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Sweeping report alleges inequity, sexual harassment at Nintendo’s American HQ

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Nintendo

Through the first half of 2022, Nintendo of America has been in the crosshairs of critics and the US National Labor Relations Board thanks to reports and formal complaints about working conditions for its contracted employees, all brought into the spotlight after a reported layoff allegedly involved pro-union sentiment. In the months since that story broke out publicly, Kotaku reporter Sisi Jiang has tracked down even more allegations about the famed game publisher’s American headquarters—and the allegations land squarely in the domain of sexual harassment and gender inequity.

A sweeping report published at Kotaku on Tuesday recounts roughly one decade of internal incidents among NoA’s pool of temporary employees, dating back to “the early Wii U era,” backed by a number of on-the-record allegations from former Nintendo staffers along with anonymous reports. The report includes attempts to reach out to Nintendo of America’s leadership, an associated temp agency, and individual staffers who were named as workplace sexual harassers, but Kotaku says it never received answers to its questions.

Many of the reported issues revolve around a divide between full-time employees, colloquially known as “red badges,” and the rest of the company’s American workforce, which was managed by temp hiring agency Aerotek before that company was absorbed into another company during a recent reorganization. The women who spoke to Kotaku both on and off the record collectively suggest that their hopes for turning part-time status into a full-time Nintendo career were strained by being women. One anonymous source said, “your chance was probably worse as a girl,” while another who spoke on the record suggested women weren’t given work-related goals or metrics to grow their careers, instead being told to essentially increase “face time” with male colleagues.

According to the sources, this unclear path to advancement led to issues where women faced workplace sexual harassment, then had to brush it off in order to not be perceived as “overly sensitive” and have a clearer path to becoming a red badge, complete with more stable pay and benefits.

She left the company after being “warned to be less outspoken.”

One former QA tester suggests she found this out the hard way after reporting a male translator’s uncouth behavior in a workplace Microsoft Teams chat room in 2020, which included comments about his favorite Pokemon character to have sex with and his attraction to a clearly underage female character in the free-to-play video game Genshin Impact. The staffer in question, who spoke anonymously, says she left the company after Aerotek not only failed to act on the report but also “warned her to be less outspoken,” all while colleagues figured out that she had filed the complaint and “blamed her” for doing so.

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New PS5 exploit unlocks root privileges, read/write memory access

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Enlarge / Hackers are getting closer to fully unlocking user control of the PS5 hardware.

Sony

Long-time console hacker and exploit developer SpecterDev has released a PS5 exploit that can give users root privileges and read/write access to large chunks of system memory. While this exploit can’t be used to actually execute arbitrary code just yet, it represents an important step toward getting homebrew code running on the console.

The exploit, released this weekend, makes use of a FreeBSD vulnerability in the system OS that was reported to PlayStation’s HackerOne bounty program in January (a very similar vulnerability on the PS4 was reported to PlayStation in 2020). Making use of the exploit relies on setting up a fake DNS server on your local network such that accessing the PS5’s on-screen manual (which is loaded via the system’s hidden web browser) points instead to a page on your local PC.

From there, the exploit uses an error in how the PS5’s browser implementation handles memory locking while setting IPv6 socket headers. While the details get pretty technical, the exploit essentially sets up a race condition to access that exposed socket header memory before it’s fully locked. That small bit of access is then used as a hook to start reading and writing arbitrary data into large areas of the PS5’s memory via an RPC server on the host machine.

Limitations

Because this exploit relies on a race condition, SpecterDev warns that it only works about 30 percent of the time and might lead to multiple kernel panics (and subsequent lengthy system restarts) before read/write access is successfully obtained. The exploit also can’t currently write to low-level “kernel space” (which is still protected by an intact hypervisor) or even execute any code that a user might write to user space (which relies on areas of “Execute Only Memory” that are still protected).

Still, the exploit provides access to the PS5’s debug menu, as hacker Lance McDonald demonstrated in a tweet last night. It also provides PS5 hackers with an entry point to learn more about the PS5’s memory and security systems and could serve as a potential beachhead for developing a fully homebrew-compatible hack for the console. That said, SpecterDev warns that “homebrew will take a lot of effort” because of the aforementioned security protections that are still intact.

While this exploit currently works on version 4.3 of the PS5 firmware (released last October), SpecterDev speculates that some slight changes could get a similar exploit to work on firmware version 4.5 (released last December). Sony marked the issue as “resolved” on HackerOne in April, though, suggesting that the same vulnerability probably won’t work in firmware versions released since then.

That makes SpecterDev’s entry point different from a distinct, “essentially unpatchable” PS5 exploit revealed by hacker CTurt earlier this month. That method made use of a separate issue with the PS5’s “just-in-time” compilation of emulated PS2-on-PS4 games to gain a hook into the console’s “user space” memory to write and run homebrew code.

While the days of regular PS5 owners being able to install their own homebrew apps on the PS5 may still be a ways off, the hacking community won’t rest until that time arrives.

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New trailer for Wakanda Forever gives us a peek at the new Black Panther

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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the final film in the MCU’s Phase Four.

Still reeling from the death of their king T’Challa, the people of Wakanda face a new threat from a feathered serpent god in the new trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. It’s the final film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four, although technically, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, slated for a December release on Disney+, will be the official conclusion.

As we’ve reported previously, Wakanda Forever was already in development when Chadwick Boseman—who played T’Challa in 2018’s Black Panther—died of colon cancer in August 2020. Director Ryan Coogler, Marvel’s Kevin Feige, and many others had been unaware that Boseman was ill. They decided not to recast T’Challa, nor would they try to insert the character using visual effects, although most of the other main cast members are returning. So the finished film is, in many ways, a tribute to Boseman.

There are plenty of familiar faces in Wakanda Forever. Per the official premise, “Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and the Dora Milaje (including Florence Kasumba) fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda.”

Enlarge / Who will be the new Black Panther?

Marvel Studios

Among the new faces is Namor (Tenoch Huerta), the king of a tribe that lives underwater in a world called Talokan (previously assumed by many to be Atlantis). The film will also introduce a new Black Panther—possibly Shuri, who takes up the mantle in the comics, although this has not been confirmed—as well as Riri Williams, aka Ironheart (Dominique Thorne), a teen tech genius who is a protegé of Tony Stark in the comics. (Thorne will also portray Riri in the forthcoming Ironheart series on Disney+.) Isaach de Bankolé, Dorothy Steel, and Danny Sapani reprise their roles as the Wakandan River Tribe, Merchant Tribe, and Border Tribe elders, respectively, while Mabel Cadena and Alex Livinalli will play Namor’s cousin Namora and the Talocan warrior Attuma, respectively.

The somber, elegiac first teaser for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever debuted at Comic-Con in July; we thought it really captured the grief and sense of loss regarding the death of T’Challa (and Chadwick Boseman). And just last month, D23 Expo attendees were treated to new footage showing the broader impact, especially the political ramifications.

At the end of Black Panther, T’Challa revealed the true nature of Wakanda and its vast vibranium resources to the assembled representatives at the United Nations. The footage opened with Queen Ramonda facing an angry UN to defend the hiding of Wakanda’s resources. This was intercut with scenes of soldiers invading a vibranium plant; they were foiled by Okoye and a host of Dora Milaje. The rest of the footage concerned Talokan and Namor, who feared that T’Challa’s big reveal had put his own land at risk.

The film will introduce Tenach Huerta as Namor, king of Talokan.
Enlarge / The film will introduce Tenach Huerta as Namor, king of Talokan.

Marvel Studios

The new trailer opens with T’Challa’s funeral, interspersed with scenes of Talokan and accompanied by a brief voiceover from Namor: “Only the most broken people can be great leaders.” And we learn from M’Baku—whose mountain tribe is no longer isolated from the rest of Wakanda—that Namor isn’t deemed a mere general or king by his people: “They call him K’uk’ulkan, the feather serpent god. Killing him will risk eternal war.” But believing that Wakanda has lost its protector with the death of T’Challa, it seems Namor is now gunning to take over the surface world.

That likely means war with Wakanda, and we will clearly be getting plenty of action on that score. There are several shots of Namor flying through the sky, courtesy of his winged ankles, and Wakanda amassing its considerable resources in response to the looming threat. We see Riri working on her Ironheart costume and taking to the skies (“Let’s go!”). The trailer ends with a tantalizing shot of the new Black Panther with a distinctly feminine silhouette.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on November 11, 2022.

Marvel Studios

Listing image by Marvel Studios

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Nintendoes what Valve don’t: Game barred from Steam will launch on Switch

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Enlarge / Nothing weird going on here. No siree.

Japanese publisher Spike Chunsoft announced that the first official English translation of visual novel Chaos;Head Noah won’t be coming to Steam as planned “due to Steam’s guideline-required changes to the game’s content.” But while the game is apparently too risqué for Steam, the family-friendly folks at Nintendo apparently have no problem with a Switch version that Spike Chunsoft says will still launch in the US on October 7 as scheduled.

“Spike Chunsoft, Inc. believes these [Steam guideline-required] changes would not allow the game to be released to its standards,” the publisher said in its announcement. “The company is looking into delivering the title through alternative storefronts, and when details are decided will make another formal announcement. Until then your patience and understanding is appreciated.”

Nintendo says this scene is appropriate for its store page, so we figure you readers can handle it.
Enlarge / Nintendo says this scene is appropriate for its store page, so we figure you readers can handle it.

Chaos;Head Noah was initially listed for Steam pre-sale in April, but that page was taken down in August, according to tracking site SteamDB. At the time, that led to some concerns about the eventual fate of the Steam version, which Spike Chunsoft finally confirmed today.

Valve’s apparent push for content restrictions comes even though the extremely similar thematic sequel Chaos;Child has been available in English on Steam since 2019 (following its initial 2014 release in Japan on the Xbox One). The English PS4 version of Chaos;Child received an M for Mature rating from the ESRB, which described game scenes of strangling, torture, and “exposed brains” alongside sexual content like “two female characters moaning off screen while discussing each other’s breasts.”

How bad is it?

Chaos;Head Noah is an enhanced port of Chaos;Head, the game that launched the cult-classic Science Adventure series of visual novels (which also includes Steins;Gate and its sequels). The game follows a series of murders and suicides in Tokyo’s Shibuya neighborhood and allows players to change the story progression by indulging in various positive or negative “delusions.” Some of those delusions can reportedly get extremely gory and/or suggest (but not directly show) imminent sexual violence.

“I don’t think it gets much worse than anything already in Steam’s library,” PQube Games Head of Localization Andrew Hodgson (who worked on the English translation of Steins;Gate) told Ars Technica of the “titillating and violent content” in the game. “It’s far from adult, even if it can be quite gruesome in certain scenes.”

Just your average, everyday game on a Nintendo console.
Enlarge / Just your average, everyday game on a Nintendo console.

The original Chaos;Head was originally released for Japanese PCs in 2008 before the enhanced Noah hit the Xbox 360 in 2009. That console port (and a later Vita re-release) received CERO Z content ratings in Japan, which “assumes that the game should not be sold or distributed to those younger than 18 years old” and is roughly equivalent to an ESRB “AO for Adults Only” rating in the US. CERO’s “content icon” system for that game only included a warning about “crime,” however, and not violence or sexual content.

Subsequent Japanese ports of Chaos;Head Noah for the PS3, PSP, Android, and iOS were heavily edited to remove some of the more extreme images and descriptions of violence. In turn, those ports received a lower CERO D rating (roughly equivalent to the ESRB’s “M for Mature” rating) in Japan. A source in the visual novel translation community (who asked to remain anonymous) confirmed that both the Switch and proposed Steam English-language versions of the game were based on this edited-down script.

A Japanese Chaos;Head port for the Nintendo Switch, released earlier this year, received the higher CERO Z rating (and “crime” content icon) despite using the edited version of the game that previously received a CERO D rating. The English translation will launch on Switch in the US next month, with an “M for Mature” rating and content descriptors that warn of “Blood and Gore, Sexual Themes, Language, [and] Intense Violence.”

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