Category: News

The “Wheeling Jesuit University” sounds a bit suspect to us. But industry website Gamasutra are claiming a Dr Bryan Raudenbush from there has completed a study on using videogames to distract from pain. Games broken into action, puzzle, arcade, fighting, sport and boxing categories were used. All games raised pulse and pain tolerance. Sports and fighting games worked best for pain tolerance, however sports games also produced the highest level of anger reported among test subjects.

ESC, the Entertainment Software Charity, is working with GamesMaster magazine to create four wristbands for gamers. The bands, which will raise money for a variety of charitable causes, will be cover-mounted on to the December issue of the magazine. The designs on the band will be decided from a competition that’s already run in the magazine, but green bands will be for Xbox gamers, purple for GameCube gamers, blue for PS2 and, rather oddly, red for PC.

The Sims on TV

Electronic Arts, makers of The Sims franchise, are considering creating a TV show of the game. “One idea could be that you’re controlling a family, telling them when to go to the kitchen and when to go to the bedroom, and with this mechanism you have gamers all over the world ‘playing the show’,” said Jan Bolz, vice president of marketing and sales for EA Europe, to Reuters. It is slightly unclear whether Electronic Arts intend for the show to be a reality TV show with real humans standing in for the sims, with viewers controlling their actions to some extent via voting. Or whether this would be a show featuring computerised sims.

America’s Army the first-person squad game-cum-recruiting tool has been a massive success, with 3.4 million players registered. So now the US Army has set up the “America’s Army Government Applications office”. It’s a military software house aimed at using the America’s Army engine to develop training and testing programs for military use. Already on the blocks is a virtual White House for secret service agents to run around in.
The games industry has long had a close working relationship with the military. Now with games like America’s Army and Full Spectrum Warrior (originally developed as a US marines training program) and the military redesigning complex control systems to mirror console gamepads, that relationship is out in the open.
We all want accuracy and fidelity in our game simulations, but is the emerging military-entertainment complex a step too far? Are we training kids to become soldiers? And is there a danger that playing at war disasociates us from the realities of conflict? Thoughts please.

If you’re near San Jose on July 23 make for the Tech Museum. The Maxgames video tournament, hosted there, will see gamers competing on a variety of console games including Halo, Mario Kart: Double Dash and SSX3 on a 40 by 60 foot IMAX screen. Surround sound comes courtesy of 44 speakers dotted through the auditorium. Beats the portable TV in the spare room.

Sony’s hybrid PS2 device that features a hard disk and TiVo-style TV recording options is to get an upgrade in Japan, July 1. The two new models retain most of the specifications of the original two PSX models, adding new recording options. These include constructing interactive menus during DVD recording, dividing recorded items into chapters and adjusting record quality between hard disk and DVD. The original models will get the functionality too via a firmware update. The PSX is scheduled to launch in Europe in 2004. It has not launched in the US yet.