One of the few constants in the world of popular technology is that you can never truly anticipate or predict, with any appreciable certainty, what will be popular and what will not. For every iPhone there is a Segway, you could say. You cannot really tell how something will be received by the public, or in what way it will have an impact on both popular culture and the technology world in general. You find that sometimes the big-money, throw-everything-at-it initiatives will turn out just the way you expected them to, with big paydays and critical acclaim. However, there is a curious little phenomenon present with our new technology that has an interesting and much more close-to-home impact than you might realize. Sometimes, contrary to real life but bolstered by movies and pop culture mainstays, the underdog, the little guy, wins big. Sometimes, the out-of-left-field piece of technology changes the game in a big, big way.
Video game development companies spend millions of dollars every year to develop the next generation of games, playable movies that double as out-of-body experiences for $60 a title. We, as the game-playing and game-purchasing public, will go along with it. It’s a thing of love and loyalty, to both the games themselves and to the hobby in general. However, it seems that a shake-up is occurring all around us. One of the most popular, if not the most popular video game on the market today is a simple physics game that sells in the App Store for roughly $2. Of course, we are talking about that juggernaut Angry Birds. It has made Apple a great deal of money, and this looks to be the trend for the coming year. 2011 could see Apple reign in over $1.6 billion in video game sales alone. For more information, please visit Forbes.
A great deal of new technologies can be overwhelming at first glance. Yes, we live in a wonderful world that has seen humans connect to one another in ways never before imagined. Distance is no longer a matter that hinders contact and collaboration. Our interactive experiences, by way of both entertainment and industry, are getting more sophisticated by the minute. It seems that there is nothing that is out of our grasp, what with a little hard work, dedication, and imagination. One of the more exciting examples of a recent technological leap, is the Xbox 360’s Kinect controller. The first hands-free gaming experience, the system is limited only by your own ingenuity. The center of a great deal of hype, the Kinect is said to be the leader of a new revolution in gaming.
What is the Kinect? It is a new system for controlling video games inspired by the Nintendo Wii’s wireless controller. The Kinect itself is a webcam-style peripheral for the 360 that captures gamers’ physical movements, interprets them, and displays this information via a physical avatar. It is, essentially, a completely hands-free, controller-free gaming experience. The Kinect responds to not only physical movements but also voice commands and features voice recognition software. A select number of titles are currently available that are exclusive to the Kinect system, but this list will undoubtedly grow as the system gains prominence. There is even talk of the Kinect technology having PC support by the time Windows 8 is released to the market.
There are a few constants in this life. One of the most prevailing is that things cannot stand still. No matter where you turn or where you happen to be during this turning-around, you will find that everything around you is changing. Mountains are eroding as trees attempt to scrape the heavens with the return of every spring and summer season. People grow up, buildings rise and fall, as does the economy, and we all bear witness to the changing of time. As we do this, we also witness the rise and fall of different technologies, endemic to the needs and wants of the general public and of industry. These, too, change over time, and are far from static entities. However, if we recognize where change can happen and attempt to deal with how our day-to-day will change, we can embrace change with open arms.
Technology is an ever-changing entity. In fact, right now the consumer market can be said to be changing from a ‘ground computing’ model, where your computer stores everything you might need, to a cloud computing experiences, where everything is on-demand, accessed via third-party hosting. Yes, it seems likely that one day our Internet experience will be a streaming, on-demand endeavor, where computers are merely kiosks. However, what does this spell for the future of gaming? There has been great speculation as the cloud model has been tested in this industry via endeavors such as OnLive. Is it apt to say that console-based gaming is dead and/or dying? That is a question that will take some time to rectify, not a simple yes-or-no situation.
As an art form and as a mode of entertainment, video games as a whole are entering a new era: the nostalgic time. Yes, they have indeed been around long enough (roughly 60 years or so) to warrant the use of such phrases as ‘classic’ and ‘groundbreaking’ when describing certain titles. It seems that we are becoming more and more aware of the impact of early video games, of franchises that a certain percentage of the population can claim to have ‘grown up playing.’ We are beginning to see just how these games have shaped the current gaming landscape, how these titles are so revered and respected as true archetypes of design, storyline and gameplay. A few of these titles have become cultural juggernauts in their own right, their franchises extended from the console to the television screen, the silver screen, merchandising, and beyond. Truly, video games are now an entertainment force to be reckoned with.
Nowhere is this more evident than the Super Mario franchise. Since 1985, the adventures of a plumber transported to a fantastic world of fire-breathing plants, dinosaurs, and princesses have captivated millions of gamers the world over. In fact, it can be said that the most famous video game level, the most iconic and recognizable to anyone familiar with video games, is level 1-1 in the original Super Mario Bros title. So recognizable, even, that subverting the very side-scrolling nature of the original game can produce something both fresh and iconic. Take, for instance, the work of a YouTube user who turned level 1-1 from a side-scrolling 2D endeavor into a 3D, first-person experience.
You would be surprised at just how some people might react in times of need, strife, or trouble. Yes, there are some that cannot fight the overwhelming urge to panic or to lose their heads a bit. However, what can be seen as a prevailing reaction, especially in times of modern tragedy, is an overwhelming urge to give back and to make the situation a bit better. It is incredible to behold the depth and the breadth of human kindness in times of great suffering. The aid response for the crises during the Southeast Asian tsunami and the earthquake in Haiti are archetype example of just how kind and generous people can be. Of course, it should not take an extensive tragedy to incite such emotional responses, but the sad fact of the matter is that it often takes a crisis to bring out the absolute best in everyone.
The recent earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan have wreaked untold havoc. The property damage and loss of life has been projected to be astronomical. However dark the entire situation seems to be, it seems we can count on acts of human kindness to shed some light. An extremely unlikely force for good throughout this terrible tragedy has risen, the video game industry. PopCap, the developers of popular iPod and iPhone app games such as Humans vs. Zombies have pledged that all proceeds from the sale of their games until midnight on March 20th will be sent to help the relief effort in Japan. As well, Electronic Arts games has pledged to match all employee donations to the relief effort. For more information, please visit Business Insider.
As IGN is wont to do, they have a complete breakdown of the upcoming anticipated game, Two Worlds II.
Two Worlds II occasionally hits you with a moral choice. There’s no “karma” system in effect here, but you usually have to pick between two options. In general, being understanding, helpful, and merciful gets you more experience points and completed quests than being a murderous jackass, but the latter gets you through the game a lot faster. There is, in fact, a choice late in the game that lets you skip roughly half of Chapter III if you go with the violent option. It’s your call.
The original Two Worlds has its fans, but it’s largely known for being… well, awful. Two Worlds II is a huge improvement from the word “go,” and while it’s got quite a few flaws, it’s actually not bad. It’s an open-world fantasy game with a weird sense of humor, an adult sensibility, and a couple of dozen hours’ worth of dungeon diving. Give it a try. You might like it more than you think you will.
If you’re a hacker — aspiring or otherwise — don’t event think about hacking into the Sony PlayStation 3 system. CNET is reporting that those who do will be banned for life from the system.
“Violation of the System Software Licence Agreement for the PlayStation 3 System invalidates the consumer guarantee for that system,” reads a notice posted to Sony’s official PlayStation blog. “In addition, copying or playing pirated software is a violation of International Copyright Laws. Consumers using circumvention devices or running unauthorized or pirated software will have access to the PlayStation Network and access to Qriocity services through PlayStation 3 system terminated permanently.”
According to one account, “If you get error 0x8002A227, Sony banned your PS3 from the PSN.”
This is just the latest step by Sony to thwart PlayStation 3 jailbreaks.
In the most well-publicized battle, the company last month requested a restraining order against famed iPhone jailbreaker George Hotz, also known as Geohot, for coming up with a jailbreak that lets people run unauthorized software on the PS3.
Sony alleged that the jailbreak, created with the assistance of the hacking group fail0verflow, violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and asked a court to stop Hotz from making any material related to his hack available on the Web. Hotz countered Sony’s claim, saying his solution was a jailbreak for a closed system, just like any jailbreak for mobile phones, which are explicitly allowed by the DMCA.