The Electric Company Is Looking For New Members!

This month on PBS Kids Go!, the Prankster Planet initiative begins at the end of each full Electric Company TV episode. 12 multi-level online quests, 60 mini-games, an avatar creator, rewards system and a magazine will live in a new area on the show s website. A progress tracker will launch this summer that will allow parents and teachers to follow kids learning status. Electric Company members Jessica and Marcus appear at the end of each episode as comic book heroes and discover that pranksters are sucking up all the words on earth. They enlist the help of fans to end this total word domination. Each animated episode ends in a cliffhanger that offers a direct hand-off from story to the transmedia game. When a player completes all 12 online missions, he or she becomes an official member of The Electric Company. The Lost Guide to Prankster Planet magazine will round off the experience by extending the math concepts and vocabulary featured online and in the animated TV segments. The magazine, distributed to PBS and other Electric Company partners, contains secret Prankster Planet information the reader can use to collect hidden words. The Adventures of The Electric Company on Prankster Planet will air starting May 2 with the online component going live the same day.

iPhone 4S Reportedly Targeting Game Developers

Reports are that Apple is looking to include the A5 Chip in the next version of the iPhone. Already in the iPad 2, the chip is said to deliver nine times the gaming performance of the A4.

“Apple isn t taking the next iPhone s A5-power lightly,” writes Mark Gurman. “They already have select developers working on versions of their iPhone applications that take full advantage of the next-generation iPhone s speedier and much more powerful hardware. These developers, seemingly from high-level gaming outfits, have been given what is essentially an iPhone 4 but with an A5 processor instead of an A4. The device itself is virtually identical to the iPhone 4, and there is no way anyone can tell it s not an iPhone 4 based on the phone s exterior.”

Source: 9 to 5 Mac

Billboards Make Times Square Green

New York saw one of the biggest pushes during Earth Day, including 1,000 free rain barrels given out for local residents and a clean energy vehicle parade. With images of trees sprouting up on Times Square billboards Earth Day New York’s managing director Joanne Black called it a “a visual call to action.”

Large screens also displayed the number of people who text message “tree” to 85944, pledging $5 for the United Nations’ Year of Forest. The tally was sponsored by companies like CNN, MTV, Reuters and Toshiba, with funding helping to plant trees in Mexico, Kenya, India and the Philippines.

“It’s rare for so many companies to give up their screens,” noted Black. “For this, they have.”

“We hope to engage a broad segment of the public and show that even a small contribution can really make a difference,” said Earth Day New York Executive Director Pamela Lippe.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced plans to make the city cleaner, such as by using cleaner fuels instead of heating oils. Estimates say that a 10 percent reduction in heating oil pollution could prevent 300 deaths, 200 hospital admissions and 600 emergency department visits from airborne pollution each year.

Source: Reuters

Lady Gaga And Zynga Said To Team Up For Album Promotion

Zynga and Lady Gaga are reportedly discussing a way to promote the singer’s new album to the social gaming company’s 250 million active users. It is unknown if this will take the form of an original game or just an in-game promotion.

Lady Gaga and Zynga previously paired up for a charity campaign for Save the Children and the American Red Cross, which brought in $3 million. The pop star’s new album titled Born This Way will release on May 23.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Mario & Sonic Preparing For London 2012 Olympics

Sega has confirmed that they are working on Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games for the Wii and 3DS. New events for the game will include soccer, equestrian and table tennis, with various Dream Events taking place in the worlds of various Nintendo and Sega characters.

Mario and Sonic have had a phenomenally successful partnership and we are extremely proud to be able to recreate this once again with Nintendo and ISM for the London 2012 Olympic Games said Sega’s American and European chairman Naoya Tsurumi. It is truly exciting to be in the position to develop interactive entertainment software titles based on the Olympic Games, and for Sonic and Mario to once again be a part of this historic event.

“These games bring together two of the most beloved characters in the history of the video game industry in Mario and Sonic,” noted Nintendo’s American president Reggie Fils-Aime. “As veterans of both video games and Olympic games, they’ll arrive in London as a formidable team to provide fun, competitive sporting activities that friends and family members can enjoy together.”

Zynga Makes It 12 Acquisitions In 12 Months

Zynga has announced that it has acquired FooBrew and absorbed all of the company’s developers. The developer was responsible for JamLegend, a browser-based music game with 2 million users and 110 million plays.

After nearly three years of running JamLegend, we are shutting down the service to move on to new ventures, read a blog post by FooBrew. We will look back fondly on our experiences at JamLegend. JamLegend was the most vibrant music gaming community in the world, where the greatest players and trackers/producers helped evolve online music consumption. We ll always be proud of bringing so much joy to so many.

Source: {link no longer active}

Splash Damage Wants Shooter MMOs

Multiplayer is a key component in the success of most every shooter everywhere, and increasingly it’s built around leveling a particular character. However, the world itself is usually not persistent and Paul Wedgwood, CEO of Splash Damage, would really like to see that.

“I just want a really good massively multiplayer shooter, thanks,” said the Brink developer. “I’m desperate for it. Why isn’t there I just can’t stand the fact that there isn’t one yet. I’d do it but 140 staff? Managing 140 people It’s just so hard. You know, for a long time it hasn’t been technically feasible because you need super low latency connections for good shooter combat and that’s generally incompatible with 1000 people being on a server at the same time.”

“But there are enough solutions around now so that it’s reasonably feasible. I know that there are some teams on the periphery working on ideas for this,” he continued. “I saw some video footage of something that I quite liked the look of, they deployed some harvester then they were bouncing around shooting aliens that were attacking them.”

“I think there’s definitely going to be some cool stuff that comes around but I think the massively multiplayer shooter, one where we’re all engaged in the same continuous environment is the thing that’s going to truly impress me next,” he added.

Source: CVG

RIM PlayBook Tablet Sees Slow Start

Research In Motion’s PlayBook tablet has released but the demand is no where near as high as for iPad 2. Unlike Apple’s device, which saw people queue up at electronic stores and was widely sold out, the PlayBook released to little public clamor or demand.

Despite being priced competitively with the iPad, the lack of built in email and organizer functions the Blackberry is famous for have led to lukewarm reviews by critics. “It’s going to be a tough sell to the consumer,” BGC Partner analyst Colin Gillis said of the PlayBook tablet.

Only 3 million PlayBooks are expected to be sold in 2011, roughly a fifth the number of iPads expected to sell over a similar time span. “It’s not going to be in the same league as the iPad,” said Al Hilwa, analyst at IDC. “The question is will it sell more than the [Motorola] Xoom but less than the [Samsung] Galaxy.

Source: Reuters {link no longer active}

iTrack – Apple Records Movements For iPhone, iPad Users

Researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden indicate that the iPad and iPhone have been storing locations and time stamps. This geographic data has been recorded ever since the iOS 4 update.

“We’re not sure why Apple is gathering this data, but it’s clearly intentional, as the database is being restored across backups, and even device migrations,” the pair wrote. “The presence of this data on your iPhone, your iPad, and your backups has security and privacy implications. We’ve contacted Apple’s Product Security team, but we haven’t heard back.”

Source: O’Reilly Radar Blog