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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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Is Watch Dogs doing anything original?

Watch Dogs begins with a tutorial mission that heavily accentuates the game's aspirations as a thriller about modern surveillance. Set in a sports stadium, this sequence forces the player to make use of cameras and security servers in order to demonstrate power over the world. It is an overlay of semi-transparent lines, criss-crossing the physical realm, bending and warping reality; a conspiracy-theorist's fantasy user interface. The in-game goons who would harm me can be rendered impotent by the flick of a switch. Reaching that switch is a matter of following simple sequential puzzles and holding down a button on the joypad. It is a secondary weapon, a smart bomb that the designers have placed in the world in order to add an extra dimension to the combat and to give the game a gleam...
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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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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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Train Jam 2014 offers up first batch of games

The first batch of games conceived out of Train Jam 2014, a 52-hour game jam held on a train travelling from Chicago to San Francisco, are now available on the event's official website. At the time of writing, the growing list currently offers 18 games available to freely download for Windows PC, Mac, Oculus or Android, or play online in a browser. Games include Android title Disconnect from Rami Ismail, Brice Puls and Benedict Fritz; Off the Grid by Matthew Hudgins; and, Oculus Team by Alicia Avril and Andrew Gleeson. The event, which took place March 13-15, offered a way to rally developers heading to the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco and create games whilst in transit. Train Jam was organized by Adriel Wallick, an indie game developer based in Boston and sister of...
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Riot Games reveals the next League of Legends Champion: Braum

League of Legends developer Riot Games has revealed the next playable Champion in its roster: Braum, The Heart of Freljord. The character is detailed in a new post on the studio's website, which describes Braum as being designed to fill a specific gap in League of Legends. Braum is the first legitimate tank support in the game, who is playable in the multiplayer online battle arena game's bottom lane. "While other supports focus on buffing, heals or disruption, Braum fills a unique role between the two teams, taking the brunt of the damage for his team and letting his damage dealers do their thing," the post explains. Braum is also capable of creating zones of safety behind him to protect his teammates. Additionally, while the character can only do a limited amount of damage, he can...
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Destiny website revamp offers more on enemies, classes, locations

An updated website for Bungie's upcoming sci-fi shooter Destiny teases more information about its enemies, three character classes and locations. Destiny is set on a future Earth after it experienced a golden age introduced with the arrival of the Traveler who "breathed new life into our system." Its arrival brought rain to Mars and made the atmosphere of Venus habitable. Human colonies on planets within the solar system are now in ruins and colonized by interstellar visitors who are searching the ruined golden age settlements. Players are placed in the role of one of three Guardian types or character classes. New videos of the three character classes, detailed in Polygon's E3 in-depth interview with its developers, are available on the website. The character classes include the...
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Picross e4 hits Nintendo 3DS May 1

Picross e4, the latest iteration of developer Jupiter Corporation's picture crossword puzzle game franchise, will be available for the Nintendo 3DS in North America on May 1. Picross e4 was released in Japan last November in the Nintendo 3DS eShop and was previously reported to head to Europe and North America by the end of April. The fourth game in the Picross e series features new 20x15 puzzles, Micross and Mega Picross modes and more than 150 new puzzles. Picross e beginners have access to tutorials and rule options, while players with save data from previous games can play additional Special Puzzles. Pricing information isn't currently available. Picross e3, the series' previous entry, launched last October in North America for $5.99 through the eShop and Europe last November...
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