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The Digital Media Wire L.A. Games Conference was held May 6, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. - 5:45 p.m. at the W Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Due to renovations at the Roosevelt Hotel where the conference was originally scheduled to take place, a change was made to move the conference to the W Hotel a few weeks prior.

The DMW L.A. Games Conference is an annual conference where the movers and shakers in just about all facets of the video game industry get together, network, collaborate and share ideas not only on the current state of video games, but also on where video games are headed in the future. Some of the best minds in the video game industry got together to debate such topics as Virtual Reality (VR), Alternative Reality (AR), mobile versus console and PC gaming, advertising in video game and a wide range of other video game topics of interest not only to gamers, but to those who can direct the fate and destiny of the video game industry as a whole.

Digital Media Wire 2015 L.A. Games Conference SponsorsDigital Media Wire 2015 L.A. Games Conference Sponsors

Location, Location, Location

It was fitting for the DMW L.A. Games Conference to be held in Los Angeles, California. During the conference, it was pointed out that L.A. is fast becoming just as noteworthy and the place to watch for videogames success as other citiesL.A. is fast becoming just as noteworthy and the place to watch for videogames success as other cities, such as the Silicon Valley, San Francisco, New York and other mecca gaming locations. Additionally, L.A. is becoming the hot bed to attract great startups and communities who are all about creating video games.

With the E3 video game convention happening in just a few months -- the DMW L.A. Games Conference seemed to be just the right introduction to this event. During the conference, E3 was mentioned and a question was asked by one of the audience members if E3 is still relevant. The response given was that E3 is not as relevant as it was years ago when video gaming was relatively new -- however E3 is still relevant, but to a lesser degree. That being said, everyone was encouraged to attend E3 which is currently scheduled for June 16-18, 2015 at the L.A. Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA. Just to clarify -- E3 and the DMW Games Conference are separate events and are not partners, etc.

Keynote and Roundtable Conversations

Given the varied calibre of video gaming industry experts, speakers, debaters and presenters -- it appeared that no stones were left unturned when it came to sharing views, opinions, challenges, and predictions for the video game industry. The spokespersons were directly involved in the video game industry whether their involvement was deeply intertwined in the making of video games such as developers and designers, or if the involvement was from an investment point of view, such as the investors and venture capitalists who had a fireside chat as well. There was also a discussion from TenCent on China’s request for more western games to be available for play in China.Popular games in the Chinese marketPopular games in the Chinese market

Future or Fad? The Great Debate on Virtual and Augmented Reality Gaming & Entertainment

At the DMW L.A. Games Conference, anybody who was anybody in the video game industry seemed to be there to not only share video gaming information but to debate as well. Like the saying goes -- there are two sides to every story -- which includes the video game industry. It was refreshing to see the panelists not only agree to disagree on some topics, but were also willing to listen to the other side’s argument as well.

An example of this was a discussion on whether Virtual Reality (VR) and Alternative Reality (AR) should be relegated for at home play only -- or if these new forms of video game play requiring headsets and other apparatus, other than today’s gaming consoles, PCs and mobile devices -- could enter into mainstream living. In other words, what would be the ideal setting of VR and AR relative to video game players? Interesting enough, both sides had compelling reasons why VR and AR should be an at home gaming activity only, as well as why VR and AR would be ideal to enhance the social aspect of gaming. This could be done by affording gamers the opportunity to interact with others outside of the home environment. The debate was not settled at the conference; however, this topic did open up dialogue as well as thoughts relative to the future of VR and AR and the impact these types of games will have on society.

VR PanelistsVR Panelists

It was noted that video gamers were expected to lead the advent of 3D television -- which sort of fizzled due to human dynamics as well as poorly executed content. The question was whether VR and AR would face a similar demise, or would it become a part of gaming just as much, if not more so than today’s gaming consoles, mobile devices and PCs.

Comments from Ted Schilowitz, VR Creator & Futurist, 20th Century Fox/CinemaVangelist indicated that to the contrary, VR is destined to become an integral part of video gamingVR is destined to become an integral part of video gaming. In fact, in his position at 20th Century Fox, he spends up to 8 hours a day in the virtual world instead of the real world. He added that hardware is the easiest part of VR, and creating the best possible content for VR is the hardest part. Concern expressed was people will try to give away VR games to stimulate the market -- which should not be done.

Some of the challenges discussed relative to VR and AR included safety issues as well as the difficulty of making VR and AR video games.


Money and Video Games

For these discussion topics, the politically correct term of “monetization” was used instead of “making money” in the video game industry with topics such as   The Evolution of Free-to-Play,  Mobile Advertising: Maximizing The Value of Advertising, Mobile Games: Strategies for Cost-Efficient User Acquisition, Investor’s Roundtable as well as other monetization discussions.

The company’s bottom line is the basis for the video game industry which cannot be ignored. The company's bottom line is the basis for the video game industrySure, the conference was enlightening and it was sometimes eye-opening to find out the inner workings of the video game industry; however, at the end of the day the question must be answered -- How will money be made from video games?

Towards this end, a fireside chat was held on how to use ads in video games as a way of monetization. Discussions included how to embed ads in video games without taking away what could be an enjoyable video game experience for the video gamer.

Specific methods discussed to introduce ads seamlessly to the video game player was to bring the ads in slowly, depending on how long the game was played. For instance, if someone just started playing the game, the strategy used was to wait until the game is played for longer periods of time before ads are slowly introduced. 

Another idea presented was to have the ads become part of the video game play itself. For instance, the gamer would have to click on the ad to either get more points or to advance to another level in the game, etc. In this way, ads would be used as incentives or rewards for reading or even clicking on the ads.

A statistic shared was that only approximately two to five percent of video gamers actually click on ads with the remaining players, either skipping or ignoring the ads. Even though the numbers of gamers clicking on ads are relatively low -- this does not dissuade video game companies from concentrating their advertising efforts on those two to five percenters which could possibly grow in numbers.

There was an agreement among the panelists during this discussion that if video games were of high quality, gamers would be more tolerant to ads appearing in the game. The message seems to be for developers and others to provide more high quality, innovative video games to equate to higher revenues from ads. An example provided of a video game that uses ads appropriately was Compass Point West, a free online game.

An additional method of monetization of video games discussed was to use subscriptions which would almost guarantee gamers will return to play the game, while at the same time being exposed to ads which could result in more revenue.

As a footnote: The monetization fireside chats were well attended. During one of these chats, a group of ad executives sat on one side of the couch and the developers sat on the opposite side -- which made for a productive exchange of information and ideas relative to the monetization of videogaming.

Hollywood & Games: Opportunities & Strategies

Since the conference was held in L.A., the topic of Hollywood celebrities was a given. Several experts shared thoughts about Hollywood celebrities and video games. It was mentioned that more celebrities are being urged to become part of the twitter universe, especially if they have aspirations of having their own video game. With the monetary success of Kim Kardashian’s game, Kim Kardashian:Hollywood, it is not surprising that some celebrities are looking to capitalize by having their own game. The benefit mentioned during this discussion was that unlike movies, with video games, celebrities have a more intimate relationship with the game. 

Hollywood and Games PanelistsHollywood and Games Panelists

Distribution Track - Myst to MP3S: Music in Games: The Next Generation

How would video games fare without music? Probably not as well as video games do with music. During this fireside chat with the experts which included Brandon Young from Blizzard, Siegfried Paquet of FreshPlanet, Les Borsai of SongLily and others, discussion ensued on the sometimes daunting task of making sure all the licenses are in place before music, songs, arrangements, etc. are added to various video games.

Music in Games

One may think the only person’s license that is imperative to get approval for is the songwriter. However, this is sometimes not true. In fact, narrowing down who the licenses should be obtained from as well as locating the applicable people to discuss terms, etc. for the licensing -- appear to be a job in and of itself. Brandon Young indicated the timeframe for licensing for some video games can take up to four months. On the other hand, it was noted by a panelist that the time frame for getting approval for licensing music for video games in China is much shorter. Sometimes approval is granted in as little as 24 hours since there are no layers to muddle through to get licensing approval. The flip side of the short time frame in China according to one of the speakers was the high cost of licensing there when compared to the U.S.

Wrap-Up

Attendance at the DMW L.A. Games Conference is highly recommended. Not only was there a multitude of compelling discussions on video games as well as the video game industry, but the venue provided an opportunity to network and collaborate with others. Attendance at the DMW L.A. Games Conference is highly recommended. The cost is sky-high to attend, but when one weighs the positive benefits of getting instant answers to questions one may have about the video game industry, as well as to learn more about the video games from the developers’, strategist, and even investors’ points of view, the money can be considered money very well spent. To find out what is happening, not only on the outer edges, but down to the core of video gaming, this well represented, and well attended DMW L.A. Video Game Conference was by far the place to be.

Published in All Games Blog

 Introduction to Black Desert Online: A Ms. H Video Game Review

I was pleasantly surprised at what awaited me when I downloaded the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Player Game (MMORG) Black Desert Online.  Black Desert Online was different from the video game I imagined it would be.  I've played quite a few MMORGs and was ready to experience the same type video gaming experience as I did before.  However, I quickly realized Black Desert Online wants to be clear that it is not your ordinary, run of the mill MMORG video game.  Here are my thoughts and views of the Black Desert Online video game.

Video Game Customizations in Black Desert Online Video Game

It didn't take me long to find out that one of the many high points of playing Black Desert Online was the customizations.  In fact, I spent an inordinate amount of time first of all on naming my characters -- then customizing them to the Nth degree.  There were numerous choices of how I could customize my video game characters which included not only the facial features and body types, but also the horoscopes and other aspects that were provided to me.

There was a minor downside to my customizations. When I logged back in to play Black Desert Online, I discovered the specific character I customized was tied to a particular server.  Of course I had not made note of the server I chose, so I was unable to retrieve my customized character.  No problem.  All I had to do was to pick another server, customize another video game character and be sure to use the same server to bring her back up.

I believe I customized about two or three characters before I decided that it was time to get into actually playing the video game.  When i concentrated my efforts on playing the video game, instead of using my customized characters, I decided to use the character that was provided in the game with no customizations whatsoever.  That's not to say that I will not maybe later retrieve my customized character and play the game from her vantage point.

Graphics in Black Desert Online Video Game

At first glance, Black Desert Online graphics had the cookie-cutter look of other similar type video games.  However, some of the close-up rendering of the enviornment was quite impressive, and appeared to look realistic.

Choices in Black Desert Online Video Game

The developers, in my opinion, did not economize when it came to giving gamers choices when playing the Black Desert Online video game.  In addition to the wide variety of customization features available for the video game characters, there were numerous choices within the video game itself.  As I completed quests and other adventures, I was given options to interact with other video game characters in the game by simply pushing the "R" key.  There were many other choices as well throughout the video gameplay.

If I was stuck in some way in the video game or needed help, I could summon the assistant called the Black Spirit by simply pressing the comma key on my laptop.  The assistant would appear as a black flowing cloud with red dots for eyes to instruct me on what I could do.  Interesting enough, I found out if I summoned the assistant while I was in combat with enemies, this assistant was not immune and could get temporarily destroyed.

Black Desert OnlineBlack Desert Online

Violence and Gore in Black Desert Online Video Game

Speaking of enemies, many of the quests in Black Desert Online video game involved fighting or destroying enemies.  Some of the enemies included grass beetles, weasels and other creatures.  I think it was creative how the developers would oftentimes camouflage these enemy creatures in the foilage and other areas where sometimes they were not easily visible.  A negative was the blood splatters in this video game which I am not a fan. I think the video game would be even more enjoyable to play if there were no blood splatters in these battles.

Leveling Up in Black Desert Online Video Game

I think leveling up in Black Desert online was not difficult.   When I reached level 10, I was no longer considered a beginner in the tutorial stage. As I leveled up, I begin to notice other aspects of the video game.  For example, I noticed the attention to detail in the environment as well as other video game players' characters in the game.  There was also the usual dialogue among players appearing and scrolling sometimes on the left side of the screen.

I was leery of being tempted to get loyalty points by logging on to the video game Black Desert Online daily.  For the first two or three days, I gave in to signing in daily, and in turn boosted up my loyalty points.  However, I still limited my video game playing time.  I resisted the urge to log on to Black Desert Online for loyalty points as I did other things instead of playing this video game.   My caution is to not get lured into having this video game take up a lot of your time by playing it for long periods of time, not only because of the temptation of the loyalty points, but also because Black Desert Online is such a fun video game to play.  As I've cautioned you before -- always strike a balance between playing video games and doing other real-life non-video game activities.

Black Desert OnlineBlack Desert Online

Assessment of Black Desert Online Video Game

In my opinion, Black Desert Online is a video game that is worth your time playing in moderation.  I think you will enjoy the different type environments and the feeling that you are actually a part of this video game world and making video game accomplishments. There are lots of quests you can choose to take as well different adventures you can embark upon.  Black Desert Online video game will keep your interest in part because of the wide variety of characters and the real-world look of the video game backdrop as well as the various missions and quests.   As with most online video games, there is also an online forum you can consult as required if you need help in getting to the next level or getting further into the video game.

Black Desert OnlineBlack Desert Online

I believe I would have rated Black Desert Online higher if the blood splatters were eliminated, if it was easier to get the video game launched in the first place and if the characters retained their customizations once you got a far-away view of them in action, if profanity in the video game was eliminated and on top of all this if there were no instances where the server timed out during the game play.  When this happened, I had to start playing the video game all over again. That being said, I think the positives of the Desert Online video game far outweigh the negatives.

Rating of Black Desert Online Video Game

On a scale of 1 star to 10 stars, with 1 star being the lowest and 10 stars being the highest, I rate Black Desert Online video game 8 stars.

Availability of Black Desert Online Video Game

Black Desert Online is a buy-to-play video game developed by Pearl Abyss and is playable on the PC.

Published in PC
Wednesday, 24 July 2013 23:12

Pac-Man Battle Royale - Ready - Fight!

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What can I say about a game that's been around for more than thirty years and seems just as new as if it had been developed just yesterday? Answer:  "A lot."  There are many versions of this classic video game, and of course, none of the new Pac-Man games rival the original. In my opinion, the original Pac-Man will always be the best. It's a game that's probably been imitated, but can never really be duplicated.  I would describe Pac-Man as a video game that refuses to go quietly into that good-night, but instead reinvents itself for the enjoyment of Pac-Man video game players.  This is exactly what the developers responsible for the video game Pac-Man have done -- reinvented this game, time and time again.  By doing so, Pac-Man remains a fun video game to play, today -- some thirty-plus years later.

Of the many reinventions of this game, one of the most exciting, in my opinion, is the video game Pac-Man Battle Royale.  I happened upon this game when I was recently at a newly opened Dave and Buster's as part of my video game field trip for Mom's Minute Video Game Show. During opening night at Dave and Buster's (which was standing-room only), a crowd gathered around a group of players sitting and playing the Pac-Man Battle Royale game.  It was interesting to me to see the words in large letters appear on the gameplay screen, "Ready", "Fight!" before the Pac-Man matches started.   Pac-Man is a bonafide fighting game, where opponents go against each other in video gameplay for the win.

Actually, Pac-Man Battle Royale, as a fighting game, has been out for awhile now -- since January, 2011.  The game was brought out as part of Pac-Man's thirtieth anniversary after being introduced at various video game events such as E3 after parties and amusement expos before actually being released. Since that time, this game has not only retained die-hard Pac-Man fans but have possibly, more than likely, gained new Pac-Man fans as well. 

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Pac-Man Battle Royale video game at Dave and Buster's

The video game fighting actions include eating the other Pac-Men or allowing them to be eaten by the ghosts in order to advance. From the happy and smiling faces of the players at Dave and Buster's, I could tell they were enjoying playing Pac-Man Battle Royale and competing against the other players for the win.

Did you know that Pac-Man Battle Royale has a facebook page -- which is unique to Namco games?  The facebook page, among other topics, tells you where you can play the game. I checked the Pac-Man Battle Royale facebook page and found out this game is currently going strong at Comic Con, being held in San Diego, CA.

Regardless of the type video games you play, you will probably be able to find a Pac-Man video game equivalent for it. Pac-Man video game shows no signs of becoming obsolete or evolving in a game resting on its past laurels.  Instead Pac-Man video games continue to gain popularity and from the looks of things -- will probably be even more popular for many years to come.

Published in Mom's Minute Blog

tidewatercomicon2015 title

Tidewater Comic Con held its second annual convention on May 16 - 17, 2015 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center in Virginia Beach, VA at 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m on Sunday. The convention center was selected as Tidewater Comic Con’s location to accommodate the large crowd expected to attend.

And a large crowd, in deed, attended this event. Tidewater Comic Con on Sunday May 17, 2015, the second day of the event seemed just as crowded as if it was the first day.

These highlights of Tidewater Comic Con is from Sunday’s showing which I attended, even though I’m sure the events on Saturday were just as newsworthy as well.

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First Impressions

There’s a saying that you have only one chance to make a good impression. Well, Tidewater Comic Con did itself justice in presenting an overall fun impression at first glance. Before even entering the actual exhibit hall, there were cosplay participants smiling and seemingly happy to have their pictures taken, sometimes, taking the time to pose with their props in full costume.

Set Up

When one first enters the Convention Center, there were of course uniformed law enforcement officers throughout, possibly due to the large crowd. Additionally, signs were prominently displayed for all props to be inspected. In keeping with the look of some cosplay characters, sometimes the participants used fabricated weapons or other objects that went with their costume.

The multi-level layout of the Virginia Beach Convention Center provided the opportunity to take pictures or view the cosplay participants from a different vantage point. I even took pictures of cosplay characters as they ascended or descending the escalators.

After noticing the wide array of cosplay participants in the large lobby area of the convention center, some may think they are already at the heart of Tidewater Comic Con. In other words, to be a part of Tidewater Comic Con, one could have just as much fun, in my opinion, merely walking around and being among the crowd if one did not want to pay to get into the exhibit hall. This way, one can experience some parts of the convention free including attending events set up in meeting rooms involving comic book topics as well as view live videos being taken.

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The negative is one would be missing out on other parts of the convention that required an admittance fee. The center or pulse of Tidewater Comic con is the exhibit areas which required a blue band on one’s wrist to enter -- showing that admission has been paid. VIP attendees wore orange bands. In my opinion, the admittance fee is worth the price to experience all that Tidewater Comic Con had to offer.

Exhibit Areas

Once inside the large exhibit areas, there were rows of tables and displays set up with vendors hawking their wares, including comic books, action figures, and other comic book related items and services. Batman’s batmobile was roped off at the back of the exhibit area, and some special guests were seated for photo-ops or an autograph sessions for a fee.

Some guests were easily accessible, including graphic artists, writers and others. For example, I interviewed one of the special guests, Witchblade writer, Ron Marz as well as received an autographed copy of one of his works, Shinku, a graphic novel of a female monster hunter.

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If you wanted to spend some of your hard-earned cash, there were lots of deals to be had regarding not only comic books and action figures but other items as well. In fact, some items sold at Tidewater Comic Con were literally a collector’s delight. For instance, I witnessed a RoboCop fan obtaining a collection of RoboCop figures, with the dealer throwing in an accompanying RoboCop vehicle for free.

Regarding eating areas, there were a limited number at Tidewater Comic Con; however, the eating facilities appeared to be adequate and provided sufficient seating areas.

Cosplay Contest

The highlight of Sunday’s Tidewater Comic Con, in my opinion, was the myriad of cosplay participants, some simply wearing a plain suit of their favorite character’s costume, others having their face immersed in red plastic and other wearing face masks while some went the extra mile to rival the actual characters they were dressed as.

The two cosplay characters who stood out in my opinion during Sunday’s event was Hawkgirl who wore a magnificent spread of wings and the 9 - 10 feet tall Guardians of the Galaxy Groot where people practically stood in line to take a photo with. Groot came in as a runner up in the comic book character cosplay contest, with Iron Man winning; however given the extensive detail and artistry of Groot’s cosplay tree costume -- it is likely he would have won, if Iron Man was not a first-time cosplay contestant. This reason was given by the judges for Iron Man winning over Groot, who in my opinion, was the clear winner.

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Unsurprising, Hawkgirl won in the female comic book cosplay area along with other cosplay winners in other categories.

Pros

Not only was Tidewater Comic Con a fun event to attend, but it was well organized as well. Sunday’s event was scheduled to end at 5:00 p.m. and it ended promptly at 4:57 p.m.

Relative to the long lines -- sure, there were a long line going into the auditorium for the cosplay contest; however, this is to be expected with such a large crowd. Once the line started moving, it took only a few minutes to get into the auditorium and find a seat. While waiting in line, I used the time to take more pictures of cosplay attendees as they walked past, including, believe it or not, a human green plant who came complete with a black flower pot that he or she obliged by sitting in for pictures.

Additionally, Tidewater Comic Con is geared to all ages ranging from the very mature to the very young. Two of the youngest cosplay participants I saw included a little girl dressed as Wonder Woman, one dressed as a princess, and a toddler dressed as Hans Solo. Included in the older category was a character dressed as Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, who won in the cosplay contest as the best male non-comic book character.

Con

A negative, in my opinion was the display of weapons, including guns and rifles, used as props with the costumes, some that not only looked realistic but were held in such a way that would cause one to take a second look, if one was not at a comic con convention.

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Wrap-up

I believe the positives of Tidewater Comic Con far outweighed any negatives. Sunday, May 17, 2015 was an excellent day to be out and about to enjoy the beautiful sunny weather and if you like -- as I did -- attend Tidewater Comic Con. Attending both days of the event would probably have been an even more enjoyable comic con experience.

Given the enthusiasm as well as the friendliness of those attending, Tidewater Comic Con can be described as nothing short of being a blast from any view.

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View Images in the Tidewater Comicon Gallery

Published in All Games Blog

Monday 9/22, Bobby King from Farsight Studios will join Ms. H on Mom’s Minute at 4pm PST/7pm EST for an indepth talk about Pinball Arcade and the new Kickstarter to bring the legendary pinball table, The Addams Family to life. For years Pinball Arcade has been dedicated to bringing the most realistic simulations of classic pinball tables to as many platforms as possible. Now they’ve set their sights on one of the most coveted tables of all time and are crowd funding the licenses needed to make it happen.

Ms. H will get all the details about the project from Mr. King and also find out what’s in the future for Pinball Arcade. And you can get your questions answered, too. You can interact with the live show by hopping into the chat room during the interview at allgames.com/live and submitting your question. If you can’t be here live on Monday 9/22 at 4pm PST/7pm EST, then you can still ask your questions for Bobby King right here by using the comment section below.

Published in Mom's Minute Blog
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 02:30

The String Arcade - Dren McDonald Interview

Ms. H from Mom's Minute interviews Dren McDonald, composer of The String Arcade, a collection or video game music arranged for a string quartet. He gives insights on making full renditions of songs that began as electronic sounds, and what his motivations were in starting the project. All proceeds of The String Arcade go to the Alameda Music Project, an afterschool music program for kids in grades K-5. 

Listen to the Interview Below

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You can purchase the CD from:

Loudr.fm - http://www.loudr.fm/release/the-string-arcade/wvbUB

iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-string-arcade/id805763356

Bandcamp - https://thestringarcade.bandcamp.com/

Take a look at the trailer
{youtube}http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGWdo3VuIP0{/youtube}

 

Published in Mom's Minute Blog

Noel Brown’s Ban from Video Game Tournaments
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are mine alone and do not represent those of AllGames.com

 After researching Noel Brown and his present and past behaviors, I questioned why I should give him further notoriety by covering his antics. As you may know. whenever a catastrophic event occurs, the media seemingly concentrates on the perpetrator instead of the helpless victims. I prefer not to spread more publicity about someone such as Noel Brown. However, I’m providing my thoughts on this topic in the hope that others will learn about consequences that could result from someone’s wrong behaviors -- even if not directly impacted by them.

Specifically, the purpose of this article is to share my thoughts on whether or not Noel Brown’s ban from playing in Capcom and Evo professional video game tournaments is adequate or if his punishment should have been more severe.

 Background

Noel Brown is a professional video game player who participates in tournaments, usually involving the Street Fighter games. Based on my research, he is not one of the expert players who regularly wins or even places in video game tournaments.

Noel Brown 240x300He has become known mostly for how he reacts violently and inappropriate in certain situations rather than his expertise in playing video games. For example, in 2011, Noel Brown engaged in a physical altercation with another video game player. In 2013, he was arrested for domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend. More recently, in May, 2016, he sexually harassed a female which was recorded and caught on tape. As a result, Noel Brown was banned from playing in Capcom and Evo video game tournaments for the rest of 2016, 2017 and possibly 2018.

Noel Brown’s ban was effective soon after the sexual harassment action occurred. His return to playing in video game tournaments depends on how well he conducts himself during the time he is banned.

Will this ban be sufficient to cause a change in Noel Brown’s behavior and his tendency towards violent and unsuitable behavior? Before I answer, let me state that I think that everyone, depending on the specific offense, deserves a second chance. However, it appears that Noel Brown has already been given numerous second chances. He needs to understand he does not have a place in public video game tournaments if the violent and improper behaviors continue. He can play video games to his heart’s content, but not in public tournaments or events that involve interactions with other people, specifically Capcom and Evo video game tournaments for now.

Was Noel Brown Guilty?

There is no doubt that during this latest incident, Noel Brown was guilty of sexual harassment that was not consented to by the female. I was not present at the event where the harassment occurred; however, a video exists of the inappropriate touching by Noel Brown. (The woman wishes to remain anonymous.) In the video, there were a lot of people congregating and moving around. As the female walked in front of him, Noel Brown groped her in plain view of the cameras. Even if the cameras were not rolling, the behavior he displayed was not appropriate and was uncalled for.There is no doubt that during this latest incident, Noel Brown was guilty of sexual harassment The woman did not consent to being groped; therefore, Noel Brown was called out for sexual harassment, and subsequently banned from Capcom and Evo tournaments. Even if this act was not done in public and was not recorded, he would still be guilty of sexual harassment.

noel brown

Who is to Blame

If Capcom or Combo Breaker, the organizer of the tournament had a zero tolerance for sexual harassment, Noel Brown would not have been given a second chance to display bad behavior at the tournament. However, it appears that Capcom and Combo Breaker do not have a strong sexual harassment policy. And if there is a policy, it is not actively enforced.

Instead, Capcom and Combo Breaker gave Noel Brown what I consider to be a slap on the wrist instead of taking a serious stand against what he did. Sexual harassment is a serious charge and as such should come with serious consequences. I do not see any evidence of Noel Brown learning his lesson that sexual harassment is not acceptable by having an insignificant break or ban from playing in these  tournaments.

The above being said, Capcom and Combo Breaker cannot be blamed for Noel Brown’s behavior. Being an adult, Noel Brown is the only one to blame for what he did. 

Noel Brown’s Response

In reviewing Noel Brown’s response regarding sexually harassing the female, he indicated that this was no big deal. In fact, he mentioned he and the female victim were texting later that day. My response to him is “So what?” Just because you carried on a conversation with her does not negate what you did earlier.

Noel Brown seems to make excuses for his actions. For example he responded that he doesn’t understand why other people are concerned when they are not involved in what happened. Here are his words:

“I don't understand how someone else calls sexual harassment on someone else's behalf if they're not any of the parties involved. Actually all three [her, her boyfriend and I] of us drank and ate pizza together that night after seeing the screenshot.”

Apparently, Noel Brown is downplaying what he did and does not understand what constitutes sexual harassment. I think that he feels sexual harassment involves only the two people who are directly involved in these acts and does not know the reach of sexual harassment. If he knew anything about sexual harassment, he would know that in addition to the person directly impacted by the sexual harassment act, anyone who saw and is offended by such behavior, even if not directly impacted can accuse another person of sexual harassment.

I don't understand how someone else calls sexual harassment on someone else's behalf if they're not any of the parties involvedNoel Brown

Noel Brown also had an excuse for the physical altercation he experienced with another player at the video game tournament in 2011. He indicated he was provoked to violent behavior because the player threw his personal items that had been taken out of his pocket to the floor -- even after he had warned the player of the consequences if he did so. His violent recourse was caught on tape as the physical fight broke out between the two video game players.

 Noel Brown needs to learn that violence is not the answer when someone does not do as he instructed. The video showed he was the aggressor, and lunged at the other video game player. I do not know the real reason behind the aggressive, violent behavior, but I do know this retaliation was uncalled for and immature for a grown man to display.

Noel Brown needs to learn that violence is not the answerIn each of the previous violent incidents, I think Noel Brown feels that he did nothing wrong -- which is unreal to me. Capcom and Combo Breaker seems to be validating his recent act of sexual harassment and the seriousness of the matter by giving him minimal punishment. When the ban is lifted, Noel Brown will have chances to perform more harm to others should he be allowed to participate in future video game tournaments.

Noel Brown and the Reputation of Video Games

Violence and sexual harassment unfortunately probably happens in other type tournaments -- not only in video games. However, video games often suffer undue negative publicity when it comes to violence, i.e. there is the notion that somehow playing violent video games causes violent behavior. Noel Brown is perpetuating this unfounded reputation of video games by failing to control his immature violent actions and continuing to show behavior that has negative impressions relative to video games -- simply because he is associated with video game playing. Even though this recent sexual harassment event did not involve an altercation, the groping of the female while at a video game event placed video games in an unfair negative light.

Positives

Capcom, Combo Breaker and Evo are to be commended for banning Noel Brown from future tournaments -- even if the ban will last a short time. Capcom is stating that if it happens again, Noel Brown will be banned for life.

The plus is that at least for the rest of 2016, 2017 and maybe 2018 Noel Brown will not be making news relative to his actions, at least not in the world of video games. One may think that by not playing video games in the public for awhile, he will have the chance to maybe reflect and change. But based on his history of violent and unsuitable behavior, I’m sure that it will resume once he is allowed to play.

Negatives

Noel Brown has been given many chances to change his behavior for the better. This latest incident of sexual harassment while in a video game atmosphere should have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Back in 2013, CapCom categorized the domestic violent incident that occurred involving Noel Brown as a personal matter and dismissed the seriousness of what happened during that time. Now, three years, later, Noel Brown has not changed but continues to perform actions that in this case, was not violent but was grossly improper.

 Next Steps - Eradicate Noel Brown from Video Game Tournaments

Why wait for another public or non-public incident involving Noel Brown to happen? Noel Brown should have been given a life-time ban from playing in public video game tournaments for Capcom and Evo after this latest incident. He has already been given many chances to change his ways -- which is not happening.

It is up to the video game companies, namely Capcom and others to show that video game tournaments is a time for friendly comradery between video game players -- and nothing else.

As long as Noel Brown lingers around in the background, waiting to return to tournaments to show just how violent and inappropriate he can be in public, some people's negative perception of video games will fester, and people may be harmed. On a positive note, Noel Brown can always play video games in other places where he is not yet banned -- the keywords being “not yet.”

 To put it simply, in my opinion Noel Brown should be banned from playing video game tournaments publicly for life at Capcom and Evo tournaments. He has shown time after time that he cannot control his behavior and act like a civilized, mature adult. Believe me, I do not think anyone will notice he is no longer around.

Published in Mom's Minute Blog
Tuesday, 18 November 2014 00:00

Marvel Universe Live: A Review

If you would like to see some of your favorite Marvel superheroes in full costume and as always fighting criminal elements, including monsters with lizard tails and others -- then Marvel Universe Live is the show for you.  At Marvel Universe Live you will see a full cast of some of your favorite Marvel characters, some with the added power to perform acrobats and dare-devil riding and stunts while at the same time fighting for justice and the American way.

Norfolk ScopeNorfolk Scope

Marvel Universe Live is a stage show where there are lots of explosions, fireworks, fighting matches and the like to keep your interest.  Some of the fighting can become intense, which can be attributed to the excellent acting chops of the actors and actresses; however, for the very young in attendance, some of the fighting may be a little disconcerting or disturbing -- even if they are accustomed to watching violent cartoons on TV.  My advice during some of the more graphic type fighting scenes is to remind the younger children that no one really gets hurt during the show, and the quick and lightening fighting blows that are levied, never land on the opponents.

In addition to fighting crimes with various theatrical weapons, Marvel superheroes performed knock-down, drag-out fights.  You will see a lot of these types fights in the show. In fact, during some scenes it looked as if nothing but fighting was going on -- so much so that it may be difficult to focus your attention on one fighting area.  This is a plus, in my opinion, because it cemented the professionalism of the actors in doing the fighting, while it heighted the excitement of the audience when so many actions were going on all at once.

Aldrich Killian battles Iron ManAldrich Killian battles Iron Man

Your impression of the show's magnitude would probably depend on what you are used to seeing in a production of this type.  Personally, the last similar show I attended was at the Convention Center in Washington D.C., where the actions took place on a large, round stage surrounded by what looked liked thousands of spectators.  For the show that was held at the Scope in Norfolk, Virginia, there was a seemingly noticeable lack of arena area for the acrobats and stunt driving to take place. The pro of the smaller stage was the audience got a closer view of the superheroes and villains in action while the con was the smaller arena probably gave the show a scaled down type of appearance at first glance. Some of the actions, including the stunt driving probably would have been more spectacular if there were more driving and stunt spaces available at the arena. After a while, one may become used to the arena size.  Also, the actors and actresses seemed to adjust well to the venue's size and structure when acting to the dialogue and performing stunts.  It appeared to have helped that the theatrical props seemed to be adaptable to the size of the arena as well.

Lady Liberty StageLady Liberty Stage

There are also limitations on the type stunts, fights and actions that could take place in the enclosed arena.  Marvel Universe Live took advantage of the space that was available.  For example, in one scene there is large round stage display showing the face of Lady Liberty.  Within this stage display was a winding stairway that provided space for several superheroes to fight against the villains.  Regarding ariel limitations, the air space was used adequately for a villain's airplane to fly high and ultimately get destroyed by explosions while it hovered several feet above the stage area.

Regarding the actors playing the superheroes themselves, some of the actors and actresses appeared sort of smaller in stature including Spiderman, Wolverine, Black Widow and others.  There were exceptions for some of the villains; however, for the most part the superheroes were not as tall as I expected.  Of course, some of the heroes are of the height as depicted in the comic books, and once the show started, which included dare-devil bike stunts and acrobatic moves, it was easy to understand why this was so.  Some of the actors and actresses appeared to be stunt riders first with the capability to maneuver themselves along on their bikes, and were actors and actresses depicting superheroes second.  

There were several crowd-pleasing moments in the show that caused the audience to applaud loudly.  Not to give anything away, these actions included lots of fire in one case and in the other case -- the entrance of one of the larger superheroes in the arena toward the end of the show.  In my opinion, this was the most size, girth and height appropriate superhero who appeared, even though it was obvious an actor was in a large, embellished costume which would probably not be adequate for doing anything more than walking in it much less performing acrobatic stunts. 

Marvel Live Universe is a lot more than stunts and acrobats being done.  There is a storyline that the actors follow during the show. The venue is set up where the audience hears dialogue from the characters who perform actions relative to the booming voices that fill the arena.   For the most part, actions were done in concert with the voice acting.  Once the second half of the show started or maybe even earlier, one may become accustomed to the voice acting and the fact they are watching stunts being done, along with the superheroes moving to the voice actiing -- sort of like "lip-synch acting." In other words, it did not appear as if the characters were actually saying their parts, unless their personal voice acting was recorded earlier.

Hats off to the pyrotechnic professionals who were expert in setting up and executing the firey displays while at the same time keeping the actors and the audience safe.  They managed to do an excellent job of providing just enouigh theatrical fire works to keep the audience happy as well as the actors and actresses unhurt.  

Black WidowBlack Widow

There were an  array of superhero actresses, which included the female Captain America, Black Widow, and a few others.  The female superheroes' presence was not as prevalent as the males in the show which is no fault of Marvel Universe Live but is a reflection of the comic book make-up in general. Their stunts were also not as "jaw-breaking" as some of the males.  For example, some of the stunts performed by the males were jumping using the motorcyles from high altitudes, driving over barrels surrounded by fire, running out on stage engulfed in flames, and other crowd-pleasing feats.  By comparison the most the female characters did including Black Widow was to drive around the stage on motorcycles, being lowered from the ceiling by wires and fighting on a high altitude platform. This mix could possibly change if more female stunt performers auditioned to become a part of Marvel Universe Live.

Marvel Universe Live provided an excellent correlation between the live performance and filmed portions of the story and the scenery.  One may get the impression visually  that the superheroes are actually climbing up the  high, avalance prone mountains as they traversed the ladders staged against the filmed images.

There were also laugh out loud moments in the show, sometimes based upon the dialogue between the superheroes  themselves and sometimes from the narrator to the audience.  Marvel Universe Live demonstrated that even though superheroes have been around for some time, they are able to keep up with the times, including the advent of social media such as Facebook, Twitter along with hashtags.  Some of the most humorous dialogue included the use of social media references in the show.

SpidermanSpiderman

Marvel Universe Live is a show that is entertainment that will delight all ages.  Whether your favorite superhero is Spiderman, Iron Man, Wolverine, or some of the other Marvel superheroes in the show, you are sure to find some moments that will cause you to applaud, laugh or just  leave you in an overall good mood.  It helps that the show is not overly short or long in duration.  The above being said --  The best way to see if you will truly enjoy the show is to of course  go to one in person and find out for yourself.

If Marvel Universe: Live has not been in your area recently, it should arrive soon.  Just check the Marvel Universe: Live website for schedule and site locations.

Listen to Ms.H's interview with Gilyon Brace Wessel who plays Dr. Aldrich Killian on the show.

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Published in Mom's Minute Blog
Saturday, 23 May 2015 00:00

Tidewater Comicon 2015 Gallery

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Ms. H from Mom's Minute went to the 2015 Tidewater Comicon . Here's some of the great cosplayers and sights from the convention

Published in Galleries

 

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Tomb Raider:  Definitive Edition

Tomb Raider:  Definitive Edition - Unboxing

After playing part of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition video game for the first time, I have a three letter word to describe it --  "Wow!"  I preordered this game awhile back and have just now had the opportunity to play part of it.  When I received Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, starring Lara Croft on the release date in March, 2014 from Amazon.com, I did an unboxing of this game complete with pictures. I was that impressed by the artistry of the video game packaging which included a hard cover book with artwork from the game that is worthy of framing.  What was missing was a poster of Lara Croft in action as she braves the perils and tribulations of what it takes to survive.

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Tomb Raider Unboxed (game and book) with Pixelbot robot courtesy of DPL looking on 

Of course packaging is just that -- packaging.  What really counts about a video game, in my opinion, is the enjoyment that you experience from playing the game, whether your excitement for the game stems from the action, characters, story line, creativity of plot, or any number of other reasons.  If you ask me which of these choices Tomb Raider: Definitive Collection excelled in, I would have to say the character and the action.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Expectations 

When I slipped the physical video game disc in my PS4, and the Tomb Raider cover art showed on the screen, I was unsure what to expect.  I saw the previous version of this  game played during the holidays by my family member, and at that time, I was impressed by the realistic graphics, as well as the requirement to use logical thinking skills to advance in the game.  At that time, I was a bystander, just looking at the video game playing action, listening to the realistic sound effects as Lara Croft splashed her way through the deep seas, roamed forests, etc., to accomplish her missions.  Just as there is a saying "Seeing is believing" -- regarding video game playing I think there should be a saying "Playing is believing."  It is only by actually holding a video game controller, controlling and experiencing the actions of the video game characters yourself that, in my opinion, you can truly decide if you will not only play the video game again, but will also recommend others to play it as well.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Spoiler Alert

I am going to give you a spoiler alert here, just in case you have not played the game and want to experience the gameplay with the surprises and suspenseful moments in tact.  If you have not played Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, you may want to stop reading here, because the next sections I will be talking about my experiences with this video game, including how Lara Croft got through certain obstacles during the first part of the game, that you may prefer to figure out on your own. I played this game in the normal mode, vs. the easy or hard options. Also as a disclaimer, this review does not cover the complete video game -- only the first parts that I played.

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Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Actions/Adventures

I liked the action-packed movie introduction which included actions where Lara Croft seemingly spirals down a long drop before she reaches the bottom. She is visibly in pain, her clothing is soiled and she has blood all over her, including her face. Unfortunately, she also is hurt and has a sharp object jutting in her left side.  My first action in the gameplay was to use the controller to remove the shart object from hurting her -- which I succeeded in doing.  From then on  -- for the part of the game I played, Lara Croft moves throughout the video game environments, clutching her side with her right hand over the wound while in some cases holding a torch in her left hand.  But not to worry, as I played the game longer, eventually she felt well enough to remove her hand from her side, to regain use of both of her hands.  

As I continued to move her along the terrains, I had already decided that this was an exploratory type game, where you use the character to discover the surroundings. However, I stood to be corrected.  I found out soon enough that Lara Croft does a lot more than move around the environments.  Just when I was getting comfortable moving her through parts of the dark cave where she had landed, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, an enemy apppeared and tried to capture her.  I literally jumped when this happened, because this was totally unexpected. From then on, I knew this game would be adventurous and suspenseful.  After about three tries, I was able to get Lara Croft to fight off her enemy, and breathed a sigh of relief when within the small cave she was in, a door closed that blocked the enemy from entering.  

That one particular unexpected action got my adrenalin going.  I kept thinking what would happen next.  I had Lara Croft continue her adventures in the cave by having her to traverse treacherous waters where there was fire on one side of a waterfall and barrels of fuel on the other.  The problem was that in order to get out,  Lara Croft had to go through the waterfall while carrying her torch -- which of course did not work. The water would put out the fire each time, as expected.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Strategies

Throughout the game, you are given pictures of which buttons on the controller to push as well as information on the mission or environment that Lara Croft has entered. Also, when you push the L1 button on your controller, the environment turns to black and white and items that can help you to escape, etc. are lit up brighter than the others. Once you release the L1 button, the game actions, including the colors return.

I studied the environment and saw a hanging apparatus, as well as a street car-like vehicle on another level of the cave area. Both were lit or shined  brighter when I pushed the L1 button so I knew these items were required for her to escape. Also the square button would appear on the screen to push as barrels and boxes floated in the water. When I did so, the barrels would start burning and continued to float in the water.  To give you a visual of where she was during this part of the video game -- Lara Croft was in thrashing waters, among lots of burning boxes and barrels, with debris, old bottles, shoes etc. floating around with loud sounds of waves of water crashing through several areas.

To make a long story short,  I was unable to get Lara Croft to push the street car off the ramp or get her on the hanging apparatus.  This is the first part of the game where I got stuck.  After a phone call for advice, I went back to the game and tried again, this time using different actions to get her out of this cave-like atmosphere that had water and firey barrels and boxes everywhere.  I was unable to pile barrels beneath the hanging apparatus as suggested, so I tried a different strategy which surprisingly to me -- worked.  Somehow I got her into the hanging apparatus. She was unable to swing back and forth -- so I had her to jump from this apparatus. Then I had her to try once again to push the street car which by this time was full  of burning barrels.  Lo and behold -- this time the street car actually moved out of the way.  Previously, it would move just a little and then return to its original position.  When the street car moved, a multitude of actions seemed to happen all at once which resulted in her being in a totally different mountainous environment.  I had Lara Croft jump over mountains where she hung dangerously off tall cliffs. She also had to fight off another enemy in this environment. As a disclaimer -- The apparatus/street car scene actions I did when I played this game, may or may not work for you.  It may depend on the level of game that you are playing, i.e., easy, normal, hard -- or even some other reasons.

Now for the next adrenalin moment I experienced when playing the first section of Tomb Raider:: Definitive Edition.   When Lara Croft reached the mountains, she had to actually climb the mountains, by frantically clawing her way up.  To keep her from falling, I had to keep pushing the L2 and R2 buttons quickly at the same time.  I also had to move the left stick on the controller either right or left to have her dodge large, gigantic boulders before I got her to the top of the mountain.tombraider4  I tried numerous times to keep her from falling by pushing these buttons, even at one time turning the PS4 controller around so the L2 and R2 buttons were facing me.  However, I got her on the mountain-top and kept her away from the boulders by using the controller positioned in the normal way.  My fingers got a true workout here, and with the controller rumbling, the sound effects of her climbing up the mountains, and her gasping -- when she finally reached the top of the mountain, breathing heavily, I was doing just about the same thing.  I felt as if we had both shared a victory at that point, and felt quite exhilarated that she had made it up the mountain safely.  

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Likes and Dislikes

Here's  what I liked and did not like about the part of the game I played.  I liked the realistic video game graphics, where the grass moved with the wind. I liked that the game started over close to the part where you may have tried to complete a mission, instead of starting all over again.   I liked the sound effects including the sounds of the rushing waters that in some ways can be a nice sound to listen to, but can also be frightening as well -- especially if the character is on a high mountain, looking down in deep, thrashing waters.   The voice acting, was ok; however, in some of the scenes, the voice actor was difficult to understand, and when the character fell from a tall mountain, I personally think that she could have screamed more realistically.  Also the illustration of the character can be improved in some of the scenes, because in some, her face seems to be swollen at her jaws -- not in all scenes -- but in some.  I liked the realistic movement of the character's eyes, as well as the expression she had which signaled that she was at a loss as to what to do in certain situations -- however, she was able to figure things out. I also liked the voice commands where you actually speak your options, such as showing the maps, pausing etc. 

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Highly Recommended

If you have not played this game, and enjoy playing adventure, action games, I highly recommend you play Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition on your PS4.  If you do not have a PS4, you may be interested to know that Tomb Raider is currently free to play on the PS3 for PS plus members.  I also have a PS3 -- but I was happy to play this game on my PS4 where I was able to use the new features of the PS4 and experience the improved graphics and sound qualities.

I'm looking forward to playing more of this game as well as seeing and experiencing via video game play the other adventures/missions Lara Croft will encounter in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is rated M for Mature and is playable on the PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows PC and Mac.

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Published in Playstation 4
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