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Developer to assist charity for Facebook likes, profile pictures

4 Sep

A video game developer is promoting an upcoming product by making a donation to charity based on the number of people who officially “like” the game on Facebook.

Hudson will donate 10 cents to Child’s Play Charity for every person who “likes” Lost In Shadow on Facebook and will up the donation to one dollar for anyone who changes his or her Facebook profile picture to one depicting a shadow.

Morgan Haro, marketing specialist at Hudson, said the event, called “Shadows To Light,” reflects the theme of the game, which revolves around the shadow of a boy climbing a mystical tower.

“The journey is all about overcoming hardships and the barriers that prevent you from reaching your goal,” Harrow said. “Child’s Play is a charity that sees hundreds of thousands of young children in a similar journey, only grounded in reality.”

Haro said her personal goal is to get 10,000 “likes” by the event’s September 7 deadline.

“At the very least, this would enable us to donate $1,000 to Child’s Play,” Haro said. “However that’s not factoring in how many of those 10,000 would have changed their profile picture to a shadow. Hopefully, we’ll see a good amount of those.”

Hudson will count the “likes” and profile pictures on September 7 to determine the amount of its donation. Lost In Shadow comes out in North America January 4, 2011.


Italian-American group wants stereotypes cut from Mafia II

20 Aug

Mafia II tells the story of a Sicilian gangster's rise in the 1940s and '50s.

UNICO National, “the largest Italian service organization in the USA”, voiced its disapproval of Take-Two Interactive’s upcoming video game Mafia II, which places players in the role of a Sicilian gangster as he rises through the ranks of an Italian crime syndicate in the 1940s and ’50s.

Andre’ DiMino, UNICO National president, said Mafia II perpetuates the stereotype of all Italians and Italian-Americans as being connected to organized crime, a stereotype he said is based on a small percentage of truth when compared to the prevalence of other ethnic groups involved in organized crime. Continue reading

University creating video game to teach drug dosage in nursing

18 Aug

Most of the development team working on the game, from left: Arne Thomas Nilsen, (Programmer and Media Analyst), Petter Mordt (Executive Programmer), Siril Grude (Pedagogical Designer and Media Analyst), Atle Lokken (Head of Department, NettOp), and Karsten Tillerli (Production Manager, web based nursing project)


NettOp, the web-based study unit of the University of Stavanger in Norway, is developing a video game to assist nursing students in learning to prepare proper drug dosages for patients.

According to university officials, nursing students must master proper drug dosage to pass an exam before receiving certification, but the subject often proves difficult for a significant portion of students. A single miscalculation results in failure.

“At the University of Stavanger, the students have three goes at handing in an exam paper without mistakes. The last few years the percentage of fails has been between 36 and 39 both for the first and second attempt.”

Atle Løkken, director of NettOp, said he believes the problem stems from most nursing students joining the program without being prepared for the complex calculations required within the profession.

“We don’t have much scientific verification, but we believe a major reason is that the students that want to be a nurse primarily are interested in and expect the human and social aspect of the profession and are not prepared for the math and science that indeed also come with it.”

Løkken said renowned American psychologist Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory, the idea that there are a variety of intelligences that don’t necessarily trump one another, may account for why some nursing students struggle with the math of drug dosages.

“In Gardner’s theory, we may expect the nursing students to be predominantly more ‘visually’ and ‘socially intelligent’ than ‘mathematically,'” Løkken said. “This does not mean that ‘visually’ and ‘socially intelligent’ people can’t solve mathematical problems, it simply means that ‘socially intelligent’ individuals approach mathematical problems differently from how math is normally taught in academia by ‘mathematically intelligent’ instructors.”

Gardner also inspired Løkken and his team to use a video game to assist nursing students who struggle with the math.

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Eight to delete rare weapons to end controversy, benefit charity

3 Aug

Enemies bludgeoned with a golden wrench turn to gold in Team Fortress 2.

[Update: Valve has officially endorsed the event on its website:
The TF2 team knew that the Golden Wrench event would be controversial — an experiment in the distribution of an ultra-rare item. We never imagined that it would empower a small group of players to benefit a much vaster group of children in need. We are constantly shocked and impressed by the creativity of the Team Fortress 2 community, but today we are humbled.”
Read an updated version of this article at Bitmob.]

A recipient of a rare and controversial Team Fortress 2 weapon will delete the item along with seven other recipients in an attempt to rid themselves of the weapon’s stigma while raising over $5,000 for charity.

One hundred Team Fortress 2 players received golden wrenches last month, and while the weapons only differ from the default wrench cosmetically by turning defeated enemies into golden statues event organizer WiNG said the golden wrenches have created controversy within the community.

“The Wrenches have been controversial for many reasons, but primarily because there were only 100 distributed and Valve told a few white lies about how they were ‘randomly’ distributed,” WiNG said. “A hacker later proved it wasn’t completely random.”

WiNG said he realized how controversial the golden wrenches were when a recipient’s account was hacked and the weapon deleted. “When I saw how much drama this decision caused, I realized I could draw a lot of publicity by purposefully doing the same,” he said.

Rather than just re-crate the drama by deleting his golden wrench, WiNG said he wanted to use the attention to do some good.

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Video games teach US soldiers language and cultural etiquette

29 Jul

Soliders and civilians converse in Tactical Language & Culture Training System.

A communication software developer is using video games to teach military personnel Middle Eastern languages and customs so they can better communicate with local citizens.

Tactical Language & Culture Training System, developed by Alelo, uses a video game interface to immerse soldiers in a virtual world and uses voice recognition so players can speak for their avatars while carrying out conversations with locals. Players complete missions by communicating with competent language and cultural sensitivity.

According to Alelo’s website, the program was inspired by a captain in the military explaining the difficulties he and his soldiers encountered when communicating with locals in Afghanistan in 2002.

“The captain told how he and his comrades reluctantly rode on tiny ponies into a town, totally relying on their Northern Alliance escorts who only spoke Pashto and some broken Russian and Arabic while the U.S. soldiers only spoke English and some broken Russian and Arabic. When the town’s people came out on the streets the soldiers did not know if they were friendly or hostile from their gestures, demeanor and words.”

Lewis Johnson, president and chief scientist at Alelo, said it was clear from the beginning of the project that a virtual world would be able to accomplish their goals and that Tactical Language & Culture Training System takes advantage of the video game medium in several ways.

“One is the ability to place learners it a situation that is like the real-world situation, where they have to make decisions and do things that are like they would have to do in real life,” Johnson said. “And another key aspect is immediate, what we call ‘organic feedback.'”

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Self-proclaimed geeks sell video game-themed cosmetics

27 Jul

The Mushroom Kingdom set uses colors inspired by the Super Mario Bros. games.

Two video game enthusiasts started a business that designs and sells video game-themed cosmetics.

Chantel Eldredge, co-owner of Geek Chic, said the business was conceived as a combination of her two favorite hobbies.

“It was something that I thought would be a lot of fun and was a marriage of two of my greatest loves: makeup and all things geeky,” Eldredge said. “I lost my job at a large craft store chain and with the local job market being thin I asked my best friend (Geek Chic co-owner Deborah Magarella) if she wanted to go into business with me, and Geek Chic was born.”

Eldredge said one of the first steps in creating the business was to make sure no one else had come up with the same idea.

“There are a ton of products out there that are inspired by video games,” Eldredge said. “As a female gamer, I can tell you that there isn’t a whole lot in the way of gaming swag geared toward women.  That was a big part of the inspiration for combining the two.”

Geek Chic’s eye shadows, foundations, and blushes draw inspiration from distinct video game characters and concepts. Eldredge said the shades are sometimes created first then matched to a suitable video game icon.

Solid Snake, for example, started out as a color that we thought, ‘Who does this color remind me of?,'” Eldredge said. “It’s very much like baking:  Once you’ve got the base for your cookie dough down, it’s easy to think of things to add.”

Eldredge said other colors were directly inspired by hues found within certain games.

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iPhone game teaches players bartending through narrative

13 Jul

Players assume the role of a bartender in Nimble Strong's branching narrative.

An iPhone game teaches players to create mixed drinks while assuming the role of a bartender in a branching narrative spanning four acts.

Nimble Strong: Bartender in Training, developed by Nimble Strong LLC, uses real mixed drink recipes and pouring techniques to teach players the basics one would learn in a professional bartending course. Adam Ghahramani, director of Nimble Strong, said the game’s central mechanic of players timing their pours by pressing their fingers to the touch screen makes Nimble Strong both fun and educational.

“My ‘aha!’ moment was sitting in a bartending class and hearing about pour counts: how good bartenders have to have a mastery of how long a second is,” Ghahramani said. “If Nimble Strong was just about picking the right ingredients and putting them in a glass it would have been a massive bore.”

Ghahramani said he was inspired to create Nimble Strong when he saw an ad for a $500 bartending course after sitting in on a speech by Will Wright, creator of the Sim series, in Vancouver.

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