Sunday, September 29, 2013

'Glee' Alum Heather Morris Welcomes Baby Boy

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Glee alum Heather Morris is a new mom.

The actress gave birth to a baby boy named Elijah on Saturday, Us Weekly reported. He is the first child for Morris and her longtime boyfriend, Taylor Hubbell, whom she met in high school.

PHOTOS: 'Glee' Season 4 in Pictures

Hubbell's brother, Adam, posted a photo of the baby on Instagram with the message: "The newest Mr. Hubbell #sayuncle."

A user named @oneandonlymich also tweeted a photo of the couple with their son, writing: "Congratulations Taylor Hubbell and Heather Morris!" (See the photos below.)

Morris, 26, was a backup dancer for Beyonce before getting her big break in TV on Fox's Glee.

PHOTOS: 'Glee's' Season 4 Premiere Party

She left the show after last season, with her dingbat character, Brittany, granted early admission to MIT. She was last seen bidding her classmates adieu after one last performance with the glee club.

Morris' other recent credits include Spring Breakers and a voice role in Ice Age: Continental Drift.

Congratulations Taylor Hubbell and Heather Morris! #Elijah

- (@oneandonlymich) September 29, 2013

Source: Hollywoodreporter

Sunday, September 22, 2013

TOKYO - Hiroshi Yamauchi, who transformed his great-grandfather's playing-card company, Nintendo, into a global video game powerhouse, died on Thursday in Kyoto, Japan. He was 85.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, the company said.

Mr. Yamauchi, who led Nintendo from 1949 to 2002, was Japan's most unlikely high-tech success story. Named president of the family business at 22, he steered Nintendo into board games, light-emitting toy guns and baseball pitching machines - fruitless forays that he later attributed to a "lack of imagination" - before the company arrived at arcade games.

Its Donkey Kong and the original Mario Bros. became hits and gave rise to Nintendo's wildly successful home video game business.

The Nintendo Entertainment System, a console first released in Japan in 1983 as "Famicom," unseated early leaders in the video game industry, selling more than 60 million units thanks to shrewd marketing, close attention to product quality and a crop of games based on unlikely yet endearing characters that soon became household names.

In 1988, The New York Times wrote: "Many Nintendo best sellers, like Super Mario Bros. 2, are based on wildly preposterous premises, this particular one being two mustachioed Italian janitors who endure various trials, such as dodging hammer-swinging turtles and lava balls and man-eating plants, in order to save a Mushroom Princess. No matter. Kids can't get enough of the games."

Under Mr. Yamauchi, who professed not to understand video games, Nintendo went on to dominate the business. When a successor machine was released in 1990, fans camped outside electronics stores for days in anticipation; it sold almost 50 million units. Next came the Nintendo 64 and Nintendo Game Cube home consoles, as well as Game Boy hand-held machines. Nintendo dominates the list of all-time top-selling games.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Yamauchi found himself in the middle of an international dispute when he offered to buy a majority stake in the Seattle Mariners. The team, established in 1977, had been threatening to leave Seattle if it could not find a new owner willing to keep it there. Nintendo had its United States headquarters in Seattle.

The team's owners approved the deal but the commissioner of Major League Baseball, Fay Vincent, and a four-man M.L.B. owners' committee initially opposed it. They relented and approved the sale in 1992 after Mariners fans and the Seattle news media rallied in favor of it. In 2001, the Mariners signed the star Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, now with the Yankees, helping to open the door for many more Japanese players to join major league teams in the United States.

In a show of his characteristic detachment, however, Mr. Yamauchi confessed at the time that he was not much interested in baseball, either. He said he had never gone to a baseball game and is thought to have never gone since. One of his few hobbies was the Japanese board game Go, which he played at the master's level.

Hiroshi Yamauchi was born in Kyoto on Nov. 7, 1927. He was raised by his grandparents after his father, Shikanojo Yamauchi, deserted the family.

The Yamauchis had been makers of hanafuda cards, a Japanese playing-card game based on flowers, since 1889. Once favored by the elite, it became popular as a gambling game, often played by Japanese gangsters.

Mr. Yamauchi joined the family business in 1949 after his grandfather had a stroke. He moved quickly to take control at the company, forcing out a cousin and later purging officers appointed by his grandfather.

But the playing-card business was in terminal decline, and Mr. Yamauchi shifted the company's focus to one toy after another until he found success with video games in the 1980s. He was helped by the renowned video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, who joined the company in 1977 and created Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Wii and other products.

Mr. Yamauchi developed a strategy that set him apart from other consumer electronics manufacturers in Japan. From early on, he farmed out the production of Nintendo's video game machines to smaller suppliers, allowing the company to maintain a relatively small staff and low overhead costs. Nintendo approved only a handful of games each year, whether designed internally or by outside companies, ensuring that prices and profit margins remained high.

There were some misfires under Mr. Yamauchi's watch. The company's cumbersome, headache-inducing Virtual Boy portable console - a red box on legs with rubber visors that players peered into to play games in 3-D - was a flop. And beginning in the late 1990s, first Sony, then Microsoft steamrolled into the gaming market with new consoles - the PlayStation and Xbox, respectively - challenging Nintendo's dominance.

Mr. Yamauchi stepped down in 2002 - "I have no energy left," he told reporters - and is credited with going outside the family to appoint a successor to steer Nintendo through rocky times. Under Satoru Iwata, the current Nintendo president, the company roared back with its Nintendo DS hand-held machine and the Wii home game console, though Mr. Iwata, too, has stumbled with the most recent hardware releases and is increasingly under siege by smartphone games.

Mr. Yamauchi's survivors include a son, Katsuhito.

In one of his last interviews, with the magazine Nikkei Business in 2003, Mr. Yamauchi offered a longer view of the gaming market. At the time, Nintendo was being pummeled by Sony's immensely popular PlayStation 2 console. But he scoffed at suggestions that the battle for supremacy in gaming was over.

"That's absolutely wrong; the gaming wars, they will never end," he said, adding: "That's just not how this business works. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring."

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 19, 2013

A previous version of this article misidentified the type of Japanese playing cards that the Yamauchi family made. They had been makers of hanafuda cards, not karuta cards.

Source: Nytimes

Saturday, September 21, 2013

GTA V - it wants to have its cake and eat it

Does Grand Theft Auto V deserve a 10/10 and how does its writing compare to shows like The Wire and Breaking Bad? A reader gives his view.

I've always found GTA problematic on a number of levels, the awkwardness of vehicle handling and shooting, the linearity and repetitiveness of some of the missions, the sheer boredom of both. So I waited until GameCentral's review before purchasing the latest version. While I'm writing this before playing GTA V, I can comment at least on the amorality of the characters and some of the acts the player is invited to commit in the series. Context is everything but consider what I think is a reasonable comparison, that between the GTA universe and the HBO series The Wire.

Both aim for social realism in violent, corrupt, and complex urban environments. Both depict graphic acts of ruthless and unjustified violence. Both centre on characters, of which there are many in The Wire, that are easy to dislike. But there is a crucial difference. In The Wire many of the characters are conflicted and the influence of their social environment, the disadvantages and discriminations they suffer and not least the effect their socialisation into the brutal and antagonistic world of laissez-faire late capitalism has had on them, are central to the text. The quality of the writing in The Wire is exemplified by the gang leader Russell 'Stringer' Bell played by Idris Elba who wouldn't be out of place in a novel by Dostoyevsky.

Without giving too much away for those who haven't seen the series, Stringer Bell commits despicable acts of treachery and violence yet by the end of season 3 it's not difficult to sympathise with the position that circumstance had placed him in, not least his efforts to escape that position through self-education and by embracing the 'entrepreneurialism' of the corrupted political and business elites. While painting a similar world of violence and corruption, GTA - at least the ones I've played - by contrast, appears to revel in the ruthless enterprise and violence of the lead characters. Rather than invite the player to question the social environment in which the lead has to make a living as The Wire does, it invites us to embrace it and in this dog eat dog society profit from it as best we can.

There is a real missed opportunity, especially given the immigrant status and 'minority' ethnic backgrounds of the central characters, to add depth by showing them to be conflicted as they commit criminal acts in circumstances not of their choosing. The same game could essentially be played out by confronting the player at given moments with the kind of discrimination people from such backgrounds, particularly in the United States, face, and the difficulty of going against the grain of the criminal world they are embedded in.

As with some of the greatest films of French New Wave and Italian Neo-Realism or the contemporary films of Ken Loach, Michael Haneke, and Lars Von Trier, the player could be taken along an emotionally charged journey of moral ambiguity in which they are forced to negotiate situations that are largely determined by their socio-economic class, ethnic background and/or nationality from which, as with Stringer Bell, they cannot individually escape no matter how talented, hardworking or entrepreneurial they are.

This would be the real breakthrough for video games and it is such a shame that GTA, which does so much to create a realistic depiction of a divided, corrupted, and unjust society fails to make this giant leap (from the point of view of video games) in storytelling. Given how much the game cost to make, there is no excuse for crude storytelling and characterisation. The budget was available after all to employ the kind of talent behind the renaissance of American television. Judged accordingly, GTA is adolescent but more importantly complicit in embracing neoliberal ideology by both rewarding and celebrating ruthless self-interest and violent and thoroughly corrupt enterprise.

We need though to distinguish between the knee-jerk morality police writing for tabloids, their chief interest it seems in selling copy by manufacturing trivia, scandal, moral panics, fear and prejudice and critiques that centre on the discourse and ideology of video game texts and the values, or lack thereof, they either leave unquestioned or at worst promote. These issues are not specific to video games, nor do video games in isolation influence us to the degree that some appear to suggest.

They are a small part of a more general culture industry that is itself a product of the political economy that all of us are socialised into. This is where our concerns should be focused. Popular media can play a role in this regard by focusing on structural factors and drawing attention to the institutionalised violence, injustice, inequality, and oppression that so often goes unnoticed or is masked and distorted.

If video games such as GTA are silent in this regard they are, as suggested, complicit in this more generalised mystification. Only when video games such as GTA operate at the dialogic level of celebrated series such as The Wire, Sopranos, or Breaking Bad can we truly call them mature.

I want to conclude by emphasising the importance of gameplay as the principal criterion by which the quality of video games can be determined. Context and storytelling are crucial aspects of the GTA universe, though. As with Call Of Duty, these aspects cannot be ignored. And while my concerns will not stop me from playing GTA V, it is important that reviews factor these issues into their analysis and critique. Accordingly, until such issues are addressed, I really do not think a perfect 10 is justified.

By reader Luma

The reader's feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email

Source: Metro