The ‘Creepy-Rapey-E3’

While the console war battled on between Sony and Microsoft at last week’s E3, some of the aftershock is about a different war, the one sounding off about women and sexism in the games industry. Yes, still.  Recently Kotaku writer Tina Amini revealed five women’s unfortunate encounters with harassment at the expo. These women were not booth babes, nor were they decked out in cosplay.  And no, they were not part of the “Just Dance” battle on stage — they were journalists, PR professionals and developers attempting to do their job for the love of video games.

“After speaking to a few female journalists and PR reps who attended E3 this year, I learned that, in the midst of all the excitement, they were unhappy to admit a more offensive common theme of this year’s show: They called it the —creepy-rapey-E3′,” writes Amini.

Amini outlines encounters from her female colleagues in the industry, “You might not have heard about the security guard that groped a journalist at this year’s E3. Or the writer who gave a PR woman his business card by slipping it in her dress. Or the women presumed to be booth babes simply because of the way they looked.”

The first uncomfortable anecdote comes from a female games reporter who asked to go unnamed. She recounted her encounter with one of the security guards at the expo.

Amini paints the scenario, “She waved to a friend. A security guard who was covering the back rooms where these interviews took place mistakenly thought that wave was meant for him. He approached her. She responded to his small talk casually — in a friendly manner, she said,” her eyes darting to the flashy big screen that showcased new trailers for upcoming games. She wasn’t invested in the conversation, she told me. It showed. Suddenly, he was standing over her. Looming, she told me. He wrapped his hands around her shoulders in such a way that ‘he could have easily moved’ her.”

“I was physically compromised,” she told Amini. “I wasn’t in a position I could’ve slipped out of. I had to shake him off.”

As if his touching and aggressive behavior wasn’t enough to shake up the young reporter, he proceeded to tell her, “It’s just that it’s funny, because I’m here and there are all these hot girls here and then you find out they’re gamers. I didn’t know girls like this existed, and I’m basically getting paid to stand here all day and look at them.”

The journalist’s account gives a picture of what it can be like for women at game conferences.  For anyone needing a visual reference, it’s captured by this GIF making the rounds that caught an expo staffer’s creepy behavior.

Amini talked to other women professionals who experienced moments at E3 bordering on harassment. Booth babes have become an area of controversy for the industry. Whether you agree with the marketing ploy or not, this next woman’s story shows the issue with scantily clad women at industry events and the assumptions it can provoke.

In one instance, two female PR reps were mistaken for booth babes and approached by an onlooker.  When they refused to take a picture with him, he blurted out, “If you’re a booth babe, isn’t it your job to take pictures with me?”

In another, a female journalist said she was exploited in a photo when she is taking a break at the Donkey Kong display at the Nintendo booth and noticed attendees were taking photos of her.

“A male onlooker snapped a photo at the same time. Nothing too strange about that — I’ve taken photos of displays with people in them before, just to get a snapshot of the moment.”

But soon afterwards, she told Amini, someone came up and told her something chilling: the onlooker had zoomed in and taken a photo of her breasts.  The man was confronted by PR representatives and forced to delete the photo.

The E3 show floor wasn’t the only place with displays of sexism gone wild. The same PR representative who mistaken for a booth babe earlier had another situation at an industry party, where a visibly drunk man pulled out his business card and slowly moved it into her cleavage. She was left frozen and recalled to Amini that she was left feeling “completely helpless.”

Another account comes from Amini’s writing colleague Jenn Frank, who has written for Kotaku. Frank tells the story of two employees at a noted AAA studios who thought they would charm her by calling her unattractive and joking about her glasses.  Their intentions?

“If you can make a woman feel bad about herself you can sleep with her, but it just isn’t working tonight,” the developer was overheard saying afterwards.

Amini writes, “I’ve never written a story like this before. I’ve admittedly been afraid to in the past. These confessions are always met with skepticism and hatred and accusations. The bravery to step up is rarely celebrated. It’s seen as whiny and entitled. That reaction is baffling. And I’m glad that the women who spoke with me for this story shared their experiences. They’re why I know I can’t be afraid anymore. I don’t have that choice.”

Source: Kotaku

File Share Flavor Flav

Public Enemy has a lot of beefs but file sharing isn’t one of them.  The band is teaming up with Bit Torrent to promote their thirteenth studio album, Get Up, Stand Up.

The band is offering a bundle through Bit Torrent that includes their new album’s title track as a free download.  Once users sign up and download the song, they can unlock additional content such as the music video and video outtakes from the band. They can also jump from the Bit Torrent app over to iTunes to “Support the Artist” and buy the album’s remaining tracks.

For fans, outside of getting a free single, the coolest part of the promo has to be that one of the pieces of content to unlock is a version of the song that they can remix.

Public Enemy producer Gary Rinaldo laid out the philosophy behind the promo and partnership with Bit Torrent, saying, “The ability to freely share an archive and have flexibility on how it can be used is an extremely powerful tool when it comes to making music and media available.”

Source: PSFK

Forza 5 Trailer Shows Impressive Visuals

The Forza racing game series has a pedigree of stellar graphics, and Forza 5 is no exception. Forza 5 will be one of the launch titles for the Xbox One, and is meant to show off the graphical capabilities the system offers. All of the footage in this trailer is in-game, gameplay footage, and it displays the impressive graphics of the Xbox One to full effect.


Prepare To Die Again In Dark Souls II

Dark Souls was one of the runaway success stories of 2011, offering up a brilliant setting, tight controls and its trademark punishing difficulty. The E3 trailer for its sequel Dark Souls II promises even more of what made Dark Souls great. Giant enemies, despair-filled castles, haunted corridors and grim knights fill the darkness. The game will be released in March of next year.

A Realm Reborn Promises A New Start

When Final Fantasy XIV was released to the public in 2010 it suffered from glitchy gameplay, a broken UI and an overall less than stellar experience. With A Realm Reborn, Square Enix is looking to relaunch the game and fix everything that plagued the original release. The E3 trailer for this relaunch looks promising, showing off the new story, lands, and updated graphics that this reborn Eorzea promises. The game will be launched on August 27 this year for PC and PS3, with a PS4 launch coming in 2014.


Sony Online Entertainment Announces 2013 G.I.R.L. Scholarship Winner

Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) announced yesterday that Esther Wu of Brooklyn, New York has been named the winner of the 2013 Gamers in Real Life (G.I.R.L.) Scholarship. Now in its sixth year, the scholarship program was established to encourage women to pursue careers in the video game industry in the areas of development and design.

Wu, a student at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, was awarded a $10,000 scholarship to use for her college tuition and other educational expenses. In addition, she will spend 10 weeks on a paid internship at SOE’s headquarters in San Diego. Following graduation, Wu aspires to work as a concept artist on AAA video games.

“It’s exhilarating to be selected for this amazing opportunity to work alongside some of the industry’s best game artists at SOE in California,” said Wu. “I think this competition is important because it represents a stepping stone for artists and helps build awareness about gender in the work environment.”

As part of the competition, finalists were asked to submit two pieces of original concept art inspired by either PlanetSide 2 or EverQuest II, and an essay discussing their views on women in the gaming industry. The submission was reviewed by a panel of judges from Sony Online Entertainment. Wu’s winning art entry was inspired by the vehicles and characters in PlanetSide 2. Her goal with the piece was to transform the general design and add new perspective.

“As public conversation on gender issues evolves, SOE is committed to leading by example and providing talented women with relevant experience in the games industry,” said Laura Naviaux, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing, Sony Online Entertainment. “We urge more organizations to consider similar scholarship programs focused on encouraging these talented artists and designers – we need more women in this industry.”

“Esther’s entry exhibited both creativity and an impressive level of concept skills,” said Joe Shoopack, Director of Artist Development, Sony Online Entertainment. “Every year the entries continue to impress us more, showcasing the incredible talent of student artists and designers across the country.”

For the 2013 internship and scholarship, Sony Online Entertainment received applications from students at universities across the country. The G.I.R.L. submission phase closed on March 29, 2013. Scholarship America, SOE’s scholarship administrator, narrowed down the submissions to a pool of semi-finalists based on certain eligibility criteria.

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Rayman Legends CG Trailer Shows New Character, Settings

In the first trailer for Ubisoft’s Rayman Legends since last year’s E3, a gorgeous CG shows off a new character and new worlds for Rayman and friends to explore. Rayman’s trademark animation is put on display as a new redheaded character jumps between worlds to get Rayman out of a rough situation using her axe and the platforming the franchise is known for. Rayman Legends will be unleashed upon the world on September 3.

Donkey Kong Country Trailer Shows Gorgeous Jungles

One of Nintendo’s many reveals during their press conference was the newest iteration of Retro’s reborn Donkey Kong Country franchise, subtitled Tropical Freeze. The trailer shows off the 3D rendered 2D platforming gameplay the franchise is known for set amidst lush, vibrant jungle environments. The game will be released for the Wii U this fall.


Firefox May Shut Down Cookies, Advertisers

A Mozilla Firefox volunteer developer named Jonathan Mayer has now threatened to render years of negotiations about the nature of ad-based tracking cookies useless, by effectively shutting them down forever. Mayer has set a cutoff date for ad companies’ negotiations for July. Should they fail to reach a consensus on “Do Not Track” by then, Mayer will shut off the ability to use third party tracking cookies on Firefox for good.

Mayer suggested the talks be abandoned if the browser makers and advertisers cannot come to an agreement this month. This would send advertisers back to the drawing board to find new ways to tailor ads to consumers over the internet. Right now, the browser situation is mixed; Apple’s Safari blocks cookies, Internet Explorer 10 does not block tracking, and Chrome has tracking on by default. Advertisers want tracking on by default, and it’s not clear how the impasse will be resolved.

According to some research, digital advertising is a $40 billion industry in the U.S. alone, and about half of that spend requires using third-party cookies to locate and target relevant consumers. With Safari blocking cookies by default, and apparently Firefox to follow, advertisers are going to have figure out how to target consumers in some other way. Ironically, the end result may be less control in the hands of users, or less transparency. Complicating the issue is the increasing use of mobile devices to access web sites, with an entirely different set of issues for tracking unique users. The situation is a mess, and getting messier.

Source: Business Insider

Social Networking Will Soon Reach 1 In 4 People This Year

According to the recent eMarketer report, “Worldwide Social Network Users: 2013 Forecast and Comparative Estimates,” an impressive one in four people around the world will use social networks by the end of this year. This ratio means that the ranking of social users by varied region will actually mirror the regional shares of the global population by 2014.

“This was an inevitable development, as social network usage has moved from taking place primarily in advanced markets to being a common activity for people around the world,” the study notes.

Additionally, the report revealed that by 2015, more tech-savvy markets of North America, Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe will have the highest increase in users worldwide. And according to eMarketer, beginning in 2016, Latin America will surpass Western Europe in social network usage. The study expects the fastest jump in social network users will come from India, Indonesia, Mexico, China and Brazil.

This widespread usage of social media has prompted researchers at eMarketer to increase their 2013 forecast for total users by 100 million since their August 2012 report.

“This upward adjustment is based on new data that indicates higher-than-expected totals for internet users in India, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Russia and the Middle East and Africa; new data showing higher estimates for UK social network users than previously forecast; and a new breakout of social network users in the Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden,” the marketers reveal.

The largest area of social media users comes from Asia-Pacific, with an audience of 777 million people and a share of over 40 percent of social network users worldwide expected by the end of this year. This is more than triple the size of Latin America’s entire social media audience, which is the second-largest worldwide.

More impressive is that by the end of this year, over 60 percent of internet users around the world will use a social network at least once per month and will rise to more than three out of four internet users by 2016.

Source: eMarketer