#384 Oct 20, 2014 – Gamergate: The Battle Between Gamers and Critics

This week’s headline story: Gamergate: The Battle Between Gamers and Critics

gamergate_iconA cultural battle is escalating between feminists who criticize gaming culture and hard core gamers. The battle has been dubbed Gamergate. The friction between these two cultures isn’t anything new, but the stakes have become much higher pulling big game companies into the fray. Recently there have been several cases of women who speak out against the depiction of women video games being harassed and threatened online.

Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist cultural critic, received death and rape threats from opponents of her recent work challenging the stereotypes of women in video games. Bomb threats for her public talks are routine. One detractor created a game in which players can click their mouse to punch an image of her face. Last week the critic had to cancel a speech, planned at Utah State University after the university administration received an email warning that a shooting massacre would be carried out at the event. Under Utah law, the campus police could not prevent people with weapons from entering her talk.

Anita isn’t alone. A subset of gamers have organized to harass many outspoken critiques of the genre. Game publishers like Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard and Take-Two Interactive Software have found themselves caught between speaking out against this behavior and upsetting their fan base. While most of the big game companies are responding with “no comment”, the Entertainment Software Association did release a statement saying that “Threats of violence and harassment are wrong. They have to stop. There is no place in the video game community — or our society — for personal attacks and threats.”

in other tech news…

  • Can Apple Pay Do to Your Wallet What iTunes Did for Music? [MIT TechReview]

    Will Apple Pay Be the Next iRevolution? [NewsFactor]

    Some are speculating that Apple Pay may do for your wallet what iTunes did for music due to the fortunate timing of the release. While only a small percentage of merchants currently support pay with your phone technologies, that may soon change. In a bid to force adoption of more secure credit cards that use a chip and a PIN instead of a magnetic strip, Visa and other payment networks will soon make merchants liable for fraudulent charges unless they use new readers compatible with the new cards. That’s expected to speed installation of new readers, most of which will include NFC capability – the ability to allow payments from phones. The push for the adoption of new card readers, the countries growing concern over fraud, and the iPhones new secure payment technology may finally convince users to start paying with a wave of their phones rather than a swipe of their cards.

  • Over 1,000 Europeans a Day Ask Google To Scrub Web [NewsFactor]

    Google has received nearly 145,000 requests from Europeans looking to improve their online reputations. That’s an average of more than 1,000 requests a day since late May, when Google began accepting such requests in compliance with a European court that ruled the search giant must remove some embarrassing information about people’s lives if requested. Europe’s insistence that its citizens have the “right to be forgotten” in certain instances has thrust Google into an uncomfortable position that it sought to avoid. The company has been trying to define what kind of material merits deletion while also striving to stand by its belief that all of the world’s information should be universally accessible.

  • Austin To Be Third Market for Google Fiber [NewsFactor]

    Google’s ultrafast Internet service, Google Fiber, will launch in Austin, Texas, in December — about three months behind the company’s original schedule. Austin will be the third location for Google Fiber after Kansas City, Mo.,and Provo, Utah.

and in Information Security news this week..

  • Russian Spies Tap Zero-Day Flaw in Microsoft Software [NewsFactor]

    A critical vulnerability in all versions of Microsoft Windows and Windows Server 2008 and 2012, has left most Windows computers vulnerable to attack. Russian spies have capitalized on the situation attacking computer systems owned by NATO, the European Union, European telecommunications companies, energy firms in Poland, and a U.S. academic organization.

  • FBI Director Warns Against Cell Phone Encryption [NewsFactor]

    FBI Director James Comey warned against the push by technology companies to encrypt smartphone data and operating systems, arguing that murder cases could be stalled, suspects could walk free and justice could be thwarted by a locked phone or an encrypted hard drive.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • HBO To Offer Its Programming Over the Internet [NewsFactor]

    HBO has announced that it will be providing its programs directly to consumers over the Internet. The announcement is considered a blow to cable and satellite TV providers as it gives Americans yet another reason to cancel their pay TV service.

  • Apple Launches iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 [NewsFactor]

    Apple’s Latest Moves Get Mixed Reviews, Missing ‘Wow’ Factor [NewsFactor]

    Apple has unveiled several new products, including the new iPad Air 2, an ultra-thin tablet with a fingerprint-reading sensor. Also announced were the iPad Mini 3, the Retina Display iMac and an updated desktop operating system, OSX Yosemite. The new releases are considered by analysts as incremental upgrades that lack any extra “wow” factor.

  • Is It a Watch? Is It a Phone? No, It’s a Puls [NewsFactor]

    Will.i.am Talks Puls, a Gigantic Wearable Cuff For Everyone [Engadget]

    Musician/entertainer/innovator/technologist will.i.am has unveiled a new wearable smartphone called the Puls. While it’s worn on the wrist the same way as a smart watch, the Puls, will.i.am stressed, is not a watch but “a new paradigm, a new category.” Don’t call it a watch: will.i.am says it’s a cuff. “Watches don’t have SIM cards,” says the star, but the Puls can make calls. It texts too. It’s also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled. You can check Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, get directions, and talk to AneedA, a new competitor for Siri.

  • Phone-Operated Smart Lock Hits Apple Store Shelves [NewsFactor]

    A new smart lock for homes is now on sale in Apple stores. Using a Bluetooth connection to your iPhone, the August Smart Lock automatically locks the door when the home owner leaves, and unlocks the door when the home owner returns without the need to take out your phone.

  • Google Debuts Google Express Delivery Service [NewsFactor]

    Google is now offering shoppers a subscription costing $95 a year, to receive free same-day deliveries from a wide range of shops including Costco, Target, Smart & Final, Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods and Toys R Us.– similar to the $99 Amazon Prime.

    The service is seen as a competitor to delivery subscriptions such as ShopRunner and Amazon Prime, and Google’s prices and speed aim to undercut both of them.

and finally…

  • Cisco Offers Strategy To Speed Internet of Things Adoption [NewsFactor]

    Networking giant Cisco sees the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) clearly — and the company outlined its “fog computing” strategy this week at the Internet of Things World Forum. Cisco’s roadmap includes the second phase of its IOx platform for industrial-scale IoT deployments and its IoE (Internet of Everything) Software and Services Suite.

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