The Death of the PSP....

It is time to rant my friends. Playtstation is killing off their once loved latest and greatest to make room for their next one; The Playstation Vita! Over the coming months consumers are going to see ‘new’ games hit shelves. Some of these games are up to 3 years old. They were first released on the PSP and are now being ported to the Playstation 3. All of these games will be given the ‘upgraded to HD’ sticker and sold as new content for PS3 owners. My problem with this is that it will make PSP owners question what really was the point of buying one in the first place. For example, I bought the PSP for one game in particular and was excited to play another two. These games were Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker, God of War: Chains of Olympus, and God of War: Ghost of Sparta. All 3 of these games will be available for the Playstation 3 before the official release of the Vita.

To be fair everyone who had intentions of buying a PSP probably already has. Even those that are still on the fence about it have nothing new to look forward to (only the games they wanted to play on the device being released on the PS3). So, Playstation is getting these games into the hands of gamers who probably would never had played them which on the surface looks like a good thing. But the exclusivity of the device is now lost. I feel like the upper hand  that the PSP owner once held when talking to people about game franchises means nothing. I’m not going to be able to tell a fellow PS3 owner/Metal Gear Solid fan how good Peacewalker was now. Sure, I’ll get to talk about the game but why have the PSP at all if you could just release the games on the PS3. I don’t really care that the device is portable. Most of my time playing the device has been connected to a power source.

Is the Vita going to be the same? I know the touch controls may give some games something unique and unportable to the PS3. But later along the line are we going to see the announcement of a Playstation 4 with a controller similar to the Wii U? Then we might see some of the Vita’s best games being ported and playable. I think that games should just remain exclusive to their device as it just hinders the exclusivity of the console… Porting the Portable is killing the Portable.

This is a mock policy submission that I did for a Screen Studies class at Uni.

With the Playstation Network still down (May 13th 2011) all we can do now is reflect… and blog. IGN made a great summary video which should definitely be checked out. It covers the story all the way back from early 2010 to now.

P.S. – Here is a little something I mocked up quickly in Paint.

The iPhone vs. The PSP

The term “mobile gaming” has developed over previous decades. The term used to refer to object based games like board games, marbles, or cards. Today, mobile gaming means something entirely different. Ever since the late 80‘s, when Nintendo bought us their Gameboy, mobile gaming has referred to the ever changing electronic hand-held devices that we see on our streets. In the 00′s mobile gaming took a clear turn. Paving the way for the casual gamer was the ability to play games on our mobile phones. The biggest example of today’s major technological mash-up would be the Apple iPhone. The iPhone allows users to surf the web, make phone calls, check emails, play games and much more. George Maestri of Computer Graphics World Magazine tells us that as of July 2010 Apple’s Application Store included well over 150,000 programs for the iPhone; a third of which were games (Maestri, pp.55, 2010). In the public arena, everyone is carrying around the potential to play games in their pockets. Whether it be their mobile phone or a dedicated console like Sony’s PSP we are carrying around an electronic device that could be used for gaming. This feature article reflects on an experiment in which I took a Sony PSP and an iPhone out on to public media space.

When I first planned out this experiment I assumed that all of my findings would be about the social implications of my gaming practices on others in the public space; this was very wrong. My first and probably most important experiment was in Crown Street Mall, Wollongong. As I strolled through the urban environment and killed creatures from the underworld on my PSP. I started to think more about the geographical space I was in rather than the people watching around me. I had subconsciously started synchronising the game world with the real one. As I navigated through both worlds, the urban environment of the Mall became part of the game. Objects and people were being treated as obstacles there to prevent me from getting to my destination. My objective was to get from point A to point B avoiding as many obstacles as I could; much like a linear video game. To help me on my journey, I was using my PSP to create a forcefield around myself that made me almost immune to human interaction. Coupling my ear-buds with my PSP granted me even more plus immunity. My device was creating my own private space that was respected by others. Generally people wouldn’t dare attempt an interaction and moved aside accordingly.

One problem that I encountered during my experiment would be my lack of energy management. Once the battery life of your device reaches 0 it severs your connection with the virtual world. Ergo severing your connection to the physical world as media space because you can no longer game. This was especially noticeable when I switched to the iPhone. iPhone games are notorious for using massive chunks of your battery life. I seemed to be more aware of battery levels when playing games on the iPhone just because of its multi-funcionality and primary purpose (a phone). Not only was I processing everything going on around me and in the game, I was managing my battery consumption because I didn’t want to lose the use of my phone.


Another thing that had to be managed on both gaming devices was the use of sound. The sound acted as a catalyst for immersion with the game but not in the way I first thought it would. One would assume that the louder the device was t
he more immersive the experience would be; this was not the case. In fact the opposite was occurring, the louder the game was, the less I felt immersed in its environment. This was because I was constantly aware of the sound I was making. I was on a bus playing with my PSP and I must have changed the volume 7-8 times in 5 minutes. This was because something was telling me that the noise I was making was unacceptable for that environment. When I turned the volume all the way down, I was still being noticed but I felt I could game freely. Having the sound projected to the public felt as if I was arrogantly broadcasting to everyone what I was doing. When the sound was all the way down, or when I swapped to the ear-buds I fell straight back into a private space.

The social acceptance of the devices was very different. In most cases the iPhone was socially acceptable. People have come to accept the casual gamer slicing up fruit or managing their farm while waiting for a bus. Larissa Hjorth and Ingrid Richardson interviewed a group of female casual gamers who collectively referred to the mobile phone “as a device for managing situations of both collective co-presence and solitary or ‘waiting’. For the women in the study, when the mobile phone was used as a game device, it was frequently purposed for offline or casual gaming in particular circumstances and periods of fixed duration: waiting for friends, during journeys on public transport, to fill in time at home, to alleviate boredom, or as a break from other less desirable activities (such as study)” (Hjorth & Richardson, pp. 31, 2010). So when the mobile phone is used for gaming by this sample it is for filling in time between real life events rather than the urge to play the game itself. The PSP represents something a bit more hardcore. The hand-held console is devoted to playing games. It represents that you are willing to carry an extra device around with you so that you can play specific video games. Rather than not caring what it is you are playing because you are just filling in time on your phone.


Gaming in the public media space can change your perspective on reality. It can turn the physical world into a linear experience in which you must avoid all obstacles in your way while you game. Where you tune the physical world with the virtual world as you progress your way from A to B. The practice is a multi-layered experience in which you must devote parts of your brain to manage things like time, space, and congestion. There are also clear rules in the public media space like managing sound and your proximity to others. Over 30 years the public media space has changed alongside the rotation of new mobile gaming devices. Now that anyone has the potential to game at any time the experience is starting to soak deeper into our culture.


SOURCES

Maestri, G 2010, “Let’s Talk Business”, in Computer Graphics World Magazine, July 2010, pp. 54-56

Hjoth, Richardson 2010, “The waiting game: Complicating notions of (tele)presence and gendered distraction in casual mobile gaming”, in Australian Journal of Communication, 36:1, pp. 23-35

On the eve of Playstation’s newest venture into motion control (Playstation Move set to be released on September 16th) Playstation U.S. take a look back at the past 15 years of Playstation. They start with the release of the original Playstation console in 1995 and end with the upcoming motion controller Playstation Move in 2010. When I look at this time-line I get nostalgic about my life growing up with Playstation consoles.

They have also released some fun facts about their American customers. Like how 23% of Playstation owners cannot date anyone who set limits on their gaming, or how 84% of Playstation owners would rather give up social networking than their video games.



Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker on the PSP is a stealth action game from the video game mastermind Hideo Kojima. It is an entire new chapter in the Metal Gear series set after the events of Metal Gear Solid 3. Peace Walker is the biggest Metal Gear game yet but it is ironically on the smallest console.The game sees Snake in 1974 Costa Rica training a group of his soldiers. He is approached by a professor named Ramon and a girl named Paz who have just escaped from a military compound. They ask Snake to remove the military by force and offer in return his own military base out to sea. This Metal Gear focuses on the concept of “nuclear deterrence”. The military group that Snake is asked to eradicate is developing a new A.I. capable of launching a nuclear attack without the need for human authority. So, the Metal Gear will launch nuclear missiles upon detection of an imminent nuclear attack, removing the need for humans to consciously launch a nation destroying missile. Another part of the reason Snake accepts this mission is because the ideologies of his former trainer Big Boss are imprinted into the Metal Gear’s code.

The missions are broken up into small 5-45 minute chunks with the option for co-op. Before each mission you must decide which weapons and camouflage is best for the mission. There are 26 story missions and 80+ side missions called “extra ops”. These missions are very quick and allow you to try out new weapons and tactics. Between the missions you will get the chance to manage your off shore military base. You fill this base up by evacuating knocked out, sleeping, or chained soldiers and prisoners of war via air balloon while on the missions. You are set the task of reviewing their individual stats and assign them to specific teams. These teams include things like combat, research & development, food, medical, and intelligence. You must balance your troops well to make sure everything at your base runs smoothly. As your base grows you will get the ability to make new weapons and items that you can use on missions. You can even send your troops out into the jungle to resolve conflicts and bring back new recruits. You have the chance to build your own Metal Gear from parts you collect from boss battles and even connect with your friends and play competitively or even swap troops and items.

The gameplay is very easy to pick up if you have played a Metal Gear game before. It is still the tried and tested  sneaking gameplay we are used to. You use the analogue stick to move, the face buttons to shift the camera, L to aim, and R to fire. You can choose to tackle missions in different ways depending on how you want to play. You can choose to decommission guards with you tranq gun, run in with machine guns a blazing, or use choke holds via CQC (close quarters combat). The boss battles however are long and tedious… Most of the bosses are multiple stories high and require many drop boxes to replenish your ammo and plenty of time to finish.

Graphically the game looks awesome . It is the best looking game on the PSP to date and the cut-scenes have a very unique cartoon anime like feel to them. One big plus for the game is that you do not put down your console every time you see a cut-scene; many of which include some interactive feature. Some of them may only let you zoom in and investigate the surrounding area but others will actually let you fight or even shoot down flying turrets. *SPOILER ALERT* There is one memorable cut-scene where Snake is getting tortured and you must press triangle as fast as you can for well over a minute just to stay alive. After pressing triangle so much your arm begins to burn and you start to wear out just like snake is starting to succumb.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is one of my favorite games to date. It is the game that I bought a PSP to play. The base management system gives you plenty to do even after the game is finished. I completed the game after 18 hours and I have just hit 35. This game is a must have for any PSP owner and even good enough to make you one. I can’t fault this game, I give it a Solid 10/10.

There is a kid in the picture

This kid’s Mario Bros. collection is to drool over! Check out the video of his collection below.

Two people I didn't vote for

With a nation divided over what will happen to some people in boats we look to what we care about; the video games. If your a gamer and you live in Australia you know about the R18+ debate. The debate in which any video game that exceeds an MA15+ classification is refused classification and therefor banned in Australia. A story by Laura Parker of GameSpot AU earlier this month called “I GAME and I VOTE” tells us each political party’s standpoint on the issue including the NBN, net filter, and proposes tax breaks for video game developers.

“I GAME and I VOTE” by Laura Parker – http://au.gamespot.com/features/6271499/index.html  

The Greens are really the only party that clearly supports the R18+ classification. Labor and Liberal refuse to choose a side. Now with a hung parliament it is the independent seats like ones held by The Greens that could hold the swing votes. Could this mean that we might see an R18+ classification for video games sooner than we would have if Labor or Liberal had gotten the outright vote?

So Hugo Weaving, what do you think about the possibility of an R18+ classification for video games? 

"It is inevitable"