A kindly friend loaned me her copy of Horizon Zero Dawn so that I can finally see what all the hype is about. I’m only just through the first section and am loving the diversity, the scenery, and the gameplay. OK, maybe I’m not loving the gameplay, but that’s just because it forced me to stealth right outta the gate, and if you know me, my stealthing usually involves a lot of flail, accidentally combat rolling when I should be stabbing, and very little stealth.

And yet, here I am at level eight and I’ve already earned my stealth kill trophy and have even been focusing on the stealth skill tree. Perhaps there’s still hope for my future career as a ninja.

Overwatch’s New Shield Maiden

Brigitte Lindholm is now available to play on the Overwatch PTA server in preparation for her upcoming launch into the game. The youngest daughter of Torbjörn, Brigitte is a support character who can repair and defend, squiring alongside her godfather, Reinhardt. As always, Blizzard’s latest addition to the Overwatch roster comes with an origin story, this one filled with the honour of a young woman determined to protect her charge unto death. And I’m all up in my feels about this beautiful new baby.

Overwatch [Blizzard Entertainment, 2018]

In other Blizzard news, in celebration of Starcraft’s 20th birthday, players of Diablo 3, Hearthstone, StarCraft 2, Starcraft: Remastered, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft will receive in-game Starcraft themed goodies. In not so great Blizzard news, Overwatch can’t seem to kick that toxic behaviour problem.

ESRB Introduces IARC

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) had been notably quiet doing the rising controversy of in-game purchases such as loot boxes. The company is responsible for the ratings that we see video game boxes and digital downloads, indicating age appropriateness. Since lootboxes and the like have been identified as gambling, which makes them inappropriate and even illegal for children, it’s unsurprising that the ESRB has some stake in the matter. They finally spoke up, indicating that they would now be adding a new label identifying games that include in-game purchases. This is just part of the new rating system, which will also identify whether or not a game requires user interaction (i.e. multiplayer games), unrestricted internet access, or whether a game shares the user’s location. These categories fall under the new International Age Rating Coalition (IARC). ESRB is taking this all very seriously and wants to make sure parents understand what their kids are doing online. They have provided handy parent tools that guide parents through the various processes to control spending on different platforms.

Netflix’s Witcher Be Witchin’

Writer Lauren S. Hissrich announced on her Twitter last week that she’d handed in the script for the Netflix The Witcher pilot episode. Though certain people have qualms about her plans for the mutant monster hunter, after reading her rundown of the characters, I am quite content with her handle on them, especially when she describes Geralt as:

“Soft-and-squishy-in-a-tiny-place-in-his-heart-that-he’ll-never-reveal-until-maybe-the-end-and-even-then-it-will-just-be-a-hint”

and Yennefer as:

“Seeking-to-fill-a-family-sized-hole-in-her-heart-even-though-she-resents-it-and-swears-she’s-just-fine-on-her-own-but-she-is-not-and-we-love-her-for-being-both-independent-and-vulnerable.”

And now I’m all up in these feels because, as I work my way through Andrzej Sapkowski’s Sword of Destiny, the second in his collection of Witcher short stories that precede the series of books upon which the show will be based, I am thrilled at the prospect of seeing a live-action Geralt and Yennefer on screen, and all the fire and flail their stuffed unicorn romance entails. Maybe we’ll get Mark Hamill as Vesemir. And, of course I want to see bathtub Geralt.

The Witcher, CD Projekt Red, 2015

Guns Don’t Kill People; Video Games Kill People

In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, those who refuse to believe that the lack of stringent gun laws in America are the actual problem are turning back to the tried and true argument that violent video games are actually what caused this tragedy. President Trump announced that he would be meeting last week with the video game industry to discuss this, but everyone in the video game industry, including Entertainment Software Association (ESA), who represents 34 game developers, hadn’t heard a thing about those plans.  The meeting was pulled together hastily, with the president asking game developers to do their part in shaping a healthier society. A recent study by York University once again shows no connection between video game violence and the reality of gun violence, although, if this CNN editorial is to be believed, a good VR session in a video game can hone your mass shooter skills and turn you into the video game character you were always meant to be. Unsurprisingly, the president’s meeting turned out to be unproductive, save for its attempt to distract from the real problem.

Facebook’s Women in Gaming Stories

The fact that women play video games is still, apparently, a newsflash for many news outlets who love to keep tossing out those statistics. But the fact that there are still statistically fewer women behind the scenes is still a problem. Facebook has launched Women in Gaming Stories to help encourage more women to follow a gaming industry career path. Aofie Brodigan, head of EMEA Gaming marketing at Facebook, says that there are currently 20 videos under the hashtag #SheTalksGames, but their goal is to have 100 by the end of 2018, covering all areas of the industry, including HR, editorial and design, marketing and sales, development and engineering, production, hosting, culture, and more.

“Our goal is to promote diversity within the industry, encourage more women into the industry and into leadership positions, and really look at how we can encourage partnerships in this space to move the conversation forward.”

Women in Gaming https://www.facebook.com/business/m/women-in-gaming

Games Bleat

Welcome to Games Bleat! This is the part of the week where you can forget about the nagging demon at your shoulder and get pumped for all the new games you’re gonna be playing this week! I’m Joesph the gaming augur and I’ve been staring at seagulls all week to bring you these sick deals.

PC

PlayStation

Nintendo

I spotted a goldfinch perched upon a juniper bush at the unholy hour of three am last night, and she brought the auspices of this week’s new releases! Starting off is Mobility, a precision platformer with a simple premise, and an even simpler credo of accessibility. Next is Speed Dating for Ghosts, a short narrative game about, you guessed it, a lonely spectre seeking same. Finally we have Shrinking Pains, a narrative experience made for Global Game Jam 2018 that explores young peoples’ struggles with anorexia and mental illness.

Coming up for demo and pre-order is Glitched, a super rad looking RPG that breaks the fourth wall and has you (the player) and the main character solving problems and making decisions together.

That’s it for this week’s bleat! I hope you found something here to get you through the last of the long sunless nights and seasonal depression they bring—I’ll catch you next week!

Mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.