Game-a-Thoners: Making a Difference Through Gaming

Game-a-Thoner’s Logo ‘Head Art’ by Regina Ratliff

I have been working on all sorts of great art projects lately, but the one that’s really near and dear to my heart is this one!

The Game-a-Thoner’s is a bunch of guys who do regular gaming Marathons of new games in order to raise money for children’s charities! They also give their donors a chance to win some nifty prizes!

Recently, a few of the guys were interviewed about our project on the ‘Hold The Line’ Podcast. You can hear the whole podcast below.

If you love games and also helping a good cause, please check out the Game-of-Thoners and watch out for our next Marathon coming up on Twitch!

Twitter: @TheGameathoners

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Twitch Channe

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Game Over for Game Stores?

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I know it’s hard for people to even fathom the end to brick and mortar video game stores, but the truth is in the numbers.

In 2012, Consoles (all types) plunged by 21%

According to NPD Group, physical game sales fell from $11 billion in 2011 to less than $9 billion last year. GameStop says sales of new video games over the holiday season dropped by about 5%, and sales of used games dropped by 16%.

The worst quarter Gamestop has ever seen.

 Sales of digital games grew 16% over the past two years. If you compare the gaming industry to the music industry, right now we’re in the pre-iTunes era. All we need is a new gadget to make digital more mainstream, more friendly and more convenient. Discs are still the primary form of information storage for video games, but that is quickly changing.

At the end of this year, Sony and Microsoft will be releasing the next gen gaming consoles and with both systems comes the allure of the cloud systems the companies have heavily invested in. And with Sony setting the precedent with digital sale discounts, (like steam) purchasing games online will become favorable to running down to the Game store to buy a disk.

It’s not going to happen right away. We stand at the precipice of it’s change but people just don’t know it.

As the technology becomes less expensive and more convenient, so will the push towards a fully digital age in gaming.

Now as far as DRM being a inevitability, it’s not. We already know that Steam is planning to implement a ‘digital sharing’ system for the Steam system (and Steam Box)

And since Steam has been the leader in digital gaming, going this route will help set the tone for the digital age.

Gamers will be more apt to jump into the digital age head first, if the waters look inviting and safe. By implementing game sharing technologies to the consoles, allowing offline play and offering digital discounts, the waters will look like a big ass fluffy cloud of sweet sweet awesomeness.

This is where we’re headed. Sony, Microsoft, and Valve are all going to be going to war to see who can effectively become that age’s king in the next five-ten years.

The Evolution of Gaming: Digital Age

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Now that the dust is starting to settle on the Xbox One and the mob is slowly dispersing, I think it’s a good time to start a calmer and more rational look on the future of gaming and why it is that gamers are not ready for a fully digital age.

Most of us have experienced the ebb and flow of the gaming industry. We saw the coming of the arcade age and then watched it’s slow demise with the Nintendo age. We saw the beginning of the console wars with the SNES and Sega. We saw the progression of Co-op to Multiplayer to Massive Online games. We saw companies come, compete and lose.

We came from floppy, to cartridge, to CDs and now the digital age.

Although I stand on the side of Sony in this new war, I understand why Microsoft did what they did. Gamers have shown an interest in the digital medium with Steam and Indie Game downloads. It only made sense for them to take this to the next level. But ultimately, they forgot one very important fact.

Gaming is an evolution, not a revolution.

Gamers change as the need presents itself. We go where the graphics kick ass, the game play gets better and we get more adventure per dollar.

Convenience. Gamers in the 80s were willing to stand in line with sweaty handfuls of quarters to experience the latest Arcade game but when the cartridge came along, the arcades dried up and the flickering seven foot decorated quarter machines became nostalgia. The 90s kids version of the 50s kid muscle car.

So now we’re at another crossing point. Now we see the slow demise of yet another brick and mortar gaming place… The Game Store.

We rail against the DRM and the Always Online features that Xbox One wanted to force on us but the inevitable truth is it will eventually happen. Not today, not two years from now, but eventually, the Gamestops and the Media Markets will fade along with the Game Disk.

As game publishers offer cheaper prices for digital game copies and larger incentives to purchasing your games online, the used game markets will shrivel. Why wait to buy a used game disk for 30 dollars when you can download your own copy at release for the same price?

Xbox One wanted to control every aspect of digital sales, afraid to allow digital copies of their games to go public without some restrictions. They were afraid that hackers and rogue programmers would simply find a way to repackage those digital files and hand them out like candy on P2P sites. Like a paranoid and over protective parent, they were afraid to allow the gamer to simply go offline, unwatched with the game they purchased and ultimately the paranoia of lost revenue overshadowed good business sense. 

Microsoft ‘is’ right on one thing. Digital IS the future of gaming. But we will get there walking, taking our time getting used to the scenery and enjoying the journey getting there. Those companies who want to make this journey with us are welcome to tag along. 

Paintball Wars: Battle in Avatar Town Box Art project

Painball War Box Art

 

I had a wonderful time working with Strange Games for their update on their popular Indie title: Paintball War: Battle in Avatar Town!  Paintball war is a Avatar First Person Shooter with custom paintball guns, levels as well as single and multiplayer modes of up to 15 players online. Lots of great maps! All that fun for just around a dollar. You can find the game on Xbox Indie downloads under “Most Popular.”