Within the last few decades, video games have transitioned from a new and exciting pastime into a full-blown industry. Today, there are professional gamers whose devotion to games rival some of the world’s most common obsessions. Although playing video games may seem harmless for the most part, there are a lot of secrets that the industry doesn’t want you to know. Whether it’s the criminal activity you may be subjected to or some of the hidden secrets about how games are really made, these are the secrets that the video game industry doesn’t want you to know.
If your dream is to become a video game developer, you may want to do some more research.
The XBox 360 Ring Of Death
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When Microsoft first came out, the Xbox 360 was the console to have. Gamers were thrilled with their consoles and new games until something strange began to occur. The issue earned the nickname as the “Red Ring of Death.” If three red lights appear around your console’s power button, it essentially means that your Xbox has expired. It is estimated that 54.2% of Xbox 360 owners suffered from this problem.
The problem was caused by overheating from poor design since Microsoft wanted to keep the chic look of the console. When people began to complain, Microsoft denied everything, saying that the failure rate was between 3 and 5%. Eventually, they released a warranty extension that cost Microsoft one billion dollars.
Critical Moments In Games Are Specially Designed
If you’ve ever played a video game, you know the feeling when you barely beat a level with one life left, or defeat the boss with a final bullet. While you may think that you got lucky or are that good, the truth is that those moments are specially designed for the player. According to game designer Jennifer Scheurle, “Games like Assassin’s Creed, BioShock, and Doom all have mechanics where the last few hit points are worth more, so you have a better chance of eking out a last-minute win.”
For the most part, everything is in your favor, which as known as “coyote time.” Like Wile E. Coyote, your moves are so predictable that the developers make it so that they can help you out in the long run.
Next: the truth about being a voice actor.
It’s Not Easy Being A Voice Actor
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Unless you’re a celebrity, voice actors are usually treated like game developers. They are often overworked and receive one check for everything they do with the limited chance of receiving any cut of the royalties. Voice actors are usually pushed to extremes, working four-hour shifts that leave their bodies physically damaged. Voice actor Steve Blum says that he’s walked away from recording sessions throwing up and with a bleeding throat.
He even says that he’s had it easy compared to some other actors that have needed reconstructive surgery on their throats and voice boxes. Another issue among voice actors is not knowing the context behind their character. They could be the evil villain without ever knowing their role ahead of time.
Paying For Ratings
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Commercial videos for games is a $3.8 billion industry. These ads reach millions of viewers annually, with the goal of persuading consumers to purchase their games. Today, gaming companies will go to extreme lengths to advertise and promote their games, even paying for positive reviews. There was an uproar when fans learned that the gaming company Machinima was giving bonuses to game creators to post positive videos of the upcoming Xbox One.
Furthermore, in 2016 Warner Bros. was discovered to be paying money to promote the game Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Today, many companies now use disclaimers in their advertising to avoid any legal issues.
See how video games have become a platform for gang activity.
Gangs Have Been Known To Use Gaming To Communicate
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Apparently, it isn’t uncommon for gang members to use online gaming as a form of communication between one another. In 2011, the FBI’s National Gang Threat Assessment task force revealed that gangs were found using the game Second Life as a way to communicate, recruit, and even train members for operations that they were planning for in real life.
While most gamers are taking a break from reality, they may find themselves walking in on a gang meeting in virtual reality. Who would have thought that a game like Second Life would become a platform for gang activity?
Read on to find out how people are using gaming to launder money.
Treatment Of Game Developers
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While many talented individuals claim that their dream job is to be a game developer, it’s not as enchanting as it may seem. Constantly worrying about deadlines, can become extremely taxing on developers, which has led to a decreasing amount of workers in the industry. As games get closer and closer to their deadlines, employees are forced to work substantially long hours. This is known as crunch. In some cases, employees don’t even receive overtime during the crunch.
This extreme pressure and the long hours can affect physical and mental health, as well as get in the way of personal relationships. Developers are also worried about holding their jobs because there’s always a new and fresh worker waiting to take over their position.
Nintendo isn’t as fun and innocent as it may seem.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo Isn’t Very Truthful
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Every year, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is hosted at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Here, the newest gaming technology and upcoming titles are announced. It’s a week-long event full of trailers, demonstrations, and demos. However, most of these demos and demonstrations are fake.
They’re small looks into what the game should look like and not actually what they are going to look like when completed. It’s obvious why companies would do this. However, it’s up to the consumers to understand that the demo they are playing isn’t what the final outcome will be.
Doping In eSports
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As eSports become more competitive and exponentially more popular with title and money on the line, it’s become its own industry. Just like in regular sports, doping, or using performance-enhancing drugs, has become an issue. Today, many eSports athletes utilize drugs such as Adderall to stay alert and focused whether they’re in training or during a competition.
However, strangely enough, many eSports companies have turned a blind eye regarding the use of these substances. It wasn’t until 2015 that the ESL Gaming Network began to take notice of the issue and implementing anti-doping procedures in the industry.
Nintendo Isn’t As Friendly As It Seems
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While Nintendo may have given us some of our favorite video game characters and fun childhood memories, the company is not as innocent as it appears. In 1991, the Federal Trade Commission discovered that Nintendo was breaking the law by having retailers sell the original Nintendo system for $99.95 for a fixed 19 months.
Rather than make it a big deal with the law and the public, Nintendo took the hit and agreed to pay a $25 million in rebates to those affected and another $4.75 million in other charges. Then, in 2002, Nintendo was called out again for preventing its products from crossing national borders to allow EU countries to set their own prices. Once again, Nintendo paid a heavy fee and moved on.
There’s a big correlation between gaming and sexual harassment.
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Although big gaming companies would never admit it, there are more individuals making your favorite games than the developers at the companies’ headquarters. Larger development companies usually outsource some of the work to make sure all the work gets done. However, these third-party developer’s names aren’t on the credits, and they definitely can’t talk about what they have been a part of.
Alexander Fernandez of Streamline Studios believes this is an unspoken part of the industry because companies don’t want to taint their image. They don’t want people to think that they can’t handle things themselves. On the other hand, it could be because they want investors to think that they can do more work than they actually can.
Next: why you should never pre-order a game.
Don’t Get Suckered Into Pre-Ordering A Game
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While pre-ordering an upcoming game may sound like the smart thing to do, that’s not the case anymore. Years ago, pre-ordering made sense since popular games were only shipped in limited supply. However, today, pre-ordering games is just giving more money than you need to for a video game.
When you pay a little extra to pre-order a game, you’re essentially giving the maker of the game a short-term loan for no reason. You’re also committing to a purchase before you know if it’s even worth buying. When it comes to pre-ordering, if you have a little patience, it will usually pay off in the long run.
The Gaming Industry And Sexual Harassment
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Even though women make up around fifty percent of the gaming community and gaming workforce, it’s often still considered a boys club. Because of that, sexual assault is more common than most people think. For example, recently, there were three different investigations into the company Quantic Dream, in which they found the company to have a “toxic corporate culture.”
Investigators found that employees were putting their co-worker’s faces on sexy images, and the co-head of the company forcibly kissed a female employee. Other companies such as Naughty Dog have also been investigated. The biggest issue is that women that work in the industry are afraid to come forward for fear of losing their jobs and hurting their careers.
Do you know where your money goes when you buy a video game?
Where Your Money Is Actually Going
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It makes sense that when you buy a game, some of the money you spent goes right into the pockets of the game’s developers. Unfortunately, that’s not how it always works. According to the freelance developer Simon Roth, most developers are given a one-time payment for their work, no matter how successful the game is.
Most of the money goes to the game’s publishers, and the only people who receive royalties from a game tend to be celebrity voice actors and senior managers. The battle over who should get royalties still rages on today, with no sign of ending anytime soon.
Video Games Used To Be Female-Friendly Until Nintendo Got Involved
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During the early years of the video game industry, video games used to be female-friendly. Women such as Atari’s Carol Shaw were a massive influence on the industry, making games that were gender neutral with female main characters that nobody questioned. However, when Nintendo began to get involved in the early 1980s, they decided that video games were more like toys rather than games.
Gender usually separates toys, so Nintendo decided to categorize video games as boys’ toys and marketed their systems towards boys specifically. It was this transition that established the idea that video games are for boys and gaming is a boys club.
Gamers Are Targets For Hackers
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Understandably, gamers have become major targets for Internet hackers. This is because gamers are constantly online, interacting with other players, and using their console to pay their gaming bills and hold their personal information. Hackers can easily steal the gamer’s personal information by sending out phishing emails in the form of surveys or other hidden methods.
Once they have access to your personal information, they can steal your credit card information, sell your virtual treasures online for real money, or sell all of your personal information on the black market. When gaming, it’s always important to be extra careful about who you interact with and make sure your information is always secure.
Independent Reviews Aren’t As Reliable Anymore
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Initially, independent video game reviewers were some of the most trustworthy reviewers in the business. To help out others in the gaming community, they would upload their personal reviews on video games and post them on platforms such as YouTube. They did this because they loved video games and wanted to either encourage or discourage fellow gamers from purchasing a particular game.
However, once video game companies began offering independent reviewers with free games in turn for a positive review, they became much less reliable. Now, it’s not as easy to tell if a review is honest, or they just wanted free games or other forms of payment.
The Rating System Is Flawed
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When it comes to video game review scores, they are typically ranked on a scale from one to ten. However, if a game receives a score of five, it doesn’t mean that the game is average, it means that it was awful. At this point, the rating system is terribly flawed with anything receiving the score of under a seven meaning that it’s a bad game.
When a seven out of ten means that the score is average, it makes the entire rating system unreliable and meaningless, especially when random decimal points are added to the number.
“Swatting” Is Incredibly Dangerous
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Swatting is the harassment tactic of sending the police or an emergency service response to another person’s address. According to The Guardian, “swatting” became popular in gaming back in 2015 among gamers who were able to find the address of other players online.
The caller would then report a fake hostage situation or terrorist plot in order to send police officers over to their house while playing the video game. Today, swatting has led to the countless injuries of innocent people and even the death of Andrew Finch at his Kansas home on December 29, 2017.
Game Economies Have Been Used For Laundering Money
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While virtual currency in video games can be used to buy and sell items and improve your character, some cyber-criminals have found a way to use it to launder real money. In 2013, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime announced that criminals were using games to move money around all over the world. According to their publishings, the games Second Life and World of Warcraft were the most popular for this kind of criminal activity.
Using multiple accounts, people would turn real money into in-game currency, sent to another player, then re-sell it for real money. It’s surprisingly simple and difficult to track since virtual economies aren’t regulated and there aren’t international boundaries.
North Korea May Be Using Video Games As Violent Propaganda
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Since video games have been around, there has been a heated debate regarding whether there is a correlation between violence and video games. However, it now appears that North Korea is beginning to use video games as a form of violent propaganda. In 2017, The Washington Post announced that there was a new 3D sniper game in North Korea called Hunting Yankee, with the premise being fairly obvious.
There have been other games in the past that have players tie a noose around conservative politicians and even beat up the president of South Korea. While we may still be arguing in the United States, it looks like North Korea wants video games to inspire violent acts.