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Other People's Misfortune

Phone Story

MolleIndustries, creators of excellent indie game Every Day the Same Dream, recently released a mobile game called Phone Story on Android and iOS. The game, meant to "provoke a critical reflection on its own technological platform," may have worked better than the makers intended: Apple pulled the app from its store a few hours after release.

The game sheds light on the manufacturing process by which we come by our shiny smart phones, and Apple, makers of shiny smart phones, objected. Specifically, Apple pulled the game for violating the following rules:

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Dead Island

While the publisher of Dead Island has got to be thrilled with the attention (and sales) the launch of their game has created, Dead Island's first week on earth hasn't gone especially smoothly. First, there's the fact that the original version of the game put out on Steam was apparently the developer version, allowing gamers to fly anywhere on the map. Then, this: An enterprising gamer on the Steam forums took a look at the game's code, and discovered a disturbing phrase embedded within:

Skill("TeamSpirit2Purna")
Skill("FeministWh*rePurna")
Skill("MeleeDurabilityPurna")

Notice the one in the middle? Apparently Purna's ability to deal extra damage to men was once described with an off-color phrase, and there was no asterisk in the original. Purna's skill is now called "Gender Wars." As you'd probably expect, developer Techland is not happy.

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Sony and Square Enix Stock Fall Dramatically In Wake Of Dragon Quest X Announcement

In wake of the Dragon Quest X announcement this weekend, the price of both Sony and Square Enix's stock has fallen dramatically. In fact, after the announcement Sony's stock dropped to the lowest level of the year. The head of Rakuten Investment Management, according to Andriasang, said "that investors may be concerned that the appearance of DQX on Wii and Wii U could lead to Sony's games business losing customers." Combined with problems in their television business and an overall market slowdown due, Sony's stock has taken quite a tumble.

Square Enix, the developer behind Dragon Quest X, has also seen a dramatic drop in their stock price. At present, their stock is down 11% since the announcement of DQX.

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BioShock 2 Rapture Metro DLC Details, Pack Not Releasing This Week

Moneyed industrialist Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, recently invested $1.25 million in an effort to build a Libertarian floating city in the middle of the ocean, partially bankrolling a real-life version of Bioshock's undersea city of Rapture.

Thiel and company's communities won't be built under the ocean, but will instead float upon it on "seateaded" platforms in International waters, free from the grasp of government and other economic parasites. The idea is essentially the same as Andrew Ryans':  Get a bunch of Libertarians together and create a Utopia outside the reaches of government. Only then will humanity flourish! Or something.

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Super Nanny Blames Games For London RiotsAccording to Jo "Super Nanny" Frost, video games are to blame for the London Riots. Super Nanny is well known for her ability to discipline wayward youth, but the zaftig British television presenter also has some thoughts on the riots that rocked London last week.

In a recent column on London's Express, Supes pinned the blame on:

"These horrific games where points are given for burning, shooting and killing, where the graphics are so realistic you believe that they’re real scenes of carnage, where those who play fantasies they have the power of life and death, are so brutal they completely desensitize anyone taking part."

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PlayStation 3

Police in Johannesburg, South Africa recently broke up a ring of pirates...PlayStation 3 pirates! According to the Joburg po-po, the raid took place at a residential property in Parktown, Johannesburg, and jailbreak devices used to "circumvent the security features on PS3 consoles to facilitate the playing of pirated PS3 games" were seized. According to the police, this is the first PS3 circumvention arrest in the world.

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Chinese Couple Sells Children For Video Game MoneyAccording to Chinese newspaper Sanxiang City News (reported by ABC), a gamer couple in Dongguan sold three of their children to get money to play online games in internet cafes.

The couple met back in 2007, hit it off, and had a child. A couple years later, the couple had another baby, a girl, and got the bright idea to sell her. They found a buy who paid them the equivalent of less than $500. After their sales success, the couple then put their first child on the market, and he fetched much more -- around $4600.  The couple, having recognized a good business opportunity, had a third child, and sold him for $4600 as well.

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LA Noire

The most compelling story in gaming these days isn't taking place on any console; instead, it's the back-and-forth between anonymous employees (and ex-employees) of Australian developer Team Bondi and their bosses (or erstwhile bosses, anyway.) The Team Bondi employees allege workplace conditions leading up to the release of LA Noire were akin to a 21st century sweatshop. Management, on the other hand, contends that the disgruntled workers are at least overstating their case. Today, Dave Heironymus, lead gameplay programmer at Team Bondi, in an open letter to industry watchdogs, told management's side of the LA Noire development story.

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Indie game GlitchHiker won both the Jury and Audience Awards at the Global Game Jam 2011 but don't rush off to play it. Why? Because the game doesn't work anymore, and that's not by accident. GlitchHiker was a quirky platformer/puzzle/inexplicable title broken into two parts: the GAME, which is pretty much what you would expect, and the SYSTEM, which was built on the theme of extinction

See, every time a player played GlitchHiker and died, a life was subtracted, not from their personal pool, but from the SYSTEM's. Every time a player collected 100 coins, a life was added. Unfortunately for those of us who never got to play, the former happened far more often than the latter, and the game is now inoperable.

If you want to see the game in action though, you can check out a video from Global Game Jam 2011 below!

GlitchHiker was made by six people in two days. You can still download GlitchHiker if you want, but it'll just be an ornament to hang on your desktop. Sad, really. *sniff!*

Video Game Bandit: Female Thief Targets Florida Game StoresHide your wife; hide your games: A thief is robbing Florida video game stores! Police in Broward County are outraged (or at least irked) by the illegal antics of a female nere-do-well who has knocked over three GameStop stores in the last week.

The crime rampage began on July 4th, when the brazen crook busted into a GameStop in Pembroke Pines and got away with some dough after threatening the clerk with a gun. An hour later, she boosted the cash register loot from a store in Miramar, after holding employees hostage at the business end of her heater.

The suspect is not afraid to let the bullets fly, either. She fired several shots during today's robbery, before escaping with an undisclosed amount of cash, police said. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

Surveillance cameras show a black female, who police believe to be 20-30 years old, wearing all black clothing, threatening the employees and demanding money.

Anyone with information regarding these incidents is urged to contact the Pembroke Pines Police Department at 954-431-2200. Or Superman!

Source: NBC Miami (Via Kotaku)





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Split/Second gdc

Black Rock Studio, the developer behind excellent racing games Split/Second and Pure, is being closed by Disney.

"Disney Interactive Studios confirms that Black Rock Studios' current project has not been greenlit for further development, consequently the company informed employees yesterday of the intent to enter a consultation process on the proposal to close the studios," wrote Disney in a statement. This news comes months after the studio laid of 40 percent of its work force.

As a huge fan of Black Rock's games, I blame you, the game-buying public, for not purchasing enough copies of these games. You should be ashamed of yourself.  There's video of both games under the "Read More" tag.

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Sony

I'm not organizing a canned food drive for the top executives at Sony quite yet, but recent events -- the earthquakes in Japan, the hacking of the PlayStation Network -- have hit Sony so hard that even the company's top men are feeling the effects. Sony chairman Howard Stringer's pay fell 15 percent last year, and executive deputy president Kazuo Hirai's compensation dropped from 110 million yen in the prior period to "only" 101 million yen (excluding stock options).

Stringer earned 345 million yen ($4.3 million USD) for the year ending March 31; in the same period last year, Stringer earned 408 million yen, according to Sony's filings with the Japanese government.

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Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D To Ship With RE: Revelations Demo

Capcom's Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D for the Nintendo 3DS has a unique (and troubling, to some) "feature:" Saved games can not be erased. Ever. So no going back and starting fresh without saves. This could be the latest attempt by the game industry to put reins on the used game market; after all, what good is a used copy of a game if you are forced to play someone else's saves?

Capcom, though, says this is not the case. The company told GiantBomb: "Secondhand game sales were not a factor in this development decision, so we hope that all our consumers will be able to enjoy the entirety of the survival-action experiences that the game does offer."

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Battlefield Heroes Launches Quietly, Carries A Big Trailer

According to LulzSec the hacker group who hacked Minecraft and EVE Online, the Lulzboat is sailing away, and their 50-day long hacking binge on videogame companies, the police, and the CIA's website is finally over. "For the past 50 days, we've been disrupting and exposing corporations, governments, often the general population itself, and quite possibly everything in between, just because we could," the group said in a message, concluding with, "It is time to say bon voyage."

As their farewell present to gamers they've released 555,000 Battlefield Heroes Beta users' details and the details of 50,000 users from random gaming forums to prove once again how easy it is to get that sort of information. For the full closing statements from Lulzsec check after the break.

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PSN Down: Sony Announced Compensation Plans, Hopes To Have Full PSN Restored By End of Month

While it's hardly a surprise, Sony wants you to know that it is very aware of hackers. Very, very aware. The company promises "hyper vigilance" for the PlayStation Network looking forward.

In an interview with Computer and Videogames, Sony Europe's Andrew House said April's hacking attack (hattack) "taught Sony -- and many other companies -- that you have to adopt a stance of hyper vigilance."

"We are genuinely humbled and extremely grateful to those consumers who have continued to put their trust in us," House said. "That's a responsibility we now take even more seriously than we did before. We'll try our absolute best to try and make our system as secure as we possibly can."

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