#1ReasonWhy - Duke Nukem Forever

News Shelf: 12/11/30

Big studios, heated discussions and an even tinier version of the little console that could – all this and more in this week’s News Shelf.

Women in industry reveal #1reasonwhy there aren’t that many of them

Assassin's Creed: LiberationOn Twitter, Kickstarter’s Luke Crane asked a simple question: Why are there so few lady game creators?

It sparked an entire hashtag of answers: the lady game creators (and journalists, and industry insiders) gave their reasons one at a time with #1reasonwhy. Some touched on personal anecdotes, while others spoke more generally about barriers such as sexism, misogyny and an overwhelming focus on creating games either with male protagonists and/or geared towards a theoretically male-dominant audience. Here’s a small sample:

Heated discussion, naturally, followed and the fallout has since reached several game blogs and websites, as well as other more mainstream publications including the Guardian, Mother Jones and Forbes.

Microsoft opens Black Rock studio in Vancouver

Black Tusk Studios

Microsoft officially unveiled Black Tusk Studios, a development team in the Yaletown district of downtown Vancouver. Work is already underway on what it hopes will be the next blockbuster triple-A franchise for the Xbox 360, and the team is actively recruiting, according to the Vancouver Sun.

“We are thrilled to be expanding Microsoft Studios in Vancouver, a city that has a rich game development heritage and been chosen as the world’s most livable city eight times in the past 10 years,” said general manager Hanno Lemke in a press release. (He’s not wrong, though Vancouver slipped to #3 this year.)

The Sun explains that the studio’s name is taken from the composite volcano in B.C. between Vancouver and Whistler. It’s been a rough while for the games industry on the west coast, with the recent closures of Radical Entertainment and Rockstar Vancouver. But Black Tusk looks to be on the way to revitalizing the scene with the substantial backing of the Windows machine.


Nintendo launches Wii Mini in Canada

Nintendo Wii MiniJust weeks after the Wii U console hit Dork Shelves around the world, Nintendo announced the Wii Mini, a slimmed-down version of 2006’s motion-control console exclusively in Canada. Featuring a seriously compact red and black chassis and a top-loading disc tray, the Wii Mini includes only “basic functionality,” meaning it plays Wii games without any online connectivity, or the ability to play Nintendo GameCube games.

A Wii Mini with a red Wii Remote and Nunchuk will run you a Robert Borden (that’s $100, or $99.99 MSRP) plus taxes. See? Shaun Hastings isn’t your only history teacher today.

This isn’t anything new for Nintendo; it’s released several iterations of its former consoles, including the Game Boy Micro with similar ultra-compact form factors. The offline-only caveat, while restrictive to many gamers, will likely sound like a blessing for parents with young children who will likely spring to buy it if they cannot either find or afford a Wii U complete with games and peripherals.

Nintendo seriously missed the boat not colouring the currently Canada-only console with white and a maple leaf in the middle, but we’ll take it.


Classic video games enter the Museum of Modern Art

Museum of Modern Art Video GamesI sure hope you aren’t still getting hung up on the “are video games art?” question. But if you’re still on the fence, the New York Museum of Modern Art is completely fine with moving ahead without you. It announced its own video game collection on Thursday.


The 14 initial games for the exhibit include Pac-Man, Tetris, Another World, Myst, Portal and EVE Online. You can check out the full list here.

“Are video games art? They sure are, but they are also design, and a design approach is what we chose for this new foray into this universe,” wrote senior curator Paola Antonelli. “The games are selected as outstanding examples of interaction design…Our criteria, therefore, emphasize not only the visual quality and aesthetic experience of each game, but also the many other aspects — from the elegance of the code to the design of the player’s behavior — that pertain to interaction design.”

The initial list is impressive in its breadth and quality, but also thankfully looks at the merits of design and interaction more so than the oft-cited financial immensity of best-sellers.

After all, video games can be art – and who can put a price tag on that?


Patch Notes

– Refurbished pastel-coloured Super Famicom consoles: comes with Super Mario World and sells for 150 Euro. Sorry, everyone else.

– Skrillex Quest mashes up dubstep with Zelda. Don’t worry, there’s hardly any Zelda at all.