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  Chinese Gamers Offer Blood Sacrifice For ‘Cabal’ Access  
 
 
Posted 2007-03-22 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
According to Weird Asia News (and corroborated by Gamasutra.com), Chinese game operator Moliyo demanded blood from 120,000 Cabal players it recently banned for hacking. A blood drive was reportedly held in Nanjing on March 18, where banned hackers and new players alike could gain access to Cabal by opening their veins. Over 100 "distraught" gamers were ready to give up 500ml of their precious fluid.

Weird Asia News reports that "Chinese hospitals have had increasing difficulty attracting blood donors in recent years after scandals in which thousands of donors and blood recipients contracted HIV, the virus which causes AIDS. Blood donors in China are usually paid about 12 dollars per donation." Sounds like Moliyo set up a win/win situation locally. I'm not sure something like that would fly in North America.
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Second Life Relay for Life’ Raises 2.2M Linden Dollars in 3 Weeks  
 
 
Posted 2007-03-03 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
"Second Life Relay For Life" (SLRFL), an annual event supporting the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life campaign, has raised over $2.2M Linden Dollars in the virtual world Second Life over the past three weeks. That's roughly $7,700 USD in virtual currency which will be cashed out to fight cancer. Teams of charitable avatars are busy raising funds--even accused griefer group W-Hat. Nice to see that even the most notorious scallywags have joined this noble effort.

Several fund-raising events are scheduled today. One of the largest SLRFL teams, known as Spirit Chasers, is holding a date auction tonight at 7pm Pacific Time on Raziel Vesperia island [direct teleport]. Launched in 2005, Second Life Relay For Life raised over $40k USD last year, attracting over 1,000 participants in its 24-hour walkathon.
 
     
 
   
 
  8 comments  
  Casting Doubt on Video Game Violence Studies  
 
 
Posted 2007-02-20 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
GamePolitics.com reports on a meta-research paper that casts doubt on links between violent game play and violent behaviour. The paper, entitled "Evidence for publication bias in video game violence effects literature: A meta-analytic review," may be downloaded from this page (temporarily, at least), and has been accepted for publication in an upcoming edition of the Aggression and Violent Behavior journal.

Author Christopher J. Ferguson told GamePolitics.com that his study found that overall, violent games do appear to increase aggressive thoughts, "but do not appear to increase aggressive behavior." The study also found that "better measures of aggression are associated with lower effects," and that studies which indicate a link between violent games and violent behaviour are more likely to get published than studies which do not indicate such a link.

Continue reading: Casting Doubt on Video Game Violence Studies
 
     
 
   
 
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  Easy Solution to ‘HIV Challenge’  
 
 
Posted 2007-01-30 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The Kaiser Family Foundation and the ironically-named mtvU challenge game developers to come up with "a new, creative idea for a video game aimed at reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS among young people in the United States." Frankly, a video game solution to the HIV Challenge is all too easy: If we are playing video games, we are not having sex. The more we play video games, the less sex we have. Abstention is extremely effective in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

I hereby proclaim World of Warcraft, with 8 million sexually-inactive subscribers worldwide, the winner of the HIV Challenge!
 
     
 
   
 
  1 comments  
  Does Violent Media Cause Violence, Or Doesn’t It?  
 
 
Posted 2007-01-17 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
A coalition of Canadian parents and educators from the public and Catholic school systems issued a press release today entitled "Media Violence - Not a Pretty Picture," wherein it is suggested that kids and teens are influenced negatively by "violent music videos, video games, music lyrics, the Internet, and television programs..." Now, I happen to believe that some kids and teens are negatively influenced by some forms of violent media under certain conditions. I believe that in some cases, it's possible that exposure to violent media can cause violence. This being said, I'm thoroughly confused by this unnamed coalition's stance on the issue.

According to the coalition, the Internet itself is a destructive influence. That pretty much blows the group's credibility in my view, but unfortunately for you, I'm not done analyzing the press release yet. The group also identifies "music lyrics" as a destructive influence. I'd love to know why "poetry" in general wasn't listed. I suppose as soon as you put poetry to music it becomes a deadly weapon.

Continue reading: Does Violent Media Cause Violence, Or Doesn’t It?
 
     
 
   
 
  3 comments  
  PSA:  Support World Vision in ‘Second Life’  
 
 
Posted 2006-12-19 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
World Vision's marketing manager asked me to give the organization's Second Life campaign a plug, and I feel obligated to issue a public service announcement. Hard to say no to well-intentioned charities, even for a bitter scorpion like myself. So, without further comment, criticism, or analysis (aren't you lucky), here's the deal:

The World Vision charity has set up a Second Life version of its Alternative Gift Catalogue web site, where visitors "can experience a virtual developing community environment, whilst seeing and interacting with some of the alternative gifts which this year support 53 of World Vision’s community projects around the world." Clicking on in-world items produces further information about the items, and launches the charity's Alternative Gift web site where over 90 gifts can be browsed or purchased.

"World Vision is a Christian charity and one of the world’s leading relief and development agencies, currently helping more than 100 million people in nearly 100 countries in their struggle against poverty, hunger and injustice, irrespective of their religions beliefs."
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Reading ‘Mind at Play’  
 
 
Posted 2006-12-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
My wife snagged me a copy of the 1983 book Mind at Play by Geoffrey Loftus and Elizabeth Loftus. The book concerns the psychology of video games, and although it's very dated, it seems to be a useful read, particularly in light more recent work such as The Rules of Play and A Theory of Fun. A lot has changed since 1983, but I find those elements of the game industry and game design which haven't changed to be at least as interesting (for example, the similarities between designing coin-op games and microtransaction-driven games are worth considering). Mind at Play promises to be a good addition to my inventory of game design and education resources. Besides, it's under 200 pages and has large type.

Next up: James Paul Gee's What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, a timely addition to the course material I'm preparing for semester 2 of Game Culture & Design at George Brown College.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Flimsy Wii Strap Recalled  
 
 
Posted 2006-12-15 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
"My hunch is that there's going to be a product recall in the future."

Reuters reports that Nintendo will exchange 3.2 million Wiimote straps with stronger ones, "after some reports of broken straps." Since the launch of the Wii, a few reports of property and personal damage have been surfaced, related to strap breakage. Web site Wii Have a Problem has been logging such reports, which range from silly to sobering. While the new strap will probably be strong enough to withstand the power of those exuberant gamers who can't help but flail around violently during play, there's still no protection against getting a Wii in the face.

[Update: Edge mag says it's a "replacement" not a "recall," suggesting journalists have irresponsibly reported a "recall." While I agree that language is important, I'm not sure the distinction between "recall" and "replacement" is all that crucial in this case. The point is the straps were crap, and gamers need new ones.]
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Xbox Live Hits 4 Million Members  
 
 
Posted 2006-10-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Xbox Live, Microsoft's online gaming, community, and commerce engine has reached 4 million members. The company will be launching a new version of the Xbox Live software this fall, and is "on a fast track to hit 6 million members by summer 2007." Over 70% of Xbox Live members "are downloading" content from Xbox Live Marketplace (which presumably includes the service's wide range of freebies). Most free trial versions of Xbox Live Arcade downloads are converted to paid versions 24% of the time.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Robot Controlled Via Human Brain Interface  
 
 
Posted 2006-05-25 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Wired News relays an AP story claiming that Honda has harnessed human brain-juice to facilitate control of a robot: "A person in the MRI machine made a fist, spread his fingers and then made a V sign. Several seconds later, the robotic hand made the same movements. Further research would be needed to decode more complex movements." I'm imagining complex movements would entail crushing someone's ribcage with a spiked titanium claw, but I'm funny that way.

Brain-controlled technology isn't new, but it is cool, in a scary kind of way. In 2006, "subvocalization" technology was used to map brain to jaw to electrodes. In 2004, a man wired to a PC was able to "operate a TV, open e-mail and play Pong with 70% accuracy." In 2003, research monkeys were hard-wired to control a robot and play games. I think it's safe to say that brain-controlled technology is the Holy Grail of the human-computer interaction industry.
 
     
 
   
 
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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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