GS's 8 Bits

Go Back
  • New Community Site Will Inform and Connect Gamers

    GameStreamer strongly believes in the power of community, especially in the gaming industry. We’ve been active in social media in an effort to connect to gamers on a more personal level, and now we’re excited to announce a new project that takes the initiative further. Up and running in the next few weeks, our new community site will feature a blog and game reviews by our staff, as well as by guest posters. The site will also contain a news section for press releases and bulletins. We anticipate some overlap with our corporate site, but much of the community site will serve up fresh content.

     

    People will be able to access the new site via our flagship game stores, as well as our game store partners’ stores. The site was designed with minimal branding to complement game store partners’ stores as much as possible. Because the community site is as much our partners’ sites as ours, we encourage game store partners and publishers to contribute ideas and posts for the blog and to submit relevant news releases for inclusion in the news section. Game store partners can opt out of linking to the site from their stores and replace the link to their own blogs or news pages.

     

    Site visitors can participate by commenting on blog posts and reviews. Comments will be approved by GameStreamer before being published.

     

    If you have any questions about or suggestions for the community site, contact us at info@gamestreamer.net or add your comment to this blog post.

     

    Watch this space for the community site’s launch date.

    Full story

    Comments (3899)

  • Game Store Partner Profile: Digital Download Game World

    This is the second post in a new series of profiles of GameStreamer game store partners.

     

    A recent GameStreamer game store partner, Digital Download Game World Inc. was created in 2008 as a group of like-minded video game enthusiasts, developers and retailers to observe and report on the growth of the digital distribution sector of the video game industry. Marketed globally, the website sees the majority of its traffic coming, in order of volume, from the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K.

     

    Digital Download Game World 

     

    Digital Download Game World likes to work directly with indie game developers to show the world that digital distribution is allowing for great game design concepts from even the smallest of studios to make it in this competitive marketplace.

     

    The site also communicates with developers, retailers and readers about the continual growth and change in the digital distribution sector of the video game industry.

     

    We wanted to get to know DD Game World even better, so we asked CEO Dan Awadalla to tell us more about his site and his gaming habits.

     

    GameStreamer: What are your goals with DD Game World? Future plans or news?

     

    Dan Awadalla: With significant growth since we started with our small forum site a few years ago, we have discovered that this new branch of the video game industry is filled with opportunity and pitfalls. At Digital Download Game World Inc., we are discovering our niche in consultation, design and industry reporting.  

     

    In the near future, we will continue to provide indie developers with the advice they need to succeed and will continue to select and report our favorite stories from this exciting industry. Don't be surprised to see some of our own titles launching in the mobile arena, as well. 

     

    GS: Your site is known for its Toronto-area events. Do you have any coming up? What has been your favorite event?

    DA: The Toronto geek and gaming scene is as good as it gets anywhere, and we are lucky to have so many friends who are very active in keeping it that way.  I would have to say FanExpo and GamerCamp are two of my favorite events. Microsoft Canada and Sony Entertainment Canada are both well known for their great Toronto-based preview and launch parties.

     

    GS: What’s your favorite video game or franchise?

    DA: Personally, I have been playing video games since 1976, my first game, of course, being the ATARI PONG home console. So I always find this question difficult. My fondest memory is playing Kareteka on the Commodore 64 and Karate Champ in the Arcade. More recently, my favorite franchises seem to come from Ubisoft Montreal and include Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell as both still have the capability to produce immersive single-player experiences in a continually saturated market. For multiplayer gaming, it's gotta be a shooter. I prefer the Call of Duty and Battlefield series depending on my mood.

     

    GS: If you could have a superpower for one day, what would it be?

    DA: Without a doubt, Time Shifting. I'd start my day in a coin-op arcade and end it on a HoloDeck!  

     

    Full story

    Comments (7531)

  • How the Gaming Industry Should Talk to Women

    In this guest blog post, Sugar Gamers coordinating producer and editor Rebecca “Bonks” Rothschild shares her perspective on the game industry’s relationship with women.

     

     

    Sugar Gamers was founded in Chicago based on our founder’s desire to meet more women who enjoyed video games. I joined the company in its early stages as a coordinating producer and editor and watched our female following grow. The first thing I noticed was the incredible diversity. All sizes, races and walks of life are represented in these women. Even better, these women LOVE to game, and their gaming palate is as diverse as they are. This is clear evidence that the videogame industry has the potential to bring in a much larger female audience. 

     

     

    The truth is the industry has been male-dominated for a long time, and not really on purpose. Male gaming enthusiasts don’t always have the easiest time meeting women and I feel that like them, the industry just needs to work on its approach. Nowadays little hints of estrogen have been popping everywhere from developers to pro gamers. Not to mention female characters have taken on more interesting and empowering roles. And while this is all fantastic, I feel that the industry’s marketing has a little catching up to do. I have been aching to run into more ladies on my favorite shooters. Cute and cuddly is fine, but give us ladies some options. Some of us love shooting up evil aliens as much as the next gamer.    

     

     

    Women are multifaceted, as their gaming tastes will reflect. Don’t put us in one genre. Three games our female members constantly gush about are Gears of War, Soul Calibur and Final Fantasy. Three different genres with similarities that have incredible appeal to women, and all three are pretty light on the cute and cuddly.

     

     

    Male or female, anyone can appreciate a beautifully crafted game of any kind. Lucky for the industry, women have flocked to gaming without much attention from marketers. The industry may want to consider a little conversation with its female fans. Every woman loves good conversation, and we’re notoriously loyal to good listeners.          

     

     

    About Rebecca Rothschild: A sci-fi and gaming junkie who was working in corporate America as an IT and not feeling fulfilled, Rotschild is currently the coordinating producer and editor for Sugar Gamers in Chicago, a local female-oriented gaming community. Her biggest project on the side is her graphic novel still in the works. She loves comic books, anime and, of course, video games, first-person shooters being her specialty.

    Full story

    Comments (1)

  • Are Video Games Addictive?

    Should we blame video games for causing gamers to become addicted to playing?

     

    In August, a man sued the manufacturer of Lineage II over his addiction to the game. The popular health site, WebMD, contains an article warning about video game addiction and discussing a detox center in Amsterdam that caters to the treatment of game addiction. Back in 2007, doctors shied away from designating video game addiction as a mental disorder, explaining that more study would be required before such a designation could be made.

     

    A brand-new study by Yale University suggests that “a small but not insignificant proportion of kids find themselves unable to control their gaming,” said study author Rani Desai, an associate professor of psychiatry and public health at the Yale University School of Medicine.

     

    “That's cause for concern because that inability is associated with a lot of other problem behaviors."

     

    The study defines problem gaming as having three main symptoms: trying and failing to play games less, feeling an irresistible urge to play and experiencing tension that could only be eased by play. The majority of the study participants showed no signs of problem gaming, but 5 percent reported all three main symptoms. The symptoms are more likely in boys (5.8 percent vs. 3 percent in girls). The study draws correlations between the symptoms and a higher risk of smoking, drug use, depression and fighting. The study does not conclude that problem gaming causes these other issues.

     

    An extensive article by Aaron Ruby that appears on The ECA’s site analyzes other studies that do draw the conclusion that video games are addictive. Ruby argues that these conclusions are flawed and even biased.

     

    Can video games be an addictive substance? Should video games carry warning labels like cigarettes? Or are people with more tendencies to develop addictions the ones who are becoming “addicted” to video games?

    Full story

    Comments (0)

  • Slaying the Dragon: Fighting Fire with Water

    This is the second post by independent game developer Dan Felder, who has his own indie studio and consults other game developers in his spare time. Read his first post here.

     

    Look at the dragon. It’s tremendous, a monstrosity that dwarfs giants and their kin. Its gleaming scales are hard as diamonds, its jagged teeth sharper than nails…. And to top it off, it breathes fire. Yes… Fire. Now that’s just not fair!

     

    In order to defeat the dragon, you can’t fight fire with fire (remember its aforementioned respiratory condition). If you want to take down this beast of legend and get away with some of its treasure, you have to tip the battle in your favor. Seriously, have you ever tried fighting fire with fire? It sucks. Instead, fight fire with water – you’ll be a lot happier.

     

    When you’re shifting the battle to your favor, it has to be at a game the dragons aren’t used to playing. Hit them where they’re weak, hit them where they can’t strike back, and – if possible – try to challenge them to a ballet contest. Dragons are great at tearing through mountainsides and roasting regiments in their flames… But they have a bit of trouble fitting into a theater (not to mention a tutu).

     

    So how do you shift the battle to your advantage?

     

    It starts in design.

     

    Your first goal is to create a title that changes the discussion of how to evaluate the game, matching your strength directly against the Dragon’s weakness. You don’t have to be better at everything, you just need to be different in one thing – so you become a legitimate choice.

     

    Here’s a real-life example. A few months ago, I was strolling through the farmer’s market and passed by a pie salesman. The man was selling blueberry pie. Now I was actually on my way to a stand a few dozen feet away, one I’d been going to for years, that made the best apple pie I’d ever tasted… And I love apple pie.

     

    Still, the blueberry pie salesman waved me over and asked me if I liked pie. I responded, politely, that I did, but only apple pie – and I was on my way to get a piece right now from the other stand. “Great farm.” He nodded, “They make great apple pie. You want me to tell you what makes mine special?” I shrugged and said, “Sure.”

     

    He lifted one of the pies from the table. “This pie,” he said, “Is the only pie here made from the freshest, most delicious wild blueberries. There’s nothing else like it. Want to try a slice?”

     

    I did, and it was great… And I ended up buying a pie, too.

     

    If the man had tried to offer an apple pie, he never would have been able to beat out my favorite stand – but he didn’t try to fight fire with fire. Instead he offered me something completely different, yet absolutely great in its own right. He knew he couldn’t compete with my favorite stand when it came to apple pies – but they sure couldn’t compete with him when it came to blueberry. Why? Because they didn’t make blueberry pies!

     

    He changed the battlefield and got me to buy in, and I’ve loved blueberry pie ever since.

     

    So what about fighting fire with water?

     

    The key is that the dragon’s got a weak point. Maybe on its flank, or in its co-op mode, but it has one SOMEWHERE. All you have to do is find it and then craft your title to slam through that weak point as powerfully as possible. Just pick something, anything, that the most popular titles don’t do too well (or at all)… And then make it your purpose in life to do it so well that everyone else looks absolutely silly by comparison. You don’t have to beat them with better graphics, you just have to be different – wonderfully, engagingly different. If the battle isn’t about the best graphics and the biggest explosions – then the dragons won’t know what to do.

     

    After all if the battle’s about teeth vs. teeth, fire vs. fire… The biggest, meanest dragon always wins. But let’s take a look at mermaids. Could a dragon eat a mermaid alive? Oh hell yes. It’s called sushi. But which do you think a sailor would rather spend time with? Well, I’ll let the Flight of the Conchords answer that (via YouTube). 

     

    So, right from the moment you’re shaping your title, make sure that its strengths hit directly against the dragon’s weaknesses… And don’t you dare do it halfway. A poke at the dragon’s weak point isn’t going to do anything, you need to hit that sucker with a sledgehammer. If the biggest titles have overly complex leveling systems, make yours so simple that a near-sighted goldfish could make it through the game. If everyone’s simple – make yours require a graduate-level course in character customization just to make sense of it! Alright, these are exaggerations but only barely so. In order to avoid comparisons to the dragons, you have to make sure that people can’t compare you to the dragons… Except where your strengths lie. Just make sure the game’s still fun!

     

    So put your flamethrower back on the shelf and pull out the fire extinguisher. Trust me, you’d rather have the extinguisher when you’re facing down a dragon. Unless it’s trying to twirl its way across a ballet stage that is, but then – you’ve already won.

     

    Dan Felder

     

    About Dan Felder: A student at Babson College in Massachusetts, Felder is studying entrepreneurship while building his own indie game studio. He has a passion for storytelling and theater, which is playing out in his studio by giving it a creative vision to advance the conversation about what games can be and how games can touch us, move us, embolden us and strengthen us. He also blogs for Gamasutra, a leading game industry news site.

    Full story

    Comments (0)

  • GameStreamer Protects Its Users

    A recently well publicized alleged breach of online gamers' privacy may be causing concern about other gaming sites’ safety. Rest assured that GameStreamer strictly abides by the privacy policy on our game store sites. Users’ privacy is very important to us, and one of our goals is to earn and maintain the trust of the online gaming community.

     

    You can read our privacy policy in its entirety on our game store sites, but here are a couple of key points:

     

    • GameStreamer may use personally identifiable information collected through the Web Site for the specific purposes for which the information was collected, to process Orders made via the Web Site, to contact Users regarding Content, products and services offered by GameStreamer, and otherwise to enhance Users’ experience with GameStreamer and such affiliates, independent contractors and business partners.
    • When we first collect information about you, we will offer you the opportunity to opt-out of having your personal information shared with parties outside of GameStreamer or its subsidiaries or affiliates (except to the extent required by law, court order, or as requested by other government or law enforcement authority).

     

    GameStreamer does not share personal information to third parties without users’ permission, and we respect users’ wishes regarding their privacy.

     

    In addition to our policies, we protect our users’ credit card and personal information via our payment-processing vendors PayPal and Authorize.net.

     

    Should you or your customers have any questions or concerns about users’ privacy on any GameStreamer-powered site, please email us at info@gamestreamer.net.    

     

    Full story

    Comments (0)

  • Slaying the Dragon: How Indie Game Studios Can Hold Their Own

    This is the second post in our series by independent game developers. Our guest blogger this week, Dan Felder, has his own indie studio and consults other game developers in his spare time.

     

    It’s the classic boss battle at the end of the game. The enemy is huge, tremendous, seems nigh-indestructible and as old as time… While you stand there with only your sword. The battle seems impossible to win… But you know that it is not, that no enemy is perfect, and that even this leviathan must have some fatal flaw, some weak point through which to drive your blade.

     

    Welcome, Indie Game Company. Your enemy is Epic Games, EA, Ubisoft, Bioware and many, many more. Your weapon? Your newest, perhaps first, title. But as wondrous as your blade may be, it is useless unless you drive it into the beast’s weak point. Only then may you claim title as the ruler of the realm and live to fight another day.

     

    But how do you find that chink in their armor?

     

    First off, you must answer the question, “Why should someone buy our game, instead of any of the most popular titles in existence – ones with heavy marketing and established brands?” Think about that question a moment – and don’t you dare try to argue “we’ll charge less”. If the main argument for your game is that it costs less money… You’re already setting yourself up to fail. Besides, why would you want to spend months of your life making a product designed to be inferior? You wouldn’t – so throw that out with the trash and let’s get back to slaying this dragon.

     

    So why should someone buy your game instead of Activision’s latest?

     

    Because you offer something that they don’t.

     

    You don’t have much budget, so awesome graphics are probably out. This means you offer some part of the experience that is better or at least different than what the most popular titles in your genre do. Sure, you might be making an RPG – but your RPG is funny as hell. Sure you might be making an RTS, but your RTS is more customizable than anything with ‘craft’ in the title… Or maybe you just offer an entirely new way of melding mechanics to create a unique play experience. Try to get the words “first ever” somewhere in your game description – that will go a long, long way. But, no matter how you do it, you need to answer the question “why should someone buy our game instead of the most popular titles out there?”

     

    If you can’t explain it in one or two sentences, then you’ll never be able to explain it to your customers… And the dragons will eat you alive.

     

    Dan Felder

     

    Naturally, this is a huge topic and this entry has barely scratched the first scale of the beast we all seek to tackle. I’ll be delving into it much further in future articles. In the meantime, what are the reasons your games are worth buying over your competitors? Leave a comment below with the name of your game and the reason it is special.

     

    About Dan Felder: A student at Babson College in Massachusetts, Felder is studying entrepreneurship while building his own indie game studio. He has a passion for storytelling and theater, which is playing out in his studio by giving it a creative vision to advance the conversation about what games can be and how games can touch us, move us, embolden us and strengthen us. He also blogs for Gamasutra, a leading game industry news site.

    Full story

    Comments (0)

  • Advice from an Independent Game Developer

    This post is the first of a series of posts by independent game developers. They will be sharing their experiences and advice for aspiring developers, as well as their viewpoints on the game industry. Our first guest blogger is George Hufnagl, co-founder of My Escape, an eight-month-old development company.

     

    As we conclude production on our group’s first game and dovetail into the sophomore title, I am letting out a poignant sigh of relief because, for our group My Escape, we are about to achieve a victory toward which our progress had me holding my breath for months. Four artists, three programmers, one designer, audio designer/producer and advertising consultant later, we are excited to release Critter Cubes, a micro game that serves as a stepping stone for what we aim to be a long and healthy journey as a developer. Our current team of seven (wonderful) members is pumped, not because we are breaking any technological barriers or hailing in a new epoch of development, but because we finished a game. Yep. That’s it.

     

    In the eyes of the gaming community, this will likely be a minor contribution to what is, in reality, an overcrowded carnival of multi-million-dollar AAA games, match three variations and everything in between. In our eyes, however, it means the world, because despite having eyes that were bigger than our stomachs, the unkept commitments of former members, the multiple changes in direction for a game that we never completed, the technological uncertainties and the fact that we work exclusively online with a 14-hour difference in time zones, we finished a game. Yep. We did it.

     

    Entering our eighth month as a team, I am building up a nice tab of lessons learned, including:

     

    • Enthusiasm is paramount. Don’t work with anyone whose voice doesn’t get higher when they talk about their work.
    • Someone needs to be the boss. Bohemia is nice for vacation, but not for game development.
    • Structure your time before, during and after development, both individually and collectively.
    • Encourage your teammates.
    • Encourage yourself.
    • Be creative.
    • Be nice.
    • Be honest.

     

    The question to ask is, “when the proverbial hits the fan, what will carry us through?” Is it the accolades, the (virtual) bags of money, the legions of fans? Those are nice, but they’re all superfluous to the main event – your gaming Id – desire, passion, enthusiasm. The rest is just noise.

     

    George Hufnagl

    Producer/Audio Designer

    My Escape™

     

    About My Escape: To etch the brand in online gamers' memory, My Escape seeks to create games that will entertain and appeal to those seeking a less-immersive gaming experience and a quick escape from quotidian reality. Competing in the online gaming industry that boasts to reach nearly one out of every two Internet users (Flash Games Market Survey, ComScore via Mochi Media, 2010), My Escape is set to play ball by introducing games centered on oddness, strangeness and peculiarity.

    For more information about My Escape, please visit www.my-escape.net.

    Full story

    Comments (4)

The opinions expressed here and by those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of GameStreamer.