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Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

What if Team Fortress 2 was a cartoon by the Warners? This cartoon, done by Andrew Kepple, is sheer brilliance if you’re a gamer, and even includes an obligatory Yakkity Sax piece. See how many game references you can find!

I’ve always been a fan of Kepple’s work (since his days doing animutation way back when!) and I’ve found his sense of art and humor is simply awesome. (This is the best I can do: I used to know where his home page was once upon a time). Give his other stuff a watch if you like this. It’ll while the day away!

[Link: Spy vs Pyro via Kotaku]

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I’m not sure why I haven’t seen or heard of this console before, but it sounds like eleventy hundred and thirty different kinds of awesome. Meet the Pandora, a gaming console handheld PC hybrid. According to the official website, the Pandora is

fast enough to emulate many other systems, run a full desktop, access the internet via FireFox and play games such as Quake3.

If that doesn’t sound pretty darn cool, I don’t know what does! The machine is slightly bigger than a Nintendo DS, and the battery clocks in at around 10 hours. The good news, is that the Pandora is now in production! Expect to see it retail for around $330.

[Link: Pandora web site]

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Spot the likeness….this is a pic of me at my brother’s fancy dress up birthday party back in 2007. I don’t have a better pic lying around, unfortunately. For comparison, below, is the poster of the new Prince of Persia movie. Whaddayathink? Did I predict the new movie?

Anyhow…I’m looking forward to seeing this movie when it hits next year! And unlike good ol Jake, I at least have a little bit of Persian blood in me!

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Today’s fun game: Minim

I haven’t posted a game here in ages, because I think you should all be doing some work. But now it’s time to slack back, and get to grips with this little puzzler. Minim is a “get rid of everything on the screen” type of game that has you combining numbered atoms in a molecule. I’m SO glad they’re not colored as many of these games are, because typically, games that involve multicolored elements are not created by colorblind people, and therefore do not take the differently sighted into account. Minor gripe about most puzzle games, but anyhow, this isn’t one of them.

Back on topic, then. You play this game by clicking atoms with the same number. Combining two same-numbered atoms results in a single atom one order higher. For example, if you click two “2″ atoms, you end up with a single “3″ atom, and so forth. What you SHOULD end up with are two atoms of the same number that will disappear when clicked. If you didn’t understand my explanation, try the game. It’s easy to get the hang of, but oh so difficult to finish!

[Link: King.com - Minim]

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Such a weird day for news. Turns out that, unlike certain games becoming books, certain books are now becoming games. George R.R. Martin’s excellent Song of Ice and Fire series has been opted for a video game. Expect the game to look and feel a lot like Oblivion and other such WJRPGs.

My feeling about books-turned-games is that sometimes it works, as was with the well-acclaimed and award-winning Betrayal at Krondor. And when it works, it works beautifully. Other times, not so much. The problem is usually that the game director has a vision of the book that doesn’t sit well with the popular readership vision, and then things get ugly. Many of these games fall by the wayside, no matter how good they are (see the Dragonlance, Shannara or Wheel of Time games, for examples), and some of them reach acclaim as video games, but aren’t as well known as books (see I have no mouth and I must scream for example).

Anyhow, I’ll wait and see if this game blips on the radar again, which may mean it could be worth taking note of…or not.

[Link: Kotaku - Game rights snagged for George R.R.Martin's Song of Ice and Fire]

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Good news for all you Elder Scrolls and Oblivion fans. Turns out that Bethesda are releasing a book set in the Elder Scrolls universe. The book, to be penned by famed author Greg Keyes, takes place after the events of Oblivion.

The Infernal City is set after the events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion®, the latest game in the video game series, and finds the citizens of Tamriel once again facing an uncertain future. Floating high above the land is a strange and mysterious city that is casting a horrifying shadow – wherever it falls, people die and rise again as undead. It is up to an unlikely duo – a seventeen-year-old girl named Annaig and the Emperor’s young son, Prince Attrebus – to rescue the kingdom from doom. Annaig and Attrebus’ quest will take them through the Elder Scrolls universe and their adventure is sure to add to the series’ already magnificent mythology.

Sounds awesome.

[Link: Lazygamer - Elder Scrolls novels announced]

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Ok, I know it’s been a while–sorry about that. Ok…my final thoughts and analyses about the experiment, and the aftermath.

Firstly, I think the experiment was a complete success. I managed to stay away from games, gaming, and almost anything video game related for a week. What I found interesting, however, is just how much video games have become a part of mainstream life. I walked through a local mall and found it almost impossible to avoid game-related media. More than just a few shops had huge video game posters in their display windows, and one of the days that I arrived at the mall, there was a massive Nintendo expo in the center court. I can compare this to almost 10 years ago, when all things video game were pretty much found in specialist shops in this part of the world. In fact, when I bought my first Sega Genesis (or Megadrive if you came from the UK), it was difficult to find shops that sold games for it. Now even standard groceries retailers have games on their shelves.

Back to my quest to find out whether I have an addiction: the answer is no. I didn’t go out of my way to play games, I didn’t sneak away in the middle of the night to play games, and I found that I wasn’t obsessing over video games so much the time I was away. I even learned a few things about myself. Despite these facts, however, I must say that I AM, and always will be a gamer. It’s part of who I am and I consume games in the same way, and for the very same reasons, that I consume books, movies, and tv shows. On the other hand, before the experiment, I was doing very little else in terms of entertainment other than video games, but I’ve rediscovered enjoyments in other pursuits.

I’m not going to miss the gameless week, but I do have a better perspective about it now. And I’m glad that my trusty DS is back in its pouch wherever I go.

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Creative Commons License
Night Noises by Fayyaad Hendricks is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

I apologize for the overimagification, but that’s the result of two days of challenge. It’s actually left me a little on the drained side, but…it was actually fun. It’s weird how much I can accomplish when I’m not actually playing video games! Don’t get me wrong…I miss playing them, but I’ve discovered activities and parts of me that I’d forgotten about. And I think that’s the most important lesson I’m taking away from all this–life DOES exist outside of games. The Darling Wife is impressed enough at this little book I’ve written that she’s actually at the moment in the process of trying to find it a publisher. I’m going to clean up the artwork and layout a bit, and then we’ll see if there’s a chance I can get this, and perhaps a few other stories into bookshops. Is that too ambitious for something I wrote and drew over the course of two nights? Probably…but it’s fun and exciting, even if nothing comes of it. Anyhow, enjoy the story and illustrations, as raw and un-refined as they are. If you can’t read it, my apologies; I’ve shrunk it down quite a bit so that I don’t overload anyone’s browser. If there’s a call for it, I’ll post the finished, reworked, cleaned up product at Flickr or Picasa. Just to get an indication, does anyone think they’d actually pay money for a story like this?

Back to the story of addiction. I don’t know if it’s just a case of information synchronicity, or…er…that psychological phenomenon where you only start taking notice of things because they’re relevant to you (argh, can’t remember what it’s called!!), but I’ve suddenly noticed an awful lot of articles popping up in my RSS reader about video game addiction. This statistic comes to us via Switched.com, and states that almost 1 in 10 US children are addicted to video games; 8.5% to be a little more precise. It’s an alarming number if you’re going to label it “addiction” vs “compulsion”. The sample size is significant: 1,178 adolescent children, with 8.5% of them exhibiting addictive behavior:

(Researcher, Douglas) Gentile looked for symptoms like becoming irritable when gameplay was cut short, avoiding homework to play, stealing money to buy gaming paraphernalia, and escaping reality and avoiding problems through games.

That sounds about right for “addiction”, and with kids of my own, I’m beginning to feel as though this hasn’t received enough attention till now. The article goes on to state that Dr Gentile has touted the benfits of video games before, so he’s not exactly a completely biased voice in this matter.

Gentile doesn’t necessarily think games are bad. He would just like to see game manufacturers use the significant influence games have over children for good instead of evil — for creating powerful educational devices.

[Link: Switched.com - Almost 1 in 10 Children Addiction to Video Games]

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I suppose it’s obvious, but it’s starting to get easier to avoid thinking about video games now, but there are still moments when I want to play. I had some spare time today that would have been dead useful for clearing a few levels of Gears of War, but I spent the time instead watching Doctor Who (my other addiction…I get a joyful upwelling in my spirit when I hear the theme tune starting up!)

So yesterday’s challenge was a two-parter, so you don’t get to see the full results until I finish today’s half of it. The challenge was thus: “Your children don’t have any of your writing that is purely theirs, so you are to write a short book in the form of Dr Seuss.” I’ve written the text of the story, and it’s not long at all. I’m going to be illustrating it tonight.

Off the topic of the challenges and onto the “gaming addiction” part of it, some experts are of the opinion that video game addiction shouldn’t be treated as an addiction, but rather as a symptom of something deeper, such as depression or an inferiority complex. I suppose in some cases, this may be so, but I think the problem a little too widespread to be attributed that way. What thinks you?

[Link: MSNBC - Is video game addiction a mental disorder?]

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So day one of the “Do I have an addiction issue?” experiment went by. And I’m sorry to say that it was a reasonably painful day. I’m going to go out there and say that if I’m not a addict, I’m borderline at the least. Let me put it this way: I took an afternoon nap to pass the time and had dreams (yes! Plural!) that I was playing a video game (Sonic the Hedgehog, I think!)

Console I missed the most? My trusty little go-anywhere DS. During the day my fingers kept itching to pick up a controller and get on with Gears of War 2 or Oblivion, or to try and obtain the last few gold medals on Rhythm Heaven DS (Seriously, one of the best games I’d ever played in my life….but I’m not allowed to think about it right now except in parentheses or as part of the experiment!) More than that, however, I found myself actively thinking about the games I was involved with, and how to get around the challenges I was facing at the moment (damn you, Oblivion!) and once on that sort of trail of thought, it’s difficult to find something else to think about…mostly because I haven’t actually had to think about much else before.

What this seems to tell me, I think, is that if not addicted, I’m at least heavily dependent on games to entertain me and keep my mind occupied. The sad thing is that I’ve not read a decent book in MONTHS, and I used to be a really avid reader (the other UtterInsanity authors can testify to the size of my personal library). I also seem to dimly recall that I might have once had an artistic streak about as wide as the Pacific Ocean. I may have even created a few paintings, written a few poems, drawn a few sketches, composed bits of music, and I have it on good authority that the half-finished book sitting in a dusty directory on my computer is actually mine.

I haven’t picked up the guitar to play in…ages. I haven’t plinked on a piano in at least twice as long. I haven’t written a poem in at least a year. My books, which I had such grandiose dreams of finishing and publishing, lie forgotten. And let’s not get started on the drawings. So these activities that used to be a big part of who I am have been lost in in all the gaming that I do. So I think I plan on revisiting those activities that I once used to find so much enjoyment in, above and beyond the games I’ve been playing since I was six.

You might find, as I did, this story about a woman dealing with addiction in her kids very interesting and amusing. It sounds very…familiar. I wasn’t playing under the covers at night when no one is around, but I’m going to admit that there were times I’d be playing something until lights-out. Which I’m very sure didn’t make the Darling Wife too happy…hence the challenges I have coming up. More on that as the week goes by.

I seem to have touched an interesting nerve with my first post about gaming addiction: had a lot of people weigh in their opinions on the matter, and whether or not gaming as a social device counts or not. Meeting online once or twice a week for a few hours to play a few games together? Not an issue. It’s when you’re playing more than 20 to 40 hours a week that you can start saying that there’s a problem. Guess why I didn’t pick up World of Warcraft?

So the first challenge happens today. Will let you know more about what happens, and how it all went down in tomorrow’s update.

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