Welcome to another edition of the Game Ranter Banter. Five writers take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to give their opinions on some of the most compelling and controversial recent news stories of the game industry. This week, we discuss a gay robot sidekick, Activision’s massive leak and timely response, some interesting news from publishers Valve and THQ, as well as news from Notch about next week’s sky dimension.

Our readers are as knowledgeable and opinionated as our own writers, so here is the place for all of you to discuss these stories as well as any others that may have piqued your interest throughout the week.

CJ Smillie

No More Gay Robot For Duke Nukem Forever

So, for some reason, Duke’s gay robot sidekick got nixed from Duke Nukem Forever. I’m not much of a FPS guy. In fact, I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m flat out lousy at them, so this doesn’t really bother me from a gameplay point. However, what bugs me is that no one has been given a reason for why the robot got cut. I doubt it’s because of controversy or anything. I mean, this IS Duke Nukem – they practically thrive on controversy.

Still, it does raise a red flag or two. “Oh, you can have half-naked women, cursing left and right, blood and guts, but a gay character is no good? Homophobes!” That sort of thing. I’m not saying that’s why he got cut, but I just know SOMEONE is following that thought process – which, if enough people start doing the same, could wind up hurting a game that really can’t handle any more bad clout. Besides, you can’t deny the character would’ve been interesting. So Mr. Pitchford, would you mind telling us why we don’t have a gay robot anymore?

Andrew Dyce

The Leakier, The Better

Now that we’ve had some time to look back on the massive leak of Modern Warfare 3 details, and the subsequent Activision email detailing the company’s response also being leaked, I have to wonder about a few things. No, not imagining the Activision employee who shared extensive details on the game with the media (then responded to the company’s condemnation of the act by forwarding it too to the media). Although I would like to meet that guy or gal.

No, I’m starting to wonder why companies become so obsessed with keeping every little detail under wraps so that their fans are kept in the dark. Sure, the players are blown away when the announcement comes out of nowhere, but that accomplishment is completely artificial – created by the publishers themselves. Now, Activision is claiming that they managed to turn the publicity generated by the leak to their advantage as if there was any other outcome. Why can’t developers keep us updated along the way, like the film industry does through set visits and interviews?

It’s not like gamers will forget about Call of Duty without a massive reveal, and going this long without any word on projects like Half-Life 3 only breeds skepticism, not anticipation. Seriously publishers, how about letting us get an idea of what you’re up to, so we can get just as excited to play our favorite games as their makers are to bring them to us? I’ll expect a leaked response from you soon.

Sebastian Gaweda

THQ Fail

With Activision and EA constantly trying to outdo each other and downplay the other’s accomplishments, its sometimes easy to forget that there are others out there in the playing field. Of course, there are a number of publishers that constantly distribute quality content for us gamers to enjoy.

THQ this week announced that they consider themselves among the biggest in the industry, and while they certainly aren’t small time, they haven’t reached the level of success that Activision and EA have. THQ CEO Brian Farrell also claimed they have a pipeline that their competitors would be envious of – but I don’t buy it. While Homefront has been a financial success, it still isn’t on the level of Call of Duty or Battlefield. If they really want their competitors to be envious, they need to provide experiences that compete not just in gameplay, but also the content they provide. Step it up, THQ, before you group yourself with giants.

Anthony Taormina

Et Tu, Valve?

This past week, Valve revealed that they would not be taking appointments for this year’s E3 because they have no games to unveil at the event. It seems like ever since the team attained the status of “developer to watch,” the company has constantly been toying with their fans’ emotions.

Valve knows all too well how badly gamers want the next entry in the Half-Life series, yet they continue to shy away from the subject. Every now and again they do touch briefly on the epic adventures of Gordon Freeman, but never in the ways we want. And now, amidst hope being restored that Half-Life 3 was still in the cards, the company claims they have nothing planned to reveal for E3 2011.

So what gives Valve? Has the developer switched from focusing on the gamers’ needs and wants to toying with their emotions as much as they can? Just come out and say Half-Life 3 is in development – and then take as long as you want.

Jacob Siegal

Notch in the Sky with Diamonds

Several weeks ago I tried modding Minecraft for the first time. I’ve been playing since alpha, but I’ve never wanted to have to mess with all the zip files and potential corruption – just to change a virtually flawless experience. Turns out I was terribly mistaken. After hours of tinkering, I managed to fill my formerly empty Minecraft world with news creatures, cities, and blocks.

After scouring the forums to sate my new appetite for mods, I found one that looked particularly promising. A trio of (apparently) some of the best Minecraft modders on the ‘net had decided to team up to create a sky dimension called the Aether – that would not only rival the Nether, but surpass it in terms of creatures and content. The mod has been in production for months and the updates have been few and far between – so, recently, Minecraft modders have questioned whether or not the project had been abandoned.

Cue Notch. Just two days ago, Notch confirmed that his previously cryptic tweets about floating islands did in fact mean that he was working on creating a sky dimension. While the idea becomes blatantly obvious after creating an underground world, did Notch ever see the Aether mod, and if so (providing that project is kaput), will he take some of the fascinating ideas those modders had – and implement them into his own sky dimension? Take one look at the Aerwhales: I promise you’ll be begging Notch to make a deal with the modders.

What are your thoughts on the news this week? Share with us in the comments, on Twitter @GameRant and Facebook.com/GameRant.