15
Feb 19

How video game ratings can work

Good advice: iGEA chief executive Ron Curry.According to research by Bond University this year, the average age of the Australian gamer is 32. But video games also continue to attract many younger gamers too.
Nanjing Night Net

As it does about this time every year, the peak body representing Australia’s video-game industry, the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA), offers some timely advice for parents who are planning to tuck shiny new video-game consoles under the Christmas tree.

”We’re reminding parents about two key things,” says iGEA chief executive Ron Curry.

”If you’re going to buy your kids a home console, a hand-held gaming device or even a tablet, set up the parental controls. And if you’re buying games for them, check what the classification says and read the back of the game box.”

There are now five classifications for video games, with the introduction of an R18+ rating at the start of this year. As always, each new video game is evaluated before release by the Australian Classification Board, and rated accordingly.

This rating is displayed on the video-game box and digitally imprinted into the game, so when the game is loaded into a gaming system, user settings can determine whether the game is accessible, based on its rating.

Sony Computer Entertainment and Microsoft launched new home consoles recently, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, respectively, and, along with Nintendo’s latest Wii U console, all three have customisable parental control options.

Each system provides its own method of parental control, but they all offer the ability to restrict certain types of games and movies played on the console, based on the age of the player and the rating of the content.

These system settings not only control access to certain content based on its classification, but in varying degrees they can also limit options such as the length of play time and time of day they can be used.

The new PlayStation console allows parents to manage their children’s access to certain games, DVDs, Blu-ray movies, and downloadable content based on their classification. Options such as the web browser and new friend requests can also be disabled.

The console uses a numeral rating system, where 1 is the most restrictive setting and 11 is the most unrestricted. However, since the numbers are not tied to a particular age group, some experimenting is required to find the most suitable setting.

The new Xbox has a more intuitive parental control system that simply asks what age level you want your child to have access to, then all content is restricted to that age and below. Conveniently, even if your child logs into their profile at a friend’s house, the same restrictions will be in place on their friend’s console.

Interestingly, though, Microsoft has removed the gaming time-management option on its Xbox 360 console.

To help families with children of different ages, consoles can be set up with unique profiles and individual log-ins for each child. This enables parents to customise the level of access to suit each child’s age.

Curry admits that although these parental control systems work well when used correctly, they are not entirely fail-safe. He advises parents to use commonsense when setting up passwords, and avoid codes such as birth dates, which can be easily guessed.

”No matter what you do, though,” Curry says, ”I don’t think anything is going to replace sitting down with your kids and engaging in the same media they are, whether that’s a video game or a movie.”

As much as the classification system is in place to inform consumers about the content of games and movies, it’s ultimately up to parents to determine whether content is suitable for their children.

”Kids all have different levels of sensitivities, and even families have different sensitivities,” Curry says.

”Engaging in games with your children, and understanding how they work and what they involve, is the best way to know if it’s suitable or not for your child.”

For additional information, including how-to videos on configuring parental controls on home consoles, the iGEA website, igea.net, has a dedicated section called Take Control, aimed at assisting parents.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


15
Feb 19

T20 more about the hot fried chicken

The TEN Big Bash League commentary team. Not just superstars: The Big Bash offers fleeting opportunities for players like ACT Comets batsman Jono Dean. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
Nanjing Night Net

Vote: Limited (overs) cricket

More and more our world is a struggle between the fast and the slow, the shallow and the deep.

That tension is everywhere. Fast food speeds straight from cardboard-box convenience to arteries, while the slow-food movement simmers in the background. Long-form journalism builds as a reaction to the rash of bite-size news outlets and just-add-water opinions of bloggers on the internet.

Quality crime drama rises from rare pockets in Scandinavia, Britain and the United States as the prefabricated version rolls off production lines everywhere by the dozen – cheap, cynical and unlikely to take up any space on the hard-drive of posterity.

Cricket is going the same way. Test cricket allows us time to appreciate the ebb and flow of grand strategies, while the super-quick Twenty20 version blazes away in a format designed to take up little more time in the television schedule than A Michael Buble Christmas.

Enter Channel Ten, which has seized the broadcast rights to the newly outfitted domestic 20-over format of the game.

Welcome to Ten’s KFC T20 Big Bash League: 35 matches live in prime time, more than 100 hours of super-paced leather-flying-off-the-willow action, the first time the BBL has been broadcast on free-to-air TV. It features a new commentary team, including cricket legends Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist, plus the slightly less-than-a-cricket-legend (but knowledgeable and very funny) Damien Fleming.

They are joined by smartly dressed non-cricketers Mark Howard, Mel McLaughlin and the charming Andy Maher, of the sadly defunct AFL analysis show Before the Game.

Can you see what they’ve done there? It used to be called Twenty20, but it seems that even the name of cricket’s fastest format was considered too long by some marketing genius determined to squeeze the last efficiency from a once languid recreation. Why waste time with a mouthful like ”Twenty20” when ”T20” was still available in the trademarks office? Time is money and every syllable shaved is another millisecond available to sell deep-fried chicken.

Have we put in the paperwork yet for next season’s rebrand as the KFCT20BBL? No? Come on, people, get with the program.

Test cricket holds a special place in the country’s heart and history, but it was never going to succeed where it really mattered – in the world of TV ratings.

It’s on during the day, for a start, when ratings don’t matter, and it can go on for days at a time, challenging the attention span and time commitments of the Now Generation.

There are periods in Test cricket, quite long periods, of relatively little action when the real battle is going on beneath the surface, deeper strategies invisible to the naked eye, just as the movement of a glacier is impossible to spot except when viewed from a time scale measured in centuries.

Only occasionally do we get to enjoy the thrilling climax of a run chase to determine a Test match, 15 overs to go, 70 to get, seven wickets down and stumps to be pulled in an hour. That’s why one-day cricket was invented. The shortened version of the game was an attempt to recreate the most exciting bit of a Test match for TV. But even 50 overs can have dead spots – those middle overs – and who wants anything dead in prime time unless it’s surrounded by female detectives in pencil skirts and tight blouses and male detectives with square chins and broken relationships that make them more determined than ever to crack the case?

How to reduce the dead spots and ramp up the excitement? Reduce the overs to 20 a team, add power plays and fielding restrictions, change the rules to favour the batsman, set off fireworks when a wicket falls, have a team of go-go dancers gyrate on the sideline every time someone hits a six. Excitement? Every ball becomes a defibrillator to the soul.

The impact of T20 on the game flows upwards. Just as one-day cricket sped up the scoring rate of Test cricket after it was introduced, Test cricket is about to see a record number of sixes hit in an international season. There’s good and bad in that: every cricket fan likes to see a six, but purists lament the loss of patience and the throwing away of wickets in the pursuit of entertainment value.

The other victim of the shortened game is the quality of the cricket commentary.

In radio coverage of Tests, especially, there’s a tradition of quick-witted, amusing, rambling commentary. On the ABC, the tradition started with legendary cricket broadcaster Alan McGilvray and continues today with the likes of Jim Maxwell, Drew Morphett and the idiosyncratic Kerry O’Keeffe.

McGilvray’s BBC equivalent was John Arlott. Today’s Old Country practitioners include Jonathan Agnew, Henry Blofeld and Geoffrey Boycott. India’s equivalent is the marvellous Harsha Bhogle. Brilliant raconteurs all, they are able to fill any yawning chasm between flurries of action with amusing anecdotes and insights.

Where in T20 is the room for analysis and amusing forays into tangential subjects? What need is there for analysis when the game has been boiled down to a formulaic bowl-bash-out, 120 times a side?

What’s the difference between T20 and baseball? Nothing. In high-octane Big Bash cricket played between a bunch of manufactured teams with no fan base, there’s no nuance and, paradoxically, no excitement. Good luck with those ratings.

In truth, the BBL is a corruption of the archetype, nothing more than a manufactured sport delivery system for advertisers, a flash-in-the-pan rush for those without the patience for the long game, but who want a disposable fix of the hit-and-giggle game.

Someone has to say it and it might as well be me. KFCT20BBL? It’s just not cricket.

T20 Big Bash League starts on Friday at 7.30pm on Ten.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


15
Feb 19

Gallop talks up summer of football

Summer of football: Shinji Ono of the Western Sydney Wanderers and Alessandro Del Piero of Sydney FC at yesterday’s launch at Bondi. Photo: Ben RushtonBarely had the champagne stopped flowing from Australia’s Ashes triumph before FFA chief executive David Gallop issued a stark reminder about the nation’s new sporting order.
Nanjing Night Net

Branding the round-ball code as “unstoppable”, Gallop boldly claimed that the Big Bash League was relatively meaningless when compared with the Ashes. The Twenty20 competition begins on Friday, and will compete for media and public attention with the A-League over summer.

However, Gallop dismissed the shortened game’s legitimacy, saying the A-League had proven pulling power with the public. “The proper cricket ended yesterday. Well done to Australia, but what we’ve got over the next 17 days is right at the core of our competition that runs over 30 weeks, and it’s a make-or-break time. Every match counts,” Gallop said on Wednesday. “We’re part of a six-month competition that Australian sports fans are going to take interest in.”

Gallop was speaking at the launch for a period being promoted as the “Summer of Football”, where there will be 16 A-League matches in the next 17 days, beginning on Thursday night when Central Coast host Wellington Phoenix.

“We’re unstoppable in Australian sport, and the next 17 days gives us another opportunity to demonstrate that,” he said. “We’re really confident that the seriousness of the A-League, that battle for the six [finals] spots, is going to command attention over this holiday period.”

While there are still two Ashes matches to go, Gallop said he expected ratings for the Tests to drop now the series had been decided.

“The main action was always going to be whether Australia could win back the Ashes, and they did that,” he said. “We’re now really confident that the seriousness of the A-League and the battle for the top six is going to command attention in the holiday period.”

The A-League began with a bang this season, smashing the aggregate crowd record in round one by topping 100,000 for the first time, before tapering off. The average for each match this season is 14,103, just shy of the all-time record for a season, 14,610, posted in 2007-08.

“We obviously went into the start of the season with an emphasis on some big match-ups and then we went into an inevitable period where we didn’t quite have those games every week,”’ he said. “But now, with the summer of football, these match-ups, particularly with the Melbourne derby this weekend, I think you’ll see our crowds are going to be boomers over the next few weeks.”

Gallop said television ratings were pleasing in the first year of the combined free-to-air and pay-television broadcast deal.

“TV ratings have been tracking ahead, and obviously complementing Fox Sports with free-to-air on SBS on Friday nights has given us a huge boost,” he said.

Sydney FC marquee Alessandro Del Piero and Western Sydney Wanderers’ talisman Shinji Ono joined Gallop for the launch, but the Italian was uncertain how many games he will be fit for in the next few weeks, starting with the Sky Blues’ trip to Wellington this Sunday.

“I really don’t know …” he said. “A lot of us play all of the games so there’ll probably be someone who needs time for recovery. But this is trouble for Frank [Farina, coach], not for me.”

Sebastian Hassett

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


15
Feb 19

Courage and commitment

Remarkable yet realistic: Puntland’s President Farole speaks to the media.Twenty years ago, Abdirahman Farole fled civil war in Somalia, finding refuge for himself and his young family in Melbourne.
Nanjing Night Net

As much as he came to love Australia, he remained intent on returning to help rebuild his shattered country. In 2008 he was elected president of the semi-autonomous Somali state of Puntland.

The first item on his agenda: tackling the pirates who had hijacked scores of ships off the Horn of Africa and held hundreds of sailors for ransom.

His efforts soon began to bear fruit, with Puntland’s security forces capturing pirate leaders and forcing pirates out of long-established strongholds. But the fight remains far from won, with grinding poverty still making piracy an attractive option for desperate men.

A new Australian documentary, The President vs the Pirates, provides rare insight into Farole’s work and the problems he faces – not least the constant threat of assassination by the Islamic terrorist group al-Shabaab.

Wayne Miller, the Walkley Award-winning journalist and former Victorian and federal police officer who was the documentary’s field producer, admires Farole’s courage and vision, but is well aware of the difficulty of his task.

”He ran on a platform of anti-piracy, and the records show pretty clearly that piracy was off the chart and it’s now dropped quite dramatically. He has put a ban on female genital mutilation, so for him to stand up and do that in the face of a lot of very ancient views on that is pretty impressive,” Miller says.

”He’s very big on education, very big on trying to stimulate the economy, but he’s got a lot of problems in the sense that, when people are suffering from poverty and there’s no infrastructure, people want instant results.

”And for him to be travelling around and trying to bring in all this change when people are constantly trying to kill him is pretty extraordinary.”

Miller knows the problems facing Somalia, having spent 2½ years working with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime as a police adviser to the Puntland government and working on an anti-piracy media campaign fronted by Islamic and clan leaders.

One difficulty is explaining to the population the basic concept of a multi-party democracy. A highly significant scene in the documentary- and one whose significance might be overlooked by Australian viewers – is of a ceremony at which Farole invited leaders of newly formed opposition parties to speak.

”He [Farole] is trying to change things that have been there for hundreds, if not thousands of years,” Miller says. ”Democracy is a completely foreign concept because if you’re in a clan you do what the elder tells you, and it’s been that way since time immemorial.”

Other problems, the documentary shows, will be far more difficult to resolve. Foreign trawlers engaged in illegal fishing don’t just steal the fish Somali fishermen need to survive; they also make a point of destroying their nets. Last month a cyclone killed up to a million head of livestock, leaving farming families destitute and at risk of starvation – and farmers all that much more likely to turn to piracy to survive.

Miller says he wanted to make the documentary to give Somalis the chance to explain the situation and their hopes for their country in their own words, unfiltered by the sometimes inaccurate perceptions of well-meaning outsiders.

Somalis from all walks of life, in both Somalia and Australia, provide insights into their lives. These include Farole himself, fishermen driven to the edge by foreign trawlers, a poor subsistence butcher who lost a son to piracy and a foreign prison, and an old oil well driller named Ali who has worked around the world and still has a twinkle in his eye, even as he tries to find a job in Puntland at the age of 99.

Miller admires the courage and resilience of Somalis who have fled their country, as well as those who have stayed.

”When you’re exposed to their cultures and the turmoil and dealing with things like death and poverty and famine on a daily basis, just extricating yourself from that and staying alive is a massive achievement,” he says.

He hopes Farole’s story will help viewers realise not all refugees to Australia actually want to stay.

”In their heart of hearts they’d all like to be in the country that they love and they belong to, but circumstances are that they can’t live there,” Miller says.

”I think if we had a much better understanding of what they’ve been through it’s going to make it much easier for them – and also much easier for us.”

The President vs the Pirates: SBS One on Sunday, December 29 at 10pm.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


15
Feb 19

2013: Best and worst celeb moments on social media

Singer Rihanna is a big fan of social media … but often it gets her in trouble.This year has been a big one for Instagram and Twitter, with celebrities taking to the social media channels in droves posting all kinds of selfies, statements and sentiments.
Nanjing Night Net

To pick the best and worst posts of the year is an almost impossible feat and competition was fierce. So here’s a recap of the good, the bad and the downright ridiculous.

Celebrities have no shame when it comes to posting their best trout-pout pics, but the crown for the worst selfie has to go to the queen of the Kardashians.

It was tough to pick from the multitude of horrors Kim Kardashian posted, but her white cozzie post-baby-butt shot made her look like a complete ass (pun intended), while her goggle tan came a close second.

Other hot contenders included Rihanna with a half-naked female stripper in her lap …

Ke$ha and her curtain …

and Chris Brown puffing on three doobies at once.

Dumbest facial was also a hotly contested category, and ended in a dead heat between American Idol and radio host Ryan Seacrest and Justin Bieber. Seacrest perfected the “OMG gobsmacked” look, while Bieber’s more subtle “WTF?” selfies dominated our feeds.

Worst celebrity disguise goes to Snoop Dogg with his munchies-inspired “pancake mask”, followed by One Direction Lothario Harry Styles’ “napkin face”.

The celebrity skin award was also tough to judge, with Kim Kardashian’s butt, Justin Bieber’s bare chest and Nicki Minaj’s breasts all getting ample air time.

Automated proofreading website www.grammarly南京夜网 studied the 150 most followed celebrities on Twitter to shame the celebs who made the most grammatical errors. The girls made fewer errors than the boys, and musicians were the worst tweeters.

Bruno Mars came in at No.3, while rapper Wiz Khalifa took the second spot, but the gong for Twitter’s most grammatically challenged celeb went to the man who puts the double G in Dogg, the former Snoop Lion, now known as Snoopzilla.

inside d #GGN studio wit d one n only @psy_oppa !! tha first video to a billion views on youtube ! http://t.co/piHATWt02g— Snoop Dogg (@SnoopDogg) December 18, 2013

Twitter has been a popular slagging ground for trolls and celebrity spats, so what were this year’s biggest Twitter tiffs?

1D’s Louis Tomlinson was embroiled in a number of squabbles with The Wanted’s singer Tom Parker, Harry Styles’ BFF DJ Nick Grimshaw and British X-Factor winner James Arthur.

@TomTheWanted Pal, we both know I wouldn’t waste my time auditioning for your band. You humour me with your bad boy persona.— Louis Tomlinson (@Louis_Tomlinson) April 8, 2013

Charlie Sheen upped the ante and took to bagging out government departments such as the Department of Children and Family Services.

A special mention goes to Amanda Bynes. It was an “ugly” year for the once squeaky-clean teen queen, as she took to Twitter to call such celebrities as Jay Z, Courtney Love and Jenny McCarthy ugly.

She also took on the NYPD and the world’s rangas, and began a barney with Rihanna, tweeting: “Chris Brown beat you because you’re not pretty enough.”

One can only wonder what highlights and lowlights the Twittersphere and Insta-snap apps will bring us in 2014.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.