Sega Unveils New Arcade Games

Upcoming trade show to feature Metal Slug 6, Fist of the North Star, Under Defeat running on Sega hardware.
TOKYO--Sega today announced the lineup of arcade games it will be showing at the upcoming Amusement Machine Show, which will take place in Japan September 1-3. The company's focus this year seems to be third-party products running on Sega's arcade boards. The company will be exhibiting a number of such games at the show, including the new Fist of the North Star 2D fighting game from Arc System Works (developer of the Guilty Gear series) and Grev's new vertically scrolling shooter, Under Defeat. The Sega booth will also include SNK Playmore's Metal Slug 6, meaning that the series is being developed for the first time on a platform other than SNK's ancient MVS arcade platform.

While the attention will likely be drawn to the third-party offerings at Sega's booth, the company is planning to show some games it's developed itself, including Sega Golf Club Version 2006 Next Tours and Quest of D Version 2.
The annual Amusement Machine Show is a distributor-oriented event and is closed to the general public on days one and two. Day three is opened to the public, and entrance is free.
For more on Fist of the North Star, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.
By Hirohiko Niizumi -- GameSpot


Some Video Games Have A Positive Side

By KATE SHATZKIN, The Baltimore Sun
Published: Friday, Aug. 26, 2005
Video games have been blamed for making kids fat, introducing them to sex and violence, luring them away from family conversations and shortening their attention spans.Now a small number of game makers are creating games meant to encourage young players to exercise, focus, monitor their health and even relax.A computer game called “Play Attention” is used in school districts around the United States to help kids with attention-deficit disorder to focus. A company called Digital Praise – whose motto is “Glorifying God Through Interactive Media” – is selling adventure games that teach players about values such as patience and trust.Konami’s exercise game “Dance Dance Revolution,” which some players say has helped them lose weight, has spawned a number of imitators. A Minnesota father has developed a glucose meter called GlucoBoy – which will hook up to Nintendo’s Game Boy – to motivate young people with diabetes by rewarding proper monitoring of blood sugar with video games.As politicians renew questions over how the video-game industry polices itself, pointing to hidden sex scenes in the latest version of “Grand Theft Auto,” games and devices that explicitly promote healthy behavior still make up a small part of the $10 billion-a-year video game market. But they provide a window into what some experts say will become a significant new use of gaming technology.If well-designed, the games should make parents and kids happy. Sam Groves, 15, says his parents like the nonviolent theme of “Dance Dance Revolution” – and the fact that the game gets him moving. He has lost 15 pounds since he started playing in December.“They’d rather me play ‘DDR’ than anything else,” said the New Windsor, Md., teen.Next month, an initiative called Games for Health will hold its second annual conference at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where health-care professionals and game creators will discuss ways to collaborate on games that help kids with cancer manage the disease and hospitals distract patients from pain.Marc Prensky, a game designer and author who tracks “social impact games” on a Web site, says the number of titles in that category has grown from 50 in 2000 to more than 500.“I think there was just a growing realization that this medium is a useful one for education, that it’s already educating.”So far, the exercise games have been most successful at crossing the bridge between entertainment and health.More than 2.5 million copies of the home version of “Dance Dance Revolution” have been sold in the U.S. Sony’s new “EyeToy” games put players on the screen, encouraging physical activity in the virtual world.“DDR” shows the motivational power the right video game can have, says James Gee, a professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of “What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy.”“Kids did not get up to play that game saying they want to lose weight,” he said. “Their orientation is, ‘This is a party.’ ”Anita Frazier, who monitors video games for the NPD Group, says “Dance Dance Revolution” “opened up the industry’s minds in terms of the kinds of games that could find an audience.” But to succeed, the game has to be fun, she says.Cindy Tenicela of Silver Spring, Md., says that’s what drew her three children to “Dance Dance Revolution” several years ago. When she accompanied her then-12-year-old daughter to a tournament, “I was impressed that all the kids I met were straight, were sober, weren’t smoking, weren’t partying. You want to encourage that.”Now Tenicela plays, too.Mike Markoe, director of student services and special education for Washington County schools in Western Maryland, says game-playing has helped students with attention problems to focus in their schoolwork. Wearing a helmet that tracks their brain waves, students try to make objects fly across the screen or build pyramids using only their powers of concentration.While the district has no formal data, Markoe said teachers report that students who have been playing the game for 30 minutes twice a week are paying better attention in class. As for the kids, “they do enjoy it.”That impulse prompted Paul Wessel, a Minneapolis father, to invent the device he calls GlucoBoy. His son, who has diabetes, often misplaced the device that monitored his blood sugar.“But he would always know where his Game Boy was,” said Wessel, who hopes to have GlucoBoy ready for sale by the end of next year. “That was kind of the ‘aha’ moment.”



Press release supplied by Games Press 12:27 26/08/2005
Amsterdam, 26th of August 2005
Playing videogames has turned into one of the most important activities amongst children and young adults. According to a recent study by JuniorSenior Research amongst 4.000 children aged up to 15 years old, the majority (61 %) of boys and girls play games on a daily basis. Although children prove a difficult to reach target group through their fragmented media use, game developers can count on 'digikids' actively searching out their information and products. The research also shows that the price of new games plays a small role when purchasing games, and that the role of internet as an advertising medium is growing amongst this age group.
The vast majority (65 %) of the children polled prefer to play games on pc. Although pc games are relatively easy to duplicate, only 12% of children occasionally copy games from friends. Price is not a purchasing factor amongst this age group as proven by the willingness of children to save money to buy a new game (39%). Although older children (ranging from 13 to 15 years old and in most cases having a bigger budget) and heavy gamers (who are more willing to buy new games instantly) buy more games, even the younger children (9 years or younger) say to buy games themselves.
From passive to active purchasing behaviour
Children favour toy stores (54%) for their games. Older children and more fanatical gamers show active purchasing behaviour; they visit game shops more often. Younger children, and 'mainstream gamers' show passive purchasing behaviour. They will not actively search for a new game. It is more likely they will be confronted with a new game in the store, or get a game as a gift.
Personal contact superseeds advertising
Advertising is not the most important source of information for children. A large number of children (32%) learn about new games through their friends. Advertising is a good second (26%) however, followed by the introduction or demonstration of a game in a television show (11%). Parents and family members prove to be the most important source of information for the youngest children. But older children use all types of media as a source of information.
Internet as a growing advertising medium
Almost every child (92%) has seen an advert for a game, and most of them see them on television (63%). It is wise however for marketeers - who specialise in kids marketing - to keep considering internet as a viable and positive medium. Over 15% of the children see adverts for games on the internet, which compares favourably to the 11% that see adverts for games in magazines. This is an interesting result when you take into consideration that the kids that like to play games also love to spend much time on the internet (29%). The research shows that the older the children get, the more they are confronted with advertising in printed media like magazines and advertising brochures. Internet reaches both a very young audience and 'hardcore' gamers or digikids alike.


Video Games Where Prayer Triumphs Over Sword

By Randy Dotinga Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
Call it a case of raise-'em-up rather than shoot-'em-up. When the hero with a in the video game "Catechumen" uses a "sword of the spirit" to vanquish a Roman soldier possessed by demons, a bright light appears and a "Hallelujah" chorus sounds. The soldier falls to his knees and prays.
"He's been delivered," says Ralph Bagley, CEO and founder of N'Lightning Software Development, which created and distributes the game.
With its lack of violence and gore, "Catechumen" is a far cry from "Doom," "Grand Theft Auto," and other popular video games. It's one of a handful of Christian videogames created as clean, Bible-based alternatives to other games. Some of the Christian entries don't have villains at all, and focus on instilling values.
"They're meant to maybe prompt a question: 'Why shouldn't I lie, cheat, and steal? Why should I take responsibility for my actions?' " says Bill Bean, cofounder of Digital Praise, a video game company.
The evangelizing nature of the games tends to be subdued, however, and several have received rave reviews from the secular press for their game play. "My calling is to create high-quality fun games that are alternatives," Mr. Bagley says. "But anything I put out is not going to be preachy. God has a sense of humor, and He wants people to have fun, too."
Fun or not, it's not clear if the Christian video games can survive in the US video-game market, estimated at $10 billion. There are already plenty of other games that don't emphasize sex and violence, says David Cole, who monitors the video-game market for the research firm DFC Intelligence.
For now, neither N'Lightning nor Digital Praise is breaking even, although they're hoping to reach out to retail stores and move beyond Christian bookstores and Internet sales. The games themselves cost as much as $1 million to develop, less than the $5 million-plus that other companies spend.
Of course, the Christian video-game business isn't just about money, Mr. Bean says: "You can never have too much of Christ, too much of His word, too much of that influence."


IGDA Talks Sex And Video Games

Posted Aug 16, 2005, 2:30 PM ET by Ross Miller
The International Game Developers Association, likely in response to the Hot Coffee minigame that was found in San Andreas, has formed a special interest group to “address the issues and challenges facing the use of adult sexual content in video games.” Aptly titled Sex & Games, the special interest group is hoping to find ways open discussion on the topic and how to incorporate sex and nudity responsibly in video games, as well as ways to restrict underage gamers from viewing what they shouldn’t.I think this is a step in the right direction. The IGDA is a giant, influential part of the games industry, and their stance on finding a way to allow the adult sexual content to mature responsibly, as opposed to banning it altogether, is very smart for the growth of the medium (video games in general). I think we should see speeches given on the topic and game developers taken it seriously, because the use of more adult themes is going to continue as the industry ages. What do you think? Should games find a way to tastefully incorporate adult sexual themes into its games, much in the way Hollywood has, or has the Hot Coffee issue shown that maybe sex is one area we shouldn’t venture?


Video Game Hackers Become The New Threat

To critics of violent games, video game hackers have become the new threat to America's children because they modify the most popular games to include sexual content.
For the uninitiated, these game hackers, known as "modders," are a terrifying lot.
The Entertainment Software Ratings Board targeted the modders when it noted the widespread availability of a mod software program, dubbed "Hot Coffee," that can be downloaded from the Internet to run with the popular "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" game. Hot Coffee was the reason the board changed its rating on the Grand Theft Auto game from "mature" to "adults only."
The Hot Coffee mod unlocked sex scenes hidden on the game. Even though the scenes were originally created by its own Rockstar development studio, the game's publisher, Take-Two Interactive Software in New York, responded by blaming the modders in part, threatening to take legal action against those who violated its "end user license agreements" that govern how people use its software.
But game developers view the mod community as a misunderstood and underappreciated lot. Now that the modders are the subject of what they call a "witch hunt," game developers are doing their part to fight back. In short, they say that restricting mods is an infringement on First Amendment rights and on creativity.
Jack Thompson, a Florida attorney who has tangled with makers of video games over this issue, says, "Creative people seem to be big on creativity and not on much else. If publishers want to encourage the mod community, they need to be careful about that. You can't be so enamored of creativity that responsibility goes out the window."
On Internet message boards such as "GTA Garage," modders are responding to their critics. The administrators of the Web site GTA Garage, where mods for the Grand Theft Auto series are available, posted a series of letters and wrote in an introductory note, "Some of us decided it would be a good idea to defend ourselves from the whole 'modders are evil' myth they are perpetuating."
In their letter, the GTA Garage administrators wrote, "History does show this same sort of fearful over-reaction was exhibited towards explicit movies in the past. And before that, heavy metal, rap music, The Beatles, and comic books were to blame."
Mods are available on the Internet by the thousands, and many have little to do with sex or violence. Web users can download an image of an Adidas shirt for their characters to wear in "Grand Theft Auto," for example, or convert the sci-fi game "Unreal Tournament 2004" into a Western gunslinger's game dubbed "Damnation."
"The industry looks to the modders for their next generation of talent," said John Davison, editorial director at game magazine publisher Ziff Davis Media Game Group in San Francisco. "This has been going on for more than a decade. The last thing the industry wants to do is close down this avenue."
Some of the mods are offensive and amateurish, but many are independent works of art in their own right, says Jamil Moledina, executive director of the Game Developers Conference.
"The fact is, the modders, or those who take advantage of tools provided by the game publishers, are longstanding contributors to quality game development."
Modding has a long and storied history. Game developers started the tradition of including extra hidden features in games, known as Easter Eggs, as a kind of inside joke to fellow programmers or rewards for diligent gamers.
Games such as 1993's "Doom" included tools that enabled players to create their own landscapes for the games. Some of those mods, such as "Porn Doom," pushed the edge on taste. But many prove so popular they extend the time that gamers spend with a game by hundreds of hours.
Minh Le, a college student, spent about 20 hours a week working on a modification of the 1997 hit "Half-Life." When he and his friends made it available on the Internet in 1999, "Counter-Strike," a modern police-terrorist shooting game, turned into a big hit. The game was downloaded by the millions, the creators of "Half-Life" at Valve in Kirkland, Wash., acquired the rights and sold millions more copies at retail. Le parlayed the mod into a job at Valve.
Another successful mod was "Desert Combat," a mod of Electronic Arts' "Battlefield 1942" that transformed the setting for the online combat game into a modern battlefield setting. That pre-empted EA's own "Battlefield 2" game by years, and EA eventually bought the developer that created the "Desert Combat" mod.
Publishers have watched the trend and made it easier to mod games by including sophisticated tools.
Most of the modders are creating content publishers like. Some are producing annoying content, such as ones that misappropriate copyrighted characters like "Hello Kitty" or "The Simpsons." And some mods are so offensive, such as Hot Coffee or the naked "Sims 2" mod, that they're catching the wrath of politicians.
If the mods expose game publishers to legal liability, as with Hot Coffee, then game publishers might think twice about making the tools for modding available, said Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association.
"It would be very disappointing to see any formal legal action against modders," he said. "The mod scene is a source of innovation and a significant channel for creative expression."
Don Karl, a lawyer who represents game developers at Perkins Coie in Los Angeles, said publishers don't want to be put in the position of deciding which mods are appropriate and which aren't.
"Clearly, I can see the pressure intensifying on the game companies," Karl said. "It puts the game companies in the role of being a policeman."


Video Games Score Music Hits Songs Catch On In Mainstream

Some of the artists writing music for video games:Black Eyed Peas: The Los Angeles hip-pop group remixed some of their hits for "The Urbz: Sims in the City," a life simulation game where characters work at sushi bars and get tattoos to build reputations. The group even sings in Simlish, the gibberish language used in the Sims world.Snoop Dogg: The rap star put his twist on The Doors' "Riders on the Storm" in an exclusive song for the racing game "Need for Speed Underground 2" and appears as a playable character in the cop story "True Crime: Streets of LA."Mark Snow: Famed for his "X Files" TV theme, the composer wrote music for the new Sony PlayStation 2 anti-terrorist espionage and stealth game "Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain."Danny Elfman: The Grammy-winning film composer, whose work can be heard in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," wrote the theme for Microsoft Xbox's "Fable," an action role-playing game in which player choices determine whether the main character turns good or evil.Michael Giacchino: The composer turned ears in Hollywood with his sweeping score for the World War II combat simulation game "Medal of Honor." He has since written music for "The Incredibles" movie and the reinvented Space Mountain ride at Disneyland. Next, he's doing music for the movie "Mission: Impossible III."Paul Oakenfold: The dance DJ and remixer contributed tunes to the James Bond game "GoldenEye: Rogue Agent." His "Beautiful Goal" theme for Electronic Arts' "FIFA 2005" was licensed to Major League Soccer for use in TV ads.Papoose: The underground rapper making waves on New York mix tapes is releasing "Born to Win" exclusively on "Madden NFL 06." The top-selling football game's 20 other tracks include hip-hoppers of the likes of Jay-Z signee Sam Scarfo, Dr. Dre-affiliated Atlanta rapper Stat Quo, and Kanye West protege Bump J.Godsmack: Frontman Sully Erna was "fanatical" about writing a song for "Madden," according to Electronic Arts top music executive Steve Schnur. The group's "Bring It On" is among the hard-rock songs on the game, which also features Hot Hot Heat, The All-American Rejects, Foo Fighters and Disturbed.
LOS ANGELES -- Violinists playing sweetly beneath her, the video-game heroine Lara Croft has two guns blazing and the full attention of 10,000 people at the Hollywood Bowl.
The animated star of "Tomb Raider" games, which have collectively sold more than 30 million copies, unflinchingly braves explosions on a giant TV screen that hangs, incongruously, above the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra.
At the bizarre yet beautiful debut performance of Video Games Live, the sotto voce murmurs of the "Tomb Raider" theme give way to choir-assisted crescendos then to more crowd-pleasing music and images from other games.
The spectacle, which promoters say will be performed by similarly topflight orchestras in more than 15 cities in coming months, is just the latest sign that songs written for the interactive gaming world are blasting out of consoles and into the mainstream.
Orchestra concerts of music from "Final Fantasy" games -- a long-running role-playing series with a cult-like following -- have sold out venues nationwide.
Video games with their rising budgets are attracting serious composing talent. Scoring for traditional television may soon enough be playing second fiddle.
Award-winning film composers such as Danny Elfman of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and Howard Shore of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy have written music for games.
Shore recently completed work on the upcoming "SUN," an online role-playing game set in a medieval world of emperors and monsters.
And hit singles such as Green Day's "American Idiot" were heard on the hugely popular "Madden NFL Football" games even before they got radio play. In fact, 14 of the 21 songs in the game's latest version, released last Tuesday, are previously unreleased. The new version features music from Foo Fighters, Rev. Run of Run-DMC fame and others.
It's all a sonic leap from the blips and beeps of "Pong" and "Asteroids" -- so memorably annoying they have come to define game audio for decades.
"The music in video games is basically maturing to the spot where it can live outside" of home systems, said Chuck Doud, music director for Sony Computer Entertainment.
Like movie scores, game soundtracks seldom top the charts, though a few have been big sellers.
The score from "Halo 2," an Xbox game that pits players against alien invaders, has sold about 100,000 copies since its release late last year. Sales of the "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" soundtrack have reached 47,000 copies since being released in 2003, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Video-game music's growing popularity is being driven by budgets that can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, spending that has climbed along with industry revenue.
In the United States, video-game industry sales exceed movie box-office receipts. "Halo 2" generated more than $125 million in sales on its first day.
Composer Tommy Tallarico, co-creator of Video Games Live, says his music budget was about $300,000 for "Advent Rising" -- the first game in a planned intergalactic trilogy with dialogue and stories by science-fiction writer Orson Scott Card.
Orchestras and choirs recorded Tallarico's 13th-century Italian opera-inspired songs on a stage at the Paramount Pictures lot.
"In movies, you write to picture, you write to the scene, and it's considered background music," Tallarico said. "I consider us foreground music."
Indeed, the audio component of games is becoming an increasingly interactive part of the story.
Instead of switching to entirely new music when a character, say, enters an eerie courtyard, the emphasis subtly shifts to a previously soft-playing track, using different instruments to ratchet up the tension.
The effect, Doud says, is that "all of a sudden it'll seem a lot more intense, but you can't really tell how it got there."
Maybe, just maybe, it's enough to keep people listening after spending dozens of hours playing a single game.
"That's what you're striving for, is to have the player hold off muting the music," said Garry Schyman, who composed an hour of 1950s sci-fi movie-style music for the alien invader game "Destroy All Humans!"



DreamAuthentics Announces New Personal Video Arcade Machine Line For The Home Market

Posted by Rick Barretto on Monday, August 29, 2005 - 09:55 am:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: DreamAuthentics announces new Personal Video Arcade machine line for the home market INDIANAPOLIS, IN (August 29, 2005) – DreamAuthentics announces the release of 2 new Personal video Arcade machines for the home. DreamAuthentics provides a universal game platform that can play literally THOUSANDS of video games ranging from any off-the-shelf retail PC game to original XBOX™ and Playstation™ games as well as licensed classic arcade games that run via software emulation. “Excalibur”. The Excalibur personal video arcade is our flagship 2 player product. The base features of the Excalibur include an authentic 2 player control panel, built-in Wells Gardner arcade monitor, plexiglass, bezel, printed graphic marquee with back lighting, built-in 5 speaker sound system, locking doors front and back, hidden keyboard drawer, power strip, arcade coin door, and leg levelers. “Eladius”. The Eladius personal video arcade is our flagship 4 player product. The base features of the Eladius include an authentic 4 player control panel, built-in 33" Wells Gardner arcade monitor, plexiglass, bezel, printed graphic marquee with back lighting, built-in 5 speaker sound system, locking doors front and back, hidden keyboard drawer, power strip, arcade coin door, and leg levelers. All cabinets come pre-loaded with 12 licensed classic video arcade games, a custom game menu system and a unique one-touch power on button. Optional items include: Steel Joysticks, Optical Joysticks, Illuminated Trackball, Integrated or Wireless Flight Stick, Racing wheel, Metal spinner color, Cup Holders, Pinball Buttons, Arcade Light Guns, Digital television upgrade, Enhanced Game Engine and Custom Side Art/Decals. “Playing classic video arcade games on the PC is fun”, explains CEO Rick Barretto, “but it just doesn't replace the way they were MEANT TO BE PLAYED. The DreamAuthentics products simulate the classic arcade experience by using AUTHENTIC, commercial-grade ARCADE components. These are the very same components you remember on your favorite arcade machine while growing up.” The cabinets also allow you to play your favorite DVD movies, listen to your favorite MP3 music and watch your favorite cable television programs. About the Company DreamAuthentics, a privately held company, is a leading manufacturer of custom built Personal Video Arcade cabinets that can play both classic and modern video games. DreamAuthenics continues to be committed to quality and innovation as they create the newest designs and technologies for the home Personal Video Arcade market. DreamAuthentics harnesses a combination of the most up-to-date software applications and blends them in a smooth arcade cabinet that replicates the exact control and feel of commercial stand-up consoles found throughout arcades since the 80's. Copyright © 2005, DreamAuthentics. All Rights Reserved. All mentioned trademarks are properties of their respective owners.

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