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October is right around the corner. Dust off the Halloween decorations, put the final touches on the costumes and get ready for all the scary movies coming to television and streaming services. While the common Halloween activities are fun, there’s nothing quite like playing a scary video game. The interactive unpredictability of a scary video game is unmatched compared to watching a scary movie. Ever had a zombie sneak up out of nowhere and bite you in Resident Evil?  If you have, you know what we mean. In honor of Halloween, we take a look at the top 5 scary video games and series.

1. Resident Evil Series

Long time no see! This series is the epitome of an interactive scary video game. You’re fighting off challenging zombies with various weapons you’ve picked up throughout your survival adventure and you’re finding herbs to heal wounds. Tip: Be careful when walking around corners.

2. Read Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare

A little twist from the regular Read Dead series, this edition features zombies … what else?! The zombies are incredibly real looking even though zombies technically aren’t real. These zombies have serious speed and make crazy sounds. Enjoy with the lights off if you dare.

3. Blair Witch

You saw the movie, now you get to play the video game. Travel through the rigors of Black Hills Forest with your trusty steed as a police officer named Ellis.

4. Silent Hill 2

Sequels are rarely better than the original, but in this case, Silent Hill 2 challenges that belief. It’s an old game, but it never seems to get old. Spooky scenery, disturbing characters, creepy sounds, tricky puzzles and mazes, Silent Hill 2 will keep you up late for all the right and wrong reasons.

5. Call of Duty Series (Zombie Mode)

Zombies seem to be a common across this list and why not, they’re scary! The zombie game mode of this first person shooter can go on forever depending on how well your squad sets up. The scariest part might be when you must start back at level one after hours upon hours of work / play.

September is big video game release month – sports games, especially, release in time to take advantage of the beginning of the football, basketball and hockey seasons.  But there are many video games for every interest.  Here’s a quick list of what’s coming out this month.

September 3rd

  • Catherine: Full Body (PS4)
  • Children of Morta (PC)
  • Final Fantasy VIII Remastered (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
  • Last Oasis (PC)
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy (PC, Switch)
  • Torchlight II (PS4, Switch, Xbox One

September 6th

  • Monster Hunter World: Iceborne (PS4, Xbox One)
  • NBA 2K20 (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC, Stadia)

September 10th

  • Caravan Stories (PS4)
  • eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Gears 5 (Xbox One, PC) Note: Early release for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers.
  • Greedfall
  • Utawarerumonou Zan (PS4)

September 13th

  • Borderlands 3 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Daemon X Machnina (Switch)
  • NHL 20 (PS4, Xbox One)

September 17th

  • AI: The Somnium Files (PS4, Switch, PC)
  • Lego Jurassic World (Switch)

September 20th

  • The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)
  • Untitled Goose Game (Switch, PC)
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (Switch)
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered (PS4, PC)

September 24th

  • Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear (PS4, Switch, Xbox One
  • Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • Contra: Rogue Corps (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
  • Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • Planescape Torment: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • The Surge 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

September 25th

  • Mario Kart Tour (iOS, Android)

September 26th

  • Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition (Switch)
  • Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX (PS4, Switch, PC)
  • Ys IX: Monstrum Nox (PS4 – Japan only)

September 27th

  • Code Vein (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age (Switch)
  • FIFA 20 (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
  • Memorrha (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC, Mac)
  • Ori and the Blind Forest (Switch)
  • Tropico 6 (PS4, Xbox One)

1Issues such as performance inhibiting gamer-score limits and the inability of players to buy and sell games easily were the least of the problems for Xbox One. What really annoyed users was that conversations at home were recorded and heard by Microsoft’s “quality control” people as revealed in a recent report from Motherboard.

A former contractor from Microsoft informed Motherboard that most of the recordings classified as “personal conversations” were inadvertent – like picking up unintentional Skype calls – and were triggered by players who had given inadvertent orders to Kinect, the voice command system of Microsoft’s Xbox One or Cortina, the voice assistant.

It’s not as if many people at the product’s launch hadn’t voice concerns about privacy. They had, but their concerns were allayed by claims that Kinect for Xbox 360 was designed and implemented with the best possible privacy checks.  Blah, blah. A Microsoft spokesperson has responded to the issues raised since the release of Motherboard’s report, explaining that interception of audio recordings is no longer a necessary quality control step for the company. A few months ago, Microsoft stopped listening to Xbox One audio.  Additionally, the company appears to be working on updated privacy policies to give users more control over how their personal information is stored.

When talking about video game streaming, we aren’t discussing sites like Twitch that allow gamers to broadcast their game play online for others to watch. Video game streaming is a new way games can be delivered and played – it’s la carte. Think Netflix for video games, where the games are stored in the cloud and can be accessed on a device to be played without the disc and without the console.

Play devices could be your TV, phone, PC, laptop or iPad … all the above. Currently, Sony’s Playstation Now is the only full version available, but it’s accessibility is limited to PS4’s or PC’s for a subscription of around $100 dollars a year. For that users get access to a library of nearly 1,000 old and new games.

Competition is on the way from GeForce Now and Google Stadia, both of which are in test stages. Google Stadia is set to release a version of its service in November.  It will work on pretty much any device that has access to Google Chrome. You will be able use your mouse and keyboard on a PC/Laptop or buy a controller for TV gameplay. If you already have a controller that has Bluetooth capabilities, you can use that or buy Google’s own controller product that will surely have a faster response time since it is specific for this service.

It is important to remember that you will need a very stable internet connection to enjoy these services the way they were meant to be enjoyed.  After all, you’re playing a game that is stored in the cloud and is played over an online server.

Is this the future of gaming or will a console and disc services always have their place? Time will tell, but we will have a good idea of how popular these services are within the next year as the betas become full products.

America’s epidemic of gun violence has been linked to video games by President Trump and some commentators.  The data suggests otherwise.  Naturally, the first to object was Stanley Pierre Louis, President and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association who claimed that video games have a positive influence on society. He cited examples of video games being used to support health and education efforts. He also claimed that scientific studies showed that there’s no link between videogames and violence.  What studies? Benjamin Burroughs, a professor of emerging media at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas says, “There are no longitudinal studies that show a link between violence and video games. Certainly, there is no linkage to gun violence.” An AP article in the subject states, “Indiana University researchers found [in a small study] that teenagers who played violent video games showed higher levels of emotional arousal but less activity in the parts of the brain associated with the ability to plan, control and direct thoughts and behavior.” Research by Patrick Markey, a psychology professor at Villanova University, led him to conclude, “The general story is people who play video games right after might be a little hopped up and jerky but it doesn’t fundamentally alter who they are. It is like going to see a sad movie. It might make you cry but it doesn’t make you clinically depressed.” It is pretty clear the video games do not lead to gun violence.  Still, some of these games can be disturbing to young kids and teens.  Their parents have a monitoring role to play. To help them, since 1994 The Education Software Rating Board has provided ratings designed to help parents decide what games are appropriate for their children with ratings that range from “E″ for “Everyone” to “Adults Only” for those 18 and older.  Reviews of games designed for parents can be found through Common Sense Media.
It’s release time for one of, if not THE most popular sports title for gaming consoles, Madden NFL 2020. EA Sports has loaded the new version with a ton of new features, upgrades, and graphic improvements – all needed after rolling out the same title with only roster updates from 2014 -2018. The 2020 version appears to be much richer, new generation of the perennial. The biggest addition is the Superstar X Factor/Zone Abilities, which can most easily be compared to player attributes in FIFA soccer console such as long range passer, or flair, or poacher. In Madden NFL 2020 a player can be defined as a Superstar or Superstar X Factor. If a player is a Superstar X Factor, abilities can be unlocked throughout the game giving him a significant advantage. Superstar X Factor traits vary based on the player and his rating. For example, if a quarterback has a Pro Reads X Factor and it’s unlocked, the first open receiver will be highlighted. This feature adds depth and can change throughout the course of the game. Speaking of player ratings, this year’s rating system feature is much more significant than in past versions. For example, if your starting offensive lineman goes down with an injury and he had a 78 overall rating, which for this Madden is pretty good, and his replacement has a rating in the 50’s, it will have an effect. The talent gap will change giving a bigger advantage to the star players, making it more difficult when you have injury replacements. We think this more realistically represents how the NFL actually functions. In addition to those notable changes, the graphics seem to be far improved; little player movements and unique characteristics are more closely defined, and there is a new hot count feature that enables a quarterback to switch a run play to a quick pass on the fly. Franchise mode is expected to be mostly the same, but there is a new mode called “Face of the Franchise”. In it, you are your own player going through all the trials and tribulations of becoming an NFL player, from the combine, to draft interviews, to the league. This is very similar to the My Player in MLB 2K or in FIFA. Ultimately, the Madden title brings back great memories year after year. The ability to compete against friends for bragging rights or take a franchise and turn it upside down into a perennial dynasty, Madden always arrives in time for people to waste away their August indoors, getting mentally prepared for the NFL season. Big question: Will Pat Mahomes suffer from the Madden jinx?

The Fortnite gaming series recently had its first ever world-cup. The tournament winner, Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, a 16 year old from Pennsylvania, beat millions of players on his path to the companionship. He had to win six battle royal matches to emerge as the champion and take home the $3 million winner’s prize.  When asked what he’d do with the money, he was quoted as saying he wanted to buy a new desk.

All one hundred competitors were guaranteed at least $50,000 for their participation. Four of them received seven figure rewards including Argentina’s Thiago “King” Lapp, a 13 year old who got $900,000 for his fifth place finish.

The event demonstrates the big money flowing into e-sports. The first ever Fortnite World Cup reward budget of $30 million matched that of the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer budget and the winner’s prize is comparable to the Men’s and Women’s US Open Tennis Championship prize money. Meanwhile, the premier e-sporting competition, The International,has an even bigger reward budget than the Fortnite World Cup. If you are over 20, you are over the e-sports hill.  Go home.