A Parents' Guide to Gaming


Today, according to the American Library Association, is National Gaming Day at your Library. As a person who has grown up gaming, I see the confusion in some parents’ eyes as they try to determine what games are right for their children.

Your kid already knows what they want – but just because it’s a game doesn’t necessarily mean you should cave in, especially if you’re the type of parent that pays close attention to the movies your child watches or music they listen to. Why should video games be any different?

So today, I’ll be at my local library presenting, for parents who wish to attend, A Parent’s Guide to Gaming. I will be discussing ESRB ratings, as well as how the individual consoles handle their parental controls. For those unable to attend (the extreme majority of the people who view this website), I’ve prepared a few links that might help you.

Below are videos from the Entertainment Software Association of Canada – now these videos are a little old, but the majority of the information is still the same. I wish I had the ability to record today’s demonstrations, which will all show case the latest revisions of the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii. Since you can’t attend, below the videos are also step-by-step guides from the manufacturer’s themselves, describing in detail how to manage the Parental Controls of each console, with their latest updates.

Video Demonstrations
Configuring Parental Controls video for Microsoft Xbox 360
Configuring Parental Controls video for Sony PlayStation 3
Configuring Parental Controls video for Nintendo Wii

Written Guides
Setup Parental Controls step-by-step guides for Xbox 360
Setup Parental Controls step-by-step guides for PlayStation 3 (PS3)
Setup Parental Controls step-by-step guides for Wii

Sony's Webmaster Insulting you, or PlayStation.com hacked?

Visitors to this URL (http://us.playstation.com/PS3/dearplaystation/) today have been greeted with a the above message, insulting your computer comprehension.

The message, telling you to “stop wasting [the webmaster’s] time,” shows up whether you have javascript and/or flash enabled or installed, respectively, contrary to the error message itself. The message is extremey blunt, rather than a helpful message intructing you on how to fix the issue, or linking you to the Adobe Flash website, the message simply insults visitors.

At first I began to think a self righteous webmaster is tired of troubleshooting other people’s problems. Based on that train of thought, I’m sure it was thought that the message would never be seen by Sony’s customers, but after all of the problems they’ve been having with the PSN this weekend, this just seems like the wrong time to be offending the people visiting your website for information.

Then I looked at the web address, and the message… “Dear Playstation, get flash and/or enable javascript and stop wasting my time.” The message could have been left by someone else. But if that’s the case, that means it was left by a website hacker. Even if it was done with some basic script hacking, SQL injections, whatever – it makes you question the security of Sony’s website – and therefore the security of your information. Sony prides themselves on their regular currency transactions, but that may of course mean you have your credit card on file with the PSN. How do you feel, now?

Potential data (trophy) corruption, PlayStation network being down and causing problems with games, and now a hacker loose on PlayStation.com? Bad form, Sony. Bad form.

3D Dot Game Heroes: Gameplay promo video #2

3D Dot Game Heroes consistently seems to find itself in some kind of controversy. Familiar characters, music, settings… but if I happened to be Nintendo or anyone from the Zelda teams, I would be flattered.

While I’m not big in to RPG’s, I always thought the pure concept of this game looked great. Screen shots were great to look at, but I have to say, it’s the gameplay video that makes me most interested in someday getting a ‘hands on’ with this game.

Take a look at some great game play footage from Promotional Video #2. It’s another video from mid-October, like the Heavy Rain video we showed yesterday, but I have just been interested in taking a look at some of the more creative titles coming out of Japan, and hopefully arriving in the states some time soon!

[zdvideo]http://NuAngel.net/video/3D_DGH_PV_vol.2_PS3.flv[/zdvideo]

Heavy Rain dev interview: "special presentation"

Just in case you missed it, this video was released on the Japanese Playstation Network in October of 2009. At the time I really didn’t care that much, but the more I hear about Heavy Rain, the more interested I get. I’m actually getting very excited to get my hands on this game, and this video really helped boost the interest level. They talk about the sheer amount of time spent in motion capture, they show a good deal of game play footage, without being too ‘spoilery’ (though if you’d prefer to play the entire game knowing as little as possible, you may not want to watch).

It’s been about 2 months since this video was originally released, but it’s release was not entirely wide-spread, and, again, the closer we get to the launch of Heavy Rain, I figure more people might be looking for things of this nature. Enjoy!

[zdvideo]http://NuAngel.net/video/HEAVY%20RAIN%20special%20presentation.flv[/zdvideo]

Xbox Live vs. PSN: you get what you pay for!

My head just hurts, sometimes. Whether it was this weekend’s Belicheck’s Bad Decision, or problems in the video games industry, I just want to lock my doors and hide sometimes. Infinity Ward Community Manager Robert Bowling says that the Playstation Network collapsed under too many players in Modern Warfare 2. He explained in multiple Tweets that they had to bring more servers online, supporting 20,000 users at a time. Even Glenn & Mark over at PS Nation Podcast spent more than a couple of minutes venting about the problems. My biggest complaint is that the folks at Sony clearly had no idea this was coming.

Even Sony is so used to their attachment rate being so low that the glorified BluRay player stigma has even reached into the depths of their PlayStation Network operations center.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s people were on hand and watching the numbers climb, they were prepared, and they set the record of 2 million concurrent users on Xbox Live. Two million people using one unified service at one time. Meanwhile, the PlayStation network experienced so many problems that they had to start enabling extra servers. Go green as much as you want, but you didn’t think that maybe you should have had those servers online in preparation for such an event, then toned down the extras later?

Sony just proves, time and time again, that they are racing to play catch up with Microsoft’s Xbox Live service. Just weeks after announcing the Netflix Disc, Sony has confirmed that t heir next Firmware update will include a standalone Facebook program. Great, they get to mimic one of Xbox 360’s least demanded features, good for them. Oh, I’m sorry, when was the feature demanded since the 2007 launch, cross-game chat, coming to the PS3? Oh, right, it’s still not. It is even to a point where, even as a PlayStation 3 owner, I’m genuinely disgusted with their service. I don’t care how tired this argument is, I’m going to state the simple fact again. If it would make it better, CHARGE ME FOR IT! People are ready to take that hit, it’s obvious.

Sony passes up a gigantic revenue stream in favor of trying to look like Mr. Nice Guy. While Xbox Live costs $50 annually, and games like World of Warcraft end up costing their players a minimum of $150 each year, Sony insists that they should remain free, but it is obvious that this budget minded plan is only hurting them, and if they want to be taken seriously as anything more than my BluRay player, Sony is undoubtedly going to have to step things up in 2010, or pack in the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Network and start laying all new groundwork to make the PlayStation 4 regain the pride the the Sony PlayStation name once carried.