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Xbox One Kinect is always on and listening

Wednesday, 22 May 2013 06:49 GMT By Naren Hooson

As more and more details are released and clarified by Microsoft regarding the specification of the Xbox One features and functionality, it has been revealed that the microphone for Xbox One’s Kinect will always be on.

It was revealed that Kinect for Xbox One will support voice commands for powering the console on as well as off. Talking to Polygon, John Link, Microsoft’s hardware program manager, touches on the Kinect settings on the upcoming console. “The Kinect has a variety of settings, you know, it’s always available to the system, so … you can count, as an application developer or a game developer, [that] everyone’s going to have a Kinect. You always have that stream available. And then, you know, there are settings, obviously, in the console to be able to change the settings of how your Kinect is used, if you’re interested.”

The Xbox One will have “multiple power states,” he said. At the lowest setting the peripheral listening will be tuned to activate specific commands. This setting is referred to as “wake on voice.” Therefor it will “be just listening enough to know that, ‘Hey, I heard something interesting. Somebody’s probably trying to wake me up.’ It sends it to the console for confirmation, and then it can really power up to that high-power state.”

When the issue of privacy was raised, a spokesperson for Microsoft outlined that privacy is a “top priority” for the company. “The new Kinect is listening for a specific cue, like ‘Xbox on,’” the spokesperson said. “We know our customers want and expect strong privacy protections to be built into our products, devices and services, and for companies to be responsible stewards of their data. Microsoft has more than 10 years of experience making privacy a top priority. Kinect for Xbox 360 was designed and built with strong privacy protections in place and the new Kinect will continue this commitment.”

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28 Comments

  1. G1GAHURTZ

    Uh oh!

    The illuminati is watching YOU!

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Bomba Luigi

    Yeah, I’m out. I don’t want a Machine that is watching/listening me all the Time in my Livingroom. Really hope PS4 works without EyeToy, or next Gen is PC-only for me.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Holesome

    Nice feature. My only concern is how much electricity it uses in this “waiting for on command” state. Now if my TV and surround sound could also be turned on when the x1 turns on the solution will be complete.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Cobra951

    Really simple solution for that: Plug the thing into a switched powerstrip. When you want it truly off, turn it off at the strip.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. FeaturePreacher

    One obvious feature that should get more discussion is the range of kinect. If gestures can’t be used at a short range while sitting, then this thing is completely useless to me. I think that will eventually make this completely useless for 3rd parties making hardcore titles.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. salarta

    I thought this was a given. Microsoft was pretty much saying you had to yell FUS-RO-DAH to get the thing to turn on, and for that to work, you need the Kinect to be on at all times.

    It’s still a privacy concern, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was discovered somewhere down the line that it will be used for law enforcement to some degree. It’s just one you have to expect for the features they suggested.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Gheritt White

    There’s no flipping way I’m having an always-on camera in my living room. I’m not paranoid, but all this sounds to me like some kind of Orwellian nightmare.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. CyberMarco

    So it begins, John Connor we need you.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Vapsyvox

    @7 It functions as a directional microphone during its “off”-state, not an always-on camera. Also, if you’re afraid of it watching, turn it around or block the camera.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. karma

    No way in hell is that coming in my living room.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. mtnman3888

    @4 I believe I read somewhere that Kinect had to be connected and plugged in for the console to even function, so turning it off via a different power source wouldn’t work as the console wouldn’t work either.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. stevo5800

    After reading these comments and many more I’m starting to think people don’t understand what they are reading. Most modern Laptops/PC’s come with a camera/mic either build in or some buy them separately. For example my iMac comes with a built in mic and camera same with my laptop. What I’m trying to prove here is that it’s easier to hack a PC then a console. PC would obviously store more personal information then the game console as well. And having a mic/camera hooked up to it is completely safe. People who think they are being watched on camera are uneducated people who are paranoid. For one thing there are Millions of console users, so you would need millions of people to even watch these videos witch would make of an absolute waste of time for everyone. And if you understood how Kinects works then you will understand why it needs to be on. Plus there’s nothing saying the camera is actually doing anything thing. They just state that the mic is on for listening(They are adding new features) so users can turn their xbox on. Another thing they added was that it uses power states. Meaning it’s in minimal power usage when off. I’d be surprised if it even had enough power to supply the camera, and if it ever did well guess what it needs even more power for computing power and sending data over the net making it in an almost powered on state witch it does not do while it’s off. See the more I think about it the more impossible or unlikely would this thing ever invade any privacy. On top of all that they tell you there will be settings for this thing so that should tell you possible shut off option?

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Beta

    Yeah I’m not a privacy freak. But if I ever buy one, I may just tape over the lens, as I never use motion control so there’s no need to be staring at me the whole time. ;p

    #13 2 years ago
  14. JGMR

    @12 Go ahead, keep on building your invisible prison. You do not even know what the word paranoid actually refers to – fool.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. deathm00n

    @12 You do know that there’s no need to send it over the net at the moment it’s recording right? It could record a video then when the console is online it would send it and delete it from you console. And there’s to need to keep people watching it, they could just store it under each one profile. It is a valid concern. The difference between this and laptop cameras is that a laptop camera NEED to show when it’s on, there a indicator light on almost everyone of it, it follows this pattern, I can turn it on and off anytime, even unninstall the firmware of it so it can shutdown for good. You have no way to tell if the camera is turned on or not on the Xbox. It probably have an led indicator, but it could be easily forged.

    Crazy conspiracy theory, I know, but it has all the right setup to happen. Police could very well ask for videos stored.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. JGMR

    @15 It’s not theoretical. It’s blatantly in yer face. With their “IllumiRooms” and always online regime. The willing slave does not want to see it, it’s a conscious decision, and they’re absolutely free to make it…

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Samoan Spider

    @12 Yeah, I’ve seen numerous articles regarding law enforcement actually remotely using peoples laptop cameras to obtain evidence. There’s even an app for when your Macbook get’s nicked to use the camera and geolocation to nab the suspect and find it.
    But on topic, I don’t care about this. It’s the same view as someone walking by my front window. If they want to take a peek at me sat on my sofa in shorts watching a movie with a glass of whisky then that’s ok by me.
    I just hope it is functionally better than the original Kinect which I saw as an interesting proof of concept but a shit consumer product. Although my nieces’ enjoyed it.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. OlderGamer

    I was reading that if the Kinect doesn’t work properly, the system won’t be usable either. So no towels or tape over the lens, no pointing it at the wall either. But I think ALOT of info and misinfo is floating around at this point. Hard to know what to trust.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Tavarish

    @12 and Rest of You :b,

    Following links are all about same, rather a lot visibility gained, case where school used borrowed laptops, borrowed by school, to spy on students via cameras in said laptops. I want see doubters spinning that shit…

    http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2010/04/19/school-laptop-spying-case-just-keeps-getting-creepier/
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/20/us-school-accused-laptops-spying
    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Parenting/pennsylvania-school-fbi-probe-webcam-students-spying/story?id=9905488
    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/04/webcamscanda/

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Ireland Michael

    ITT: paranoid people.

    There are plenty of reasons to be pissed off at the X1. This is not one of them.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Cort

    As someone said earlier, this is a reveal that just keeps on giving.

    Go fuck yourself MS. And here, take my 360 as well. And well done Nintendo too. You’ve both turned me from a multi-console gamer (for nearly 20 years) to a single console gamer.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Cort

    @12 Yes. But my PC works when I disable all those things and tape them up as well. XBox -359 won’t work if Kinect isn’t connected and functioning.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. The_Red

    @20
    I think it is but not due to conspiracies. It’s simply a matter of random human errors. There are already people that have private conversations in the living room while another player who is engaged in MP match / game (Like Uno) can hear.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. Cobra951

    @11: I assume the kinect will be powered through the XBO. I meant plug the whole thing into a switched outlet, if the concern is spying even while you think the unit is off. Clearly, it needs to be on for the system to function. If you don’t like that, then the solution is just as simple: Don’t buy the XBO. That’s my solution, and not just because of the forced kinect.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Bomba Luigi

    If Kinect would just be there not working, that would be Fine for me. Look on my Laptop Camera, it has Physical Shutter and it has that in case it god hacked. I don’t made that Shutter by myself out of Paranoia, its standard.

    The Problem is Kinect is always listening, its always working and that is my Problem. A Camera that is there but dosn’t worke and don’t have to in order to keep the Console function would be ok.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. salarta

    @12: “Most modern Laptops/PC’s come with a camera/mic either build in or some buy them separately.”

    Meanwhile, most PEOPLE I know either go out of their way to get laptops/PCs that don’t have those functions, or actively cover up the camera. It’s not paranoid when we have actual cases of perverts hacking into the cameras of women, taking compromising pictures and videos of them (typically naked, but there are all sorts of other possible problems), and in some cases blackmailing the women to give them more of such things.

    The risk isn’t necessarily in Microsoft. The risk is in other people hacking XBox One for their own nefarious purposes.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. monkeygourmet

    @25

    You left out:

    It also see’s in the dark :)

    #27 2 years ago
  28. monkeygourmet

    Harvesting information to sell to advertisers! Yay!

    How much you fidget when watching TV? do you snack when watching certain shows? do you talk through adverts? Do you watch shows with more than one person? Do you browse products on Bing after seeing an advert?

    Etc… Etc…

    MS should pay people for this because we are all participating in free market research. Can’t wait to see the fine print!

    #28 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries, the successful Kickstarter from GRIN Studios, has launched on Steam Early Access. The PC title is described as a “cinematic fable featuring a vengeful Red Riding Hood,” who armed with an axe sets out on a quest to avenge the murder of her parents. Gameplay features action-platforming, combo-based hack ‘n […]

  • Dead or Alive 5: Last Round delayed to late March on Steam

    Koei Tecmo has announced it is delaying the PC release of Dead or Alive 5: Last Round to March. According to an updated listing on Steam (thanks, AGB), the fighter was delayed “in order to provide you with the best experience possible.” To apologize for the delay, Team Ninja will offer the Halloween 2013 Set, […]

  • Dragon’s Dogma Online will be F2P “no plans” for western release

    Dragon’s Dogma Online will be a free-to-play title for PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. Set for release this year, Dragon’s Dogma Online has a lobby which will support up to 100 players, is open-world, and the executive producer is Hiroyuki Kobayashi. Players can form groups with up to four players or pawns while raids […]

  • Watch this release video for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel DLC Lady Hammerlock

    The Lady Hammerlock DLC for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel releases today on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and coinciding with the release is the launch trailer. In the Lady Hammerlock DLC, players are introduced and will be able to step into the shoes of Sir Hammerlock’s sister, Lady Aurelia the Baroness. The DLC will run […]

  • Free DLC for Tales of Zestiria takes place after main storyline

    Free DLC will be released in Japan for Tales of Zestiria, and while Bandai Namco has yet to state whether it will be released westward with the core game this summer, it’s an interesting slice of content. According to information from Jump posted by Siliconera, the DLC Alisha After Episode: What Is Reflected In The […]

  • This video of a Paris flat looks the real deal, but it’s all Unreal Engine 4

    I’m not entirely sure when, or how, this fella managed to sneak into my secret flat in Paris and film it, but since it’s out there I may as well share it with you. All joking aside, this video is rather amazing. It provides a virtual tour of a flat located in Paris; however, it’s […]

  • The Witness passes key development milestone, still no release date

    The Witness has seemingly come back from the dead. Creator Jonathan Blow has posted an update on the game’s development. Surely you still remember The Witness? Jonathan Blow’s follow-up to Braid, which was shown during the PlayStation 4 reveal event all the way back in February 2013? Well, today we got our first development update […]

  • You can now take selfies in World of Warcraft

    The latest patch to World of Warcraft has added a S.E.L.F.I.E. Camera to the game. And it does exactly what it sounds like it does. Patch 6.1 is currently being deployed to World of Warcraft’s Public Test Realms (PTR). There’s a massive list of patch notes, but the most pressing one, other than Twitter integration, […]

  • Hellblade: early gameplay and prototype footage revealed

    The latest developer diary for Hellblade is here with a look at some early gameplay prototypes and a peek at some polished areas. Hellblade developer Ninja Theory has revealed even more details of how game development works behind the scenes. The eighth part of this ongoing diary shows early gameplay footage along with some intriguing […]

  • Resident Evil Revelations 2: Raid mode offline-only on launch, more details

    Capcom has revealed a tonne of new details about Raid mode in Resident Evil: Revelations 2. Capcom has confirmed that Raid mode will launch with the first episode of Revelations 2 in February. You will be playing it offline only though, either solo or in split-screen co-op. As for the online portion, Capcom promised it […]

  • Watch the first 20 minutes of Life is Strange

    The first 20 minutes of Life is Strange have been posted online for anyone to watch. The opening 20 minutes of Life is Strange set the stage for what kind of game it is. The kind that you’ll probably like if you’re a fan of Telltale games. The video is courtesy of consolewarsofficial and you […]

  • Don’t blame Ubisoft for cancelling keys – blame the culture of overpriced games

    Publishers need to drop PC games prices in order to stem the flourishing grey market, says Matt Martin. “How are you going to sell me Far Cry 4 for £45 when I can pick up Far Cry, Far Cry 2, Far Cry 3, Far Cry: Blood Dragon and extra DLC for just £30?” Some players […]

  • Dragon’s Dogma Online is real, full reveal in this week’s Famitsu

    What’s been heavily-rumoured to be the next instalment in the Dragon’s Dogma franchise, Dragon’s Dogma Online, will be fully revealed this week. According to a recent post by Famitsu, the magazine’s upcoming weekly issue, which releases January 29, will contain a massive feature on Dragon’s Dogma Online. The magazine will dedicate 18 pages to all […]

  • Valve responds to recent Counter-Strike match-fixing scandal, bans offenders

    Valve has investigated the recent case of match-fixing involving two teams in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive professional scene and decided to ban those involved from future tournaments. Recent allegations involving match-fixing between iBUYPOWER and NetcodeGuides.com – two of the professional teams that played in Cevo Season 5 – came to light. Valve has took notice […]

  • Having issues playing Grim Fandango Remastered on PS4? Sony is offering help

    Sony has offered a few steps to help those who are having issues with their pre-loaded PS4 installs of Grim Fandango Remastered. A few reports have started to appear online from users who’ve pre-ordered and pre-loaded Grim Fandango Remastered on their PS4 consoles. Sony has since posted a support thread on the official forums, to […]

  • Get Dragon Age: Inquisition for $36 and more in EA’s Xbox One sale

    Many EA digital games are being offered at considerable discounts on Xbox One right now. The latest EA sale is pretty good, offering sales on many AAA titles. It’s only available on Xbox One, with extra savings for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. The list below covers prices for Gold Subscribers. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare […]

  • Grim Fandango Remastered reviews round-up, all the scores

    Grim Fandango Remastered is a classic game brought into the new generation, so it’s time for everyone to know how great it is. The reviews for Grim Fandango Remastered have started popping up and as per usual, we’ve collected a few of them below. Grim Fandango Remastered is, as the name suggests, a remastered version […]

  • The Witcher 3: latest build is 1080p on PS4, 900p on Xbox One

    The recent preview build of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was running at full-HD resolution on PlayStation 4 and 900p on Xbox One. German website Gamestar attended the recent preview event for The Witcher 3 and examined the three versions that were on offer, PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Here’s the quote, courtesy of Google […]

  • Joystiq is likely to close – rumour

    AOL is rumoured to be closing its video game site, Joystiq. Re/code is reporting that AOL is likely to close its video game site Joystiq soon, according to “various sources.” The move is part of a company-wide restructuring that will affect Joystiq and other “under-performing content properties.” Joystiq is one of the most renowned sites […]

  • The Last of Us movie will be “pretty faithful” to the game

    The Last of Us will bring many of the same elements to the big screen as the small one, according to writer Neil Druckmann. Although The Last of Us will have to be adapted in various ways to make the transition from lengthy interactive adventure to cinema-friendly story arc, Druckmann is hoping to keep the […]

  • Microsoft is fixing Xbox One’s slow controllers

    Xbox One control pads have many charms, but quick start up is not one of them. The Xbox One controller currently takes up to five seconds to connect to your console after switching on, which is an eternity for someone with an attention span as short as mine. Luckily, Microsoft is working to fix this […]

  • Lucius 2 releases on Friday the 13th (of course)

    Lucius 2 has a really fitting release date. Lucius developer Shiver Games has produced a follow-up to the dark tale of an evil child, and it’s coming your way on February 13 – which just so happens to be a Friday. Lucius 2: The Prophecy will set you back $20, and release through Steam. As […]

  • Saints Row 4: Re-Elected PS4 recalled in Australia, incorrect content to blame

    Saints Row 4: Re-Elected has been recalled in Australia due to a mysterious manufacturing issue. An Australian PR representative said that the retail PS4 version of Saints Row 4: Re-Elected has “a serious manufacturing issue” and has been recalled nation-wide. Here’s what we were told (emphasis mine): “A manufacturing issue has caused an incorrectly classified […]

  • The Whispered World follow up now coming to PS4, too

    Deadalic’s gorgeous-looking adventure Silence has been confirmed for a fourth platform. Originally announced for Mac and PC with an Xbox One port one revealed at a later date, Silence is now on its way to PS4 as well. All versions are due later this year. Silence is Deadalic’s first multi-platform release and in my mind […]

  • Mythbusters to tackle DOOM this weekend

    DOOM is the subject of the next episode of Mythbusters. Having been airing for over ten years now, Mythbusters has pretty much run out of myths to bust, which is why we find ourselves in 2015 with an episode dedicating to answering the question “could DOOM be real?” Bethesda has rveealed that the January 31 […]

  • Destiny hosting a Bungie Bounty – go go go

    Destiny players have a chance to take down Bungie employees in return for one of the most exclusive vanity items in the game. Destiny’s Bungie Bounties usually feature guests from the community, and today’s event is no exception. Joining Bungie community manager David “Deej” Dague are several members of Bungie.org, the developer’s most staunch fan […]

  • Elite: Dangerous developer issues lay-offs

    Elite: Dangerous team Frontier Developments has had to let staff go. At least 15 staff have been laid off from the developer’s Halifax studio. According to an investor update, this decision will allow Frontier to focus its efforts at its primary studio in Cambridge, England. “With its business emphasis now on two major self-published franchises, […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition tavern songs free for a limited time

    Dragon Age: Inquisition tunes can be yours for the bargain price of zero cashmoney. The tavern songs from Dragon Age: Inquisition will be made available for purchase from various digital distributors sometime after February 9. Until then, though, you can have them for free – including their sheet music. To take advantage of this generous […]

  • Even the Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 teaser is frightening

    Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 is probably going to be just as tense and uncomfortable as its two prequels. This teaser for Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 is the first we’ve heard of the project since creator Scott Cawthon confirmed it is in the works. The third entry in the series is now up on […]

  • 6.6 million Xbox consoles shipped last quarter

    Xbox One and Xbox 360 console sales were strong last quarter, although Microsoft isn’t talking hard numbers yet. Microsoft shipped 6.6 million Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles to retailers in the quarter ending December 31, the company revealed in its latest financial briefing. This figure wasn’t broken down by platform, and Microsoft didn’t supply […]

  • Homeworld Remastered Collection: five minutes of b-roll footage

    We may not have proper, uncut gameplay footage of the Homeworld Remastered Collection, but we have the next best thing. Homeworld Remastered Collection was confirmed to release on February 25. Gearbox has only showed a trailer, but no extended gameplay demos. There was however a b-roll video showing at PAX South, and we’ve embedded it […]

  • Grim Fandango Remastered looks sharp in these new screens

    Grim Fandango will come back from the dead with the Remastered edition, and it’s looking great. Grim Fandango Remastered has a few new screens available to prove that even old games can look stunning with the right remaster, especially ones with an already well-defined art style. Have a look at them below and get excited. […]

  • Battlefield Hardline: beta weapons, maps, modes, progression system and more

    The Battlefield Hardline beta will include a third new map and a new game mode, on top of what’s already announced. You may remember last week DICE started a community mission for all Battlefield 4 players. The goal was to reach 2 billion points playing Rush mode. That goal has been achieved and as a […]

  • Dying Light launch trailer is one last display of its forte

    The launch trailer for Dying Light is here one day ahead of the game’s release. Techland and Warner Bros. have put out the launch trailer for Dying Light. The trailer is a short reminder of the game’s main selling points: free-running, weapon crafting, drop-kicking zombies. Reviews should start to come out tomorrow for the game […]

  • Watch The Witcher 3 developers stream new gameplay on Twitch

    The Witcher 3 developer CD Projekt RED is hosting a Twitch live-stream to show off brand new gameplay footage and answer some fan questions. The live-stream will start at 7:00pm GMT, 2:00pm EST, 11:00am PST. It will show off plenty of new footage, some of which was shown only to the press so far. The […]

  • Finally, some screens for Final Fantasy 15

    Patience is a virtue and we finally have our hands on a few gameplay screens from Final Fantasy 15. There’s not a lot of them, but they show the impressive lighting and they’re all gameplay as far as I can tell, so take a look. There is no release date for Final Fantasy 15 as […]

  • Here’s 15 minutes of gameplay from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in 1080p

    The Witcher 3 has a new direct-feed, 1080p video available that’s 100% gameplay. Would you like some gameplay of The Witcher 3 in beautiful 1080p? Why, of course you would! The gameplay below shows combat, conversations, travelling. In short, it’s a small sample of everything the game will offer. If you’re looking to learn much […]

  • Two Mortal Kombat X characters to be revealed this week

    Mortal Kombat X will get not one, but two character reveals this week. Mortal Kombat creator Ed Boon has been at again on Twitter, teasing all kinds of reveals over the past few days. Firstly, Boon tweeted this image, which at first glance appears to show a character holding a bow. However, further examination by […]

  • Planetside 2 successfully claims the Guinness World Record for biggest FPS battle

    The Planetside 2 community has successfully organised an online battle involving over 1000 players, breaking the previous Guinness World Record. The event, which was organised by Planetside Battles was pitched to the community last week. 1,158 players have answered the call, smashing the record for “Most Players Online in an FPS Battle.” The previous 999 […]

  • Microsoft aiming for Xbox One-to-PC streaming to function while you watch TV

    Streaming Xbox One games to PC while you watch TV on the console through the HDMI pass-through is something Microsoft is hoping to achieve when the service launches with Windows 10. Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has been on Twitter answering fan questions following last week’s Windows 10 event. One interesting bit that came out of those […]

  • Everything we know about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is sure to be one of the biggest RPGs of the year, due for release in May on PC, Xbox One and PS4. Delayed since its target release of 2015, CD Projekt Red’s latest game takes the series to a true open world environment, and charges the player with tracking […]

  • Battlefield Hardline beta date leaked – rumour

    According to an email sent to some YouTubers, the upcoming beta for Battlefield Hardline is scheduled for February 3. The date for the Battlefield Hardline beta is believed to be February 3. It comes from an email that’s been sent by Ronku to various YouTubers reminding them of the starting date, February 3. Ronku is […]

  • The history of The Witcher: beyond the Road With No Return

    We take a look at The Witcher franchise, from the original short stories to its blockbuster video games. The world was first introduced to Geralt through a set of short stories called The Witcher (English translation) written by author Andrzej Sapkowski. The first short story was published in the Polish fantasy and science fiction magazine […]