Daily Archives: April 20, 2009

Totilo Leaves MTV

In late February of this year, MTV Multiplayer Blog lost 50% of its staff when Patrick Klepek departed. Now the games + entertainment site will lose it full, primo editor, Stephen Totilo, according to the farewell letter posted this afternoon on the blog.stephen_totilo

In the honest, short, and prideful goodbye letter–I think he said “proud” 10 times–Totilo says he isn’t going into games development, but instead will remain in games journalism.

My guess is he’s going to NewsWeek to take over for the post left open by former NewsWeek tech writer, N’Gai Croal. By doing so, Totilo can stay in New York and take over the NewsWeek technology beat, a big part of which is now games, assuming the publication offered him the job. And since Totilo and Croal were such good friends, it wouldn’t surprise me if Croal recommended him.

I joke a little about the pride factor, but Totilo does have something to be proud of. The MTV Multiplayer blog started in obscurity and was essentially looked at as a light-weight extension of the MTV pop beat. But because of the MTV moniker, there were vague expectations of professionalism. Over a four-year period it ascended into a well-respected source of news and often times presented a keen observation on the state of video games. It hit its stride when Klepek joined in and gave the site an extra shot of youth, news, and zing.

And oh, Steven, it was the Super NES and the N64 power connectors that worked in each other’s systems.

In all seriousness, Totilo will be missed in his current role. Thanks to him for keeping games journalism well reported, topical but deep, and geeky yet professionally done.

UPDATE: In this article, I speculated that Totilo would land at NewsWeek. Turns out Kotaku confirmed he has joined its staff.

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Filed under Tech, Video Games

Addicted to Video Games: Crisis or Old News?

The Washington Post’s recent article citing the results of the first nationally representative study in the United States is like someone telling the world that deep within the closed can of sardines are sardines. Eureka!

The results, like the recent national announcement that we’re in a recession, are obvious. But they’re official, which makes them better than Jack Thompson just talking or hysterical parents screaming that they have lost control of their kids. It’s less tragic than death, to be sure. In other words, researcher Douglas Gentile’s results are interesting, even if they tell is something we all knew.

Gentile of Iowa State University learned that “8.5 percent of American youths ages 8 to 18 who play video games show multiple signs of behavioral addiction.” Take note, parents: video games are addicting.

How many times have I written in a review that a video game is addicting? Dozens, maybe hundreds of times before. Now multiply that times how many times every other video game writer has used the phrase to describe a game?

twitter-addictsHere’s a list of legal things that are also addicting: Coffee, caffeinated drinks, alcohol, television, cell phones, and sex. And, whatever it is that you really, really like, these are all things that have the mysterious spell that pulls humans away from everything else and makes them. I’m pretty sure most people I know are addicted to Twitter. Thesaurus.com lists “hooked,” “obsessive,” and “enslaving” as synonyms. I like enslaved.

“8.5 percent of American youths ages 8 to 18 who play video games show multiple signs of behavioral ‘enslavement.'”

Yeah.

Thanks to the baby boom generation’s experimentation with drugs, the phrase “addicted” is used loosely to describe things we like (a lot), and so the word “addictive” has become less inflammatory, less worrisome, and used more often in daily language.

That doesn’t make the seriousness of the research less important or relevant. It makes the study potentially very good data for parents, teachers, and people in general, from which to learn.

How do you deal with people drink too much coffee? You slowly wean them off it. Change their habits. What about alcohol? Get them in a clinics. Sex? Cut off their genitals, duh.

Stopping kids from playing should be easy. Cut off their fingers. Or, you can shut them in a dark basement and feed them scraps of bread for a week.

A slightly less medieval approach is to limit their time. For instance, permit them to play one hour a day, five hours a week. or only on weekends.  Make them play outside. Give them more books to read. Go camping; you know, get far, far away from the TV.

In short, a healthy doze of moderation is the key. Or you could just cut off their fingers.

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Filed under Health, Video Games

Street Fighter IV National Champ Puts Rufus on Top

sfiv_tourney_moreCapcom and GameStop hosted the Street Fighter IV US National Championship Finals in San Francisco’s Fort Mason Saturday night, awarding Justin Wong, playing as the character Rufus, the national champion’s award. Wong took home a brand new  Street Fighter IV arcade cabinet, a trophy, and the knowledge that he had serious nards to win as Rufus.

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More than 1,000 gamers, fans, and players attended the event in which 16 national finalists played to win, including Street Fighter IV producer, Yoshinori Ono, and Seth Killian, EVO founder and advisor on SFIV.

Wong beat Mike Ross, who played as E. Honda for the national championship title. Wong then moved into the International Exhibition where he faced Japanese National Champion Iyo, Korean National Champion Poongko, and Daigo Umehara of Japan. Umehara beat Wong in the final round of the international championships.

GameStop and Capcom partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank for the “Street Fighter Fights Hunger” charity food drive. Guests brought canned foods and offered donations.

And no good Street Fighter event could go without cosplay exhibitionists, strangely dressed up folks who love their Street Fighter.  Those brave and tortured souls dressed up as Ken, Ryu, Chun-Li and a variety of Street Fighter characters to show off their devotion to their favorite game and characters. Attendees saw freestyle dance crews do their thing, including America’s Best Dance Crew finalists Supreme Soul.

There are several other sites that wrote up the story. Check Kineda.com, VG247.com, Destructoid.com, and Escapistmagazine.com.

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Filed under Video Games