Tag Archives: Xbox

What Can You Expect To See During Tomorrow’s Xbox Reveal

Tomorrow, at 10AM PST, Microsoft will officially unveil the next-generation Xbox. While there have been countless rumors surrounding the new platform, I’m here to chime in on a few of the most popular rumors and let you know what I think of them, and what I believe you can expect to hear/see from tomorrow’s big reveal.

Will we see the box?

The short answer is yes, you will indeed see what the next Xbox looks like. Microsoft said they thought Sony’s PS4 reveal was odd, in that the company didn’t actually show us what the system itself looked like. This could have been done purposely to hide a few features the system itself may have. Which leads me to…

HDMI-in port?

One of the biggest reasons why the PS4 wasn’t shown, according to rumors, is that it will feature an HDMI-in port, even though that wasn’t mentioned in the tech specs. Otherwise why not show the hardware? Seems silly, no? What I can tell you is that Microsoft’s new Xbox will have an HDMI-in port. The idea is that you never have to turn your system off. It’ll control your PVR, have access to your cable guide and much more. Expect it!

Tech Specs?

Count on it. I expect tech specs to be similar, if not identical to those of the PlayStation 4. This time around the differentiating factors between the two consoles will be more about multimedia functions and social features.

Games?

Yes, you can expect some major videogame announcements including Call of Duty: Ghosts. Activision has already confirmed it will be there, and I fully expect Microsoft to highlight other key exclusives. I think most of the reveal will be on the hardware and multimedia, but much like Sony did with the PS4 reveal, expect to see a lot of games as well.

Dashboard update?

I expect the Xbox 360’s dashboard to see a major overhaul, although I don’t really think we’ll hear about this tomorrow. I believe this will happen as E3. I think this will be the last major UI overhaul the system will have, and it will tie directly in to the next Xbox’s look and feel. You can also expect everything to carry over to the new platform from your current one including achievements, your friend list, etc. What will the UI look like, I’m leaning more and more towards the Live Tiles from the Windows 8 and Mobile platforms.

xbox-infinity-2

Name?

Right now all the big money is on Xbox Infinity, and I really think that’s what it’ll be called. There are so many marketing advantages to having a name like this. Infinite also works well. “Infinite Possibilities, Infinite Entertainment” and things like that. So my money is on one of the two names. Sure Fusion sounds cool, but from a marketing perspective it doesn’t quite have the impact as Infinity or Infinite. Heck they could even tie it into Windows 8, and an 8 turned on its side is ∞.

Price?

I don’t expect us to hear the pricing details tomorrow, but I do expect them at E3 so I might as well say what I think right now. Based on the rumored tech specs, the PS4 and the next Xbox are looking to cost consumers somewhere in the $399.99 to $499.99 range. Naturally there will a variety of SKUs available, so don’t be surprised if you hear about a $599.99 SKU with tons of bells and whistles.

Surprises?

There are always huge surprises at events like this. During Sony’s event we had no idea they would focus so much attention on games, but they did. With Microsoft’s event I think we’re all expecting to see the console, the controller, games, and multimedia features. I don’t think Microsoft will disappoint either. The question is, just how big are these surprises going to be.

Numerous ‘Halo Infinity’ Domains Registered

Apparently, Microsoft’s brand management offshoot has been busy this week, buying up a handful of website names for what could potentially be an upcoming Halo product or a component of said product. The domain names revolve around the terms ‘Halo Infinity’ and ‘Halo Multiplayer’.

 If the domain names amount to anything, ‘Infinity’ could be used for anything from a game title, a marketing campaign, a book, Master Chief pencil case merchandising — anything, really. Some people suspect it may refer to the new version of Halo 3’s Forge creation system, whereas others point to the ship in the Halo mythos known as the ‘UNSC Infinity’ upon which several SPARTAN IVs are stationed. SPARTAN IVs are the modified soldiers who kick it up in the game’s multiplayer mode, so “Infinity” may accordingly be a tie-in to Halo 4’s multiplayer mode as a handful of the registered domains could lead one to believe.

 

If one is to look at the ‘Making Halo 4: First Look’ video documentary, franchise development director Frank O’Connor says that there is a “fairly convincing and compelling reason why red SPARTANS can fight blue SPARTANS”. Could it be that red and blue SPARTAN IVs are engaged in combat as a form of practice for the real battlefield? Perhaps as part of a UNSC Infinity training mission?

 

The developers at 343 Industries have stated that they want Halo 4’s multiplayer to make sense in the context of the campaign, and this could be the way to do it.

 

But I digress: ‘Halo Infinity’ is just a name and could refer to anything or nothing. It’s all speculation at this point, but speculation is often more fun than the official announcements, wouldn’t you say? We’ll update if any further details emerge regarding these domain names.

 

Source: Fusible

Phil Harrison Replaces Peter Molyneux

Now this is quite a big coup for Microsoft.  Phil Harrison worked for Sony Computer Entertainment for over 15 years before moving on to a position at Atari.  He was instrumental in the worldwide success of all three main PlayStation consoles, as well as the PSP.  He was also a mainstay at huge gaming events like GDC, E3 and others around the world.  He will now be in charge of Microsoft’s European game studios.  Here’s what Microsoft had to say about the news.

REDMOND, Wash. – March 13, 2012 – Microsoft Corp. today announced that Phil Harrison, video games luminary and former Sony executive, has joined the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) leadership team as corporate vice president with an emphasis on growing the division’s European business.

As the senior IEB leader in Europe, Phil will not only lead the Microsoft Studios European organization directly, but will also influence the broader performance of IEB’s European business through strategic partnerships and by bringing culturally relevant entertainment experiences to Microsoft platforms, now and in the future.

In addition to the wealth of experience Harrison has in the console gaming space, he has immersed himself in new business models and technologies, particularly in the mobile and social space and will bring that market perspective to bear in the new role. He will also tap his deep experience in studio leadership to grow Xbox’s development efforts in Europe, including overseeing UK-based developers Lionhead Studios, Soho Productions and Rare Ltd.

“I am excited to be joining the senior team at Microsoft at a pivotal time for our industry,” said Harrison. “I am really impressed with the company’s long-term vision for growing the market for interactive entertainment globally and also with the incredible wealth of talent, technology and resources the company has available to succeed.”

“We are honored to have Phil join a team that boasts a wealth of talent from across the industry,” said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president at Microsoft Studios. “Phil is one of video gaming’s true visionaries, and his experience overseeing global studios and deep industry relationships make him the ideal person to lead our European efforts. Under his leadership, we look forward to continuing cultivating the best talent and growing our business in the region.”

“Phil has played an instrumental role in shaping modern console history through his keen insights into both hardware and software strategy,” said Don Mattrick, president, Interactive Entertainment Business. “His addition to our leadership team will impact our global business in innumerable ways, as he aligns our studio development and growing portfolio of entertainment experiences in Europe to drive our continued growth worldwide.”

Harrison brings 25 years of games industry and development experience to his new role as the senior leader for IEB Europe. He was a long-time leader at Sony Computer Entertainment, where he held various senior executive positions within the company, most recently as president of Worldwide Studios. After leaving Sony, Harrison joined the board of Infogrames, as president of Atari, where he led the company’s transition into online gaming. Most recently, Harrison is co-founder and General Partner of London Venture Partners, LLP the venture capital firm focused on the web, mobile, social and cloud game sector, where he will continue as Special Advisor.

Reports Suggest The Next Xbox Will Feature No Optical-Drive!

I don’t always report on rumors and speculation because honestly who knows if there’s any truth to what we’re hearing.  That said, this is one rumor I just had to pass your way.  So here’s the scoop, apparently MCV has heard from reliable sources that Microsoft’s next Xbox, which is gearing up for a holiday 2013 release, will not feature an optical drive.  Instead the system will feature some sort of solid-state cartridge format, but not for use in the traditional sense.  It is unknown if the system will make use of a proprietary format or something like SD cards, but either way this does fall in line with what we heard earlier about the system not being able to play used games.  How you may ask, simple.  Rumors are also suggesting that you wouldn’t buy these carts with individual games on them, instead they would be used only to download the games from your local retailers, and then bring the carts back to your system if you don’t want to download the games directly from Live.  This sounds very similar to what Nintendo did years ago in Japan with their Famicom Disk Drive add-on for the original Famicom.

As of right now this is purely a rumor, but again, it seems to fall in line with everything else we’ve been hearing about the new machine.  The question I have for all of you is, what do you think of this?  If you were forced to download your games to the system, or to go to a retail store to download the games to a cart, is this a future you’re interested in?

Personally I love the idea of no longer having to worry about discs and carts all over the place.  If I could have my entire catalogue on my system, perfect.  I completely understand those that sell their games, and others that love having a physical collection, but for me I truly see this as the future of the industry.  The major concern though isn’t so much about personal taste, it’s about countries whose infrastructure isn’t as up to date as North America and Europe.  What happens then?  Well if the rumors are true and those people could visit their local game shops to download the games on these unique carts, well that might just solve that problem.

Whatever the truth may be, this is a very interesting story and slowly but surely the pieces are all coming together.  In my mind it’s very clear that Microsoft is trying to create an Apple-like ecosystem whereby they will control your living room with their Xbox brand, think Hulu, Netflix, etc, and then tie that into Metro-enabled tablets and laptops, Windows 8 PCs, and their Nokia-Windows phones.  Imagine being able to access all your Live information, friends lists, achievements, etc, from any device out there, and have full access to your games, your movies, photos, music and whatever else you might have on these devices.  I can see the big picture here and I must admit, if all of this comes to fruition, it’s going to be pretty crazy.

Latest Round Of Next-Gen Rumors Surface

As time goes by we’re going to be hearing more and more about the next-gen console.  Today reports are coming in from all over the net suggesting the next Xbox will ship sometime in late 2013 with Kinect 2.0 bundled in with every machine sold.  By including the new Kinect hardware sources are saying that the hardware will be slightly less powerful than the PS4.  That said, both devices are said to be gearing up for a 2013 release date and that the odds are good Microsoft will launch their system up to four months before the PS4.

Right now these are nothing but rumors, but they seem quite plausible to me.  This year we should start to see both machines wind down somewhat.  Also, don’t be too surprised if both new next-gen consoles get mentioned at this year’s E3.  It seems only logical to start getting people excited about what to expect in the future.

What do you all think of this?

Xbox Turns 10!

It’s hard to believe, but on November 15th, 2001 Microsoft launched the original Xbox.  Man, ten years already, that’s nuts!  I’ll always remember the Xbox for a few reasons, first off was this…

 

Remember how big the system was?

I’ll never forget the sheer size of the Xbox.  The thing was massive, even by today’s standards.  It had a really nice built quality to it though, it felt like it could survive being run over by a tank.  I also loved that it came with four controller ports, just like the GameCube.  The only problem was…

 

Wow, nuff said.

 

The original controller was gargantuan.  Even King Kong had little trouble wrapping his mitts around this bad boy.  The odd placement of the black and white buttons made them virtually useless.  Thankfully Microsoft would release a vastly superior controller a year or two after the system’s launch.  I still have my original controllers and they make even the largest legacy controller look tiny in comparison.

The Xbox also launched with what would become the defacto Xbox game…

You know it, you love it.  Who didn’t?  Halo and Halo 2 defined the Xbox.  The original for fun factor and the sequel for online multiplayer.  This was the series to get into if you owned an Xbox.  90% of the people who bought the system did so for this one game.  It was that popular, and remains so to this very day.  Other popular series on the platform include anything from BioWare, games like Knight of the Old Republic and Jade Empire were simply sensational.  Forza also made its debut on the original Xbox.  These were personal highlights, but I’m sure you guys can name off others.

The other huge impact the Xbox platform had on the industry came in the way of online multiplayer via Xbox Live. While somewhat primitive compared to what’s offered today, Microsoft took what Sega was trying to do on the Dreamcast and ran with it.  They combined their network knowledge on the PC with several high-profile developers to create a fantastic service that remains the pinnacle of online multiplayer to this very day.

So what Xbox stories do you have?  Leave a comment and let’s get this conversation started.

Native Americans in Video Games: Racism, Stereotypes, & The Digitized Indian

Tomahawks, bows and arrows, feathered headdresses, a connection to the spiritual world — these are just a few of the stereotypical elements associated with the “Indians” of popular culture. Generally, these features, among others, are mixed together and poured into a cliché mould that characterizes Native Americans as either an outdated civilization of savages or romanticizes them as mystical, nature-loving warriors and shamans. This mould has solidified across the breadth of entertainment media over time; in literature, film and television, and most recently, video games. A few notable Native American characters that have appeared in video games include Mortal Kombat‘s Nightwolf, a tribal warrior who dons feathers and face paint, wields a bow as well as a tomahawk, and can transform into a wolf to defeat his adversaries, Street Fighter‘s equally prosaic Thunder Hawk, and Banjo Tooie‘s magical shaman Humba Wumba, who lives in a “wigwam” and becomes oddly sexualized in the sequel. We tend to glance over these stereotypes as fun and harmless, but can these simplified, misleading images of Native Americans have a negative impact on consumers? Many aspects of these characters, whether they have some sort of basis in history or not, are certainly not relevant to the contemporary Native American. The common perception of Native Americans as an antiquated and singular people contributes to a general misunderstanding of their cultures (note: culture is pluralized because there are many different groups of First Nations people and their beliefs and values are not necessarily congruous) could potentially hinder their ability to synthesize with mainstream society. That said, it is interesting to consider the place of Native Americans in video games over the past thirty years, as they are certainly under-represented, often portrayed in a disrespectful manner, and almost always constructed from the same toolbox of long-established stereotypes. What follows is a look at some of the most memorable characters and controversies that have punctuated the existence of the “Indian” in video games, accompanied by a discourse on how these trends hurt the image of Native American people and degrade contemporary social harmony.

 

Can you spot the similarities?


“How many kids will play this game and then carry what they’ve experienced into their interactions with real, live Apaches and other Native Americans?” the Association for American Indian Development asked video game publishing giant Activision in a public letter accusing the company’s 2006 PC and console title GUN of containing “some very disturbing racist and genocidal elements toward Native Americans”. The AAID went on to launch an online petition demanding that Activision “remove all derogatory, harmful, and inaccurate depictions of American Indians” from the game and reissue a more culturally sensitive version, threatening to campaign to have the game pulled from store shelves internationally. Although Activision thereafter issued an apology to anyone who may have been offended by the game, they justified the content of their product by pointing out that such depictions had already been “conveyed not only through video games but through films, television programming, books, and other media”. The AAID’s subsequent attempts to have the game recalled were barely acknowledged.

As evident in Activision’s defense of GUN, many negative stereotypes about North American indigenous peoples are so ingrained in mainstream media that the near-genocide of an entire continent of tribes and ethnic groups is rarely granted the same sensitivity with which we regard similarly tragic occurrences like the Holocaust, or apartheid in South Africa. The AAID argues that video games like GUN undermine the severity of the atrocities committed against First Nations tribes by the European settlers and marginalize this violence in a way that negatively affects the image of contemporary Native Americans. Millions of people play video games, and entertainment can leave long-lasting impressions on consumers, so it is understandable that an organization such as the AAID would be concerned about the images people are exposed to, but were their claims about GUN‘s potentially damaging effects warranted?

To the AAID’s credit, GUN certainly does exploit numerous stereotypes, reinforces several misleading aspects of imagined Native American culture, promotes frivolous violence in the form of scalping (which is merely an aesthetic feature that does not add to the gameplay whatsoever), and creates misconceptions about Indian traditions involving the killing of sacred white animals. Furthermore, the game does indeed demand that players slaughter vast numbers of Apache Indians in order to progress through one particular mission in the game. However, the material is not as slanted as the AAID suggests. In addition to killing Apache warriors, the main character Colton White also kills white men and white women, and actually befriends various Indians in the game, even helping the Apache and Blackfoot tribes defend themselves against unjust and corrupt whites. In fact, he eventually discovers that he himself is of Native American heritage, and switches sides to take down a malignant railroad tycoon named Magruder. So, while GUN certainly does reinforce a number of misleading stereotypes and trivializes frontier violence, it is possible to see why the AAID’s plea was ignored. Ruthless violence against Indians is advocated throughout the game, but brutality is also encouraged towards many whites, hispanics, and so forth. Additionally, much of the violence towards Native Americans is contextualized as part of the attempt to protect migrant Chinese rail-workers from Apache train line raids. The story itself is one of redemption and revenge, and the story is never as simple as “wiping out the Apache” as the AAID would lead us to believe. To briefly describe the story, the narrative follows the consequences set in motion by Colton’s adopted father, Ned, who brought ruin upon the Apache tribe when he introduced them to a party of Confederates, including the aforementioned Magruder. As one would expect, the tribe was massacred by the settlers when it stood in the way of “progress”. Seeking repentance for his grievous error, Ned has dedicated himself to exacting revenge upon the Confederates. When he dies in Mission 3 of the game, the torch is passed to Colton, who continues his father’s fight to avenge the Apache people. The violence is never classy, but the racial slant is debatable.

 

Violence against Apache warriors in GUN.


Over the course of the story Colton encounters many racists, but these unsavoury characters don’t exclusively hate Indians; rather, they are intolerant of many different races, creeds, and religions, not only spewing racist comments about Native Americans, but also about the Chinese, Irish, and Mexicans (they are essentially bigoted to the point where it becomes farcical). The story is never really framed from the racist-towards-Indians angle that the AAID claims, even considering the misconceptions about Native American culture that surface here and there. Regardless of the stance one takes on GUN‘s treatment of Native Americans, the controversy surrounding the game draws attention to the portrayal of Native Americans in other video games. After all, the AAID’s reaction to GUN was not the first time the issue of racism towards North America’s indigenous peoples has stirred up controversy in the industry.

 

Introducing one of the most offensive games ever created.


Twenty four years before GUN raised the eyebrows of Native American activists, a game called Custer’s Revenge was released for the Atari 2600. Whereas GUN‘s racist undertones are debatable, Custer’s Revenge is blatantly racist, extremely vulgar, and highly offensive, especially to Native American women. Made by now-defunct video game developer Mystique, which developed a number of pornographic video games throughout the 1980’s, the game is widely regarded as one of the most racist games ever developed. Mystique’s games were programmed in the United States, so one would think the creators would be imbued with a sense of cultural sensitivity for the people of that region, but this was certainly not the case with Custer’s Revenge. The game has players taking on the persona of a character named “Custer”, who is quite clearly inspired by George Armstrong Custer, a United States Army cavalry commander who fought in the American Indian Wars and directly took part in the slaughter of thousands of Native Americans before his death at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Based on the game’s title, it is clear that Custer intends to carry out post-humous revenge on the Indians for killing him and his men. And how exactly will Custer carry out his vengeance? By repeatedly raping an Indian woman, of course. Oh, and by the way, “Revenge” is actually the name of the woman he rapes. Custer’s Revenge brutally objectifies women and disrespects Native Americans in a manner that words like “tasteless” or “crude” cannot do justice to.

 

General Custer: naked, erect, and ready to offend thousands of people for years to come.


Yes, in the role of Custer, a man who historically took part in the killing of countless Native Americans, players must weave past volleys of arrows in order to rape a naked, large-breasted Native American woman tied to a cactus. Of course, you would never know that she’s Native American were it not for the stereotypical feather in her hair and a tipi billowing smoke in the background. It’s interesting how these symbols can so easily establish the context for an otherwise generic — if disturbing — premise, isn’t it? Racist, misogynistic elements aside, the game itself is simple: dodge, rape, repeat. The game gets more challenging each time you rape the Indian woman, and you will need to rape her many times indeed in order to achieve a high score. That’s the experience in its entirety, and the game’s box exclaims that “she’s not about to take it lying down, by George!”, clarifying the intentions of the developers. The game’s designer, Joe Miller, claims that the purpose of his game was to get people “smiling” and “laughing”. Needless to say, many people were not smiling or laughing when the game hit store shelves in 1982. Custer’s Revenge was met with considerable criticism from the enthusiast press and targeted by Native Americans, women’s rights activists, and various other groups for its racist and misogynistic content. American feminist Andrea Dworkin claimed that the game “generated many gang rapes of Native American women”, lawsuits abounded, and the game was eventually pulled off the market. But only after selling around 80,000 copies, meaning that 80,000 people either laughed while they raped a naked, bound Indian woman against a spiky cactus, or cringed. Or something in between.

 

Racism and Misogyny in Action (uncensored).


Of course, the sexual objectification of Native American women in popular culture is not something that started with Custer’s Revenge. The image of the exotic “Indian Princess” is widespread, though usually not in such a graphic and violent manner. In the Disney films Pocahontas and Peter Pan, in television, in literature from the early nineteenth century — this image is not something new or isolated. There is a book by M. Elise Marubbio titled Killing the Indian Maiden that looks in depth at these images as they appear in film, explaining how and why the “white male-dominated” film industry constructs Indian women as “subservient, simplistic, self-destructive” and desirable “Others”. The video games business is also dominated by white males, and thus many of the ideas in Marubbio’s book can be applied to it as well. It’s worth checking out if you want to learn more about the driving forces behind these reoccurring images.

The sexualization of Native American women in video games did not stop with Custer’s Revenge. Although never again reaching the same absurd level of offensiveness, eroticized images have continued into the new millennium, visible in Mature-rated games like Bonetown, Darkwatch, and even the all-ages game, Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Characters like Darkwatch‘s Tala (also known as “Stalking Wolf”) are definitely a step up from the woman victimized in Custer’s Revenge, but are still positioned as objects of lust in an industry led by caucasian men. For example, by using her sex appeal, Tala seduces the story’s main character, Civil War veteran Jericho Cross, having sex with him in order to further her own agenda. Tala is not only a temptress, but also a shaman with mysterious powers, adding boilerplate “Indian mysticism” to her sexualized persona and other stereotypical ‘Indian’ traits. There is something about the mystical, exotic “Other” that is deeply appealing to most audiences, and this appeal can be extrapolated beyond the boundaries of sexual objectification. That is to say that our attraction to the popular images of what we see as Native American culture is not limited to female eroticization, but can be extended to explain our fascination with character archetypes such as the spiritual shaman, the noble savage, the skilled warrior, and other constructed images. With regard to these romanticized stereotypes which we find so enchanting, Michael A. Sheyashe, the author of Native Americans in Comics, writes that video games “target a young and impressionable audience and leave them with no idea who we are as Natives or what our viable culture is all about”. His statement rings true when we look at all the games out there that make their characters “Indian” by simply handing them bows and arrows, slapping war paint on their faces, putting feathers in their hair, or giving them mysterious spiritual powers, in addition to other superficial qualities that distort the identities of contemporary Native Americans. If the naked woman of Custer’s Revenge is the sad extreme of these romanticized misconceptions, the warriors dancing around fires to bolster their powers in Age of Empires III: The Warchiefs is the typical.

 


Tala, as featured in Playboy’s ‘Videogames’ Hottest Chicks’ Issue.


One of the first encounters I had with “Indians” in video games as a child was granted by the Turok series. The first game, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, was released in 1997 and was one of the first blockbuster video games to feature a Native American as the central protagonist. The main character was a warrior named Tal’Set, who was charged with stopping the evil Campaigner from using a powerful, ancient weapon to control the universe. In the series mythology, every generation the title of “Turok” is passed down to the tribe’s eldest male, who must then guard the barrier between Earth and the Lost Land; a barrier that the Campaigner desperately desires to break. The Lost Land is a primitive other-world of sorts that is inhabited by dinosaurs and animals, entirely segregated from the struggles of modernizing humanity. It seems somewhat cliché that Native Americans would have this connection to another mystical, spiritual world, doesn’t it? The mysticism is bolstered in Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, which introduces an “Energy Totem” and magical talismans that grant special powers to the new Turok, Joshua Fireseed. Simply put, Turok embraces many of the stereotypes that have clung to popular media’s construction of a universal “Indian culture” for the past several hundred years. A mystical connection to the spiritual world, superhuman tracking and sneaking abilities, bows and arrows, tomahawks, feathers — the staples of “Indianhood” are in full bloom. The Turok series, while admirably colouring Native Americans as cool and powerful, reinforces stereotypes that depict their cultures as ancient and alien. The games never delve into the culture of the characters behind the bows and arrows, hunting, and the usual mill of superficial features. We perceive Tal’Set, Joshua, and the other Turoks as “Natives” based only on stereotypical characterizations that we have come to accept from literature, Hollywood, and the games industry.

 


Various Turok game covers. Check out those savage beasts and equally savage-looking hunters.


Although it was great to see Native American characters at the helm in a series of million-seller video games for the first time, Turok never gave its protagonists personalities that extended very far beyond the conventional, run-of-the mill stereotypes that have persisted for centuries. Recently, however, a game titled Prey was released that attempts to explore its Native American characters at a deeper level. Like Turok, Prey casts a Native American as the protagonist. However, Cherokee tribe member Tommy Tawodi is very different from Tal’Set and Joshua Fireseed. Unlike those characters, Tommy ditches decorative feathers and war paint, puts on a shirt, and dresses in contemporary fashion. Prey makes it clear that Tommy and the other Cherokee are characters of the modern world — not members of a romanticized culture of the past. Perhaps most importantly, they are specifically identified as Cherokee; not just as members of a one-size-fits-all “Indian” culture that doesn’t credit the differences between the many distinct tribes and ethnic groups present in North America. Tommy is interesting compared to most Native American characters depicted in popular entertainment in that he wants to break away from the traditions of the Cherokee, dislikes life on the reservation, and is spiteful of those around him who are caught up in cultural customs and humdrum. The game begins in a rundown bar on a reservation. As Tommy walks out of the bathroom and players see lines of gambling machines, one worries that the game will just be another jumble of stereotypes, but Tommy’s dialogue soon establishes the setting as something intended to raise questions about Native American identity. Tommy has a thought-provoking conversation with some people in the bar, and the next thing you know, he and the other Cherokee are abducted by aliens and brought to a mysterious ship.

 

Experience Prey’s story up to and including the abduction.


The plot sounds a bit ridiculous, but the atmosphere and storytelling are solid. As one might anticipate, Tommy’s “mystical Indian heritage” comes into play aboard the ship, as Tommy is able to use his previously unrealized spiritual powers to destroy foes with a magically enhanced bow and arrows, sense impending threats, see paths that others cannot, and so forth. These abilities reek of conventional “native mysticism”, but Tommy must ultimately accept the value of his people’s unique connection to their ancient beliefs and spirituality. Tommy’s spiritual abilities, while typical of the “mystical Indian” image, are integral to the innovative gameplay and not merely superficial inclusions, evading the trap of senseless stereotyping. The game’s story is closely tied to Tommy’s perception of himself as a Cherokee, ending with Tommy in a state of bliss about his Cherokee heritage. The personal journey during which Tommy gains confidence in his identity as a Cherokee is both unique and charming considering the typically flat portrayal of Native American characters in popular culture. Tommy’s voice actor, Michael Greyeyes, laments that Hollywood “typically relegates different indigenous cultures into either a single pan-Indian construct” (e.g. radical protester, anglicized casino businessmen) or “most commonly, as a historical figure — typically from a Plains culture”, and states that he was excited to voice Tommy because he breaks away from these stereotypes. Greyeyes excitement was well-founded, as Tommy is neither a typical Indian stock character nor an outdated “noble savage”. Prey takes a step away from typical Indian stereotypes by offering a complex character who is intriguing and dynamic. The game draws heavily on Cherokee myths and falls back on a few clichés, but ultimately offers a refreshing and positive Native American story for a mainstream audience. One can only hope that this trend will continue, and that Native American protagonists continue to break from traditional character roles and time-hardened stereotypes.

 


Tommy Tawodi: A new kind of Native American hero.


Based on your own experiences with supposed “Indian” culture in interactive entertainment, what do you think about the portrayal of Native Americans in video games? Are recent games, such as 2010’s Red Dead Redemption, making progress in depicting Native Americans that aren’t trapped by traditional character archetypes? Persistent stereotypes presented through film, literature, video games, and other media, can damage society’s understanding of visible ethnic groups, and there are numerous misconceptions about Native Americans upheld by the stereotypes in video games. Are we headed in the right direction?

10 Million People Kinect-ed

That’s a pretty lame title, isn’t it?  I guess I’m a bit tired, so you’ll have to excuse me for that one.  Microsoft wanted us to let you know that 10 million Kinects have been sold since the title debuted last November 4th.  The Guinness World Records 2011 Gamer’s Edition has listed Kinect as “fastest-selling consumer electronics device.”  It beat out the iPhone and iPad.  Pretty impressive stuff actually.  So let’s join Microsoft in celebrating with this awesome picture I found via Google, our very best friend.

Over 60 million games have also been sold, which means that this bad boy has been rather successful.  It’s kind of funny because I remember it like yesterday when Steven and I were checking out the system for the very first time.  We thought we were going to look like idiots and we sure did.  We also had a complete blast.  Thanks to the fond memory, I’m now going to display another wonderful picture.

What does a teddy bear in pajamas have to do with anything? It has nothing to do with anything, but teddy bears are wicked, and everyone loves pajamas am I right?  You know it’s true!

A look back Part 2: There ain’t no party like an X-Box party!

Welcome to yet another wonderful addition of whatever this series is called! Today, I’m gonna be listing my top 5 favourite X-Box games. Why you ask? Because that’s the whole point of the article. First, a little history lesson. I was a huge Nintendo fanboy back in the day. Buying another system was totally out of the question. I would blindly bash any of the top games released on the “other” consoles just to convince myself I was right and everybody else was wrong. Turns out, I was the one who was wrong. Last generation, each console had something spectacular to offer. I finally bought the new (at the time) transparent green box and never looked back. If I had to name one thing revolutionary from last generation, something that changes how we play console games, my choice would be X-Box live without a single doubt. That thing made it simple to play and chat with your friends wherever they may be. Anyhow, let this top 5 begin. You may notice that my top 5 is mainly composed of 2 series, that’s not because the library was week, au contraire, it’s simply because these two series kick all kinds of ass!

Honorable mentions:  Ninja Gaiden Black, Metal Gear Solid 2: Subsistence, Metal slug 3, Fable, Panzer Dragoon Orta, Jade Empire.

5.

I had so much fun with this title back in the day it’s unreal. This is still the best Burnout in the series. My memory is a bit lame right now, and I’m too lazy to do some research, but I’m pretty sure oncoming traffic was a first for Burnout. What I do know is that it introduced online modes to the series. The only thing I hated about the game was that it was impossible to get the lead no matter how good you were. Besides that, everything else was a winner. I don’t have much inspiration to explain why Takedown belongs on my list, just know that this was the best arcade racing game available. Today, I’m pretty sure it still holds out.

4.

Halo: Combat Evolved put the X-Box on the map. At first, I was hesitant. My FPS skills were questionable. I couldn’t understand somehow that the covenant’s shield had to be brought down before you could kill them (many noobs still don’t).  I was finally caved and found one of the best campaigns  ever  in a first-person shooter. It just spells epicness. The plot spawned many novels and comic books because fans wanted more. The levels were all memorable and unique (expect for the library perhaps) and the reveal of the flood is still one of my all time favourite gaming moments. The commercials were awesome too! “Citizens or Earth, we are in deep doo-doo” Classic!

3.

Halo 1 put the X-Box on the map, Halo 2 did the same for X-Box Live. Every great online game today has Halo 2 to thank for. I logged hours after hours onto the game’s online multiplayer. When I got back home for Christmas, I realized something. I was owning everyone who wouldn’t play on Live. It was a blast to play and it also improved your skills dramatically. Everyone had to buy X-Box Live after that. Halo 2 is also the only midnight launch I ever participated in. For that, it will always have a special place in my heart. We waited in line like everyone else, then when the time midnight struck, we had a good hour and a half of walking ahead of us since we could no longer catch a bus. We still played till 6 in the morning when we arrived. Completed it the very next day. The campaign was excellent, although it did piss a lot of people off that only one mission took place on Earth. The tagline of Halo 2 was something like “Bring the fight to Earth” so you can see how surprising it was to play the game and only have one Earth mission. The ending left us wanting more as we would have to wait another three years to “finish the fight“. Halo 2 remains the hardest game in the series and the only one I can’t beat on Legendary. Nonetheless, the meat of the game was online. To give you an idea of how epic the game was, Microsoft only recently closed the servers a few months ago. The only way to play the game online was if you were already online. Eight people remained and kept there X-Boxes on to prevent being booted out forever. They would play until electricity ran out, their system froze, or until there X-Box couldn’t take anymore. There were finally two left and Microsoft closed it for good. They were compensated for there efforts but still, it’s a bit sad to know that such a legend isn’t playable online anymore. What I would have given to be part of the few left at the end fighting for its survival. Longue vie to Halo 2!

2.

I would wake up around 10 in the morning, pop in Kotor II and play till 2AM everyday until I completed it. When I did, I played it again, this time as a Dark Jedi. This one improved on everything the original had to offer. I can’t believe that we’ll never get part 3. I don’t want to go too much into details here because well, I’ll save it for number 1.

1.

Honestly, if you’re a Star Wars fan and have never played this, you’re a sinner. Seriously, you should probably turn yourself over. You’re an idiot. You really are. The Kotor series is my favorite RPG series of all time and for good reason. No two people will play this game the same way. Scratch that, out of a group of 100 people, none would have the same results. Although BioWare would greatly improve on this formula with the Mass Effect series, this is where it started. Plus it has the Star Wars franchise attached to it. What more could you ask for? Although Kotor II remains my favourite of the two, I put Kotor on top for a single reason. The single most wtf plot twist in the history of the universe! If you saw it coming, you’re lying! Either that or you read about it somewhere, a friend told you or you designed this very game. The storyline is fantastic, heck, its better then the original trilogy. Think “Luke, I’m your father” was shocking, think again. Compared to this game’s revelation, it’s nothing! Kotor can be played on the 360, so if you still haven’t experienced this game, you no longer have any excuses. Just talking about it makes me want to play it again.

Well there you have it folks. Next week I’ll do the impossible. Somehow, I’ll manage a Top 5 PlayStation 2 list. With the console’s delicious library, I might not maintain my sanity trying to work out a list. See you there and be sure to comment below, whether or not you own the system, I’m sure each and everyone of you has played it at one point.

Here Are Two New Marvel Versus Capcom 3 Videos For You

Hope you’re in the mood for two brand new Marvel Versus Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds trailers.

What do you think?