Monster Hunter Communal Gaming Space Opens



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The game latest game in the franchise, Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite, is number 25 in the sales charts this week, and the organisers of the event hope it will kick-start the game’s popularity in the UK. The Monster Hunter series is huge in Japan, outselling all other titles by hundreds of thousands of copies. It has a similar premise to Pokemon, with players completing quests to achieve glory, and fashioning armour and weapons from the remains of slain monsters. Gamers play co-operatively on their PSPs, lending the title a social element, and Japanese fans often play together on their morning commute. The event’s organisers are hoping that by opening up a communal gaming space in central London, they’ll foster a similar trend. The Monster Hunter Gathering Hall, which is taking place at the former site of the Lazarides gallery on Charing Cross Road, runs until September 1, and organisers expect hundreds of fans to gather at the gallery each day to play the game. Admission is free to PSP owners who have a copy of the Monster Hunter game. Capcom, the game’s publisher, said: “What makes Monster Hunter unique in that it is best played cooperatively. Players have to be physically close to play together, meaning that there’s a real social element to the game. Players in Japan congregate everywhere, from parks to cafés to amusement arcades to on public transport. It’s not unusual to see large huddles of kids in parks, all sitting together playing the game.”

( www.telegraph.co.uk )


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Sony Beefs Up PSP Themes



:ahaha:Sony plays host Destination Playstation this week where it seems it is relying on the PSP to further grow its burgeoning Playstation Network The firm has taken to packaging PSPs around games and has announced Assassin's Creed and Hannah Montana versions of the game console at a knees-up in Arizona, The Hannah Montana PSP is lilac. Sony said it has already regsistered more that 20 million accounts on its Playstation Network and said it had sold 21.3 million PS3s and 50 million PSPs as of January 2009. ( www.theinquirer.net )

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Microsoft Unveils Universal Deal For Xbox

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Microsoft is making major improvements to its Xbox Live service – including a tie-up with NBC Universal to boost its movie offerings and a raft of new games announcements. The Xbox 360 is battling hard against rival PlayStation 3 in the console market, and after the success of Xbox Live's movie service in the US, the UK will not get a more extensive service of its own. The deal with NBC Universal International Television Distribution means that some of the world's biggest movies will be available to download – many in HD, with the studio joining Warner Bros and Paramount on the Xbox ticket. Microsoft also took the opportunity to talk up its extensive downloadable content including new material for some of the biggest releases of the last year, including GTA IV, and mention the forthcoming MMO quiz 1 vs 100. Commenting on the news, UK & Ireland Head of Xbox, Neil Thompson said: "We are delighted to announce what are perhaps our most exciting content developments to date. "Having an agreement with NBC Universal not only gives our customers even more choice when they use Xbox LIVE but really seals our position as a major player in the mainstream home entertainment space. "Of course, we always want to ensure our core audience have the best possible gaming experiences too, and with the range of new extra content now available they can enjoy some of the biggest blockbuster and social games for longer than ever before. "This also applies to '1 vs. 100', which, whilst still in its infancy, signals the next chapter in the Xbox story which is set to take home entertainment to a whole new level by putting the consumer in the driving seat of their own TV show. Watch this space." ( www.techradar.com )


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Too Much Gaming Gives You PlayStationitis

:ayokona:Over enthusiastic gamers are at risk of contracting Palmare PlayStation Hidradenitis, it seems, after a 12-year-old Swiss girl had the distinction of becoming the first person diagnosed with the affliction. The girl had developed a serious hand infection caused, her doctor said, by excessive gaming. Professor Vincent Piguet from the University Hospital of Geneva, Swiss named the condition Palmare PlayStation Hidradenitis, Swiss news agency ATS reported. Piguet said the girl's hands were covered in lumps. "They were huge red nodes which were very spectacular," he told reporters. Continuous stressed pressing of buttons and waggling of knobs, plus all the sweat and grime were blamed for the condition. Doctors banned the girl from her Playstation for ten days and her condition cleared up. A report appears in the British Journal of Dermatology.
( www.theinquirer.net )

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Video Games Like World of Warcraft And Second Life Could Be Used For Education

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Researchers believe interactive games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life could be adapted so that children learn skills from them that could be transferred to real life. They believe that the "immersive" aspect of the games in which the player suspends his belief means that the brain is particularly engaged and can absorb complex issues. The games real life feel also means that students could effectively carry out "work experience" on the computer learning techniques and skills they can apply back in reality. Researchers believe that the games, which they say are more active than passive traditional learning, could be most useful for science based subjects with students able to carry out imaginary experiments and improve their ability to "learn to learn". "Compared with a similar, paper-based curriculum that included laboratory experiences, students overall were more engaged in the immersive interface and learned as much or more," said Professor Chris Dede, an academic in Learning technologies at Harvard University in the journal Science. Games such as Whyville and the ecology game River City have already been developed specifically to teach children and students but scientists believe established popular video games could be adapted so that players could be "dosed" with knowledge.

Much like "flight simulators" they are so "real" that many life skills can be learned from them. Early tests of these learning games have shown unusual levels of student engagement. Dr Merrilea Mayo, director of Future Learning systems at the Kaufman Foundation, said the games can also help close the gap between under and over-achieving children. "Unlike lectures, games can be adapted to the pace of the user," she said "Games also simultaneously present information in multiple visual and auditory modes, which capitalises on different learning styles.

"Although the field is still in its embryonic stages, game-based learning has the potential to deliver science and maths education to millions of users simultaneously. "Unlike other mass-media experiments in education (e.g., TV), games are a highly interactive." The new research is likely to add to the debate about the pros and cons of video games. Last year the culture minister Margaret Hodge called for a film-style classifications for games such as World of Warcraft which is said to have 10 million users worldwide. There have also been concerns that the games are addictive and that children's education and lives are being disrupted by them.

( www.telegraph.co.uk )


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Video Games Can Save People

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The latest academic research has found that games such as Half Life and Doom could actually be used to train people in fire safety, evacuation procedures and even save lives. Missing a link? Let us explain. By using the engines from games such as these, which involve looking at a scenario from a first-person perspective, the team at the university was able to adapt the environment into a 3D model of a real world building. In just three weeks a single developer was able to programme three fire evacuation procedures complete with smoke and fire which the Durham experts say is significantly quicker and more cost effective than beginning from scratch. The scientists found three main advantages of using this technology. That it can be used to identify problems with the layout of the building, that it can help familiarise people with evacuation procedures and that it can teach good fire safety. Many dangerous situations occur in a fire because people don't know the bits of the building they don't use on a daily basis, like the fire exits and stairwells, well enough and therefore panic due to the unfamiliarity with procedure.

As opposed to starting from scratch this method takes a huge wedge of time off building a virtual reality model. The games are also tested extensively before use in both usability and performance also meaning less work for the team. According to the boffins the code within these games also enables easy programming of features such as wind, smoke, fire and water. Lead author Dr Shamus Smith from Durham University's Computer Science department said, "Although virtual environment toolkits are available, they usually only provide a subset of the tools needed to build complete virtual worlds." Dr Smith explains further that in order to include features such as fire and water the programmer usually requires additional programming skills and a substantial time investment on the part of the developer. "By using readily available computer games, these features can be very easily simulated and are obviously vital in creating a virtual fire evacuation scenario".

Steve Wharton, of Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service agreed that, "Using virtual models such as this one is an excellent way to raise fire safety awareness and test the effectiveness of a building's design. Virtual models also provide an effective way to train fire-fighters in a realistic, yet safe, environment." Further to the theoretic usefulness of this simulation, the team tested it on real people, showing them the difference between the usual simulation and the computer game-based one, those tested agreed unamimously that the latter was the most helpful and realistic, and that they really enjoyed shooting the fire demons in the ladies' loo on level six. ( www.atomicmpc.com.au )


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Violent Video Games 'Could Help Save Lives'



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Codes used to create virtual worlds for "shoot 'em up" games such as Doom 3 and Half Life 2 could be modified to build 3D fire safety simulators, according to research by Durham University. The games' sophisticated software could be converted to recreate real buildings, then modified to create a number of emergency scenarios, much more easily and cheaply than traditional virtual reality programmes. The study, published today in the Fire Safety Journal, found that games in which the player saw the environment from the first person perspective and normally involved the player using weapons to fight a number of enemies, had the greatest capability to be converted. The scientists said the simulations could identify problems with the layout of a building, help familiarise people with evacuation routines and teach people good practice in fire safety. Lead author Dr Shamus Smith from Durham University's Computer Science department said: "Although virtual environment toolkits are available, they usually only provide a subset of the tools needed to build complete virtual worlds. Although you can create fire and smoke for example, it is not very straightforward.

"In order to include these features using toolkits, it often requires additional programming skills and a substantial time investment on the part of the developer. "By using readily available computer games, these features can be very easily simulated and are obviously vital in creating a virtual fire evacuation scenario." Steve Wharton, deputy community safety manager at County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Using virtual models such as this one is an excellent way to raise fire safety awareness and test the effectiveness of a building's design. "Virtual models also provide an effective way to train firefighters in a realistic, yet safe, environment." ( www.telegraph.co.uk )


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