Posts Tagged ‘games’

Duke Nukem Never

May 14, 2009

I remember watching a trailer for Duke Nukem Forever in 1998. This one in fact:

I was somewhat surprised, then, to see the game back in the news recently. I had long since assumed that development had ended. I mean, no one would continue to work on a game for twelve years, would they?

It seems that 3D Realms would, did and have now been forced to close because of it.

To put this in perspective, they have worked on the aptly named Duke Nukem Forever for the same amount of time it took Valve to finish Half-Life, produce two expansions, a sequel and two expansions for the sequel with a third well underway.

The Guardian’s games writer Steve Boxer had little sympathy for the game’s troubled development, saying: “They had more than 12 years…it’s just incompetence of the highest order.”

It makes you wonder just what exactly the team have been doing for all this time? Perhaps they just found themselves  in a downward financial spiral, locked in a death grapple with a monster of their own making?

Here is the latest trailer, which looks to be all we will ever see of the game now:

Let’s face it, gaming is good for you

April 1, 2009


We can pretty much guarentee that this wont happen to you...

We can pretty much guarantee that this won't happen to you...


It’s probably safe to say that if you’ve seen any gaming stories in the news recently it was a negative report. Games are reputed to be addictive, bad for your love-life, make you fat and, even more tenuously, groom children to become homicidal maniacs.

We’ve already covered how gaming is helping everyone lose weight through new platforms like the Wii Fit,  but it turns out that it can have many other beneficial effects. Here are just two…

It used to be said that sitting too close to TV and computer screens would give you “square eyes” (we can only guess how many children were permanently scarred by that one) but it turns out that regular gaming actually improves your vision and hand-eye coordination. Recent research has shown that gamers were better at spotting important information in busy, confusing scenes. Gaming can even restore stereo vision in people suffering from lazy-eye syndrome.

Problem-solving and coordinated team-based gaming has also been shown to increase the IQ of players, while they can also educate children about literature, history, art and music. According to a Cornell study, games have been shown to help children combat ADHD and increase concentration levels. Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad is Good for You, has even claimed that video games are the future of learning…

Is there nothing gaming can’t do?

New gaming technology provides ‘sensory reality’

August 15, 2008

Over the past ten years, games designers have struggled to create greater realism in their virtual worlds. Now that the visual aspect of games is approaching  photo-realism, designers are looking to push back other boundaries through entirely new technologies.


I have already talked about computer mind-control systems, but another emerging area of innovation is sensory reality.


One system, designed by Hirouki Kajimoto and Kanako Matsuo, involves gamers wearing specially designed arm, leg or chest pads. The pads can create a wide variety of sensations through tiny brushes embedded within them – from insects crawling over your arms to stab wounds. And this technology is not years away – it works now and will be commercial very soon.


With this technology, opponents in virtual worlds may soon be able to “hurt” you, and it is bound to drastically change how we play games.


It certainly brings the illusive ideal of immersive virtual reality one step closer.


How long can it be before the big games publishers, like EA and Activision, lock on to these technologies as their next selling-point?


Live Fat, Die Young…

July 7, 2008


Let’s face it, a lot of people in the world are fat. No, I’m not talking about the ones who could stand to loose a few pounds. I’m talking about people who are clinically obese; people who are stretching the physical limits of just how large you thought a human could be. People who are pushing their bodies to breaking point through sheer size alone.

It’s not surprising. Our society eats high fat, refined foods and many people exercise less than a narcoleptic sloth with a nasty case of glandular fever.

Actually, I was once trapped in the top floor of a club for two hours when a massively obese woman passed-out (from alcohol) in the stairwell. Five bouncers couldn’t move her. We had to await the emergency services and specialist lifting equipment.

Anyway, back to the point. Games.

Games have a reputation for being part of this growing problem. We already know they can cause migraines, back-strains and motion-sickness. And of course, sitting down for long periods of time doesn’t do anything for one’s physique.

But active games like Dance Dance Revolution, Eye Toy and Wii Fit are starting to change things. By making games more active and less static, the same addiction to the virtual environment can be used to combat poor fitness.



Other games out there are also trying to educate kids on the risks of an unhealthy diet: Fatworld, for example.

According to creators, Persuasive Games, “Fatworld is a video game about the politics of nutrition. The game’s goal is not to tell people what to eat or how to exercise, but to demonstrate the complex, interwoven relationships between nutrition and factors like budgets, the physical world, subsidies, and regulations. It’s one thing to explain that daily exercise and nutrition are important, but people, young and old, have a very hard time wrapping their heads around outcomes five, 10, 50 years away”.



Your avatar can select a starting weight and height and predispositions to medical problems like diabetes. You then have to select what and when you eat, what you avoid and whether you exercise. And the results of your choices are reflected in the size (and health) of your avatar.

So perhaps gaming is the future of combating obesity? The Wii certainly likes to tell kids they’re solidly built, even if they don’t want to hear it.

But it’s a Fat World, after all…

Are games addictive?

June 6, 2008


In 2005 a 28 year old man, identified only by his family name Lee, played the game StarCraft for almost a week, stopping only for brief naps or toilet breaks. As an obese man not in the prime of physical condition, Lee died from exhaustion several days into his epic gaming marathon.

We’re used to thinking about addiction in terms of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol – but does compulsive gaming also qualify?

It is certainly a psychological rather than physical addiction. Like compulsive gambling, this is an impulse control disorder. But some games (especially MMPORGs) actually encourage this kind of binge play. They reward gamers who spend longer in the game world. I have always stayed well clear of them, for the same reason that I’ve always stayed well clear of eating fast food for a whole month.

One of the selling points of these games – and one of the dangers – is that they allow you to do things that you cannot or are not allowed to do in real life. You can do anything from taking part in the D-day landings to committing grand theft auto.

But what I find scary is not that these detailed pieces of entertainment can become addictive, but the fact that our modern lives may have become so devoid of any real purpose, so filled with pointless repetition and drudgery, that we would rather be in a fictional world. Some studies even suggest that video games can satisfy some basic psychological needs to a greater extent than the reality of a gamer’s life – often players continue to play because of rewards, freedom, and a sense of connection with other players.

Whatever the case may be, it’s undeniable that a small percentage of gamers (typically 1-2%) become chronically addicted. In extreme cases, some quit their jobs in order to spend more time online; there have even been cases of robberies being committed to fund a gamer’s habit.

This is a real problem in Asia. The government of South Korea is in talks with developers to put patches on games that warn of the dangers of excessive play. China has become so worried about this problem that it has set up clinics to wean people away from their PCs and has distributed software to internet cafes that prevents people for playing for more than five hours without a break.

But as games become more visually sophisticated and interactive the dangers will only increase. Will it be that long before the technology arrives to make fully immersive interactive worlds better than even the best of real life?

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