Tag: Blizzard Entertainment

Networking Matters

It’s the cliché you’ve heard a million times when it comes to breaking into whatever industry you want to break into.

I know I’ve heard it more than my share of times, especially considering the extra emphasis journalism places on not just networking for jobs, but networking for sources.

Usually I’ll just roll my eyes when I hear someone say it. Because everyone says it, despite the fact that it’s intrinsically simple and somewhat obvious advice.

But that advice played a big hand in two things that were relevant for my work today.

So I figured I should throw my hat in the ring just this once and remind you all that if you aren’t networking often, you should be.

The first case comes out of an earlier adventure. Remember when I went with my friend Mimi to see the Blizzard employees speak at the Fullerton Public Library?

While I was there I passed my business card along to one of the presenters, who said he would get it to someone in the HR Department.

Lo and behold, just a few days later a Blizzard Entertainment/Activision employee had signed up to be a Gladeo interviewee. Not the same person, granted, but still. I was highly appreciative.

Thus in the not-so-distant future I will be doing a profile of someone at Blizzard. Which is pretty awesome not just in terms of someone being interested in the work I’ve been doing, but also because I love video games. So who knows, if that goes well perhaps I’ll get access to more Blizzard employees and I can say I’ve gotten a wider breadth of understanding about the company under my belt.

So yeah. Going to random events just to network was a successful strategy for me.

My other more recent example is a bit esoteric, so stay with me.

When I was in elementary school, I spent a lot of time playing chess. Which sounds like I’m just inviting my own eminent torment and bullying I know, but it’s true. I was part of the chess club and everything.

Wasn’t too bad at it either, considering I won a number of trophies in little competitions. #HumbleBrag

One of the reasons I was so good at it was because I learned from a guy named Chessmaster Steve. He was, needless to say, the best.

Though I haven’t really thought about or heard from him since all those years ago.

Until today, if the obvious build-up to a point wasn’t obvious enough.

See when Chessmaster Steve was not teaching elementary school kids chess (even if I had assumed at the time that was all he did), he was apparently a trained physical therapist. One who now works for the Office of Veterans Affairs.

As it turns out, one of the Gladeo League reporters has been having trouble finding a physical therapist to talk to for a profile they’re working on.

So, long story short, my mom has kept in touch with Steve for all these years, and I was able to make contact with him so we can try to have the reporter set-up an interview.

Apparently I was playing the long-game when it comes to networking as well, because that’s a connection that I never in a thousand years would have imagined might become relevant.

That’s essentially my elevator pitch. Like I said I’m usually the person who rolls his eyes when someone says it, but networking and making solid connections is super important.

So make sure you get on doing that ASAP for whatever job it is you might be after.

Lecture over. Hope you all took notes because this is 100 percent going to be on the exam.

Blizzard at the Fullerton Public Library

Blizzard at the Fullerton Public Library

I wound up staying out much later than I expected with this one, so I’m going to go quick-and-dirty with this post to get it out before midnight.

I’ve been slipping a lot lately and want to hopefully rectify that.

That said, enough pussyfooting around. Let’s get into it.

Tonight I went to a really cool event with my friend Mimi. We got to see a few employees from Blizzard Entertainment speak at the Fullerton Public Library.

Apparently the library had reached out to Blizzard because one of the librarians was a huge fan, and I’m glad they did because it was a super fun event.

Three representatives from various parts of the company came to speak. There was Adam Gershowitz, the lead producer for Overwatch; Monte Krol, a software engineer for World of Warcraft; and Skye Chandler, a game designer who primarily also works on World of Warcraft.

One of the reasons I’d wanted to go was because I’m interested in the games industry. Obviously.

In that regard, it was a really informative little event. Adam explained the overall creation process using a very helpful analogy to making Spaghetti, Monte went through the various kinds of programmers who create the baseline for each department and Skye talked about designing characters, environments, items, quests and more.

They were all really personable, funny and had some great pieces of advice.

A few of my favorites from Adam specifically (as I really only took notes with him because I got so interested that I stopped) were:

  • When creating a game from the ground-up, find the nugget of what you want to do. The rest may be hard, but you’ll get there.

And:

  • If you can’t sit down and play your game every single night, you don’t have a good game yet.

On top of the advice, they also brought some really sick pre-Alpha development footage, primarily from Overwatch.

I tried to snag some screenshots, so they aren’t quite as cool as the videos we saw but they’ll have to do.

Having played a fair amount of Overwatch with my friends and half-following the Overwatch League last semester for my Entertainment Reporting class, some of this stuff was awesome.

Another great thing about the event was how open the Blizzard people were. One of the reasons I’m writing this so late is because, to put it bluntly, nobody knew how to shut up. In the best possible way.

Once the Q&A portion of the event started, a billion people had questions to ask, and many of them asked two-or-three questions. Some of them about hiring preferences, about skills they should develop… The kind of stuff you’d expect.

But each of the three presenters gave every single question an equal amount of love and focus. Most got at least five minute responses that were thorough.

It was really nice to see how much they cared about interacting with the fans and, often, aspiring students. Even if it got pretty hilarious when the Library around us closed for the night.

The Q&A as a whole wound up lasting until 9:45 p.m. or so. It was supposed to go until 8:45 p.m. because of closing time at 9.

So also shout out to the Public Library folks for recognizing the passion and letting it fester for as long as it did.

As a final note, I suppose it would be remiss of me not to mention my secondary, covert adult intentions for going to the event.

I’m sure you all know by now that I’m the managing editor for the Gladeo League, and I’ve been working on finding people for our reporters to interview.

What kind of a shrewd businessman would I be if I didn’t take a fun opportunity like this and use it for networking as well?

That said, another shout out to Adam Gershowitz specifically. It was very late and he was talking to a billion people at once, but he still took the chance to hear my quick pitch (because I didn’t want to steal too much of his time) and hold onto my business card so he could pass it along to their HR folks.

He was just a nice guy all around.

So, if you see me start to roll out some Blizzard employee interviews at some point in the near future, now you know the genesis of that.

To end this off with some kind of haphazard bow, third shout out of the night goes to Mimi for agreeing to come with me pretty much last second. Also for dealing with me holding her back to try and talk to the Blizzard people.

It was great, and I’m glad I was able to go and make it a friend chill time as well.

She’ll probably read this, so I’ll end it off with something for her: ❤️s around the Orc.

Entertainment Beat Report – May 10, 2018

Entertainment Beat Report – May 10, 2018

Welcome to what may just be my last Entertainment Beat Report.  Later today I’m heading back over to Cal State Fullerton so I can show this little experiment off to my professor for a grade, and I haven’t decided whether or not I want to keep it going after that.

On one hand, it’s been cool keeping up a little more with the video game industry where I can.

But on the other hand, I do just kind of feel like I’m latching onto things and rambling about them. Which is my aesthetic around here to be fair, but it’s a lot of effort on my end for just that.

I don’t know, I’ll have the internal dialogue with myself on the subject later.

For now, let’s talk video games.


Monster Hunter Generations Returns

Okay so… This one is pretty much exclusively for me.

MONSTER HUNTER GENERATIONS ULTIMATE IS COMING TO THE SWITCH?!

Like. Wow. Totally didn’t expect that announcement this morning and I’m already pretty hyped for it. Even if the game isn’t coming until the end of the summer… Curse you, late August release date.

Ever since Monster Hunter World came out, I’ve felt pretty left out just watching my friends get to play together on their PS4s.

But now. Now I will get to play with them once again on a console that I own. In a world I’ve already mastered with hundreds of hours of playtime. In a play style I’m still accustomed to.

On a system that will not only look more amazing than the 3DS, but will still allow me to go play locally with my friends as well as offering online play. Plus all sorts of new monsters will be available as per the ‘ultimate’ version tradition!

I’m just going to kick back and savor this one for a while as I wait impatiently.

At this point, it isn’t a question of ‘if’ I’ll get the game… But whether or not I’ll transfer my hundreds of hours of experience from the original game onto the Switch version. Could be fun to start over? But I’m not sure.

I’ve got a few months to figure it out at least.


Nintendo Switch will receive new charger accessory

Keeping on the Nintendo train, this may seem like not a big deal for people who don’t own a Nintendo Switch. But as someone who owns and plays one rather frequently, this new addition to the accessory line-up is actually pretty huge.

Starting on July 13, 2018, players will be able to buy a $20 charger that not only costs far less than the TV-docking port, but also has an adjustable stand allowing for a more convenient hands-off experience than the current kick-stand offers.

Just looking at the picture, this thing seems like a phenomenal idea… That should have been released at launch.

But hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

This just feels like a must-buy for Switch owners to me, and while I’m disappointed we’ve had to deal without it until now, I’m very excited to get one in the near future. Thank god it’s only $20.


Overwatch League grand finals to be held in Brooklyn

As the title to this section suggests, Blizzard announced Wednesday that the grand finals for their eSports tournament, the Overwatch League, will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York in July.

According to an article by Variety, the finals will be about a month-and-a-half after the regular season ends (on June 17), and following a postseason playoff at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank.

Finalists will be competing for $1.4 million… Which isn’t too bad for a video game competition, I’d say.

Hell, I’d love to get $1.4 million for playing some games.

Oh well. Maybe someday, if I keep working on my Pokémon competitive skills or something.


Bungie Developer apologizes to fans

So this is an interesting little thing my friend Mitchell pointed out specifically, as a big fan of Destiny.

A few weeks ago I talked about how Bungie was planning on hosting fans to talk about how they would improve the rocky follow-up to their popular shooter.

However, it seems like all the bad blood hasn’t quite fizzled out yet.

On May 7, a fan replied to developer Josh Hamrick’s tweet about being excited for an expansion to Destiny 2:

Then, Hamrick replied to that reply.

That’s a pretty serious statement for what could have just been blowing off a butthurt fan.

I don’t exactly have a lot to say about Destiny or the state of its future as a game series, but I just wanted to point this out because it’s an awesome little example of a developer being respectful to the feelings of his fanbase.


Walmart ruins E3 2018

That’s it, that’s the story.

Okay fine, hyperbole aside. Walmart Canada made waves in the gaming sphere this week by putting out retail listings for upcoming games that may have spoiled some games that might be announced at E3 later this year, according to Polygon.

Among the games that got shown off were Borderlands 3, Lego DC Villains, Gears of War 5 and more.

Obviously these are kind of like leaks, so I can’t necessarily confirm nor deny whether the games that were put out here are legitimately coming soon. That’s why I buried this one under the other stories I talked about here.

However, apparently game developers are having a good time poking back at Walmart for their mistake, as Polygon also points out with Bethesda’s A+ response to the Rage 2 leak.


That should sum up basically all the big stuff I’ve picked up over the last week. It’s honestly been rather quiet, which made this an easier week to wrap up this project on.

… If this is where I’m wrapping this project up. Again, I still haven’t decided.

Though considering I always do this sort of thing, I’ll broach the question to my audience. Do you enjoy these posts? If so, let me know. I’ll be happy to keep them going.

Also, as usual, let me know if there was any big gaming news I missed. I’m almost positive there is somewhere in this big, wide world of ours.

Entertainment Beat Report – May 4, 2018

Entertainment Beat Report – May 4, 2018

My apologies for missing last week oh devoted(?) fanbase. Looking at terrible restaurants around CSUF took up a whole lot of my time.

But now that that’s out-of-the-way I have way more free time and a hell of a lot less stress. So let’s talk about some video game news, shall we?


Upcoming President of Nintendo wants to focus on Mobile

The eternal gaming juggernaut Nintendo recently announced that its current president, Tatsumi Kimishima, will be stepping down in June.

He will become an advisor to the company’s next president (assuming stockholders agree) Shuntaro Furukawa, according to Kotaku.

Since Kimishima took the helm of the video game world’s most recognizable company following the unfortunate death of Satoru Iwata, it was brought back into an upswing thanks to the transition from the unsuccessful Wii U into the quite well-received Nintendo Switch.

Interestingly enough, one thing I learned from Kotaku Features Editor Chris Kohler’s article here is the fact that the current executive is not only going to be the sixth president of Nintendo ever, but also the first to take over during a thriving period of the company’s history.

Furukawa is supposedly interested in not just keeping up the success of the mobile hybrid console currently printing money for Nintendo, but also looking to take more advantage of the iPhone and Android gaming market.

As someone who rather obsessively plays Fire Emblem Heroes, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links and has had stints with both Pokémon GO and Super Mario Run, I’m pretty interested in that choice.

Though I do hope a large chunk of their focus remains on the classic gaming model more than the free-to-start ‘gotcha’ games.


Nintendo Labo kits face mediocre sales

Sticking with the Nintendo side of the world, let’s talk about Nintendo Labo again.

It’s a subject I’ve discussed before because it’s an interesting experiment all things being equal. For those of you who are unaware, Nintendo Labo is a series of arts-and-crafts kits in which Nintendo Switch owners can build objects out of cardboard that will allow them to play mini-games.

As the video above shows, there are objects like fishing poles, motorcycles and even a backpack that lets you imitate the giant robot you always wished you could pilot.

That’s Iron Giant for me, I’d say.

I’ve spent a good amount of time thinking and talking about Labo around here because I’m honestly interested in the idea behind it. As a current fan of things like Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project (a podcast featuring the ex-Mythbusters star), I appreciate the benefits to encouraging kids with a creative making project.

On top of that, the early reception to Labo seemed rather positive. This article by Eurogamer writer Robert Purchase really sums things up rather well in my opinion.

In essence, he argues that Labo is expensive and somewhat cumbersome to pull together on top of being something that isn’t incredibly fun alone… But for kids, it’s rather magical.

However, despite the positivity surrounding these cardboard variety kits, they don’t appear to be selling well in Japan since launching on April 20.

Kotaku reports that of the two variety kits currently available, the cheaper variety kit has sold 40 to 60 percent of its stock while the more flashy robot kit has only sold 20 to 40 percent of its stock.

In my opinion, it would be a shame if Labo disappeared into the same failing obscurity of experiments like the Virtual Boy… But at the same time I don’t exactly have the $60 to throw at things that might be just below my age demographic and overall interest level.

So I guess I don’t exactly have any ground to stand on in terms of saying we should support it. I think we should, but I probably won’t own any cardboard anytime soon.


New Overwatch Hero already receiving adjustments for being overpowered

Brigitte, the Swedish mechanical engineer who acts as a mix of a healer/tank unit, recently took Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch by storm.

She’s already getting nerved for taking it a little TOO much by storm.

Just about a day after she got released into the game, Blizzard is already working on balancing the character who seems to be ruffling many feathers among tank-hero players especially, according to PC Gamer… And just about anyone else reporting on the subject.

Now I’m not exactly a regular player of Overwatch, so I can’t necessarily explain the importance and impact of making Brigitte’s ultimate skill only buff character armor by 100 rather than 150, or increasing the cooldown on her stun attack from five to six seconds.

What I can tell you is that my friends who still play Overwatch regularly have noticed her impact and have complained about her.

So good on Blizzard for staying so on top of keeping their game fair.


Harry Potter’s mobile game bows to player criticism

“‘Yer a mobile game, Harry.”

As I mentioned up above, I’ve become more of a fan of mobile games as of late. However… I actually wasn’t aware there was a game based on the Harry Potter novels that dropped toward the end of April.

Apparently that’s not such a bad thing, because the game apparently succumbed to the dreaded microtransaction plague. That’s to bad because I enjoy Harry Potter a lot and it’s a shame that the game is being held back by lousy money practices.

Or is it?

The game has gotten so much negative press over its microtransaction system that it has apparently cut them out down, according to this article by IGN. Or technically Eurogamer since that’s who they source. But I already used Eurogamer so… Diversity.

But wait, there’s more. Supposedly that discounted price has only been seen by some users. Not everyone.

Talk about drama!

I can’t exactly speak to the game’s quality since I haven’t played it, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if this controversy buries it or not.


Steam implements more controller use variety

Valve’s gaming platform Steam has added compatibility with the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.

That’s uhh… Really all there is to say on this subject, honestly.

It’s a cool idea, as Xbox controllers have become famous in part for being used on Steam, and this shows just another facet of the Nintendo Switch’s staying power overall.

But honestly what else can I add to that particular conversation? I don’t have a Pro Controller since I enjoy just using the Joy Cons. But if I did, I would appreciate being able to use it on my Steam games.

Probably.


That’s about all I have to say this week, and it may be almost everything I have to say altogether. If that makes sense?

I guess it wouldn’t unless you knew that next week is the last day of classes for the Spring 2018 semester. As a result, it will be the week that we get our beat reports examined by the professor.

I’m not sure if I’m going to keep up this experiment after the allotted time period. I do enjoy it, but I’m not sure it’s really my style right now.

If you’re interested in my keeping up this facet of my blog, feel free to let me know in the comments down below. I’d appreciate the input!

I would also appreciate knowing if there was any gaming news I missed, by the way. Because repeated ending phrase is repeated as always.

Entertainment Beat Report – April 12, 2018

Entertainment Beat Report – April 12, 2018

As it turns out, I must be using the momentum from my Daily Titan post earlier this week to my advantage. Sometimes I astound myself with the way I can just go dark for days on end when I know I’ll enjoy myself after I manage to get out multiple posts in a row.

It’s just a satisfying feeling, man.

But that’s neither here nor there. This is a place to talk about video games. Not any of that real life garbage.

There’s probably some news going back a few weeks that I missed, but honestly I’m going to focus this entertainment beat report on a couple of really big things that have happened just recently in the video game realms that I follow.

So, without further adieu.


Overwatch League player terminated over sexual misconduct allegations

That’s right, we’re starting off with the heavy stuff today folks.

Jonathan Sanchez, a player known as “DreamKazper” from the Boston Uprising team taking part in Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League tournament, had his contract terminated on Sunday when allegations went around that the 21-year-old was sexually involved with a 14-year-old fan.

Both the League and his former team have released statements about the scandal that can be seen over in the Game Informer link I put above.

I’ll be honest, I don’t exactly have a lot to say about this subject specifically. I have been following the League a little bit for this class, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert. Certainly not enough to know whether or not losing this player will leave a huge dent in the team’s abilities for the rest of the tournament.

But the fact that this story came out and received the reaction it did is important. In an era where the “Me too” movement seems to be taking down celebrities and other popular figures left and right (with good cause), it’s nice to see that a niche industry like eSports is not immune.

Though the League as a whole does not seem to be having a fantastic first run in regards to its media pull, which overall is somewhat unfortunate. Game Informer also linked to coverage of another case where a player was suspended and fined for derogatory language, and I remember writing a beat report not too long ago about one female commentator receiving death threats.

As an obvious fan of all things video games, I’d like to see a mainstream popular League like this survive beyond these controversies.

I suppose only time will tell.


“Donkey Kong” high score disqualified

Everyone loves Donkey Kong, right?

Well yes, Rare’s Donkey Kong Country series is certainly what people know the hulking ape for nowadays, and those games are undoubtedly wonderful both as experiences in themselves and as developments in gaming history.

But I’m talking about old school arcade Donkey Kong. The game where proto-Mario jumped around on scaffolding to save future New Donk City mayor Pauline from the clutches of the red tie-wearing monkey’s grandfather.

Is Donkey Kong a money? I swear I took a primate class not too long ago but I’m still nowhere near enough of an expert…

Anyway, not the point.

The point is, OG Donkey Kong had a worldwide high score set by a player named Billy Mitchell. Mitchell’s scores was removed from rankings of the game following the discovery that many of them were achieved using an emulator, according to a report by Kotaku.

Heather Alexandra has a pretty in-depth story on the subject that’s fascinating in its level of detail, so I’m going to just recommend you read it off the link I posted above.

If you’re at all interested in the retro gaming scene, you’ll have a good time.


New “God of War” title received stellar reviews

There’s a little-known franchise making waves in the game review circuit right now.

Oh, who am I kidding, anyone who’s reading this likely knows what “God of War” is, as it’s far from ‘little-known.’ The highly acclaimed series will be breaking into the next generation of consoles soon with a new release on the PS4, and people have been hyped for the game since it was announced some time ago.

Like many other people, I will affectionately refer to the game as “Dad of War” because the main character, Kratos, is an older man with a son in this title.

The game’s reviews have begun to trickle out now that there’s about a week before its release, and at this point everything looks to be highly in favor of the new Dad of War. On Metacritic, a site that accumulates review scores from across the web, the game has positive acclaim across the board.

Hell, at least three sites have given everyone’s favorite god-slaying daddy a 100 percent. Even IGN, which is pretty famous for hilariously bad reviews (look at you, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire’s 7.8/10 score for ‘too much water’) gave the game a perfect 10 — literally describing the game as a masterpiece.

After initial reviews like that, the question remains: Will Dad of War truly be as impressive as everyone is letting on?

I won’t personally be able to say given the fact that I don’t own a PS4. But my friends might play it.

If they do, I suppose I’ll get my answer there.


There are also probably a few smaller things I could throw into this, but for the most part it would be items of personal interest like the release of Klei Entertainment’s “Don’t Starve” on the Nintendo Switch.

(Shout out to Klei for liking my tweet. I’ve been noticed by Senpai!)

I love the game to death and played hours on end over Steam, so I’m excited to get to dive into it on a more portable system.

That said, it really is more of a personal item, so I’m going to let you all off early on this post.

I hope you all learned something new here today, and if there’s any big news in the world of video games that I missed, feel free to let me know in the comments down below!

Entertainment Beat Report – March 9, 2018

Entertainment Beat Report – March 9, 2018

I’ve had a bit of a hectic week and not a lot of time to pay attention to the gaming scene, but I didn’t want to miss out on one of these beat reports after I already did last week thanks to the convention I attended.

So this is going to be a little more short and to the point, just to show that I’ve been paying some attention to my entertainment beat for class. Hope you all enjoy or learn something either way!


March 8, 2018 Nintendo Direct

Gaming’s biggest name (arguably, but I’d stand by that) made waves across the internet on Thursday when they put on a Nintendo Direct showcasing all of the new stuff coming to stores and e-shops in the near future.

As of me writing this at 5:15 p.m. or so on Friday, the video is still the #3 trending video on YouTube.

I could talk for hours dissecting each and every little announcement that was made… But frankly I still have not watched the whole thing. As I said, time has not exactly been on my side recently.

Despite this, Nintendo includes a summary of everything they announced in the description of the archived stream, so even if I would usually dedicate a whole expansive post to this topic I can run through my thoughts on everything in short form.

I’ll try to be quick and painless with it.

  • The 3DS will have a number of new titles in the near future: WarioWare Gold, Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers as a sequel to Dillon’s Rolling Western and a remake of Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story.
    • As a side note, I’m still confused as to why Bowser’s Inside Story is next on the docket here. Superstar Saga had a remake not too long ago, but theoretically the next game on the list should be Partners in Time if they’re going in order on the Mario RPG kick. Perhaps that’s a discussion for another day…
  • Detective Pikachu will be coming out soon, and Nintendo announced a remake of the GameCube classic Luigi’s Mansion on 3DS. Coming… Sometime soon. Definitely looking forward to that one.
  • Kirby Star Allies, coming out later this month, will allow players to travel with old Kirby staple characters and companions – most notably including the animal buddies from Kirby’s Dream Land 2 and Marx, the (Spoilers? I guess?) arch-villain in Kirby Super Star.
  • Okami HD will be coming to the Nintendo Switch, as will a game called Sushi Striker (a puzzle fighting game based on Sushi I believe?), Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, Undertale, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, the Crash N. Sane Trilogy and so, so much more. Seriously, so many games here that are worth your time it’s crazy.
  • Dark Souls Remastered will have its own special Amiibo based on Solaria of Astora and his famously meme-worthy “praise the sun” pose when launched. Still looking forward to trying this one.
  • Splatoon 2 will receive an expansion with Version 3.0 and $20 paid DLC that’s going to add a whole hell of a lot. More stages, outfits, competitive rankings and even new single player experiences. Who knows, maybe this is the kind of thing that could get me back into that game… If I’d be willing to pay the money, I suppose.
  • Finally, the one that truly broke the internet: Super Smash Brothers is coming to Nintendo Switch. Whether it will be a port of Smash 4 or a new game entirely is not yet known, but it appears like the Inklings from Splatoon are new fighters and Link has been updated to fit his appearance in Breath of the Wild. Though I’m still a huge fan of the Twilight Princess Link, it’ll be interesting to see how that change plays out.
    • Also if you haven’t watched the video yet, go see the Smash teaser where the Inkling has the fiery Smash logo in her eyes. It’s one of my favorite hilarious visuals in a long time.

Mario is coming to Google Maps

Focusing more specifically on Nintendo’s most famous mascot, Mario and Google Maps are apparently combining forces to celebrate March 10. Or, as the joke goes, “Mar10 day.” See what they did there?

Seriously how nice must it be when details like that line up? It’s almost serendipity that years after this character was created we can appreciate unintentionally meta humor like this.

Once Google Maps have been updated, anyone can hit the question block in the corner of the screen to have a 3D model of the plumber replace their car as it travels along the blue line toward a destination. It’s a small, kind of silly idea… But a cool one all the same.

Besides, considering the Pokémon April Fools joke from a couple of years ago helped lead to Pokémon GO, maybe this is just test driving a new Mario Kart mobile platform.

Pun only slightly intended.


Mario Kart-style go-kart track will open this Spring

Nintendo sure has been busy recently, haven’t they?

The Niagara Speedway will soon host a go-kart track inspired by one of our favorite red mustachioed spin-off games, Mario Kart.

Apparently this isn’t the first time, as another similarly inspired set of racetracks also exists in Missouri of all places.

It has been a long time since I’ve gone go karting, so I can’t exactly say I’m excited by the prospects of going again now that I’m way too big to do so probably, but it is pretty cool to imagine playing Mario Kart in real life.

Plus, you can totally have Mario guide your way to the Mario Kart tracks if you choose to drive there this week. Who can argue with that?


Overwatch League host harassed for comments made on International Women’s Day

On finally not Nintendo news, here’s something back with our local Orange County favorite Blizzard.

Unfortunately, this might not be as good a publicity pull as the company might want in the midst of their League’s second stage.

One of the League’s host and analyst, Soe Gschwind-Penski, has apparently been receiving death threats and hateful messages over Twitter after she thanked men for treating women as equals on International Women’s Day.

Really from what I’ve been able to find, that’s about as deep as this story gets. There’s a little more back-and-forth about what she did afterward in the story I have linked above, but I don’t have much to contribute to the conversation.

I just think it’s interesting that there was a vitriolic response to what seems like such a simple, encouraging message. Guess that’s just the nature of the world we live in today.


President Trump held meeting about violence in video games following Parkland shooting

The Parkland shooting in Florida on Feb. 14, 2018 left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

In the wake of that tragedy, U.S. President Donald Trump decided to gather together higher-ups in the video game industry to discuss the violence they showcase.

According to the Verge, his meeting started with a series of clips putting various games’ violence on display, a video which has since been uploaded to the White House YouTube page.

Personally I’m not sure that kind of thing needs to be there necessarily… But I guess it is.

That same article says the meeting was “unproductive and bizarre,” with little discussion on potentially being able to restrict companies in what they can produce. More of the discussion was focused on voluntary measures and more robust age restrictions.

Another point worth noting about this story is different groups pointing to it as a “distraction tactic” in leu of talking about gun control, which says a lot with the March for our Lives march planned by students to talk about guns and mass shootings later this month.


Like I said before, things have been busy for me so I haven’t exactly gotten the chance to appreciate a wider scope of news — as I’m sure is obvious by the amount of Nintendo dominating the charts here.

If there is any news I missed that you were interested in, please let me know about it in the comments below! I know I can’t hit everything, so it’d be great to know exactly what I wasn’t paying attention to.

Entertainment Beat Report – Feb. 23, 2018

Entertainment Beat Report – Feb. 23, 2018

As I’ve mentioned across the last few posts on my blog, this week has been incredibly busy for me and kind of threw my whole schedule off-kilter. I also spent a lot of time working on the first major article for my Entertainment Reporting class — which I might add is currently being looked at for the Titan, so it may see more of the light of day soon.

In the meantime, as a result of all that I haven’t exactly paid a lot of attention to the overall video game world. This beat report is going to be relatively short as a result, but considering part of my grade is keeping it up… What can I say. Obligations are a powerful thing.

That said, I hope you still enjoy.


Kentucky Governor blames Florida shooting on video games, other violent media

This is actually the story I wrote my first major article about this week, so I won’t go too deep into it now.

A day after the mass shooting that left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida, Gov. Matt Bevin blamed violent video games and similar media on essentially creating a society trained to kill.

As someone who has always played video games, I’ve always taken the repeated accusations of their negative effects somewhat personally. That much hasn’t changed, but I was able to take it to more of a professional place by writing about the issue.

I talked to a professor at CSUF that’s an expert on violent media and aggressive behavior, did some research into American Psychological Association studies and more, eventually coming to the conclusion that video games and such do play a part in violent behaviors, but there are far more intersecting ideas to consider for it to be so black-and-white.

Like I said, I have a whole extended article on the subject now, so I’ll be able to share that later. Even if it doesn’t get published, I can always put it out independently here.

Because of that I’ll just move on for now and get into those weeds sometime in the near future.


2018 Game Developer Conference schedule released

Every year, game developers from across the world gather together to discuss the industry, projects they’re working and look at interesting repercussions of past projects.

That gathering is known simply as the Game Developer Conference, which will be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California this year. On Thursday, the session scheduler for the event was released.

Frankly… The schedule is huge. So huge that I haven’t really had the time to comb through it. But there’s a ton of names from a ton of well-regarded companies in attendance, so no matter where you go there are definitely going to be things to see.

The conference will be held between March 19 and 23, with entry prices ranging from $250 for basic passes to $2,350 for all access passes.

A little steep for my blood, admittedly… But I’m definitely looking forward to hearing any sort of announcements that are made throughout the event online while it’s going on.


Overwatch League Stage 2 begins

Here’s something that’s just kind of continuing off of my last Beat Report. Blizzard’s big eSports experiment has started its second leg, and we’re two days into the competition.

So far (as of this writing), six games have been played out. No teams have had repeat games at this point so there isn’t much to say about rankings and whatnot, but the already high flying New York Excelsior team won its first game against Florida.

That’s something.

Honestly I never thought I would care about the Overwatch League as much as I have since starting to follow it for this class, so I’ll probably keep checking back on it from time to time.

For now however, there isn’t too much more to say. So let’s move on to the next.


First major Mario Odyssey update hits Nintendo Switch

As someone who has played a ton of Mario Odyssey, this story is a little more personally attuned to my interests, I’d say.

Once again I discussed the update in a post some time ago when it was first announced, but in essence a new game mode was added to the famous plumber’s newest adventure.

With the free Luigi’s Balloon World, players are able to talk with their green-clad brother and start what is essentially a game of hide and seek. In each kingdom, you can hide a balloon anywhere you can platform your way to in a limited amount of time, then it’s up to another player to try and find your hiding place. Or vice versa for that matter!

It’s a fun twist on the game’s core mechanics that seems to have breathed a breath of fresh air into it, certainly on my end at least. Plus the update also added some new costumes, including a reference to Super Mario Sunshine.

Who can complain about that?


That’s about what I’ve got for this week.

If there’s any big news that I’ve missed, or any details in the stories I did discuss that you particularly enjoy and want to talk about, let me know.

Next week I might also be a little off in terms of the timing of my post, as a forewarning. There’s a journalism conference I’m attending with other members of the Daily Titan, so I might be distracted by that.

Even so, I will be back with more at some point next week. So look forward to that!

Entertainment Beat Report – Feb. 15, 2018

Entertainment Beat Report – Feb. 15, 2018

From here on out, my Entertainment Reporting class assignments are primarily going to be weekly updates on some of the major things that are happening in the video game industry.

I got some of my friends who tend to pay more attention to gaming news aggregates to help out on compiling a small list of some of the big things that happened this week, so my first attempt at doing this is probably going to resemble a listicle more than anything else. Just a few headlines, links and some summary paragraphs. Might wind up changing things later depending on how much I like that, but for now I think it’ll work out pretty well as an easy way for me to approach these.

That said, let’s get on with the news.


Overwatch League Stage one concludes with New York on top

Blizzard’s widely popular first person shooter has been driving the eSports scene lately with a competition between the game’s top teams from all around the world.

Stage one of the tournament ended on Feb. 10 with matches between London’s team and both New York’s and Houston’s teams. London won both games.

However, in the overall standings, New York is on top with 9 wins and only 1 loss. This puts them over the next four teams, who are all tied in their 7 win to 3 loss records, but have different standings overall.

Stage 2 will begin with three matches on Feb. 21. This stage will feature five weeks of play in Blizzard’s Burbank arena.

I’ll admit, I’m not personally a huge Overwatch buff, but I know all of my friends adore it. They certainly aren’t the only ones either, as the game has been hugely popular since it’s release.

I actually wrote on this topic for our Mock Newsroom this week, which took me down a deep dive into the world of competative Overwatch. It’s definitely not a world I travel in often, so it was an interesting experience to say the least. If nothing else, I suppose I like seeing eSports get a lot of traction – which is something I’ll touch on in a bit.


New Nintendo Labo video shows complexity of games

This morning, Nintendo showed off their latest gaming innovation more with a video detailing the first Labo Variety Kit that’s going to come out on April 20.

Labo, for those of you who are unaware, are essentially special holsters for the Nintendo Switch that give players new control schemes to play specific games. The twist is that you create the holsters — called “Toy Cons” in a fun little allusion to the consoles main controllers, the “Joy Cons” — yourself with cardboard cutout sheets and auxiliary pieces like rubber bands in activities reminiscent of arts and crafts projects.

When they were first announced, I know I personally had some concerns regarding how in-depth of an experience these somewhat gimmicky additions to the Switch were going to be, but it seems like they have some promise to be more than just tech demos based on what the newest video shows.

The first Variety Pack will contain five Labo projects: An RC car, a fishing rod, a house, a motorbike and a piano.

The RC car seems well thought out, with the Switch’s portable touch screen being used as a controller while the detached Joy Cons control how the car you’ve created moves. Not only does it show how impressive the “HD rumble” tech can be, it also makes use of the Joy Con night vision capable camera to promote self-propelled movement toward certain stimuli.

The fishing rod uses the Switch’s screen to simulate an ocean environment that you drop a fishing line into using a fairly complex looking cardboard fishing rod. The rod has Joy Con holsters in two major areas that allow you to simulate the act of reeling in fish, with the aforementioned HD rumble simulating the feeling of fish tugging on the hook. The game itself looks to be a rather simple fishing simulator, but has a nice and pretty looking aesthetic that I think will make it worth trying at least once.

Personally, I just hope this kind of functionality comes back for games like Animal Crossing and the Legend of Zelda, which are fairly well-known for their fishing side-games.

The house Toy Con seems to be used for the 2018 equivalent of a Tamagotchi. You remember those, right? The little key chains that would grow a creature inside and was later somewhat co-opted by Nintendo for the Pokéwalker in HeartGold and SoulSilver? Hell you don’t have to look very far for the allusion, there’s basically an 8-bit guy similar to Tamagotchi in the background of the house.

There’s a cute amount of interactivity with the house itself, where doing things like shaking the screen will create an earthquake inside, and the Joy Cons can inhabit different plug-in additions for the house that do things like change the time of day or the environment inside.

Oh, also there’s a portal reference in there. Can’t argue with that.

The overall experience seems simple, but there appears to be a good amount of depth with mixing and matching the plug-ins, and I do enjoy the aesthetic. So… We’ll see how good it is in execution.

The motorbike reminds me of one of those arcade cabinet racing games where you sit down in what’s essentially a simulated car or motorcycle. The controls appear to be fairly realistic and more complex than one might expect for a children’s console arts and crafts project, but Mario Kart Wii didn’t exactly handle the “realistic steering” thing well, so I’m reserving judgement on this one. There’s also a sandbox mode where you can create your own open lot driving areas with a scanner using the Joy Con camera and a track by simulating how you’d want to drive in real life.

Those additions are pretty cool, honestly.

Though… Now that I’m thinking about it, why isn’t this a Mario Kart game? More than any other object creation here, I think this one feels the most like a tech demo just in the sense that it seems like exactly what Mario Kart 9 should be. Another thing I hope we’ll see functionality return for later, I suppose.

Finally, the piano looks like a simple version of an actual keyboard you could go out and buy. It even does that thing where you can make each note play a silly sound if you plug-in a Joy Con knob. Apparently you can also make sounds through the vibration of a Joy Con by placing it on different objects, which is interesting… But not necessarily interesting enough to save this from being a little too simple to look that appealing. For me anyway.

My sister will probably love it though. Plus, I did used to mess around on Garage Band a lot… So who knows.

I’ll admit, I’m personally more excited about this technology after watching what Nintendo has planned. Now we just have to wait and see how successful it is on the market.


Kingdom Hearts 3 trailer shows Sora will visit worlds of Toy Story, Monsters Inc.

Now here’s something that’s right up my alley. As much as Monster Hunter World and Dragon Ball FighterZ have given me that mad heartache for a PS4, they likely won’t be as big a system seller as something like Kingdom Hearts 3.

A new trailer for the game came out this week at the D23 Expo, and even if not very much was revealed as far as a release date goes, there was plenty of gameplay shown off to get excited for.

We see through the trailer that Sora, Donald and Goofy will be turned into toy-sized Warriors and into monstrous versions of themselves when the visit the classic Disney and Pixar properties of Toy Story and Monsters Inc.

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t necessarily have a lot to say about this trailer right now. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks just as beautiful and fun as it has in earlier trailers we’ve seen. Hell, I even have some great things to say about it regarding the return of the dream creatures from Dream Drop Distance and the incredibly transcendent experience of hearing Woody and Buzz talk like they’re in a Japanese anime.

But… This game has been pushed back so much, that not getting a more specific release date than “2018” is disheartening to say the least. Seriously, Kingdom Hearts 2 came out 13 years ago, and Dream Drop Distance came out six years ago.

The last time a major announcement for the game came out was at E3 in 2015. News isn’t exactly out around every corner.

Let’s just hope more comes out at E3 this year.


Twitch garners more viewer traffic in January than CNN, MSNBC

This is arguably the most esoteric thing on this list when compared to more specific game-driven news, but I found it really interesting.

According to Investor’s Business Daily, January 2018 had more people tuned into various gaming channels on the streaming service Twitch than were watching CNN and MSNBC.

It’s fascinating to me that something like this can happen with how enmeshed in our culture things like CNN are. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of watching people play video games, so I understand the appeal. But it’s still impressive to see that Twitch had 962,000 average concurrent viewers compared to CNN’s 783,000 and MSNBC’s 885,000.

The article stipulates that a good amount of this attention is coming from popular competitive games like League of Legends and, conveniently enough, the debut of Blizzard’s Overwatch League.

They say over 10 million unique viewers tuned into the League during its first week, which is honestly kind of hard to fathom.

I don’t have much personal insight to throw into this story, I just think the numbers are fascinating and I wanted to share them. If anything, I think this might make for a good entertainment news story, something I have to write soon.

So stay tuned for that.


These four things weren’t the only things that happened in gaming this week, of course.

A remake of Shadow of the Colossus has blown people away with how beautiful it turned out to be.

Leaks suggest that the Crash Bandicoot N-Sane trilogy may be coming to both PC and the Nintendo Switch in the near future.

Bungie’s Destiny 2 had an update called the Crimson Days and Blizzard’s Overwatch characters will be getting new outfits based on the Chinese New Year.

There’s plenty going on out there if you’re looking for it, so keep watching for the latest news. I’ll be back next week with more, so look forward to that!

If you enjoyed this kind of post format, let me know. After all, I’m still trying to work out exactly how I want to do this whole Entertainment Reporting beat notes thing, and there’s a bunch of weeks left in the semester to iron it out.

Entertainment Reporting Beat Overview

Our first assignment for Comm 436 had my class sent out into the wild, wild west of the internet to compile a list of basic details and possible future stories that we can examine throughout the semester.

The professor recommended we utilize our research as the first piece of our compendium of paying attention to the entertainment world, so I figured I would do just that.

This little explanatory introduction is pretty much just here to frame things. I won’t waste too much more time with it, so that said: Enjoy the minor fruits of my labor.


The California Video Game Industry

Local, Major Players:

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Informational Websites:

Possible Story Ideas: