands for the first time so these will probably be the topics of my fever-enduced ramblings.

Excuse any typos that appear, any opinions you disagree with or rambling that occur.

L.A Noire:

I’m on the third disc and thoroughly enjoying the experience. Any bad publicity that the developers or publishers are getting is being wiped away by the story-line and the way it’s told. My only gripe with the game is how far into Uncanny Valley the game travels. Disc 3/3 and almost finished.

Portal 2:

I’ve been writing a review on this game since it was released. I’ll get on publishing that as soon as I’m happy with it, although my general view of this game is, “The (eventual) enjoyable sequel the game didn’t really need”, it’ll piss off most of my readers, but it’s honest.

Borderlands:

I’m about an hour-and-a-half, almost two hours in (possibly more) and this game is slowly growing on me. It’s one of the rare games I get to play with my Boyfriend. I’ve been playing it by myself and with Boyfriend and it’s great either way. I can’t wait to explore this game some more.

I promise to elaborate on these points some more over the next few days. I’m also thinking about changing the title of this page. Any suggestions?

– Rade.

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When we were little kids, some of us dreamed about being Batman. Why wouldn’t you? Bruce Wayne has it all. Millions of dollars, a cave full of hi-tech cars, planes, gadgets and toys, women dying to be with him. But alas, unless your millionaire parents are shot down in front of you, leaving you everything they own and you sudden dedicate your life to avenging their deaths by fighting crime, you’ve got zip chance of becoming Batman.

But, thankfully for your parents, you can pretend with Eidos’ action title: Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Poison IvyThe game opens with you returning Joker to his rightful home on Arkham Island and its Asylum for the criminally insane. The Joker has other plans and breaks free, trapping Batman on the island and letting loose the crazies.

You’ll find yourself fighting a slew of bad guys ranging from low-level goon to super criminals like Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.

The characters become even more interesting when you collect recordings of interviews with inmates from doctors. You get to enter the mind of some of the greatest criminals in the Batman universe, learning about what bought them to Batman’s attention. Poison Ivy’s interview reveals how she was transformed from Pamela Lillian Isley into an eco-terrorist and one of Batman’s greatest foes.

Throughout the game, you’ll find the control system works well for the most part. During fights, combos are easy to do and countering is simple also. When you learn the ability to throw and take down enemies, the controls become frustrating. You can only take down and throw enemies at certain times and it requires you to push two buttons at the same time while trying to avoid other enemies who may or may not have weapons. Enemies initially vary in difficultly, but once you figure out the combos and dodge, goons will be simple.

You also become stronger through your ability to upgrade your bat-weapons and amour. Gaining XP requires you to defeat enemies and solving The Riddler’s Riddles and finding his trophies. You can upgrade your weapons, like upgrading to a remote-controlled Baterang, or your amour.

Working with such creepy setting like Arkham Asylum, the developers add an element of horror to the game as well. The gritty visual aspect gives drama and your shadowy surroundings hide foes, making you a target for crazed inmates and thugs from Blackwater Correctional.

The ScarecrowTo readers who are familiar with the New Batman Adventures, or the movie, “The Dark Knight”, you’ll recognise Scarecrow. Some of my favourite levels in the game involve Scarecrow and I find that they’re the best executed in Batman: Arkham Asylum. The Scarecrow character delights in using Batman’s fears against him and haunts him with images of his parents death, which will haunt you too.

The script is somewhat lacking. With Batman being the strong, silent type, The Joker needs to pick up the slack. He’ll announce to goons that you’re in the area, which will terrify them. Picking the goons off one by one will trigger the terrified sound of, “Oh God! Leave me alone!” But, there isn’t any particular line in the game that will stick in your head, which is disappointing when there are so many characters that could blossom with a good script.

All in all, my biggest problem is that through the game, drama and suspense build, you find yourself hoping for a huge finale and then find yourself sounding into the air a sad “Eh”. The gameplay, costumes, characters and surroundings are all marvellously created. You want to know what happens next and that pulls you through the game. Batman stumbles at the finish line, but performs wonderfully through the race.

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Merry Christmas from DailyRade

Yes, it’s the time we all look forward too… Steam sales. I picked up SuperMeatBoy x 2, The Misadventures of P.B Winterbottom, Poker Night at the Inventory for less than $25! :O

Gabe Newell, I love you.

Merry Christmas, guys!

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Since I started working at Telstra, my Xbox has been a little neglected. It’s sitting in my rumpus room, alone and unloved because of my insane work schedule. So I’ve decided to have a catch up session with my little white box of entertainment over the holidays.

I’m undecided in how to do this, however. I’m about two hours into Halo: Reach, which I’m finding to be amazing, but I really want to go through BioShock (for the 6th time) and try to make headway on the achievements I don’t have. I may even make a list of games that I’ve got, and have uncompleted single player achievements since I’m not going to get Xbox Live for a while.

At least if I keep up the pace of work that I’m going to be able to afford a whole bunch of new games. Then I’ll be able to play and finish them all when I’m dead.

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iGaming

There is a new wave of gaming that I have yet to discuss and I figure that if I was a proper game blogger-type person, I should get around to it.

I’m talking about mobile phone gaming.

When the iPhone “changed everything”, it did somewhat live up to its tagline. With the App Store (and more recently with the development of Android and its Market), making boredom relatively easy to demolish, indie game developers are experiencing popularity through cheap, addictive and easily accessible games.

Games like Fruit Ninja have a simple premise: chop fruit, avoid bombs, win at life. Yet, this game has sold more than 2 million copies on just the iPhone alone. To put that in some perspective, this year Apple sold just over 8 million iPhones. That doesn’t include phones bought in previous years. It kind of makes you sit back and say, “Whoa.” Sometimes games that are made for more “mainstream” ports such as Xbox or PS3 won’t sell as many units as that.

More complex games are hitting the market, also. iPhone MMOs and games such as Infinity Blade that use the Unreal Engine (the same engine that Deus Ex and ran on) are becoming popular. And with these games being relatively cheap, the market is wide open for more innovative and intriguing games.

Playing games on a mobile hasn’t quite reached its full potential, but give it a year or so and I expect the range of games to double in size and possibly triple in popularity.

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While watching this particular interview on Sunrise, something was said about how violent video games desensitise young people.

Now, as a person who has been playing violent video games for at least 6 or 7 years now, I don’t feel the need to get in my car and mow down people in the CBD, or find a gun and murder an entire school. And it certainly doesn’t make me feel any less calm about death and violence around me.

While I do understand how gaming and violence could be related, I don’t understand why people jump to the conclusion that video games were the only reason for violence when the kid who committed the crime played WoW for about 10 minutes. That’s not enough time to level up, let alone see any fantasy violence.

Wishful thinking strikes again when I hope that one day common sense will one day be common again and parents plus the media will realise that sometimes virtual reality is just an escape from the ultra-violence of real life and that the children they try so desperately to protect are (generally) level-headed people who can make sane decisions.

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