In today’s era of day one patches, rushed games and quality assurance practices not being followed too well, it’s not surprising that articles about glitches are common. Whether it’s the Lumiose City glitch in Pokemon X and Y, the three million ways to break Mario & Luigi Paper Jam or Super Mario Maker’s invincibility bug, these things are the subject of numerous articles across an almost infinite number of gaming websites.
But how about when the glitch isn’t real?
How about when someone on Reddit makes up a fake glitch for a popular new game? Like say, The Division?
Because that’s exactly what happened. Reddit user el2mador wrote a post on the subreddit for The Division about how enemy mobs could kill the APC for you. Unfortunately for anyone who tried it, the glitch didn’t work. It was a hoax meant to see how much attention a post about a bug in the game could get.
The gaming press fell for it hook, line and sinker.
And what’s worse, I don’t mean a couple of small websites or independent bloggers fell for it. I mean the likes of IGN and Gamespot reported on it as fact. Despite you know, not actually testing whether it worked. Here’s a list of all the different sites who posted about the ‘exploit’:
The Division: New Exploit Found Hours After Ubisoft Fixes Another – IGN
The Division ‘Falcon Incursion’ exploit hotfix brings new glitch – GameZone
The Division: New Glitch Found in Falcon Lost Incursion – Twinfinite
The Division’s New Bug Makes the AI Work for You – Gamespot
‘Tom Clancy’s The Division:’ New glitch found in Falcon Lost Incursion, lets NPCs kill boss – ibTimes
‘The Division’ Falcon Lost ‘Friendly Fire’ Glitch: Let NPC’s Take Down The APC For You – iDigitalTimes
As Ubisoft fixes one big The Division exploit, players find another – Eurogamer
Note that the above links are archived, since quite a few were deleted since the hoax was revealed. Personally, I’m not a fan of that, it comes across as trying to ‘hide’ your mistakes. These sites should have done what real newspapers do, issued a correction in the article stating that they were fooled by a hoax.
But that aside, what do I think of the situation? Well to be honest, I’d say it brings to light two major issues when it comes to video games and the media.
Number 1 is how dodgy glitch reporting is in general. Think about it. Let’s say you find a glitch being discussed online and there’s no proof that it’s real.
Now, let’s assume you test it and it doesn’t seem to work. What’s the situation here?
Well, it could be any number of things really:
The glitch could be a hoax like in this situation. It’s not a massively common situation, but it does happen, and it’s happened before Th Division was even a game. Did you know that both times Maple Treeway was in a Mario Kart game, someone faked a glitch shortcut for it? Yeah, that’s a real story. People made fake videos showing non existent glitches on the track for both the Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7 versions.
You might have messed up somewhere along the line, perhaps because the instructions given were vague or poorly written. This is a depressingly common occurrence, and a great example can be seen here:
If Paper Mario attempts to defeat one of the Paper Fuzzies before they attack, just before they attack, the game will crash, making the system reset.
That’s an item on Mario Wiki’s page for Mario & Luigi Paper Jam glitches. Don’t get it? Nor do I, and I’ve tried everything to see if this glitch works. Do you attack them on your own turn? Counterattack them on theirs? Use a specific attack? Kill them? Don’t kill them? It’s very unclear and a complete toss up as to whether you’ve figured out what the original writer meant.
The specific copy of the game used by the glitch finder could be broken. If a disc and cartridge has a factory defect, it can cause bugs. If the battery starts to fail, it can cause bugs. If it gets corrupted while being downloaded, it can cause bugs. And on a computer? God help you there, because the amount of possible operating system, driver and device combinations approaches infinite.
Glitches also aren’t always that easy to test. Like these ones:
A journalist will struggle enormously at trying to get frame specific actions to work correctly. And it’s not much better in cases like online multiplayer games, where the behaviour of other players or the AI has to be taken into consideration for some of them to work.
Lag doesn’t help either. If a game lags massively, then the effect can resemble a ton of glitches or a hacker modifying the game for an easy win. As many, many Mario Kart players complaining about people falling off Rainbow Road (then warping back on afterwards) will make clear.
And then there’s plain old human memory, which isn’t anywhere near as good as we think it is. It’s very easy for people to get fake memories if they’re convinced that something unusual actually happened, or for them to get confused and think something strange occurred when it was merely something more benign.
So that’s one thing it teaches us. That reports of glitches on forums and social media are incredibly hard to verify, and might well be utterly wrong.
The second thing it proves is how little fact checking the media does nowadays. I mean, while it would certainly be hard to prove/disprove this particular bug exists, it could be done to within reasonable doubt if the journalist went around, tried the game for a while, asked other people’s opinion, etc. But modern journalism doesn’t allow for that. It wants quickly written articles put up the second the news breaks out, not deeply researched pieces that come out at a rate of two or three articles a week. So as per usual, fact checking is ignored, comments on Reddit are taken as gospel and the media jumps on a ‘hot’ story about a game that’s already being heavily criticised for other things.
Either way, let this teach you all a couple of important lessons; the media does no fact checking, and glitches are extremely hard to verify one way or another.
Reddit Post about the Hoax (archived)
As you’re probably now well aware, today was April Fool’s Day. As per internet tradition, that means a lot of jokes from companies you’d never in a million years have expected to have a sense of humour.
But while the BBC hasn’t done anything interesting as their spaghetti harvest prank, and old Google is being criticised left and right over its Minions mic joke drop prank, the gaming world has more than made up for it.
So here is a full list of all the gaming related April Fools Day jokes I could find online. Enjoy!
Let’s start with jokes by video game websites then…
Source Gaming is now ‘Sauce’ Gaming. Yeah, that’s a groan worthy pun if I’ve seen one:
Mario Fan Games Galaxy is now a forum about the comedy TV show ‘All That’. They’ve even got a new style and everything!
Super Mario World Central is now doing paid DLC and microtransactions! You can now buy their virtual currency with real money, and use it for things like downloading resources from the site:
Nintendo Life on the other hand is running a story about a Splatoon game being planned for the Nintendo 3DS. It’s called ‘Splatoon Legends’ and seems to feature an art style somewhat inspired by the 3DS version of Super Smash Bros:
The Nintendo subreddit is now about the Mercedes Benz, after Nintendo’s work with the company on promoting Mario Kart 8.
Meanwhile, the Nintendo Music subreddit is suddenly about Atari 2600 music!
And Smashboards is now called Emblemboards, and is dedicated to the Fire Emblem series. Hmm, I wonder what that idea came from?
Above: It’s what Sakurai has always wanted!
Super Mario Wiki added a few articles about a supposed ‘Nintendo Cinematic Universe’ series of movies. These apparently include a new Mario movie, a new Pikmin movie and a Super Smash Bros movie, with Pokemon related content coming later. To add to the joke, Pikipedia (the Pikmin wiki) and Super Smash Bros Wiki (guess) are also running articles about their ‘upcoming’ movies from the cinematic universe.
Above: Oh we wish this was real…
Operation Rainfall posts an article about how Nintendo is planning to stop making video games and go back to playing cards, in a mockery of the usual fan backlash to changes Nintendo makes to their games.
Metroid Database is saying it’s closing down because Metroid has gone downhill. They say that they won’t reopen until Nintendo ‘makes Metroid great again;.
Mammoth Gamers talks about Nicholas Cage being the voice actor for Final Fantasy XV. Apparently the main character being called ‘Noctis Lucis Caelum’ is close enough to ‘Nicholas Cage’ that he thought he just had to be in the game. Or something.
And finally, Zelda Europe posts a fake box art design for ‘Link’s Crossbow Training HD’. No, it’s not real, if you hadn’t guessed the obvious:
But it’s not just video game websites that are getting in on the fun! It’s the actual game developers, publishers and marketing teams too, as the next few will show you…
Video Game Companies (and associates)
Blizzard’s shop is now ‘selling’ an ‘ultra rare premium orc statue’ for 100 million dollars because ‘gamers wanted more overwhelming expensive statues on our site’. Sad thing is, there’s probably at least one person out there who’d actually pay this much…
They also announced (via their World of Warcraft Youtube channel) ‘Hearthstone: The MMO’, a version of their card game which has been redesigned to work like World of Warcraft.
Above: That’s one BIG statue.
Mojang announces ‘Minecraft the Trendy Update’, where the monsters wear trendy bracelets now. Well, it’s something I guess…
The official Splatoon Twitter account posts pictures of a Splatoon arcade machine, and implies the game is now being released in Japanese arcades. Personally? I prefer the 3DS one that Nintendo Life’s hoax article talked about. Seems a lot cooler.
Playtonic Games has announced that Yooka-Laylee is now a Sega Saturn exclusive because of ‘budget constraints’:
The team at Square behind Final Fantasy XIV have announced ‘Chocobo Go’, a new transport initiative involving the Chocobos from the Final Fantasy series (in real life):
And the Miitomo Twitter account talks about an Amiibo of Tomoshiro Miide, the Mii character used as their Twitter avatar:
Must have lost a few points recently, since my count was wrong. Never the less, updated.
When it comes to the gaming media, the quality of the journalism is… not very good. From lazy stories taken off social media sites to uncontrollable rumour mongering and even outright attacks on their audience, gaming journalism is to real journalism what the average tabloid is to the BBC. And just like the tabloid newspapers its quality is inspired by, the world of gaming journalism has its cliches too.
So let’s look at them all! Here are the nine laziest cliches in gaming journalism!
Video Games in Real Life
Let’s start with the most ‘harmless’ one first. Namely, video games in real life.
This was somewhat of an interesting idea… round about the time the internet started becoming a thing. So, about 1990 then. When a bunch of bored college students dressing up like video game characters was somehow a new and innovative piece of ‘comedy’ genius.
Unfortunately, since then, it’s just became way overused. For example, how many attempts at recreating Mario Kart in real life have there been?
Far too many, as you can see in the tons of real life Mario Kart videos shown above. And the thing is, just about every series on the planet has been recreated like this. Mario platformers, the Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, Metroid, Super Smash Bros, Mega Man…
It’s not interesting any more, and is completely overused as an article subject. Please find something else to write about. Just not…
Classic Games Remade in the Unreal Engine
These silly remakes. Okay, there have been some cool looking Unreal Engine remakes for popular games. Like this one of Clock Town in The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask:
Or a surprisingly high amount of this Super Mario 64 Unreal Engine remake/test video:
But the vast majority of these remakes just aren’t very interesting. They’re not trying to be anything like a game, they’re just the same old bland field with a few character models chucked in for the sake of it. For example:
I get it. You can buy a bunch of assets for the engine, and find some character models from popular video games in a similar style. But they’re not interesting in any way. Anyone can make this sort of thing, it’s not special.
Talking of overused ideas, the next one is getting a bit old as well…
Video Game Marriage Proposals
It’s like rule 5963 of the internet; if a work allows user generated content, someone has used it for a marriage proposal. It’s like some sort of geeky ‘tradition’, propose to your one true love (who just happens to care about video games for some reason) through an edited video game level.
It’s happened in Super Mario World:
And Super Mario Bros 3:
It’s happened in New Super Mario Bros Wii:
Either way, it’s getting a bit old hat by this point. Indeed, it makes me want to see either:
1. Someone actually divorce someone through an edited video game. Forget a marriage, imagine someone breaking up in the form of a custom level filled with dangerous traps and angry messages. Now that WOULD make for an interesting video.
2. The person being proposed to being an actual level designer/ROM hacker, who promptly chews out the creator for their shoddy level design. Because let’s face it, almost all of these levels are designed in the laziest, most uninspired ways possible, and laden with sprite spam and cutoff. It’d be rather funny to see someone like levelengine pick one of these hacks up, utterly annihilate with a bad score in a video review and then stick it next to Hammer Brother Demo 3 and Link’s Adventure on a worst ROM hacks of all time list.
Either way, the marriage proposals are getting a bit tired now. Time to try something new! Like, the very opposite of the next cliche on the list:
The Top Two Million X of All Time
Because if there’s anything the internet likes more than jokes and memes and ‘heartwarming’ Youtube videos, it’s lists. So if there’s a topic related to video games in any way at all, there will be hundreds upon hundreds of lists about it.
Like the top ten hardest or top ten easiest bosses. That seems pretty common.
Above: There’s a good chance this guy will be on the easy bosses list. Along with Gohma and Cloud ‘n Candy.
Or lists about random subjects no one really cares about. Top ten cats in gaming? Oh sure, that’s actually surprisingly (or should I say ‘purrsprisingly’) common:
Above: Given how much the internet loves cats, this should surprise no one.
But the worst (and obviously most common of all) tends to be the inevitable list of ‘best games ever made’. Trust me here, every single journalist on the planet seems to have written a version of this list. And guess what? They’re all completely useless.
This is because of two obvious reasons:
1. Games are different from each other in just about every way, so even the best games of all time by Metacritic score are usually not comparable. Can you really say that the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time:
Can be objectively compared to Super Mario Galaxy?
Above: Can you spot all the beta elements in this trailer?
Cause they’re both good. Just good in different ways, and appeal to different people. Additionally, no one will ever actually play every game ever made. It’s impossible, there are simply too many of them. So how you can REALLY say what’s the best game? Or for that matter, what’s worst?
And that’s not even getting into today’s sorry excuse for a ‘media’, which wear their political biases on their sleeve and will happily give scores based on how ‘moral’ they think a game is rather than how good it actually is. So next to games people actually like, you get the odd walking simulator and boring Twine game that mostly only appeals to insane Tumblr users. But more on that later, the point is that top whatever lists just don’t work, and they’ve been done to death by now. Please think of something else to write!
Above: Also, you’re reading a top nine gaming journalism cliches article. I’m a hypocrite, aren’t I?
Although it should be your own work…
Press Releases as News
Which in simple terms, means something that takes effort to write.
It mostly certainly does not mean ‘copying and pasting press releases into a WordPress post’. Journalism is not ‘being paid to press CTRL + C and CTRL + V in quick succession’. It’s meant to be about doing research. Providing a balanced look at the events of the day. Standing up for people who otherwise have no voice. Finding interesting things your readers actually need to know.
Above: This is better than your ‘article’
Copying press releases and acting like corporate yes men is nothing like that. In fact, if that’s the kind of thing you like doing so much, maybe your boss should just pay your salary to the company’s marketing team. After all, they did the hard work of actually writing the press release and providing the screenshots!
Above: Some stats from Reed show that the industry is very aware of this, since apparently the average gaming journalist salary is even lower at about $28,000 (£19,000) a year…
But even regurgitated fact sheets are better than posting…
Officially at least, since the game’s existence was actually leaked by Amazon’s Italian branch a good few days ago. None the less, here’s the official trailer for the game, released by Disney on the offical Youtube channel for the franchise:
So what can we say about it? Well, not a lot really, the trailer is only the briefest possible glimpse at what’s likely to be in the game. None the less, it seems like everyone from the movie is here, from villain Kylo Ren to circular droid BB-8 to new characters like Rey and Finn. And it also seems to maintain the… somewhat light hearted sense of humour from the other LEGO adaptations too, which could be a breath of fresh air for some people.
But what do you think? Are you excited for the new LEGO adaptation of Star Wars the Force Awakens? Or would you rather see the characters in other games, like Disney Infinity or a non LEGO related adaptation?
A couple of weeks ago, the gaming world went into a bit of a shock with the reveal that Sony was trying to trademark the term ‘Let’s Play’, a commonly used name for video and screenshot walkthroughs of video games that can be found on sites like Youtube. Would this destroy the community? Would all Youtube LPers have to pay money to Sony to use a term that was created by (and for) the gamers?
Well, it turns out the answer to that is no; the trademark has been rejected. What’s more, the US Patent and Trademark Office did their research on this one, rejecting the trademark because it’s a ‘generic term’ that’s descriptive in nature. In other words, because everyone online already uses it for these videos and screenshot articles, and it’s not uniquely used to refer to Sony’s products.
In their own words:
Or in pure text form:
As shown in the attached evidence, the term ‘Let’s Play’ used in connection with video games refers to ‘a video, or less commonly, a series of screenshots, documenting a playthrough of a video game, almost always including commentary by the gamer’ and ‘Let’s Play’ (sometimes called Learn to Play); One or more people that record themselves playing video games through screenshots or captured video (Mostly the latter).’ This phrase merely describes applicant’s services because applicant would stream Let’s Play’ videos.
Accordingly, registration is refused under Trademark Act Section 2(e)(1)
Either way, it’s now dead and (likely) buried, and we won’t have to fear Sony trying to take over our Let’s Play videos and channels any time soon. Thank god someone at the USPTO saw some sense here.
And additional thanks to Gaming Reinvented commenter Ferigeras for pointing out the update, as well as The McArthur Law Firm documenting all this on the blog.
Let’s Play” securely in the public domain as USPTO rejects Sony’s trademark bid as “merely descriptive – The McArthur Law Firm