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In All Seriousness, Though  
09:22am 15/08/2008
We're moving.
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Interesting Times  
06:02pm 11/08/2008
Dread news, friends. Pixelsocks.livejournal.com may be drawing to a close in the near future. Click the link above to discover why.
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Miyamoto Becomes Leonard of Quirm  
08:25am 11/08/2008
Nintendo is evidently keeping closer wraps on Miyamoto than they used to. It turns out that, when the game designer worries about his weight, he develops Wii Fit, and when he collects bugs, we get Pokémon. In an effort to keep the competition from committing casual conversation espionage against the legendary game designer, Nintendo has evidently discouraged Miyamoto from discussing his hobbies in the public arena. The sources for this revelation are unidentified and therefore of arguable credibility, but if it almost sounds like ol' Hiroshi "draconian" Yamauchi is in charge again.
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Blizzard Further Incentivizes Warcraft Evangilism  
09:46am 08/08/2008
Coming hot on the heels of an update that reduced the levelling time between levels 30-60, warcraft has made a play to further compress the grind. By signing up a friend, you can reap 90 days of: tripled experience gain, an hourly ability to summon your friend to you, a free level for every two levels your friend gains, and a shiny new Zhevra mount. All that comes on top of the free month you used to get for doing Blizzard's marketing for them. While this will no doubt engender fanboy rage at being cheated out of a portion of their lives, it should help ease the pain of helping a new friend to the level cap.
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Games as Communication and Teachers  
01:27pm 07/08/2008
Gamasutra has posted a thoughtful editorial from Duncan Fyfe about the role of video games in education. This warrants more attention than, say, Mario's Time Machine, because the article treats education not so much as formal schooling, but as the transmission of important ideas and inspiration from person to person.

The main thrust is that video games are in a unique position spark an interest in knowledge, without necessarily cramming the information down our throats with a test at the end. You see this frequently from gamers--claims that they learned words from formative games (how many of you knew the word "spoony" before Final Fantasy hit the SNES?), or discovered new bands through Guitar Hero--so there's something of substance about the claim. Check it out, and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section.
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PSA: XBox Live phishing scam  
12:19pm 04/08/2008
1up is reporting that phishing messages are being propagated around XBox Live that appear to come from members of your friends list. The message offers 1600 free MS points for logging into a New Zeland domain website with your Live account. Naturally, once you've done this, your user name is hijacked to send the same message to everyone on your friend list and (surprise) no points are awarded. So, if you have an XBox Live account, keep your eyes peeled.

That said, it's heartening in its sinister little way to see thieves exploiting Live like this. It means there's something worth stealing on there in large enough volumes to justify the risk. When unscrupulous people take an interest in your financial enterprise, you know you've arrived. Congratulations all around.
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Gaming Culture: Gaming Fashion  
07:23pm 01/08/2008
In case you've ever wondered if you're wearing too many belts (or not wearing enough), 1up has provided a top five worst-dressed video game characters list. If you can look past the banality of the top 5 format, it's funny how easy it is to take ridiculous video game fashion for granted. Even ignoring the legions of nearly nude femme fatales, character design has become so focused on making something striking and memorable that it plummets headlong into the absurd.

Just a little something to remind you how jaded you are.
tags: 1up, fashion
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News: After Market DRM  
06:23pm 30/07/2008
It's no secret that the aftermarket trade of video games is a thriving business, and that developers and publishers never see a penny of it. David Braben (developer, Frontier Games) has finally voiced the fear. Citing the short shelf life of new games and the small footprint that new games are given in retail Braben has discovered a solution: ban used games.

The nuts and bolts of the ban boils down to copy protection--some sort of code on the disc or package from the developer--but it's not difficult to imagine a server activation more along the lines of modern DRM. In fact, games like Mario Kart DS already match a console to a cartridge to create a unique identifier for the player's online presence. So, even if these program features haven't been applied to copy protection, the technology is already in place.

It gets trickier and trickier to play the games you buy every year.
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Gaming Culture: Bushido and simple design  
07:39am 28/07/2008
Gamasutra has posted an editorial analyzing Bushido Blade (PS1) and how it communicates designer morality and cleaves to its title. The article meanders a bit into the philosophy near the late middle section, but also contains some interesting thoughts on the difference between simple and complex game rules:

Traditional fighting games are like college courses, and versus matches like exams . . . In Bushido Blade, none of the answers matter; only your quick, correct reaction determines your future.

Popular casual games like Bejeweled have much this same core, where intuitive control means there's as little barrier as possible between the player and his manifest will. When that happens, gameplay is less about testing a player's knowledge about an arcane and draconian rules, and more about the intrinsic joy of changing the (virtual) world around you. Of course, there's room for both kinds of gameplay, but if you've ever wondered why your mom hates video games, it may be because the Tao of gaming has been buried under all the rules.
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Casual Game Announced for Handheld. Surprise.  
06:58pm 25/07/2008
From the "it's about time" files, PopCap Games has announced that it will be porting Peggle to the DS. They'll be doing this with Q Entertainment (Lumines, Meteos), a development house already experienced with the unique demands of handheld gaming devices. Touch interactivity seems well suited to PopCap's precision aiming game, and Peggle's short play sessions seem like a good fit for portable gaming. That in addition to Peggle's uncommon appeal to both casual and hardcore gamers makes this a game to keep an eye on.
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