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THEIRS: N.D. needs to stay smart about gambling | Editorial

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North Dakota’s introduction of electronic pull tabs has been a revenue success. Tax revenues from gambling for the 2017-19 budget cycle are ahead of projections, and electronic pull tabs are getting the credit.

It’s usually a reason to celebrate when revenue tops projections, but there’s a downside in this case.

State Gaming Director Deb McDaniel said when the Legislature approved the electronic pull tabs in 2017, it was expected the devices would draw money away from other forms of gambling. That hasn’t been the case, with only a little attrition being noticed.

Electronic pull tabs became available in August 2018. McDaniel told Forum News Service that there are 1,700 devices being used by 174 organizations at 470 sites in the state. Final figures for the budget cycle aren’t available yet, but the numbers were good for the first 23 months.

During that time, more than $8.9 million in gambling taxes went into the general fund. That’s 25% ahead of legislative forecasts and 35% more than at the same time during the previous biennium.

That’s good news for a state that just recently endured budget cuts and staff reductions. However, it raises the question of whether the state has found another way to entice people to spend money in the pursuit of making more money. There’s no skill in playing pull tabs — you buy them and open them to see if you won anything.

North Dakota had paper pull tabs before the introduction of the electronic devices, so the type of gambling isn’t new. The devices make it faster, easier and less messy to buy pull tabs. From a revenue standpoint that’s good — more money coming in. For those who can afford to spend only a certain amount, it makes it easier to exceed their limit. Someone addicted to gambling can get hooked on the devices.

The state needs to be careful when it comes to expanding gambling. While many North Dakotans enjoy gambling and do it responsibly, some limits are necessary. It’s likely there will be a renewed push for sports gambling during the 2021 legislative session. It’s an issue that merits a thorough discussion before the next session.

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Gaming News

No Female Character in CoD: Modern Warfare?

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The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Multiplayer Beta has been in full swing for a couple of days now. While the game has received slack because of some unconventional design choices, it still is a core Call of Duty experience which i think most people would enjoy. However, while playing the beta, i couldn’t help but notice the lack of female characters in the multiplayer game modes. This was rather strange since Infinity Ward had announced earlier that the game would have playable female characters. Usually, these characters are much more nimble and really help if you prefer a faster playing style.

So, i went on over to twitter to ask if these characters had been removed for some reason. However, what i got in response was a bunch of dismissive, sexist and misogynistic replies saying that the game is better without females anyway. This sad state of affairs snapped me back to the reality of how inclusivity is actually frowned upon in the core video game community.

Inclusivity in video games has always been a massive point of debate throughout the history of games. While most people would agree that all forms of art and media should be inclusive enough for everyone, things have not been so smooth for the video games industry to adopt this mindset. The ‘hardcore’ gaming community, sadly, just isn’t ready to accept any change that pushes us towards the greater good.

Modern Warfare Gameplay

Every time game developers try to include women and minorities in their games just to make them more relatable and inclusive for everyone, they are met with review bombs and other forms of unjustified criticism from the core ‘gamers’. It is actually pretty bonkers to see how far people are willing to go just to undermine something that does not affect them or their experience in any way.

Sadly, this bad behaviour isn’t just limited to the video game community. We’ve seen some really bad cases of sexism in the gaming industry during recent times as well. However, slowly but surely, things are moving in the right direction. For example, we’re seeing better working conditions for women in the industry thanks to a lot of hard work and bravery from these women.

Female Protagonists in Games are actually good

We’re also seeing video games being much more inclusive. From Cyberpunk 2077 not having a binary gender option for character creation to Gears 5 moving to a female protagonist for the first time in the series, things are moving in the right direction. However, if you think that these changes are hindering your experience in any way, you’re wrong. You can still choose to play as a white male in Cyberpunk 2077 and the majority of video games still have male protagonists in them.

Gears 5
Kait, The protagonist of Gears 5

However, some of the best video games of recent times like Horizon Zero Dawn, Tomb Raider, Gears 5 and the upcoming The Last of Us 2 all have female protagonists. So, saying that having a female lead in a game would somehow make it worse is just not true, whether you like it or not.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and why it is important for games to be more inclusive

Recently, when Infinity Ward announced that Call of Duty Modern Warfare will include playable female characters, it was met with the same unjustified criticism. This is not the first time we’ve seen this though and people are just used to it at this point. Back when Battlefield V was announced with Female characters, people had the same reaction. However, people need to realise that video games are a form of art and the right of expressing that art in any way or form is in the hands of the artist.

Call of duty

Video games have never been about being historically accurate. If you wanted that, you could watch a historical documentary instead. Video Games are meant to be fun and relatable. They’re played by millions of people around the entire world. If these people around the world don’t feel like they are a part of this magical universe that a developer has conjured up for them, then what is the point of art anymore? No other form of media can connect us with the characters it has like video games because for a brief moment in time, games make us feel like we are that character.

The ability to see yourself in the character you’re playing is probably what sets video games apart from everything else as an art form. This is especially true for multiplayer games, which brings us back to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Having a female character in multiplayer is only a good thing. This would mean that millions of female gamers would actually be able to feel like they’re a part of this universe that we’ve all come to enjoy and love. Furthermore, it doesn’t affect anyone else in any way. You can still pick your usual male characters so you’re not losing any part of the experience.

The addition of something doesn’t always have to come at a cost of something else. However, if, for some weird reason, even hearing a female character in a multiplayer match triggers you, then you have some serious issues and I hope you find the help you need.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Video games are arguably the most expansive and expressive form of art out there. Everyone deserves to experience this amazing art form in the most relatable and immersive way possible. We have made some really good strides during recent times to curb stomp the negativity that surrounds the whole industry. However, there is still a long way to go and I hope, with time, we can all feel happy just to be a part of this amazing community and experience these magical worlds together in complete harmony.

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