Game Contra

You have to learn the rules of the game and then you have to play better than anyone else

Virtual Realitys Potential Displayed at Game Developers Conference

09GAMERSUB-blog427For game designers, virtual reality became a real business last week when the virtual reality equivalent of Apple’s app store for iPhones and iPads opened its digital doors.

If you make a game in virtual reality, or V.R., now you can sell it to customers instead of giving it away free. It’s the biggest step yet toward discovering what kinds of creative works will prove most successful in this new medium — an immersive, sensorially isolating experience that is either the art form of the 21st century or the biggest fad of 2016.

Last Monday, the store inside the Gear VR, a headset powered by a fancy Samsung phone and the technology of Oculus VR (the company Facebook acquired for $2 billion last year), opened for business at the start of the Game Developers Conference here.

Samsung and Oculus don’t advertise the Gear VR as a consumer product. They prefer to call it an “innovator edition” for early adopters. But you can buy it, and if you own it, you

PS4 Exclusivity a Step Toward Yakuza 6 Localization And 4 Other Takeaways From Segas Recent Moves

psjs10-yakuza-ishin1Me: “Know What Yakuza Needs?”

The West: “English localizations.”

Okay, now the go-to first thought it out of the way, here are some thoughts to go along with that Yakuza 6 PS4 announcement and Yakuza remaster.

The Seemingly Good But Maybe Bad

What you already know: a remaster of the original Yakuza was announced for PS3 and PS4, due out in January in Japan.
What you might not realize: That’s less than a year after Yakuza 0 just arrived on those same systems, and just a couple of years after Yakuza was already remastered on PS3, as part of the Yakuza 1&2 HD Collection.
True, this new version will include gameplay systems from the outstanding Yakuza 0, but it’s still just the first Yakuza, re-re-released.

Meanwhile, Yakuza 6 will go current-gen only when it hits it fall 2016 Japanese release window.

Yakuza 6‘s move to PS4 only, combined with Sony’s strong desire to keep new content flowing to its one and only important gaming system, sends a good message to foreign fans of the seldom-localized series. After spending years playing catchup behind Microsoft

Cooperative video game play elicits pro-social behavior, research finds

150508105656_1_540x360The word cooperation is self-explanatory — two or more people working together toward a common goal or benefit.

One Texas Tech University researcher wondered about the implications of teaming up with others in video games and how this differs from playing alone, competitively, or not at all. It seems playing video games cooperatively with others can lead to widespread benefits by making players think helpful behaviors are valuable and commonplace.

John Velez, an assistant professor of journalism and electronic media in the College of Media & Communication, studied how cooperating with other players in both violent and non-violent video games extended to social situations after the controllers are put down. The results of one article suggest playing cooperatively with others can eliminate the negative effects of violent video games on players’ aggressive behaviors in the real world. Another related study demonstrated playing cooperatively with a helpful teammate in a non-violent video game not only increases pro-social or helping behaviors toward teammates but opposing team members as well.

“What we found was cooperative play seems to have the biggest effect in terms of decreasing aggression toward other people,”

Big-Budget Blockbusters Dominate Fall Video Games

The twin rise of digital distribution and a robust independent scene has made video games more diverse, more rewarding and more unpredictable than at any time in the medium’s history. It’s usually hard to see much evidence of that, however, in the fall release schedule, which is dominated by big-budget blockbusters that too often play it safe.

Still, I’m more than capable of getting excited about expensive and well-made mainstream entertainment. Two of the most interesting video games of 2015 — Konami’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for PCs, PlayStations and Xboxes, and Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker for Wii U — went on sale during the first two weeks of September. And there are at least a few smaller games that have a chance to break through despite their not being advertised with noisy, explosion-filled trailers during major televised sporting events.

This fall is also likely to see the first trickle of a rush of virtual-reality headsets that are being marketed to ordinary consumers rather than V. R. enthusiasts. By this time next year, we should be playing virtual-reality games

Violent video games provide quick stress relief but at a price

A study authored by two University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate students indicates that while playing video games can improve mood, violent games may increase aggressive outcomes.

The study, authored by James Alex Bonus and Alanna Peebles, graduate students in Communication Arts, and Karyn Riddle, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, was published in June in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. The researchers looked at how video games may be used to manage emotions — specifically, whether playing the games can improve mood.

The participants included 82 undergraduate communication students. Most had little experience with violent video games.

For the experiment, half of the subjects were asked to play a frustrating video game called, appropriately, “Maximum Frustration.” The game is designed to be nearly impossible to complete, although the subjects were led to believe they should be able to go through all the levels in 10 minutes. The other subjects skipped the frustrating game and went directly to the next phase of the study.

The frustrated and non-frustrated subjects were then given a PlayStation 3 game — either a nonviolent one titled “LittleBigPlanet 2” or a violent game

Active video gaming compared to unstructured outdoor play

The increasing use of video games is often blamed for children’s lack of interest in physical activity, but a study by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, recently published in the Games for Health Journal suggests that active video games may actually be a source of moderate or intense physical activity in children five to eight years old.

“Our study shows video games which wholly engage a child’s body can be a source of physical activity,” said Hollie Raynor, director of UT’s Healthy Eating and Activity Laboratory and associate professor of nutrition. “Previous studies investigating active video games had not investigated the energy expenditure of these games as compared to unstructured outdoor play. The purpose of the study was to compare energy expenditure to unstructured outdoor play.”

Children between the ages of five and eight years old were given three accelerometers–one for the hip and one for each wrist. The accelerometers on the wrists were placed to better assess upper-body movement, which may be very different in outdoor play compared with playing an active video game.

During a three-week period, each child engaged in one active video gaming session and one unstructured outdoor

The Arkham Knight PC Port Is Worse Than You Think

The PC port of Arkham Knight is plagued by so many problems that the game has actually been pulled from Steam, a storefront that as of 2015 almost exclusively exists to sell unfinished games. It’s common knowledge that Arkham Knight is busted. As these internal bug reports reveal, we don’t know the half of it.

The UI is incorrectly displaying the number of Riddler puzzles as just 243, when there are in fact 3,000 of them.

Double clicking on the Batman: Arkham Knight executable does nothing. Single clicking on the executable reverts your operating system to Windows 95. Triple clicking the executable permanently disables your mouse. Hovering the mouse cursor over the executable installs Games for Windows Live and requires the use of a Kinect to log in to your game.

Absolutely no rendering effects are working. Put simply, the game is not outputting any graphics. In theory this should speed the game up by a considerable margin, but unfortunately the frame rate is locked at 30fps and several timing-based mechanics will break (even worse than they are already broken) if the game exceeds 30fps.

The locked-in 30fps frame rate is actually outputting at

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