Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 07.03.03

Hey all. Welcome to this week’s edition of the Thank God It’s Thursday News Report, which is evidently the 2nd longest tenured news report on 411 Games. How crazy is that? Not even five months ago, I was the new news guy, and now I’ve been around longer than almost everybody! I’m impressed… how about you?

Anyway, onto more important things. It seems that I’ve settled upon a sort of “format” for the report, and I’m comfortable with it – rather than talk about a lot of stuff in no detail, pick a few things that are really important and sink my teeth into them. But when there are weeks like this, where there isn’t much to discuss that is of any importance, it’s tough. Nevertheless, enjoy!

Old news by now, but it’s still news…

The ESRB has finally decided to expand its ratings system to include information about the violent content in games. The new categories are:

Cartoon Violence – The kind of stuff you see in the Looney Tunes cartoons
Fantasy Violence – Casting damage-inflicting spells that cannot be replicated in real life
Intense Violence – Found in most modern games/movies/depiction of reality
Sexual Violence – Act out the behind-closed-doors lifestyle of your favorite celebrities

These modifiers are presumably not meant to replace the existing system, but rather to shed light on exactly what kind of game it is. Seems similar to what you see before a movie on HBO – “This movie contains brief violence and brief nudity.”

But will it work? One can’t help but admit that the ESRB’s intentions are good. It’s clearly an attempt to provide an amicable solution to the “Parents should know what their kids are playing” debate. Sometimes, it really is hard to gauge the content of a game from what a kid says, and this new system should aid parents in that regard. It also shows that the ESRB is flexible and will be able to adapt to the changing world of games.

However, the real test of the system will be when game companies start to use it for profit. When it became required for record labels to put an “Explicit Lyrics” sticker on records with incendiary content, it became a very popular thing to do. What says “cool” more than an album that is so profane that it needs a sticker on it? Soon, this scenario will repeat itself in the gaming world.

No matter your opinion on the subject, one thing should be consistent on all of our minds – any game that features “Sexual Violence” should NOT be playable – by ANYBODY. That’s going a bit far.

EA and Sega
Well, the NBA Draft has come and gone. Hope those who watched it, enjoyed it. And if you read last week’s column, hopefully you came to understand my views a little better.

I saw the first 10 or so picks of the first round, and almost all of the second round. In this time, I did not see or hear a single mention of ESPN NBA Basketball. I did, however, hear and see PLENTY about NBA Live 2004. There’s something horribly wrong with this picture. Did anyone else cringe when they went to the EA Sports Desk (or whatever it was called)? Where’s ESPN’s spine? Argh.

On the subject of the draft, can someone explain why the Knicks felt the need to import TWO 7-footers from overseas? Isn’t one Frederic Weis enough?

Well, folks, something’s got to give. It’s been a week of horrific time restraints, so for the sake of getting this thing done, I’m going to refrain from writing the usual descriptions/ego boosters for all of the guys this week. Instead, I’ll just give the winners. I feel kinda bad about this, but I doubt you really care.

Gold: Jeff Watson and Cory Laflin
Silver: Alex Lucard
Bronze: Lee Baxley had this won, but his political views led the Committee to have a vote. The vote resulted in Lee being stripped of his medal and the honor going to Bebito Jackson.
Honorable Mention: The Scotsman

Everything else posted this week is really good, too, so make sure to read everything 411 Games has to offer! You don’t need me to guide you through this, eh?

Non-411 Games Link of the Week is a site that links to a number of sites to show more than one perspective on a given game. It’s a pretty neat site, and it’s just launched this week. Best of all, though, it features some of 411’s best content! That’s always a plus for any site. It’s a good site, so check it out.

CD of the Week
Bad Religion – All Ages. If you’ve never heard Bad Religion, this would be a good place to begin. This compilation covers BR’s Epitaph years (the first time around) from “How Could Hell Be Any Worse?” to “Generator” (1981-1992), an era most BR fans would call their most fruitful period. Highly recommended for those looking to hear the band that punk groups rip off to this very day.

Commentary of the Week
If you needed a succinct summary of the state of the world, you need only look at the top news items of this past week. These truly show the sorrowful state of affairs that we must deal with day in and day out. Enjoy… or, at least, try not to get too depressed.

Katharine Hepburn
To be honest, I’ve never even seen a Katharine Hepburn movie. Prior to Sunday, I knew nothing about her, except that I assumed her to be Audrey’s sister or some other type of relative. Prior to Sunday, I may have assumed her to already be dead.

Of course, this all changed Sunday when word broke of her death. It’s always sad when someone like this dies – someone of another era whom people nowadays only know of through the stories of elders. The generation that best remembers her must now face up to its own mortality; the generations that have followed have very little memory of her.

This is where it gets to be repulsive. Judging by the media coverage and outpouring of Hollywood, you’d think Katharine Hepburn was incredibly vital. Soon, you’ll see magazines on newsstands dedicated to Katharine Hepburn saying what a great person she was and how she needs to be remembered. You may already have seen a TV retrospective of Katharine Hepburn’s career that shows her at her best.

This is all well and good. But how about having some of these tributes while the person is still alive? The world we live in seems to have a sort of obsession with death – when you die, you become something more than a celebrity. Nirvana made some great music, but odds are you wouldn’t hear about their lasting legacy if Kurt Cobain hadn’t committed suicide. The same can be said for the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur (though when you release more albums after your death than during your lifetime, that feeling subsides a little). Most people overlooked George Harrison as a significant member of the Beatles until he died, at which point he became “The Spiritual Beatle” and the man who introduced Indian music to the rest of the world.

Instead of contrived “reflections” that overcompensate for years of indifference, it’s time that we begin to appreciate today’s stars today. Give Adam West a TV special to honor his work before he dies. The man’s obviously deserving. The only problem is, nobody would watch it.

He isn’t dead yet.

ACC Expansion
Those who aren’t sports fans might not understand the significance of this one, but bear with me. In recent months, the Atlantic Coast Conference has tried to raid the Big East in an effort to gain the required amount of schools (12) to host a money-making conference championship football game. The actions by the ACC, as they were intended to be carried out, would have killed the Big East. Of course, this was of no consequence to the ACC, who wanted the money however they could get it.

In the end, the ACC ended up with two schools – Virginia Tech and Miami, two very strong football schools. The Big East lost its two best football schools and virtually all of its marketability in terms of television exposure. Was the ACC’s intention to destroy the Big East beyond repair?

Most likely. One can’t help but look at all of this and at least consider the notion that the ACC wanted to be the premier East Coast conference, so it did what it had to do. The crazy part of all of this is that the Big East offered more money to Miami than the ACC did. Yet, Miami still left. The end result is a stacked ACC that should be awesome to watch, and a sorry Big East that nobody really has a reason to watch anymore.

This move calls to mind so many big-business maneuvers that have left tons of people on the short end of the stick. Moves that didn’t really need to be done, but were just so CEO’s could have something to hang their hats on (and make more money). The Big East used to be one of the country’s premier conferences. Those days are, in all likelihood, long gone.

So it’s time to say goodbye. Be sure to come back next week for a non-time-restricted, more news-filled column. It should be fun. Till then! Thanks for reading.