Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 03.04.04

Welcome to TGIT! I’m Bryan Berg, and this is the Thank God It’s Thursday News Report. As always, thanks for taking the time to read this.

Two apologies to start with. First, sorry that last week’s Commentary was in italics. Evidently, I missed a HTML tag. It happens, but it really bothered me – ask the Kliq about that. My brother later said it sounded like I was going to kill myself! The second apology is for this column being late. I couldn’t think of a good enough closer last night, so I slept on it… till about 11:15 EST. Whoops! Hopefully, what’s here meets your expectations.

Not a whole lot of news today, or at least not a whole lot lending itself to excessive scrutiny, but a LOT to say about one crucial issue. So let’s dig in!

TOP STORY: Games Make People Fat?
By now, you probably know the rationale behind most “studies” that are released. They’re usually done with an agenda and are skewed in a way that not only tries to brainwash people, but also garners media attention. You see a lot of studies done on hot-button issues like violence, nutrition, and the habits of young people.

A survey was recently conducted in Sweden combines all three of these topics. The Swedish researchers claim that video games have a major role in the violent and overweight nature of many children. Child psychiatrist Frank Lindblad claims that kids who play copious amounts of video games “run a very high risk of criminal behavior,” among other things. The study also claims that children spend far too much time in front of their video game console while eating excessively.

Where to start? We’ll take the latter first, as this is a new accusation of the industry that has been blamed for just about everything in recent months. The point that the study is trying to show is that kids are wasting away, playing Playstation 2 and eating junk food rather than exercising. This might be the most ignorant thing EVER said.

Kids spend a lot of time doing homework. Would it be fair to blame the education system for assigning too much homework, which prohibits kids from getting proper exercise? Is it appropriate to blame books for people being fat because people tend to read in a seated position? If a child eats dessert while watching the nightly news with his or her family, it it the news broadcast’s fault that the kid is in poor shape?

The obvious answer to all three questions is, of course not. And it should also be obvious that this is a total fabrication. People tried to blame television years ago for similar happenings with children, and it didn’t work then. Games are no different. And if parents would exercise their parental rights, they could keep the Twinkies away from their children as they play video games.

One important factor at play here is the now-commonplace eschewing of societal norms in favor of physical appearance. Kids have always played video games. Now, suddenly, they’re the cause of people gaining weight worldwide? Please! Just because every adult in the world is on some fad diet doesn’t mean that kids can’t have fun as they always have. The parent of an overweight straight-A student would never tell their child to do less homework and get more exercise. Could you imagine that? Well, that’s pretty much what’s being said with this study. Nobody’s perfect, and it’s as if these people seem to think that everybody should be. And if it takes blaming everything and everybody else in the world, they’ll do it.

Of course, what this study ignores is the fact that a good number of these kids are so involved in these games in an effort to escape some serious problems in their lives (i.e. divorce, abusive parents, neglectful parents, etc.). Can’t they have ONE outlet where they can forget about everything else and have fun, even if it means they don’t get outside as much? Is that too much to ask? Evidently.

The study also charges games with fostering violence in the minds and hearts of youngsters. This issue has been talked to death, and there’s not a whole lot new to say about it. However, there was one telling quote from a 16-year old who was actually trying to defend video games, but might have given the opposition some fodder:

Shooting somebody in a game is just like scoring a goal in a football match.

He obviously was referring to the inconsequential nature of shooting somebody in a game; in other words, it’s not something to get off on. But there’s always someone who thinks that way, but in the grander scheme of things. Again, this is what the rating system (and good parenting) is here for.

But can even the best parent draw the line between letting their kid have fun and pulling the plug and forcing the kids to go outside and exercise? This is where a study like this causes more harm than good. You’re going to have a lot of good parents – the ones who really do try – questioning the role of video games in the lives of their children. From there, who knows what can happen? While it’s clear that there is no real connection between video games and the growing waistlines of children, an artificial one has been created, one that can actually have a very negative impact on the lives of these children.

Quick Hits
GameCube Sells Out. A Nintendo spokesperson claimed that about half of GameCube retailers are sold out of the system and that more would be needed from other areas, as well as an increase in production in Japan. If you’re in the market for a Cube, you might have to wait a little bit.

PS2 Sales Hit 25 Million… in North America alone. Sony also claims that it has sold 2.6 million Network Adapters as opposed to 750,000 X-Box Live subscriptions. Yeah, but how many PS2 games really use the online feature as well as X-Box Live titles?

Playable Phantom at E3. I’ll believe it when I see it, but Infinium Labs claims that the Phantom will be fully playable at May’s E3 expo. It’s about time. Still no word on when this system will be available in stores.

PSP/PS2/PSX Connectivity Confirmed. What has been rumored is finally reality. The two American systems will be able to “communicate with each other” and the PSX (whenever it hits the States). It’s not clear exactly how the systems will function as a unit, but Sony promises big things.

Sam & Max 2 Cancelled. Fans of the original PC hit will be disappointed to find out that a sequel has been cancelled just months before its scheduled release. The game must be very close to complete; maybe there’s a chance that we see it in some form?

The Shield To Hit PS2. Sammy Studios will be bringing the hit TV show home to the Playstation 2 console. The game is slated for a Spring 2005 release.

News Reports
Alex Williams – 411MAX: News News Revolution. Our very own Norwegian Athlete is not only a great writer, but a DDR guru as well. He’s almost reached his year-end goal, and may already have done so by the time you read his work next Friday!
Final Tuned? Who came up with THAT name? I’m surprised Sammy didn’t take away 2,000 shares of stock for that move!

Cory Laflin – Gamer’s Hangover. Evidently, the “News Report” has been taken out of the name of GH for good, but there’s still plenty of news goodness here. Cory deserves major props this week for taking a chance on DDR, which is a sign that we can all really enjoy games – if we let ourselves, that is.
Cory: What’s the over/under on how many games Jim Mora Jr. will coach before he uses “diddly poo” in a press conference?
Crow: Coaching the Falcons? Five.

Misha – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Video Games. Misha’s got news as well as a look at Brit TV, which evidently is worth more than giving American producers shows to copy and pass off as “original”. Who knew?
Even with a codehouse with a pedigree like theirs (just ask Fred about the Legacy of Kain series) isn’t going to be able to salvage the TR franchise. Of course, I could be wrong… but I doubt it.

Lee Baxley – Mid-Week Mid-Boss News Report. Lee got the anniversary spot (3.3.03 being the first day of 411Mania) and brings the content, including a PC review! I don’t think anybody puts in a better effort to make their report more accessible, readable, and informative (and does a better job of it) than Lee Baxley.
Even EA Thinks the N-Gage Sucks!

Alex Lucard – Retrograding. The countdown continues, and this week we have numbers 21 through 19. Two of these choices are very recent ones, and the fact that they’re lower in the countdown means that they either haven’t been out long enough yet, or they’re simply not as good as the older ones. We’ll find out which of these two wins out later in the countdown.
These have to become the Standard Bearer of RPG’s. And without your money and praise, it’s not going to happen.

Alex Lucard – Retrograding Mailbag. It’s another mailbag full of letters for everybody’s favorite “Sub-Cultural Icon” (his words, not mine), including one from yours truly! Of course, the other letters are far superior…
But hey, what makes life interesting is that we all have our own opinions. Just note that my opinion is backed up with ten pages of virulent hate filled ranting that picks apart the game and theirs is well… lacking in substance. Just like the game they adore.

Liquidcross – The Angry Gamer. Again, this column is finished late, so there’s a chance to plug the latest Angry Gamer column. This one’s a “random thoughts”-type deal, but more focused than the average column of that nature. That’s a good thing.
Rockstar babbled in their press release about how GTA:SA would “revolutionize open-ended gameplay.” I guess that means they’re going to add a new class of character for a play to beat down with a 2×4.

The reviews section has gotten a shot in the arm recently, which is awesome, so make sure you check these guys out!
Cory Laflin – Armed and Dangerous (X-Box). LucasArts is back at it again, and this is a humorous “tactical shooter” for the X-Box. Read the review to find out if it falls flat or if it stands above the rest!
I hate to say this. I really, really hate to say this. The story is funny. I mean, it was meant to be intentionally funny, and it works!

Alex Lucard – R-Type Final (PS2). Man, I can’t believe that this is the final game of the R-Type series. Sure, R-Type isn’t as huge as it was in the 8-bit era, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still rock! Alex Lucard will tell you more if you just click the link.
Nothing warms my heart more than the sound of alien flesh and metal being torn apart by human backed laser power. And you will hear a lot of that in R-Type Final.

Alex Williams – Metroid: Zero Mission (GBA). This is a “remake” of the original Metroid game for Nintendo, with a few changes and a lot of enhancement. According to Alex Williams, this is one time where the new graphics don’t get in the way of the game’s enjoyment.
Better graphics, better sound, better gameplay…same feeling. Very few game companies EVER manage to pull this off. Thank goodness Nintendo can.

Liquidcross – Mega Man Battle Chip Challenge (GBA). I’ll never understand the appeal of card-based video games, but here’s a Mega Man one. Liquidcross, our resident Mega Man expert, is on board to tackle this review. See what the game looks like through the eyes of a Mega Man maniac.
While it’s definitely not a game for everyone, Mega Man Battle Chip Challenge is very entertaining in its own right.

Commentary of the Week
Folks, a great DVD dropped last Tuesday – Season One of Chappelle’s Show. If you’ve never watched the show, it’s recommended that you do so, as it’s one of the best shows out there. And if you followed the first season religiously, you should check out the DVD because each episode airs uncensored and unbleeped. You can get the DVD for about $25, but it’s pretty hard to find at this point – my brother and I went to SEVEN stores before he finally found it.

In any event, here are my Top Ten sketches from the first season. I hope they either bring back some memories or will get you curious enough to check out an episode (10:30 Wednesdays on Comedy Central). Enjoy!

Top Ten Sketches From Season One of Chappelle’s Show
10)Popcopy – Episode 1. This is a hilarious send-up of the Kinko’s culture. Here, the employees are trained to treat the customers like garbage, with some crazy results.
Some people ask, why? Why treat customers this way? Why? ‘Cause f*ck ’em, that’s why!

9)Wu-Tang Financial – Episode 7. If you’ve ever wondered what a financial consulting firm run by the Wu-Tang Clan might be like, this is the sketch for you. Featuring real-life members of the Wu-Tang Clan!
You need to diversify your bonds, nigga!

8)Real Movies: Deep Impact – Episode 10. I’ve never actually seen the real version of Deep Impact, but this sketch shows the black President letting reporters in on some of the many secrets he’s kept in his time in the Oval Office. Great stuff.
Cure for AIDS.. (tosses cure to reporter)… have a good weekend.

7)History Channel: World’s Greatest Wars – Episode 10.This sketch shows how the animosity between two gangs escalated from something very simple to far more serious warfare. Mos Def appears in this one.
Wasting no time, the crew began stomping on people’s sneakers to let them know who ran the territory.

6)Tyrone Biggums – Episode 2. The world’s most lovable crackhead makes his debut in this sketch which begins as a trip to Drug Awareness Day and ends up with a classroom of kids with full knowledge of where to buy drugs in the neighborhood. Classic.
And that, children, was the first time I sucked a dick for crack. But it wouldn’t be the last.

5)Playa Hater’s Ball – Episode 9. A spoof on the famous “Player’s Ball”, this sketch features Ice-T as the host of the gala event which consists of verbal insults and judged by who was the most selfish and cruel person in the previous year.
I hate you, I hate you, I don’t even know you, and I hate your guts. I hope all of the bad things in life happen to you and to nobody else but you.

4)The Mad Real World – Episode 6. The first sketch to take up the entire show, this one has six crazy black people and only one white dude. The white guy doesn’t exactly have the greatest time in the house.
Chad’s Dad: I brought some brownies.
Other Dude: They got weed in them?

3)R. Kelly – I Wanna Piss On You – Episode 10. This is the famous R. Kelly parody with changed lyrics (and video) to show off R. Kelly’s inexplicable desire to urinate on his lovers. And yes, the remix IS included.
That’s how it goes at the R. Kelly party. I sip Cris…. you drink piss…

2)Slavery Reparations – Episode 4. Chappelle illustrates how things might go if blacks received reparations for slavery – where people might spend their money, how companies would change, and a bunch more. This is a must-see.
Sprint’s stock has skyrocketed after the news that 2 million delinquent phone bills have been paid just this morning.

1)Clayton Bigsby – Episode 1. Could anything else win? Clayton Bigsby is a blind, black white supremacist. You’ll either be offended and shocked, or you’ll die in laughter. Such an awesome idea, and it came out really well.
Clayton was the only Negro we’ve had around here. So we figured we’d make it easier on Clayton by telling him, and all the other blind kids, that he was white.

Honorable Mention: Fisticuffs (Turn my headphones up!), Make-A-Wish Foundation, Ask A Black Dude, Chappelle’s 2-minute special, “Roots” outtakes.

That’s all for Season One! But if you’re interested…

Mid-Season Top Ten Sketches for Season Two
1)Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories: Rick James
2)Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories: Prince
3)The Niggar Family
4)Racial Draft
5)The Internet
7)Samuel Jackson Beer
8)Moments in the Life of Lil’ Jon
9)The Love Contract
10)Red Balls

OK, we’re done here. Thanks for checking in, and sorry again about the lateness. Next week will be more timely, and hopefully there will be better news to report then. Have a great weekend!