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Gaming Pirates (as in Arrr Matey!)

Looks like digital "pirates" aren't the only form of piracy plaguing the video game industry. By Pirates I mean the people of the whole guns, eye patches, "arrr matey" variety. The rumor mill has it that pirates around Somalia have been increasing attacks from once every couple of weeks to multiple times a day. The attacks are being focused on trade ships beyond the Horn of Africa, entering the areas of The Red Sea and The Gulf of Aden, jeopardizing access the Suez Canal. What does this mean? Well, that European gamers might have difficulty getting their Wii's and Xbox 360's for the holiday season.
 
According the pcworld.com, the attacks have gotten so severe that companies are starting to reorganize their trade route to go around the Cape of Good Hope. The reroute would almost double the length of the trip, and add another three weeks onto the total time of the trip. The extra distance would totally alter shipping schedules and greatly increase the fuel needed to make the shipments. These companies that are thinking about doing the reroutes ship products such as oil, coal, and toys. The "toys" in these shipments include the ever awesome and necessary games we all need.
 
The main part of the world that this will affect is Europe, possibly meaning that there might me a shortage of gaming supplies this holiday season. However, it could have a more worldwide effect, possibly even messing with the US's delicate and already weakened economy. It should be noted that October was a great month for gaming sales, due to several high profile releases such as Fallout 3 and Fable 2, which gave gaming an increase of last October's numbers.
 
Regardless, this situation answers the ever pressing question that has plagued gamers' minds for ages: Are Pirates or Ninjas cooler? Well, clearly the Ninja is now superior since they don't mess with gaming shipments.

Buffing up Bond

Quantum of Solace
 
Developer: Treyarch, Publisher: Activision
 
Format: Xbox 360
 
Bond is back, with his trademark combination of grit and glamour. Along with the recent release of Quantum of Solace in cinemas comes this, the inevitable videogame tie-in. As a Bond game, Quantum of Solace attracts unfair comparisons between itself and Rare's classic Goldeneye 007, but as a movie-tie in, it's more comfortable sitting alongside its silver screen counterpart. Such affinity, symbiosis even, is apparent from the off.
 

Nintendo Gets Sued (Yet Again...)

Nintendo really can't seem to catch a break. Who could forget last May when they had to pay up 21 million USD due to a patent infringement on a "3D controller with vibration." Well, looks like the Wii-mote is following in the Waverbird's footsteps. Yet again, the company is being sued for copyright infringement, this time by an Ohio based company, Motiva. They are alleging that Nintendo is violating their patent on a "Human Movement Measurement System' comprising a hand-held tracking device in communication with a base station that can be used to create an interactive gaming experience."
 
Motiva filed their patent in July 2004 and finally had it granted in November 2007 (the patent can be read here http://www.google.com/patents?id=ctCRAAAAEBAJ&dq=7,292,151). However, an outsider has to wonder if the Wii-mote would even be an issue if the Wii wasn't such a success. Not that Nintendo cares; with Wii's and the Wii Fit flying off the shelves, and the upcoming holiday season, they have deep enough pockets to survive a few lawsuits. The Law Firm representing Motiva is Lanier Law firm, with Mr.Lanier himself making several comments. Perhaps the most comical being, "Nintendo makes video games where you get to play a thief, but that doesn't give them the right to be one." He also stated that, "Using someone else's technology without permission is theft." It should be noted that although the patent was approved in November 2007, the Wii came out in late 2006.
 
Nintendo fans everywhere probably could care less about patent infringements and lawsuits as long as they get to play their games. The Wii has skyrocketed to success and is making gaming become more main stream by appealing to casual gamers.

The console is dying. Really?

In this recent article for ClickZ (http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3631593), Kevin Carney puts forward an argument suggesting console gaming is dying and set to be overtaken by online gaming. While he presents a couple of good points, and raises issues which games publishers and console manufacturers will need to address in the future, his overall theory is a little wide of the mark.
 
Too soon to say - First off, even taking the early release of the Xbox 360 into account, we are still only three years into a five-year console cycle and already we are seeing new ways to use our consoles. Nintendo's Wii offers something that had only been dreamed of in the past with its innovative control system and has brought the console squarely into the family space. Meanwhile, the blu-ray capabilities of the PlayStation3 and the rise of services such as Xbox Live and downloadable movies mean that the console is now becoming the little black box underneath the TV that does almost everything.
 

The Many Lawsuits of Nintendo Wii

Since the Nintendo Wii was released it has been popular not only with gamers but legal actions as well. Just two months after the Wii showed its little white box in public, it was involved in a legal case with California-based Interlink Electronics. They had patented a ‘Trigger Operated Electronic Device' patent no. 6,850,221, filed in September 1997, only 9 years earlier, and described as an "ergonomically effective mouse for operating a computer." They also stated "This invention relates to a trigger operated electronic device. In particular, it concerns a mouse for operating a cursor in a computer system." Unfortunately for Nintendo their Wiimotes are also a trigger operated device that uses a pointer on a TV or screen and does slightly resemble the diagram in the patent. Needless to say Nintendo were taken to court to be sued.
 

Wii Have To Believe

On Friday (7.11.08) SiliconRepublic.com gave a report about the Nintendo Wii being used for psychological experiments. One of these tests concluded that we have a ‘truth bias', meaning we are more likely to believe things we read or hear, before thinking otherwise.
 
Dr Rick Dale, a psychology expert from University of Memphis, said "The Wiimote is in fact the perfect interface to perform these kinds of experiments...
...As the game itself is already designed to absorb a person's body into the video-game experience, we just have to hook the Wiimote into a lab computer, and we can enjoy the rich streaming data that video games typically use, but this time, track them in experiments."
 
Many psychologists, until recently, thought that thinking and moving were controlled by separate subsystems in the human mind. Dr Dale, after the tests said, "We often begin to act before we think, even when making relatively simple decisions. Some might say that we even think through our actions."
 
The experiments were simply ‘Yes/No' or ‘True/False' questions, and the subject used the Wiimote, by using the infa-red pointer, to answer. The data that was then collected showed how the pointer would first hover over ‘Yes' or ‘True' before stopping on ‘False'. This shows us that we have a tendency to believe things first, however wrong they are, and then work out the answer secondly. Of course this happens incredibly quickly and without us knowing about it. It also shows us that the body was in motion before the thought processes were completed, that is to say we didn't think about our actions first.
 

Can Nintendo Save The World's Economy?

Over the last few months, you may have heard a little about the ‘Global Credit Crisis', possible world recession, and how it is affecting everyone. Well, it turns out that clever Nintendo may have a solution to all our problems. They plan to team up with Nikkei, Tokyo's leading and most respected index of the Japanese stock exchange, to create a new DS game which will make learning about the economy fun.
 
It sounds like a hard task, making something that we can't get right in ‘real-life' a fun and exciting video game for young people. But Nintendo has done it before with such classic ranges as ‘Brain Age', ‘Maths made Simple', ‘My Spanish Coach', and ‘Driving Theory Training', along with many others. So they've had practise at making educational games work and work well. But will this be too extreme and out there?
 
By using the touch-screen panels on the DS, you will be able to learn the basics of the economy and how it all works. You will also be taught keywords which are used in the stock market and then quizzed via a series of question based games. With all this ‘fun', Nintendo hopes that the game will attract a younger audience and keep them interested in the economy.
 
We should take our hats off to Nintendo really; if anyone can make a subject such as the economy fun, interesting and interactive, they can. Better still, if kids then grow up taking this knowledge with them, we could actually see a much more stable world ahead of us, even if it's run from kids on DS's.
 
Although now would be a great time to release this game/teaching aid, there has been no release date set, and no news on a title, although I think ‘MyEconomy' or ‘Recessionz' would fit the DS range rather well.
 

Health, Education and Nintendo Wii

This isn't something we as gamers have really heard before; we have had consoles slated for many years over whether they are good for us or not. I used to get told by my parents that my eyes will turn square if I play too much, and I'm ko. Now we have the motion-sensing abilities of the Nintendo Wii and all this has changed.
For most of us, the Wii is just a console with some amazing features, unlike any other so far. The motion-sensing abilities I believe have changed the way we see the future of playing video games as a whole. But now take a step back and think about people with physical/mental disabilities. Not all of them will be able to play such games, especially using a control-pad. The buttons will be too small and fiddly, and remembering to press the correct one at the right time can be extremely hard and frustrating, if not impossible. This means big companies like Sony or Microsoft are going to be losing out on a new category of gamer. Whereas Nintendo, by pushing new technologies and gambling with new concepts have increased their target audiences exponentially, and have in fact created new gamer types. They are now developing games for the family at home, the casual gamer, and girl gamers, three genres that up until now have been left in the corner to rot.
 

Do MMORPGS Promote Terrorism?

Okay, so any World of Warcraft player knows how annoying the scourge disease was during the in-game Halloween celebrations. Sure, it was fun for the first ten minutes to go around infecting others, making a massive zombie army to attack one of the capital cities. However, after an hour of constantly being infected and dying, I was unable to accomplish anything and ended taking a break from the game until the Halloween celebrations ended. However, experts are saying that this annoying yet harmless addition to WoW can be used to study terrorism.

Due to the nature of how the disease spread, expert Charles Blair believes that the game could information on how terrorists form tactics and plans (http://www.cetisresearch.org/people/blair.html). In order to effectively spread the disease, a player must go to a town or city and infect other players. This can be done by simply attacking each other, using an ability which throws so liquid that infects people in a small radius, or by doing a channeling ability which sacrifices the player at the expense of infecting a large area around them. Similar to actual terrorist tactics in the real world, studying players' reactions to such events is being used to gather data for what would happen in the real world. Some players try to stop the infection from spreading. Some want to join the leagues of the undead. Others run away, or stop playing all together. However, due to the fact that dying really isn't a big deal in World of Warcraft (simply speaking with a spirit healer or running to their corpse revives a player), the study is being taken with a grain of salt.