Tag Archives | Gaming

Gaming Society

Games For ChangeJane McGonigal, in a recent article on Alternet, posits that gaming, and the camaraderie created by co-operative gaming has the potential to transform society:

Tech futurist and game designer Jane [McGonigal] on how computer games can help the fight against AIDS, heal disabilities, increase optimism, and make us better people.

There are 183 million active computer game players in the United States. The average young person will spend 10,000 hours gaming by the age of 21. More than 5 million “extreme” gamers in the U.S. play an average of 45 hours a week. Videogames took in about $15.5 billion last year.

Most of what you hear about this phenomenon is doom and gloom — people becoming addicted, isolated and socially inept. Some worry that gaming is pulling people away from productive work, fulfilling relationships and real life. But game designer Jane McGonigal says the reason for the mass exodus to virtual worlds is that videogames are increasingly fulfilling genuine human needs.

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Electronic Tattoo Has Medical, Gaming And Spy Uses

Photo: J. Rogers

Photo: J. Rogers

BBC News reports:

An “electronic tattoo” could herald a revolution in the way patients are monitored and provide a breakthrough in computer gaming, say US scientists.

They used the device, which is thinner than a human hair, to monitor the heart and brain, according to a study in the journal Science.

The sensor attaches to human skin just like a temporary tattoo and can move, wrinkle and stretch without breaking.

Researchers hope it could replace bulky equipment currently used in hospitals.

A mass of cables, wires, gel-coated sticky pads and monitors are currently needed to keep track of a patient’s vital signs.

[Continues at BBC News]

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Make Video Games Cool Again: The Blue Skies Campaign

wrongright2We want to COLLECT BANANAS FROM MAGIC CASTLES not shoot enemies in unrealistic and shoddy drive-bys! We want to fight WEIRD MONSTERS not drug-dealing criminals!

Sure, video games are art nowadays, but do they have to be depressing art? In light of the preponderance of dark, dull, grey-and-brown-hued titles such as the Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto series, the Blue Skies in Games Campaign is a call for a return to the days when the ascendant video games were happily surreal and bursting with technicolor. In addition to more detailed discussion, a quick-fix series of suggestions is offered:

DEVELOPERS: HOW YOU CAN HELP TODAY!

- Change everything that’s grey into blue.
- From now on, everyone wears red shoes.
- Make everything happen at midday or sunset.
- Replace gun textures with banana textures.
- Turn all cars into pink convertibles that wobble and only do 15mph.
- If you get 100 of anything, a little tune plays.

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Blackwater Video Game Now Available For Xbox

500x_highres_screenshot_00012The game designers have opted to have your gun fire automatically when it hovers long enough over an enemy target. Kotaku Australia reviews the first-person-shooter Blackwater video game, out soon for Xbox Kinect and endorsed by founder Erik Prince:

This week was the first time we heard of publisher 505 Games’ Blackwater, an FPS that would cast you in the role of Blackwater Worldwide mercenaries.

The topic seemed thorny – the mercenary company, now renamed Xe Services, has been at the center of a multiple of controversies and the subject of highly critical Congressional hearings. Blackwater has been linked to the deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians, and the alcohol-fueled fatal shooting of a security guard in the employ of the country’s vice president. According to 505, the game was designed in consultation with former mercenary agents, and with Erik Prince, the founder and former head of the hot-button security contractor.

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Chinese Prisoners Forced To Play World Of Warcraft

china-prisonIronic — when I was a kid, being locked up in a Chinese prison and “forced” to stay up playing video games all night would have been my dream. The Telegraph reports:

A 54-year-old prisoner at the Jixi labor camp in the northern province of Heilongjiang said he was forced to play games on the internet in order to build up credit that was traded by his guards for real money, a practice known as “gold-farming”.

In an interview with the Guardian, the prisoner said online gaming was a far more lucrative activity for the managers of the labor camp than the physical labor the inmates were forced to do.  “Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labor,” he said. “There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb a day.

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Video Games Now Legally Considered An Art Form In The U.S.

Pac ManPaul Tassi writes in Forbes:
Roger Ebert’s Twitter has informed me this morning that the government has attempted to prove him wrong in the seemingly endless “games as art” debate.The famed critic got many riled up when he said that no, games were not art, and in fact, they never possibly could be. He was hailed by some as an old man out of touch, but more pressingly, one who didn’t PLAY the games he was critiquing, which is rather essential to the experience. But gamers have now found themselves an unlikely ally in the debate, the National Endowment for the Arts, which for 2012 has reclassified their definition of “art” to the following:
Projects may include high profile multi-part or single television and radio programs (documentaries and dramatic narratives); media created for theatrical release; performance programs; artistic segments for use within an existing series; multi-part webisodes; installations; and interactive games. Short films, five minutes and under, will be considered in packages of three or more.
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World Bank: MMORPG Gold Farming Is A 3 Billion-Dollar Industry

Via BoingBoing:
A research arm of the World Bank has produced a comprehensive report on the size of the grey-market virtual world economy in developing countries -- gold farming, power-levelling, object making and so on -- and arrived at a staggering $3 billion turnover in 2009. They go on to recommend that poor countries be provided with network access and computers so this economy can be built up -- a slightly weird idea, given how hostile most game companies are to this sort of thing...
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Technology Addiction Taking Its Toll

Windows Phone 7 mockupAfter getting a smart phone last year, I too feel the effects of technology addiction. It snuck up on me. I now feel like I spend a large portion of my day moving from one of three screens: my television, laptop, and cellphone. I find myself checking my collection of news sites and blogs, as well as my social networks quite often throughout the day. I’d say at least once an hour, if not more. While it has opened up many doors to knowledge and communication it also makes me wonder what exactly the implications of such a lifestyle change will have on my generation’s future mentality and health. Keeping a phone in my pocket right next to my…sensitive areas? We’re the guinea pigs to the virtual future.

Anybody else a little cautious about the 21st Century level of connectedness? Share your views down in the comments. Discovery News reports:

Many young Asians are finding it tough to cope without a gadget in hand.

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The Video Game Preservation Crisis

studio_II_layoutPerhaps they were conceived as toys for children, but video games of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s are significant artifacts of 20th-century technological, cultural, and design history. Much of that history is being lost or thrown away. Gamasutra discusses the Game Preservation Crisis:

Trash cans, landfills, and incinerators. Erasure, deletion, and obsolescence. These words could describe what has happened to the various building blocks of the video game industry in countries around the world. These building blocks consist of video game source code, the actual computer hardware used to create a particular video game, level layout diagrams, character designs, production documents, marketing material, and more.

These are just some elements of game creation that are gone — never to be seen again. These elements make up the home console, handheld, PC and arcade games we’ve played. The only remnant of a particular game may be its name, or its final published version, since the possibility exists that no other physical copy of its creation remains.

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Socialbots To The Rescue

Many of us have encountered various “bots” in chat and other environments online for years. However, their behavior is apparently improving to the point where we are able to be more easily gamed by them. New Scientist reports on Socialbot use on Twitter (via SBS World News Australia):

socialbotOver a two-week period, the three “socialbots” were able to integrate themselves into the group, and gained close to 250 followers between them. They received more than 240 responses to the tweets they sent.

This effort was in fact part of Socialbots 2011, a competition designed to test whether bots can be used to alter the structure of a social network.

Each team had a Twitter account controlled by a socialbot. Like regular human users, the bot could follow other Twitter users and send messages. Bots were rewarded for the number of followers they amassed and the number of responses their tweets generated.

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