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December 24
2013

At Long Last, Alan Turing Pardoned For Being Gay

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Turing Pardon
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A little over a year ago, we celebrated the 100th birthday of Alan Turing – the queer math genius without whom we wouldn’t have computers or artificial intelligence (so, you know, no video games), and without whom the world might have been overrun by Nazis.  A man worth lauding.

Infamously, the government of the United Kingdom convicted him of gross indecency and punished him with chemical castration for daring to admit to the authorities he had sex with a man.  Again, were it not for Mr. Turing, the government of the United Kingdom may very well not have existed any more when he was prosecuted.

Two years after the implementation of his sentence, Turing killed himself.

Until recently, that very same government refused to grant Mr. Turing a pardon, as well as to the 49 000 other people – including Oscar Wilde – who were convicted of the same “crime.”  This is despite an apology from then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown with an acknowledgement of the government’s “inhumane” treatment of Turing under a “homophobic law.” But now, Mr. Turing is being granted a royal pardon by Queen Elizabeth – announced on Tuesday by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, and effective immediately.

Follow the link for more.

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October 22
2013

The Next Alien Game May Star Ripley’s Daughter

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Alien
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[image credit:  H.R. Giger/20th Century Fox]

Twentieth Century Fox is trademarking the name Alien:  Isolation, according to a report from Siliconera.  This follows months-old rumours that developer Creative Assembly has been working on a game set in the Alien universe, and teasing some connection to the first film.  That the trademark claim references Alien, not Aliens (as many previous franchise games have), bolsters that possibility.

A Kotaku source claims that Alien:  Isolation will star series heroine Ellen Ripley’s daughter Amanda Ripley, and that it is indeed “heavily inspired by” the original Alien film.  The source reported that the game will be a first-person shooter with “stealth and horror elements” à la Bioshock and Dishonored, and that the developers and current franchise publisher Sega are taking seriously the disaster that was Aliens:  Colonial Marines and the ill will it fostered.  There has been, however, no official comment from Creative Assembly or Sega about the game.

That Alien:  Isolation may star Ripley’s daughter might come as a bit of a curiosity to series fans:  Amanda Ripley is only mentioned by name in the extended edition of Aliens, which had her dying on Earth in old age a few years before the events of that film.  How Creative Assembly intends to have her follow in her mother’s footsteps could be interesting stuff.  As long as they write it better than  poor Hicks’ treatment in Colonial Marines(or in Alien 3, for that matter).

 

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October 14
2013

Reports Indicate Students Forced To Work In PS4 Production

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Reports out of China  allege that student workers are being told to work on PS4 production lines at a Foxconn plant or put their graduation in jeopardy.  The students were reportedly told to intern at the plant, where they were given jobs unrelated to their fields of study.  Foxconn, a manufacturing giant contracted by Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and Apple to produce their merchandise, has had a checkered history recently, including mass strikes, suicides, and the use of underage workers to manufacture the Wii U.

Foxconn has responded to the newest reports by acknowledging that student interns from the Xi’an Institute of Information Engineering were given night- and overtime shifts in violation of company policy, while Sony has stated that “We understand Foxconn fully comprehend and comply with this ‘Sony Supplier Code of Conduct.’”  Foxconn’s statement included a pledge to bring labour practices at the particular site where the violations took place up to code.  The statement did not, however, address the allegations of interns being given positions unrelated to their fields of study, or the report that students would have six credits withheld if they did not take the internships, thus rendering them unable to graduate – though it did reiterate that the students were “free to terminate their participation in the program at any time.”  How free one’s participation is when one’s graduation hangs in the balance – or how helpful an internship is when it is unrelated to your studies – are, perhaps, matters of opinion.

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October 9
2013

Red Cross Pushes For Consequences For War Crimes In Video Games

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ICRC
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While trying to stay out of any debate on violence in video games per se, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC) is pushing for video game makers to include realistic consequences for players’ actions in video game battlefields.  In an article and interview on the ICRC website, the organization argues that while “sanitizing” video games – removing violence or even the opportunity to commit what would, in the real world, be considered war crimes (such as killing civilians, targeting hospitals, or torturing prisoners) – is not in its mandate, or even realistic, neither is it desirable as video games could be a powerful teaching tool about war crimes and their consequences:

“Violations occur on real battlefields and can therefore be included in video games. The ICRC believes it is useful for players to learn from rewards and punishments incorporated into the game, about what is acceptable and what is prohibited in war.”

The ICRC states it is already working with video game developers to implement systems that would reflect the laws of armed conflict, and is careful to state that it is only advocating for these changes in games that depict real-world military conflict, meaning space marines and black mages would be exempted.  How excited gamers would be to have the Geneva Conventions apply to their FPSes, however remains to be seen – as does an indication of what kind of support the ICRC may get from major developers.

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September 9
2013

Video Games Improve Memory, Multitasking, And Attention Span In Older Adults

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TheGoldenGirls
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New research published online in Nature has shown that the inevitable cognitive decline associated with ageing can be greatly reduced by playing a challenging video game.

Backing up previous research (and the whole idea behind Brain Age) showing that video games could improve brain function in older adults, researchers from the University of California San Francisco have shown that memory, attention span, and the ability to multitask can all be improved among adults from 60 to 85 years old by playing a game called NeuroRacer custom-designed to continually increase the challenge and complexity of the game as players improve.  The researchers first found that the ability to play the game decreased steadily among participants by age category, from those in their early twenties to those in old age, but then found that after playing twelve hours of the game over four weeks, participants between 60 and 85 improved to the point that they performed better than a control group of twenty-somethings.  Moreover, this effect lasted for six months after the end of the study.

The experts are, of course, advising that this is only preliminary research – but I, for one, hope this means my Mario Kart skills will keep me out of Shady Pines for a few more years.

 

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July 22
2013

Indie Darlings: Bwak

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Bwak
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Bwak is a one-button survivor horror game about a chicken trying to watch TV at night without having a heart attack and exploding.

It’s also surprisingly fucking scary…and the next game featured for Gaygamer.net’s Indie Darlings.

Read on after the jump. MORE >>

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July 17
2013

Celebrate Thirty Years Of The NES With This Amazing Zelda Archive

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NES30Zelda
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Thirty years ago, the Nintendo Famicom (better-known as the NES in other territories) was released in Japan.  Hard to believe, but if it were a person it would be old enough to complain about mortgage payments, grey hair, and PTA meetings.

The Famicom/NES is often lauded for providing the platform for video games to rise from the flames of the industry crash in the early 1980s, and for the launch of many of the most iconic characters and franchises in the industry.  Super Mario Bros., the Princess, Toad, Samus, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, Mega Man, and, of course, Link, Zelda, and Gannondorf.

While Nintendo has officially commemorated the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda with a concert series, collectables, and the Hyrule Historia, some dedicated fans at History of Hyrule have amassed an astonishing compendium of art from the entire lifespan of the Zelda series, from magazines, books, manga, and more.  Apart from its relevance to Zelda fans, it’s incredible to observe the advance in the sophistication of video game art in general from the early days of the Famicom/NES and an industry searching to find its feet, to the high-definition era of billion-dollar corporations.

You can view the entire – and colossal – collection here.