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Loot Boxes: The Legal Gambling Loophole for Kids

Is there any defense for video game loot boxes?

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Back in the '90s and early 2000s, buying a video game for a home console meant gaining access to everything that game would ever have to offer.

Sure, sometimes there were cheats that could only be accessed through a Game Genie, and in Pokemon's case, your mom might have needed to stand with you in a two-hour line at the mall so an official Nintendo rep could manually trade you Mew. But by and large, the $60 purchase price of pre-PS3 era console games was all-inclusive.

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Overwatch reveals new skins and map for Lunar New Year

New map, tons of new legendary skins and the return of competitive Capture the Flag


Overwatch's holiday events are, no pun intended, legendary.

Blizzard has a great habit of making a huge deal out of the year's biggest holiday seasons: Halloween, Christmahanakwanzakuh, Independence Day and, acknowledging their global audience, the Chinese Lunar New Year. This year's Year of the Dog celebration will start February 8 and last through March 5.

Last year's "Year of the Rooster" event introduced a Capture the Rooster game mode, which became a more permanent fixture after the season event, staying on as a standard Capture the Flag mode. The Year of the Dog festival this year will keep the flag (sorry, rooster fans), but get rid of the possibility of a draw. Overwatch's game director, Jeff Kaplan, spoke to some of the changes in this event's developer update.

"First off, there's no more draws anymore," said Kaplan. "We know historically every time we've had draws in Overwatch, there has been discontent in the player base and we want to get rid of draws. We know that they're not very exciting and they can feel very anticlimactic. So, we've added a Sudden-Death mechanic if the two teams are tied at the end of time."

This "sudden death" basically means a speed-round until the next team scores. "What will happen is both teams flags are moved closer to the center of the map and then the map resumes at that point and the teams will go for the flags and then they only have a very short distance to cap," Kaplan added.

Kaplan also commented on the limiting of certain character skills that would be over-powered in Capture the Flag (i.e. Winston's super jump and Tracer's dash): "The other thing that's very exciting is we've changed the flag pickup roles. So, now picking up the flag is instant, but if you use certain abilities and these abilities are limited to things that either give you invulnerability or give you great mobility, those abilities will drop the flag. We call these 'restricted abilities.'"

The new map is specially designed for the Capture the Flag and it's named Ayutthaya, after the real world city in Thailand. Like the Thai city, the new map will feature a hightech urban district, beautiful temples and interesting flora. The distinct sectors of the map should make for quality shotcalling and capture the flag strategy. This goes hand-in-hand with the new competitive ladder for Capture the Flag, which will have a ranked season throughout the event.

The new cosmetics are nothing to scoff at, either. Most of the characters get the Lunar New Year redesign, which include mostly fireworks, dragons and Chinese characters. However, the best of the bunch are Zarya's new dragon warrior look, Genji's robotic swordsman 'fit, and Mercy's festival formalwear. The new skins are available for purchase for 3000 points, whereas last year's Year of the Rooster skins are also available at a discounted 1000 price point. There are also new sprays, including a celebratory Doomfist and a pensive Symmetra.


The best new skins defend a flag on the new map Ayutthaya.


Zarya's new look is absolutely beast.


The new map, Ayutthaya, is based on the real world city in Thailand, home to both beautiful temples and urban sprawl.


The new Genji skin is a ghostly, robotic swordsman.


The new Mercy look appears to be based on festival formalwear.


Pharah received a similar treat to Zarya with her dragon warrior armor.


Genji in action.

New skins on the new map


Mercy in the urban district of Ayutthaya.

For more Overwatch updates and perspectives on gaming, check out Popdust Gaming!

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Inaugural Tribeca Games Festival focused on interactive storytelling, possibilities of VR

Brainy discussion on the future of gaming took center stage

Rob Kim/Getty Images

Brainy discussion on the future of gaming and its triumphant past took center stage at the first annual Tribeca Games Festival

In its sixteenth iteration, the Tribeca Film Festival has absorbed much of 50 Varick Street, a venue called Spring Studios. As is it fit for an institution founded by Robert De Niro that generates nearly $600 million a year, the scope of the festival has expanded beyond its original purview to include art, music, television, and now, for the first time, gaming. This past weekend, the sixth floor of the "Festival Hub" at Spring Studios has been dedicated to the interactive side of storytelling.

The line-up was stacked with the types of innovators and creatives who sucker-punch you with their multifaceted brilliance and make you question how anyone ever doubted that video games were art. Gaming rock-stars like Michael Chu (Overwatch head writer), Robin Hunicke (Journey producer), and legendary Metal Gear creator and self-identified De Niro fanboy, Hideo Kojima, graced audiences with talks that spanned every corner of the imagination.

Some highlights included a brutally honest look at taking artistic risks by Firewatch writer and Campo Santo co-founder, Sean Vanaman, a look at the intersection of gaming and film in the context of VR between the director of The Lawnmower Man and Google's principal VR filmmaker, and an interactive demo-zone that included the Nintendo Switch and Justin Roiland's Office Simulator.

While the discussion was stimulating as can be, most creators veered away from making any sort of formal announcements at the nascent festival. Vanaman opted not to pitch Campo Santo's forthcoming title to the audience but did confirm that it would not be a sequel to 2016's Firewatch and Hideo Kojima remained tight-lipped on the content of the Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelson-starring Death Stranding. However, Kojima did share delightful stories about his daily re-runs of Taxi Driver and the effect of De Niro and American film on his creative process.

The festival was lacking in elements of the traditional nerd convention: there were no cosplayers, only a small arcade, and the crowd was strikingly well-dressed. It felt like an event thrown for and attended by, mostly, industry professionals and a few wealthy onlookers. For your time, though, you'd be hard-pressed to find another festival line-up nearly as interesting or original.

Check back in with us later this week at Popdust Gaming for an interview with Journey producer Robin Hunicke and in-depth analysis of Kojima's keynote discussion.