IncGamers March Wrap-Up
Welcome back to the IncGamers monthly wrap up, which the keen-eyed of you may have noticed has been absent recently. Well, fresh out of rehab with a bottle of child’s urine to hand, the wrap-up is back, bringing you the biggest, and weirdest, gaming stories of the month. The NewsFirst up, March was the month of concern for the British games industry. Industry body Tiga had the sheer nerve to ask whiny British devs to name the biggest problems they faced in the last 12 months. The answer, it transpired, was the British government, whose punitive taxes and lack of subsidies have resulted in the UK industry competing with “one hand behind its back.” Tiga’s Dr Richard Wilson ambitiously suggested that a 20% tax break would be a “welcome start.” After all, if public money is paying for our MPs’ porn portfolios, surely they can spare a little for the impoverished games industry. Tory MP Edward Vaizey also pulled no punches when he told the House of Commons that lack of government support was a factor in Britain dropping from the third to fifth biggest game-making nation. And when news emerged that the local government in Savannah, Georgia, is offering free office space and a whopping 30% tax credit to games developers, UK industry types must have begun to pack their bags and practice their Rhett Butler impressions.Of course, it’s unlikely that governments will wholeheartedly back the games industry when the mainstream media continues to link video games with violent atrocities. The shocking news of a school shooting in Winnenden, Germany, led some news outlets to propose a link between violent games and the tragedy. The Times Online reported that shooter Tim Kretschmer had played Far Cry 2 prior to the attack and made a number of links between its gameplay and his actions. Although you wonder how much research actually went into the article when you read statements like the following:“In the game it is essential to hijack cars to move around. Kretschmer hijacked a car, held a pistol to the driver’s head and asked: “Should I have fun and pick off some more drivers?” Characters in the game, which is made by the French company Ubisoft and has sold 2.9m copies, wear black camouflage uniforms – the clothing Kretschmer wore on Wednesday. “A wealth of reactionary opinion followed with Heini Schmitt, head of the Hessen German Police Union, calling for a ban on all violent video games, claiming “It is known that in all massacre cases, the perpetrators had a strong addiction to so-called killer games.” However, the award for the strangest reaction goes to Mechtchild Ross–Luttman, Minister for Social Affairs in Lower Saxony who, in response to the shooting, called for minors to be banned from playing World of Warcraft. Yes, WoW. As far as we know, Kretschmer didn’t wander into that school hurling Shadowbolts so we’re less than convinced by the argument. The games/violence debate was not confined to mainland Europe however, as the Reverend Jesse Jackson addressed the subject here in Blighty in a Home Affairs Committee meeting chaired by game-skeptic MP Keith Vaz. When asked by Vaz about a link between games and violence, the Reverend stated that domestic violence was likely to be a bigger influence on violent behavior. Conversely, he also went on to say that those who make violent games ought to be “challenged.”The oddest criticism of the gaming industry this month, however, came from animal protection activist organisation PETA which, fresh from its attack on animal cruelty bible Cooking Mama, turned its attention to Call of Duty: World at War. PETA’s problem, it transpired, was the game’s use of attack dogs with the organization claiming it hadn’t seen anything so “barbaric” since escaping “Castle Wolfenstein 17 years ago.” It dismissed Activision’s claim that the use of dogs in WWII legitimizes their inclusion in the game, suggesting “It’s a depiction of violence towards animals for the sake of being ‘cool’.” I seem to remember Fonzie extolling the virtues of dog-slaying in one episode of Happy Days. “Would you really want to hire a dogsitter who had just finished a five-hour dog-killing rampage on Xbox Live?” PETA asked. It really depends on their rates.The GamesMarch was an interesting month for games, with a typically mixed bag of releases on offer. Tom Clancy’s HAWX experienced some turbulence (but landed safely), Empire: Total War routed the enemy troops and Resident Evil 5 definitely wasn’t racist. Apart from that level with the spear-chucking natives. Which, it could be argued, was pretty racist. March was also the month in which Nintendo went hardcore, with MadWorld busting heads on the Wii and Chinatown Wars shopping pills on the DS. It wasn’t all good news, however; Moto Racer DS was not a smooth ride, Destroy all Humans made us question the notion of intelligent life anywhere and we wanted to get medieval on Sonic’s ass.