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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, 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.
  ‘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.
  Casting Doubt on Video Game Violence Studies  
Posted 2007-02-20 by Tony Walsh
 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 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
  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!
  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?
  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."
  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.
  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.]
  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.
  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... Hope it helps someone... Dino...
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