Good Game
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Windows 10 may do the impossible: help Microsoft win back the hearts of PC gamers

It's hard to get less romantic than a new operating system. But for Microsoft, Windows 10 is a love letter.A love letter to Windows users. A love letter to programmers. A love letter to technophiles and the mobile phone market. And most importantly a love letter to gamers. And it's long over due. It's been nine years since Microsoft acknowledged what it described as a "dereliction of duty" to Windows gamers. And it's been at least as long since the company has managed to successfully do anything to fix that problem. There certainly have been plenty of promises, plenty of attempts, but no successes. Not really. It's easy to say the problem started in 2006 with Windows Vista, but really that was just when Microsoft decided to finally acknowledge that it hadn't paid enough attention to...
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Intel initiative leads to big goal: Doubling of women in game development by 2025

The number of women working in the game industry will double by 2025, if the International Game Developers Association has its way.It's not a new desire by the association, a group which represents game developers from around the world, but the likelihood of that goal happening is now more possible than it ever was before. That thanks not to the game industry's massive companies like Microsoft, or Sony or Nintendo or even, completely, the International Game Developers Association itself. No, the possibility of a spike in game developer diversity doesn't come from within the game industry, but rather from Intel and, in part, its confused run-in with a confused movement. Speaking during the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced a $300...
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Turning video gaming's great grub into meals you can really eat

Saturday night I whipped up a batch of Minecraft Mushroom Stew.Earlier in the day, I walked through some recipes, debating internally whether the stew found in my son's favorite video game was the best plan for dinner. My other options included a batch of Apple Cabbage Stew from role-playing game The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, Cook-Cook's Fiend Stew pulled from Fallout: New Vegas, or, if I wanted to go old school, a BurgerTime double decker. I landed on the stew and after a fairly short prep time, the family sat down for a bowl of the hearty dish recreated from a game about building things in a vast open world. The stew, and all of the recipes I pondered over the weekend, come from a relatively new release on Apple's iBook store: Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide to Video Game Grub by...
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2014 in review: Video games are a rich source for fascinating stories

Amputees playing video games with phantom limbs; live rock operas shaped by video games and audience participation; diversity; addiction; death threats; soft wars: Video games are such a tantalizing topic for writers because they seem to touch upon everything. This year marked my seventh writing an internationally syndicated newspaper column about gaming and gaming culture. It's a fascinating challenge to try and find a different topic every week that can appeal to both a broad mainstream audience and a more focused gamer audience. That the subject matter of my columns is always gaming, takes a bit of the edge off that challenge. As the year wraps up, I've gathered together some of my favorite columns of the year. If you have the time and the interest, check out some of the ways...
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The 'soft war' against America's enemies is fueled by video games and movies

It may seem like a whole lot of smoke for very little fire.Hackers break into the digital catacombs of Sony Pictures Entertainment and make off with terabytes of stolen data including the plot lines of unannounced movies, the nasty internal emails of Hollywood executives, and the temper tantrums and petty requests of beloved actors. That North Korea somehow might have a hand in the hack, spurred by anger regarding a satirical movie about their leader, doesn't do much to help raise the breach beyond the sort of plot you might find in a mindless summer blockbuster. But, at least to North Korea, this is most likely war. The notion of a "soft war," perhaps best identified with Iran, hasn't been around for long. It's built on the premise that along with a war of weapons and soldiers for...
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179 Comments

When should a death threat count?

Sometimes social media, places like Twitter and Facebook, can be a great place.Sometimes. But often those online services can be something far worse, harmful even. At its worst, social media is a cesspool of anger, narrow-mindedness and caustic harassment. It is common-sense, common-courtesy, humanity drowning in a sea of soapboxes. But words typed in a Facebook page rant or a spur-of-the-moment tweet still don't seem to have the full weight of responsibility. Tweeting a death threat, wishing someone dead, can result in a confusion of legal issues. That confusion seems fueled by the natural casualness in which people communicate in these sorts of settings. To make a threat stick, to have it escape the protection of First Amendment rights and become criminal, it has to be a...
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Broken video games are the new norm, what developers need to do to fix that

Today's cutting edge of game consoles brought with them living worlds, new ways to interact with entertainment and experiences that weave seamlessly with vast social networks. They also created a new norm: Selling not a finished game, but the promise of one.More often than not, blockbuster video games tend to ship incomplete. Sometimes that means the game needs an update the minute you pop it into your console; sometimes it means the polish and promise of a game won't arrive for days or weeks; sometimes it means the game is completely broken until an update can be sent out. Of more than two dozen big titles I looked at from this year — both ones created in-house for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, or by third-party developers — all of them required a patch to either fix...
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Sony's television service continues PlayStation's agile approach to the new gen

Earlier this month, Sony detailed a new sort of television service, something that essentially could turn its PlayStation consoles into cable boxes.Many analysts and journalists saw the cloud-based television service, called PlayStation Vue, as a direct attack on cable providers. But it's not. Vue is just the next step in Sony's PlayStation 4 strategy. Where Nintendo's Wii U struggles to adapt to the changing media consumption habits of the gaming generation and Microsoft's Xbox One eyed conquering its competitors in the media space, Sony has other plans. The company has been, since the PS4's launch, working to collaborate with its biggest challengers. The approach seems to be driven by the idea that by embracing some of the technology and mediums that pull an audience away from its...
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Call of Duty Endowment more than triples veteran job placements

Last year there were nearly three-quarters of a million unemployed veterans in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor. And it's likely going to get worse as the military continues to downsize.That's where the Call of Duty Endowment comes in. The non-profit, launched by Activision in 2009, works to find returning veterans not just jobs, but well-paying, long-lasting jobs. Since bringing on a new full time executive director, the endowment has excelled at this goal. From the 2009 launch until 2013, the endowment found just under 2,000 returning vets jobs. In 2013 alone, CODE under the leadership of Dan Goldenberg has nearly tripled that number, helping more than 19,000 veterans and placing more than 5,600 of them in new careers. The average salary for those jobs is $46,000,...
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A console launch in three acts: The birth, death and rebirth of Xbox One

The video game industry's most exciting story this generation can't be found in the likes of The Last of Us, Halo 5 or the latest Call of Duty. The most compelling narrative to arise out of this new crop of consoles isn't coming from any video game, it's the Xbox One's Miltonian fall from grace and its attempt at redemption. If the Xbox One's launch were a movie, it would fit very neatly into a three-act structure, and we would be witnessing right now the console's final, biggest moment of crisis. What happens next in the launch's third act seems to rest entirely with the new(ish) head of Xbox, Phil Spencer. Act One: The Setup Riding high on the successes of the Xbox 360, Microsoft went into the Xbox One with a new vision, a vision not just to capture the gaming audience, but to...
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3 Comments

These filmmakers want to put you inside a horror movie

Despite what I'm told repeatedly, heart attacks are likely not going to be caused by this latest experiment with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.But that doesn't make a foray into immersive horror film creation any less tantalizing. If backed through crowdfunding, Hell Mountain will be the world's first feature-length horror movie that can be watched from inside the film with the Oculus Rift. Viewers won't just passively sit and view the scares unfold in front of them; they'll be able to look over their shoulder as they run from nightmares, stare down at their body as the horror envelops them. The project, seeking $100,000 on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, has attracted a clutch of horror film aficionados. Hell Mountain will be produced by Warren Zide, the man behind the Final...
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Star Wars Battle Pod shows that arcades aren't dead, they're just very different

Long gone is the golden age of arcades, two decades that saw some of the best coin-op games in history not only take over game rooms, but turn into massive pop culture icons. It was the era, for better or worse, that gave us "Pac-Man Fever", a slew of Space Invaders songs and cemented the ubiquity of Donkey Kong.While arcades games may never return to that former glory, they remain a sort of gaming mainstay across America. You can find them still in bowling alleys, trucks stops, niche arcades and, of course, entertainment complexes like Dave and Buster's. And at least one major video game developer and publisher still believes strongly in the viability of arcade games. Last week, Bandai Namco unveiled a new, massive arcade machine. Star Wars Battle Pod is a single-player flight combat...
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42 Comments

Huge companies, tiny consoles: The upcoming console war will be micro

Sleek, tiny boxes that can deliver a near-endless stream of music, television, movies and games are starting to nose their way into the multi-billion dollar video game industry.Call them set-top streamers or micro-consoles or streaming media devices, the latest entries in this growing market are coming from behemoths like Amazon, Razer and Sony. All three will have their own take on the diminutive devices out this year. It's a trend powered by the trifecta of a consumer base growing used to downloading content, the increasing quality of mobile games and a desire to tap into a blossoming market with a relatively low-cost device. Fire TV Amazon's Fire TV went on sale in April, delivering a 0.7-inch-thick rectangular box and voice-activated remote control for $99, and an Amazon Fire...
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236 Comments

Why Oculus Rift and the latest attempts at virtual reality are bound to fail

Despite the soaring plaudits from professional technophiles, despite the growing support from the video game industry, the latest run at mainstreaming wearable virtual reality is doomed to be a commercial failure.Yes, the Oculus Rift has reignited an interest in virtual reality goggles not seen in decades. And yes, the company behind the technology was purchased by Facebook for billions. But ultimately the thing that the Oculus Rift delivers to users doesn't yet overcome the inherent inconvenience and cost of using it. And it still isn't the virtual reality millions brought up watching the likes of Star Trek and reading books like Snow Crash or Ready Player One, would expect from the technology. The Oculus Rift is a black headset that straps onto a user's face like a set of oversized,...
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36 Comments

Video game ratings are great for today's games, but may struggle with gaming's future

Twenty years ago this month, video games started to receive their first movie-like ratings.It was a move driven by a congressional hearing that many believed was on the verge of forcing the situation and creating a federally run commission for the regulation and ratings of video games. On Sept. 1, 1994 the Entertainment Software Rating Board was launched and a little more than two weeks later the first games received their ratings. First-person shooter Doom received a mature rating, Pitfall a teen, Donkey Kong Country a kids-to-adults rating. Much has changed since those first ratings hit the boxes of video games. Today about 85 percent of parents say they are familiar with those postage-stamp sized ratings that connote the suitability and content of specific games. Patricia Vance,...
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96 Comments

In the shadow of a $2.5 billion deal, one famed game dev slips away

The biggest gaming news of the day wasn't the $2.5 billion purchase by Microsoft of the studio behind massive-hit Minecraft, it was why the game's creator chose to sell and not stick around after he did.And Markus Persson, known to his fans simply as Notch, isn't just leaving his studio Mojang and his game Minecraft, he's actively avoiding a repeat of that runaway success. In his farewell note to gamers, Persson writes that he doesn't see himself as a "real game developer" and that if in working on new, small game projects he does happen to ever make something that seems to gain traction he'll probably abandon it immediately. The game industry is notoriously bad at preparing its super stars for fame. And as gaming grows in popularity and the potential audience of a game and the person...
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