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  Climate Change Roundup  
 
 
Posted 2006-03-17 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Sometimes I wonder how much our technology will really do for us in the face of potentially-dramatic climate change. Something tells me we're going to be making a lot fewer mobile phones and video game consoles in the next few decades and a lot more on things like low-cost methods of water extraction and purification.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Organic Backup System  
 
 
Posted 2006-01-12 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The BBC reports that the Norwegians plan to create a sealed Arctic repository containing seeds for all known crops on Earth. The vault will reportedly be dug out of a sandstone mountain about 600 miles from the North Pole, and is designed to "withstand global catastrophes like nuclear war or natural disasters that would destroy the planet's sources of food." Apparently there are around 1,400 such seed banks worldwide. This way, when man genetically-modifies its food-supply into an unrecognizable mess, we can just burn everything to the groud and dip into the bank for backup.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Microsoft Packaging Going Less Toxic  
 
 
Posted 2005-12-08 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
CNET reports that Microsoft plans to phase PVC (vinyl) out of its packaging by the end of the year, turning to PET (plastic) as an alternative. While plastic is less toxic than vinyl, and can be recycled where local facilities exist, it's still a non-renewable, non-biodegradable product. Still, Microsoft is headed in a better direction. The company's VP of corporate affairs told CNET that 361k pounds of PVC packaging have been eliminated since July, 2005. Microsoft is reportedly leaning on its partners, "requesting they forego the use of PVC packaging when re-bundling its products," as well as "examining other eco-friendly alternatives to packaging besides its use of PET." Once the company is done greening up its existing packaging, it will hopefully look at reducing the volume of its packaging altogether, or at least creating its packaging out of delicious candy.
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘ReGenesis’ ARG Gets Second Season  
 
 
Posted 2005-11-17 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I'm pleased to be able to announce that the ReGenesis science/adventure TV show and "Extended Reality" (read: Alternate Reality) game will extended for a second season, seeing the reprisal of roles across the board. Shaftesbury Films will be again be producing the award-winning TV series airing on The Movie Network and Movie Central in March 2006, while Xenophile Media will again be producing a bigger, bolder edition of the Alternate Reality Game component. I have again joined the outstanding Xenophile team as Game Designer on the project, and I look forward to exploring and pushing the edges of the ARG genre further than before.

The first season of the show has re-aired on the Global TV network here in Canada, and those registered for the ReGenesis Extended Reality game this time around are eligible to win a spot in an episode airing in the second season. Winners, I am told, will be able to visit the set where season two is now shooting.

I won't be able to write about or discuss the specifics of the ARG component until the such information is released publicly, and there won't be any clues or other game play available here. For breaking ReGenesis news, it's best to keep tabs on the official site.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Games Dolphins Play  
 
 
Posted 2005-11-13 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Recently-published research shows that captive dolphins enjoy playing a variety of complex and challenging games, according to World Science. Adult dolphins studied off the coast of Honduras play posss reportedly played catch with a plastic bag, taking care to play easier with young dolphins. One dolphin calf blew bubbles while swimming upside-down at the bottom of a pool, then chased and bit the bubbles as they rose to the surface. Young dolphins deliberately challenge themselves--the bubble-blowing calf made its game harder by blowing bubbles increasingly closer to the surface, as well as changing its swimming style to increase the difficulty. Researchers of the captive dolphins observed over 300 distinct forms of play, reportedly noting that while dolphins of all ages played games, most of the new ones came from young dolphins. Not so different from human culture, really, and reinforcement of the concept of "fun" and learning being intertwined (an idea fairly recently explored by game designer Raph Koster in his book A Theory of Fun).
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Segway’ Tech Spreading  
 
 
Posted 2005-10-14 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Remember the Segway Human Transporter, formerly known as Ginger? If you've forgotten, you're probably not alone. The technology was so grossly overhyped that, once launched, it faded from public conciousness after a patter of quirky news stories. Segway (the company) knows potential extinction when it sees it, and is going the smart route in licensing their "Smart Motion" technology. Toy maker Wow Wee will incorporate Segway's know-how into their next generation of robotic toys, including Robosapien, Roboraptor and Robopet. I assume we'll be seeing something along the lines of Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons: Seemingly-impossible two-wheeled propulsion.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Record Arctic Ice Loss Irreversible?  
 
 
Posted 2005-09-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The Independent reports that "Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years."

"Current computer models suggest that the Arctic will be entirely ice-free during summer by the year 2070 but some scientists now believe that even this dire prediction may be over-optimistic..." Professor Peter Wadhams (Cambridge University) reportedly said. "If anything we may be underestimating the dangers...There could be dramatic changes to the climate of the northern region due to the creation of a vast expanse of open water where there was once effectively land..."

I'll be buying my next house well above sea-level. Perhaps when I retire, I can fish from my front porch.
 
     
 
   
 
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  The Importance of Play  
 
 
Posted 2005-09-08 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The Guardian Unlimited reports results from a just-released study that suggest kids who spend more time on hard skills training are missing out on valuable play time used to develop social skills and imagination.

University of Plymouth Early Childhood Studies researcher Sue Rogers reportedly said that "Children of this age learn to make friends as well as to use their imagination through role play...Unfortunately, pressures on time and space, as well as the need to teach literacy, means that playing at shops, pirates and hospitals is difficult to fit into the timetable."

The study also found that its subjects engaged in stereotypical role-play. According to the Guardian, "Boys preferred to take on 'action' roles, such as policemen, robbers or superheroes, while girls more often chose domestic, 'nurturing or maternal' roles. The boys drew gory pictures of fighting and chopping off people's heads, while the girls' art focused on princesses and 'mums and dads.'" Shame, that.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Smoking, Drinking:  Monkey Play, Monkey Do?  
 
 
Posted 2005-09-06 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Forbes.com reports results from a study by the Dartmouth Medical School that indicates "2-year-olds are more likely to 'smoke' and 'drink' during pretend play if their parents smoke and drink regularly." The study points out that toddlers are inclined to play at smoking and drinking, or pretend to shop for cigarettes and booze if their parents engage in these activities or if the kids watched movies aimed at older viewers. According to Forbes, "Some of the children even recognized specific brand names of cigarettes, the researchers found, because of the brands their parents smoked."

While it's noteworthy that children of this age are able to be influenced, the bigger question (for me, anyway) is whether or not childhood playing translates into adult doing. Madeline Dalton, lead researcher on the study, reportedly believes that preschoolers have "social cognitive scripts" of adult social life, and exhibit behaviours perceived to be appropriate. If adult behaviour echoes childhood play, what does this say about the power of video games to affect our social climate? Does Grand Theft Auto train criminals after all?
 
     
 
   
 
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  Sun-Powered Handhelds  
 
 
Posted 2005-08-30 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
A (partial) answer to my prayer: Cheap solar power for recharging a range of mobile game consoles. The Sony PSP, Nintendo DS, or Nintendo GBA-SP can be powered up in 4 hours with the small solar charger, which can probably be easily modified to work with other devices. Still waiting for a universal recharge kit, but until then this $35USD package will have to do.
 
     
 
   
 
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


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