VC perspective: The 3 things I want to hear first in a pitch

As a Venture Partner at XSeed Capital, sitting on the other side of the table from bright entrepreneurs with really intriguing ideas is a lot of fun for me. But, I’ve also been the one raising rounds for my startups. Here are some tips that have become a lot more obvious and important to me, now that I’ve seen hundreds of presentations:

A soldier’s perspective on Call of Duty and its ilk (interview)

It’s no secret that first-person shooters — in all their Hollywood-inspired clamor and spectacle — don’t simulate the realities of war very well. From basic rules of engagement, to gun safety (i.e., don’t flag your buddies), and the dynamics of combat, FPSs are more akin to interactive action flicks than a proper recreation of armed conflict.

More games should be reinvigorated from a different development perspective

Halo 4 is the best entry in the series since the release of Combat Evolved. No, this doesn't mean I think all of the Halo games released between the two aren't worthy of praise, on the contrary, every one of Bungie's children (even the overly-criticized ODST) forms one of my favourite series, not just in terms of video games but digital entertainment as a whole.

Journalistic integrity from an average gamer’s perspective

Recently, one of my biggest fears came to fruition: Games journalists admitted to — and defended — promoting video games to win free stuff. I take this issue to heart, not because I'm also a games journalist, but because I'm a regular gamer who wants to trust the things I read and use that information to make decisions about which games I play. This isn't about people getting perks because they're in the industry, this is an issue of integrity.

Cave Story: A Dev’s Perspective

It might well be presumptious of me to call myself a 'Dev', as though I have a string of successful indie games under my belt and a legion of adoring fans hammering the 'donate' button. Dream-chasing can be arduous and unrewarding, and working in the video games industry is one of the longest and most treacherous career paths around. I've finished a game or two, sure, but no-one's paying to see my next one.

EA’s rather contradictory message to PC gamers from the perspective of someone who has only recently become a PC gamer

Perhaps my title is somewhat misleading in that the PC gaming culture is not something that has eluded me completely. A bit of background is necessary perhaps. I grew up cutting my teeth in the bloody arenas of Quake 3 and Starcraft on the family computer until my parents belted at me to go do something productive with my day so that they could check their emails and do their boring grown-up things.

An MI6 first — Pecha Kucha: Perspectives on the future of video game marketing

Pecha Kucha, which will take center stage at next week’s 6th Annual MI6 Game Marketing Conference, is a conference session format where a series of speakers show 20 slides for 20 seconds before they scoot off the stage to make way for the next presenter. The method, which originated in Tokyo in 2003, has since hit the rest of the world, specifically the design community, as a way to keep presentations quick-hitting, creative and engaging.

A look at Mirror’s Edge and Perspective in Gaming

There are two basic types of games out there: those where you shoot at things, and those in which you don’t. The first group is usually played from a first person view, and the second from a third person view. Why is it that this has been become the normal, and we don’t see more games breaking away from this tradition? Is a certain type of perspective better for certain gameplay types?

3DS Pricing: A British Perspective

Here in the UK we're accustomed to being ripped off. It's part of our culture, along with cricket, tea-drinking and tutting under our breath at queue-jumpers. We wait six months or more to get our hands on the next big thing then pay through the nose for it, and when companies rub our noses in our inability to resist their shiny, overpriced toys, we shrug, grumble and buy them anyway while our self-respect slinks away into the night.

Perspective in Pikmin

Long time reader here, first time poster. I wrote this a while back but thought I should try throwing it out here and see what you guys think. It's my attempt to discover just what I find so remarkable about the Pikmin franchise. Any critical feedback about my writing is welcome but I'm more interested in just talking about Pikmin in an intelligent manner, which I'm sure will happen here :) .

Smackdown Versus Raw – A Wrestler’s Perspective

Professional wrestling has its origins in late-19th- and early-20th-century American carnivals, where it initially resembled mixed martial arts more than a testosterone-fueled soap opera. Carnivals would pit skilled fighters against locals from the audience in very real, unscripted fights. These bouts often ended with the hometown heroes receiving a healthy beating for their bravery and idiocy.

A Failure of First-Person Perspective

Editor's note: I agree with Jeremy wholeheartedly: Too many developers ignore of the possibilities the first-person perspective offers in favor of the "gun, cover, and multiplayer flavor of the week" approach. I bet a number of studios could make some great adventure, puzzle, and role-playing games from this perspective. Myst did this, what, 17 years ago. Imagine the impact today's tech could make on such games. -Jason

A Perspective on Military Shooters

Editor's note: Juan makes a good point, although I think it's true of other genres as well. I'm far more likely to play video games that don't have real-world analogs. The magic of storming the beach of Normandy for the first time did indeed capture my attention, but I think my desire to experience World War 2 is starting to wane. -Jay

Gaming History from a Younger Perspective

Editor's note: Pong, Pac-Man, Nintendo. You have to know and appreciate the classics to understand the gaming industry at large, right? Well, Nick takes a look at this topic and makes a case that not all gamers need that perspective, as much as he might want it. He also points out the conundrum he faces as a younger gamer who didn't grow up when these classics were first released and the difficulties he faces in playing catch-up. This is an interesting read that should lead to some great discussion. -Greg

Big changes coming at Technorati — the CEO's perspective

Since I joined Technorati two years ago, we’ve refrained from talking too much about our overall strategy. We’ve announced site re-designs, acquisitions and the launch of our ad network, Technorati Media, but we haven’t taken every opportunity afforded to talk about the company, particularly replying to criticism. But in the next few weeks, we have some big changes coming that will affect bloggers, so we want to give everyone a heads-up.  In addition to the upcoming 2009 State-of-the-Blogosphere, our site will be receiving a complete overhaul.

Persona 3’s Unique Perspective on Growing Up

A year ago I was playing Persona 3 (FES edition) for the first time during the summer, and while playing the game, I got the distinct impression that the developers of the game have created a compelling portrait of how teens transition into adults within Japanese culture.  It involves creating a social network for yourself, creating a multi-faceted approach to relationships, and oddly enough, beating the crap out of monsters.  I’m going to go into some of the details of how Persona 3 demonstrates how the experience of growing up in Japan is in some ways quite different, and in other ways quite similar to the experience of growing up in North America.  I’ll try not to get too academic here, but I think it’s important to take some time to acknowledge the effort put into this game.  One of the big things to keep in mind is that since Persona 3 takes place in Japan, that distinctly puts it in the realm of a collectivist culture.  That is, it primarily embodies the values of society which place the welfare of the group ahead of the individual as opposed to western cultures which are individualistic and have the opposite perspective.  There’s no reason to assume one is better than the other, but for the sake of context, it’s important to make the distinction.Now, Persona 3 starts off like most RPG’s, you name your character and get thrust into the middle of a world to explore.  Of course, there’s some important differences.  Naming your character in Persona 3 is a little different than naming your character in most other games.  For one thing, the main character has no name (Minato Arisato doesn’t count manga fans).  This places you as the main character, your direct avatar and proxy in the game world as opposed taking the role of someone like Cloud or Vyse.  The world you inhabit is also a big city in Japan, another connection to the real world.  This places you in a very real context.  I won’t belabor this much further, but you can see the trend that’s developing.  You go to school, make friends, date girls, and basically live the life of an average teenager. So, Persona 3 is a reflection of the real world, and making a very real statement about growing up.  But how do the shadows fit in?  Well, aside from being an RPG convention to beat the crap out of monsters to advance the plot, the shadows represent the doubt and fear that must be combated in one’s mind.  Specifically, the doubts and fears that place teenagers under specific pressure.  These aren’t really real fears, as anyone who has been an angsty teen might be able to tell you, so it’s logical for them to be unreal creatures.  This is why they are fought in the midnight hour, a space in between the regular reality.  A specifically unreal place where you and your friends face your fears and doubts.In most RPG’s you tend to play as a youth who must experience personal growth to overcome an obstacle.  You get stronger in body in mind, and smite the evil around you.  Persona 3 isn’t just representing this conflict though, it’s also representing the difficulty of developing a place in society through a a uniquely collectivist point of view.  For example, the social links you create are a reflection of what it means to be an adult in Japan.  For the best results, you can’t just forge your own character in someparticular fashion who praises or admonishes as he sees fit, you must take account of the individuals you interact with. The ideal answers in Persona 3 seem to have you act as someone who isn’t a stable personality, rather someone who tries to appease others, such as complimenting the slimy television producer who hangs around the mall.  This is very much in line with behaviour in Japanese society.  Being able to act differently in variety of situations is a symbol of maturity.  What might be construed as being disingenuous in an individualistic culture is actually quite valuable in a collectivist one.  In fact, you’re creating different personas (aspects of your personality) for your character, so it’s no surprise that there’s a direct link between powering up your battle personas and forming relationships that use interpersonal personas.Another aspect of the game that piqued my interest was the use of gun-shaped summoners.  Each character places it to their head and simulates suicide before calling upon their personas in battle.  But how can this represent personal growth?  For one thing, it’s an obvious symbol for teenage suicide, a growing concern inside of Japan.  While it’s easy to assume anyone who kills themselves is suffering from some sort of mental disorder, a more apt approach would be to take the perspective that a person’s situation is just as, if not more likely, to be the primary cause of their decision to take their own life.  This would obviously be the favoured position of those in a collectivist society, more likely to place blame on social forces rather than personal fault.  So Persona 3 is making a statement about growing up in Japan, juxtaposed with simulated suicide, and by doing so it makes a metaphor about the sometimes overwhelming demands of society that might lead someone to commit suicide.So how does this all fit together?  Quite simply, the meaning of the guns becomes inverted.  They imbue strength rather than symbolize submission, and this is only achieved in the unreal world of the midnight hour.  By using that strength to fight doubts and fears, the main character and his friends are able to serve a higher purpose, one facilitated by forging strong social bonds and becoming a valuable member of society.Persona 3 is about more than fighting monsters and a supernatural plot.  It’s attempting to display the trials of growing up in Japan, and the difficulties of coming to terms with an approaching adulthood.  Even with the encroachment of an unreal world, like having a robot join your group of friends, you’re encouraged to soldier on.  Regardless of the difficulties you may face, hard work and perseverance will ultimately be rewarded.  But a major caveat to that is the game’s ending, where the main character dies.  This, in essence, is the greatest sacrifice in a collectivist culture and the ultimate example of embracing its values.  The main character literally acts as the gate protecting the world from destruction, a visual symbol of a barrier between a threat and a society.  This sacrifice is the ultimate expression of putting your society ahead of yourself.  Placing the safety of your friends above your own serves as the perfect ending to a game which has primarily focused on transforming a friendless main character into someone who has a place within a larger group.To sacrifice yourself for the greater good, to use your power for th benefit of others, and to establish yourself in society.  These things aren’t really so different from what is deemed valuable in a western culture.  In a very real sense, these values are shared and deemed admirable in a very global way.  Persona 3’s statement about growing up in Japan can be applied to anyone going through that shaky transition from youth to adulthood.  It’s a very eastern perspective, but with the knowledge of these differences, the similarities might be even more salient.  Perhaps, after reading, and maybe even noticing some aspects on your own, it might be easier to realize that we’re not so different after all, and that the difficulties of growing up is an experience we can all share.

E3 perspective: Q&A with Chairman Strauss Zelnick on the future of Take-Two Interactive

Strauss Zelnick is chairman of Take-Two Interactive, the hottest video game company on the planet thanks to its popular Grand Theft Auto IV, which sold more than 6 million copies in the first week alone. He is CEO of entertainment investment company ZelnickMedia and was previously CEO of music and entertainment company BMG Entertainment (now Sony BMG). Prior to joining BMG in 1994, he was CEO of video game developer Crystal Dynamics and president of 20th Century Fox. Take-Two had a warm reception to new titles at E3 such as “Borderlands” and is basking in the glory of GTA IV and last year’s sleeper hit, “BioShock,” which was my favorite game last year. But the company has been under the microscope since Electronic Arts made a hostile $2 billion takeover offer. EA extended its offer today and Take-Two promptly rejected it. Zelnick talks about being the manager of rock stars, such as the Rockstar Games team that made GTA IV.

E3 perspective: An interview with John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts

John Riccitiello has been driving a lot of change at Electronic Arts. He was president and chief operating officer of the big independent video game publisher from 1997 to 2004. Then he left to co-found Elevation Partners. He engineered a deal to invest $400 million in acquiring a majority stake in the game development firms, BioWare and Pandemic. While he was gone, EA suffered lackluster financial performance and its games were often mocked as dull and uninspired. Riccitiello rejoined EA as CEO in May 2007, and reorganized EA so that it could operate its game studios as a bunch of city-states. EA acquired BioWare/Pandemic for $800 million. The aim is to get the game maker out of its funk and to produce original content that hardcore gamers won’t sneer at and nongamers will try out. EA’s games are indeed looking better; I put three of them on my list of the top 10 games of E3. But it may be some time before anyone can declare that Riccitiello has engineered a turnaround.

Perspective: Patents, post-MedImmune

[NOTE: This article inaugurates our “Perspective” feature, in which entrepreneurs, investors, and other experts discuss developments or pressing issues within the life sciences -- a parallel effort to the "Contributors" section on the main VentureBeat page. We ultimately hope to distinguish perspective pieces from our regular coverage with a distinctive font and other visual elements, but for now, they'll just be labeled clearly and will carry a note much like this one. --D.P.H.]