Champ John Back vs. All Comers at "Replay Foosball Challenge"

Tabletop Soccer Tournament Starts Independence Day Weekend in Manhattan's SoHo
Distribution Source : ArriveNet
Date : Tuesday, June 28, 2005
New York, NY -- (ArriveNet - Jun 28, 2005) --
John Back, the New York metropolitan area's star foosball (tabletop soccer) player, is taking on all comers at the free “Replay Foosball Challenge" starting Independence Day weekend.The competition, sponsored by Replay jeans and casual wear to mark its summer sales season, will take place at the Replay flagship store, 109 Prince Street (at Greene St) in the SoHo section of Manhattan.The tournament begins Friday, July 1, between 2 p.m.-7 p.m. It continues Saturday, July 2 and Sunday, July 3 (noon-5 p.m., both days), and again the following weekend, Saturday, July 9 and Sunday, July 10 (noon-5 p.m., both days).Carey Migliaccio, Replay spokesperson, said there is no fee, and anyone can sign up at the store to play Back or attend as a spectator.

"Apart from breaks, John plans to play the entire five-hour schedule each of the five days," said Migliaccio. "He is used to playing for long periods, sometimes for 12 hours at a time."Back ranks at the top of the area's foosball players and is unbeaten, as he puts it, for "a few years." Earlier this month, he was victorious at one of the top foosball challenges in the Northeast, the DYP (Draw Your Partner) competition in Boston.Foosball, popular in Europe, has become a staple of the downtown Manhattan scene, attracting both male and female players.The tourney will be played on a mahogany, top-of-the-line Tornado foosball table.


Dave Does Ping Pong

NEW YORK, June 28, 2005

Ping Pong Challenge (Photo: CBS/The Early Show)
(CBS) When you hear "ping pong," you don't necessarily think of an Olympic sport. But when the folks at Killerspin Table Tennis came to town for their 2005 Extreme Table Tennis Tournament, The Early Show's Dave Price learned just how much of a workout ping pong could be. It's estimated that more than 300 million people now play around the globe. Table tennis's popularity in the United States is starting to gain momentum, in part, Price says, because it's a sport that anyone can play. Anyone. "If you happen to be five-eight, or five-nine or shorter, you can really be a great table tennis player. And there's world champions who are five-three, and there's world champions that are six-five," points out Killerspin President Robert Blackwell Jr. Price noticed Blackwell looking him over, and kidded, "Why are you looking at me when you're talking about…" "Because," Blackwell replied, "I'm trying to see, you know, what your real potential is." Price did some calisthenics to limber up and declared, "I had potential. I should have been on the professional table tennis circuit!" Then he proceeded to miss ball after ball, playing against a machine. "It was not meant to be," Price conceded. "Those honors belong to people like 11-year-old Junior Champion Table Tennis player AJ Brewer, and his 8-year-old brother, CJ. "What do you need to know to be a great table tennis champion?" Price wondered. "Getting the ball back, smashing the ball and serving," CJ responded. "Mostly, just getting the ball back and serving.""What is it that attracted you to this sport oh so many years ago?" Price inquired. "Well," came the answer from AJ, "It looked so hard, and I like hard stuff. And it's so quick and there's so many different things to do, it makes it so hard." "What about the ladies, are they a distraction on the tour?" Price asked, again tongue-in-cheek. "Maybe," said AJ. "Yeah," smiled CJ. "As you look at me," Price asked, "do I strike you as someone with great potential in the game of table tennis?" CJ broke it to Price: "Not really." "Do you think you can beat me?" "Yeah," CJ answered. "Do you think he can beat me?" "Yeah," replied AJ. "So I guess it's a challenge." "Hit me with your best shot," Price urged CJ, the eight year old. And CJ did, trouncing him. "Nice playing with you," Price said. "I could have beat you better," CJ revealed. "I could have beat you like 11-0, 11-3, 11-1." Price then took on AJ, and missed shot after shot. "I can't look," said CJ, sheidling his eyes from the action. Feigning disgust, Price finally said, "You know what? I'm just gonna take my racket. Is this what it's called? Paddle?" "Paddle, racket," CJ answered. "Yeah," Price continued. "I'm just gonna head on home."


Penny Arcade Giving Away Worlds Largest NES games collection!

01 Jul 2005 by Sakura
You might have heard about the huge NES collection that was recently up on eBay. I know it got linked on a bunch of game sites and I had quite a few people mail me about it. This guy was selling every single US game ever released for the NES, except for ten. That’s 776 games. We called him up and found out the package also included some pretty rare accessories like the Miracle Piano, ROB the robot and even a couple Power Gloves. It’s one hell of a collection to say the least. So we bought it. Yeah we bought it and now we’re going to give it away. This year the winner of the Ommegathon will win the ultimate NES collection. We’re even going to add some stuff to it to make it even crazier. We’ll get some pictures up as soon as we can. Remember if you want a shot and being an Omeganaught you need to pre-register for PAX. The last day to do that is July first. After that we’ll be going through the names at random and drawing out our contestants.


Pac-Man 25th Anniversary Game To Be Featured On TV

Namco America Inc. is thrilled to announce that the Pac-Man 25th Anniversary game will be featured on "The Early Show" Tuesday, June 28. This will be an exciting segment featuring special guests and fun activities. More information will follow once the show has aired. The Early Show airs on CBS from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. weekdays.
The Limited Edition Pac-Man 25th Anniversary game is available in a standard upright model and a non-coin operated cabaret model. Both models are available to ship immediately. You can order your Pac-Man 25th Anniversary game from The Game Gallery by calling 1-800-966-9873 or visit them on the web at www.HomeGameRoom.com


NASCAR Stern's Latest Pinball

The first details of Stern's latest game have just emerged and as expected it's based on the Nascar theme.
The game is designed by Pat Lawlor but it is an unusual design for him with the main feature of the game being a variant on an old Steve Ritchie device - an overgrown super charger.
Running around the outer edge of the playfield is a racetrack. The ball can enter this loop and is propelled (Getaway-style) by a couple of magnets mounted on the bottom left of the playfield.
Presumably in the finished version there will be a cover over these magnets but their positioning does produce a problem for the outhole. If the track runs around the outer edge, the outhole has to be moved forward to just behind the flippers and infront of the track loop.
The layout of this game is quite unusual for a Pat Lawlor design with it appearing to be a fan of eight possible shots and no cross-playfield shots from an upper flipper. There look to be ten features to complete, circling the car on the playfield and the ramps are clear plastic rather than the steel used recently.
The backglass and cabinet feature three themed teams from the Nascar series - the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford driven by Ricky Rudd of Wood Brothers Racing, the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet driven by Kevin Harvick of Richard Childress Racing and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge driven by Rusty Wallace of Penske Racing South.
Inclusion of specific teams is always dangerous ground and never more so than in Nascar where team loyalty approaches fanaticism and a game featuring opposing teams could be an instant turn-off.
When the Nascar theme was first announced, there was much concern from non-US sellers about the relative obscurity of the brand outside North America, where Formula 1 is the dominant motor sport. In an attempt to address this, the game will be sold under the "Grand Prix" name in these markets. This is the first time Stern has taken this step and follows previous themes such as Ripleys Believe It Or Not which underperformed due to lack of brand recognition - one of the key benefits of licensed themes. Call The Game Gallery 1-800-966-9873 and put your order in now, before there all gone.


A Small Face-Lift Keeps `Pac-Man,' Fans Smiling

BY HEATHER NEWMANKnight Ridder Newspapers
(KRT) - "Pac- Man," the jolly yellow fellow who helped make video games a phenomenon, turns 25 this year. And he's not yet done snacking on dots: His brightest future may be yet to come, on the very small screen of your cell phone.
When the "Pac-Man" game first became an arcade phenomenon, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide committed to memory the specific patterns he had to travel to eat all the dots and avoid all the ghosts.
It's listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful coin-operated game in history.
To play, you went to your local arcade and dropped a quarter into a big black box. Push the joystick up, down or sideways, and the merry yellow circle moved around a maze, happily squawking "wocka, wocka, wocka" as he went.
Make a false move, and you were rewarded with that now-famous sound, the "deeewwwwwwopppp" that came to be the audible refrain of failure for an entire generation.
"Pac- Man" continues to enjoy healthy sales, and Namco America is releasing a new video game console title, "Pac-Man World 3," in honor of the chubby circle's birthday.
It doesn't bear a ton of resemblance to the original game: This is a 3D title where "Pac- Man" jumps and does other very nontraditional moves to escape those ghosts.
But classic "Pac-Man" also lives on. It's become one of the most-popular video games for cell phones, which has the folks at Namco's wireless division very happy.
"The cell phone is the first mass-market game platform ever," says Scott Rubin, division vice president of sales and marketing.
And "Pac-Man" and the sequel "Ms. Pac-Man" are among the platform's best-sellers, he says. "It's perfect for cell phones and the audience that plays them."
Not only do the controls for the original "Pac-Man" fit perfectly in wireless phones' limited buttons - it is essentially up, down, left and right - but the game lends itself nicely to being able to stand in line for a few minutes and play, which is what cell phone gamers are typically looking for, Rubin says.
Namco America's wireless division is publishing a variety of titles for phones, including some more ambitious 3D titles based on the company's popular console fighting games "Soul Calibur" and "Tekken."
The company is even putting out a version of the light-gun console classic "Time Crisis" that uses the number pad to shoot bad guys in various areas of the screen.
But Rubin says the heart of the cellular games business isn't in these flashy new wonders. They're good games, he says, but not many people have phones with enough features to play them.
That's why core arcade classics like "Pac-Man" sell so well. They'll play on almost any phone with a color display, and the game is exactly like people remember it from the arcade when they were a kid - just much, much smaller.


Video Games Entertaining, Not Training Guides For Killers

Illustration by Earl Larrabee By Katie Paulson Arizona Daily WildcatWednesday, June 29, 2005 I am training to be an assassin.
Well, that's not exactly true. But according to a recent lawsuit filed against Take-Two Interactive, the creator of Grand Theft Auto, individuals opposed to such a game believe that video games aid in the production of killers.
Last June, 18-year-old Devin Moore gunned down three men (two police officers and a 911 dispatcher) in Fayette, Alabama, in what was later portrayed as a simulation of events mirroring those found in GTA. For those who haven't experienced this particular game, the basic premise involves the player having free reign to do as he or she pleases in a thinly-disguised U.S. city (Miami, Los Angeles, etc.). In order to gain access to more territory, the player must complete certain missions such as drive other characters around or partake in gang warfare. True, it's a violent game that reproduces murder, prostitution, stealing cars, and other not-so-pleasant imagery. Wait, did someone say game?
The victims' families want not only the creators of GTA but the manufactures of the gaming console (Sony) and the places where Moore purchased the games (Wal-Mart and Game Stop) to be held responsible for generating training grounds for potential murderers.
Unfortunately, their thought processes contain certain incorrect contentions and generalizations. If such a game really did prime youth to commit atrocious crimes, one would expect violent crimes, especially those committed by teenagers, to be increasing exponentially.
But they're not.
Their argument stems from the mentality that the recent surge of popular (and violent) video games contributes to an increase in violent crime within American society. However, statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice depict a different story than the lawsuit plaintiffs offer. In fact, 2003 marked the lowest percentage of violent crimes since 1973 with a decrease from 47.7 percent to 22.3 percent.
Furthermore, when comparing the sheer numbers of video games (namely GTA) purchased to the occurrences of violence that may stem from such extended game playing, the equation simply doesn't add up. Currently, 35 million copies of GTA circulate the globe with worldwide sales nearing $2 billion. Again, why aren't 35 million individuals currently incarcerated for similar crimes?
The majority of video game junkies (myself included) see even the most violent games as another form of entertainment, a stress reliever, and a fantastic way to procrastinate during the school year.
If production crews, marketers, manufacturers, stores, and all the other aspects of consumerism are held responsible for the action of one individual, where would the blame game end? Furthermore, would individuals even be held culpable for their own illegal behavior?

Katie Paulson Columnist
To some, violent video games symbolize only the first of many products that need to be purged for existing outside of the socially accepted norm. After burning copies of Halo and Doom, lobbyists would move on to the world of cinema and rid us of such movies as "Schindler's List," "The Patriot," and even "The Brave Little Toaster" (due to an encouragement of resisting authority and criminal tendencies).
Then, books serve as the next target of attacks. Remove the entire genre of Romance, for it leads to increased promiscuity and impure thoughts. No more horror, historical fiction, or even R.L. Stine.
Although these actions border on the extreme, once a decision is made on the morality and ethical connotations of one video game, it opens the door to a myriad of other censorships and governmental controls. George Orwell's "1984" does not hold the same mystical, impossible qualities when evaluated in this light.
Take-Two Interactive is not the only video game manufacturer to face legal battles. Families of school-shooting victims have lashed out at companies such as IdSoftware, Incorporated and Midway, the creators of "Doom" and "Mortal Kombat" respectively, for contributing to the deaths of their children through the promotion of gore and violence. Judges dismiss the majority of these cases based on first amendment infringements and lack of evidence.
Why are the family members such as Steve Strickland, brother of murdered Fayette police officer Arnold Strickland, determined to shift the guilt from the one who committed the action to the supposed influential factors? In this particular case, Moore was clearly predisposed to commit a crime. From continually living in different foster homes, Moore's life lacked a great deal of adult supervision, guidance and discipline. A recent "60 Minutes" feature on the story illustrated him as a young man who played GTA day and night. Why aren't the families suing his foster parents? Child Protection Services? Someone should be held responsible for allowing him to live in a non-realistic world.
When we refuse to condemn an individual's behavior choices and instead point fingers at corporations and other forms of businesses, we acknowledge that people cannot govern themselves but live under the control of products. The absurdity of such thoughts leaves me pondering when accepting personal responsibility will enter humanity's lexicon again.
Until then, I'll see you in Vice City.
Katie Paulson is a junior majoring in English and Political Science and a huge fan of Goldeneye. You can send her letters and game cheats at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


Conducted By Joystick

Classical music and video games are a natural fit -- really -- for the L.A. Phil.By Susan Carpenter, Times Staff Writer
GAMERS get to control a lot of things in the videos they play. They choose their characters, their weapons, where they go and what they do. And Wednesday, during "Video Games Live" at the Hollywood Bowl, they will get to control something new — the L.A. Philharmonic. For a portion of the two-hour video game music concert, the actions of two gamers playing live on stage will actually direct the 105-piece orchestra.This "interactive symphony," as the event's founders call it, is one of the more intriguing segments in an already groundbreaking show. A conductor, watching the video game play out on a screen on the Bowl stage, will lead an orchestra that has rehearsed five musical sequences based on the action of the game. The music is for a vintage arcade game called Frogger.
Video clips, laser effects, costumed characters and stunt men will also share the stage as the Phil performs 20 other pieces of classic video game music, including Donkey Kong, Halo and EverQuest II."Some people might scratch their head and say, 'What? Am I going to see the L.A. Phil perform a lot of bleeps and bloops?' " said Tommy Tallarico, who co-founded and executive produced "Video Games Live" and composed the music for many video games, including Advent Rising. "That is not the case at all. This music is just as good as any film score out there. It's not just an orchestra playing merry-go-round melodies."Video game music has come a long way in the 33 years since Computer Space and Pong first entered arcades. It's evolved from monotone bleeps to simple one-line melodies to full-blown orchestral, choral and opera arrangements today, yet popular perception lags; for nongamers, it's still the blippity bloops of Asteroids and PacMan that define the genre. "We have become Hollywood as far as audio [goes]," said legendary game designer David Perry, creator of the classic Earthworm Jim and Matrix games. "We use the same talent in the same studios with the same conductors, and it sounds just as epic."If nongamers find it odd that the Phil's signed on for such an unusual show, video game fanatics don't think it's such a stretch. It's actually building on the success of the Phil's "Final Fantasy" performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall last year. That show, which featured selections from the first 10 games in the top-selling adventure series, was the first live concert of video game music in the country. Tickets sold out in a day, and some later sold on EBay for $800 a pop."It was an incredible demographic in the hall," said Hollywood Bowl General Manager Arvind Manocha, who saw the show. "There were kids and gamers and families of gamers. We had a great concert and a great time, and it stuck in the back of our mind: There's this new art form that's emerging of video game music."So, when Tallarico and his co-producer, Jack Wall, approached Manocha about hosting the show, it meshed perfectly with the Bowl's plan to "do something that would be a little bit different this year." And then some. "Video Games Live" is a multimedia musical retrospective. It's a carefully choreographed tribute highlighting the best games and their best features, whether it's the full choir accompanying Halo or the light show complementing Tron or the montage of archival and future video clips for Zelda. Legendary Japanese game designer Hideo Kojima is even making his first live U.S. appearance at the event, introducing his game Metal Gear Solid just before the orchestra launches into its percussion-heavy soundtrack. Marrying the cerebral, high-brow art of classical music with the adrenaline-filled, mass-appeal interactivity of video games actually furthers the agendas of both sides. For the L.A. Phil, it brings a new, younger audience to live orchestral music. For gamers, it takes the music out of its isolated, electronic context and humanizes it.Instead of hearing the music as a driving force in the game, they get to sit back and see live human beings performing it. It also socializes the gaming experience by drawing players away from their computer screens and into a flesh-and-blood community.Hard-core gamers who get to the concert early can also enjoy the free video game festival that begins 2 1/2 hours before the show. More than 40 video game designers and composers will be on hand to greet fans, including the creators of classics like Crash Bandicoot, WarCraft and Lara Croft Tomb Raider. The Videotopia traveling museum will lay out the history of video games and offer arcade classics to play. And there will be a costume contest for attendees who've gone to the trouble of dressing up like Mario, Lara Croft or another favorite video game character. That's why Tallarico refers to "Video Games Live" as a concert event instead of a concert. "It's a celebration of the entire video game," said Tallarico, who is bringing the show to 18 other cities this summer. "I want 'Video Games Live' to be the Barnum and Bailey of our generation. I want it to be the Woodstock of the 21st century."*`Video Games Live'Where: Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., HollywoodWhen: 8 p.m. WednesdayPrice: $4 to $92Info: (323) 850-2000 or http://www.hollywoodbowl.com


Parents--Not The Government--Should Monitor Video Games

Date published: 6/30/2005
Japan, the undisputed heartland of the video-game industry, is quickly becoming a media hotspot. More and more heinous acts are being committed by the youths of Japan, and these outbursts are being linked to such violent video games as "Grand Theft Auto" and "Resident Evil."
Earlier this year, a 17-year-old was arrested after his teacher was killed and others were stabbed at one of his former schools. He reportedly had an intense love for gaming and was a big fan of the first-person-shooter series "Resident Evil."
In more recent news, a 15-year-old Japanese boy was arrested in connection with the deaths of his family. Authorities believe he also attempted to destroy evidence by blowing up the family house with homemade explosives.
Media outlets later characterized the boy as a rabid "Grand Theft Auto III" fan, according to Gamespot.com.
Violent acts such as these seem to be occurring in Japan with startling frequency--and all of them seem to have links to minors playing video games that, according to the rating system, should not have been sold to them.
This has led the entire nation to plans for "self-imposed" regulations on video-game sales.
The Kanagawa prefecture has led the pack for regulations on the sale of video games to minors, banning the sale of "Grand Theft Auto" to minors because it's a "harmful publication," Gamespot reported.
The Computer Entertainment Suppliers Association seems to not want further censorship of video games, believing that freedom of expression must be upheld. However, the association does seem to believe that somebody has to take responsibility for the effects on undeniably impressionable youth.
It seems that parents will never assume this responsibility and will always find a scapegoat.
But I hope logic will somehow work its way into the U.S., and people will one day stop suing Wal-Mart for selling their kids games that they provided the money for in the first place.
RYAN BROSMER is a rising senior at Courtland High School



You Have $250 Credit With Us

Super Summer Sale

Call Now through July 4th and get
$250 any purchase over $1000
(good for new purchases from 06/29/05 - 07/4/05

You can purchase on-line over the weekend
when we're closed and still get the $250 Off

We will be closed July 4th for the holiday
and will resume normal business hours on
Tuesday July 5th

The Game Gallery

Pinball Machines - Arcade Games
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TV Making You Smarter? Plot-Heavy Programs, Some Video Games Exercise The Mind

By Franklin Harris DAILY Assistant Metro Editor fharris@decaturdaily.com ·
Nearly 45 years after Newton N. Minow, then chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said television was a "vast wasteland," plenty of critics still agree. You don't have to go far to find people eager to complain about television's supposed love affair with sex, violence and stupidity, be it in the form of "Desperate Housewives," "The Sopranos" or "Fear Factor."
But perhaps all isn't as bad as it seems. Maybe, in fact, television and all of American popular culture in general are better than they've ever been before. Could it even be that pop culture is now actually good for us?
In "Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter," Steven Johnson argues just that. And he has the graphs to prove it.
Compare an episode of 1970s cop show "Starsky and Hutch" to a modern series like "The Sopranos," as Johnson does, and the difference is clear. TV shows today have more complex plots than those of the past. It takes more brainpower just to follow what is going on. And thinking about and integrating complex stories in one's mind, Johnson says, can make you smarter.
Johnson draws upon recent research into how the human brain functions. The adage about exercising one's mind is true. And some of today's TV programs are so dense with interrelated plots that simply watching TV can count as mental exercise.
Johnson cites dramas like "The Sopranos," "ER" and "The West Wing" and comedies like "Scrubs" and "Arrested Development" as shows that demand more of their audiences. (I would add the Sci-Fi Channel's revived "Battlestar Galactica" to that list; it's as smart as the 1970s version was absurd.) Sure, brainless entertainment like "Survivor" is still around, and smart shows like "M*A*S*H" are nothing new. But the ratio of smart shows to dumb shows is improving, and the smart shows are getting smarter.
Video games, D&D
Even more compelling, however, is Johnson's case for video games and role-playing games like "Dungeons & Dragons."
Games like D&D and "The Sims," he argues, require players to think long term and perform dozens of tasks in specific sequences to reach the player's goal. A game of D&D can make a game of chess seem simple, and you don't see parents worrying if their children want to play chess. And unlike chess, the basic rules of which are simple, video games demand that players learn the rules as they go along. Simply learning the mechanics of a game is another problem to solve.
Johnson speculates that the main reason people are critical of video games is their novelty. If video games had been around for decades and books were the new hot thing, he believes people would find reasons to complain that children were spending too much time reading: "Books are ... tragically isolating. While games have for years engaged the young in complex social relationships with their peers, books force the child to sequester him or herself in a quiet place, shut off from interaction with other children."
Of course, Johnson doesn't really believe books are bad. His point is simply that one could come up with as many arguments against reading as one could against video games. In both cases, you can't ignore the benefits.
While Johnson's case probably won't convert those opposed to sex and violence as a matter of principal, it may calm the fears of parents who worry that little Suzie is watching too much television and little Johnny is playing too many video games.


Will Hollywood's Slump Hit Video Games?

Tinseltown's malaise may seep into the game industry if publishers aren't careful.
June 27, 2005: 3:03 PM EDT Game Over is a weekly column by Chris Morris

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – The video game industry loves to compare itself to Hollywood.
Publicists regularly liken graphics in new games to "Shrek" or any of the Pixar (Research) films. Some titles tout the voice work of A-list actors more than the gameplay itself. And publishers squeal in glee when a studio picks up the rights to one of their franchises.
But as the gaming industry strives so hard to emulate Hollywood's success, it's in danger of falling into the same mudhole the movie folks are mired in these days.
You've no doubt heard about this year's box office slump, the worst in 20 years. Some blame the films. Others blame ticket prices. Everyone seems to agree DVD sales are cutting into things. Obviously, there are some differences, but the same problems are starting to creep into games. And the resulting revenue slump could be the same – or worse.
Let's break it down a bit.
First off, though it might shock the suits in the executive suites, audiences don't like seeing the same thing again and again. It's true for the cinematic remakes of "The Honeymooners" and "Herbie: Fully Loaded" and it's becoming true of the innumerable "Grand Theft Auto" clones. (About the only thing outnumbering those at this year's E3 trade show was the avalanche of World War II titles.)
Copying successful formulas isn't a new thing, of course. Two years ago, you couldn't swing a dead joystick without hitting a few "Lord of the Rings" games.
Sure many of these cloned games and cloned films rack up reasonably strong numbers, but there's a difference between seeing or buying something because you're eager to watch/play and because there's nothing else available.
Both industries seem to have forgotten that innovation and fresh ideas are what captured audiences in the first place. Remakes and clones might put some change in your coffers in the short term, but you lose respect and credibility from your customers each time you do so. The film and gaming industries are supposed to be fonts of creativity, but lately both seem afraid to risk trying something new. It happens occasionally, but not as much as it should.
The matter of ticket and game prices is a bit trickier. While it's an unpopular truth, the economic reality is that prices do need to go up from time to time.
So while cutting prices isn't an option, game makers can avoid alienating their audience in a couple of ways. Digital distribution is in a nascent stage right now, but has shown potential. Valve Software, a trailblazer in the field, won't reveal how many copies of "Half-Life 2" it sold via its proprietary content delivery system Steam, but has said the profit margins on those were substantially higher than retail store sales.
There is, of course, no way the gaming industry will survive on digital sales alone. But by offering it as a lower cost alternative, publishers and developers can maintain the profit levels they need to keep investors (and employees) happy and give customers the opportunity to feel like they're getting a bargain.
Episodic gaming is another opportunity to foster innovation and keep prices down. Like the movie serials of the 30s and 40s, a game that updates every week or every month can keep players coming back. And since the experience will be a shorter one, it should be cheaper as well. Microsoft has already vowed to offer episodic content as part of Xbox 360. Let's hope they follow-through – and lead by example.
The advent of home theater and DVD sales are certainly part of the reason people are avoiding the theater, but it goes a bit deeper than not having to leave your living room. Today's moviegoers, not to put too fine a point on it, are jerks. They kick seats. They constantly chatter amongst themselves, oblivious to others sitting around them. And they are seemingly incapable of pressing the 'off' button on their cell phones and pagers.
Why, dear God, would you want to pay to spend time around these morons?
So what's the gaming parallel? Online.
Online gaming can be a terrific experience and add a new dimension to a title. Too often, though, you find yourself surrounded by obnoxious folks who feel the anonymity of the Internet gives them license to act the fool. There's no quicker way to lose interest in a game than hearing a 15-year old scream his favorite obscenities for no real reason.
Screeners do exist to block "griefers," as they're called, but they really don't do a sufficient job. Microsoft (Research), to its credit, certainly seems to be trying to raise the bar with its next generation of Xbox Live.
Until you're able to avoid these twerps altogether, though, you risk recreating the frustration you experience in the theater – only this time you won't be able to dump a bucket of greasy popcorn on their heads.
There's still time for the game industry to avoid a slump. With the next generation coming, it's hardly imminent. (So far this year, in fact, software sales are up an impressive 25 percent, according to the NPD Group.) But executives at publishing companies need to look ahead and realize that when it comes to keeping fans happy, Hollywood's system might not be the best one to emulate.
Is innovation dying? The creator of Donkey Kong thinks so. Read more here.


Nokia Celebrates 75 Years Of Pinball With New Screenshots For Mile High Pinball

Press release supplied by Games Press 13:30 28/06/2005
Espoo, Finland, June 28, 2005
Mile High PinballTM, the latest N-Gage title celebrating man's mastery over a silver ball, celebrates 75 years of pinball history with a brand new set of screenshots available at: www.extranet.n-gage.com.
The first pinball machine, "Baffle Ball" was invented by David Gottlieb in 1930. For a penny, early pinball aficionados could shoot seven balls into scoring holes. The game was so popular that it inspired a home version sequel called "Baffle Ball Senior" in 1932.
Live the history and play pinball like never before with the frighteningly addictive Mile High Pinball on the N-Gage platform. Collect points, collectibles, and power-ups as you ascend through 80+ pinball stages. Go up against mini-bosses or challenge a friend as you ascend to never-before-seen boards.
Developed by Bonus.com, Mile High Pinball offers a Beat-My-Challenge feature where players create their own pinball map and upload it to N-Gage Arena for others to beat. Gamers can also upload rankings, trade balls and a slew of strategic power-ups, and even create their own tournaments.
Mile High Pinball is scheduled to be in retail stores in fall 2005.
About N-Gage
The N-Gage game deck is an innovative mobile device that is creating an entirely new market for the games industry. Built for active gamers, the N-Gage platform is the first mobile and connected game deck to feature online high-quality 3D multiplayer game play over Bluetooth wireless technology and GPRS. The N-Gage device also offers unique online games services as well as a comprehensive and growing games catalogue from the leading game publishers. Nokia is the world leader in mobile communications. Nokia and N-Gage are trademarks or registered trademarks of Nokia Corporation.



ESPN To Capture City's Foosball Fever

'SportsCenter' to feature bistro's event
By Chris Lassiter/staff classiter@newleader.com
Mike Tripp/The News Leader Alita Stinnett and Crystal Campbell team up against A.D. Campbell in a game of foosball Thursday at the Byers Street Bistro.

STAUNTON —Basketball junkie Derrick Fields would rate "SportsCenter" his second-favorite television show, just behind ESPN's documentaries on the And 1 streetball team.
"It's amazing," said Fields, a guard at Hagerstown Community College with some pretty good moves of his own. "I like the highlights and the information. It tells you everything."
On July 22, Fields and other area residents could possibly see themselves on "SportsCenter." ESPN's flagship news and information program is airing live from Staunton as part of "SportsCenter Across America," a summer tour scheduled to hit all 50 states in as many days.
Maui, Atlanta, Memphis, Indianapolis, Salt Lake City and many other cities will also host the ESPN "SportsCenter" crew.
"SportsCenter Across America" will set up at the fourth annual Thunder in the Valley Foosball Spectacular at Byers Street Bistro.
Sometimes referred to as table soccer, foosball is a game of soccer with the players on rod that extend through the sides. Both players control a side.
"We just scouted the states and did all sorts of research," said Mark Gross, senior coordinating producer for "SportsCenter." "I talked to people from those states. We wanted to have a nice mix of mainstream and non-mainstream. We were just nosing around and found an event (foosball) that we didn't have in any other state. No great science, just a lot of intense research."
Beginning in Boston on July 17, the "SportsCenter Across America" staff will do a live feed from a sporting event each day.
The "SportsCenter Across America" segments will include a live host, a mobile studio, event action, historical notes and vignettes about each state's contribution to the national sports scene.
The "SportsCenter Across America" staff contacted Byers Street Bistro general manager Giovanni Cannata about covering the foosball tournament.
"Disbelief. Total disbelief," the restaurant manager said of his reaction.
Cannata ordered a new, wood-based Bonzini foosball table five years ago, partly because of customers requests. The foosball table also was smaller than a pool table and fit better into the full-service restaurant.
The foosball table was an immediate hit, but Cannata never expected coverage from ESPN.
"They called me, and I was like, 'OK, who's pulling the prank?'" Cannata said. "Once I realized it was them, it kinda hit. Then I thought, 'Logistically, how's 'SportsCenter' going to set up in my restaurant?"
Cannata is having trouble convincing people that SportsCenter is coming to town. And he wasn't the only person at Byers Street Bistro who had a hard time believing ESPN would come to Staunton.
"At first, I thought it would be radio coverage," said waitress Allison Kirby, a Radford University student who has worked at the restaurant for the past three summers. "Something like that doesn't happen very often in a small town. I think the foosball tournament might be a little more popular based on that."
The Thunder in the Valley Foosball Spectacular has grown in popularity each year. It draws players from Maryland, South Carolina and Florida. Part of the proceeds go to Hospice of the Shenandoah.
Cannata can't wait to see the ESPN vans roll up in the Wharf area for this year's foosball tournament. Television's longest-running news show, "SportsCenter" receives as many as 88 million viewers a month.
"'SportsCenter's' like coffee," said Cannata, who is still accepting foosball players for the tournament. "I can't live without it."
what:Thunder in the Valley Foosball Spectacular
when:July 22-24
where:Byers Street Bistro
more info:886-5330, www.bonziniusa.com , espn.go.com
Originally published June 24, 2005


Still Gobbling Strong

01:00 AM EDT on Monday, June 27, 2005
BY MATT SLAGLEAssociated Press
For a video game, Pac-Man is getting downright old. The ghost-wary hero with an insatiable appetite for dots turns 25 this month.
From the early 1980s "Pac-Mania" to today's endless sequels and rip-offs, the original master of maze management remains a bright yellow circle on the cultural radar.
But there was more to Pac-Man's broad appeal than eating dots and dodging on-screen archrivals Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde.
"This was the first time a player took on a persona in the game. Instead of controlling inanimate objects like tanks, paddles and missile bases, players now controlled a 'living' creature," says Leonard Herman, author of Phoenix: The Rise and Fall of Videogames. "It was something that people could identify, like a hero."
It all began in Japan, when Toru Iwatani, a young designer at Namco, caught inspiration from a pizza that was missing a slice. Puck-Man was the game's original name, derived from the Japanese phrase "paku-paku" (meaning to open and close one's mouth). Because of obvious similarities to a certain four-letter profanity, "Puck" became "Pac" when it debuted in the U.S. in 1980.
Its success spawned a romantic interest (Ms. Pac-Man), a child (Junior Pac-Man), a cartoon show and hundreds of licensed products. The phenomenon even reached the pop music charts when "Pac-Man Fever" by Buckner & Garcia drove us all crazy in 1982.
Billy Mitchell, the first and only person known to play a perfect game of Pac-Man (he racked up a score of 3,333,360 after clearing all 256 levels in more than six hours in 1999, according to video game record keepers Twin Galaxies) says Pac's popularity was in its nonviolent simplicity.
"The fact that it's cute, it's almost like a hero running around the board from bad guys. It's not an appeal based on violence," the 39-year-old from Hollywood, Fla., said. "Whether it was an 80-year-old lady or a kid, everyone could adapt to the Pac-Man world."
Billions of quarters later, Pac-Man's influence continues.
As part of a final project for a class in New York University's Interactive Telecommunications graduate program last year, students with cell phones and Wi-Fi Internet connections mimicked the game, tracking their movements on a grid spanning several city blocks.
They called this analog re-enactment, where four people dressed as ghosts searched for Pac-Man on the streets around New York's Washington Square Park, Pac-Manhattan.
"We never had anyone clear the entire board," said Frank Lantz, a game designer who taught the course.
Namco, which can't offer an exact date for Pac-Man's birth, sold 293,822 of the arcade machines between 1980 and '87. It shows no signs of giving up on the franchise.
The company has several new games this year, including "Pac-Mania 3D," "Pac-Man World 3," Pac-Pix" and "Pac-Man Pinball." It even began making a special 25th anniversary edition of the old arcade machine.
"People say, 'Who buys Pac-Man?' It's one of the few games where the answer is, 'Everyone,' " said Scott Rubin, general manager of Namco America.
Herman said Pac-Man's position is forever secure: "It was a milestone of video game history."


Wocka Wocka Wocka: Pac-Man turns 25

By the Associated Press

For a video game, Pac-Man is getting downright old. The ghost-wary hero with an insatiable appetite for dots turns 25 this month.
From the early 1980s "Pac-Mania" to today's endless sequels and ripoffs, the original master of maze management remains a bright yellow circle on the cultural radar.
But there was more to Pac-Man's broad appeal than eating dots and dodging onscreen archrivals Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde.
"This was the first time a player took on a persona in the game. Instead of controlling inanimate objects like tanks, paddles and missile bases, players now controlled a "living' creature," says Leonard Herman, author of Phoenix: The Rise and Fall of Videogames.
"It was something that people could identify, like a hero."
It all began in Japan, when Toru Iwatani, a young designer at Namco, caught inspiration from a pizza that was missing a slice. Puck-Man, as it was originally called, was born. Because of obvious similarities to a certain four-letter profanity, "Puck" became "Pac" when it debuted in the United States in 1980.
Its success spawned a romantic interest (Ms. Pac-Man), a child (Junior Pac-Man), a cartoon show and hundreds of licensed products. The phenomenon even reached the pop music charts when Pac-Man Fever by Buckner & Garcia drove folks crazy in 1982.
Billy Williams, the first and only person known to play a perfect game of Pac-Man (he racked up a score of 3,333,360 after clearing all 256 levels in more than six hours in 1999, according to video game record keepers Twin Galaxies), says Pac's popularity was in its nonviolent simplicity.
"The fact that it's cute, it's almost like a hero running around the board from bad guys. It's not an appeal based on violence," said the 39-year-old from Hollywood, Fla. "Whether it was an 80-year-old lady or a kid, everyone could adapt to the Pac-Man world."
Namco, which can't offer an exact date for Pac-Man's birth, sold 293,822 of the arcade machines between 1980-87. It shows no signs of giving up on the franchise.
The company has several new games this year, including Pac-Mania 3D, Pac-Man World 3, Pac-Pix and Pac-Man Pinball. It even began making a special 25th anniversary edition of the old arcade machine.
"People say, "Who buys Pac-Man?' It's one of the few games where the answer is, "Everyone,"' said Scott Rubin, general manager of Namco America.


Sport Loses To TV And Video Games

AUSTRALIAN children are abandoning sport in favour of television and computer games. 26jun05
And authorities fear the trend will destroy the nation's reputation as a sporting power.Research which shows about 40 per cent of kids play no organised sport is ringing alarm bells for administrators.
The number of girls aged 5 to 14 playing organised sport has fallen 11 per cent in the past eight years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
And the least active 25 per cent of 10 to 12-year-olds spend less than 10 minutes a day doing vigorous physical activity.
A study by Deakin University in Victoria has found that few primary and secondary schools failed to achieve at least three hours a week of physical education and sport.
Results of the research have stunned sporting and health groups who say Australia's pride as a great sporting nation is being damaged.
"This frightening trend of escalating obesity, illnesses and death from our sedentary lifestyle will eventually cripple our health care system," champion marathon runner Robert de Castella said.
"We need to be doing 10 times more to combat this. These results are just the tip of the iceberg."
Mr de Castella, who is now the director of a fitness benchmarking organisation, said the educational agenda had been hijacked by emphasis on literacy and numeracy, resulting in other areas being neglected.
"If kids who have lost the ability to throw, run and jump do not develop the ability in primary school, they have no hope of doing it in secondary school," he said.


Video Games Viewed Ss Aid To Education

6/27/05 Andy Hall Wisconsin State Journal
A Blackhawk is down.
Your mission: Search for the helicopter's crew in this bombed-out building somewhere in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Oh, wait.
A different scene appears on another screen.
You've got a new mission: Teach children to love science.
These are glimpses into the world of gaming - "serious gaming" as it's known by proponents - at vendors' booths this week at a conference held at Monona Terrace in Madison.
The event focused attention on the increasing respectability of video games. No longer exclusively the purview of obsessive teenagers and young adults, video games are receiving the blessings of some researchers, who hail them as a force that could transform classrooms, workplaces and even battlefields around the globe.

And Madison - thanks to researchers in a little-known academic lab - is right in the middle of the whole trend.
"They have more people here in the top tier than anywhere else in the nation," said Benjamin Stokes, manager of a program for NetAid, a nonprofit agency based in New York City that strives to inspire young people to fight global poverty.
Stokes, for his part, sees video games as a force for social change, so he's bringing together nonprofits and others across the country to develop games that create awareness and action on social problems ranging from hunger to AIDS.
About 325 computer experts and researchers from around the world, including people from colleges and schools, the military, gaming companies and nonprofit organizations, attended sessions and informal gatherings Thursday and Friday.
The goal was to explore the power of video games to foster learning and to understand video games' rapidly expanding role in society.
For decades, simulators have helped train people for such tasks as flying jets and firing military weapons. But they're expensive - often costing millions of dollars and requiring pricey upkeep. They usually aren't portable, either.
In contrast, educational video games can be delivered over the Internet to computers and other electronic devices, including cell phones, anywhere in the world.
"Get it on your cell phone," said Judy Brown, director of the Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Lab, a joint University of Wisconsin System-Wisconsin Technical College project.
"Get it when and where you need it."
The lab, created in 2000, is funded by about $500,000 a year in grants and consulting contracts and brings together researchers from disparate disciplines to study and develop video games for educational purposes. About a fifth of the funds come from the U.S. Department of Defense. The lab's low profile locally belies its growing international reputation as a clearinghouse for some of the first academic research examining video games.
James Paul Gee, a UW- Madison researcher, told a standing-room-only crowd that video games hold promise for helping educators confront two crises:
Slumps among fourth- graders and older students who are failing to read well enough to master the complex vocabularies for such subjects as science and math.
Dimming prospects for college graduates who are finding that technical jobs are outsourced to nations such as India and China.
"We have a lot to learn from this despised industry about how to solve these crises," Gee said.
For example, Gee said, popular games such as "Yu-Gi-Oh" captivate children who pour hours into learning multi- layered rules and mastering skills because they engender a sense of purpose and fun.
Games such as history-based war game "Rise of Nations" offer players many pages of feedback in numbers and charts, providing players with clues for improving performance and offering a model that could be adopted by educators, he said.
"They never make you read a 500-page book before you can do anything, which is what we do in school," Gee said.
There was buzz about newly discovered abilities of video games to bring about change - not just for peaceful purposes, but also in war.
Frank Polster, director of Army Training Information Systems at the Army Training Support Center in Virginia, said the military is building video training programs into weapons systems, such as missile launchers or tanks. That way, soldiers will practice upon the same equipment they use, making the training more effective and keeping young soldiers engaged.
"This generation does not just sit there and take things passively," Polster said.
Michael Freeman, deputy director of the Department of Defense's Advanced Distributed Learning project in Virginia, said well-designed video games replicate what can be learned in simulators. They also engage players' interests by offering a story and teaching skills.
Freeman and Polster are working with manufacturers and software developers on uniform standards allowing old games to be merged with newcomers. A new game on running truck convoys in Iraq could be joined to an older game that included support strikes from F-16 jets.
A long-term goal, Freeman said, is to integrate games with players' prior performances, so they're drilled on areas that need improvement.
Freeman said he would understand if some people in Madison, with its history of opposition to wars including the U.S. military's presence in Iraq, are uneasy about the military forming an increasingly close alliance with the ADL lab in Madison.
However, he said, "even if someone is against the war, they wouldn't want someone not knowing how to react to (improvised) explosive devices, the IEDs. We're not really weaponizing anybody's mind. . . . We can disagree about whether we need to be someplace, but not whether someone needs these skills to survive."
The military already has found a potent link between video games and running a volunteer military force.
The world's most popular Internet video game, "America's Army," was developed for about $6 million beginning in 2000 and receives about $2 million a year in government funding, said Perry McDowell, who played a small role in its development. He now is executive director of Delta 3D, an "engine" the military is giving away to developers to foster the creation of a new generation of video games. McDowell works at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.
"America's Army" was designed to give youths considering a military career some ideas about what soldiers do, from serving in the infantry to special forces and medic units. It's been played by 5.5 million people since its release on July 4, 2002.
On a typical day, it's played 1.6 million hours by a worldwide audience. The game is available free from an Army Web site, www.americas army.com.
Government research has credited the game with paying for itself by helping the Army recruit and retain soldiers. New soldiers who've played the game have gained familiarity with and a favorable impression of the military.
At his booth at Monona Terrace, McDowell demonstrated how Delta 3D, joined with scenery created by two interns, can simulate the site of a Blackhawk crash in an Iraqi or Afghan village. A full-scale game could be developed, he said, to train troops on searching for survivors in the hostile environment.
The military already uses such programs to train soldiers on how to hunt for improvised explosive devices and how to operate convoys in Iraq.
Another program, demonstrated by McDowell, will train Marines' forward observers on how to call in artillery strikes using night-vision goggles, laser sites, a compass and binoculars.
On the video screen, McDowell spied an Iraqi troop carrier, a mere speck on the desert landscape. He measured its coordinates and distance and punched in a series of firing codes, almost exactly as a Marine would do in combat.
The troop carrier was reduced to a smoking hulk.
"I hit it dead-on and I killed that target, which is pretty difficult to do in real life," McDowell said.
To make it more realistic, he said, programmers will introduce random algorithms, to simulate the vagaries of actual fire.
Contact Andy Hall at ahall@madison.com or 252-6136

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