I covered the show for Joystiq. All the posts can be found here, but here are some highlights:

As usual, there was no shortage of highly anticipated games at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. But amidst all the new game announcements, there were a few games that were conspicuous by their absence — games that had been announced or mentioned at past E3s that were, for one reason or another, relegated to the shadows for this year’s show. Here’s a rundown of some of the games we missed at this year’s show, and the latest on their status.

(full article)

At first glance, the set of five independently developed computer games that went on sale as a downloadable bundle on May 4 didn’t seem especially noteworthy. Even the collection’s name reflected its lack of pretension: The Humble Indie Bundle (HIB) — containing PC, Mac and Linux versions of indie favorites World of Goo, Aquaria, Lugaru HD, Gish, and Penumbra (plus late donation Samorost 2) — wasn’t trying to revolutionize the way indie games are sold and distributed. It was simply “a unique kind of bundle that we are trying out,” as the official Web page put it.

But when the bundle was taken off the market 11 days later — after attracting over 138,000 purchases and nearly $1.3 million in donations — that built-in humility started to look a little ridiculous. Sure, those numbers would be a drop in the bucket for a big-budget developer, but for the relatively small world of indie games, the HIB was a veritable blockbuster.

“When you’re an independent game developer, and there’s no publisher or other middle-man, you only need a tiny amount of sales in order for it to be a gigantic success,” said Jeffrey Rosen, co-founder of Penumbra publisher Wolfire Games and one of the men who organized the HIB.

(full article)

In the last decade, eight states and two cities have passed laws that try to restrict the sale of violent video games to minors. In each case, federal courts have blocked those laws as unconstitutional restrictions on free speech.

That’s a pretty good track record, as far as the game industry is concerned. But all those successes could be rendered moot when the Supreme Court takes up the case of a California violent game law in its next session, starting this October.

“Frankly [I’m] a little bit nervous, because you just don’t know what the Supreme Court is going to do,” said Sean Bersell, Vice President of Public Affairs for the Entertainment Merchants Association, a party to the Supreme Court case. “They kind of wiped the slate clean and said, ‘We’re going to decide this issue.'”

(full article)

On March 23, Nintendo of Japan leaked the existence of a new portable system codenamed the Nintendo 3DS. According to the leak, the new dual screen portable will support “games [that] can be enjoyed with 3D effects without the need for special glasses.” With further details on the system not expected until June’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, we wondered: how would a glasses-free 3D portable work. Here are a few possibilities.

(full article)

It was midnight Greenwich Mean Time on Feb. 28 when the errors began showing up. Millions of PlayStation 3 owners the world over tried logging on to Sony’s online service only to be greeted with the now-famous cryptic message: “An error has occurred. You have been signed out of PlayStation Network (8001050F).” Even players that didn’t want to go online were unable to play most of their games, because their systems had reportedly “failed to install trophies.” Debug units — used by developers making PS3 games and journalists trying out early review copies — were reportedly stuck in an endless cycle of reboots. Later in the day, Sony officially suggested to most of its customers “that you do not use your PS3 system, as doing so may result in errors in some functionality…”

Panic ensued. “PlayStation Network down” became the 14th most popular search term on Google.  #Sony and #PS3 became trending topics on Twitter, as did the pithily misspelled #ApocalyPS3. A thread on gaming message board NeoGAF generated nearly 8,000 posts discussing the issue in a single day. Popular gadget blog Engadget labeled it “a full-on PlayStation disaster.”

An then… the problem fixed itself. Exactly 24 hours after the errors first appeared, they disappeared just as suddenly, and PlayStations the world over started working as intended once again.

Looking back, the reaction to this temporary problem — caused by a leap year interpretation error in an internal chip on most older PS3s — seems a bit overblown. But it definitely didn’t seem overblown at the time. “The overall tone of PS3 owners was a frantic one,” said Anthony Severino, owner of community site PlayStation Universe. “The PlayStation Network has been down before, but this bug left users unable to play their games — games they paid hard-earned cash for. … As time went on, panic turned into anger, sending a larger portion of the PlayStation community on a tirade.” Joystiq blogger Griffin McElroy, one of the first to cover the breaking story, said the initial reaction from gamers was “just what you’d expect,  a lot of rage and fear from the PS3-owning community, and a whole bunch of braying and guffawing from the diehard 360 fans.”

Highlighting only the useful products shown at the Consumer Electronics Show misses half the point of one of the largest trade shows in the world. The real attractions of CES are the odd, one-off products, the over-the-top booths and the sheer weirdness on display everywhere you turn. And so, the CES Special Awards Division makes its triumphant return this year to capture a small portion of that weirdness for those of you that didn’t risk getting crushed by 10,000 people trying to get the same cab outside the Las Vegas Hilton. Enjoy!

(full article)

Since the Electronic Entertainment Expo split off from the Consumer Electronics Show in 1995, CES hasn’t exactly been the primary showcase for videogame publishers and developers. But while the software makers may have moved to a different show, many gaming hardware makers have stuck with CES, showing off their new wares in Vegas each year. Here are the most noteworthy of the selection shown at the show this year.

(full article)

With the coming of 2010 and the leaving of the Noughties, there are a lot of ways you could go about determining the “Game of the Decade.” You can just pick your own favorites, of course, but that’s always going to come off as overly subjective and personal. You can choose some nominees and ask the public to weigh in, as we did with our epic Game of the Decade bracket, but that really just tells you what’s popular with a certain subset of readers of one site. You can look at review or sales numbers, but those just tell you how well a game was received at the time of its release (by critics and the public, respectively).

What I wanted was a definitive Game of the Decade list — a collection of choices that represented a wide range of professional, knowledgeable opinions about the last 10 years of games. I figured such a list wouldn’t just pop into existence on its own, so I decided to build it myself.

(full article)

The holiday season is a great time to be a gamer, with big new releases hitting seemingly every week. But for game journalists, it can also be a stressful time, full of rushed reviews, tight deadlines for gift guide features and visits to family members that don’t even have an HDTV (what is this, the Stone Age?).

To relieve some of that stress, some members of the Game Trust took part in a virtual White Elephant gaming gift exchange this year. It was a chance to take the focus off the latest and the greatest and exchange some cheap-but-fun-but-overlooked games from the recent past in a relaxed environment. It was also, hopefully, a way to learn something more about our fellow Game Trusters.

(full article)

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