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Elon Musk & Mark Zuckerberg Both Play Video Games And Call It Beneficial

Okay maybe we were overreaching with the title of this article but neither of the two premises are false. Yes, entrepreneurs, successful businessmen, artists and sportspersons all play video games, some even go as far as calling themselves gamers. And, yes video games are beneficial in their own way and under particular limitations. However, the question is whether the two statements can be related. Does the love for video games have anything to do with the success of these athletes and businessmen? Or is it sheer coincidence. Let’s find out…

In a recent survey conducted by ESRB, video games are growing in their popularity with nearly 67% of all US households engaging in gaming for at least eight hours each week!

There have been studies or rather observations conducted that suggest, gaming can actually help you become smarter, grow in your career and land that dream position or job. All this can be a lot of temptation to hunker down and blast through hours of Call of Duty, simply in the name of professional development but first, let’s investigate a little further.

Yes, there is a long list of famous individuals who are also high-profile gamers and their lifestyle or their life choices can make it seem as if gaming is a major part of their success but let’s be honest about this. Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg game but if that’s all they did we would not know their name! Basically, they love gaming but they understand they have a business and life to run and that’s what makes them successful. By the way, did you know that Mark got hooked to programming in general when he wrote a video game as a child?

What is undisputable is that because of such athletes, entrepreneurs and entertainers, the gaming industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. However, now there is some science behind this growth and the positives of the industry too.

Granny Doesn’t Appreciate Gaming

How many times have you read some puff piece online bashing gaming and gamers in general because they are screwing up their lives? I for one have found several instances of such ridiculous posts, probably from grannies who never really got the chance to enjoy gaming as kids! Dear granny, let me tell you, science now backs the idea that gaming helps grow grey matter in the brain.

In a study from Germany conducted in 2013, it was shown how playing Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes, two months, every single day led to an increase in grey matter. Need more evidence granny? Well then how about the British Study that suggests strategy games like Starcraft can actually help improve the flexibility of the brain or that people who suffer from stroke, mental illness and autism can see improvements if they have regular gaming sessions?

This doesn’t mean that we should all start pushing our elderlies towards gaming or introduce Call of Duty to a three-year-old! No, just because something might work doesn’t mean it works across the entire spectrum. Not without concrete evidence at least and that is where gaming and science have to begin merging. There is unfortunately no proper backing of these findings and until more independent research is conducted with control environments and other necessary scientific precautions, appropriate conclusions cannot be reached.

The Naysayers And Haters Unite

There is always another side to a story and while I don’t personally support the views or conclusions drawn by the other side, it is worth exploring before saying no.

Video games deter productivity and development. Some entrepreneurs, artists and scientists believe that video games damage gamers by exposing them to violence. At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, video games today do include a lot of violence and the most successful titles usually have to do with bloodshed and gore. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t titles released each year or even every month for children and teenagers. According to the American Psychological Association, the link between rise in aggressive behaviour and violent video games cannot be refuted. Early exposure to violent video games can lead to decrease in moral engagement, empathy and even pro-social behaviour. The correlations are sound but are video games the only factors promoting such behaviour in teenagers or is there more to it? That’s my qualm with the findings.

The American Academy of Paediatrics looked through 400 different studies and confirmed a strong link between aggressive behaviour and violent media. The conclusion they gave is that the time spent gaming can be used to create businesses, pursue dreams and even build relations.

My Take On The Debate

Thus far, I have presented the two warring factions without any bias. Let me put forward my viewpoint. First, yes games that have gore should never be played by young children. This will desensitize them as they grow up and can hamper their emotional and moral development. However, it is wrong to correlate this data and finding with the rest of the age groups. After a particular age, the emotional compass and moral compass have both grown to a certain extent that cannot be significantly altered by any means other than something catastrophic.

Having said that, I believe that gaming does improve productivity and increase brain matter. Why? Well, when you game you let go of any stress or other nagging worry in your mind. Your brain is given breathing space to relax and enjoy the work it does. Because gaming requires all your senses and your reaction, it helps improve hand-eye coordination, recollection power and even decision making. Whether you game professionally or for leisure, gaming produces those funny brain chemicals that help soothe the mind and body. The only thing it doesn’t do is give you a full body workout and that’s something that you have to work on personally.

Don’t take my words, listen to what Jeremy Wilmer, a psychology assistant professor at Wellesley College says. All the research points towards several positive factors of gaming and the potential for growth. Yes, there are studies that prove the negatives but there are equal studies to suggest improvement in cognitive abilities or the ability of the brain to store, retrieve and process information.

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Games You Might Have Missed In 2016 That Are Worth Your Time

In the horde of salivating after the big, expansive mainstream titles, we often forget those small, independent titles that despite their lack of breath-taking graphics and scenes are nonetheless gems worth your playing time.

Granted many of them won’t cater to our fine-tuned palette, but if you are up for some offbeat entertainment, then these 2016 titles should help your cause immensely.

Event[0]

It’s a very misleading game in that its dressed as a sci-fi adventure but performs more like a text adventure. Most of our time was spent communicating with Kaizen, the AI system of our run-down spaceship.

Weird as hell, Event[0] attempts to  interpret your worded commands and responds with an appropriate reply. And we must say, it was successful most of the time. Its experimental but worth a shot if you are bored to bits.

Shenzhen I/O

A game that is about programming, like real programming. Much like TIS-100, Zachtronics’ 2015 game with similar concept, Shenzhen I/O eggs you on to build your own circuits that will aid in assembly of cheap electronics.

It can be intimidating at first, especially for those who aren’t used to programming basics, but once you get used to mastering a logic and find optimized solutions, you get the ultimate satisfaction akin to what Archimedes must have felt after his ‘Eureka’ moment.

Rusty Lake Hotel

We believe there is a lot to enjoy about this point and click game if you can get over the fact that you have to shrink and negotiate inside a man’s chest cavity to remove his heart! And if that’s not enough, you’ll have to find a way out of his body (hint: through his mouth). Oh, and did we mention that you have to poison him first?

Thankfully, the game has a very cartoonish feel which is necessary to dilute the gore aspects of what’s asked of you, and in tandem with Roots – the latest from the Rusty Lake series form an awesome twosome. The imagery might be unnerving for some, but if you can look past it, then what you get some serious puzzle solving and point-and-click gameplay.

Reigns

As heir to the throne, you have finally inherited your father’s kingdom. But the life of a king isn’t so easy, there’s so many decisions that need to be made, some more existential than others. And in Reigns, you take those decisions by swapping left or right to choose one of two answers to a challenge.

For instance, your people are starving, but you have to decide whether to route the supplies to their aid or pass it off to your army fighting a battle. But, its amazing how a simple game concept can produce such engaging yet deep story arcs.

We spent an entire day playing Reigns and even then weren’t able to go through the complete gamut of scenarios. While this game is more suited to playing on a smartphone or tablet, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the Steam version over your laptop.

Unbox

Lets call it Crash Bandicoot in Cardboard box land, shall we? A 90s-era, mascot-based, collect-the-doo-dads kind of a game, you begin your journey as the newest member of a global group of self-delivering boxes.

But for some strange reason, you don’t do any delivery, just climb buildings, bobsled your way down icy paths, move between four dimensions (worlds) and oh yes, collect as many goodies as you can. We loved the whole boxy vanity, and those out-of-the-blue references to Metal Gear Solid, that are simply hilarious.

Grim Dawn

Off the bat, we have to say that Grim Dawn is neither unique nor the best-written game, but it is worthy enough to be placed alongside other action RPGs like ‘Path of Exile’ and ‘Diablo III’s Reaper of Souls’.

Grim Dawn’s main strength lies in its open-ended class system. As a result, each class has a skill tree, which when combined with other elements such as multi-classing and constellations list basically let you have different combinations of powers. Thus, in turn lets you play the game in different ways.

So, if you like character customizations, and that good old feeling of click and loot this, take that, then this is one game you simply shouldn’t miss.

Owlboy

For a game that took nine years to release, Owlboy incorporates some of the most breath-taking pixel art, that would give any of the other similar yet costlier titles a run for their money. In fact, we would rate it at par with the likes of Shovel Knight and perhaps a shade lower than Cave Story+, but that’s only because we love the latter.

As for the gameplay, you are a boy with wings of an owl who sets out on an adventure through cities in the sky and ruins on the ground. Great controls and an excellent soundtrack to boast of, Owlboy could easily be one of the best indie games of 2016.

Quadrilateral Cowboy

Another title on the lines of Shenzhen I/O, Quadrilateral Cowboy is the alternative for those who like a good hacking-centric game with lots of wacky gadgets and puzzles to solve. In fact, playing it for a few hours, and getting the pseudo codes right and we started feeling like hackers ourselves.

The retro-modern look blends nicely with challenges thrown at you that graduate upwards in difficulty, until you find a new gadget that can makes it all easy. Honestly, we were surprised that the game got over so soon, but then it also means that it was that immersive.

Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

We have saved the best for the last. Those who have played it have complained about its camera angle and isometric playing profile. But, make no mistake, this has to be by far the best game that we are happy to have played in 2016.

Creative, tremendously open-ended and total demand for stealth, Shadow Tactics reminds us so much of Commandos series of games, except it is based in Japan and features swords, shoguns and samurais.

february releases

Most Anticipated Games Of 2017 – Our Top Five Picks

The year 2016 is past us and quite honestly it wasn’t the best, be it world events or video game releases. Apart from ‘Gears of War 4’ and ‘Uncharted 4’, there weren’t many that evoked the interest to play them. Thankfully, indie titles did a solid job (Superhot, Inside, Firewatch…) but they too were few and far in between.

Then there were the big disasters. ‘The Division’ takes pole position and who can forget ‘No Man’s Sky’ – so much promise but delivered very little in terms of immersive gameplay.

That said, the year 2017 looks promising with some of the best titles coming out in as early as March. While there are too many upcoming games worth mentioning, we focussed on five and for good reasons too. Read ahead to find out why.

Horizon Zero Dawn

This PlayStation 4 exclusive title certainly has us on the edge of our seats brimming with anticipation ever since we got a taste of it’s gameplay in E3 2016. Set in our world 1,000 years from now, robotic creatures and not the humans have moved up the ladder to become the dominant species of the planet. With much of the human population wiped out, there are but a handful of surviving colonies that have to constantly fight the odds.

You get to play the role of Aloy, the female protagonist of the Horizon Zero Dawn plot, she has been outcast from her tribe and over time, has learnt to hunt these creatures making her way through an open world. Her sole weapon from the first looks, is a bow and a quiver of arrows. The arrows themselves seem to be of different grades, some explode, whereas others pierce armours and discharge electricity.

The part that’s intrigued us is what Aloy does once she runs out of ammo (read arrows). It seems she has this special ability to construct weapons through a combination of machine parts from downed robotic animals and earth-based natural minerals. Oh, and did we mention it has giant metallic dinosaurs, because it does!

Mass Effect: Andromeda

The Mass Effect series has taken single-player space hoping and exploration missions to the next level. And we are guardedly confident that Andromeda shall not disappoint us on that front when its available in March and playable on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

The Andromeda plot begins in 2185, somewhere between the events of Mass Effect 2 and 3. The Citadel has identified the galaxy Andromeda as the next best bet to find and populate new home worlds by letting each race send a group of its finest on a one way, 600-year journey to the new galaxy. Each ship appoints a leader who’s called the Pathfinder.

In the game, there is a choice between human protagonists Scott and Sarah Ryder who serve under their father Alec Ryder, who happens to be humanity’s pathfinder. Much like the other Mass Effect games, here too we expect lots of space explorations, interactions with other alien species, alliances, wars, negotiations, decisions, break-ups and make-ups and a kickass storyline to thread all of these individual gameplay aspects together.

Although there will no cross-platform feature for multiplayer, like Mass Effect 3, Andromeda will support peer-to-peer gameplay. And quite frankly, we did enjoy playing it this way on the last one.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

The eighteenth in the list of Zelda family of games released by Nintendo over the years, Breath Of The Wild is among the rare few to incorporate HD graphics that’s set to release in March 2017. What makes this game even more exciting is that it can be played on the all new Nintendo Switch console as well as the Wii U.

Set in an open world, players can finally explore the lands either on foot or by riding Epona, the protagonist’s horse. That in itself should be reason to rejoice as the earlier titles had constricted gameplay decision making by pipelining entry and exit points in the game.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption was such a hit that its 13-million players (that includes us too) were praying that the game studio releases a sequel to it. And those prayers have been answered! Red Dead Redemption 2 is officially a thing and should be released for consoles sometime in autumn 2017.

Like its predecessor, this too will be open world but whether it clings tightly to the Western action adventure genre is something that we need to wait and watch. Chatter on the forums suggests that sequel will take American history as its central point, and offer a big sprawling gameplay to match.

Also, there just might a rethink to release Red Dead Redemption 2 for PC platform following the massive online petition sent to Rockstar with more than 47,000 signatures (and counting). The other being a multiplayer game play for the title, about which Rockstar has remained characteristically tight lipped.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands

Set in Bolivia, a few years into the future, you take on the role of an elite Special Forces team, The Ghosts who are sent behind enemy lines to wreak havoc on the Santa Blanca cartel and neutralise their drug peddling operations for good.

As per Ubisoft, Ghost Recon Wildlands will be set in an open world that’s not just massive but extremely responsive. In fact, this could be the first game to offer nine varying types of topography, terrain and atmospheric combinations, from arid deserts to mountainous regions, each with their own rendition of day-night cycle.

Open world means more travelling and that means vehicles to do the job. And the rumor is that we could get to a do smash and grab ops on cars and trucks much in a GTA style. As for main gameplay, the weapons, tactical planning shall no doubt be improved, but a welcome addition are side-missions that you could do while on a mission.

Releasing in March 2017 for Xbox One, PS4 and PC , Ubisoft is offering a lucky few the chance to beta test the game between 23rd -27th February. The beta will have both single and multiplayer modes. It shall include two out of the twenty-one provinces from the actual game for players to test the open world nature and provide feedback.

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Top February Game Releases of 2017

The sheet number of titles scheduled for launch in 2017 makes this the best year yet in terms of game choices and February is just the start of a flood. Here’s a quick look at February’s top video game releases of 2017.

Please note that this is not an all-inclusive list of game title releases since some games were announced for February but no specific release date were given for them. Only games with confirmed release dates are mentioned in this list.

Fire Emblem Heroes, Feb 2nd

The game just launched for smartphone users and is available on both iOS and Android platforms. This particular edition of the franchise sees the player taking up the role of Summoner. You are required to call upon the services of various Fire Emblem Heroes throughout mankind’s history, which brings back characters from its previous installments. Using these heroes, you participate in turn based battles that occur over an 8 by 6 grid on your phone. The game relies on the same triangle weapon system and Players get to upgrade heroes plus call extra heroes to aid them in battle.

Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World, Feb 3rd

Designed exclusively for Nintendo 3DS, this game will include all levels present in the Wii U edition plus a few new levels where you can control the woolen Poochy. As Yoshi in game you can take the help of the Poochy Pups to find secrets.

Atelier Sophie, Feb 7th

Did you know that this will mark the 17th title in this franchise and while this particular edition has already made its appearance on PS4 as well as the PS VITA, it makes its way to the PC this February.

Nioh, Feb 7th

Exclusive for PlayStation 4, Nioh feels influenced from Dark Souls series though the major difference between the two is that the former occurs in feudal Japan with mythological creatures walking the lands along with ninjas and samurais. You play the role of a westerner in their society taking the shoes of William, who is suddenly thrown amidst the turmoil of this tumultuous land. The game is riveting and keeps you glued to your seat throughout thanks to the picturesque settings and the character interactions.

WWE 2k17, Feb 14th

Your usual package of wrestling available on your computer, releases on Valentine’s Day. Great for us single gamers but those in a relationship might have to wait till 15th to play their favorite smash-your-head-in title.

For Honor, Feb 14th

An original cross-platform game title from the stables of Ubisoft Montreal, this battle intensive medieval action game features total of three playable factions starting with the Vikings, Samurai and ending with the Knights. It is the multiplayer mode of this game titled, War of the Factions, that you should be interested in though it features a complete single player mode too. Good news though, the multiplayer mode too is cross-platform too.

Sniper Elite 4, Feb 14th

For those loyal Sniper Elite fans, the 4th installment releases on February 14th but those who haven’t ever played this title, be ready to be bored on purpose. Yes, the game is a lot of preparation and planning and very little action but for those who love to strategize and meticulously plan each and every move, this is a title worth having.

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, Feb 21st

This game is based on a popular manga series by the name of Berserk but it gets its own spinoff world and warriors. You basically control the protagonist Guts and his merry band of fighters in a vendetta on the hordes of demons terrorizing the fictional lands.

Halo Wars 2, Feb 21st

Releasing this time around for Xbox One and PC, Halo Wars 2 is a strategy based real-time game with multiplayer put in it. The focus is more on card-based strategies and deck building rather than resource management and base building. There is a single player campaign too, complete with its own villain and mercenary band. The unique feature of this title is that a single license purchase allows you to play on Windows 10 as well as Xbox One.

Night in the Woods, Feb 21st

Proper cross-platform game that works not just on PS4 and PC but also Mac and Linux, this game follows a cat, Mae who has just returned to her rust-belt town from college. The dialogues are dense and the game presentation is enticing. There are several mini-games inside the main game plus loads of characters and upgrades.

Horizon Zero Dawn, Feb 28th

Developed by Guerilla Games, the new project titled Horizon Zero Dawn brings together a fantastical world where robots have overtaken the world and somehow made giant dinosaur copies of themselves. You are a hunter-gatherer who has to survive in this post-apocalyptic world now run over by robots.

Torment: Tides of Numenera, Feb 28th

Another cross-platform title this game will be available for Xbox One, PS4 as well as PC. It also is the only title on this list that gathered funding from Kickstarter about three years back. The game draws major inspiration from a classic RPG title called Planescape: Torment. However, that’s where the similarity ends because the game takes on a life of its own. The focus in this RPG game is more on conversations and how each sentence can affect future events.

Interested in any of the February releases scheduled or already available this year? If so, leave us a comment below and let us know which game you mostly look forward to playing and why. Also, if you feel we have missed any title out, do remember to remind us!

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Gaming Takes Off Big Time In India

With the size and magnitude of the gaming public in India, International publishers are beginning to see the country as an undiscovered market ripe for the taking. The size, scale and potential of this market is truly different as opposed to that of any country. Yes, there are several challenges facing publishers but the rewards are equally lucrative.

Before we get further into the article, it is worth noting that the Indian game market is ripe for AAA titles with big budgets but doesn’t really respond well to independent games developed indigenously in the country. However, this could change in the coming years as the market has seen a steady growth in India, year by year.

Earlier, a lot of game makers preferred staying out of China and India because they felt the market wasn’t ready for games that cost a lot. Today though, these two countries have a market riddled with gamers who don’t mind foregoing the piracy route. Indian gamers pay for games that they are really interested in. The problem up until the past few years was that Indian gamers really had no option to pay for the games they played and now that Origin, Steam and others are offering the gamers licenses, more and more gamers are willing to pay for their gaming experience. Previously payment methods were unsupportive of Indian services and that was probably the biggest hurdle. This no longer is a concern with indigenous payment portals and international portals opening up to the Indian Banking sector.

Yes, another limitation over the years in India has been the abysmal broadband plans. Not only are the plans archaic but also expensive. You have capped download limits that cost a lot. With today’s games averaging around 50GB, the decision to download games off the internet is a big one. Take for instance, DOOM download on Steam. 70GB is a huge amount of data and for a country like India, this means spending your entire month’s bandwidth trying to get a game from the internet. Things are changing however with better plans and higher packages available in major cities across the country. However, it is the availability of original game CDs days after their international launch that is helping convert Indian gamers into loyal customers for international big brands.

India As Game Makers

Yes, major titles are not in the pipeline from Indian game manufacturers but the moment you move into the mobile gaming segment, you realize what kind of potential the country has. Indian companies and their gaming titles all dominate the Play Store. In fact, after voice, text, chat and email, gaming is what Indian mobile users spend their time on. In a recent report published by the Business Standard, the mobile gaming sector in India will be worth $400 million with nearly 628 million users by 2020.

Gaming As An Event

India hasn’t yet seen the likes of E3 gaming events however, the trend of annual gaming events has already begun in the country. Take the Indian Gaming Show that ran from 2nd February to 5th February in Delhi. While it wasn’t as massive as E3, it was a success on a much humbler scale. While the turnout was slim, there were a lot of encouraging signs. Take for instance big game publishers such as Square Enix participating in the event.

Held at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, Hall number 18 was the venue for The Indian Gaming Show and this hall had several smaller pavilions, each sporting a host of publications, publishers and gaming hardware makers. Among the many things that you notice as you walk into the venue is the mega setups for pro gaming matches. India’s E-Sports pros had a heavy presence in this event and it was probably the biggest crowd puller of the entire event.

The usual gimmicks from large brands were on display. Sony booth had a mash up of several weird ideas that kept the crowd engaged but what stood out was the sheer number of game titles on display. Some of the titles weren’t yet launched. Nier: Automata was one such title. Then there were complete VR zones that gave visitors a taste of the VR experience.

Specific titles have for long gathered a lot of fan following in India. Take the Tomb Raider franchise or even the Final Fantasy franchise that has several Indian gamers following the official fan pages on Facebook from the subcontinent. Delhi seems to be the hub for such fan following in India and this gaming event was an attempt to connect pro gamers, enthusiasts with game developers and hardware makers.

Two titles that have managed to capture the Indian market include FIFA from EA Sports and GTA V. The sheer number of users from the subcontinent suggests the potential of gaming in the country. Up until 2015, EA Sports would target India on a third tier basis, opting to release their games later in the country and offer game CDs at lower prices because piracy was a big thing. However, with a steady growth in fan following, they quickly went the online licensing way with 2016 and for the FIFA 17, they managed to record the highest sales ever. GTA V has had a similar experience with the Indian gaming market.

All these developments over the past few years points towards a boom in Indian gaming promises a better future for gaming enthusiasts in the country. Will the next big independent game title to take the world by storm come out of India? It truly is only a matter of time.

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Resident Evil 7 – Sneak Peek Into What You Are Missing

It is the environment in which Resident Evil 7 is set that gives the creeps. The game manages to bring you into a state of absolute solitude and then it brings on the horrible sequences, scares and the whole shebang. In fact, one of our fondest memories is simply navigating the house to discover stuff. Initially you only find decrepit things and abandoned stuffs but as you progress further you begin discovering animal parts, mutilated dolls and slime. That’s the moment you know you are in for a heavy session of horrifying gaming.

The game’s USP isn’t the demons, monsters and the gore. They only add to the overall effect. What truly sets this game apart is the reality of the decaying space around you. With littered items, an environment that speaks of abandonment, it compels you to imagine the life of the owner and previous occupants, what might have happened for the house to become the way it is now. That’s what really sets the tone of the game with the gore creating whatever remaining horror effect is necessary.

Instead of spoilers, let’s just briefly outline an idea of the game for you. Say you are Ethan and your wife is missing, much like the Outlander story. Except, she goes missing in some swamp somewhere. You play this character and he doesn’t like speaking much, but when he does open his mouth – it is usually to say something useful.

The starting of the game, about an hour is really non-descriptive other than the surroundings. You are left to discover things and by the time the real creeps start appearing, it is a little bit too late. No warning and definitely no inkling of idea when the horror starts. By the time, you are in the middle of the gore storm, you are left with a gut wrenching feeling of being in a wreckage.

In hindsight though, we felt that the game had a sort of low budget horror vibe to it. Through the first half of the game, things are laid out with clear ideas, there is a lot of thought that goes into the game. If you are a horror movie franchise fan, then you will begin to see similarities with various movie titles such as the Texas Chainsaw Massacres and more.

The game only works because of the sparse use of guts and gore. Unlike many previous horror instalments, here in Resident Evil 7, you spend much of your time moving about through nothing but filth. The limited gore appearances and gut wrenching horror moments leave you with an anticipation of things yet to happen, except you don’t have any idea when they will happen.

In our opinion, Resident Evil 7 is more of an intimate game. Yes, the world in this game is small, there aren’t that many protagonists in the game including the horror characters but together they somehow make up for an experience that is terrifying and yet addictive at the same time.

Think of a madman or in this case an entity that wants to do horrible things to you, creeping up on you as you explore a mansion. Imagine the weight of that knowledge on your shoulders and not knowing when this entity or its many minions will surface. It is the threat that Resident Evil 7 possesses in its spacious surroundings that drives the player forward. At times you are left alone in a quiet corridor with the fear of something untoward happening but then nothing happens. Then there are times when you are a well-lit environment with complete visibility that scares the crap out of you, catching you unaware.

Yes, there are cheap scares and thrills laid out bare in the game but then no horror game would be complete without those spine chilling cheap tricks. What does help with the entire effect of the game is the use of the house and its limited space. As you go on unlocking specific areas of the house and new routes, you end up back in a place you previously explored only to realize that there’s more to it than previously met the eye. Sometimes, that something more happens to be a scary part of the game and at other times, you are left wondering how you missed it in the first place. The sound effects in the game too play their part. Clacking shoes, some breathing noises, minimalistic music that appear right after a sudden change in storyline – all work well in giving that panic attack, unsafe for heart patients.

After completing just a few hours on Resident Evil 7, it was evident that this game hasn’t received the right kind of reception and that’s why we decided to provide an idea of the horror a player is in store for. If you still aren’t convinced, then we suggest you check out the crazy new video for the game that was recently released. This particular release has managed to drive the sales of the title further.

At the end of a brief overview of Resident Evil 7, here are a few reasons why we feel everyone should attempt playing the game at least once.

  • Loads of puzzles, exploration and an ever present tense atmosphere that just seems like it squeezes on you. This experience is reminiscent from its previous installments.
  • Totally revamped gameplay that brings survival horror into the next generation.
  • For VR adopters, this is a one scary game as the entire game engine was designed keeping VR compatibility in mind.
  • Addictive immersion where you are in control of your actions and the consequences but not aware of when the two will eventually tie together.
esports scholarships

eSports And Athletic Scholarships

Electronic Sports, a concept that started in the last decade and some attribute it to the rise in sponsorship for gaming competitions and the fact that regardless of country, language, religion or ethnicity, everyone loves to game. Unfortunately, colleges for long haven’t taken eSports seriously enough. Those engaging in this kind of activity were looked down upon but that’s all changed thanks to few pioneering universities, high schools and colleges.

Yet another university adds competitive video gaming to their athletics programs. This time it is the turn of a private liberal arts university from Ohio that is offering scholarships and a place at their prestigious college for select individuals who engage in eSports.

Mary Ann Gawelek, the President of Lourdes University assumed office last July and has ever since pushed her agenda to include eSports program. Her basis for including eSports in the University’s athletics program is that eSports requires critical thinking, mental ability and team building exercises. Basically, you have to be competitive and willing to learn in order to achieve success and this goes well with liberal arts education.

With this latest development, Lourdes will not participate in eSports competitions held by the National Association of Collegiate eSports, which was formed recently in 2016. To do so they plan on recruiting a total of 60 eSports athletes in the next couple of years but have clarified that they will refrain from first-person shooter genres.

eSports Scholarships And Growth of eSports in Universities

Playing video games will get you nowhere! Haven’t we all heard it at one point in our lives? How about, would it not be better studying in your free time? Things have changed and today, those who spent their free time gaming, honing their eSporting skills have a lot more opportunities. Educational institutions from all over the world have begun eSports programs where they accept students on scholarships for their expertise in specific gaming titles or genres. Here’s the complete list of top 7 global Universities that accept eSport athletes in their academic programs.

UCI – University of California

It was March 2016 when UCI announced its League of Legends eSports scholarship program. This made UCI the first public university to do so and the new scholarship program began its intake in the fall of 2016. This specific program is currently being supported by Riot Games along with a brand new PC gaming café in the premises. The café mimics the setup of Korean PC joints, thus offering a plus League of Legends experience. There will obviously be other games available and together, UCI and Riot Games aims at improving student interest in eSports on the campus.

Robert Morris University

Robert Morris University is in fact the first college in the US to start its own eSports program. This university is a private non-profit entity nestled in Chicago and it currently provides a huge scholarship fund for professional gamers who wish to pursue their education too. They engage mostly in League of Legends gaming and under their scholarship program, half of their boarding costs, room and tuition costs are covered but as add-ons they get professional coaching and access to the in-house facilities for gaming.

UPIKE – University of Pikeville

A private liberal arts university out of Kentucky, this University provides eSports students with good GPA scores and a gaming background scholarships. They need to continue their GPA scores, attend mandatory practice session and train for competitions, much like actual athletes. In order to attract the best students from across the country, representatives of the university make regular trips to high schools, arranging practice matches with potential students and even browsing game ratings and rankings online.

Columbia College – USA

Columbia College came late to the eSports party but towards the end of 2016, they finally launched their scholarship program for the same. They offer money for eSports athletes and are in the process of converting their old soccer locker room into a fully functional gaming hub.

GVS – Norway

The Garnes Vidaregaande Skule in Norway will actually include eSports in their curriculum. Basically, students in high school will have to study eSports nearly five hours per week and the program is intended to work on focus predominantly through the use of games. All students who enroll for this course will have access to the gaming rigs of the college that are packed with GTX 980Ti graphics card among other things, just so they have the best possible gaming experience.

AGS – Sweden

Arlanda Gymnasiet School from Sweden started the eSports trend way back in 2015 when they took in total of 7 students just so they could enter such competitions. It is their vision to enable students through education and yet provide them support to continue eSports. This ways, if the latter does not span out as a viable career choice, they still have their education to fall back on. It is also the hope of the school that with their educational programs and experience in eSports, students who don’t break into the professional gaming circuit will be able to find employment in some other respect in the gaming community.

Such stories of universities and colleges beginning eSports ventures plus establishing scholarships are truly encouraging for us gamers. Imagine a future where eSports athletes are not just accepted but also revered for their accomplishments. College football, basketball and other such physical sports already receive a lot of eyeballs and attention providing, athletes a chance to shine while pursuing their education. Now eSports athletes too have the same chance.

Keyboard & Mouse On Gaming Consoles – Where Do You Stand?

For a PC gamer, no game is ever complete without a keyboard and mouse. It is second nature for us PC gamers and we simply can’t think of using a gamepad, especially for FPS games. With gaming consoles though this debate has largely stayed muted simply because of the incompatibility of the conventional keyboard/mouse combination. Thanks to third-party accessory makers though the debate is once more back on in full swing.

It really does not matter which side of the spectrum you fall on. Whether you love analog stick controls or keyboard/mouse dual combination. The fact remains that almost everyone on a particular platform sticks to the same control schemes. It is only because of the third party adapters that gaming consoles now are starting to take keyboards as dedicated controllers. But then why is this is an issue?

Overwatch director, Jeff Kaplan believes there is a major problem with this development. Before getting to the specific issue that Kaplan speaks on, let’s first investigate the pros and cons of keyboard/mouse controls with console gaming.

The pros are numerous especially for those who game on PCs. One major reason why so many PC gamers are anti-console is because of the lack of keyboard and mouse usage. Let’s be honest, first person shooter games are way more enjoyable when you use a mouse. There is no way an analog stick can be as accurate as a mouse pointer that you move in a split second to target someone or something. Then there’s the advantage of multiple keys of a keyboard to configure specific skill moves, which you simply cannot do with a gaming console.

The cons however are all restricted to gaming consoles. Firstly, gaming consoles historically were more interested in peddling their own brand and design of controller that cannot be used with anything else. Thankfully, Xbox controllers are plug and play with a PC but a PlayStation controller isn’t. However, PlayStation does allow USB and Bluetooth connectivity of the keyboard and mouse but unless game developers explicitly provide support for these input devices, you are out of luck. Games that migrate from a PC environment over to PlayStation tend to retain keyboard/mouse functionality but games exclusively developed for the Playstation tends to miss out on such features.

Okay so, now that we have highlighted the pros and cons of keyboard/mouse combination as opposed to a game controller, let’s get back to why Overwatch director Kaplan has an issue with it.

Kaplan left a comment on Battle.net forums stating that the Overwatch team officially objects to the combination of keyboard and mouse for its games. They have even gone ahead and contacted console makers, expressing their concerns over the input conversion devices and the duo of keyboard and mouse.

The Overwatch team isn’t explicitly against keyboard and mouse. What they have an issue with is that these devices are not inherently compatible with the gaming consoles and players need to purchase expensive third-party adapters in order to use them. This means that only some of the users can use a keyboard and mouse and because of the inherent advantages of this kind of input, it puts the rest of the conventional console gamers with analogue sticks at a severe disadvantage.

Their request is to either outright ban any such conversion device or to provide complete and open support for mouse and keyboard. This ways, the entire community is benefited. With open and free support, the issue of cheating no longer arises as anyone can use a keyboard and mouse. And with complete ban on this kind of input adapter, gamers have to revert back to the conventional controllers.

The products questioned by Kaplan and his team include the XIM4 or the IoGear Keymander. The former costs about $125 but it lets you use specific keyboard and mice combinations intuitively with a few PS4 and Xbox One games. They even work on older Xbox 360 and PS3 titles too. The Keymander costs about $100 and does a similar thing though it is cross-platform for all console games.

What these devices to is to emulate a general controller using software settings and hardware. The mouse and keyboard input are then disguised as controller input thus developers really can’t detect their presence. This is a huge issue in competitive games such as Overwatch where a mouse is too quick and precise for anyone left on an Analogue stick. Controllers will always be bulky, leggy and clunky but a mouse is too precise and it shows in the game. Those terrible at such games will end up having a better chance of registering more points over seasoned pros who use controllers.

In fact, Overwatch forums are filled with complaints of “blatant cheating” in the console edition as players are starting to use the mouse and keyboard instead of the controller. It is this particular issue that Kaplan and his team are sympathetic to.

In fact, the question isn’t about allowing or disallowing control options. Remember Gears of War 4. They actually held a competition between PC gamers and console gamers to find out whether the debate of keyboard/mouse versus controller does hold up to be true. At the end of this trial run in December, it was observed that while certain figures were slightly higher, average score, kills, KD and a lot more all were relatively the same depending on skill ratings. Or in other words, the competitive advantage is limited between controller and a mouse aiming mechanism.

Nevertheless, Kaplan simply wants the option to use mouse and keyboard on consoles available to all his customers and not just those who invest into expensive third-party adapters. This would definitely help even things out. As it stands, Microsoft is currently working on an official support but it is still “months away” as reported by their own technical team. In fact, there is no official release date for the support.

As for PS4, they already provide support for Bluetooth and USB devices but developers do not usually utilize this support for their proprietary PS titles. Only games that have come from the PC platform have this kind of support and that too mostly MMO titles. Nevertheless, the idea of having cross-platform keyboard and mouse support is enticing, at least for us PC gamers who simply cannot imagine playing a first person shooter on a gamepad! Oh, yes we exist!

steam vendors differential pricing

Differential Pricing Lands Steam Based Game Distributors In Hot Water

The European Union or the EU promotes the concept of “parallel trade” and as such hates differential pricing especially for customers of a particular product from different geographic locations in Europe or countries that are members of EU. Basically, if you sell a tomato online for €1 in Germany, you can’t then sell it for €2 in Spain.

Differential pricing in the gaming industry though has existed for a long time now. For those unaware of its negatives, it restricts gamers in a particular country from gaining access along with rest of the world by simply putting an impossible price tag during release. Basically, those who wanted to play, would pay exorbitant prices just because they belong to one particular geographic region. Another flipside to this is that gamers from countries where prices of games are higher, can then use proxies and VPNs to pay and download games at much lower rates thus bypassing the price restrictions set by the companies.

Steam is not a game maker and it is owned by Valve. Game developers use this platform for the Steam community and outreach it has. It is a budding market place and using Steam to sell their products helps garner instant sales, communicate with fans and make improvements or updates to their games. However, this does not hold Steam liable for the pricing policies of individual game makers. The EU investigation has targeted in particular five companies that are suspected of practicing differential pricing within EU.

According to the latest statement from EU Anti-trust authorities, they are concerned that certain game publishers are bypassing EU single market regulations and charging their customers variable prices based solely on the country their IP address points to. Since, the games are essentially the same regardless of the geographic difference, such variable pricing strategy is in breach of EU regulations.

European Commission has already begun investigations into the five accused companies and its sole jurisdiction is on sales through the Steam network. The companies under scrutiny include Focus Home, Capcom, Bandai Namco, ZeniMax and Koch Media. The accusation is that they are putting geographic restrictions on Steam activation keys so if a buyer purchases a game in a certain part of EU then he cannot play that in other parts of EU. Basically, the buyer must purchase another license to play the same game if he moves across specific borders.

The reason why European Commission is bothered with this practice is because it provides companies a chance to sell their activation keys at higher prices in specific countries and undercutting the customers in other countries.

It is this practice that the EU believes is breaching parallel trade rules. The question remains as to whether the issue is with pricing or because multiple licenses are required within EU. If it is the case of pricing then parallel trade comes into effect but if it is due to multiple licenses, then the EU might find the companies in breech non-liable though they may write them off with a warning not to engage in such arm twisting practices.

Another question on the minds of investigators is whether the companies are unfairly restricting retail prices or simply singling out customers because of their location or nationality.

There are several games under scrutiny on the Steam network. Project Cars, Dark Souls, Pack-man 256 are the titles selected from Bandai Namco for the investigation while Capcom features with Devil May Cry and Resident Evil series. Then there are titles from the other three brands, popular among them being Railroad X, Cities XXL, Elder Scrolls Online.

The intriguing thing about this whole episode is that there were no complaints on differential pricing. The Commission has clarified that this investigation is their own undertaking and it was started only after observing the company activities on Steam.

Simultaneously, two other similar investigations were opened but pertaining to different spheres of operation all together. Online hotel bookings, sale of domestic appliances and hi-fi equipment are the other three areas where the commission will investigate several sellers and companies.

In the recent past, the Commission had aired similar concerns with regards to hotel bookings. Tour operators such as REWE, TUI, Thomas Cook and Kuoni are all part of the online hotel booking investigations for operating with hoteliers like the Melia Hotels to show differential prices and room availabilities to customers based on their country of residence or their nationality.

This investigation is also backed by the Computer & Communications Industry Association as they hope the results of the investigation will help prevent sale of products with scrupulous intents online. Such practices undermine consumer choice and price transparency.

Couple of years back Origin practiced differential pricing for most of its titles especially with the Indian subcontinent. Games such as FIFA were priced much lower as opposed to rest of the world in an attempt to garner greater sales in the subcontinent except it resulted in exploitation. Consumers from other parts of the world would use Indian IP addresses to purchase installation codes and download games at fraction of the cost for the rest of the world. Soon after, Origin removed such pricing practices and went with a unified single price strategy.

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Best Performers Of 2k16 – 10 Games That Made It Big In The UK

As always Call of Duty and FIFA battle things out on the top of the annual UK charts, but what about the rest of the spots? Does a new IP finally make it into the top 10 list? Or is it still the same as with the year before and the year before that?

With all the excitement now shifting to the Nintendo Switch and its impending release, we totally forgot to release the annual charts on who made it big and those that went bust. No matter, we are here a month late to give you the UK top performers chart! (Better late than never, right?)

Alright so, no guesses obviously as to which two titles rule the roost. FIFA and COD come in at one and two respectively with their latest releases and this has been the case for a few years now unless a new GTA title releases. Nevertheless, GTA V still goes strong by continuing to feature in the top ten list.

Now, before we reveal this list, don’t get your hopes high because it is just as mundane as the year before. There is absolutely nothing to surprise us here. A case in point though, titles that release earlier in the year, tend to get a biased judgement when it comes to annual lists simply because their memory tends to fade away with all the titles that come after it. Nevertheless, we have tried to remain as objective as possible with our evaluations and instead of just relying on the sales figures from UK, we have factored in monthly sales figures and taken cues from global sales too.

What has astonished us in all our research though is that this year, there is one new IP in the top ten –  Overwatch from Blizzard. Some might say The Division is a new IP but it bears the Tom Clancy platform’s USP so no, according to us it isn’t a new title. This is worrying as most publishers simply want to rehash working titles into new games without working to build a brand new concept and create a niche. What’s more worrying is that in the last three years, there have only been four new franchises in the top 50, for all consoles included together!

The presence of Overwatch and to a certain extent The Division proves that new titles can do really well. They are in the top ten after all. Forget that and consider Steep. This title was called a dud by most critics and yet it managed to creep into the top 50 retail games list. What this basically says is that the gaming community is eager to lap up any new thing but in the absence of creativity and new titles, they have to stick with existing ideas and concepts. The final new IP to make the top 50 list is “No Man’s Sky” that features at number 29 but it isn’t something that everyone would remember.

Another trend we realized with 2016 top charts is that retail sales have fallen further as opposed to the penultimate year. Now down to just 15.8%, it amounts to £1.78 billion. Thankfully though the figures point to a direct increase in digital sales but finding this information or rather collecting the data is difficult because of the numerous websites that one can procure digital downloads or license keys from. From certain sources though, an estimate of 12.1% is reported as the digital sales growth in 2016.

Hardware sales too remain stagnant with PlayStation 4 leading at 45%, Xbox One at 34.1% followed at a fair distance by 3DS and Wii U at 7% and 2.5% respectively. As for publishers, EA continues to lead at 22.1% followed at far by Activision at 12.1% with Nintendo, Ubisoft and Take-Two completing the fantastic five.

Alright, enough of statistics and metrics here’s a quick recap of the top ten performers from the UK.

FIFA 17 (EA)

The year that FIFA does not make it to the top ten list and come among the top three, is the year gaming industry has revolutionized to a huge extent. We can’t remember the last time Fifa did not feature in the top three spots, at least in the UK.

Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare (Activision)

Same applies to Call of Duty. If a COD title comes out, it makes it into the top three spots with relative ease. UK loves its COD and FIFA yearly releases without any abatement.

Battlefield 1 (EA)

Not a regular yearly release but every time Battlefield title comes out, it ends up being a part of the top fives.

The Division (Ubisoft)

Ubisoft continues to push forward with innovative ideas and concept games. The Division was one of its hottest awaited releases of the year 2016 and in our opinion, the fact that it came out with such promise is probably why it made it into the top fives.

GTA V (Rockstar)

With multiplayer mode and periodic exclusive content releases and new additions, GTA V continues to stay relevant and grasp a larger audience.

The Last Five

Top among the last five is Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Sony) and the only reason it sits at number six is because of its exclusivity to the PlayStation 4 platform. Close on its heels is yet another COD title, Black Ops III followed by Watch Dogs 2, Overwatch and Forza Horizon 3.

Games that are worth mentioning because they just missed out on the top ten spots or because they are older titles that continue to work wonders include The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition and Doom from Bethesda, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens from WB Games, Mafia III from 2K and finally FIFA 16 from EA Sports.