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Tuesday, Jan 02, 2018

  

ESA Takes on WHO Over "Gaming Disorder"

GamesIndustry has a response from the Entertainment Software Association to reports that the World Health Organization is considering classifying videogame addiction as a recognized issue called "gaming disorder." They have not made such a diagnosis official, but they have a response from the Entertainment Software Association asking the WHO just who do they think they are suggesting such a thing. Here's word from the ESA, a gaming trade organization that probably doesn't qualify as impartial:

"Just like avid sports fans and consumers of all forms of engaging entertainment, gamers are passionate and dedicated with their time. Having captivated gamers for more than four decades, more than 2 billion people around the world enjoy video games. The World Health Organization knows that common sense and objective research prove video games are not addictive. And, putting that official label on them recklessly trivializes real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder, which deserve treatment and the full attention of the medical community. We strongly encourage the WHO to reverse direction on its proposed action."

Overwatch 2018 Roadmap

A developer update video for Overwatch features Jeff Kaplan looking back at Overwatch in 2017 and ahead to what 2018 holds for Blizzard's multiplayer shooter. He talks about how fired up they are for some of the new stuff coming this year, including short term goals like the release of Overwatch league skins, the start of the Overwatch league itself, and the imminent release of the BlizzardWorld map. He also intentionally gets "vague about some of this" when he looks further down the road, saying they are "well along the path to hero 27" who is "going to be awesome" and "very needed." They don't know when to expect the next hero's release though, as they are emphasizing getting it right over expedience. He says they have ideas for heroes beyond hero 27, but doesn't elaborate, and mentions "great new maps" on the way. He also describes plans on improving competitive play, discussing the removal of personal performance adjustments for higher level players in the short term. Longer-term goals for evolving competitive play are likewise touched upon, but he says some of that is "still to be determined." Presenting more of the game's story, new seasonal events like the next Lunar New Year, and a new iteration of the uprising event are also all in the cards. He caps things off with a promise that more non-seasonal skins are coming for regular loot boxes, and by wishing everyone a happy new year. Continue here to read the full story.

Blaze on Heroes of the Storm PTR

A new patch is now live on the Public Test Realm for Heroes of the Storm, offering the chance to test the latest changes before they go live in Blizzard's MOBA. There are two main focuses to this update, which has the promised addition of Blaze the Firebat from the StarCraft universe as well as a rework of Malfurion. This post has the complete PTR patch notes, and you can get a look at Blaze in this spotlight video and a new in development video that also shows off new skins, sprays, and emotes. Word is: "We hope you like your victories extra crispy, because Blaze is fueling up to bring pyromania to the Nexus, and every enemy in his path is about to feel the heat! Catch a sneak peek of our newest Warrior Hero, and check out the new skins, sprays, and other cosmetic items coming soon to Heroes of the Storm!" Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

Op Ed

Ars Technica - Is gaming addiction a “disorder” or a “junk diagnosis?”
"Similar concerns led a group of 28 experts in the field, including Ferguson, to write an open letter to the WHO in 2016 urging them not to let a 'moral panic [surrounding] the harm of video gaming' lead to "the treatment of abundant false-positive cases." Citing the low quality of current research and lack of consensus on symptoms, the group worried that listing the disorder would "cause significant stigma to the millions of children and adolescents who play video games as part of a normal, healthy life."

On the other side, a group of researchers led by Nottingham Trent University's Mark Griffiths recently noted that even critics of a clinical listing for gaming disorder note that 'some gamers do experience serious problems as a consequence of the time spent playing video games.' If that's the case, they argue, 'how can such an activity be seriously problematic yet not disordered?'"

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Need for Speed Payback Free Roam Mode Coming

A tweet from Need for Speed reveals an online free-roam mode is coming this year to Need for Speed Payback (thanks MP1ST). Here's the brief announcement:

Online Free Roam coming 2018, Happy New Year from everyone at Need for Speed!

Sumo Grapples with CCP Newcastle

Sumo Digital announces the acquisition of CCP Games' Newcastle studio, or as they put it, they have "taken on" the EVE Valkyrie developer. That makes it sound like they've adopted a stray cat, which may be apt, as CCP recently announced that they were laying off employees at both their Newcastle and Atlanta studios. Here's the news:

Sumo Digital, part of the Sumo Group plc (AIM: SUMO) a leading independent game developer, today announced that it has taken on CCP Games’ Newcastle studio.

34 staff have transferred to Sumo Digital, with Owen O’Brien as Studio Director, and remain in Newcastle. As the fourth studio for the developer – the third in the UK alongside Sheffield and Nottingham – this addition further extends Sumo’s capacity and breadth of experience.

Paul Porter, Managing Director of Sumo Digital said, “As we continue to expand this was a great opportunity to bring an experienced, talented and tight-knit team on board.”

”Sumo Digital is a great home for the team in Newcastle,” said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP Games. “As we say goodbye to our former colleagues we know that they will do great things there, and we can’t wait to see what they do next.”

Sumo is hiring across its four studios in Sheffield, Nottingham, Newcastle and Pune, India. Current vacancies can be found here: Sumo Digital Careers

Overwatch Season 8 Begins

The Overwatch website announces that competitive season 8 is now underway in Overwatch, so brace for incoming QQ posts over lost rank in the multiplayer shooter. Ironically they are removing personal performance Skill Rating adjustments for Diamond-tier players and above from Overwatch just as they are adding them into Heroes of the Storm, citing the complaints of HotS players in explaining the change. Here's word on how they've tweaked competitive progression based on player feedback:

Over the last few months, we've been listening to your feedback and working behind the scenes to make this season of Competitive Play better than ever. So, before you dive into your placement matches, let’s talk about what's new for Season 8.

SKILL RATING ADJUSTMENT UPDATES

  • The maximum Skill Rating difference between the highest and the lowest skill rated player on the same team has been reduced. The ranges have been changed to the following:
    • 1000 SR for Bronze through Diamond
    • 500 SR for Master
    • 250 SR for Grandmaster
  • This change should help players at both the lower and higher limits of Skill Rating get placed with allies and against opponents of a similar skill level, which in turn should lead to more satisfying games overall.

PERSONAL PERFORMANCE ADJUSTMENT UPDATES

  • Personal performance Skill Rating adjustments for Diamond-tier players and above have been removed. Previously, Skill Rating gained or lost in these tiers was calculated in part by how well you performed during a match. We hope this will help players focus more on winning matches rather than on their individual performance. To learn more about this change, click here.

Season 8 is live RIGHT NOW on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, so power up your favorite gaming machine and join the fight. We’ll see you on the battlefield!

Farmer's Dynasty Early Access

Farmer's Dynasty is now available in early access on Steam, offering an agrarian life simulation/RGP for Windows (disappointing those hoping for an RPG about grinding for Dynasty gear). This trip shows how this combines farming and dating, so whether you want to hop on your tractor or hop on your girlfriend, this one has you covered. Here's word:

FARMER’S DYNASTY – the unique REAL-LIFE SIMULATION offers a totally new farming simulation experience and mixes elements of a Life Simulation and Role-Playing with a classical Farming Simulation game.

Remember the good old days visiting your grandfathers farm? The time when you were sitting on your grandfathers tractor together with him driving around and working on your fields. You are back on your farm now. The past years have been full of work for you in the city but you still remember the good old times when you dreamt of being a farmer. This dream is still in your heart: Rebuilding grandfathers farm again and building your own Dynasty – let’s make it come true!

Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Crowdfunding Roundup

Morning Interviews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

  • GeIL Super Luce RGB SYNC DDR4-3000 32GB Memory Kit on ThinkComputers.org.
  • MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon Motherboard on ocaholic.
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition Graphics Card on Tech ARP.
  • Plextor M9Pe 512GB & 1TB NVMe PCIe SSD on TweakTown.

etc.

Out of the Blue

Well, so another year's in the books. Following my annual jokes on the Chinese and Jewish New Years, this morning I caught myself almost dating today 2017, so there's still an adjustment period to work through, for me at least. The regular season for tackle football ended with the old year, and hats off to Mr.Tact for winning our annual Pigskin Pick'em Pool by picking 172 winners (as usual, removing our hats is the only prize here beyond the all-important bragging rights). I ended in ninth place this year with 161 winners, just off the 163 total that won last year. On the more challenging, but less active point spread pool, WarPig went whole hog and won with 133 correct picks. I was a stronger contender in this one with 131, good for third place. So yes, I would have won the spread pool and possibly the straight pool too, if I simply picked against the Giants every week (the price of loyalty). But dwelling on the past, time to move on to the postseason. I've created a new Playoff Pool on PoolTracker with the same criteria as the past few years. The password is "carnage," and you can feel free to join and invite friends.

Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Tropic Adventure.
Link: 10 Fascinating Facts About Space Invaders.
Stories: 2018 starts with record cold in parts of the Midwest.
Report: 2017 was safest year for commercial airline passengers ever.
A 'monumental moment' for fully legal marijuana in California.
Science: Lab-made meat startup SuperMeat raises $3M seed to develop ‘clean’ chicken.
Images: Looking at my friends alias when I realize he sees me...
Media: One filmmaker's breathtaking 2017 in timelapse.
Anthony Mackie Explains Why Hollywood Movies Suck Now.
Mesmerizing videos of recreated astronomical events.



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