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It’s Friday! Or is it? Time is a social construct, so I could tell you it’s Wednesday today, and how could you prove me wrong? It’s Friday because it’s the fifth day this week, but when did this week start? Can’t prove that either, I’m afraid. Well, the calendar in the bottom right corner of the monitor says it’s Friday. Who told the computer that it’s Friday? Anyone could change that display in the settings. What I can say, for certain, is that events occurred and news transpired in this indefinable time period, and it’s been turned into bite-size chunks, here in the round-up…
Do you know where Jämtland is? It’s not that I’ve lost it; I was only posing the question. It’s the second-largest province in Sweden, smack bang in the centre, and it’s actually sort of a republic within the country. Historically, socially, and politically, the province is unique, as it was an autonomous peasant republic until 1178, when Norway invaded successfully and imposed its rule. However, it wasn’t properly a part of the Norwegian Kingdom, and king Sverre of Norway let the Jamts do what they liked, within reason.
Expectedly, this isn’t the end of the story for Jämtland. Between 1563 and 1677, Jämtland swapped between being part of Norway and Sweden, as a result of the two countries’ continued conflicts. Denmark-Norway’s defeat in the Dano-Swedish war of 1657 sealed the republic’s fate, and it became Swedish land. Due to this colourful history, the culture of the province is quite distinctive. For example, Jamts have never had an upper class, because they were originally free sovereign farmers, and this independence has been reflected in the partially ironic Republic of Jamtland movement. The cuisine is also rooted in herding, with products like soft whey butter (which comes in a squeezy tube), sparkling wine made from birch sap, tunnbröd chips, and “wilderness juice.” And the Jamts are characterised as an enterprising, adaptable, and autonomous people. Why am I telling you about all of this? Because I think it is cool. Here’s the news.
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The Last of Us 2 developer Naughty Dog began the week by issuing a public statement, via Twitter, in light of the harassment and death threats sent to members of the development team and voice cast—namely, Laura Bailey, who plays Abby, and director Neil Druckmann. The tweet stated that although the studio welcomes criticism of the game, they “condemn any form of harassment or threats directed towards our team and cast.” The studio finished with a call for unity against such harassment: “We must all work together to root out this type of behavior and maintain a constructive and compassionate discourse.”
Work-in-progress gameplay footage of the hotly anticipated Assassin’s Creed Valhalla appeared to have leaked over the weekend. The leaked footage reportedly showed off some of the forthcoming title’s moment-to-moment gameplay, as well as the oddly until-now-absent-in-all-but-statue-form-yet-definitely-equally-important female Eivor in action in and among the game’s open world. We also got some brief glimpses at some on-boat adventures, as part of a mission that sees the player assaulting Burgh Castle, in East Anglia. The game is set to be a big part of the upcoming Ubisoft Forward event, scheduled for Sunday.
Despite reports that the game was nearing the end of its development cycle, The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 cannot be confirmed to be finished yet, according to the Un Café Con Nintendo podcast. Comments from voice actors Marc Navarro and Nerea Alfonso—who play Revali and Zelda respectively—had been misconstrued to claim that their work on the sequel was complete, which lead some to infer that the game was almost complete, too. However, neither Navarro nor Alfonso actually confirmed nor denied whether they’d finished their work with Nintendo, forcing the podcast to release a statement, via Twitter, asking reporters to respect the two actors, and not get them in any unnecessary trouble with false reporting.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, which itself owns a few high profile studios including Avalanche Software (Disney Infinity), NetherRealm Studios (Mortal Kombat 11), Rocksteady Studios (the Batman Arkham games), and TT Games (the Lego games), is rumoured to be on the market—to be sold by its parent company AT&T for approximately $4 billion. Take-Two Interactive, Electronic Arts, and Activision-Blizzard are also allegedly interested in an acquisition.
Nintendo took steps to condemn the recent claims of abuse and misconduct in the Super Smash Bros. community. High profile players, such as Cinnamon “Cinnpie” Dunson, Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada, and D’Ron “D1” Maingrette have been accused of sexual abuse and assault, and Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios and Richard “Keitaro” King Jr. have both left the community after admitting to sexual misconduct.
“We are deeply disturbed by the allegations raised against certain members of the competitive gaming community. They are absolutely impermissible,” Nintendo stated. “We want to make it clear that we condemn all acts of violence, harassment, and exploitation against anyone and that we stand with the victims.” The stories have shocked players and fans around the world, and tournaments have been cancelled in response.
Sensor Tower reports that the monster-hunting game has steadily grown in popularity and profits over the past four years, with its most lucrative year, 2019, generating $905 million. The ongoing pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and quarantines were expected to affect the financial health of the game, being reliant on mobility to catch Pokémon and participate in the game’s events.
However, the willingness of Niantic to adapt to these alternative requirements of its players—introducing remote raids and easier goals, like halved walking distances for Eggs and Candy, cancelling its Community Days for the safety of players, and moving Pokémon Go Fest 2020 online—meant that spending did not decrease, and approximately $50.1 million was spent in the game by players in the first three weeks of March. And, with long-awaited features such as mega evolution announced, it’s safe to say the game is showing no signs of slowing down.
The “OK” hand gesture has been removed from Call of Duty Modern Warfare and Call of Duty Warzone for an undisclosed reason. One possible explanation for its disappearance is the gesture’s association with white supremacy. Although it originated as a “troll” from 4chan, it has gained traction as an authentic symbol of racist ideology. The emote has been missing for about a week, and has been replaced with the “Crush” hand gesture. Neither Infinity Ward nor Activision has issued an official statement on the emote’s removal.
Finally, The Sims Spark’d, a competitive reality TV show focussed on the original become-a-vampire-and-wet-yourself-in-the-kitchen simulator, The Sims, has been announced. It is a collaborative production from TBS and Buzzfeed Multiplayer, and will task contestants with a range of challenges inside the game. The first of its four episodes will air on July 17. The contestants will build “the most unique characters, worlds and stories” in The Sims 4, for a chance to win $100,000. Featuring content creators from all over, the panel of judges are YouTuber Kelsey Impicciche, Sims voice actor Tayla Parx, and Dave “SimGuruNinja” Miotke, from Maxis.