This month has been pretty rough on my gaming resolutions. I didn’t even pick up a controller for the first two weeks. But when my work days get longer and the stress really starts to creep in as it did last week, I sometimes just have to say fuck it and find stress relief in the joys of collecting fancy outfits and making things explode. My friends and I recently set our wandering gaming sights on Tera, where I have obsessively created new characters just so I can watch them march along purposefully in the game’s character selection screen. But that was short-lived, thanks to Overwatch’s celebration of the Lunar New Year, which comes complete with a tapestry illustrated by SHISHIO that explores Winston’s “Journey to the West,” plus a “hot” new skin for Zenyatta.

But this too was put on pause as my friends and I turned our attention to the latest trailer for the upcoming Mass Effect Andromeda. The cinematic sequences revealed a few more mystery’s about our pathfinder’s friends and enemies, but BioWare fans weren’t going to let this pass without asking the important questions.

My obsessions will be rounded out with Funko’s Mass Effect Andromeda and Wave 2 Overwatch POP! Vinyl figures announced at the recent London Toy Fair.

No, You Can’t Keep Politics Out of Gaming

The upcoming  International Game Developers Association conference will not be quite so international thanks to the Trump administration’s executive order on immigration. Of its 8,000 members, only two are from any of the seven countries on the ban list. Regardless, IDGA Executive Director Kate Edwards told Polygon, “…the issue isn’t necessarily the affect on these specific countries, but on the general spread of xenophobia in the U.S. government and how it will certainly affect the U.S.’s ability to hire talent and remain globally competitive.”

Due to the uncertainty the US and UK political climate has caused, some international game developers have chosen not to attend the event, including London-based Shahid Kamal Ahmad, PlayStation’s former director for strategic content, who has been speaking out on Trump’s racist policies and Brexit.

Meanwhile, Iranian game developer, iNK Stories, is donating the proceeds of its game, 1979 Revolution: Black Friday, to support the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) efforts to counter the effects of Trump’s immigration ban.

“This is deeply personal, as my family made the hard decision to leave Iran after the revolution, to come to the West, which was the land of inclusion. Today, I feel like I am reliving history. While it’s easy to be immobilized by hurt and hopelessness, I believe that now more than ever we are confronted with an obligation, where we must dig in, resist and unite. Silence is not an option—so I commend those in our community who are taking action and hope that other game developers and publishers will join in, as we partake in this crucial movement — coming from all religious, national, ethnic and generational backgrounds to denounce the ban – and stand with humanity, by saying that this is not right, willing to rise up against the injustice.” — Navid Khonsar, iNK Stories

1979 Revolution is one of the games featured in a new working paper series commissioned by the UNESCO subsidiary, Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace. Written by York University teacher Paul Darvasi, “Empathy, Perspective and Complicity: How Digital Games can support Peace Education and Conflict Resolution”  focuses on academic studies on how video games can alter perspectives and create cognitive empathy. The paper’s abstract reads:

“These ‘serious games,’ as they are broadly categorized, do far more than entertain: they can act as catalysts to engender awareness and activate positive social change.”

Science Will Always Find A Way

The Trump administration has also come under fire for its restrictions on the scientific community, but science will always find a way. Ten months after the integration of “citizen science” into the MMORPG EVE: Online, the Human Protein Atlas and Massively Multiplayer Online Science (MMOS) collaboration reports a resounding success in the mapping of all the proteins in the human body, according to MMOS founder Attila Szantner at the Ludicous Game Festival. The Human Protein Atlas images have been classified 20 million times by 200,000 players. The project’s success has prompted a collaboration with Gearbox to bring a similar project to the Borderlands universe.

Milla Jovovich’s Alice is Still Kicking Box Office Ass

Hey, have you heard the one about how female leads don’t bring in any money? Apparently, Sony Pictures/Screen Gem’s Resident Evil has not heard this as its final chapter pushes the six-film franchise toward the $1 billion mark. Based on the Capcom Resident Evil video game franchise, the first film was released in 2002 and, with the commitment of lead actress, Milla Jovovich, continues to be a phenomenon, despite its low marks on the critics’ scales. The franchise stands almost alone at the top as one of the only game-based series to make it this far, and will become the richest game adaptation when the film hits that magic number this coming week.

“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter has already grossed $35 million in Japan where it opened at No. 1 on December 23. Now, with more territories in Asia and Latin America rolling out this weekend, it’s poised to push the Sony/Screen Gems franchise across the $1B global box office mark. The cume on the franchise through Wednesday was $954M.” — Deadline Hollywood