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Epic fall: the joy of autumnal video games | Games

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There is something about the clocks going back that I inextricably associate with video games. Perhaps it is the prospect of all those long evenings, hiding from the weather, snuggled up in an easy chair with a joypad and a mug of tea, lost in some fantastical role-playing adventure. This is also the period in which the year’s biggest games are released in time for Christmas, so there is the extra pleasure of discovering new characters, new worlds, as the endless drizzle falls outside.

There are games that simply provide us with beautiful autumn environments. Firewatch envelops us in the rolling, red-tinged forests of Wyoming; the mountain walks in A Short Hike present the soft auburn hues of the season in an almost impressionistic style; and Forza Horizon 4 perfectly replicates the wet, leaf-scattered roads of October country lanes. The richness with which modern visuals capture the reds and oranges of the season, the way HDR technology simulates that particular low, coppery sunlight as it glints across the screen, gives these games the cosiness of an open fire.

Forza Horizon 4
October country lanes … Forza Horizon 4. Photograph: Microsoft

But there are also games that capture more than the look of autumn; they are autumnal in their themes and tone. The apocalyptic adventures The Last of Us and Fallout 4 make the most of their rugged settings, using the stark rural scenes to emphasis the feelings of solitude and loss. The quest at the centre of wordless PlayStation title Journey is bathed in burnished orange colours, but it is also a game about the cycle of life that autumn represents; the death and rebirth of nature. One thing I really love about the adventure Life Is Strange is its authentic autumnal setting – this game, about teenage girls discovering friendship amid fear and depression, takes me back to new school years beginning – those worrisome days, walking back home in the low light, breath visible in the cold air, the Wedding Present playing on my Walkman.

When I tweeted about the joy of autumnal games last week, I was inundated with people’s favourite examples. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Night in the Woods, the swirling burgundy leaves in the wind around Ghosts of Tsushima, the Paris of Broken Sword … Video games are nostalgic artefacts anyway – we spend so much time in their worlds, wrapped in their stories and dramas, and I think autumnal video games hit us extra-hard, because this season tells us that the game, like all things, has a course to run, and the end hovers close. As Shakespeare wrote, “This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong, To love that well which thou must leave ere long.”

Time is fleeting – autumn tells us this much. And that is what gives games, and everything else we experience, such value.


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Don’t expect an ‘explosion of cases’ from China’s antitrust push: Professor

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Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group, attends opening ceremony of the 3rd All-China Young Entrepreneurs Summit on September 25, 2020 in Fuzhou, Fujian Province of China.

Lyu Ming | China News Service via Getty Images

SINGAPORE — China’s latest antitrust push will not likely lead to a “sudden explosion of cases” against online platforms, according to legal expert Angela Zhang.

Her comments came after shares of Chinese tech giants like Alibaba, Tencent and Meituan were rattled earlier in November following the release of draft rules by Beijing that defined for the first time what constitutes anti-competitive behavior.

“It’s a bit early to tell what is the next step the government is going to take but … at least this is kind of signaling a trend of stricter regulatory enforcement over these tech businesses,” said Zhang, who is associate professor of law and director of the Center for Chinese Law at The University of Hong Kong.

Commenting on the potential impact of the draft anti-monopoly rules, which are currently in a public consultation stage until Nov. 30, Zhang told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday that there are two factors to keep in mind.

We shouldn’t expect … a sudden explosion of cases against these online platforms.

Angela Zhang

associate professor of law, Center for Chinese Law at The University of Hong Kong

Firstly, such investigations typically involve a “lengthy process” and Chinese agencies could take a long time to complete an investigation, Zhang said.

“The last big case that they brought against Tetra Pak took almost five years to complete,” she said referring to the Swedish packaging firm that was slapped with a fine of about $97 million by Chinese regulators over anti-monopoly practices.

Secondly, Chinese agencies are “very thinly staffed,” she added.

“We shouldn’t expect … a sudden explosion of cases against these online platforms,” Zhang said, as it would “consume a lot of time” and human resources for government agencies to bring any big cases against the tech giants.

As for competitors, the professor said they may pursue their cases in court, though so far no plaintiff has successfully launched an antitrust case against the online platforms. It also “remains to be seen” how judges will interpret the issues.

Still, she admitted that many details “remain to be finalized” and it is still not known when the new rules will actually be announced. Even when the new rules are released, they will only be “guidelines” and won’t change existing regulatory frameworks.


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Restaurant tech start-up Toast worth $8 billion in employee share sale

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Restaurant tech start-up Toast worth $8 billion in employee share sale