Darksiders II: Death Through The Ages

Images of Death are omnipresent in our culture and the Pale Rider has long been an ominous symbol. To add a sense of eternity to death, the hero of Darksiders II has been transplanted into several classic pictures in a montage of war and strife.


Planetarium Game Takes Us To Space

Space Cruiser is a game that is played by the audience in New York City’s American Museum of Natural History. This test video shows how such a project works and it looks great!

Play Games Against The Woman In Black

In “Haunted Memories”, fans must try and save their Facebook friends in a card game playing against the Woman in Black. But be warned, she plays by her own rules. Click a card to flip to over and match pairs of cards to free your friends. One pair of cards belongs to the Woman in Black. If you pick only one of her cards, she will shuffle the deck. Choose both Woman in Black cards to remove her from play before the round. There are three levels and each level has more cards than the previous level.

In “Puzzling Visions”, fans must try and fit together pieces of a puzzle and see if they can find out what they saw, who will be next and when will she stop Three puzzles of three shifting visions have been created by the Woman in Black. Assemble the pieces and complete the puzzle to watch the full video with sound. Click and drag each puzzle piece to the correct spot on the pad. When placed correctly, the piece snaps in place and cannot be moved again. Solve each puzzle to see and hear the entire clip.

Mass Effect Art Book Gets DLC Bonus

The Art of Mass Effect Universe is coming out from Dark Horse very soon. Because nothing that’s Mass Effect related can go without some pre-order DLC, so for everyone that orders the game before February 20 from Barnes & Noble will receive a code for Mass Effect 3 content.

“This product contains a code that can be redeemed for bonus content for Mass Effect 3 multi-player including character boosters and the deadly Collector Assault Rifle to give you a leg up on the Reaper invasion,” said Dark Horse. “Visit social.bioware.com/redeem for instructions on how to unlock your new upgrades.”

“The Collector Assault Rifle uses the same principles as a human assault rifle, but its organic components clearly set it apart,” they noted. “Its power source appears to be an internal organ with biotic capacitance; its ammunition resembles pellets of metallic enamel that strip shields off enemies with deadly efficiency.”

Source: darkhorse.com

Netflix Won’t Be Renting Games

Netflix has announced that they will not in fact by renting games by mail. While it was originally part of the plan to include game disks in the Quikster service reserved for its DVD movies, though that plan was quickly quashed.

The decision was no doubt motivated by the margins on physical products as opposed to streaming (roughly five times greater). Right now, streaming only customers outnumber those getting DVDs from Netflix at a rate of 2 to 1, a discrepancy they expect to grow as more opt for streaming and drop the DVD service (2.76 million DVD subscribers were lost in the last quarter alone).

Google Uniting Consumer Platforms, Causing Privacy Concerns

Google recently announced plans to condense its 70 consumer platforms into one “main policy.” This will allow the company to collect anonymous advertiser information across Android phones, Google’s desktop apps, Gmail, search and Google+, which is good for their marketing partners but a concern for the government over privacy issues.

“Companies are struggling with how to make privacy data security more tangible to consumers,” said Amy Mushahwar, a data and privacy attorney with Reed Smith. “As for the specific information collection enhancements for Google products and services, Google understands that industry and consumer advocates are watching their every move.”

Google argues that this will make for a more streamlined experience. Privacy advocates, however, are worried that this might create an opt-out precedent rather than opt-in.

“Google’s new privacy announcement is frustrating and a little frightening,” said James Steyer, the CEO of Common Sense Media. “Even if the company believes that tracking users across all platforms improves their services, consumers should still have the option to opt out, especially the kids and teens who are avid users of YouTube, Gmail and Google search.”

“If you want to take your information elsewhere, you can,” argued Google’s director of privacy, product and engineering, Alma Whitten. “We don’t sell your personal information, nor do we share it externally without your permission except in very limited circumstances like a valid court order. We try hard to be transparent about the information we collect and to give you meaningful choices about how it is used—for example, our Ads Preferences Manager enables you to edit the interest categories we advertise against or turn off certain Google ads altogether.”

The danger for Google is that consumers will just say no to them. “People can’t opt out. It’s my way or the digital highway,” said Jeff Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “What regulators can do at this point is questionable, but Google is in danger of tarnishing its reputation and that is troubling for the company in the long run.”

Source: AdWeek

Lara Croft Visits Finland

While Eidos has said that it will never hold real life modeling of Lara Croft again, that isn’t stopping tributes. The Miss Finland competition recently had some contestants go out in the freezing cold and take some Lara Croft themed pictures (one contestant named Sara Chafak is a particular ringer for Lara).

Source: iltasanomat.fi

Zynga Conditioning: Is It A Bad Thing?

Conditioning is a part of nature, often backed up by secondary reinforcers, and is part of our every day lives. Beyond seeking for food and shelter (and on a higher level) social acceptance and money, video games, and in particular social games, also pull these metaphorical levers.

“Many people defend FarmVille as a harmless distraction, arguing that the thousands of hours spent playing the game would still have been wasted on other activities,” writes Benjamin Jackson. “But there’s no question that the social game market, with its virtual currencies and unlimited stock of goods, is a huge cash cow. And it’s also clear, when you look more closely at FarmVille, that it was engineered with one goal in mind: to coerce users into tending their virtual plots of land for as long as possible. Using our natural tendency to reciprocate gratitude from our peers, we end up pestering our friends to keep returning. And cleverly-timed crop cycles force players to return to their farms at all times of day. But what about the techniques employed in other games ”

Certain games can be more manipulative in their conditioning than others. Some of the more sinister games rely upon things like email sign-ups, checkouts, or upgrades.

“For example, FarmVille, Tap Fish, and Club Penguin play on deep-rooted psychological impulses to make money from their audiences,” notes Jackson. “They take advantage of gamers’ completion urge by prominently displaying progress bars that encourage leveling up. They randomly time rewards, much like slot machines time payouts to keep players coming back, even when their net gain is negative. And they spread virally by compelling players to constantly post requests to their friends’ walls.”

Of course, different games are compelling in different ways. For Zynga games, they are designed around the component of sharing, but this has an insidious aspect when its compelled by the game in a certain way.

“I’ll reiterate this in plainer language, just in case the quote wasn’t clear: [Demetri Detsaridis, the general manager of Zynga’s New York office] said that one of the most compelling parts of playing Zynga’s games is deciding when and how to spam your friends with reminders to play Zynga’s games,” notes Jackson. “Creating hard fun isn’t an easy task. It requires thinking deeply about the gamer’s experience, not just using cheap tricks to drive engagement. FarmVille, Tap Fish, and Club Penguin all employ Skinner-like techniques to persuade people to spend more time and money. But there are plenty of honest ways to create real engagement, and it’s our responsibility as creators and consumers of games to demand more honest and fulfilling fun from our entertainment.”

Source: The Atlantic