Loot Boxes Are Gambling And Are Ruining Gaming

So the newest hot button issue in the world of gaming is the huge uptick in games having loot boxes. Game companies have been trying to squeeze additional dollars out of consumers for years, through map packs, costume packs, and additional DLC.
But over the last few years randomized loot crates or boxes have started making their way into new titles, going so far as to give unfair advantages to people willing to spend the money.

This week our redneck friend Randy wants to expand a bit on the culture of loot boxes, gambling, and how random garbage in our games (and our lives) are ruining everything.

Is Amazon’s Anime Strike Ruining Anime?

We’re back and our local redneck (we happen to be in the Nashville, Tennessee area) Randy has a few things to say about Amazon’s Anime Strike. Anime Strike is a $5 a month streaming service for anime, much like CrunchyRoll and Funimation. But the catch with their service is that you must also be an Amazon Prime member to be able to subscribe, as a price of $99 a year.

So with the barrier to entry at around $104, it’s controversial. Even more controversial is the fact that Amazon has been going around buying up highly anticipated shows as exclusives. Just yesterday they announced obtaining the rights to the show “Welcome To The Ballroom”, much to the chagrin of anime fans.

With their newness in the anime game, it feels like their taking their large war chest of money and picking up shows knowing people will have no choice but to subscribe to both Prime and Strike to watch it.

All these points are rubbing people the wrong way. But we’ll let our country friend Randy explain it all in a little more (humorous) detail:







The Ten Types of People On DragonCon’s “Marriott Day”

Close up of young couple fighting

Today geeks around the world went through the annual nightmare and clusterfuck of trying to reserve a room at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis for DragonCon. Every year, the process is a Bruckheimer-sized assplosion, pissing off everyone that missed out and leaving those that DID get a room in post-coital tears of bliss.


But I don’t want to focus on whether Marriott’s reservation system is a jacked up mess (it is) or if Passkey is a company equivalent to hot street trash (it is). No–let’s instead look at the 10 types of people that show up on “Marriott Day”.

1. The Social Activist

#STOPMARRIOTT2013

#STOPMARRIOTT2013

After the annual train wreck you’ve got several people ready to make a Reddit-style movement to somehow convince the Marriott to care that their phone lines were busy and their website sucked. Perhaps they’ll slap some impact font on Grumpy Cat–that should get their attention.

“I’ve twerted across the web about the terrorists at the Marquis. I DON’T THINK YOU REALIZE HOW MANY FOLLOWERS I HAVE GOOD SIR #ITHOUGHTTHISWASAMERICA #UNFAIR #HOTELMORELIKEBLOWTEL #CATVIDEOS”

2. Mr. “THERE’S GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY AND I’VE DESIGNED IT”

homerpotato

They work in…I don’t know, Public Relations? But they’ve created a better system for reservations while being stuck on hold waiting for an operator. It involves old badges and a lottery and some software and hiring 8,000 additional telephone operators. Often it will include a method to weed out all the “fake geeks”.

“OK, I’ve got an eight-level system where people can test their awareness of Firefly and Troma film quotes. As you attain awareness of each level, you are allowed to get one step closer to a king-size room. Only once you reach the seventh level (a series of drills praising the works of Lou Ferrigno) will you be allowed to know the Passkey website address…Wait, did I just invent Scientology?”

3. The DragonCon Hipster

disneyhipsters

They hated the crowds and hotel rush at DragonCon before it was cool. They’ve designed several events, adventures, and tournaments that they will be attending instead.

“Oh GOD what losers still want to go to DragonCon? I’ve set up a 5-day sleepover to have a John Ritter movie marathon, followed by a tournament featuring board games based on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”. Get on my level slaves to the corporate convention grind.”

But someone has to get those rooms, right? Most people who actually manage to snag a room react in two ways:

4. Sir Humblebrag

humblebrag

They proudly post their achievement in every thread with people still struggling to get a room, because that’s a good idea.

“OMG I have a room and it’s wonderful and OMG hope you get one but it must suck to be you but OMG I have one!!!111:-)”

5. The Silent Type

paranoid

The other type of person that got a room says…nothing. They don’t want to rub it in, possibly setting off a karmic chain of events that lead to their reservation being sucked into an alternate-universe wormhole, forever lost. Meanwhile, they’re checking their e-mail and credit card charges every 10 minutes for the next 5 to 6 weeks to make sure that it wasn’t some fluke of nature. They want to be happy and enjoy their success, but they have trouble sleeping all the way until they have their room key in their hand about 11 months later.

6. The “First-timer” AKA HOW DO I DRAGONCON?

ihavenoideadog

30 minutes after the rooms are gone, they hop on a random message board and ask…

“SO I TYPED IN DRAGONCON.CO.UK AND I DON’T SEE ANY ROOMS? CAN SOMEONE ICQ ME THE EMAIL ADDRESS TO ORDER A SUITE? THEY’RE ALL THE SAME PRICE RIGHT? ALSO I GET A DISCOUNT AT RED ROOF INNS. WILL MARRIOTT HONOR IT?”

7. The Daily Saver

scrooge

These are the people that absolutely refuse to stay at one of the host hotels. They scour the wastelands, searching for the cheapest week-long stay they can find in Atlanta. They also tend to bring George Foreman grills and cases of Cup-O-Ramen.

“Hell, I’m staying at a Howard Johnson and I could not be happier. I get a free copy of “Just Busted” magazine. DragonConTV? F’ THAT. I’ve got the 700 Club in 3 languages! It’s only a 50-minute walk to the con, plus I saw a sign for $30 Air Jordans that I’m TOTALLY taking advantage of. Sucks to be you Marri-autists!”

8. Controlled Renters

"So what if the other kids are at the Marriott?"

“So what if the other kids are at the Marriott?”

They reserved a room at the Hyatt or Hilton as soon as they arrived for last year’s con. And they’ll do it again next year. And the next. They shake their heads at us with our grand dreams of living in the Capital in Panem. Basically they are the hotel version of your parents wanting you to get a degree in computers instead of music because they don’t want you working at Taco Bell until you’re 40.

“Why don’t you just listen to your mother and get a room at the Hilton? Hey, look at me when I’m talking to you!”

9. The Quitter

hakase

Often you’ll find them deciding not to go one year…then quietly returning the next year, asking what the Passkey website address is. DragonCon is the one addiction they just can’t shake. Once they saw the 28th YouTube Steadicam costume montage being uploaded, they started to miss it. After paying less than $5 for a slice of Papa John’s pizza, they really started to miss it.

“THAT’S IT. I’M DONE. IT’S NOT WORTH IT! My Restless Leg Syndrome was going OFF THE CHARTS trying to get a room!”

10. The Hacker

enhance

He knows all the tricks to getting a room. Either that, or they assure all their friends that they know the “secret” Passkey address because they decoded the source code of the website. They’re also writing a screenplay adaptation of their hacking experiences starring Ryan Gosling as “Mark E. Marriott”, international sex marine and pro-League of Legends player. They usually have 8 laptops (all Mac) ready to slam the page once the madness starts.

“OK, you have to load the Passkey page when the digits add up to a prime number. So I’ve determined that you hit F5 at 8:57 and 15 seconds. 8+5+7+1+5=29. BOOM. You’re welcome.”

Will we be doing this again next year? Yup, probably. Despite the sarcasm, I love DragonCon. The hotel reservation system is a stressful process–and it is too bad that every person that wants to come down and hang out/cosplay/drink can’t get a room where they want.

So please, feel free to relate your terrible Passkey stories below!


Maybe You Should Refuse That Free Hug…

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

If you’ve ever suddenly been offered a hug by a stranger while you’re cosplaying, your first reaction is typically “Su..err..wait a..umm, maybe?” You might do it because you genuinely feel honored that someone must like your cosplay. You might do it just to get it over with. Hell, you might love hugs.

But at this year’s Anime Expo, a few hug requests seemingly allowed a group of GoPro-equipped guys to take advantage of female cosplayers.

A self-described stunt/action team called EMC Monkeys wandered around Anime Expo, walking up to unsuspecting female cosplayers, asking for a hug while wearing a chest-mounted GoPro. After AX was over, they compiled the footage into a montage called “GoProHugs: ANIME EXPO ’13” and uploaded it to their YouTube channel. You can see the screencap up top from their Instagram advertising it (I edited out the cosplayer’s chest).

After a few cosplayers reported this to the staff of AX (one of whom was under 18), the AX staff quickly responded with the statement below:

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

EMC Monkeys took the video down, and attempted to apologize using the infamous “half-apology” on their Facebook page. They apologize, but then attempt to explain that the camera really wasn’t hidden, that they yelled “GoPro hug!” as they reached out for a hug, and then pointed out the camera. They even say they aren’t sure if that’s legitimate consent or not.

If they weren’t sure before, I think the Internet cleared that up for them quickly.

A couple other thoughts… Their version of the story runs counter to the stories of several cosplayers who said they never had the GoPro pointed out until after the hug. While allegedly only one cosplayer complained to them, that doesn’t mean that many more weren’t offended. There’s a good chance that many of them were so surprised that they didn’t know what to say. Some people will just say “OK” but are actually offended. They just don’t want to cause a scene in a huge venue.

Also, in their apology they said “it was about hugging not just boobs”. The “#boobs” tag used in their Instagram post seems to run counter to that statement.

Incidents like this make cosplayers feel less safe enjoying their hobby. As someone that likes to shoot pictures and video at cons, it makes it more difficult to ask for a photo when people make bad decisions that make all photographers look like perverts.

Cosplayers should be able to feel comfortable at a convention without having to worry about things like this. But I guess the same rules always apply–have a handler nearby, don’t do anything you aren’t completely comfortable doing, etc…

Now even though something like this gets a ton of attention, 99.999% of the environment at a con is about friends, fun, and showing off your skills. Most attendees are amazing people that love the art, cosplay, and fans that make these events possible.

While I question the sincerity of their apology, I’m sure the EMC Monkeys have walked away from this incident with some perspective. They obviously have a passion for art, video games, and action movies. In this instance let’s hope they just made a poor decision that they won’t make again. Of course, the Internet Hate Machine can fuel the fire on both ends, from people who are offended to people that say “get over it”.

What do you think?

iPhone App “What’s the Word?” Paying Customers For 5-Star Ratings

Let’s see what titles are topping the charts in the App Store’s free section. (More and more often, “Free” means that you’ll be asked to pay for something within the first 10 minutes of play.)

At number three as of this writing we have What’s the Word?. It’s basically a remake of the test questions you had in elementary school, where 4 random images with one thing in common are shown on the screen. A jumble of letters appear below, and you must fill in the blank with your answer. It’s a rudimentary Facebook-style time waster, and apparently the next mediocre craze in the App Store. We went from tossing animals at bricks, to burning ropes, to free running, to drawing something, to this thing…

The game is…fine. After blasting through 15 or so image puzzles however, I received the traditional plea from the developer to rate their title. No biggie as better ratings=more downloads, and it’s a fair trade for the user of a free title to spend 15 seconds typing up what they think. However, the pop-up that asked for your time and opinion did something I’ve never seen in an iPhone app:

Whoa...really?

Whoa…really?

Wow. They don’t want just any old rating. They want 5 stars (who doesn’t?), and in return they’ll hook you up with 100 coins. Coins are the in-game currency that you can use if you get stuck on a puzzle. You get 2 measly coins for each puzzle you solve, meaning you’ll need to solve 20 to have even have enough to remove a letter.

Please sir, could I remove a letter?

Please sir, could I remove a letter?

If you get stuck on a puzzle before you have enough coins to help you solve it, then you have 2 choices. You can stop playing…forever, or you can purchase coins with real money.

That’s where this whole deal rubs me wrong. What’s the Word? offers you coins if you give them a 5-star rating. You can also buy coins with real money if you feel inclined to do so (or if you want to continue but don’t have enough to help solve a tricky puzzle). This is a straight up bribe in an attempt to artificially inflate their review score. If you look at the ratings for this title, most of them are 5-stars, many of them with quickie reviews like “Good!” Obviously they were just pumped out for people to get their free coins. Honestly I haven’t rated this title, as the pop-up plea for 5 stars turned me off.

So, they get a disingenuous high score, more people download it when they see the score, and more people are potentially out there to purchase more in game currency. Did their gaming of Apple’s App Store work?

I’d say it did, as they currently have the 12th spot on the list of Top Grossing games. More ratings = more money…

What's the word? CHA-CHING!

What’s the word? CHA-CHING!

I hope that Apple steps in before this becomes the norm on the App Store. People on the lookout for interesting new titles already struggle to dig through the clones and unoriginal content. Also, I’m afraid that developers trying to be successful will see this as the way to make it.

P.S. I personally wouldn’t buy in game currency for this one, as YouTube is your friend.

Snow Miku 2013 – Let The Ripoff eBay Sales Begin

Let’s look at what I like to call “sum ol’ bulllllshit…”

Every year Good Smile Company has been releasing a new Winter or “Snow” Nendoroid version of Miku Hatsune. (Here’s one year’s version, here’s another) Yes, they are cute and probably some of the nicest Nendoroid figures around.

This year is no different. This year’s is actually a very unique take that comes with some super-cool accessories:

So…if you as an American are moping around your Americanized bedroom with Ninja Turtles and Monster High posters, and you want one of these figures, the preorders started yesterday (GO HERE NOW GO GO GO). Right now they’re about 60 bucks total (40 for a figure plus 20 for shipping…yes ship costs are high, like they ship them from Japan or something rite?) But it might be worth it to you to get a limited edition figure you can rub against your enemies and hear the lamentations of the otakus that forgot to preorder.

ORRRRRR, you could go to eBay and do a search for “Snow Miku”. Remember 60 bucks sounding like a nice chunk o’ change? How about this?

click to embiggenate

click to embiggenate

Holy balls…100% markup, and then some! Also, notice that the shit is a preorder. It will ship within 30 days of purchase/after release. So these guys are buying the same preorders that you see at Good Smile, and then marking them up to heaven where Goku and Jesus are smoking a jay and losing their shit over how ripped off people are getting. But they won’t come down here and save you…they need you to be self-reliant, as them bitches be busy.

The worst part, they’ve sold FIVE of them already. I’m no mathemagician, but that’s around 150 cases of Ramune delivered by Segata Sanshiro


“YOU ORDER MIKU WITH SIDE OF SEGA SATURN?”

Moral of the story, or conclusion, or DENOUEMENT whatever that means--PREORDER FROM GOOD SMILE NOW IF YOU WANT ONE. Otherwise, you’ll be getting butt-touched by shady bands of gypsy anime dealers, hiding near the overpriced hot dog stand at your favorite con. Don’t be that guy. I don’t want to see you in the Dealer’s Room all stupid and happy over how you spent $150 on a $60 figure.

Remember what Benjamin Franklin said about procrastination…

“You may delay, but time will not…as I’ve seen them asshole eBayers be trying to overcharge me for that 1/5 scale Mizuho Kazami beach figure FUCK YOU GUYS I INVENTED KITE ELECTRICITY AND TALKING MICE AND MY FACE IS ON MONEY YOU SKRILLED OUT CUNTS.”

Midori Mad Bro? Tamako Market Episode 5

midorimad

So damn, I thought I had Midori figured out. She’s a lil’ gay for Tamako, but in general she’s “Captain Lonely Girl”. We all know that Mochi is “generic sloppy hair who loves the main character” guy, and nothing changed here. But damn, ol’ blonde chick got up in some business.

Mochi’s trying to just get 5 free seconds to talk to Tamako, and is already being cock-blocked (maybe it should be friend-zone blocked at this point, ‘cuz he’s faaaaaar from being much more than that right now) by the entire neighborhood and his family. Now Tamako’s friends, who have much more common sense than “could I be dimmer than Yui?” Tamako, are stepping in. In particular, Midori was pushing and a shoving Mochi back up in his Forever-Alone-Hole. WUZZUPWITDAT?

I mean, the damn bird had to step up and try to keep Mochi from being a complete failure at life. A TALKING OBESE DIABETIC BIRD WAS HIS ONLY FRIEND.

By the end, Midori was backing off and letting him “have a chance”. It’s here we know she sucks at knowing about love/relationships/Parker Brother’s games. The moment was lost, the build-up was too huge, and she screwed him over, whether she meant to (she did) or not.

The only Midori really did was provide stacks of fuel to yuri artists across the galaxy, who I’m sure have already started sketching treestands worth of MidoriXTamako boner jams that will possibly break Pixiv.

Working! (Wagnaria) Images

Just a couple of pics from a series that I FUCKING LOVED. If they could find a way to bring this back for another season, I would be a happy fan.

It really seemed to be hitting a great stride by the end of the second season. The perfect combination of comedy, romance, and (light) slice-of-life conversation. Each character was distinctly unique and, in my opinion, not annoying to watch.

workingstuffed

workingkid

workingpervert

…and a bonus Popura destroying the city Gojira-style…

popura

Please come back ;_;

You can watch it at CrunchyRoll if you’d like to stream it.

Tamako Market – Early Review

Early Impressions: Tamako Market

Tamako Market Group

In every new season of anime, you always have to check out what Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) is doing. For the Winter 2013 lineup, their new show is Tamako Market. It follows the daily life of Tamako Kitashirakawa, a high-school girl whose family runs a mochi shop in the Usagi-yama shopping district. The scenes mostly take place in the shops and homes of the business owners, and at Tamako’s school.

The unique twist in Tamako Market is Dera, an exotic talking bird that accidentally arrives in the neighborhood, and immediately gets involved in everyone’s life. When I say “talking”, I mean full conversations, playing the role of a persnickity avian that makes himself comfortable, even after it’s revealed that he has been tasked with finding a bride for his homeland’s prince (by projecting a broadcast through his eyes). So “slice of life” anime might not be the best descriptor, as there’s definitely some otherworldly magic going on.

#BIRDSWAG

#BIRDSWAG

Tamako Market is light-hearted, following high school girls around while they get into zany adventures. The “heaviest” conflicts consist of things like whether the shop will or won’t sell heart-shaped mochi. Whoa, that’s some serious shit.

But that’s not to say it has the curse (or blessing depending on who you talk to…) of being as laid back as K-On! I think that K-On would often go waaaay too chill, and it feels like you were just watching girls trying to react cutely to girls doing cute things. There were times I’d watch it and be on the brink of yelling “JESUS WHY DON’T YOU LAZY F*#KS PICK UP YOUR INSTRUMENTS?” I still enjoyed the series (and loved the movie), but the grind was a bit…grinding to say the least. On a side note, it seems that KyoAni gets some hate any time they’re new release isn’t “NEXT SEASON OF K-ON”…which is depressing. If you want a company to plug away at the same thing over and over again, don’t be surprised when they end up bankrupt and out of business.

"Great 'song' ladies!"

“Great ‘song’ ladies!”

Tamako Market has random shop owners with their own quirky personalities. You’ve got the record-shop/coffee house hipster that says something deep and then spins an old tune. The flower shop owner with the creepy dude voice. The old grampa with zany ball-in-a-cup tricks. KyoAni has made a unique cast of characters. Let’s hope they continue to flesh them out.

I’m three episodes into TM, and will be sticking around. I’m not a full-on KyoAni fanboy, but I do love many of their works. I’ll always give them a chance, as I love their art style and the way they take every day conversations and make a 26-episode series out of them.

At this point I’m not sure how “serious” this show will get. There’s a dead parent (of course…it wouldn’t be anime without one). There’s a boy crushing on Tamako. And then there are Tamako’s friends, who have the whole growing pains of life thing going on. But when you juxtapose this with a rotund talking bird and the island of misfit shop owners, you can assume it won’t go too “dark”.

Tamako usagi  costume

Bottom Line:

Tamako Market is one to watch this anime season. KyoAni consistently makes enjoyable shows with personable characters. This one looks to be no different. I don’t think you have to worry about being bored watching girls drink tea and eat cake, or watching an Endless Eight style arc of madness. Light-hearted, funny, and heart-warming adventures ahoy!

Sword Art Online Episode 24 Single GIF Summary

Not to get too spoilery, but this was the episode I was waiting for. The entire second half of the series was just leading to the events in #24.

I hear peeps yapping that this show is a shit-tier anime for Naruto fans. Really? Are you that bitter and angry at every new show that gets released? Because Sword Art Online isn’t “OMG BEST SHOW EVAR” but it’s definitely one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve seen this year.

I’m not sure I’ve seen a show so quickly get the “cool to hate things” crowd riled up (at least since K-On!)

Anyway, I personally can’t wait for the next couple of episodes. I do sincerely hope they don’t fuck up the ending, leaving it open or not providing at least semi-full closure.

Guess we’ll see.