Ever have one of those dreams where you knew you were sleeping and you were able to control your virtual landscape? They're called lucid dreams, and according to an new study, gamers are more likely to have them.
"If you're spending hours a day in a virtual reality, if nothing else it's practice," said Jayn e Gackenback, a psychologist at Grant MacEwan University in Canada. "Gamers are used to controlling their game environments, so that can translate into dreams."
Gackenbach says she first became interested in videogames back in the 1990s when she used to witness her son kiss a Nintendo gaming console on the way home from a Toys R Us. More recently, Gackenbach has been interested in whether gamers dream differently than non-gamers, beginning with two studies published in 2006.
The first of those studies suggested that those who play videogames frequently had a higher tendency to experience lucid dreams. Gackenbach also found that gamers flipped between first person and third person views.
Much more here, including what effect violent videogames have on dreams.
There are sore losers, like those who don't shake hands and congratulate the winning team after losing a hotly contested basketball game, and then there's Julien Barreaux, a Frenchman who doesn't like to lose at Counter Strike. And considering what he reportedly did, it isn't much fun to win against him either.
According to a NYDailyNews.com report, Barreaux simmered for 6 months as he tried to track down the gamer who had the gall to kill his online Counter Strike character in a virtual knife fight. He eventually found the skilled, albeit incredibly unlucky gamer and allegedly proceeded to stab him in the chest with a real knife. Repeatedly. In the man's own home.
"Barreaux was arrested wthin the hour and told us he had wanted to see his rival wiped out for killing off his character," a police officer testified at the trial.
The victim ultimately survived, though not for lack of trying to murder him. Barreaux missed the victim's heart by less than an inch. Had his aim been better, Barreaux likely would be looking at more jail time, but as it stands, he'll serve just two years behind bars and receive anger management therapy.
Think the sentence is too light? So do we, but if it makes you feel any better, Judge Alexiane Potel had some strong words for Barreaux, calling him a "menace to society" (on an unrelated note, that's a great movie if you're into that sort of thing).
"I am frankly terrified of the disproportionate reaction you could have if someone looked at you the wrong way in the street," the judge continued.
And thanks to the light sentence, he'll be on the streets in no more than 24 months from now.
Listen up kids, if you want to convince your parents that buying a Nintendo Wii is essential to your well being, be sure to point out that even the Navy is looking towards videogames to help whip recruits into shape. That's no joke - the Navy's Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Adam Robinson, said that the Navy was looking at using the equivalents of Nintendo's Wii Fit and Konami's Dance Dance Revolution as training tools in boot camp.
"There are lots of programs that people can [use to] become very physically active while they're using interactive computer games," Robinson said. "So, in other words, this isn't about [starting] with computers and stopping [everything else] -- because we're not going to do that. This is about incorporating those types of activities into something that people can use to become more physically active."
According to Robinson, today's recruits enter the force in need of much more work to get into fighting shape than has been the case in the past, and he said it's because so many young people now prefer computers and videogames to sports and activities.
In case you missed it, Pac-Man turned 30-years-old last Friday, and to celebrate the occasion, Google brought the 8-bit character back to life through the Web titan's first-ever playable Google doodle. All you had to do was hit the "Insert Coin" button and you could relive those childhood memories of chomping on pellets and dodging ghosts on a customized level.
It's hard to believe we were once so amused by this that we fed actual quarters into an actual machine so that we could navigate Pac-Man up, down, left, and right, but not only was the game hugely popular, apparently so was the doodle.
"Thanks to NAMCO for helping to make this wonderful collaboration happen. Enjoy!"
Could this mean the end of Minesweeper and Solitaire as mid-afternoon time wasters? Probably not, but it's at least worthy of a bookmark. And here's a protip: Press the "Insert Coin" button twice to play a two-player game with Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man simultaneously (use WASD to control Ms. Pac-Man).
We don't remember there ever being a healthy heart logo plastered on the side of our Atari 2600 consoles growing up, but had there been, perhaps we logged a lot more time playing Adventure, Pitfall, and Pac-Man. Maybe we can make up for lost time because hey, there's something to be said about playing videogames in order to live a healthy lifestyle.
Don't believe us? Just ask the American Heart Association, which has teamed up with Nintendo to promote healthy living through active-play videogames, as the organization explains it. No need to twist our arms, we're all in.
"Our two organizations come from different worlds, but we share a common goal," said Clyde Yancy, M.D., president of the American Heart Association. "Showing people accessible ways to stay active has been a part of our mission for decades, but our research tells us nearly 70 percent of Americans are getting no regular physical activity. As an organization we are looking for ways to change this. Nintendo has demonstrated clear leadership in active-play video games with the popularity of the Wii system, and I’m confident that together we can encourage Americans to become more physically active."
As part of this totally awesome campaign, consumers will see the American Heart Association brand on boxes for the Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports Resort titles for the Wii starting this summer. And what better way to stay healthy during summer break than to toss a virtual Frisbee or wakeboarding from your recliner?
Arxan Technologies, Corsair, and Logitech have all joined on as new members with the PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA), the non-profit consortium whose goal is to promote PC gaming and to give the industry a public voice.
"These members bring a wealth of experience and a rich diversity of products and services to the PCGA that will significantly enhance our existing membership base", said Randy Stude, PCGA president. "By joining our rapidly growing organization, they are demonstrating their support for expanding the PC Gaming industry and their commitment to improving the PC gaming experience."
It was a busy day all around for the PCGA, which also named Min-Liang Tan, the CEO of Razer, as the organization's Board director.
"We’re honored to be elected to the PC Gaming Alliance Board of Directors," said Min-Liang Tan, CEO, Razer. "There is so much synergy between Razer’s core DNA - an essence of pure commitment to improving the PC gaming experience with state-of-the-art peripherals - and this organization’s drive to establish high standards and quality guidelines for the evolving industry at large. Both Razer and the PC Gaming Alliance are dedicated to addressing the needs of a maturing category and its largely sophisticated audience."
Perhaps the most interesting addition out of the above companies is Arxan, which is in the business of DRM. That might seem like an odd coupling, but according to company CTO Kevin Morgan, as part of the PCGA, Arxan looks to "ensure that due consideration is given to the protection of intellectual property, preservation of game integrity, and unobtrusive DRM models." Here's hoping they make good on the "unobtrusive" part.
It's no secret that game publishers and developers typically aren't very fond of GameStop and the used game business in general, but rather than sit around and complain about it, it looks like Electronic Arts has finally found a way to cash in on second-hand titles. Starting in June, EA will block players who buy used copies of sports titles out of online multiplayer.
"It's quite simple -- every game will come with a game-specific, one-time use registration code with each unit sold new at retail," EA explains. "With your Online Pass, you'll have access to multiplayer online play, group features like only dynasty and leagues, user created content, and bonus downloadable content for your game including, for example, a new driver in Tiger."
If you pick up or rent a game where the code has already been registered, you'll be given a 7-day trial, after which time you can choose to purchase a $10 pass. The Online Pass will give online access to multiple users logged into the console where the it was first activated, so on the plus side, you won't need to fork over $10 for every gamer in your household.
"This is an important inflection point in our business because it allows us to accelerate our commitment to enhance premium online services to the entire robust EA SPORTS online community," EA said.
There's no doubt the used game market can be lucrative, it's tapping into it that's challenging. Just ask mega retail chain Walmart, which previously tried cashing in on used games by renting out space for E-play, a third-party automated kiosk company.
That didn't quite work out the way Walmart had hoped, so this time around the chain is partnering with a new start-up called Game Trade, which will lease space in select Walmart locations. To start off with, the new used game venture get a test run in five stores, with a national rollout to follow if all goes well.
Word on the Web is that customers will be able to buy, sell, and trade games for both store credit and cash, and that gaming might not be the only media to change hands. Moves might make their way into Game Trade's section, and so too might gaming hardware. In other words, pretty much everything you can find at your local Gamestop.
So here's the deal - icing rival mobsters, rising in the ranks of the mafia, robbing your opponents, doing battle with flame throwers, and everything else portrayed in Mafia Wars is fair game. But pit bulls? Now you've crossed the line, Zynga.
Such is the stance the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have taken, and following a complaint by the organization, Zynga has decided to remove pit bulls from its virtual mafia landscape.
"Depicting 'man's best friend' as a fighting machine can encourage the wrong type of people--those with no heart and no understanding of a dog's needs--to treat these wonderful animals as inanimate objects," PETA executive Tracy Reiman said in a release from the company last month. "If Mark Pincus--who named his company after his own beloved dog, Zinga--can't portray dogs as loyal and loving members of the family, we'd rather he left them out of the game altogether."
According to CNet, the ordeal reeks of PR shenanigans, at least in part. A blog post from PETA points out that in YoVille, another of Zynga's games, proceeds from purchasing a virtual bulldog are donated to the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In addition, PETA said it is "sending vegan chocolates to Zynga founder and CEO Mark Pincus to thank him for his compassionate decision."
PETA may want to hold off on sending gifts, however. Other animals have either made their way into Mafia Wars, or soon will, including lions and tigers in "Vicious Crates" and a "bloody horse head" item.
While nobody in Nintendo's ranks is freaking out just yet, the company did post an annual profit decline for the first time in six years, the Wall Street Journal reports. What's more, Nintendo said it expects the backwards trend to continue again this fiscal year while the company focuses on new products to spur growth.
Sales of Nintendo's Wii and DS handheld consoles have finally started to slow down. For the fiscal year ended March 31, Nintendo said it sold 20.53 million Wii consoles world-wide, down 21 percent from the previous year. And for this fiscal year, Nintendo expects sales to drop yet again, this time to 18 million units.
"There's a lot of expectation that Nintendo will continue to dominate. And that's a tall order in this industry, which is characterized by changes in leadership in every generation," said Jay Defibaugh, equities research director at MF Global FXA Securities.
Going forward, Nintendo will face increased competition from Microsoft and Sony, both of which are planning to introduce motion-sensing controllers for their own respective consoles. Combined with the Wii's inability to play back high-definition content, Nintendo has reason to be concerned.
On the handheld front, Nintendo will release the 3DS next year, which won't require any goofy looking glasses. If it works as well as Nintendo anticipates, the company will be better prepared to fend off increasing competition from mobile phones, which have started to make a harder push into the casual gaming segment.