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Author: Keza MacDonald

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We’ve seen Carl Benjamin’s rank misogyny before – remember Gamergate? | Keza MacDonald



The sexist abuse women reported in 2014 has engulfed public life – and one of its perpetrators is a Ukip candidate

For luckier people than me, this week will have been the first time they’ve ever heard of Carl Benjamin (or Sargon of Akkad, as he is better known online). The fact that a Ukip candidate has been discovered to have said something hideous felt like such routine news, it would hardly have registered with me if I hadn’t immediately recognised the candidate in question.

Benjamin tweeted that he “wouldn’t even rape” Labour MP Jess Phillips in 2016. He revisited the topic in a recent video on his million-subscriber YouTube channel and is now being investigated by the police. It’s a sorry story from a candidate in the European elections, but Phillips is far from the only woman who Benjamin has harassed online. He built his entire platform on it.

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Astrologaster review – comedy quack stalks the streets of Shakespeare



You play an Elizabethan astrologer-physician treating a bunch of hilarious hypochondriacs in this well put together game
iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC; Nyamnyam

It’s the late 16th century, in the aftermath of an outbreak of the plague, and you’re a Londoner troubled by a heaviness in the limbs and involuntary upward purging. You need to see a physician, and you’ve heard tell around town of an ambitious young fellow named Simon Forman, who reads the stars to aid his diagnoses. He might not have an actual medical licence, but that hasn’t stopped him from attracting some very high-profile querents. Who needs the approval of the College of Surgeons when you’re blessed with an eye for destiny?

Astrologaster is bawdy biographical fiction told through medical quandaries and humorous choral music, all the more entertaining because it’s based on things that actually happened. You play as Forman, the astrologer-physician, and colourful characters come by to demand diagnoses, treatments, and sometimes to be read fortunes written in the stars. These patients – from a stern Protestant nimby to a frustrated female playwright to a self-sabotaging hypochondriac and a society lady who throws disastrous dinner parties – are hilariously written and well acted, each introduced by a choir. (“Sybil Fortescue! She always has what’s new.”)

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Riot Games employees walk out over workplace harassment lawsuits



More than 150 workers at the developer’s Los Angeles HQ join protest – the largest such walkout in video game industry history

Employees of Riot Games, makers of popular online battle video game League of Legends, staged a mass walkout on Monday to protest against the company’s handling of lawsuits brought against it alleging workplace sexism and misconduct. It is the largest such walkout in video game industry history.

Around 150 workers at Riot’s Los Angeles headquarters participated in the protest, according to a report by video games website Kotaku, which also broke allegations of a sexist and often hostile work environment from dozens of employees in an investigation last year. They were protesting against Riot’s policy of forced arbitration, which strong-arms employees into company-led negotiations in the event of lawsuits, removing the right to a jury or judge-led verdict. Google recently ended forced arbitration entirely in response to protests involving 20,000 employees.

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Assassin’s Creed creators pledge €500,000 to Notre Dame



Ubisoft Montréal, which built a huge-scale virtual cathedral for its game Assassin’s Creed Unity, will donate to restoration efforts

Video game creators at Ubisoft Montréal – the development studio that rebuilt 18th-century Paris in its 2014 historical action game Assassin’s Creed Unity – have joined the global outpouring of grief in the wake of Monday’s devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.

Ubisoft will be donating €500,000 to help with restoration efforts, and is also making Assassin’s Creed Unity available free on PC for the next week, “giving everyone the chance to experience the majesty and beauty of Notre Dame the best way we know how”, said a studio spokesperson. “We hope, with this small gesture, we can provide everyone an opportunity to appreciate our virtual homage to this monumental piece of architecture.”

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Ancestors: the evolution video game tapping millions of years of ingenuity



The creator of Assassin’s Creed is making apes of gamers – reconnecting us with prehistoric survival instincts in virtually untouched gaming territory

When a game, film or TV show takes on the idea of human evolution, it’s usually concerned with the future. What might humans become? How might technology change us? But Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey’s interpretation is literal. You play as a great ape, part of a small troop in a jungle, swinging through trees, picking up sticks and rocks and trying to figure out how to use them to advance the species. It is a fascinating concept, challenging the player to reconnect with the curiosity and ingenuity that helped our distant genetic ancestors to figure out how to progress.

Ancestors opens 10 million years ago with a nature-documentary-style montage of cruel life in the jungle, featuring crocodiles, sabre-toothed cats and giant predatory birds – all eating each other. When an elder ape meets a grisly end in the treetops, the infant creature clinging to its back is thrown to the ground, and you begin the game as a baby desperately searching for somewhere to hide on the forest floor, calling for help. Switching into the body of an adult primate, you pursue the cries through the dense jungle, eventually picking up the infant and returning them to the safety of the tribe.

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Microsoft announces new Xbox – without a disc drive



A new ‘digital native’-intended model of the Xbox One won’t play discs, but comes cheaper as a result

Microsoft has announced a new model of its Xbox One console, a digital-only version that will not be able to play discs and costs less than its siblings.

The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is functionally and visually identical to the existing Xbox One S console, apart from the absence of a disc drive. It’s aimed at “digital natives”, according to Microsoft’s Jeff Gattis – primarily teens who grew up without the discs and cartridges that older games relied upon. It is out on 7 May, and will cost £199 in the UK and $249 in the US, significantly cheaper than the other Xbox One models. It will come with Minecraft, Forza Horizon 3 and Sea of Thieves pre-installed, and a discounted subscription to Xbox Game Pass, which offers a library of more than 100 games for a monthly fee.

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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice review: a samurai sword through the heart



PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC; From Software/Activision
This often breathtaking game of serial assassination in 16th-century Japan is a treasure chest for players able to commit to learning its secrets

This is a game about fighting through a supernaturally tinged recreation of 16th-century Japan as a deathless assassin with a sharp blade and a weaponised prosthetic arm, but there are plenty of moments when the sword is sheathed and the game shows a quiet cinematic discipline. A castle aflame on a hilltop, illuminating the gardens and courtyards below in the dead of night. Stolen minutes crouched hidden on rooftops, surveying patrolling guards, or strolling up an avenue lined with blossoming trees. Short, opaque conversations with dying samurai. Hiding in tall grass from a gigantic, bone-chilling serpent that tastes the air with its flickering tongue as it slithers massively through a valley. I have seen some extraordinary things in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and still, after weeks, there is more ahead.

Sekiro’s set-piece fights are breathtaking, clashing songs of steel whose different rhythms defy familiarisation. Fighting a hooded shinobi-hunter with a spear is a different dance from fighting a general on horseback, or an elite swordsman, or a flaming beast. Avoiding attacks is usually impossible; instead, you must deflect them with your blade, seizing each momentary opening to retaliate with your own slash, until an enemy’s posture is broken and they’re left open to a finishing blow.

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Bafta games awards: God of War wins best game of the year



The mythological epic leads a diverse slate of winners as Return of the Obra Dinn and Nintendo Labo pick up two awards each

The Bafta games awards are always slightly different from the institute’s TV and film evenings. Instead of glitzy celebrities, there are endearingly earnest speeches from the developers, artists, musicians, designers and performers behind the year’s most creatively accomplished video games.

The awards went to a diverse range of games, but one dominated the evening. Sony Santa Monica’s mythological epic God of War won five awards overall, having been nominated in 10 categories, including best game. The atmospheric nautical mystery Return of the Obra Dinn and the wildly creative Nintendo Labo took two honours each.

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Apple Arcade v Google Stadia: which is the future for video games?



Netflix-style subscriptions by two tech behemoths could open up gaming to millions who can’t afford pricey equipment. Watch out Microsoft and Sony

In the last week, two of the world’s tech giants have made a big play for the attention – and wallets – of the world’s two billion gamers. Apple, already a big player in the video game market thanks to the iPhone and App Store, announced Apple Arcade, a subscription that will offer exclusive high-end games to be played on Macs, iPhones and iPads. And Google, a newcomer to video games, announced the subscription service Stadia, which will let players stream games to any screen from the cloud.

These moves towards a Netflix-style subscription approach present slightly different visions of how video games will be made and played. Google and Apple’s services will join Microsoft’s Xbox Games Pass and Sony’s PlayStation Now. Which company will dominate? And will these subscriptions complement the gaming industry’s current business model or eventually replace it?

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