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At some point in 2007, I become hopelessly addicted to World of Warcraft.
I was 24 years old, finishing art school, severely depressed and dealing with the fact that my life was just not going the way I expected. Somewhere around that time, during a drunken few hours in a restaurant in downtown Jerusalem, a friend and I created JarWow - a mod of World of Warcraft that translates the mechanics, races and areas of the game to early 21st century Jerusalem. Jerusalem seemed like a perfect stage for a complex MMO, with two culturally different factions in a bitter territory dispute. Conversely, World of Warcraft, which relies on simplification and stereotypes, cannot truly represent the complexity of modern Jerusalem.
I moved to Jerusalem in 1993, when I was nine years old; I left in 2009 when I was 26. The Oslo accords, a set of agreements made by Israel and Palestine which started the peace process, had just been signed in 1993, and while Jerusalem will never be entirely calm, there was a sense of hope in the air and some optimism - even if the question of the unification of the city continued to be a contentious issue. By 2007, the situation was completely different. The second intifada - the second Palestinian uprising against Israel and a period of intense violence - had ended, but its legacy lingered in the empty streets of downtown Jerusalem and the quiet tension between the different groups that share the city. This was a tension not just between the Jewish and Arab population, but also between the more traditional and more liberal forces in the city. While this tension would escalate again in the next few years (with Operation Cast Lead and the situation in Gaza just around the corner), at this point the status quo was maintained and the city was (at least on the surface) calm.
On Sonic the Hedgehog's 27th birthday (that big 3-0 is fast approaching!), Sega has detailed Team Rose for Team Sonic Racing.
The announcement was made during an event to celebrate Sonic's birthday (you can watch it in the video below).
Team Rose is made up of Amy Rose, Chao and Big the Cat. Yep, Big the Cat, the large, anthropomorphic purple cat who made his name in the Sonic Adventure series, is in Team Sonic Racing. As if there was any doubt.
This week, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds got its first ever Event Pass. The 7.49 DLC is, clearly, inspired by Fortnite's hugely-successful Battle Pass, and lets players unlock premium loot, including themed cosmetics and items. It also lets you take on exclusive challenges and gain experience points as you play.
While PUBG's Event Pass sounds like a decent addition to the game - and indeed it has freshened up the battle royale experience for many players - it has some problems, which the game's rabid fanbase has been quick to pick up on.
This has led to a raft of comments from the PUBG developer, PUBG Corp., which has clarified the Event Pass is something of an experiment, and shown to be quick to react to feedback.
Well, it's the weekend, folks. You know as well as I do that a weekend means it's time for yet another roundup of the very best gaming deals this week has had to offer. It also means I'm going to spend a couple more hours trying to continue my first playthrough of Dark Souls 2, which, let me tell you - is an odd game to come to after just finishing Dark Souls Remastered. That said, GOG's recent addition of the last of the original Monkey Island games may make for an ideal distraction, given that three out of four of those games are essentially flawless.
Anyway, onto the deals! As usual, we've got deals that'll work in the UK, deals that'll work in the US and some deals that will work in both the UK and US, as well as presumably many other places. Let's get started.
Worlds Adrift is a survival-y, build-y, floaty, flying, massively multiplayer type of game that's hit some headlines relatively recently. The folks from Green Man Gaming joined forces with our sister-site Jelly Deals to offer 40 copies of the game. To be in with a chance of winning a copy, you can enter on the link below.
The NHS is set to fund an internet addiction centre - with a focus on gaming disorders.
According to The Guardian, the Central and North West London NHS foundation trust is behind the Centre for Internet Disorders, which will initially focus on gaming addiction. The idea is it will offer treatment and advice to families as well as conduct research.
Gaming addiction was thrust into the headlines earlier in June after it emerged "gaming disorder" could become a proper medical condition - should a draft of the World Health Organisation's updated International Classification of Diseases manual be approved unamended roughly a year from now.
Two moments from EA's E3 2018 media briefing stuck with me long after I left the blazing heat of Los Angeles.
The first was EA's dramatic Champions League trophy reveal, up close and personal as it was for me as I sat in the tiny chairs squeezed into the Hollywood Palladium's mosh pit. It made me gasp. I knew an announcement about FIFA finally getting the Champions League after years of exclusivity on PES was coming (thanks, old-school Dutch commentator who clearly doesn't understand what an NDA is). But as a football fan, seeing the actual Champions League trophy within touching distance had the hairs on the back of my neck doing a merry dance.
The second was EA boss Andrew Wilson's closing remarks, which I've struggled to shake because, well, I'm not going to pull any punches here - they stank of hypocrisy.
The first episode of Life is Strange 2 arrives on 27th September 2018 - that's just three months away.
It's actually titled Life is Strange 2, as well - to delineate it from Dontnod's original series and the excellent prequel spin-off Before the Storm.
Life is Strange 2 will comprise of five episodes. The teaser below shows the game's title being stitched onto a worn backpack. More details, a post on the game's Twitter says, will be revealed in August (likely Gamescom).
We've come a long way from Assassin's Creed not letting you play as a woman - or from doing so only in short sections of its campaign.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey will let you play through the entire game as either female or male mercenaries Kassandra or Alexios - and just like the game itself, its reversible cover will let you pick your favourite.
That's according to creative director Jonathan Dumont, who revealed the detail in a reddit AMA last night.
Bethesda is reportedly suing Warner Bros. over the Westworld mobile game, which it claims uses Fallout Shelter code.
According to TMZ, Bethesda is suing Warner Bros. and Behaviour Interactive, the developer of the game. In court documents, Bethesda reveal it contracted Behaviour in 2014 to work on Fallout Shelter before Behaviour went on to make the Westworld game for Warner.
Fallout Shelter is a building and people management sim with a cute art design where you play the vault overseer. You have to keep your vault dwellers alive, playing Cupid to get them to have babies, while all sorts of things go wrong in the vault and, when you can, send your people out into the wasteland to gather resources. It looks like this:
Fortnite's shopping cart is a lot of fun - but it doesn't look like Epic's laughing.
Fortnite's first vehicle - if you can call it that - has been added and pulled from the battle royale game multiple times since it went live in May as Epic battled to prevent players from using it to glitch under the map.
This week, Epic added the shopping cart back into the game only to pull it again a couple of hours later.