Cool Summer Camps For Video Gamers

Is your kid a wiz at video games? This summer, they could learn the technology behind those games and even make one of their own. Friday morning, KXAN finishes up the Cool Camp series.
Main Events just opened up this past Tuesday. It's a great place to keep your kids busy with anything from rock walls to bowling and lots of video games, which it seems like every kid loves.
There's one summer camp that takes your kids inside the video game and teaches them how to make one. It's the hottest toy on the market.
Video games are the must have.
If your kid has this mesmorized look on their face when battling evil, you might want to take that interest to the next level.
Johnathon Vought teaches a summer camp at the University of Texas that shows teens how to make video games.
"How you would design a game, how you would kind of preconceive the game and set it all up with what we call a game design document," Vought said.
It may not look like the high-tech games on the market now, but it goes back to the basics.
"We're going to drive our car to shoot over that ramp and run into those boxes," Vought said.
From creating cars on an obstacle course to making landscapes...
"Maybe this one needs to be a bigger mountain, and maybe this needs to have some divets going down," Vought said.
Even 3D character animation is explored.
"What I've done is I've given him a skeleton, and then if I move the head bone, then the mesh bone follows along," Vought said.
By the end of camp, you will have your own video game, and you never know: this could lead to a career.
"It's an exploding field. There's more jobs that are going to be available in the future," Vought said.
The camp isn't just for teenagers. The age requirments for the camp are 13 and up.


Playboy: The Mansion Brings More Life To The Party

PC Expansion "Party Pack" to Add New Parties, Playmates, and Visuals -SCOTTSDALE, AZ, May 18 /CNW/ - Hip Interactive's (TSX:HP) wholly owned subsidiary, ARUSH Publishing, in conjunction with Groove Games, today announced that a PC expansion pack is being developed for Playboy: The Mansion. Developed by Cyberlore Studios for Playboy, the Party Pack will
feature new content, characters, and missions. "Following the successful release of Playboy's first-ever video game, we will continue to provide players with additional features that will enhance the Playboy gaming experience," said Sarah Haney, Director of Entertainment
Licensing, Playboy Enterprises, Inc. "The Party Pack represents Playboy's commitment to offering unique and fresh content as we strengthen our foothold in the gaming arena." The aptly named Party Pack brings some of the most famous Playboy parties to the virtual Hef world, including Midsummer Night's Dream, the Playmate Of The Year party, Hef's birthday and the incredible Halloween bash. Players also will see new animations, Playmates, and rewards, and be challenged with new, exciting missions. "We've seen the growing popularity of Playboy: The Mansion since its release in January, and the way people love throwing parties and hosting photo shoots with models and celebrities," said Jim Perkins, president of ARUSH Publishing. "With the feedback from gamers, and the way consumers passionately have embraced the game, a Party Pack expansion makes natural sense." Playboy: The Mansion allows players to step into the virtual slippers of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and run the Playboy Empire by throwing parties, mingling with celebrities and Playmates, and creating the iconic magazine. The
multi-platform game shipped on January 25th and is available from major gaming retailers. "Once gamers get a taste of Hef's world, they can't get enough of the Playboy lifestyle," said Jon Walsh, CEO of Groove Games. "This Party Pack will keep players in the 'inner circle' and enable them to continue living vicariously through virtual Hef." For more information on Playboy: The Mansion, please visit www.playhef.com.


Video Games Get Raunchier

Playboy's back! And porn's biggest star gets in the game.
May 18, 2005: 7:24 AM EDT By Chris Morris, CNN/Money

LOS ANGELES (CNN/Money) – American gamers, it turns out, were lukewarm about Playboy. But what will their reaction be to Jenna Jameson?
The trend of video game nudity that kicked off in 2004 isn't showing signs of slowing down in 2005. If anything, it's speeding up. While none of last year's 'nekkid' games was a blockbuster, publishers and developers – as well as the biggest name in the adult film industry - are planning even more for the months to come.
The newcomer to the industry is Jameson, who recently launched "Virtually Jenna" on her Web site. The game, according to a press release, allows players to "simulate control of her sexual activity and even decide when she reaches a state of bliss."
Obviously, this isn't a game you'll find in traditional retail stores – but Jameson boasts a sizable fan base (as sales of her recent autobiography attest), which could help online sales. And she's already planning to expand beyond basic sex simulators.
"We're trying to be the EverQuest of adult games," Brad Abram, a developer with Xstream3D Multimedia, which made "Virtually Jenna". "It's sort of the mainstreaming of adult gaming –like what Jenna did for adult videos and DVDs. She's a great candidate to be the first crossover success."
While some might chortle at a sex simulator game, there's real money being spent: A three-day trial costs $9.95, while monthly subscriptions run $29.95. Total users for the just-released "Virtually Jenna" and an earlier version of the game that did not feature the actress currently hover around 7,500, said Abram.
Another name tied to adult audiences – Playboy – jumped into the gaming business earlier this year. "Playboy: The Mansion" lets players embrace their inner Hefs, taking pictures of polygonal Playmates in their birthday suits and building a media empire.
U.S. sales were so-so, topping 109,000, according to the NPD Group. (Publisher Arush said domestic sales were higher, but declined to give a specific figure.) But European and Australian sales were substantially better, prompting work to begin on an expansion pack.
"Playboy: The Mansion – Party Pack," a PC exclusive due out in September, will add new Playmates and some of Playboy's most famous parties (including the Midsummer Night's Dream gathering and Hef's birthday) to the game.
"One of the big things we got from listening to players was that they really got into customizing the game and building up their own mansions," said Jeb Havens, lead designer on the expansion for Cyberlore Studios. "So we're giving the opportunity for people to try out these wild parties."
"We're going to have some very exciting sexual animations – that are both funny and tasteful and maybe push the M rating a little further," added Jim Perkins, president of Arush. "We want to see how far we can go in representing parties at the Playboy mansion. We still want to stay within the M rating, though."
Speaking of expansions, "Singles: Triple Trouble," a continuation of last year's "Singles: Flirt Up your Life," is en route to European audiences – and the developer is hoping to once again bring the game to North American shores.
"We are currently in talks with several US publishers, regarding distribution deals of the game," said Dave Blundell, head of public relations for the game's developer Deep Silver. "The original was very successful with our publisher, Eidos (Research), so we have high hopes for the sequel."
Very successful might be a bit of an exaggeration. The game, which is best described as a naughty version of "The Sims," sold just over 11,500 copies on store shelves, according to The NPD Group. An AO (Adults only)-rated version of the game sold online moved another 35,000 copies worldwide, said an Eidos spokesperson.
Players in "Triple Trouble" will see their characters move into a new apartment with two friends. Once you arrive, you learn an ex just happens to live there as well. Will you rekindle the flame? Will you find a partner in another location? It depends how you play the game. Like its predecessor, "Triple Trouble" will feature nudity and sex.
While games have been hinting at sex and nudity for years, actually seeing a breast or a sexual act was the exception rather than the rule until a few years ago. As more games have done so, the issue has become more political.
Game developers say the rising age of gamers makes including sex and nudity more acceptable in certain circumstances. Parent groups say adding these elements teaches young players that women are nothing more than objects. (Games featuring sex and nudity are rated M (for Mature) and are meant for players 17 and older.)
So far, games that tout these elements as big features haven't met with much retail success.
Last year's "Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude" topped last year's skin games, but still sold just over 305,000 copies, according to The NPD Group. Not a failure, but hardly a success given its availability on PC, Xbox and PlayStation 2. "The Guy Game," a trivia title that featured video footage of spring breakers stripping, sold less than 88,000 copies.
Games, meanwhile, which focus on other gameplay elements – and just happen to have nudity or sex – have fared considerably better.
Perhaps the best example is Sony's "God of War" – a compelling, gory action/adventure game set in ancient Greece. As Kratos, you must battle Hydras and obtain Pandora's Box as you prepare to wage war against Aries. The game's fight sequences have been widely praised as some of the best seen on the PlayStation 2.
But amidst the carnage are bare-breasted women and even a sex mini-game, where Kratos is tasked with pleasuring two women at once. The scene is rather comical, as the camera shifts away from the participants and focuses on a vase, which shakes more and more as Kratos gets closer to his goal.
It's a throwaway, optional part of the game – one that Sony (Research) hasn't publicized at all. And "God of War" has sold just shy of 400,000 copies in less than two months.


Nintendo's Gaming Revolution

Nintendo Reawakens the Past to Revolutionize the Future of Videogaming...
Nintendo is up on its game in the console wars, unveiling its next generation machine a day before the 2005 E3 show in Los Angeles. Promising not only stunning graphics with all the trappings of wireless controllers, interactivity with the DS handheld, and internet gaming through broadband and Wi-Fi, Nintendo's "Revolution" also unlocks the company's prized videogame library with a shocking backwards compatibility move. Though the XBox 360 and the PS3 offer backwards compatibility to their most recent hardware, Nintendo, being the most seasoned of the console kings, has upped the ante by allowing gamers to not only play GameCube games on the Revolution, but also download and run games from the original NES, SNES, and Nintendo 64 consoles for a full revolution of gaming from past to present.
"We exist for the love of the game..." - Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's executive VP of sales & marketing,
At their E3 media briefing, Nintendo showcased creativity as opposed to hardware specs. "Electroplankton" and "Nintendogs" for the DS offers new types of entertainment for people who are curious about videogames but may not find it easy to jump into the entertainment experience. Bolstering the promises of Nintendo heads to continue on the path of creating games that are "the best in innovation", "Electroplankton" proved there is a lot in store for gamers. This DS title puts you in control of little water creatures that interact with each other and make sounds and music. To demonstrate how wildly fun this unique game can be, "Electroplankton" arrived in the hands of renowned DJ David Hollands and he became hooked. Showing off, Hollands showed up at the briefing and performed a new song using the "Electroplankton" game.
Nintendo showed that they will continue to stick with popular franchises and ideas, such as the Mario Brothers cast showing up in comical sports titles, and focus on the experience of video games as opposed to broadening their reach to canvass video, chat, and music experiences the Xbox 360 and PS3 are pushing, which primarily have been associated with PCs. The only multimedia announcement made beyond a major move into the on-line gaming world for the Revolution is the availability of a DVD attachment to play movies.

May 2005
New System will be Forward-Thinking, Yet Backward Compatible

LOS ANGELES, May 17, 2005 – Each generation of video game consoles builds on the past to set new standards for the future. As the company with the strongest heritage of innovation, Nintendo redefines expectations for all next-gen systems by employing a wide-ranging strategy to attract more kinds of gamers to more kinds of games. When Nintendo's new console, code-named Revolution, arrives in 2006, everyone will discover the meaning of All-Access Gaming.
"We will show the world what a next-gen system can be. Revolution marries the strongest heritage of innovation to the future of gaming," says Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. "With backward compatibility and the 'virtual console' concept, the stylish, compact body provides maximum gaming power. It will not only take home entertainment into another dimension by expanding the definition of video games, but it also will give you access to the great history of gaming."
Some of the system features that wowed the crowd at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles include:
The cool look: The new console boasts high-quality materials and a smart, compact design, approximately the size of three standard DVD cases stacked together. A variety of prototype colors are being showcased during E3. It will come with a silver stand that makes the system a welcome, artistic component of any multimedia setup, whether it's displayed vertically or horizontally.
Backward compatibility: The new console plays all games from the current Nintendo GameCube™ generation. But there's more…
The secret weapon: The console also will have downloadable access to 20 years of fan-favorite titles originally released for Nintendo® 64, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System® (SNES) and even the Nintendo Entertainment System® (NES).
Easy expansion: A bay for an SD memory card will let players expand the internal flash memory.
Two disc formats, one slot: Instead of a tray, a single, innovative, self-loading media bay will play both 12-centimeter optical discs used for the new system as well as Nintendo GameCube discs. Owners will have the option of equipping a small, self-contained attachment to play movies and other DVD content.
The specs: The system boasts 512 megabytes of internal flash memory, wireless controllers, two USB 2.0 ports and built-in Wi-Fi access. A worldwide network of Nintendo players can gather to compete in a comfortable, inviting environment. Revolution's technological heart, a processing chip developed with IBM and code-named "Broadway," and a graphics chip set from ATI code-named "Hollywood," will deliver game experiences not previously possible.
The stars: Introduction of a number of new franchise properties will add to the world's richest stable of stars, including Mario, Zelda, Super Smash Bros., Donkey Kong and Metroid.
Wireless freedom: A number of Wi-Fi-enabled launch titles are in development that will employ Nintendo's newly announced wireless gaming service, Nintendo® Wi-Fi Connection. A worldwide network of Nintendo players can gather to compete in a comfortable, inviting environment.
Freedom of design: A dynamic development architecture equally accommodates both big-budget, high-profile game "masterpieces" as well as indie games conceived by individual developers equipped with only a big idea."Our next console proves small in size but big on ideas," says Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of sales & marketing. "We're throwing open the doors of gaming to wider audiences, from casual players to hard-core gamers who live for the thrill of defeating an endless army of wireless opponents."
Nintendo's All-Access Gaming philosophy covers the spectrum. The next console fits anywhere. It brings together new games and old. It gives people worldwide access through wireless Wi-Fi connections. And it opens the world of video games – to everyone. Software for the new console will even attract people who don't consider themselves players. Adults, kids, men and women around the world will have access to the most popular video game characters, the best game franchises and the most engaging experiences yet developed – only with Nintendo.


Woo Putting 'Stranglehold' On Video Games

By John Gaudiosi
John Woo is renowned for his mastery of action, directing scenes with a choreographer's artistry that has influenced the likes of Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. He also has earned the admiration of many video game makers, some of whom have paid him the compliment of trying their own hand at Woo's techniques.He now is directing his own video game project, a next-generation action game titled "Stranglehold" set to be confirmed Wednesday at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2005. But more than that, Woo is intent on blazing a path for Hollywood filmmakers to control their own creative destiny in the fast-growing video game realm. And in fact it was Woo's experience checking out the scene at the annual E3 confab a few years ago that convinced him it was time to become more proactive in the game space."I went to E3 several years ago and saw my action style imitated in a lot of other games, and they were not even well done," Woo said. "I thought I should protect my trademark and produce my own video games."That reasoning led Woo to form Tiger Hill Entertainment with his producing partner Terence Chang and entertainment executive Brad Foxhoven. As a hybrid between Hollywood and video game studio, the company's mission is to bring Woo's original story ideas to the video game realm and serving as a bridge between Hollywood talent and the game publishers and developers.



by Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer Posted: May 17, 2005
Official Press Release
May 16, 2005; Atlanta, GA—White Wolf Publishing has licensed the rights to a comic book series based on its successful roleplaying game Exalted to Toronto-based UDON Entertainment. The first issue in the series will be on comic book stands in October of 2005, and a special #0 issue comes out this summer.
UDON has a longstanding involvement with the Exalted property, having provided covers and interior art for many supplements, as well as covers for the Exalted novel series and all card art for the upcoming Exalted Trading Card Game. This history of close collaboration has given White Wolf confidence that UDON can do justice to the property.
“We’re thrilled to see Exalted make the leap into comics, and the folks at UDON are just the right people to do it,” said John Chambers, one of the Exalted line developers at White Wolf. “These guys have always gotten just what Exalted is about,” added Exalted art director Brian Glass, “and it’s great to see that enthusiasm hit new levels with the comics.”
“We’ve been chomping at the bit to do this for a while now,” said Jim Zubkavich, project manager at UDON and co-author of the comic. “I can’t wait to get this into the hands of fans who’ve been dreaming of seeing their favorite game as an over-the-top comic series. Plus, it’ll be great to see the tons of comic fans discover this fantastic property for the first time.” Zubkavich is working with co-writer Gala Ferriere and artists Noi Sackda, Greg Boychuk, and Roberto Campus on the series. Coming together for the first time, members of the art team have previously worked on titles including Street Fighter, GI Joe, Warlands and Thundercats, as well as eye-popping covers for the Exalted RPG line.
The first full issue of the Exalted comic releases this fall, but a special preview issue (Exalted #0) will be on sale at the White Wolf and UDON booths at various summer comic and gaming conventions beginning with Origins in Columbus, Ohio (June 30-July 3). In addition to an exclusive prelude story, Exalted #0 features behind-the-scenes information about the series, as well as sketches and exclusive gaming content provided by White Wolf. Each regular issue features two stories and all-new game material from White Wolf. About Exalted: Exalted is an anime- and manga-inspired storytelling game set in the Second Age of Man (a time long before our own), when divine heroes are reborn into a time of tumult. Combining the best elements of the sword-and-sorcery, epic fantasy, and wuxia martial-arts genres, Exalted has been dazzling fans since its release in 2001.
About White Wolf: Since its entry into the roleplaying game market in 1991, White Wolf Publishing, Inc. has grown, maintaining an average market share of 26%. With collective book sales in excess of 5.5 million copies during this time, White Wolf is one of two undisputed worldwide publishing leaders for pen-and-paper roleplaying games. White Wolf properties have been licensed for television series, comic books, action figures, console and computer video games, coin-operated arcade games, professional wrestlers, replica props and weapons, interactive media events, and a plethora of merchandise. More information on White Wolf is available at http://www.white-wolf.com.
About UDON Entertainment: UDON Entertainment is a Canadian-based art collective of over a dozen creators formed in 2000 to provide high-quality creative services to the entertainment industry. Its client list reads like a who’s who of the industry and includes Alliance Atlantis, Capcom, DC Comics, Gamepro, Harmony Gold, Hasbro, Marvel Comics, Nintendo, Score, TDK Interactive, ToyBiz, White Wolf, Wizards of the Coast, and Wiz Kids. In addition to client work, UDON also publishes the Street Fighter and Darkstalkers comic series based on the successful Capcom video games.



Researchers Tout Positive Effects Of Video Games

Gamers get high marks for problem-solving, careful risk-taking
By George Lewis
NBC News
Updated: 7:35 p.m. ET May 19, 2005
LOS ANGELES - If you're in the $10 billion-a-year video game business, L.A. is the place to be this week, at something called "E3," the Electronic Entertainment Expo. It's an enormous, raucous trade show, where the likes of Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft show off their latest game boxes as they shoot it out for the hearts, minds and fingers of America's youth.
advertisementThe noise from hundreds of video games going all at once is deafening. This collection of high-tech toys raises the perennial question: What are these games doing to our kids?
Some who've studied the subject say, surprisingly, video games, played in moderation, can actually help young people develop mental skills that will serve them well in adult life.
"It's not the button pushing that's important," says Mitch Wade, an information consultant for firms like Google and Rand Corp., who co-wrote a recent book called “Got Game.” "It's the problem-solving. And we saw that when we surveyed professionals who grew up playing video games. What's a surprise is that they're better at things you need in business — like team play and careful risk-taking."
Wade says smart businesses are learning to take advantage of these skills, like multi-tasking.
Another surprise: It isn't just young males playing video games these days.
Twenty-two-year-old Tanya Jessen tests game software.
"I've been playing games since I was about 5 years old," she says.
So what's the downside to all of this?
"About one out of eight gamers, youthful gamers who play games, develop all of the patterns similar to an addiction," says Dr. David Walsh with the National Institute on Media and the Family.
The gamer generation is already bigger than the baby boomers, more than 90 million strong. So one thing is clear: Their strengths and weaknesses will have a huge impact on society.
© 2005 MSNBC Interactive



Watching TV, Playing Video Games Making Us Smarter

Sean L. McCarthyWednesday, May 18, 2005 - Updated: 11:27 AM EST
Some critics look at popular culture and see a rerun of the fall of the Roman Empire; Steven Johnson sees a new Renaissance.
Johnson, author of ``Everything Bad is Good For You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter,'' appears tonight at the Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge to share his insights.
He makes his case by laying out various ways in which TV shows, movies and video games have gotten more complex as technology advances, then argues that increased IQ scores are a direct result of consuming the more complex forms of media and entertainment.

Johnson points to hit shows such as ``Lost,'' ``24,'' ``Alias,'' and ``The Sopranos'' as proof that the TV dramas believe their audiences are smarter, introducing multiple story arcs, interweaving plots and subtle hints that challenge the viewer to keep pace.
Shows of previous generations were simpler and more predictable, he argues.
``Watch `Starsky and Hutch' or `Dragnet' after watching `The Sopranos' and you'll feel as though you're being condescended to,'' he writes.
Johnson applies that logic to the evolution of the sitcom (``Seinfeld'' vs. ``Three's Company'') and video games (Zelda vs. Pac-Man).
In the end, he isn't so much concerned with whether the offerings are inherently good or bad. ``Today's popular culture may not be showing us the righteous path,'' he argues. ``But it is making us smarter.''Steven Johnson reads and signs his book, ``Everything Bad is Good For You,'' at 6:30 tonight at Harvard Bookstore, 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-661-1515.



Who Says Video Games Are A Waste?

Pamela Mainland wrote in today to tell us about her 19-year-old son, Kevin. Kevin won a Web site design contest for "Conker," a game for X-Box. See Kevin's Web site here. The pay off is a video-gamer's dream. Kevin is on a flight to Los Angeles to attend the annual E3 Expo where, among other events, the new PlayStation 3 will be unveiled.In an e-mail about Kevin's accomplishment, Pam wrote:
My son Kevin is an avid gamer, especially using Microsoft's XBOX LIVE. He is 19 ... and spends (I thought) way too much time on the computer. He has an interest in website and game design, and is quite creative. Well, he proved his parents wrong in one respect: all that time and effort on the computer and games can pay off!


Planetwide Games Revs Up for Million Dollar Video Game Tournament at E3

Planetwide Games Exhibits at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los
Angeles with first skill-based Video Game tournament to give away a million
LOS ANGELES, May 17 /PRNewswire/ --
Planetwide Games Exhibits at the
Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles with first skill-based Video
Game tournament to give away a million dollars.
What: "RYL: Path of the Emperor" will be the first Massively Multiplayer
Online Role Playing Game to offer a $1,000,000 Grand Prize to the winner of a
Player vs. Player Skill-Based Tournament. The "RYL" qualifying tournament will
start July 1, 2005, and will end April 30, 2006, culminating in a Final
Tournament event to be broadcast live and to take place in conjunction with
next year's E3 Video Game Expo in May 2006. http://www.RYL.net.
Planetwide will also be sponsoring the iHollywood Forum event at E3 in the
Fox Sports Skybox in the Staples Center all day on Thursday, May 19.
Highlights include:
* Planetwide President Kevin Donovan speaking on panel from 3:45pm to
* Press reception/ Networking Event from 5:30 to 8:00pm
You must RSVP with iHollywood to attend any part of the all day event.
A second event will be eFocus @ Los Angeles, a Pepcom event on May 17, the
eve of the E3 show. The event will take place at the California Market Center
in downtown LA from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. Planetwide Games will have a table at
the event with computers displaying "RYL: Path of the Emperor" gameplay and
attendees will have the ability to speak with top Planetwide execs.
For more information please visit http://www.pepcom.com or RSVP to Jon Pepper at
jon@pepcom.com or Jen Ferency at jen@pepcom.com
Who: Planetwide Games (a Bluetorch On-Line Games, Inc. company) is based
in Costa Mesa, CA, and is establishing itself as a provider of leading online
video game interactive entertainment. Bringing Worlds Together(TM), Planetwide
Games also develops proprietary online technology and is building a worldwide
network of affiliates to distribute video games.
Visit http://www.PlanetwideGames.com.
When: May 18th-May 20th, 2005
Where: Los Angeles Convention Center, Kentia Hall #6547


Game Expo-Christian Video Games - A Nascent Boom?

Tue May 17, 2005 09:04 AM ET
By Reed Stevenson
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Will the spiritual and gaming worlds transcend their realms?
Hoping to tap into the same audience that has made Christian Pop music a force in the entertainment industry, some developers are betting that Christian-themed video games can claim a sizeable chunk of the $10 billion gaming market.
So far, games such as "Spiritual Warfare" and "Exodus: Journey to the Promised Land" have drawn a loyal following by combining biblical themes with mild action. Users can travel through biblical lands, solve puzzles based on scripture and, in some games, slash demonic foes.
Some Christian game developers are betting that Christian games are ready for a boom on the eve of the launch of next-generation gaming machines such as Sony Corp.'s PlayStation and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox.
"There's a huge appetite for Christian games," said Bill Bean, co-founder of game developer Digital Praise, which already has two "Adventures in Odyssey" games for children 8 and up. In those games, children are taught lessons involving values like truth and honesty.
The company plans to release four games later this year that will move the company toward a higher age bracket and into games with more obvious Christian themes, Bean said.
Bean plans to pitch his ideas for Christian games to Microsoft's Xbox at this week's Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, the gaming industry's biggest annual gathering, in Los Angeles.
Micro Forte, an Australian game developer, is also working on a Christian game for the PC and Xbox, which is expected to include a lot more action, similar to the company's "Citizen Zero" combat game.
In an industry often blamed for promoting violence, companies such as Digital Praise, Micro Forte, N'Lightning Software and others are trying to change that image by making games that encourage Christian values.
But to do that, they will have to adopt the economics of the gaming business, where it costs at least $2 million to develop a game for the Xbox, PlayStation 2 or Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s GameCube.
That's a tough budget for many game developers, who got their start by making educational games. Now the games are evolving to include more action and adventure, in line with the fast-paced, complex games that dominate the industry todayWhile many Christian developers will be at E3, most will also be at the Christian Game Developer's Conference in Portland, Oregon, in late July for the industry's eighth annual conference.
Tim Emmerich, organizer of the Christian gaming conference, said he expects about 120 developers to show up.
"The market is actually in its second generation," Emmerich said, saying that Christian games had flourished years ago on older PCs and on older consoles.
Wisdom Tree, another Christian game developer, is long-known for making games based on Bible passages such as "Bible Crossword Studio" and developed games for older consoles such as Sega Corp.'s Genesis and Nintendo Entertainment System.
The other challenge, Digital Praise's Bean said, is to get Christian games onto mainstream store shelves. So far, sales are mainly limited to Christian store and direct sales.
Both Bean and Emmerich have their sights on Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's biggest retailer, which sells more than $1 billion yearly in Christian products.
"We'll be in Wal-Mart," Emmerich said, of future retailing outlets for Christian games.



IBM Seen Dominating Next-Generation Video Games Console Market

- report 05.15.2005, 11:10 PM HONG KONG (AFX) -
International Business Machines Corp is the clear winner in the race to produce the best next-generation video games console, the Financial Times reported. While Microsoft's XBox 360 battles it out with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Revolution console, IBM processors are at the heart of all three. 'It's IBM,' J Allard, corporate vice-president for Microsoft's Xbox, was quoted as saying in the paper's online edition. In the intense competition to provide the hardware, Intel and AMD, whose chips dominate PC gaming, have been shut out of an opportunity worth billions. 'It's a great market to get into from a semiconductor standpoint,' Jay Horwitz, senior analyst at Jupiter Research, was quoted as saying. 'There are millions of devices and they show off your processing capabilities.' IBM has developed a revolutionary 'Cell' processor in a joint venture with Sony and Toshiba. It has nine 'brains', seven more than the dual-core processors being released by Intel and AMD, and will feature in the PlayStation 3. Microsoft has opted for IBM's Power PC architecture for the Xbox 360, using a multi-core processor that will not match Sony's choice, but will still offer the kind of performance that was the preserve of supercomputers a few years ago. Allard said Microsoft will make up in software improvements what it lacked in hardware speed. But Microsoft, in its bid to be the first with a next-generation console, has had to make sacrifices on the hardware to keep costs down. Both Sony and Microsoft are taking big risks. Sony's obsession with perfecting its technology could delay its launch well into 2006. Microsoft could disappoint users by coming out early with hardware that could soon seem outdated and does not deliver on its promise. Neither stands to make money from the consoles - their best hope is to break even and make their profits from games software and services. Richard Doherty, consumer technology analyst with Envisioneering Group, says Microsoft may be overplaying its slogan that next-generation means the start of the High Definition Era. 'What hasn't been detailed is how good it will look on normal TV screens; seven out of people don't have HDTV screens, so that could limit Microsoft's market. 'Half could have HDTV by the end of the decade, and by then Sony and Nintendo will be offering the higher quality high-definition.'


Pinball Games Light Him Up

Foothills man turns childhood pastime into hobby, business
Sondra BarrThe Arizona RepublicMay. 16, 2005 12:00 AM
Gary Marks' face lights up with childish glee when he stands in front of a pinball machine. But the Ahwatukee Foothills resident is no child.At 52, he's amassed some of the most sought-after pinball games while becoming a self-taught restoration guru in the process."I've been fascinated by pinball machines ever since I could stand on a box and look through the glass," Marks said.
The perfect opportunity to fulfill his pastime arose in the form of a 2002 home addition. "I looked around and immediately thought 'pinball room,' " he recalled. Marks had no idea that a run-down Fun House pinball machine that he had bought for the addition would develop into a full-fledged hobby and a part-time business. He later sold the machine for triple what he paid for it after putting in more then 90 hours learning how to restore it and $200 in parts."At one point I had six pinball machines in the addition, but my wife made me move many to the garage and a few to my mother-in-law's house," Marks said. "She thinks they're big, noisy, ugly things."


Xbox 360 Video Game Console Unveiled On MTV Special

Celebrating the dawn of a new era in entertainment, millions of game fanatics around the globe came together for the televised unveiling of the Xbox 360 future-generation game and entertainment system from Microsoft. An audience of millions watched "MTV Presents: The Next-Generation Xbox Revealed" as celebrities, professional athletes, musicians and Xbox officials took the wraps off the much-anticipated system, ending months of intense speculation and satiating consumers worldwide. Xbox 360 represents a dramatic leap forward in high-definition gaming and entertainment experiences.


Video Games Help Stroke Patients

A new study turned a research lab into a video arcade, with stroke patients playing virtual reality games for treatment.Traditional stroke rehabilitation includes physical therapy and electrical stimulation. While this method can be successful, a new study shows playing virtual reality games can significantly improve brain and motor function in stroke patients.Video produced for the American Stroke Association shows patients undergoing virtual reality training, where they are in a constant state of motion. M.R.I. scans showed substantial brain recovery in the patients playing the games, and all were able to walk on their own after treatment.More studies need to be done before this treatment becomes more widely available. However, researchers note they had no trouble motivating patients to come in for therapy.The study tested 10 patients who had suffered a stroke at least a year before the study. All of patients had weakness on one side of their body. Half had virtual reality training while the control group did not receive any intervention.Patients underwent virtual reality therapy an hour a day, five days a week for a month. The video games played tested patients range of motion, balance, mobility, stepping and ambulation skills. The study was published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.


EA Developing 25 Next Generation Console Video Games

13/05/2005 by John Tilak
Gaming company Electronic Arts has announced that it has 25 video games for next generation consoles currently in development. EA's next generation line-up is to be showcased at the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles in May. Games from the EA Sports and EA brands that will be unveiled at E3 include Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 06, FIFA 06, Madden NFL 06, NBA LIVE 06, Need for Speed Most Wanted and The Godfather. For the past two years, EA has been concentrating on next generation development, deploying designers and engineers onto projects that use proprietary EA technology to experiment with next generation visuals, physics, animation and game-play possibilities.

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