GAMERGATE'S STILL A THING, THEN
The mainstream media's gradual withdrawal from the GamerGate controversy may have indicated that its heat had died down, that the hate had calmed. This week illustrated, vividly, how that's not the case.
At the weekend, Boston-based Giant Spacekat developer Brianna Wu – a target for abhorrent abuse as GamerGate was at fever pitch, and whose socials have since been constantly attacked – discovered that a Massachusetts man was, apparently, planning 'Operation Wu-Pocalypse'. Jezebel reported on Monday the 2nd of February that his name is Jace Connors, and that Wu only became aware of his explicit intention to confront her, after 43 prior threats over social media, when this video appeared on YouTube:
The above video contains racist language which may offend
Connors, who posts on YouTube as "ParkourDude91" and has previously claimed to be a former US Marine and admitted to a history of schizophrenia and PTSD (on his own website), was driving to Boston "in order to challenge [Wu] to a street race... for #GamerGate", when he crashed the Toyota Prius he'd borrowed from his mother. The video he immediately filmed finds him raving about not being drunk, and how the windshield is made of "bullshit plastic", before displaying text outlining 'Operation Wu-Pocalypse', and accusing Wu of attempted murder for rigging the car to crash. He interpreted this Tweet from Wu, from October 2014, as a "thinly veiled death threat" against him. Clearly it's nothing of the sort.
Wu has since been granted a restraining order preventing Connors from coming anywhere near her. Quite how we're in this position, where people who make video games are threatened with death by (some) people who (sometimes) play video games, is a mystery we'll probably never solve. These actions have precisely nothing to do with ethics, or any kind of journalistic corruption. And sadly, this wasn't the only reason that Wu was in the news this week.
Giant Spacekat's first game, Revolution 60, debuted on Steam Greenlight earlier this week, immediately attracting several down votes and negative comments from posters with existing opinions on Wu's outspoken position on GamerGate's most hostile. The studio saw it coming, but it was still depressing to see unfold. Reported MCV's Ben Parfitt on Wednesday the 4th of February: "As you might expect, the discussions page on Greenlight is horrific, with locked topics including 'are you trying to emotionally blackmail us', 'is Brianna Wu a white supremacist?', 'Spacekatgal, it's time you stopped demonising people', and various other assorted nonsense."
At the time of writing this, recent comments on the game's Greenlight listing include "Eh, I think I'll stick with Hatred", and "Don't buy this, guys. It's for 'new gamers', as in fat semi-retarded housewives who can barely manage to get their hands around a phone, let alone 'master a controller with 15 buttons'".
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SERIOUSLY, THIS SHIT IS STILL SCARY
I didn't know a thing about dox(x)ing or swatting prior to GamerGate. Now, disappointingly, I know about these things all too well. The latest example of the latter – where emergency services, from small forces to entire SWAT teams, are erroneously dispatched to an address on the false reporting of a critical incident – occurred this week, when Twitch streamer and US Air Force veteran Joshua Peters had his house in Minnesota stormed as he played Clash of Clans for an audience of close to 60,000 people.
Reported Alex Hern of The Guardian on the 5th of February: "Viewers of the stream realised what was happening at the same time as Peters, when his mother's voice was picked up by the microphone as she called to him about the arrival of the officers. They watched as confusion flickered across his face, before turning to concern, exiting stage right." Peters was using noise-cancelling headphones, so didn't hear the officers coming in.
When Peters, aka Twitch user "Koopatroopa787", returned to his broadcast several minutes later, he was visibly shaken and confirmed that he'd been the latest victim of swatting. The police had received a report that there'd been gunshots at his property, and possibly a casualty.
Earlier this year, on the 3rd of January, one-time GamerGate supporter and Feminst Frequency donator Grace Lynn was swatted following months of harassment from "Gators" she'd once aligned herself with. Twenty officers showed up at her property, although the perpetrator(s) behind the call could not be directly linked to anyone actively "for" GamerGate. But several reports have tied GamerGate activity to instances of swatting, as documented in this Guardian article.
Peters' reaction video to his swatting is sobering indeed. There's no place for this in gaming.
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IN LESS DEPRESSING NEWS, 'RESIDENT EVIL' IS ALSO STILL A THING
The leaderboards for the new Resident Evil HD remaster are already "broken", with one bright spark cheating his way to completion after just a single second.
Kotaku's Patrick Klepek reported on Wednesday the 4th of February: "Within days of release, players had started digging into the game's code, looking for ways to finish it faster and faster by aggressively cheating. It's probably not possible to beat it faster than a second, but I'm sure people will try."
The "record" of just a single second comes from someone with a fine history of speed-running Resident Evil properly, which at least indicates that he's having a laugh with his code-cracking tomfoolery. "Carcinogen" has clocked the full game in under an hour and a half – impressive indeed given How Long To Beat's "average" play time of closer to ten hours.
Here's a commentary video of "Carcinogen" in action, if you've half an afternoon to waste (or spend constructively, learning the man's many tricks):
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SOME NEW GAMES CAME OUT
Episode two of Telltale's Game of Thrones, "The Lost Lords", followed in the jugular vein of its predecessor by layering on the intrigue for coming instalments without actually settling any of the loose narrative strings left flapping in the wake of episode one's bloody climax.
You'll find no spoilers here, but Telltale's six-part project is successfully mirroring the atmosphere of its televisual influence: it's dark, with distrust lurking behind the eyes of even one's closest confidants. The game runs concurrently with the HBO show, offering a sideways perspective on happenings from the end of season three to the beginning of season five, while focusing on new characters who don't feature in either the TV adaptation or the original books.
Catching up with Jon Snow, voiced by his TV actor Kit Harington, at The Wall is a nice aside to the political power struggles in King's Landing, but episode two's missing the previous entry's star turn, namely Queen Regent Cersei Lannister, played by Lena Heady. Her exchange with new-to-this-game character Mira Forrester, in the Red Keep's Great Hall, was the very best part of episode one. Her absence in episode two is keenly felt – the rest of the cast curse and clash like fans of the franchise would expect, but without tongues so wicked as that of the Queen herself.
"The Lost Lords" trailer
The Acquire-developed Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed comes rather less recommended, its official European port for PS4 arriving this week after a series of dismissive reviews around its original release. The third-person brawler sees you strip vampire-ish enemies down to their undergarments, but it's a lot less fun that it sounds. Gamespot wrote that "the monotonous combat only grows more tiresome as you progress", awarding the game 4/10 last summer, while the current issue (#276) of Edge magazine concludes with the same score, adding: "you'll ponder whether so much exposed skin has ever resulted in anything so thuddingly dull". Here's a trailer, anyway:
Perhaps the best game of the week is Sunless Sea, which is graduating from Steam Early Access tonight (the 6th of February). Hands up, I know little about the game, beyond that it's a top-down maritime survival title from London indie studio Failbetter. But when the games writer Simon Parkin – of The New Yorker fame and more – awards something 10/10, you pay attention. You can read his Eurogamer review here, and you really should.
"Lose your mind. Eat your crew." The game's website promises "discovery, loneliness, and frequent death". I'm in. Check out the launch trailer:
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THERE'S NO 'METAL GEAR RISING 2', UNLESS THERE IS
Platinum Games' Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance of 2013 was one of the most deliriously fun action games of the PS3/360 generation, after the same studio's own Bayonetta and Vanquish. It took the serious-faced solemnity of Hideo Kojima's long-running Metal Gear Solid series and fired up the afterburners, giving the player complete 360-degree control of a sword that could slice through almost anything, from trees to tanks to unfortunate enemies whose limbs had never been so dismembered.
Kojima said in 2012 that if the game proved popular, he'd consider a franchise around it – in other words, it'd get at least a sequel. The next year, the celebrated developer reconfirmed that interest, and that he'd like Platinum to again oversee the second Rising game. So when a teal-coloured, metallic-looking "2" flashed up at the 2015 Taipei Game Show, rendered in a style that was a fair ringer for the Rising logo, the internet duly concluded: sequel.
Unfortunately, Kojima Productions has since confirmed – as reported on Techno Buffalo on the 2nd of February – that there is no sequel being worked on. However, Kojima and company have been known for their teasing ways in the past – many Metal Gear fans are still recovering from the Christmas Day Chicken Hat marathon – so who really knows? It could yet be that a second Metal Gear Rising release is premiered at this summer's E3, or at the following Tokyo Game Show.
Platinum has the Xbox One-exclusive Scalebound in development right now, but surely that's not the only thing they're working on. I would desperately love the studio to deliver another Rising, especially after their amazing work on the Bayonetta sequel last year.