News Diary 29 February – 6 March

Whats the news story?

As of March 3rd, Marvel Games will be adding new characters and content across its game titles on mobile, console and PC. This comes as part of Marvel celebrating their female heroes this month for their “Women of Power” event.

The games that are expecting to receive the new content will include; Lego Marvel Avengers, Avenger Academy and Marvel Puzzle Quest.

The event in questions is set to “celebrate[s] some of the most popular heroes and villains in the Marvel Universe, bringing them together in a unique way for the first time,” according to Peter Philips from the Interactive and Digital Distribution section of Marvel Entertainment. He went on to say that this month will feature “one of the most exciting events in the history of Marvel games”.

The whole idea focuses around the publishers push of its female characters, which alongside the gaming content will include:

  • 25 new comic covers featuring the most popular female characters from Marvel
  • New figures
  • New play sets
  • New collectibles

Which are set to include the most prolific characters of the fairer gender such as; Black Widow, Spider-Gwen and Kitty Pride.

Why is it news worthy?

This story is very big in both the gaming scene and entertainment as a whole. This push forward to celebrate female representation in Marvel is a very important for the comic and gaming industry as a whole.

As previously mentioned in a previous news diary, there has been controversial moves made in the gaming industry with the portrayal of women and over sexualisation. This naturally, coupled with the feminist movement having been discussed a lot in the last few years, makes this story a very interesting one for gaming.

Gaming has been gaining ever more credibility in recent years through being used for education as well as actually having aspects of it taught in schools, have presented it as a more accepted form of media.

Now it appears that Marvel with this event is helping to bring gaming into the public eye in a positive way again, by using its comics and games to promote their female characters. As there has been criticism leveled in the past of an under representation of strong female characters in both video games and comics. This event may help to remove the stigma set against the gaming crowd as misogynists and improve gaming’s overall profile.

This also links into the feminist movement in many ways, with its focus being on strong female characters in the Marvel Universe by dedicating the entire month of March to their “Women Of Power”.

Reference List

Makuch, E. (2016)

Marvel Celebrating Leading Ladies With New “Women of Power” Gaming Event

Available at: http://www.gamespot.com/articles/marvel-celebrating-leading-ladies-with-new-women-o/1100-6435273/ [Accessed 06/03/2016]

 

Towers, A. (2016)

Marvel Games launches Women of Power event

Available at: http://www.ew.com/article/2016/03/02/marvel-celebrates-women-power-launch [Accessed 06/03/2016]

 

Lovett, J. (2016)

Marvel Announces Women Of Power Gaming Event

Available at: http://comicbook.com/2016/03/02/marvel-announces-women-of-power-gaming-event/ [Accessed 06/03/2016]

 

MacDonald, K. (2014)

Video games need more women – and asking for that won’t end the world

Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/commentisfree/2014/feb/19/video-games-need-more-women-female-characters [Accessed: 06/03/2016]

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News Diary 29 February – 6 March

News Diary 22 – 28 February

Story summary

As of the end of March, the Independent will become the first online only UK national UK newspaper.

In the past 12 months the independent’s website has had a monthly audience increase by 33.3% to almost 70 million unique users across the world. The site is projected to have a growth of 50% this year in terms of revenue.

The owner of Independent, Evgeny Lebedev stated that the industry as a whole is changing and this is due to the readers embracing the new digital age. “They’re showing us the future is digital. This decision preserves the Independent brand and allows us to continue to invest in the high quality editorial content.”

The Independent has been known in the past to pioneer different methods in the industry. It was the first UK based national newspaper to create a sister brand paper in the form of the i and became the first to go from broadsheet to compact.

While the Independent is set to only be available in digital form soon, the i newspaper, a subsidiary of The Independent, will continue in print. The i has been confirmed to be sold to Johnston Press by owner ESI Media provided Johnston Press shareholders approve.

Why is it news worthy?

This story is very much one of the biggest stories in terms of the continual evolution of the journalism industry as a whole. Print has been continuing to become less and less relevant in comparison to the growing online and on demand culture.

In the 21st century news is immediate and people want to know about it immediately. Print isn’t able to provide that, whereas as soon as a story breaks it can be online within minutes.

As technology has advanced in recent years people have become more and more invested in digital content and providing online services and has ingrained itself in our culter (as Obama showed with his new proposed technology based scheme involving gaming). Everything is now available to be done over the internet: talking to friends, shopping and now naturally reading the news.

This is the first of what will likely become the norm is years to come as print becomes less and less relevant and loses out to the demand of online content.

This is a first for the print industry in the UK showing a clear sign of the rapid change the industry is facing. With publications such as The LAD bible becoming very popular in their online only format and the BBC’s highly visited news site its makes sense to focus entirely on online content, especially with the falling sales of physical papers.

Reference list

(2016)

The independent becomes the first national newspaper to embrace a global, digital-only future

Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/press/the-independent-becomes-the-first-national-newspaper-to-embrace-a-global-digital-only-future-a6869736.html [Accessed 22nd February 2016]

 

Greenslade, R. (2016)

Another first for the Independent as it plots a digital-only future

Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2016/feb/12/another-first-for-the-independent-as-it-plots-a-digital-only-future [Accessed 24th February 2016)

 

(2016)

Independent to cease as print edition

Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35561145 [Accessed 24th February 2016)

 

News Diary 22 – 28 February

News Diary 8 – 14 February

Story Summary

Assassins Creed publisher Ubisoft have announced they will not be releasing a new title in the franchise during 2016. On the 11th February Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot stated that they will not be releasing a new Assassin’s Creed game until 2017 in order to “give the brand a new dimension.”

The publishing studio said that they have been taking on board player feedback since the release of ‘Assassin’s Creed Unity’, which was received very poorly by gamers due to being released in an unfit state. They plan to take the time out in order to innovate and evolve mechanics in the game to help to offer “unique and memorable gameplay experiences”.

It has been speculated that part of the reason a game will not be released this year is to benefit the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie set to premiere in December starring Michael Fassbender.

The announcement came along with Ubisoft’s earnings report for the latest quarter from the end of December. During this time revenue dropped from €809.7 million to €561.8million during last year during the same period.

The 2017 title is rumoured to be set in Egypt with the title Assassin’s Creed Empire.

 

Why is it newsworthy?

This is newsworthy as this is an interesting move by Ubisoft. The ‘Assassin’s Creed’ title has become a yearly iterative game series, having released 9 games in 8 years. This should have been expected at some point, as discussed in one of my early news diaries – that sales for the previous ‘Assassin’s Creed’ game (‘Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’) was much worse than anticipated by the company, partially due to fatigue from gamers for the franchise.

It has become an expected yearly addition much like that of the ‘Call Of Duty’ franchise. The second to last ‘Assassin’s Creed’ game was released in a practically unplayable state and had a lot of issues with functionality – which was the root cause of the initial “slower launch than expected” according to Ubisoft.

This opens up a discussion about whether these iterative games and sequels are creating fatigue for players and are these continual yearly releases not being innovative enough in order to warrant players continuing to purchase them. This again leads to another question of is the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ franchise losing its fan loyalty due to past transgressions with Unity and fatigue?

This is likely a good move on Ubisofts part in order to allow for Syndicate to be the last game released during this break of the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ franchise going on a short hiatus leaving a well received game by fans of the series. Had they decided to do this after Unity it would likely have led to a lot of animosity growing towards the company. This break man help to build up more anticipation to the next title due to their plan to “give the brand a new dimension” they hope to implement for the next games release in 2017.

Reference List 

Richards, J. (2016)

No new Assassin’s Creed title in 2016 is good news for the series                                                            

Available at: http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/no-new-assassin-s-creed-title-in-2016-is-good-news-for-the-series [Accessed 14th February 2016]

 

Frank, A. (2016)

No new Assassin’s Creed game this year, Ubisoft confirms

Available at: http://www.polygon.com/2016/2/11/10966664/assassins-creed-no-new-game-2016 [Accessed 14th February 2016]

 

Makuch, E. (2016)

No New Assassin’s Creed in 2016, Ubisoft Confirms

Available at: http://www.gamespot.com/articles/no-new-assassins-creed-in-2016-ubisoft-confirms/1100-6434706/ [Accessed 14th February 2016]

 

News Diary 8 – 14 February

News Diary 1st-6th February

Story Summary

It has been announced by White House officials that a new computer science plan to allow for children to learn computer skills may have gaming elements. The $4 billion plan presented by President Obama, called “Computer Science for All” is set to take place over 3 years and will give states funding to train teachers and classrooms.

The initiative, which is aimed with a slant especially towards girls and minority groups, is a part of the 2017 budget and will require approval by the Republican Congress.

White House deputy director Tom Kalil said “The reason why some kids might get interested in computer science is because they like to play them, but they also want to make them” in regards to the new proposed plan to incorporate gaming.

The president of Microsoft, Brad Smith, recently praised the plan and announced that Xbox would be launching a 50-state campaign in order to continue to further develop computer science education. This proposal from the American government comes soon after Microsoft announced an education specific version of Mincraft (which is discussed in more detail in my 18-24 January News Diary).

When revealing the scheme, Obama discussed how the workplace has been changing. “Today’s auto mechanics aren’t just sliding under cars to change the oil; they’re working on machine that run on as many as 100 million lines of code. That’s 100 times ore than the Space Shuttle. Nurses are analyzing data and managing electronic health records.”

On Tuesday February 9th Obama will be discussing his plan more in terms of specifics.

Why is it news worthy?

I think what makes this story news worthy is that it links in with so many other factors and stories in the industry. As discussed in my summary this links in well with one of my previous News Diaries regarding Minecraft education edition. It just shows that the government and companies are taking gaming more seriously as more than just an entertainment medium.

There are many stories in the last few months that this links into in a much broader narrative. Firstly there was the legal changes in America allowing eSports players to gain entry to the USA with a athletes visa, showing an initial start of gaming culture being taken more seriously by the American government. This then links further to the BBC televising the League of Legends Finals late last year showing it as a valuable form of visual entertainment rather than just interactive.

Further from this there was my previous new diary about the Life is Strange inspired competition which had a scholarship fund as a reward. This showed that aspects from games and ideas included can be relevant and be something that can do good in terms of both business and publicity. This story combined with the school that intends to teach an eSports class shows just how much gaming has ingrained itself in our culture as a whole.

This is just another story that shows the evolution of gaming and how it can be a more positive medium despite the majority of media coverage in recent years linking it to negativity such as addiction and violence. It shows how gaming has begun to be taken seriously by governments and continuing to prove itself a powerful education tool.

Reference List

Makuch, E. (2016)

Obama Looking at Gaming for New Computer Science Education Initiative, White House Says

Available at: http://www.gamespot.com/articles/obama-looking-at-gaming-for-new-computer-science-e/1100-6434570/ [Accessed 07 February 2016]

 

Hart, M. (2016)

Gaming a Major Part of President’s $4 Billion Computer Science Education Plan

Available at: http://nerdist.com/gaming-will-be-a-big-part-of-presidents-4-billion-computer-science-education-plan/ %5BAccessed 07 February 2016]

 

Crecente, B. (2016)

Gaming likely to be big part of Obama’s $4B computer science initiative

Available at: http://www.polygon.com/2016/2/5/10923916/obama-computer-science-for-all-video-games [Accessed 07 February 2016]

News Diary 1st-6th February

News Diary 25 – 31 January

Summary of Story

The publisher behind the game ‘Life is Strange’, Square Enix, have sponsored a $10,000 scholarship fund based on an event in the aforementioned game. The fund is through a photography competition called Everyday Heroes with a central theme of “ordinary people doing extraordinary things”.

Photos that are selected are to be shown on the homepage for the competition, in a gallery. The top three of these photographers will have their photos signed and framed by the development team behind ‘Life is Strange‘, Dontnod Entertainment. As well as this the finalists will receive recognition through the social media pages of Square Enix and Dontnod Entertainment.

One of the winners will be granted the top prize of the Everyday Heroes Scholarship Fund for $10,000. Those wishing to enter can do so through the events main website until February 16th. A title and an explanation of the “everyday hero” must accompany the photo.

This is not the first time Square Enix have been charitable in recent months. Earlier in January the company partnered with an anti bullying organisation by the name of PACER to fund raise for bullying prevention, by using twitter to post tweets themed around ‘Life is Strange’.

Why is it newsworthy?

Square Enix has never been a company that has had a very positive impact in the gaming community. It has been seen as a company that was once beloved but have recently, due to its business practice and lack of passion in some of its releases, fallen out of favour with the gaming community.

With recent developments with the company Konami having continued to make themselves vilified by their questionable actions regarding their business practice, it is a refreshing piece of news for gamers to be shown a story where a company is using their influence to make a difference.

Something that was discussed during our News Conference during our Wednesday session was that there has been a much greater push in education sector to create more of these scholarship based funds through companies. Square Enix doing this may be a sign that companies are indeed taking notice of this and moving forward with this idea, especially in a time where many are cynical of big corporations.

Reference List

Frank, A. (2016)

Life is Strange sponsors actual Everyday Heroes photo contest

Available at: http://www.polygon.com/2016/1/26/10834900/life-is-strange-everyday-heroes-scholarship-fund-contest [Accessed 26 January 2016].

 

Khee Hoon, C. (2016)

Square Enix sponsors a $10,000 “Everyday Heroes” scholarship fund

Available at: https://www.pixeldynamo.com/news/gaming/2016/01/27/95569/square-enix-sponsoring-10000-scholarship-fund-everyday-heroes-campaign/ [Accessed 31 January 2016].

 

Parlock, A. (2016)

Square Enix is giving away a $10,000 scholarship in its Everyday Heroes photo competition

Available at: http://www.destructoid.com/square-enix-are-giving-away-a-10-000-scholarship-in-their-everyday-heroes-photo-competition-337019.phtml [Accessed 31 January 2016]

 

Everyday Heroes Competition, (2016)

Life is Strange Everyday Heroes [ONLINE]

Available at: https://everydayheroes.lifeisstrange.com/agegate.php [Accessed 31 January 2016]

https://scottbanksjournalism.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/double-page-spread-final.pdf

News Diary 25 – 31 January

News Diary 18th – 24th January

Microsoft to release a teachers edition of Minecraft

Microsoft, the owners of the world building game Minecraft, plan to launch a new edition of the game for teachers to use as a learning tool. In 2014, the software giant purchased the development company behind Minecraft for £1.8bn, Mjoang. Late last year they also purchased the four year old MinecraftEdu version of the game.

Boasting additional features for use in the classroom Anthony Salcito, the vice president of Microsoft, said: “teachers are using Minecraft to do so many things, including teaching maths, science, religion and poetry.”

The version has been said, by Microsoft, to improve the experience by the addition of: having characters created by pupils to retain their characteristics between sessions; letting pupils take pictures of their progress using an in game camera feature and store them in an online notebook with other notes. It will also include a feature allowing children to have access to download software that will let them continue playing the educational version outside of school without having to purchase the game.

In order to gain access this version both pupils and staff will require a Office 365 ID, which will allow them to use Microsoft’s online software. The company have stated this will help to lower the number of online accounts they need to manage.

Microsoft’s intended price for the software is a yearly fee of $5 (approximately £3.50) per teacher and pupil.

Why is it newsworthy?

Minecraft is monetarily, and in terms of popularity, the most successful indie game of all time. It’s sold over 22 million copies on PC alone (and even sold over 10 more copies while writing this paragraph) – with millions more owning it on Xbox and tablets.

This is not the first time the ‘mainstream’ media has taken an interest in the game. Due to its unlikely success it generated a lot of media buzz at the time of its heightening popularity in 2010 onwards – getting coverage on the BBC and other major news outlets in the UK. So naturally due to its huge popularity (especially with its younger demographic) this development has been very exciting for many.

This story ties in well with the last story I covered in my previous news diary about the topic of eSports being covered in a school in Norway. Except this time instead of the game being the focus of the lesson it will be used as a learning aid.

This is not a new concept, using a game to educate a class. However, never before has a game as successful as Minecraft created a specific learning tool centered around specifically being a teacher aid. This is a game many children already play at home and enjoy, so bringing it into the school environment may help to positively promote their learning experience.

The entire concept of this comes at a very interesting time, games as a form of media have (as every other form of media has at it’s inception) been consistently criticised and berated by the media. This positive story in using games to benefit people and being brought to light by something so popular it can be understood by the general public and major news outlets (like the BBC and Guardian for example) could possible allow for an evolution in the way people view games as a medium.

Microsoft has said it intends to allow teachers to begin “beta testing” this new edition some point “in the summer” for free prior to its official release.

References

Good, O. (2016)

Microsoft acquires teachers’ version of Minecraft, will launch Minecraft: Education Edition

Available at: http://www.polygon.com/2016/1/19/10789532/minecraftedu-teachers-edition-minecraft-microsoft-education-edition  (Accessed: 24th January 2016)

 

Minecraft, (2016)

Minecraft Education Edition. [ONLINE]

Available at:http://education.minecraft.net/announce011916/. (Accessed 24 January 2016).

 

Stewart, K (2016)

Minecraft Education Edition: why it’s important for every fan of the game.

Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jan/22/minecraft-education-edition-why-its-important-for-every-fan-of-the-game. (Accessed 24 January 2016).

 

Kelion, L. (2016)

Minecraft to launch education edition.

Available at:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-35341528. [Accessed 24 January 2016].

News Diary 18th – 24th January

News Diary 11th – 17th January

Whats the story?

Garnes Vidaregaande Skule, a highschool in Norway, is the first in its country to give students access to a course in eSports. The course will be based around eSports, a term used to describe a competitive online game where teams can compete, and will feature no textbooks in the teaching of the course – likely due to the lack of teaching material on the subject.

The school in question is offering the class as an elective – as an optional course such as for sports or the arts. The class is set to begin in August of 2016, however, the actual games that will be taught in the class have yet to be decided. In order to make this decision the school is currently holding a poll to derive the two most popular choices from its students.

A gaming room will be made available to students in order to provide the students with “in-depth knowledge in whatever game” and “will be available during the day and evening time”. The room in question features a totally of 15 high-end computers which will be used by the 30 student class. Two students will share a computer, while one practices the game, the other will be doing physical works to improve: reflexes, body strength and endurance.

Petter Grahl Johnstad, the teacher of the course, has made it clear that the focus of the course is not solely on the mechanics of the game itself and will also feature working on teamwork and motivation. “Understanding the game is one thing, but if the communication does not work within the team, if the players can’t rely on each other, you practically have nothing in our opinion,” Johnstad said on the subject.

Why is it newsworthy?

ESports, a term used to describe competitive online games where teams compete on a regional country and even worldwide basis, have been increasing in popularity massively in recent years. This has been made evident by both the DOTA and League of Legends championships selling out the O2 during their respective finals in recent years and the BBC showing the most recent League of Legends finals on BBC 3(which I wrote about in Week 3 – News Diary 2).

There have been huge pushes to remove the stigma around professional gaming in recent years, such as the American law introduced that allows for professional eSports players to apply for an athletes visa.  This shows the western worlds changing view of eSports and how it can be a potential career (although very difficult to achieve and very cutthroat). Not much is understood or known by the general media about gaming or eSports in general and stories like this help to improve the overall understanding of the general public.

In a way, a better understanding of the eSports scene could, arguable, help relations with Eastern countries like South Korea and Japan who both hold eSports in high regard in their society (South Korea even having its national sport an eSport and having a national holiday when the expansion pack for Star Craft II – heart of swarms released).

References

Paget, M. (2016)

You Can Play Video Games in This High School Esports Class

Available at: http://www.gamespot.com/articles/you-can-play-video-games-in-this-high-school-espor/1100-6433849/ (Accessed: 15th January 2016)

 

Taub, B. (2016)

Norwegian School To Offer ESports Classes as Alternative To Traditional Sports

Available at: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/norwegian-school-offer-esports-classes-part-curriculum (Accessed: 15th January 2016)

 

Moore, E. (2016)

This School in Norward Offers eSports As Part Of The Curriculum

Available at: http://www.unilad.co.uk/gaming/this-school-in-norway-offers-esports-as-part-of-the-curriculum/ (Accessed 15th January 2016)

 

 

News Diary 11th – 17th January