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How to achieve long term goals by changing how we think about short ones

Life is always a balancing act: in addition to planning for the future, we need to focus on our immediate environment. Many short term goals — like saving money and dieting — are ultimately beneficial for our personal futures. But in the present we may be too absorbed in the short term, for example not eating food we like or buying things we want, to see the long-reaching benefits of sticking to them. Professor Dan Ariely, who teaches psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, believes that understanding why we focus on our short terms goals and changing how we think about them could ultimately help us achieve our long term ones — and why we sometimes fall short. Speaking at the 2014 Games for Change festival, Ariely said that in principle we know what the right behavior...

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Zynga founder Mark Pincus steps down as chief product officer amid executive shuffle

Mark Pincus, the co-founder and former CEO of social game maker Zynga, is making another transition at the company, leaving his role as chief product officer to focus on serving as chairman of Zynga's board of directors. Pincus' role change is just one of many happening at Zynga, according to a note from current CEO Don Mattrick. In a letter to employees, Mattrick said he and Pincus "will continue to be close partners and work together" to lead Zynga. Pincus stepped down as CEO last year when Zynga brought Mattrick on board. Mattrick also announced a handful of new hires and new appointments, including Alex Garden, former general manager of Xbox Live and Xbox Music at Microsoft. Garden, who was previously CEO at Nexon Publishing North Ameica and founded Relic Entertainment, will serve...
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Will Watch Dogs live up to its original hype?

Welcome to Friends List!If this is your first episode, Friends List is a daily web series where we have one-on-one talks about a single question related to video games. The goal is to give both Polygon's many team members across the globe and those involved in covering, designing and releasing games, an opportunity to speak with you. Today on Friends List, News Editor Brian Crecente and Senior Reporter Colin Campbell ask: Will Watch Dogs live up to its original hype? The episode will begin at 2 p.m. ET (or thereabouts!) and will be available via YouTube following the recording. While you wait you can watch the previous episode: How is Game of Thrones free-to-play TV? Enjoy Friends List anywhere, anytime: Bookmark the Friends List video page. Subscribe to the audio-only podcast:...
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How commercial games can engage players in social causes

Video games designed for commercial purposes can act as a springboard for engaging players in social causes, according to a panel of developers who recently spoke at the Games for Change Festival in New York. The developers explained that commercial games can benefit social causes through a number of ways, which range from surface-level partnerships with charities, to working with non-profit organizations to design game levels that have social benefits for the players. One example the CEO of Direct Relief Thomas Tighe cited was the charity's partnership with social game developer Zynga. In this partnership, Zynga sold an in-game item in Mafia Wars, the proceeds of which went to Direct Relief's humanitarian medical aid program. The $6 special item sold more than 100,000 units, which...
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Call of Duty 2014 first look teased by Sledgehammer Games

Developer Sledgehammer Games teased a first look at this year's Call of Duty at last month's Game Developers Conference, offering a split-second peek at the 2014 entry in Activision's popular shooter franchise. Thanks to the GDC Vault, which hosts video recordings of the conference's talks, those not in attendance at Sledgehammer's panel can get a taste of what this year's Call of Duty game will look like. "We can't talk at all about Call of Duty for this year," Sledgehammer's Michael Condrey said at the start of the talk he delivered with fellow studio co-founder Glen Schofield. "[Activision] said you can't show anything from Call of Duty this year, and you certainly can't show in-game rendered characters from this year's game." Condrey then briefly showed an image from the game...
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Facebook acquisition of Oculus VR approved by FTC

Facebook received U.S. government approval to acquire the virtual reality headset manufacturer Oculus VR, according to the Federal Trade Commission's website. The FTC granted a request from the acquiring party, listed as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, on April 22. In late March, Facebook announced its intention to acquire the Kickstarter-funded virtual reality headset creator for $2 billion. According to a statement from the company at the time, the deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014. "The Rift is highly anticipated by the gaming community, and there's a lot of interest from developers in building for this platform," Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook March 25. "We're going to focus on helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more...
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Goat Simulator video teases four-legged parkour in 1.1 update

A short teaser trailer from Goat Simulator creator Coffee Stain Studios on Facebook offers a look at the game's upcoming features. Update 1.1, which is expected to arrive mid-May, introduces a new playable map, achievements, additional goats and split-screen multiplayer. In the video, which you can watch on the game's Facebook page, Coffee Stain Studios demonstrates goat handstands and goofy parkour. During a previous email interview with Polygon, game designer Armin Ibrisagic said that the update will open "a lot of new doors" for modders. Multiplayer is being added to the game because so many players asked for it, he said. Goat Simulator was released for Windows PC April 1. For more on the game's stupid, ridiculous fun, check out our hands-on impressions from GDC 2014.
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How to make educational games more effective

Changing the world with games is hard. Speaking at the 2014 Games for Change festival, Zoran Popović — University of Washington associate professor of computer science and founder of its Center for Game Science — outlined why drastic transformative change with games is difficult to achieve, and what we can do to come closer to doing so. Popović discussed two "key" world domains that often look to games, scientific discovery and scholastic mastery for a wider range of students, detailing why games haven't revolutionized these areas yet. Popović said transformative change requires a large amount of effort over an extended period of time, in addition to real-world synergy behind it and a design focused on outcome to begin with — including outcomes that are unknown. A game by itself...
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Defense Technica arrives on Xbox 360 today

Defense Technica, developer Kuno Interactive's multiplatform tower defense/strategy game hybrid, arrives on Xbox 360 today. The Xbox 360 incarnation is available now in the Xbox Games Store for $9.99. A free demo of the game that tasks players with defending their core from "an onslaught of unrelenting biomechanical terrors" by using and upgrading tower defense weapons, is also available for download. Defense Technica was released last year for Mac and Windows PC and is available for $14.99 on Steam. You can watch a trailer released last year alongside the PC versions to see the game in action.
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Persona 4 heroine Rise will be playable in fighting game Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

Rise Kujikawa, one of the heroines from Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 and its Vita re-release, Persona 4 Golden, will be a playable character in the upcoming fighting game Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, Gematsu reports via Famitsu. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, also known as Persona 4: The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold, is the upcoming sequel to Persona 4 Arena. Rise, a teenage idol, made her debut in Persona 4 as a party member. Although Persona 4 characters such as Yosuke, Chie and Yukiko were selectable fighters in Persona 4 Arena, Rise appeared only as a non-playable character. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax was announced alongside Persona 5 and several other spin-off titles in November 2013; it was confirmed for a Western release in February. Currently, the game is expected to launch this fall for...
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Amazon, Media Molecule, Twitch to speak at Develop 2014

The 2014 Develop in Brighton conference confirmed its first round of speakers this morning, which includes developers from Amazon, Tearaway studio Media Molecule and streaming platform Twitch, among a dozen others. The Develop 2014 conference, currently in its ninth year, will be held July 8-10 in Brighton's Hilton Metropole. The three-day event will feature more than 100 speakers across 90 different sessions — including representatives from Crytek, Nickelodeon, Chillingo, Codemasters, Ubisoft Montreal and Aardman Studios. These speakers will discuss popular industry topics, including cloud and second screen gaming, the growth of virtual reality and new funding and publishing models, and the psychology of player-game interaction. A full list of confirmed sessions is currently...
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AMD providing educational tools to teach kids STEM skills through game design

AMD is helping to educate middle-schoolers in the crucial fields of science, technology, engineering and math by providing tools that will allow students to learn those skills by designing games, the company announced today. The microprocessor manufacturer has partnered with Lambton-Kingsway Junior Middle School in Toronto, and is providing the school with a mobile lab containing HP ProBook laptops. AMD has also teamed up with E-Line Media, a publisher of educational games, to bring E-Line's Gamestar Mechanic to the students. Gamestar Mechanic is educational software that teaches young people how to make video games. E-Line will also provide a professional development workshop for teachers to help them learn how to use the software in classrooms. "We believe that game design is a...
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Consoles may be going on sale in China, but few games likely to pass state censors

Though China recently set regulations for the sale of video game consoles in its Shanghai free trade zone, ending a longstanding ban in that country, games themselves still must pass a long list of restrictions before government censors will allow them for sale. The good news for would-be publishers is that the approval process is said to take no more than 20 days, though companies outside of China must work with a Chinese distributor or partner. The bad news is China's broad list of proscriptions could conceivably find something wrong with most any game published in the west. According to this government release (as translated by Games In Asia), video games that feature any of the following are forbidden: Gambling-related content or game features. Anything that violates China's...
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Games for Health Conference 2014 features Papo & Yo developer keynote this June

The 10th annual Games for Health conference will be held in Boston June 18-20 and include a keynote from a developer of Papo & Yo, organizers announced today. The conference, which is dedicated to exploring the intersection of games and health, will corral developers and health professionals and offer sessions, keynotes and more than 60 speakers. Vander Caballero, creative director at developer We Are Minority, will present a keynote to discuss creating Papo & Yo, a game about alcoholism and abuse. Caballero will also discuss Silent Enemy, the studio's upcoming iPad game about bullying. Organizers will also hold the fourth annual Games for Health Europe Conference in Utrecht, Netherlands, Oct. 27-28. You can learn more about both conferences at the official Games for Health website....
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Armello: the sneaky, treacherous race to the throne

"What we've always loved in board games is treachery," says Trent Kusters, co-founder of game studio League of Geeks. "Treachery in board games is great. It's like one minute we're buddies, but you know at some point one person is going to stab the other in the back." Kusters is demoing the alpha build of Armello, League of Geeks' debut title for PC and tablets, which is currently seeking funds on Kickstarter. It's a digital board game. Players tap on their hero character to move it around as they would on a physical board. They roll virtual dice like they would physical dice. And they commit acts of treachery, they plot and scheme and form alliances just like they would in a traditional board game. "That's what we wanted to set up," Kusters says, "the ability for people to create...
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Check out Minecraft's upcoming terrain creator in action

An update headed to the PC version of Minecraft will allow players to create their own terrain down to the grittiest of details, according to a video recently shared by Team Mojang on YouTube. The video above demonstrates the terrain creation feature, which will hit with Minecraft update 1.8. The feature includes 16 different sliders for players to tinker with when building their environment — including biome depth, height and weight as well as the field's depth of noise. Players can use these sliders to play with these variables or input values directly, giving absolute control to creators in terms of how structures will be generated. According to the YouTube description, Mojang will provide seven pre-set terrain options in the update that they feel players will find "interesting,"...
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TIGA announces Games Tax Relief tour

U.K. trade association TIGA announced today plans for a Games Tax Relief tour to provide game developers with more information on how games industry tax relief will affect them. This follows confirmation that the European Commission has lifted its block on tax incentives for the U.K. games industry earlier this year. The lift on tax incentives results in roughly £188 million in additional investments for U.K. games businesses between now and 2019. "TIGA is focused on helping game developers and digital publishers succeed. So we are organising the TIGA GTR Tour to help developers understand how tax relief can unleash the creative and financial potential of their studios, and drive innovation & experimentation in their business," said TIGA CEO Dr. Richard Wilson. "We want as many game...
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Ace Combat Infinity launching for free to PS3 on May 27

Free-to-play PlayStation 3 release Ace Combat Infinity launches May 27, publisher Bandai Namco confirmed today. The game is currently in development from studio Project Aces, best known for the flight simulation series. Ace Combat Infinity takes place in the near future and includes solo mission as well as up-to four-player multiplayer, pitting two teams of two players against one enemy to inflict the most damage. The game was first announced last year, with a tentative release window of late 2013. "The Ace Combat franchise has evolved dramatically over the years, but never before have we been able to offer its amazing graphics and tactical action for free," the publisher's Europe's senior vice president Olivier Comte said in a prepared statement at the time. "The team at Project...
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ilomilo developers reveal unreleased prototype Brisby & Donnovan

Game designers Simon Glesser and Magnus Gardeback have revealed prototype gameplay for a title the duo worked on at developer Southend Interactive before the studio shuttered. A video uploaded to the official YouTube account for canned project Brisby & Donnovan gives you a glimpse at the co-operative side-scroller that was in the works before the pair launched their own studio, Simogo, in 2010. The game stars Brisby, a small man in a bear suit, and Donnovan, a golem-type character made up of packages who can grow in size. Players control Brisby and toss boxes onto various objects and characters to bait Donnovan into eating them to increase in size and eventually eat larger objects. Southend Interactive shuttered last June, with staff later hired by Ubisoft's Massive game studio to...
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