PiQ no more

PiQ Magazine, ADV's replacement of NewType USA, has ended it's publishing run after just 4 issues. You read right. Four issues. The July issue, which just hit the stands is their final issue.

Direct from the PiQ website:

"It’s unfortunate that we’ll never get a chance to see how successful PiQ could have been, but a combination of low advertising revenue, poor business management and a lack of proper marketing and promotion all hamstrung the magazine from the start. We, the editorial/creative/production staff, did the best we could to put together a quality publication, but as we’ve discovered, without a good financial backing, it’s all an exercise in futility."

I don't know what all that mess means, other than it seems like ADV really dropped the ball on this one. As if they didn't even care if the mag succeeded or not. Personally I was really enjoying the mag, and as soon as I drop by the bookstore, I'll have all four issues. Where NewType focused solely on anime, manga, and Japanese...stuff...PiQ had a much broader range. It still talked about anime, there were still manga previews, and there were still articles on various things Japanese. But mixed in with the otaku fan fare was information for geeks of every flavor. There were articles on everything from the new comic book movie hitting theaters to female roller derby. So instead of buying, I don't know, 5 different magazines to cover everything (like NewType, Game Informer, Dragon Magazine, etc), you bought one that had everything you needed to know.

A lot of NewType fans really hated it, I think. PiQ chased away the hard core otakus who didn't care about the newest Adult Swim original (although to be perfectly honest, I don't either). And I'm certain that hurt their readership. I'm not sure how you advertise these sorts of things. I walked into my comic book store one day and there it was, Deunan Knute gracing the glossy cover. I was immediately hooked, but if it hadn't been displayed in such a way that I couldn't help but notice it, helped along by my excitement for a new Appleseed, I never would have known it existed.

Sorry to see you go, PiQ Magazine. You were a great magazine, full of well written articles (though even in just 4 issues I did notice some repetition), an amalgam of all things geek. Perhaps ADV will give it another shot, but in the meantime, there's always Otaku USA.


You're Under Arrest vol. 11

Volume 11 contains episodes 41-44:
"Round it Goes! The Fiery Patrol Light (Part 1)," "Round it Goes! The Fiery Patrol Light (Part 2)," Bokuto Station Scandal," and "Bokuto Ghost Story."

Round it Goes! The Fiery Patrol Light Parts 1 & 2:
A rare two parter; most episodes of YUA are stand alone. In this set, Bokuto Police Station comes under scrutiny for a series of attacks on drivers by a black car and 2 motorcycles (all driven by supposed traffic cops, and sporting flashing red lights). The attacks occur in Bokuto's precinct, leading HQ to suspect that it's an inside job involving Bokuto cops. I mean they really think it's them. Inspector Arizuka comes down hard, suspending all patrols from the station except in emergency situations. This seems a little odd, honestly. The cops of Bokuto can be rather...unorthodox in their methods, but they're good cops, and they always get the job done (and do it well). There's not anything specific that really points to Bokuto other than it's happening in their precinct. Of course Miyuki and Natsumi, along with Nakajima, aren't going to sit by quietly and let this happen. They take matters into their own hands to hunt these renegade cops down and regain the faith of the citizens they protect.
Toukairin makes an extremely brief appearance in this story. His face is shown in a thoughtful "I have an idea" expression, and he has a phone conversation with the Chief (but you don't know it was him until later as you don't hear his voice), and he shows up at the very end to give the girls a hand. I really wish he had a larger part, though judging by the preview from episode 44, he'll show up in the next volume with Natsumi. Which is great, as Natsumi's been getting action with Nakajima in this volume (she gets more screen time with him in the entire series than poor Miyuki).

Bokuto Station Scandal:
A group of teens has been spying on Bokuto Station. Using a small remote controlled helicopter equipped with a digital camera, the amateur spies take pictures of the gang and post them up on a website. They appear to be fans of Bokuto, and want to show everyone pictures of the cops being "regular" people, to humanize them and show people how kind they all are so they're not scared to approach them. It's all fun and games until the gang spots a particular photo that contains a bank robber they've been looking for - the man's car and face is in the background. It's a race against time to track down the teens and get them to pull the photo before the robber finds them first.

Bokuto Ghost Story:
Must be a Halloween episode, as it is full of several creepy little stories. The gang thinks a ghost is haunting the station and decides to check it out one evening. The Chief warns them not to mix police business with private business, then proceeds to scare the pants off of them (and himself) with stories about ghosts and murders involving the station in the past. They creeped me out a bit, but I'm pretty much a complete wuss, so it's not hard.


GTA IV - Not for Kids

Yeah, we know. That’s why it’s rated M for Mature. It says right there on the box that it includes “Intense Violence, Blood, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Partial Nudity, Use of Drugs and Alcohol.” So yeah, we know. No one is trying to argue the fact that this game shouldn’t be played by children. The ESRB knows. The gamers know. The stores know. The stores know they’re not supposed to sell the game to a minor. If someone decides to ignore such a rule, that’s the fault of the individual, and maybe they should be fired. As opposed to, I don’t know, blaming the retailer or the game’s production company. Otherwise, the kids are getting it because their parents are buying it for them. A parent can judge what they believe is safe for their child. Unless they don’t know if it’s safe. Maybe they don’t bother to read the content descriptors. Maybe they simply don’t care. Maybe they’re just oblivious.

Gamers know where to find such things. We know what websites to visit, what magazines to read, what TV channels to watch. We know that Grand Theft Auto is a violent game, that it’s full of “strong language,” and that – I know this will be a surprise for some – you steal cars. Do the parents know this? Where do parents get their information from? I can’t imagine that many parents spend their free time watching trailers and reading previews at IGN.com. Or that they all have subscriptions to Electronic Gaming Monthly. Some of them probably watch the news. If they watch Fox News, then they all believe the entire point of Mass Effect is to gallivant across the universe raping alien chicks instead of saving that universe from the ultimate evil. So often I have seen parents (or grandparents) who know very little or nothing at all about the game their child wants them to buy. They simply have a list, and they know their child wants this game and that game. Often they have no idea what that means. Sometimes all they know is “It’s a Mario game.” At any given time there are multiple Mario games on the shelves, so that doesn’t help. Sometimes they don’t know what system the game they’re looking for is on, which is often because they simply don’t know which ones their child owns. I’ve met parents who, when given a description of the game, decided that maybe they shouldn’t be buying a game like GTA for their 9 year old. Then they asked what they should buy instead. When asked what sort of games their child was interested in, they could not give an answer.

It’s understandable that an older generation not raised on games may not understand them. So why isn’t the gaming community trying to help them understand? Or maybe the correct question would be: why isn’t the gaming community given a voice? Goodness knows we try. Goodness knows we’re ignored, at least outside our own circles. It does little good for gamers to argue about video game violence on a channel like G4, which is watched by fellow gamers. We already know. The demographic for the sort of people who are currently unaware read People Magazine, not Game Informer. They watch Oprah, not X-Play. Substitute any other talk show/sitcom/news show or entertainment magazine in there; there’s not a lot of (true) information about video games. So why doesn’t Oprah start a “Safe for Kids Video Game of the Month” list? Even Good Housekeeping could devote a page or two to informing parents about safe games for their children. Articles like that couldn’t be written by just anybody of course; a gamer would have to write them (maybe even a gaming parent), someone who knows and understands video games, but instead of gushing over artistically beautiful blood sprays points out the issues in games that parents are concerned about. How easy the game is to play, how violent the game is, the language content, the sex content, how realistic these things are. With a ratings system based not (only) on how good a game is, but on how appropriate it is for a child. I’m sure parents would rather their children read books or go outside, but if they’re going to be playing video games, at least the parents can be informed about their content.