I love critical discussion, I love diverse voices, and I love video games. So, for this week’s Web Crush Wednesday, I want to highlight the Match 3 podcast. Only in its eighth episode, Match 3 has already shown itself to be a fantastic addition to any podcast lineup. Starring Kotaku reporter Patrick Klepek, freelance writer Gita Jackson, and middle school teacher Sam Phillips, the show hosts a variety of backgrounds and viewpoints. Each week they discuss a bit of gaming news, go through a roundtable discussion, and answer viewer questions. Although this sounds relatively standard, Match 3 stands out for a few reasons.
If you’re from the USA, you know that our government has been shut down for two weeks now. If you’re from outside of the country, you might be ridiculing us. Which is okay, I guess. We have egg on our face. Our international standing aside, it is well known that the shutdown is having serious domestic impacts. These include the shuttering of the Office on Violence against Women (that petty, non-essential thing), a failure to fund Head Start, and delay or denial of survivor’s benefits to the families of fallen soldiers. So that’s, you know, awful.
I’ve written about the military re: geek stuff a fair amount lately. Put briefly, the military is using technology ostensibly reserved for video games to prevent active-duty and veteran suicides, and to combat the current military sexual assault epidemic. Video games are important to the lives of servicepersons for the aforementioned reasons, to say nothing of the fact that games are fun and that people like to play them.
There’s a photo going around the internet that suggests another repercussion of the government shutdown: a breakage of the link between soldiers (and sailors, marines, and airmen) and their video games. It is this image:
Purportedly taken from a store on a military base, the photo indicates that bureaucracy and the closing of non-essential programs have prevented the shipment of Pokémon X and Y to this store. This is unverified, and a little backtracking will take you to a Tumblr post 3 days ago. Hopefully, a little more detail will come in the next couple of days, probably in response to Kotaku’s or Go Nintendo’s coverage, and I’ll update this post.
Whether or not this is genuine, there’s a lesson here. A shutdown like this, especially as a reaction to laws regarding major policy, might represent a failure of civil society and our representative democracy. It’s detrimental to law enforcement, the safety of and provision for the most vulnerable members of our society. It also affects the little things we treasure, petty amusements that are nonetheless important to our lives, whether that’s good or bad. Frankly, I hope it’s fake, since I wouldn’t want any of our brave men and women to be unable to play the first game in four generations where the fire starter doesn’t evolve into a Fire/Fighting.
A reminder: Operation Supply Drop, a charity that delivers video games and gaming gear to servicepersons overseas and veterans in military hospitals will be hosting its second annual “8-Bit Salute to Veterans.” The 24-hour sponsored gaming marathon will aim to break last year’s high score of $58,000 in games, cash, and gaming supplies. If you’re interested in helping out, please check out OSD’s website here.
So sometime between writing our The Dark Knight Rises review where we briefly talk about making Talia al Ghul a man and discovering a game on Facebook called Dragon City, I’ve been thinking a lot about gender lately. Lady Geek Girl and I used Talia as an example in our post. Someone at one point had mentioned that it was a good thing that her ethnicity and the ethnicities of two other villains had been changed to white to avoid racism. The point we tried to get at was that that wouldn’t solve racist stereotyping any more than changing Talia to a man would have solved sexism.
What the $#@%… it appears we may be finally getting Sim City 5! I know… it’s exciting…
How did this happen? Sim City 5 has been such a long time coming; I’ll be honest, I’d begun to believe that I’d never see another Sim City game. In fact, until the game is officially announced, promoted, and released, I still can’t help but be skeptical.
Why so reluctant? Well, Sim City 4 came out in the beginning of 2003, and its expansion pack, Rush Hour, was released at the end of 2003. Rush Hour’s release also marked the virtual end of support for the game, with no more patches being released afterward. This was unfortunate for us fans of the series, since the game suffers from a still yet unpatched memory leak which can break the game.
I need to admit that technically a sequel was released in 2007. However, Sim City Societies was a whole new manner of game entirely, developed by a studio other than Maxis (original developer of Sim City, The Sims, and Spore) to try and reinvigorate the series. I, along with many other gamers, despise this game.
So here we are, almost 10 years since Sim City 4, and it would have seemed that all hope for a true sequel has long since been lost. All of the sudden, though, there is all this buzz around the game’s announcement being right around the corner. Hmmm, interesting—let’s take a look at where all this greatly awaited buzz is coming from!
The build-up goes as follows:
- Sim City Societies flops, the series appears to truly die
- Cities XL comes out to feed the hungry simulation fans, seemingly proving that city simulation games are still desirable and supportable.
- In 2010, Sim City 4 is re-released on the digital distribution platform Steam. Hey, apparently Electronic Arts hasn’t completely abandoned it!
- Zynga’s CityVille hits Facebook. In 2011 it even surpassed FarmVille as having the most active online users of any application to the date. “Hey EA,” we began to think, “you know you want to cash in. Give in to the dark side and give us a new Sim City!”
- Recently, EA started an official Facebook page for Sim City 4.
- Hermain Cain’s “9-9-9” plan created buzz around and exposure for Sim City 4, since the game shipped with his particular economic policy built in by default.
Now it seems that EA itself is trying to actively promote some buzz around Sim City 5. A big head in EA Public Relations teased a big announcement of something big from Maxis at the coming Game Developers Conference with a tweet. A few days later, some apparently leaked screenshots of Sim City 5 cropped up on the web.
Sim City 4 was a wonderful game—I still play it, actually—but I have wanted this since before Sim City Societies or Spore. I want Sim City 5 so badly that I am actually afraid to get my hopes up because it will crush me if all of this buzz and hype is for nothing. EA will be streaming its GDC even on March 6th, and I plan on watching it. No amount of pessimism can change the simple fact that I am more excited about this than any other game announcement in the last 5 years, easily.
UPDATE: Maxis executive Lucy Bradshaw has apparently confirmed that Sim City 5 is in fact in the works. According to her, we can look forward to a 2013 release. It is apparently built upon the GlassBox engine, which has been developed from scratch to support the game. However, Electronic Arts has still yet to officially confirm the title. I’ll keep the updates coming.