Be Like Katamari, Destroy The Internet

Head over to the official website for Katamari Hack and grab the bookmarklet to turn any webpage into a game of Katamari Damacy! Control the magnetic sphere of death and pick up bits of text and images as it rolls around the screen. Hold Down Right-Click to control the ball.  Change the color of the ball to any color you like!

PopCap Gets Social

PopCap is looking to put more social features into all of its future titles. Senior designer Dave Bishop explained the social initiative during a talk at Develop 2010 and gave an example of a future version of Peggle, where players can see details of what their friends are doing and send them messages.

Bejeweled Blitz has led the charge for PopCap on Facebook with over 10 million monthly users, and other franchises from the company will likely follow suit. PopCap is planning a Plants vs. Zombies announcement for August 2, which may include a sequel or more social features.

Source: ShackNews

Japan’s Tweeting Banzai

While certain Internet imports have had difficulty catching on in Japan, Twitter has managed to take off. The service (which translates as mumbling in Japanese) successfully launched a mobile version in October 2009, and brought itself to even more users in the mobile crazy nation.

A Tokyo bar is showing sporting events and even has screens showing tweets simultaneously. 16.3 percent of Japanese Internet users tweet, more than the 9.8 percent for Americans. Twitter even managed to surpass Japanese social site mixi with monthly visitors, according to Nielsen Online.

“Japan is enjoying the richest and most varied form of Twitter usage as a communication tool,” says Japanese writer Daisuke Tsuda. “It’s playing out as a rediscovery of the Internet.”

Part of the attraction for Japanese users is that it takes fewer characters to convey ideas than other languages, leading to more articulate tweets. Also, in contrast to the image of Japanese being reserved, many use the site as a public way to communicate and connect with others.

“Twitter is turning out to be like a cocktail party,” says Noriyuki Ikeda, CEO of Tribal Media House. “Japanese see how fun it is to network and casually connect with other people.”

Companies are also using Twitter as a way to reach out to customers. Retailer Tokyu Hands uses Twitter to answer questions from customers and clothing chain Uniqlo has used Twitter to setting up a virtual line in which people tweet with one another and get free stuff.

Motohiko Tokuriki, chief executive of consulting firm Agile Media Network, thinks Twitter could be the hit new word of the year, and honor in Japan. “It’s telling that Twitter was translated as ‘mumbling’ in Japanese,” he says. “They love the idea of talking to themselves.”

Source: Los Angeles Times

The Next Twitter Is . . . Facebook, Google, Amazon And Xbox

Four stalwarts of online services and networking are positioned to take over Twitter. In the article, IPG Emerging Media Lab argues that these companies, already playing essential roles in our networked lives, are arming themselves with new tech and lessons applied from everything that propelled Twitter’s popularity. The only new player among the four named by the firm is Foursquare, a well-funded location-based networking service going after the growing mobile networking trend.

Read their analysis at iMedia Connection.

Pretty Up Your Twitter Page

Web design site Smashing Magazine has all sorts of tips and templates for your Twitter page. As in the samples provided, for major brands it seems less is more. For Joe Blog Everything, it might be all about putting lipstick on his pig.

Check out the design advice and samples at Fast Company.

MTV VMA AFK: Jack Black Is Eddie Riggs

Today’s AFK comes to us from the MTV Video Music Awards and has Jack Black, renowned comic and star of Tropic Thunder and School of Rock, donning fake muscles, wig and battle axe as Eddie Riggs, lead character in Brutal Legend. Enjoy the pic of Black hamming it up as the video game character to which he lends his voice, and look for the game in October


AFK: The Beatles In 8-Bit

From 8-Bit Operators:

Almost 2 full years in the making, the 8-Bit Operators’ “Wanna Hld Yr Handheld” Beatles tribute focuses on the glorious avante-garde and electronic side of the Fab 4 with over 20 of the biggest international names in 8-bit chip music, all utilizing re-tooled, classic Game Boys, Ataris, Commodore 64s and Nintendo Entertainment Systems!

Today s AFK is just a little bit of blip-bop for the weekend, and we guarantee at least one of these tunes will get stuck in your head.

[listen up]

Is Farmville The Future Of Gaming?

From Gamespot:

On the third and final day of the 2009 Penny Arcade Expo, Andrew Mayer delivered a talk titled “The Future of Gaming: You Don’t Know What You’re Going to Get.” A game-industry vet in the more casual and social-gaming spaces, Mayer currently serves as a user experience consultant for MediaShifter.

Mayer’s forward-looking session began with a look at the past and present, namely as it pertained to hardware. According to Mayer, hardware has traditionally driven innovation and evolution in the game industry, but it’s reached a point where technical capabilities are no longer driving the market.

Mayer s session continued with the thought that bite-sized games are now becoming more significant revenue drivers than traditionally big-budgeted titles, thus changing our entire perception of where the users are. Case in point: Farmville has 18 million users while World of Warcraft has 12 million.

Read the rest of the analysis of Mayer’s session at Gamespot.