March 23, 2015 | 5:30 a.m.

SXSW 2015: The gaming world tries to get inside our heads

"1979" (ink stories)
THE PLAYER AUSTIN, Texas — Discovery at South by Southwest isn’t what it used to be. More than 2,000 bands make it hard to cut through the din here, and it doesn’t help when cellphone providers and beer companies are making some of the loudest noise. Having attended SXSW now for 12 years, I can safely say that excitement happens on the fringes, far from whatever brand is hoping for a slight edge in attracting the attention of more than 30,000 attendees. The gaming portion of SXSW is entirely on the fringes. Though the industry is a powerhouse that’s estimated to bring in more worldwide revenue than the film business, a brief Miley Cyrus appearance at SXSW showcase sponsored by Converse shoes appeared to generate more attention than anything the gaming portion of the fest offered. FULL COVERAGE: South by […]
March 16, 2015 | 4:46 p.m.

SXSW: Is the game industry scaring away new players?

Activision's investment in "King's Quest" is a sign that big publishers are playing attention to the indie market. (The Odd Gentlemen/Sierra)
THE PLAYER Women and minorities are ignored. Prices are too high. Games are too long and too difficult.  These aren’t the complaints of disgruntled consumers but observations from top gaming executives at the South by Southwest games festival in Austin, Texas. On Sunday in front of an audience at the Hyatt Regency, the panel of experts explored why the industry has been failing at converting non-players into players. The main culprits: An over-reliance on $100 million-plus blockbusters, a difficult learning curve and a lack of diverse narratives. FULL COVERAGE: South by Southwest While Wall Street analysts and industry boosters like to cite financial figures that show the game business as one that’s bigger than the film industry, such numbers mask an uncomfortable reality: the number of dedicated gamers is not growing. “The actual universe of gamers isn’t expanding that much,” […]
July 22, 2014 | 4:16 p.m.

IDW at 15: Ted Adams, Chris Ryall talk growth, risks, Comic-Con

Chris Ryall, IDW's editor in chief and chief creative officer, joined the company in 2004. He has also written for IDW in both licensed Clive Barker adaptations and originals such as "Zombies vs. Robots." (Victor Ha)
Fifteen years ago in San Diego, IDW wasn’t publishing comics and Comic-Con drew about 45,000 people. How times have changed. The company that Ted Adams co-founded in 1999 with three fellow comic industry veterans has evolved into one of the top four comic book publishers, competing with 22-year-old indie innovator Image Comics for No. 3, albeit well behind superhero stalwarts Marvel and DC, both at least five times its age. Last year, IDW sold more than 1 million graphic novels. And the pop-culture phenom of a convention it shares a city with? A long-ago sold-out crowd of 130,000 is expected this week. IDW – publisher of original horror hits “30 Days of Night” and “Locke & Key,” and comics home to brands as realities-apart as “The X-Files” and “My Little Pony” – is celebrating 15 years of slow-and-steady but risk-taking […]
May 31, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.

‘Watch Dogs’ review: Ubisoft techno thriller compels until guns drawn

Aiden Pearce is the protagonist in the game "Watch Dogs."
Central to the narrative of “Watch Dogs” is a character by the name of Aiden Pearce, a baseball-cap-wearing vigilante whose greatest weapon is a cellphone. As Aiden walks the streets with his head buried in his phone, the emails, text messages, bank accounts, salaries and police records of strangers within his proximity are made available to his hacking delight. When he uses his phone to sneak into the network of the city — in this case, modern-day Chicago — he has more power than former Windy City Mayor Richard M. Daley ever had during his 22 years in office. Though the theme of spying is certainly topical, work on the new Ubisoft game “Watch Dogs” began five years ago, long before most of us were concerned with what the letters NSA actually stood for. But the real world has caught […]
March 25, 2014 | 5:15 p.m.

‘Deus Ex: Human Revolution’ live action fan-film adapts Square Enix hit

The Square Enix hit “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” is the latest big-game title to get the live-action, fan-film treatment. Dcode Films and its founder, Moe Charif, released a twelve-minute short Tuesday on Machinima, with Charif playing the lead character Adam Jensen. In the game, Jensen is an ex-SWAT specialist who’s been handpicked to oversee the defensive needs of one of America’s most experimental biotechnology firms. After a militaristic team breaks in and kills scientists working there, Jensen, badly wounded during the attack, must be mechanically augmented to survive and pursue the culprits. The short also focuses on Jensen’s relationship with his ex-girlfriend Megan Reed (played by actress Liannet Borrego) and on a particularly ruthless female assassin, Yelena Fedorova (Shayna Nicole E’Orio). The game was favorably reviewed at the time of its release — with Joystiq saying: “Compared to Deus Ex […]
Oct. 12, 2013 | 7:00 a.m.

The Nintendo 2DS: Is lack of 3-D a deal-breaker?

The Nintendo 2DS lacks 3-D but has a lower price at $129.99. (Nintendo of America)
The new Nintendo handheld device the 2DS seeks to solve a puzzle that may not, to the casual games observer, seem in need of a solution: How does a company get more games in kids’ hands? Nintendo has stressed in promotional materials and interviews that the 2DS, available today, is a budget-friendly gaming device that is geared toward first-time players, most notably children. Yet in crafting a gadget that looks like an entry-level tablet rather than an ultra-sexy gaming machine, Nintendo has managed to walk the line between a toy-ish contraption and an accessible way for people of all ages to game. When it was first unveiled in August, the 2DS raised some eyebrows among Nintendo fans and the gaming community. After all, the company’s current portable gaming machine, the foldable, dual-screen 3DS, is doing quite well for itself. The […]
March 08, 2013 | 12:46 p.m.

International Women’s Day: Superheroines with some kick

Emma Watson in the "Harry Potter" films and Carrie Fisher in "Star Wars." (Warner Bros., Lucasfilm)
International Women’s Day is being honored today with that singular cultural touchstone: a Google Doodle. The doodle drawing of faces of women around the world artistically honors the advancement of women’s rights — one of the chief goals of International Women’s Day — and the fact that a woman’s work, it seems, is never done. Hero Complex is celebrating International Women’s Day in the best way it knows how: with a photo gallery of women from film, TV, games and comic books who embody female empowerment and, let’s face it, kick booty. (Yes, we said “booty,” but only because the L.A. Times censors made us.) Beyoncé as Wonder Woman? Now we know there’s a long list of complaints about women in genre. Chiefly, that they are hyper-sexualized sidekicks who do little more than bust out of their curve-hugging costumes. And, […]
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