Video game sales are still smashing records roughly a year after the COVID-19 pandemic led many people to stay indoors. The NPD Group has determined that video game spending in the US surged 18 percent in March 2021 compared to a year earlier, hitting a new record of $5.6 billion. Hardware sales in particular jumped 47 percent to $680 million, breaking a March record that hasn't been touched since 2008 -- yes, the heyday of the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360. It won't surprise you to hear that new consoles helped fuel the hardware surge, but it wasn't all up to the new models. The PlayStation 5 is the fastest-selling console in US history both in dollars and units, NPD said. However, it wasn't the strongest seller in March -- that honor went to the four-year-old Nintendo Switch, which outperformed the PS5 in sheer volume.
Like Grenier, other developers speaking to The Washington Post shared that working in the pandemic was challenging from a mental health, personal workload and collaboration standpoint. As offices closed worldwide, developers shifted to working from their living rooms and kitchen tables. Meanwhile, gaming took off as people stayed home, increasing the demand for content and the appetite for multiplayer games and hardware. In 2020, 79% of United States consumers, or about 261 million people, played a video game, up from 73% of consumers, or 241 million, in 2019, according to market research firm NPD Group.
"That's part of our job, is to show people that the players on the team, even if some of them don't speak the best English and they're Korean national players, they're living here in the U.S. now. They're like you and me, they're like everybody else," Rufail said. "We're going to continue to … do a lot more content around the team to show their personality and I think people who might have a bit of a, we'll say discriminatory type personality, might understand a little bit better that our Korean players can connect with them in a way that maybe they didn't know previously."
Each team of students will be led by a teacher, who will receive paid training on video game development. Students in the program will select a topic for their game based on a social issue and then work synchronously with their international counterparts online, as well as by themselves offline, to develop and create a game, all within 10 weeks. The students will learn to code as well; with some older students using game creation engines such as Unity.
When I walk into J&L Games on 6th Avenue in New York, I feel as though I've entered something between a time capsule from 1998 and a dive bar where everyone knows my name. Lit with hard fluorescent overhead lighting, J&L Games is practically a video game museum: lined with rows of display cases brimming with old-school titles, walls decorated with hanging retro consoles, and a giant plastic Pikachu at the entrance to welcome guests. Before I get a chance to introduce myself, Kevin H, an MTA transit worker, comes in to pick up his copy of Hitman 3 for the PS5. Kevin practically knows everyone in the store, especially Kit Chiu, a long-time employee who first met Kevin when he was a regular at J&L's old Chinatown location in the early 2000s. In fact, Kevin bought his Playstation 2 from Kit in March of 2000, at J&L's original storefront on Elizabeth Street in Chinatown, and distinctly remembers "a giant line of people looping around the building" waiting for the new console.
This week, the Justice Department indicted a 22-year-old on charges of tampering with the water facility where he used to work. It's a stark reminder that while the power grid gets most of the attention, it's not the only piece of critical infrastructure that's vulnerable to potentially devastating attacks. We also took a look at YouTube's ongoing problems with moderating kid-focused content; a WIRED investigation found dozens of creepy thumbnails on videos for Minecraft and child-centric pursuits that were at or near the top of the platform's "Topic" pages. It's not quite as dire a situation as the so-called Elsagate controversy from a few years back, in which the YouTube Kids app was flooded with grotesque videos featuring popular children's characters performing unspeakable acts. But it still shows that YouTube has a lot of moderation work still ahead of it.
As the U.S. economy rebounds from its pandemic slump, a vital cog is in short supply: the computer chips that power a wide range of products that connect, transport and entertain us in a world increasingly dependent on technology. The shortage has already been rippling through various markets since last summer. It has made it difficult for schools to buy enough laptops for students forced to learn from home, delayed the release of popular products such as the iPhone 12 and created mad scrambles to find the latest video game consoles such as the PlayStation 5. But things have been getting even worse in recent weeks, particularly in the auto industry, where factories are shutting down because there aren't enough chips to finish building vehicles that are starting to look like computers on wheels. The problem was recently compounded by a grounded container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week, choking off chips headed from Asia to Europe.
What might have been a turning point for developers was erased when in 2008 then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a new set of overtime exemption rules for computer workers in California, shifting the overtime exemption down from $49.77 an hour or $103,521 a year, to $36 an hour or $75,000 a year. This new rule moved the overtime threshold below the average salaries for many in the games industry -- the average salary for programmers in 2007 was $80,886 and $77,131 for producers -- and it included subtle changes to the language describing the specific kinds of work that could qualify for the exemption to make it more broadly applicable. Labor advocates described the move as a concession to help tech and entertainment companies minimize their overtime liabilities and encourage them to keep jobs in California instead of moving their operations to places with aggressive tax credits and lower cost of doing business, especially Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.
After almost four months of phone calls and emails to GameStop Corp. complaining about the slow shipping of an order, New Jersey teacher Steven Titus received a late night call in early March -- from a director on the video game retailer's board. On the line was Ryan Cohen, the billionaire co-founder and former chief executive of online pet supplies retailer Chewy who is now leading GameStop's push into e-commerce. Cohen was responding to an email Titus had sent 12 hours earlier to more than two dozen GameStop executives and board members. "NOBODY has attempted to respond except a muddled voicemail with no distinguishable callback number or extension. E-commerce requires a customer support team and processes that are responsive," Titus wrote.
"Winter makes everything covered in snow and it's all white, so it makes it feel a bit more ethereal and dreamy. It's one of my favorite seasons in the game," said Liang, who works in health science in New York and has spent over 2,300 hours playing Nintendo's "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" since a few weeks after the game's release. Every time winter is about to end, she time travels back to the beginning of January to stay in the season.