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Comments Off The Week in Pixels #32

[Image: No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle]

So, what’s new? Had the chance to play a major upcoming videogame recently, now I’m juggling between what I want to say in my review and what the studios involved are adamant about me not saying… Even when they’ve spoiled several things themselves. Tough job. On the other hand, Dragon Quest IX is occupying my time and I haven’t even touched multiplayer. Also, I’ve put down why I feel Resident Evil 5 is better than Resident Evil 4, although this comes a year too late. Not that my impressions would sway the hardcore hive mind of giving it a chance, but better late than ever. And oh look, links:

  • “To succeed in Free-to-Play, explore human weaknesses”. So says Teut Weidemann, lead designer of Settlers Online at Ubisoft. Basically, Weidemann believes that the success model of games in this area is found by monetizing areas where players are more psychologically vulnerable. “We have to bring players in and keep them addicted and make them keep playing. Selling advantages is seen as evil. That’s over for free-to-play games”. Weidemann then ilustrates the seven deadly sins as aspects found on certain gamers’ profiles, and as such, areas that can be monetized through a game’s system. It *sounds* terrible, and many comments on the article attack it, but… Isn’t that how the dominant infrastructures of videogames operate nowadays? One only has to look at achievements and trophies: an example of how an entire culture of competition was built upon human envy and vanity.

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2 The Week in Pixels #31


  • “These publishers are all hoping to surf the recent wave of unusual mainstream media attention for their medium after a book entitled Chevy Brayne was hailed as the closest literature has yet come to fulfilling its promise as a fusion of 1980s hair-metal with edgy contemporary dance. A 15-year-old reviewer for the Guardian wrote: “Arguments have raged for centuries over whether books can really be art. But with its hypnotic elbow jerking and heavily chorused guitar solos, Chevy Brayne puts that issue definitively to rest.” Among the hardcore reading fraternity, on the other hand, some notes of scepticism were sounded. “The writer of this book promised us for years that it wouldn’t be what it looked like in demos, which is essentially just one word after another in a linear order,” fumed one enraged nerd. “And yet, for all the body-popping in baggy Y-fronts and squealing pinched harmonics, that’s exactly what it is. I might as well be reading Nicholas sodding Nickleby”. Steven Poole imagines an alternative reality in which literature, much like videogames, is attacked by the press. The result is fantastic.

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Comments Off The Week in Pixels #27

Missing in action? Who, me? Well, yes. Lots to do, plenty of work, but also an attempt to better exploit my free time gave way to a certain absence on the blog. To those who have stopped paying attention to Juxtapixel, I understand the decision. To those still hoping this get updated again, I make no promisses except that I’ll try my best to do so. Onward:

  • “Mistakes Were Made” is a post on the Combat Archeology blog that dwells into the matter of a little “oops” on Eurogamer’s behalf. As in: Quintin “Quinns” Smith reviewed Rise of the Godslayer, an expansion pack for the Conan MMO, ending the text with a 6/10. Some criticism leveled at the review’s contents were made and Eurogamer pulled the plug on the entire thing (a copy can still be read here), citing reasons such as “not complying with Eurogamer’s quality standards” but then not clarifying what standards allowed the review to be published in the first place. Later on a re-review by Rob Fahey is published with a score of 8/10, and started by an editorial remark saying Eurogamer didn’t give enough time for Quinns to accurately judge the expansion. Just like the Darkfall scandal/circus performance, the author of Combat Archeology questions the value of MMO reviews, and how difficult it is to evaluate genres that, by their nature, are constantly evolving. Specially interesting when Kieron Gillen shows up in the comments, with arguments that lead the author of the blog to rethink his position and to write a new opinion piece, although not very far removed from the original. Worth a think but it’s also important to remember that MMOs are not the only games where this happens – also on Eurogamer, editor Tom Bramwell once re-reviewed Zoo Keeper, a DS title, on the grounds that the more he played the game, the more unfair the original score seemed to him: going from 6 to 8 out of 10. It’s an honest and professional mea culpa, but also showcases some of the pressure journalists are under to produce fast content and that videogames, like other mediums, need more than a glance to be fully understood. In other words, a review and a score don’t always say everything.

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Comments Off The Week in Pixels #26

And so it ends. One year later, Smash! magazine ends its print run. What remains are memories of hard work and dedication to the project, of time well spent with the editorial team, of the learning period among some of Portugal’s best journalists in the field. Now halfway between the gutter and the stars, I’ll be resuming some activity on this blog and in videogames in general. Doors close, windows open. Here we go.

  • According to this report, in 2009 north-american gamers spent 23.5 billion dollars in videogames while british gamers spent 3.38 billions. Apparently, the PC held between 16 to 20% of the total market revenue while consoles gripped between 60 to 63%. Two curious things stand out here. First, it’s that the report doesn’t divide console revenue, choosing to isolate one platform (PC) against several platforms at once (the consoles, consisting of PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS and PSP). If we divide the console total by each plataform, that makes it so each console will have only achieved 10% of total revenue and that the 20% value from the PC – a platform presumably dead since 2001 – is still synonymous with a strong presence. And second… 23.5 billion? In the north-american market only? What piracy, industry gentlemen?

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2 The Week in Pixels #22

Happy Easter. I don’t know how much longer I can guarantee the weekend links going. All is despair. Onward!

  • Elle magazine joined other publications and initiatives that try to show the world how women really are, with a 32 page special edition, dedicated to generous curves. It’s arguable how much this decision will shake the imperative of skeletal aesthetics that seems to have a grip on the “world of fashion”, but The Observer’s article highlights some curious things, like Karl Lagerfeld attacking the H&M chainstore for producing his designs in all sizes, or Rosemary Masic, who refuses to make larger size clothing because those “endorses an unhealthy lifestyle”. Is the “fashion” medium one that appeals to body fantasies? Yes. That appeals to “dreams and illusions” instead of reality? Very much. But where do you find a healthy lifestyle in cases such as Feline Visscher (1, 2), Snejana Onopka (1, 2) or Natalia Belova (1, 2)? What’s attractive in that fantasy? An exhultation of paedomorphia? A spectre of death? Haute Couture? Shouldn’t it be Grand Guignol?

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Comments Off The Week in Pixels #20


  • One controversy a week? Seems that way. After the Infinity Ward/Activision divorce and Ubisoft’s server infrastructure proving inadequate to allow players a stable experience, news that Bioshock 2‘s DLC was already on the disc has stirred quite the hornets’ nest. In short: it’s all a problem of perception. Companies dismiss the dangers of a lack of transparency regarding their contents and consumers don’t realize that what the industry is actually selling them is not the game but a license to play it. This should move people to engage in conversation but it probably won’t, so, MAN RAGE.

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