Just Switch The Controller on, Hollywood!

This isn’t a story just a minor rant. So say I, a film lover, goes to the Pictures (Cinemas for non-Brits) to see the latest hit that’s raking in millions. And it has to rake in millions because the budget spent was also in the millions. I’m sat there and I’m in the world on the screen. I’m engrossed, even the bored sprog previously kicking my seat is silent and along for the ride. The film cuts to a kid on a couch with a PS4 controller in his hand and……the controller isn’t on.

To most people that wouldn’t be an issue. Most viewers wouldn’t know if that controller was on or not. Never mind the erratic button bashing and weird hand composure the kid is utilising, he could just be a bad gamer.  However, there is no excuse for the controller to not even be switched on! The director or producer has consultants and experts readily available on set. You have millions in funding and months of pre-planning and production meetings. You have hundreds and thousands of staff on hand, some of which will be avid gamers. The controller was bought for the film! Read the manual! Slap a blue sticker on it! Put some effort into it, maybe!

Gaming isn’t a niche, nerdy hobby any more. According to a recent US study (Linky Link), around half the US population has a console at home. It’s inexcusable for the production team to think that nobody would notice if the controller is on or off. I’ll accept it on adult entertainment, if you get my meaning. Because, that doesn’t make sense usually. Girl orders pizza, driver arrives with pizza, the driver and her go upstairs and they let the pizza go cold. Yeah, OK! In reality: demolish half that pizza first, then sexy saxophone time and lastly have cold refreshing pizza. On a big budget film though, all you do is ruin my immersion with laziness. Small details create a believable universe. It’s why in John Wick, when he runs out of ammo or counts his bullets, those details are hailed by film fans and respected. Unfortunately this isn’t a new thing, I remember seeing films where kids were playing on Gameboy’s without a cartridge. This is also something that will not go away immediately. It’s not even a big deal but it’s something so small and minor that it is easily fixable in films. It’s how I imagine an expert in their field feels watching a film scene, involving their expertise. A doctor for example, baffled by bad medicine terminology. It is something that can easily be researched or consulted on.

But, as I’ve said, it’s not a major detail. I don’t switch off the film if I see it happen but when I do see it, that is all I see for several seconds. It’s distracting and in this day of internet access, there is no excuse for authenticity for something as common as a PS4 controller or gaming device. Hollywood if you read this and I’m sure you will. I’ll be your gaming consultant! Or I’ll print out thousands of blue stickers for you. I only cost 1 Squidillion dollars an hour. Give me a call sometime!

Overwatch Endorsement System: Is Fake Kindness A Bad Thing?

Overwatch is a game that I play a lot, generally at least an hour every other day. I’m a console pleb with a mediocre laptop so I can’t speak for the PC Overwatch community. This view is merely from a PS4 position so take that with a grain of ‘this guy doesn’t know it all’.  Overwatch, for those that don’t know, has a basic communication wheel in game. You press some buttons and your character and a little text prompt, for your team to see, will pop up and say ‘Thanks’, ‘Hello’, ‘Understood’, ‘Group up’, ‘My ultimate is (number)% ready’ and the infamous ‘I need healing’. Basic but it can get the job done. Of course you can use mic’s but if you’re like me, a bit shy and you can’t be bothered to listen to background trashy music or mic technical issues then this communication wheel is all you need.

When put to good use, a team of strangers can co-ordinate a winning move! Or in the hands of a sore loser, can be a minor annoyance. Similar to Rocket Leagues spamming of ‘What a save!’ ‘What a save!’ ‘What a save!’, when a bad player blames others for his death, a torrent of ‘Thanks’ starts appearing on screen. Like a persistent moth batting against a light bulb. It’s not a big deal but it’s damn distracting. Constant inputs incur a couple of seconds ban which helps the droning of suicidal Genji’s but the next death usually brings on another tirade of blame. It is an issue that since launch I’ve got use to but never over. Like a mild rash, without the satisfying itch. Then arrives the endorsement system.

Endorsement

The endorsement system is a simple feature that was added to Overwatch. At the end of a quick play or competitive match you are given the chance to praise your teammates or  a respected enemy. These praises are ‘Shot Caller’, ‘Good Teammate’ and ‘Sportsmanship’. You can only give out 3 endorsements per game. As, you receive endorsements you receive rewards. Or that is my understanding anyway. The system has only been out for a short time and I’m only at a level 2 endorsement level. So far though, I haven’t been showered with gifts or whatever the reward scheme is. Nevertheless, I’ve noticed a sharp decrease in message spamming. I still see ‘I need healing’ and ‘Thanks’ pop up a lot but not as much as I did before the new system.  A lot more ‘Understood’ and ‘Group up’s have been rearing their pretty heads. Much to my joy. A team that communicates in a team based game? Hold on, we may be onto victory here. It’s a nice surprise and I’m sure Blizzard was hoping that this new system they’ve introduced to their game would quell a vocal minority. You can’t shut up everyone that’s unpleasant but a start is always welcome.

This new niceness has raised the question though: is it all fake? To be honest, yes some of it is. But why care? Negativity in a team game can quickly spread. One person spams ‘Thanks’ on death and then after the 3rd time this repeats, someone spams ‘Group up’ back at them. Then a 3rd player may join in on that and then suddenly half the team is bitter and eagerly awaiting the match to end so they can find a new team. It creates a bad aura that brings the energy plummeting in matches. I know because I’ve spammed ‘Group up’ before. I shouldn’t have as that makes me no better, I’m still causing distractions and providing no useful or tactical information. And so, if Player A is seething with rage in a match of Overwatch, yet he chooses to say ‘Thanks’ when healed and ‘Group up’ and actually does it, is that a bad thing? Would you rather he is honest and let his emotions unleash on ‘Thanks’, or would you prefer he plays nice for brownie points? I would rather choose a positive atmosphere to my matches than an honest moan session. I’m British, I love a good moan but not in a team game. Fake kindness wins over unpleasantness any time for me. Not only that but positive reinforcement is always better than negative reinforcement. If the nasty player sees that their pleasant disposition leads to more victories, they are more likely to continue that act.  Combine that with the fact that habits grow the more they are repeated, which means that subconsciously this nice behaviour could stick to the individual, naturally.

It’s almost like a paradox. Is a player a good teammate, if they are secretly a bitter Overwatch player that keeps their whining to their self and is courteous in game for fake badges? I think if it leads to a better gaming experience for everyone in game then cheap tricks are fine by me.

Trivia Time: Until Dawn, Records Your Terror

Until Dawn is a game developed by SuperMassive, released in 2015. It is a horror game with a big emphasis on choices and the butterfly effect. The game is basically a B horror film and focuses on a bunch of friends staying in a cabin on some snowy mountain. You control each character at different segments and as you play you will be given choices and the choices you make will have a reaction with the story. Some are mild, a character won’t like another character because of a decision you made,  or a character could die because of your choice.  Every character you control can live or die, at the end of the game you could have no survivors left or all of them. It’s a fun game and one I highly recommend being played with a partner or friends.

Until Dawn™_20150822014404
You never know when a choice might spell doom for a character

The game is full of scares, over it’s 8+ hour story you will feel your heart in your throat at times and the game does a good job of building suspense but also delivery jump scares. SuperMassive knew they would put the fear into people and so they devised a way to capture that fear for future viewings. If you go into the options of Until Dawn, you can enable your PS4 camera, if you have one, to record all the frightening bits. These will be recorded as little snippets and saved for you to re-watch in self humiliation. A great feature to encapsulate the look of horror on your face at a cheap jump scare.

This feature has some downsides though when used. Or positives depending on the player. You see, when you activate this feature, the little light on the PS4 camera will light up when recording. So, when a jump scare is about to happen, the owner of the camera will see that the PS4 camera has started recording. You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that a jump scare is about to happen. This can be remedied by covering the light with a bit of a sticky note or anything similar. However, if you’re a big scared-ey cat but want to play Until Dawn then this might be a good downside for you. You’ll still have the jump scare but you’ll get a little warning before it happens. Enough time to brace yourself or cover your eyes behind a pillow. I won’t judge, I promise.