3rd July 2008

Get Rich Playing Games

Get Rich Playing Games
Scott Steinberg

Get Rich Playing Games has got to be one of the most useful and entertaining “how to” books I have read recently. I can usually gauge the usefulness of a book by how much yellow highlighter I go through, how many post-it notes stick out from among the pages, and by how many research leads I garner. Scott Steinberg has penned another winner, and in my opinion the value of the information he shares in Get Rich Gaming far exceeds the cost of the book – which is very reasonably priced, by the way.

Get Rich Playing Games covers almost every aspect of the game industry, from pre-startup stage to getting the product on the shelf and beyond. Scott Steinberg doesn’t only focus on the game developers and designers, though. Throughout the book he discusses the important roles other people in the industry play, from the number crunchers and audio designers to the journalists who write the reviews. What I consider important about the inclusion of these different vocations within the videogame industry is that almost anyone who has the passion to work within the industry can probably find a career position for which they are perfectly suited. Not everyone has the knowledge, talent or passion to be an engineer or an artist, and Get Rich Playing Games shows that you don’t have to be able to paint the next fantasy art masterpiece to work in gaming.
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29th June 2008

Game Boys Is Right On Target

Game BoysGame Boys

Game Boys: Professional Videogaming’s Rise From the Basement To The Big Time
Author: Michael Kane
June 2008

Games Boys: Professional Videogaming’s Rise from the Basement to the Big Time by Michael Kane is the best inside look at the competitive videogaming industry I have read to date. He peels back the layers of this very complex subculture and lays it all out there for anyone to read – from the gamers themselves to the parents who try to understand. Game Boys has it all – the celebratory victories, the heartbreaking losses, the passion of its supporters, and he doesn’t leave out the backroom dirty laundry either.

This book is an informative, exciting, unsanitized read; he does not sugarcoat the competitive gaming industry; instead he offers an outsider’s perspective of a largely misunderstood section of today’s society. Author Michael Kane has managed to translate the excitement of competition into his words, and sometimes I found myself reading faster through the competition gameplay to get to the moment of victory – even though I already knew the results of many of the matches he wrote about.

As a participant full of passion for the videogame industry, there were so many times I found myself identifying with CompLexity GM Jason Lake and harbouring feelings of resentment towards Craig Levine. Like Jason Lake, I believe in the grassroots foundation of this wonderful industry, and even though Craig Levine has done much to get competitive videogaming out there into the main stream of today’s world, I often felt that Levine’s tactics were less than honourable, and I am of the generation when honour was at the forefront of how you conducted your life. These are elements which make for a great book – eliciting emotion and appreciation from the reader, making the reader care about the characters in the story.
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28th June 2008

The Daily Miracle: An Introduction to Journalism, Second Edition

Originally Written for KillaNet Community Resource in 2007

The Daily MiracleThe Daily Miracle: An Introduction to Journalism, Second Edition
Written By David Conley
Paperback: 392 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press; Second Edition
March 2002

The Daily Miracle is a very comprehensive textbook, designed primarily for students just beginning their studies about the world of journalism. Anyone considering journalism as a career should first read this book. The author has written a comprehensive history about journalism, and also takes an in-depth look at the changing face of the media industry. The Information Age has forced journalism into a high-speed medium, and Mr. Conley has laid out the pros and cons of becoming a reporting journalist in this rapidly changing world.

This textbook is laid out in such a way that it will continue to be a good reference manual for many years. The index contains a brief description of each chapter, allowing a reader to skip to any part of the book when looking for specific information. The appendices and bibliography contain a wealth of places to look for further information, both in print or online.

The second edition of the textbook was updated from the first to include changes in both broadcast and computer-assisted journalism. He ties this in with the origins of news reporting and the changing face of the industry over time. Mr. Conley’s book concentrates more on applying the techniques of journalism than just telling the reader what journalism is about. Each chapter is designed to focus on a skill area, and for that reason alone the book is a worthy investment even for the seasoned journalist. Mr. Conley also pays attention to the importance of ethics in a journalist, and how they affect not only the reporter’s career, but also the public’s perception and trustlevel in regards to that reporter.

Mr. Conley not only lays out what a new journalist can expect when embarking upon his or her career, he delves into what the industry will expect of the new journalist. Each chapter uses examples of current reporting practices, backs up the information with statistics, and also looks at the careers of prominent journalists world-wide. He also caps each chapter with a list of questions and exercises for the reader, and completing those activities will not only help broaden the student’s understanding of the industry, it will help him or her decide if this is the correct career path to follow.

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27th June 2008

Alexey’s Dwice

Developer: WildSnake™ Software
Demo: 60 Levels Only + Arcade Mode
Platform: PC
Genre: Casual Match Puzzle
Official Game Site: WildSnake™ Software
Price: $19.95 USD

System Requirements:
OS: Microsoft® Windows® 98/NT/Me/XP/Vista/2000
CPU: 733 MHz
RAM: 128 MB
Hard Drive: 30 MB
Graphics: DirectX 7 or later

Alexey\'s Dwice Screenshot

WARNING: Do not play this game when scheduled to work the next day! You’re never going to leave this game alone once you start. From the developer of Tetris®, Alexy Pajitnov has teamed up with WildSnake™ Software to bring you Alexy’s Dwice. With this action puzzle game, you’ll find a whole new level of casual gaming.

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17th June 2008

Ancient Quest of Saqqarah

Final Verdict: Addictive

Developer: Codeminion
Demo: 60 minute trial
Platform: PC
Genre: Casual Match 3 Puzzle
Official Game Site: Saqqarah – note, parts are still under development
Price: $19.95 USD instant download 26mb

System Requirements:

OS: Windows Vista/XP/2000/ME/98
CPU: 800 Mhz
RAM: 256 MB
Hard Drive: 45 MB
Graphics: DirectX 8
Sound Card

All Screenshots in this review are the property of and copyright to Codeminion.

Saqqarah Menu

Saqqarah is a truly beautiful game – the amount of detail the designers have put into the UI and levels for this game is incredible. Everything about Saqqarah is pleasing to the senses – the soundtrack is very fitting for the setting of the game, and is actually something I could listen to all on its own. The puzzles are challenging without being impossible, and the methodology used to solve them is easy to learn. The characters in the game are helpful and amusing – I love how the little scarab rests against a pillar in between levels. You can even learn little bits about Egypt’s past throughout the game.

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28th May 2008

The Book of Games Volume 2

Originally written for KillaNet Community Resources in 2007

Book of Games Volume 2The Book of Games Volume 2
Authors: Bendik Stang, Morten A. Osterholt, Erik Hoftun, Jorgen Kirksaeter, Hans Christian Bjorne
Publisher: gameXplore N.A. Inc.
Paperback: 448 pages
October 2007

I was privileged to be sent an advance PDF copy of The Book of Games Volume 2 by author Bendik Stang, and having now completed my reading of this volume in one evening, I am eagerly looking forward to the print version. The Book of Games Vol. 2 has matured exponentially over its previous incarnation, which I feel is very appropriate as Volume 2 has a very pointed focus on the maturity which the videogame industry as a whole is experiencing. While I am still disappointed in regards to the lack of coverage in regards to the Guild Wars properties, that is largely due to personal bias, as I am a casually hardcore Guild Wars player. Now that I have my only truly negative viewpoint out of the way, let’s move on to the good stuff.

I was extremely impressed with the amount of research which had obviously gone into the production of Volume 2, as well as the new features which had been added for the individual game listings and ratings. These additions show that the authors listened to those who took the time to give them feedback on Volume 1, and as such have made themselves a part of the gaming community in a way which some authors never achieve, no matter how knowledgeable they may be on their topics. Another interesting sidenote was seeing another book which I am in process of reviewing featured in a sidebar in this book. As a journalist with a heavy research addiction, I always consider how useful a publication will be to me on my endless quest for knowledge, and The Book of Games Volume 2 passed that consideration with ease. There are many, many sources for further reading and education.

While The Book of Games Volume 1 was a handy reference for the parents and relatives of gamers, Volume 2 fully opens up the changing videogame industry, from development to tournaments and beyond. The authors have successfully put the industry into a nutshell – one which gamers, teachers, parents and even grandparents will appreciate. This volume has every component of the videogame world between its covers, and takes a look at every aspect in a well-worded, well-researched, and well-presented manner. Every chapter contains evidence of how videogames have become an integral part of our lives in the 21st century – from those who pick up a quick game of solitaire to those who travel the pro-gamer circuits. One photo I could immediately relate to was that of Norway’s Olav Undheim, winner of the 2007 World Cyber Games Grand Final Warcraft III Tournament. I saw that match, along with all of the other events held on that final game day in Seattle this past October. I was there when Olav hoisted that $ 20 000.00 cheque over his head at the medals presentation – and that’s what this industry called videogaming has at its core – a vibrant, global community – one which we experience at our own annual LAN tournament, and one which The Book of Games Volume 2 has opened to the world.
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15th May 2008

Videogame Style Guide and Reference Manual

Originally Written for the KillaNet Community Resource in 2007

Videogame Style GuideAuthors: David Thomas, Kyle Orland, Scott Steinberg
Paperback: 108 pages
Publisher: Lulu.com
October 2007

The Videogame Style Guide is essential reading for anyone who wants to get into any type of serious videogame journalism. As pointed out by Dan Hsu, the Editor in Chief for Electronic Gaming Monthly, if the world of videogame journalism has any hope of maturing, it must find the uniformity of style that is so essential to engaging and maintaining an intelligent readership. The authors, while stating that the Style Guide is a work in progress – meaning that it will be updated as styles change or new terminology is entered, have given journalists an excellent reference guide which can be used in conjunction with any other publication’s in-house style guide.

Not only is the Videogame Style Guide full of alphabetical listings in regards to industry-specific terminology, the appendices also offer many other points of reference on the industry from websites to other published books. The listings of important systems, games, people and companies in the videogame industry past and present offer not only a pertinent “who’s who” directory, but also starting points for a variety of articles and studies.

Overall, I found this publication to be very useful and it will continue to be so as I write future articles about the gaming industry. If you visit the website linked in the title of this review, you will see that the Videogame Style Guide is available in two formats – free for download as a pdf file, or purchasable as a published book. If you write any articles at all, you should at the very least download the pdf and give yourself a starting point in learning the correct forms and terminology to use when composing articles, as they will greatly increase your chances of having your articles published by the myriad of news journals available to the gaming community.

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8th May 2008

Puzzle Quest Challenge of the Warlords

Review By: Tami Quiring

Puzzle Quest

Okay now that I have beat Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords from Infinite, here are my thoughts on it.

The controls work well – it’s about 99% stylus controlled. The music is annoying – but it’s one of the few games I can play without the sound turned on, so that’s good.

For a DS game, the map is quite large with lots of cities to get quests from and to lay siege to. The more cities you “own” the faster you can easily get a lot of money, as the residents have to pay a tithe each month. Of course they can also stage a rebellion so you have to go back and siege the city again. Battles are waged against opponents following the Bejeweled model – drop down gems which increase your mana when you match three, four or five sets. You can also get wildcards, which multiply the mana you gain. You attack your opponents by matching skulls. Some skulls have higher power and do more damage. You can also use spells to heal, protect and do damage.

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7th May 2008

Videogame Marketing and PR – Volume 1 Playing to Win

Review Written By: Tami Quiring

Videogame Marketing and PR – Volume 1: Playing to Win
Author – Scott Steinberg
June 2007

I bought this book quite some time ago, and I’m regretting not getting to it sooner. Having read a previous title by Scott Steinberg, I should have known better. Videogame Marketing and PR is packed with literally decades of knowledge and experience. Mr. Steinberg not only imparts freely with chapter after chapter of methods and ideas which he has practiced in his own career, he has presented a collection of brief articles from many of the key people in the videogame industry. From these men and women come gems of wisdom, because they have literally been there and done that. While there are many books sitting on shelves in many stores which can tell you all about how to market, none of them carry the unique situations which sets the videogame industry apart from other retail markets.

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7th May 2008

Fantasy Clip Art – Everything You Need to Create Your Own Professional-Looking Fantasy Artwork

Review By: Tami Quiring

Fantasy Clip Art: Everything You Need to Create Your Own Professional-Looking Fantasy Artwork
Author: Kevin Crossley
June 2007

I found this book quite by accident while browsing away an afternoon in Chapters Book Store, and as I have a latent desire to learn how to draw creatures, I bought it. The volume is accompanied by a CD containing hundreds of fantasy clip art pieces. All images are simple outlines in PSD layered format and compatible with Adobe PhotoShop, Adobe PhotoShop Elements and Corel Paint Shop Pro.

The author spends the first part of the book giving a brief look back at human imagination and the need to express ourselves, going back through time to the advent of cave paintings. He follows this with a quick introduction to the file contents of the compact disc and plants the seeds in the reader’s mind as to how the image files he has provided can let your imagination roam free in the world of fantasy art.

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