Gaming News for Week of June 21, 2018

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Top Story: The World Health Organization Adds ‘Gaming Disorder’ to the International Classification of Diseases 11th Edition.

A "gaming disorder," as defined by the WHO, is “characterized by impaired control over gaming, prioritizing gaming over other activities to the point that it overtakes other interests and daily activities, and the continuation and escalation of gaming despite negative consequences.”

While this characterization could aptly sum up most gamers, the WHO specifies that the condition must be so severe that it “results in significant impairment on personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.” The condition would normally have been evident for a 12-month period.

The inclusion of "gaming disorder" comes from the uptick in treatment programs across the world for individuals with conditions similar to those described in the definition. The WHO also suspects that there will be a surge of patients with "gaming disorder" and therefore want to prepare medical professionals by creating “relevant prevention and treatment measures.”

The WHO was clear to say that not all those who participate in gaming are prone to "gaming disorder," and in fact only a small amount of gamers are afflicted by "gaming disorder," but they do caution anyone who games to monitor the amount of time they spend on gaming activities, especially when they detract from other daily activities.

Psychologists have pushed back against this diagnosis, saying that the studies that "gaming disorder" is based on are notoriously low quality and have come to vastly different conclusions. Furthermore, the pathology of gaming has been compared to that of other highly-addictive activities, most commonly drug use. Yet while we understand what makes drugs like heroin and nicotine addictive, scientists are less sure about the addictive hooks of games, says Oxford Internet Institute professor Andrew Przybylski, in an article with The Verge. The concern with the diagnosis is the stigma that will surely grow in amongst the gaming community, despite it only affecting a small population of gamers.

A few positives of the diagnosis include the legitimacy to kickstart more rigorous studies and the pressure it puts on game developers and publishers to share their data. Whether or not "gaming disorder" causes significant harm and should be triaged higher remains to be seen.

Sony’s inability to play nice with 'Fortnite' cross-play angers many a fan.

An issue that plagued cross-platform play for Minecraft rears its head again, this time for popular Battle Royale shooter Fortnite and we all have Sony to thank. With Fortnite’s recent launch on Switch, players were saddened and frustrated to learn that progress made in the PS4 version would not able to be carried over, even though progression is tied to players’ Epic accounts, which are console amorphous. Riders of the Battle Bus on Xbox and PC had no issue bringing their profiles over to Nintendo’s version.

The heads of both Xbox and Nintendo, Phil Spencer and Reggie Fils-Aime respectively, have spoken out against Sony’s call that was almost definitely about money, according to a former head of Sony Online Entertainment John Smedley. While nobody said anything negative about Sony specifically, their frustration with the decision shines through.

Spencer first gave an anecdote of friends trying to play together on separate consoles and then iterated: “If it doesn’t help the developers and it doesn’t help the consumer, then it doesn’t feel like it helps to grow gaming to me.” Spencer also acknowledged that Sony has a business to run and that he wouldn’t judge them on their decisions that keep their company afloat.

Fils-Aime spoke about Nintendo’s support of cross-platform, but emphasized that it’s a two-way street. “And when it comes to other platform holders, as much as you have influence on other platform holders, I don’t. And that’s a decision that each of them are making, and some are supporting cross-play and some are not.”

'Pokémon Go' adds friends and trading, making it a closer representation to core Pokémon games.

Nearly two years after launch, popular AR game Pokémon Go is finally getting a feature promised from day one and is considered a cornerstone of the franchise: trading. While the system is a little more complex than in core games, it answers many fans’ calls to action. Adding friends has also been updated into the game, allowing you to gift items to other players. Sending gifts and raiding with friends will level up their friendship, much like how leveling up Gyms work, and net both players bonuses.

There has never been a better time to get back into Pokémon Go, as Switch tie-in titles, Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee, are set to release this November.

'Fallout 76' Beta Coming to Xbox First

While no date has been announced, Bethesda has confirmed that the beta for their next post-apocalyptic open-world title will come to Xbox first, leaving PC and PS4 players in the irradiated dust. To get access to the beta, simply pre-order the title before its launch on November 14.

Nintendo President Reggie Fils-Aime gave a number of interviews at E3 and shared little tidbits of new information. Here’s what he said:

Perhaps the largest factoid is that despite its absences at E3 2018, the 3DS is not dead and will still receive new games, likely due to the large install base and continued success in sales. Fils-Aime, speaking to IGN, called the 3DS “a vibrant piece of our overall business, certainly here in the Americas.”

Another controversial position Fils-Aime took was to defend loot boxes. “Loot boxes, broadly speaking, have gotten a bit of a bad rap,” he said to Bloomberg. While Nintendo considers it a mechanic they can use to “drive ongoing engagement in a game,” they suggest that items obtained from loot boxes would not be exclusive to the mechanic. Nintendo hasn’t yet put loot boxes in any first-party console game and it remains to be seen if they have any plans to, but we at least know now that they are partial to it.

Fils-Aime also took the time to discuss Switch Online, the console’s online service set to launch in September. It has been common knowledge that the Virtual Console, Nintendo’s marketplace for selling classic titles, would not be returning on the Switch, but Fils-Aime did express that Nintendo views Switch Online as the successor to the Virtual Console, with an expanding pallet of titles. From IGN: “it's a slate that's going to increase over time.”

Finally, Fils-Aime expressed a belief that Nintendo’s previous console, the Wii U, failed because of unclear messaging. Again from IGN: “Tell me what the Wii U proposition was in 10 words or less. We weren’t as incredibly clear.” In contrast, the Switch has found great success because of an incredibly approachable pitch of console-quality gaming anywhere you go.

For more from E3, check out the 5 most important pieces of news from the conference.

And that's the way it was for the week of June 21, 2018. For more awesome gaming content, check out Memory Card at any of these fine online establishments:

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Gaming News for Week of June 21, 2018
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