UK BAFTAs To Raise Status Of Its Video Game Awards

Organizers from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) have announced that from this year the organization’s video games awards will be given the same status as their prominent film and television awards.The new BAFTA video game awards will seek to reward artistic and creative innovation within the industry, as one of the principle contemporary art forms – becoming a “third arm” in the organization’s award system. As a result the British Academy Video Games Awards ceremony has been moved to October, to be positioned as the climax to the London Games Festival.The changes have been driven by a newly formed BAFTA Games committee of representatives from a wide range of publishers, developers, middleware companies and trade associations, including ELSPA; TIGA and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.BAFTA’s chairman, Duncan Kenworthy, added “Video games constitute a hugely significant new, moving image art form that sits alongside film and television in its power to entertain and educate, and the Academy is determined to encourage its development. The British Academy Video Games Awards are a key part of our strategy to define, articulate and reward excellence in the sector, to the benefit of those who create games and those who play them.”In addition, the initial details of the 2006 London Games Festival week have just been announced, after being organized by both ELSPA (the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association) and TIGA (The Independent Games Developers Association) and will combine key events throughout the capital from October 2nd. Two business events are already scheduled for the week, with the London Games Summit on the 4th and 5th and the Content Market on the 3rd and 4th.Fred Hasson, CEO of TIGA commented: "The festival has the potential to become the 'Cannes' of the games industry, fittingly so since the UK is the most important centre for the games sector in Europe in both consumer and business terms. London Games Festival 2006 will be predominantly trade focused, but it is foreseen that cultural, artistic, educational and consumer elements will evolve as part of the activities in the future."
POSTED: 5.29am PST, 03/08/06 - David Jenkins



Signature Devices, Inc. to Develop Arcade Game for Global VR(R), World's Leading Coin-Operated Video Game Manufacturer

SUNNYVALE, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 02/08/2006 -- Signature Devices, Inc. (OTC: SDVI) (www.signaturedevices.com), a leading developer and manufacturer of advanced 3-D gaming and simulation technology, announces an agreement to develop a coin-operated arcade game for GLOBAL VR (www.globalvr.com), the world's foremost manufacturer of coin-operated video games that are based on home PC gaming technology.
"This is a great opportunity for us to develop an outstanding product for GLOBAL VR," said Kenneth Hurley, CEO of Signature Devices, Inc. "GLOBAL VR will provide us with the resources we need to focus on developing great coin-op games and then distribute them on a worldwide scale."
Veteran game programmer Kenneth Hurley and several other industry veterans founded Sunnyvale, CA-based Signature Devices, Inc. in 2002. Signature Devices, Inc. has a long list of noteworthy PC and Xbox game credits including "SAMURAI SHODOWN V" for Xbox, "King of Fighters '94 Rebout" for Xbox, "Farcry" and "Medal of Honor - Pacific Assault," and many others.
Highlighted Links
Signature Devices, Inc.Global VR
"We are extremely excited to be working with Signature Devices, Inc., " said Aaron Baker, CTO of GLOBAL VR. "This relationship reflects our continued commitment to grow our coin-op business by working with one of the industry's best developers to produce top-quality games."
About Signature Devices, Inc.
Signature Devices, Inc. creates, develops and manufactures advanced information technology, including computer systems, software and electronics products. Founded in July of 2002 by veteran developer, Kenneth Hurley, one of the company's premiere technologies includes a blend of hardware and software for Image generation technology.
Based in Silicon Valley, Signature Devices has created technology for advanced 3D systems for use in gaming systems, simulations and digital CG films. It develops software for the world's leading game publishers, including Electronic Arts, Crytek, Expresso Fitness, and SNK Playmore USA. The company also develops embedded systems and electronics for companies such as Pacific Consultants (now PEMSTAR) for the product Land Warrior. Additional information about the company is available at www.signaturedevices.com.
GLOBAL VR, INC. is the world's leading manufacturer of coin-operated video games based on home PC gaming technology. With the exploding home gaming market expected to approach $35 billion worldwide, GLOBAL VR is leveraging the massive investment in development of games expected to trigger a renaissance in the out-of-home video game industry. Additional information on GLOBAL VR and its products are available at www.globalvr.com.
Forward-Looking Statements:
With the exception of historical information, this news release and accompanying information may include forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated as a result of various risks. There are numerous factors that could contribute to such differences; therefore, such projected events and anticipated results are not warranties or guarantees that such events will occur or that the Company will achieve such results. For more information about this corporation and risks involved in the investment of their publicly traded shares, please see the Company's web site(s), and/or documents filed with the SEC, which are easily accessible in the EDGAR database system.



FAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: ‘Golden Tee,’ the bar video game, is an ace with golfers

Blue Hills Sports Grille bartender Claire Beshears and manager Scott Leary of Milton enjoy playing Golden Tee. (LISA BUL/The Patriot Ledger)
By DINA GERDEMANThe Patriot Ledger
The golf courses won’t thaw for a few more months, so Mike Smith is practicing his swing in a bar. Well, sort of. Smith is playing Golden Tee Live, the ridiculously popular golf video game that has scores of bar-goers hooked with the hope of sinking a hole-in-one - especially during the cabin-fever winter months when real golf isn’t an option.
‘‘I’m a golf fanatic, so in the summer, I play real golf. But in the winter I play Golden Tee three or four days a week,’’ said Smith, who lives in Weymouth. ‘‘It gives me my fix of golf during the off-season.’’
An estimated 10 million people worldwide are playing Golden Tee, spending about $350 million on the game in the last year alone, making it the most successful video game now and maybe even ever.
‘‘We think it’s the most successful video game in history,’’ said Gary Colabuono, marketing director for Incredible Technologies, the Illinois-based company that created Golden Tee. ‘‘We make these claims without firm facts of any kind,’’ he said light-heartedly, ‘‘but it would be hard to dispute. No one in our industry has disputed it.’’
We’re not talking about casual coin-dropping arcade hangout types here. We’re talking serious players, guys who long ago graduated from the simplicity of Ms. Pac-Man and now find themselves drawn to this more sophisticated game for adults night after night after night.
‘‘I have guys who come in almost every day for an hour or two to play it,’’ said Scott Leary, manager of Blue Hills Sports Grille in Canton. ‘‘It’s the only reason they come here. These guys are diehards.’’
‘‘Guys love it. It’s the best bar game to come along since Pac-Man,’’ agreed Tom Powers, owner of Union Brew House in Weymouth. ‘‘People are playing it all the time. On weekend nights it’s nonstop.’’
The video game, which includes a wireless version that allows you to play with other golfers in other bars around the country, is amazingly simple. You use the palm of your hand to manipulate a ball. You’re watching a golfer on a video screen in front of you, and when you move the ball toward you, your video guy pulls the golf club back, and when you push the ball forward, your guy swings the club and hits the golf ball on the screen.
But this game is obviously about more than making a birdie. Playing Golden Tee allows for the same kind of social camaraderie that comes from shooting pool in a bar, Colabuono said. You drink, you chat, you take a shot, you watch your buddy take a shot and you try to outscore each other.
Unlike some other video games, you’re not in your own world, unable to talk to anyone because you’ve got your finger on a trigger and your eyes glued to a screen.
‘‘It’s not all-engrossing,’’ Colabuono said. ‘‘It’s not like you’re in a race car so that if you lose concentration for a second, you’ll blow up. Men go to a bar for two reasons, to see their friends and socialize and to drink and see pretty girls come in. This game lets them be social.’’
Other gory shoot-em-up video games tend to attract a younger audience - kids and teens - while Golden Tee is designed for an older, more mellowed-out video game player.
‘‘Kids want action,’’ said longtime player Paul English, 37, of Randolph. ‘‘They want to kill something.
‘‘We played video games all the time when we were teenagers,’’ he said. ‘‘We’d go to the beach in Hull, sit on the wall, go into the arcade and play video games all day - Defender, Ms. Pac-Man, Space Invaders. This is a video game for us now.’’
The game, which costs $4 for 18 holes and accepts both cash and credit cards, started in 1989 as a much more rudimentary version than the ones you’ll find in bars today. Players rave about the graphics in the current models: squirrels crawling around, airplanes flying overhead and leaves rustling in the breeze.
The latest version, Golden Tee Live, debuted in April 2005 as the first coin-operated amusement game to use wireless technology in its game play.
A player can feed the game an extra dollar to compete against 49 other players from around the world. A player in Quincy, for instance, can play a real-time game with players in Chicago, Toronto and London. Players who finish in the top 20 get some money back, anywhere from $1 to $10, depending on their placement.
And players who get really good can compete in Golden Tee tournaments, including a world championship with a $57,000 purse, which pits 16 United States players against 16 players from other countries, including Canada, England, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
As players get better and better at the game, the competition can get intense. Powers is hooked on the game himself, playing daily against his chef, Dennis Smith of Hanover.
‘‘Dennis and I compete like dogs on this game every day,’’ he said. ‘‘And I’m not even a golfer. You want to be the best. It’s all about bragging rights. And it’s absolutely addictive.’’
Powers welcomed his first Golden Tee game into his bar in the late 1990s after noticing that a lot of his customers - and even staff members - were bellying up to a different bar down the street.
‘‘I had to see what was going on, and I found out they were going there to play a Golden Tee game, so I had to get one myself,’’ he said.
And sure enough, the game began drawing new customers.
‘‘It’s been great for business,’’ Powers said. ‘‘There are a lot of guys who come here just because we have it.’’
Paul English is one of them. He started going to Union Brew House with a friend after finding out online that the bar had the game.
‘‘We seek out places that have the game,’’ he said. ‘‘If we go into a place to have a beer after work and it doesn’t have the game, we go somewhere else. It’s more fun than just sitting there. It’s something to do.’’
Besides, Mike Smith said, ‘‘It’s a guy thing.’’
He’s not kidding. Men outnumber women players about nine to one, Colabuono said. Some women say they don’t exactly get what all the fuss is about.
‘‘Me, it’s not my thing,’’ said Paul English’s wife, Laurie. ‘‘All of Paul’s guy friends, that’s all they do is play video games. It’s a big kid kind of thing.’’
Although men are clearly more into the game than women, bar owners say they do see women joining in.
‘‘It’s popular with both men and women. It’s the only video game we’ve had where we’ve had such a cross-section of people using it,’’ said Alex Drosos, owner of the Venus Cafe in Whitman. ‘‘I have this one couple who comes in a lot. She’s getting really good, and he’s staying about the same, so he gets really aggravated.’’
Not much different than a golfer feels on a real course on a tough day. About 80 percent of Golden Tee players tee off for real.
‘‘Golden Tee allows a bad golfer to play good golf,’’ said Jim Zielinski, senior game designer with Incredible Technologies. ‘‘That’s the draw, the fantasy.’’
Even during the summer months, when golf courses are wide open, Golden Tee is hopping.
‘‘During the summer, a lot of golfers will come in straight from the golf course to play,’’ Drosos said. ‘‘Probably because you do better on this game than you do in real life.’’
Drosos has gotten pretty good himself. A couple years ago he competed in a tournament and won $50.
‘‘I usually play late at night when no one is here after I close the place and clean up,’’ he said.
Mike Smith, who doesn’t care for other video games, hasn’t grown tired of this one even after several years of playing regularly. He said he spends about $40 a week on the game. So which game earns him a better score: real golf or Golden Tee?
‘‘I’m not too good at either one,’’ Smith, 54, admitted. ‘‘The difference is in real golf, my age shows, but not with Golden Tee.’’


Patriot Capital Funding Closes $13.5 Million Financing in Support of the Refinancing of Innovative Concepts in Entertainment, Inc.

by MidMark Capital, Summer Street Capital Partners and Management
WESTPORT, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 27, 2006--Patriot Capital Funding, Inc. (Nasdaq: PCAP), a specialty finance company providing flexible financing solutions to private equity sponsors focused on making investments in small- to mid-sized companies, today announced that it closed a $13.5 million financing in support of the refinancing of Innovative Concepts in Entertainment, Inc. ("ICE") by MidMark Capital, Summer Street Capital Partners and Management. ICE is a leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of coin-operated games.
"This is Patriot's first transaction with MidMark and Summer Street. With a clear focus on the lower middle market, MidMark and Summer Street are a great fit for Patriot Capital Funding, and we are excited to be working with them on this transaction," said Richard Buckanavage, President and CEO of Patriot Capital Funding. "We are also very pleased to be backing an experienced management team led by ICE founder and industry veteran Ralph Coppola."
About Innovative Concepts in Entertainment, Inc.
Buffalo, NY-based, ICE (www.icegame.com) was founded in 1982 and is a leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of coin-operated amusement, sports and redemption games. ICE games can be seen in amusement parks, family entertainment centers, arcades, pubs, malls and restaurants in over 52 countries. The Company's impressive lineup includes redemption games, coin pushers, cranes, table games, home games and video.
About Patriot Capital Funding, Inc.
Patriot Capital Funding, Inc. (www.patcapfunding.com) is a specialty finance company providing customized financing solutions to private equity sponsors focused on making investments in small- and mid-sized companies. Patriot Capital Funding typically invests in companies with annual revenues between $10 million and $100 million, and which operate in diverse industry sectors. Investments usually take the form of senior secured loans, junior secured loans, subordinated debt investments - which may contain equity or equity-related instruments. Patriot Capital Funding also offers "one-stop" financing, which typically includes a revolving credit line, one or more senior term loans and a subordinated debt investment. Patriot Capital Funding also makes equity co-investments up to $2.0 million.
Forward-Looking Statements
This press release may contain certain forward-looking statements, including statements with regard to the future performance of Patriot Capital Funding. Words such as "believes," "expects," "projects," and "future" or similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are subject to the inherent uncertainties in predicting future results and conditions. Certain factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in these forward-looking statements, and some of these factors are enumerated in Patriot Capital Funding's final prospectus dated July 27, 2005, and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Patriot Capital Funding undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.


Play again

March 2, 2006
Page 1 of 3 Single page
Retro arcade games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders are back - and booming, writes Jason Hill.

Versed in the classics: Retro games including Space Invaders are back in favour.

BEFORE PlayStation and Xbox, gamers got their regular fix at the local amusement arcade with a pocketful of loose change.
Earning the right to put their initials on the high-score table of coin-operated games such as Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Galaga, Defender and Street Fighter II was a badge of honour that earnt the respect of their peers.
When the first home computer game consoles began appearing in the early '80s their rudimentary graphics could not compete with the offerings and dedicated controls of arcade machines.
Gaming at home also lacked the camaraderie and atmosphere of those noisy, dimly lit, smoky, electronic wonderlands.
But when the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation consoles appeared in the mid-1990s the gaming landscape changed forever.
Suddenly there was little discernible difference between the graphics and playability of arcade games and their home versions.
The ever-increasing power, popularity and affordability of home consoles decimated the coin-operated market. Now almost all of Australia's "pinnie parlours" have gone, unlikely ever to reclaim their popularity, despite the attempts of the coin-operated industry to create a family-friendly image.
But the games themselves are refusing to die. Those "wayward" teens who once fed the insatiable coin-operated cabinets are now well into their 20s and 30s, and their nostalgia is fuelling a retro gaming boom.
Del Reiss, owner of pinball specialists Bumper Action Amusements, has been selling arcade games since 1972. He says many young professionals are buying genuine arcade cabinets to provide entertainment and a cool accessory for their homes.
Pubs are also jumping on the retro bandwagon, installing sit-down cocktail cabinets that are being manufactured again for the first time in two decades.
Second-hand arcade cabinets can now cost thousands, but Mr Reiss believes the original coin-operated machines are good investments.
"Quality games like Defender and Galaga are going to be worth a lot in the future," he says.
Space Invaders machines, for example, that could be picked up for as little as $500 a few years ago today sell for more than $1200, and Mr Reiss expects their value to double or triple over the next five years.
Retro gaming fan Ben Droste, 22, plays classics because he believes games have not evolved much since the the early days.
"I cannot justify spending $500 on a next-gen console and $100 on games when they are essentially the same games I've been playing for the past 10 years but with new, shiny visuals," he says.

Fellow gamer Drew Mayo, 29, indulges because "these games are still fun to play".
"I see it like a film buff who watches classic movies, partly for the nostalgia but more about enjoying a well-crafted piece of art," he says.
Sourivat Seignarack, 30, says he turns to playing classics because of their "quick and easy" nature and to reminisce.
"For those of us who've grown up playing games and don't have as much time to invest, retro games are nice quick alternatives to satisfy our gaming urges," he says.
Fortunately for gamers with modest budgets, clever software called MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) lets any PC owner relive their misspent youth, reopening a virtual Aladdin's cave of gaming gems. The latest version supports more than 3000 titles.
Cameron Davis, 31, a former "arcade junkie" who says modern games often demand too much commitment without a "fun payoff", plans to build a dedicated MAME cabinet and wants publishers to establish an iTunes-style download service for classic games.
To enjoy retro games as they were originally experienced, many fans are also investing in real arcade controllers or building dedicated cabinets housing a PC and hundreds of games.
Local arcade gaming "coin-noisseur" OzStick has been producing high-quality desktop controllers for the past five years and now supplies arcade parts and cabinets.
OzStick's Chris Wigg, who left a high-paying job in technical support to satisfy the demands of nostalgic gamers, says arcade games "may be plain to look at but they still deliver great gameplay".
"A huge number of people have walked into an arcade at some stage in their lives, usually as adolescents, and had an enjoyable experience," he says.
"We all remember our favourite games and wish we could play them again."
Prices for OzStick controllers start at $100 for a basic four-button model with a single joystick and go up to $260 for the two-player Ultimate.
OzStick can also customise controllers with additions such as side-mounted pinball buttons or track-ball "spinners".
An alternative to OzStick is X-Arcade, US-made behemoths priced from $180 for a solo version and $270 for a two-player model. X-Arcade uses replica arcade components, which have an excellent feel and a lifetime warranty. Adaptors let you connect contemporary consoles such as PlayStation, Xbox, GameCube and DreamCast.
NubyTech's solid Street Fighter Arcade Stick also has support for both PS2 and Xbox, and costs $150.

Despite the age of most titles supported by MAME, possessing game ROMs may breach copyright law.
Few games are in the public domain, even if the company that created them is long gone.
Legal opinion suggests that you need to own the original arcade hardware boards to legitimately possess a game's ROM.
And some publishers have paid scant regard to their back catalogues, with the result that games have been lost forever.
But the underground success of MAME has convinced many companies that there is still a market hungry for classic titles.
Retro game compilations from publishers including Namco, Atari, Taito, Konami, Capcom, Midway and Activision have been released for PC and consoles. Companies such as Jakks Pacific have also had success selling retro games built into cheap plug-and-play joysticks, while Microsoft is offering retro classics for download through its Xbox Live Arcade online service.
One of the best recent compilations is the Capcom Classics Collection for PS2 and Xbox, which includes 1942, Final Fight, Street Fighter II, Ghosts'n'Goblins and Commando. The package will soon be released on PSP where it will compete with Namco Museum's line-up of classics such as Pac-Man, Galaga and Pole Position.
Many collections, such as Taito Legends, come with the original artwork and background information on the games and their creators.
But despite the boom in retro gaming, OzStick's Chris Wigg believes the industry has not paid enough attention to its heritage.
"It's only since MAME and other emulators have become popular that they realised their old games and characters could be used as marketing tools to release classic collections," he says.
"ROMs for games older than 15 years should be made public domain so those games are not forgotten."
Gamer Ben Droste agrees. He points out that if publishers "offered their classics for quick, easy and cheap download, they would be far more popular than compilation collections, plus their manufacturing and distribution costs would be nil".


Brunswick CEO Presenting at Raymond James Institutional Investors Conference; Webcast

Live March 7
Monday March 6, 11:59 am ET

LAKE FOREST, Ill., March 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Brunswick Corporation (NYSE: BC - News) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dustan E. McCoy will be a featured speaker at the upcoming Raymond James & Associates Institutional Investors Conference in Orlando, Fla.

McCoy's presentation will be Webcast live beginning at approximately 2:15 p.m. EST on Tuesday, March 7. The Webcast can be accessed through the Brunswick Corporation Web site at http://www.brunswick.com/ . Go to the site at least 15 minutes before the presentation to register, download and install any needed audio software. Replays will be available on the Brunswick site.

About Brunswick

Headquartered in Lake Forest, Ill., Brunswick Corporation endeavors to instill "Genuine Ingenuity"(TM) in all its leading consumer brands, including Mercury and Mariner outboard engines; Mercury MerCruiser sterndrives and inboard engines; MotorGuide trolling motors; Teignbridge propellers; MotoTron electronic controls; Northstar marine electronics; Navman marine and GPS-based products; IDS dealer management systems; Albemarle, Arvor, Baja, Bayliner, Bermuda, Boston Whaler, Cabo Yachts, Crestliner, HarrisKayot, Hatteras, Lowe, Lund, Maxum, Meridian, Ornvik, Palmetto, Princecraft, Quicksilver, Savage, Sea Boss, Sea Pro, Sea Ray, Sealine, Triton, Trophy, Uttern and Valiant boats; Attwood marine parts and accessories; Land 'N' Sea, Benrock and Kellogg Marine parts and accessories distributor; Life Fitness, Hammer Strength and ParaBody fitness equipment; Brunswick bowling centers, equipment and consumer products; Brunswick billiards tables; and Valley-Dynamo pool, Air Hockey and foosball tables. For more information, visit http://www.brunswick.com/ .


Table Soccer Champions Compete in Benefit for the "V Foundation" -

North Carolina Community Teams with Top Ranked “Foosball” Stars to Help in Fight Against Cancer Popular locally as a family restaurant and bar, Fat Daddy’s in Raleigh, North Carolina will also be host to this year’s “Jimmy V” North Carolina Foosball Open. To be held March 17-19 and with categories open to men and women and beginner through Master, the tournament is expected to draw local table soccer (a.k.a. “foosball”) enthusiasts and even internationally ranked players from throughout the region, with proceeds benefiting the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
Raleigh, NC (PRWEB) March 4, 2006 -- Popular locally as a family restaurant and bar, Fat Daddy’s in Raleigh will also be host to this year’s “Jimmy V” North Carolina Foosball Open. To be held March 17-19 and with categories open to men and women and beginner through Master, the tournament is expected to draw local table soccer (a.k.a. “foosball”) enthusiasts and even internationally ranked players from throughout the region, with proceeds benefiting the V Foundation for Cancer Research. The “Jimmy V” tournament annually raises funds for the V Foundation, named for the late North Carolina State basketball coach and ABC/ESPN sports commentator Jimmy Valvano. The V Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to saving lives by helping to find a cure for cancer by generating broad-based support for cancer research and by creating an urgent public awareness of the importance of the war against cancer. In its first few years, the tournament raised a total of over $10,000 for the V Foundation, thanks to local area business sponsorships, and a total of more than $100,000 has been raised for this and other charities in a nationwide combined effort by local event organizers and Bonzini™ USA, a Division of Cribbs, Inc.Each year, the tournament takes place on “French-style” foosball tables provided by Bonzini™ USA. The Bonzini™ table is one of five different styles of table soccer tables currently endorsed by the International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF) for use in international competition. With the tournament recently recognized as an ITSF “Master Series” tour event, the “Jimmy V” North Carolina Foosball Open has now been elevated to international status. Particularly exciting will be the Open Doubles and Open Singles events, beginning 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, which will feature returning champions Mack Smith, Tim “Fuji” Alberts, and Doris Little, as well as top players from throughout the region and may include players from as far away as Canada. The event is open to all spectators and there is no admission fee to enter the tournament area. Registration begins at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, March 17th, with most finals held on Sunday the 19th. Other ITSF 2006 World Tour events are scheduled to take place in Kentucky, Minnesota, Texas, and even Las Vegas. In addition, table soccer players all around the United States are gearing up for further ITSF competition in Austria, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Poland, and the UK. In fact, this year’s tour will be the largest worldwide table soccer pro tour ever.For additional details about the event and the sport of table soccer, please see the following websites:www.bonziniusa.com - tournament/charity information sitewww.table-soccer.org - the ITSF web site/international rankingswww.foosball.com - general information about the sport of table soccerwww.foosworld.com - information about players & regional events across the U.S.A.www.foosball.com/ustsf - the official USTSF web site


Rio challenged to ping-pong duel

Put your money where your mouth is, son Southend manager Steve Tilson has challenged Rio Ferdinand to a showdown at table tennis.
Ferdinand recently boasted he could beat anyone in football at ping-pong - and Tilson has called the Manchester United defender's bluff.
The Shrimpers boss, who used to reperesent England at table tennis, told Southend's website: "Bring it on!
"And how about we make it a bit more interesting with a wager - a week of Rio's salary against a week of mine!"
Tilson, 39, whose side are currently second in League One, recently rejoined his old table tennis club, Rawreth, who play in the Essex leagues.
He is waiting for Ferdinand to respond to the challenge, adding: "I'd be more than willing to take him on if we could set something up."


2012 hope for ping pong kid

By Saxon East
Prospect: Darius Knight looks forward to the Olympics in 2012. Deadlinepix: GH2059-05
A table tennis player is hotly tipped to shine at the Olympics when they reach London in 2012.
Aged just 15, Darius Knight won the under-21 national singles title earlier this month and is already ranked seventh best in the country.
He is joined by other excellent players at York Gardens Table Tennis Club, including Wing-Yung Chang, who is aiming to win the European Cadet Youth Championship this year.
Darius needs quality training facilities that you find in places such as China, a traditional bastion of the sport. He said: "You need a lot of hard work to be the best. I have not had anywhere stable to train and am always going abroad.
"When I play in China I can beat most of them my age, it's just trying to beat the ones older than me.
"You need to be taught at a very young age, then you are on the right track. When I play around the world I want to be beating the men."
Darius, from Ravenent Street, Battersea, started playing five years ago and, unlike many other teenagers, is determined not to stray in his quest to become a world-class player.
He said: "I'm not missing anything this is what I do. My family are very proud and I'm determined to keep going, work hard and stay focused."
But Darius fears a lack of investment could seriously hamper his and the country's chances at the 2012 Olympics.
Even the York Gardens club does not have a permanent base and is left at the mercy of changing schedules.
He said: "A regional or national centre for every sport is needed, that way you can improve the sport and get results. I think we are suffering, and we will keep on suffering until we get these centres up."
At least good news could be on the horizon if Wandsworth Council, which has set up a special Olympic Games 2012 committee, funds the club.
Chairman Tony Draper, who started the club 41 years ago, says the players are so keen they even practice in his shed.
He said: "I will beg for premises. We are doing our best and it would really help us achieve our goals. We hope there will be funding."
10:48am Friday 3rd March 2006


New World Poker Tour season a marketing tool for World Poker Tour pinball!

As people fantasize about achieving the New American Dream, they can tune into the WORLD POKER TOUR(r) (WPT) for their inspiration, watching nearly two dozen overnight millionaires minted on the most sizzling show on television, the WORLD POKER TOUR's new Season IV, debuting March 8 on The Travel Channel at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Awarding an astounding $100 million in prize money-10 times the amount in the show's first season-the 17-tournament series brings together the hottest newcomers in the game to compete against poker's icons. It's a toss-up every week whether raw aggressive nerve can outlast the canny wisdom of experience. With more than $1 million at stake for first prize nearly every week, the take-no-prisoners brand of WPT action keeps viewers riveted to their seats, wondering, "What would I do?"
The WORLD POKER TOUR is the international tour of high-stakes tournaments that launched the global poker phenomenon in March 2003 by turning poker into a televised sports sensation, complete with WPT cams that revealed the players hole cards. Catching on like wildfire, the show became the highest-rated show ever on the Travel Channel and has spawned a passion for the game in living rooms, card rooms and casinos everywhere. In 2006, the WORLD POKER TOUR will be seen not only in millions of living rooms across America, but in more than 130 countries and territories worldwide.
Hosts Mike Sexton, Vince Van Patten and Friel offer insights into the minds and strategies of players that help viewers refine their own poker skills. The WPT has taken the lead in poker education with its WPT Boot Camp, traveling fantasy camp for poker players; online poker school (www.worldpokertour.com) and a series of WPT-branded books from Harper Collins.
For more information, visit the Web site (http://www.worldpokertour.com/). Order your new World Poker Tour Pinball Now Call 1-800-966-9873 The Game Gallery


Merit Announces Longer Warranty for Ruggedized ION Hard Drives

Merit Entertainment announced that it is extending the warranties on every ION hard drive to 30 months. This warranty extension is retroactive and applies to all IONs already in the field. For operators who remain current with the company's software updates, the warranty period extends for 30 months after their last fully paid software update.
The warranty extension emerges from improvements in the underlying hard drive technology the company uses. Starting with the ION, Merit has shifted toward a more rugged, shock-resistant, laptop-style hard drive, which is superior at withstanding the typical shocks and abuse that players routinely apply to games. The new hard drives also sport an increased storage capacity of 40 gigabytes for more full motion video, high quality digital audio, and database-intensive For more information, contact Merit Entertainment, (www.meritind.com). COME SEE ALL THE NEW TOUCHSCREEN GAMES AT WWW.HOMEGAMEROOM.COM


Video games do more than pass time, they teach valuable lessons

by Andy PhiferEditor
March 02, 2006God bless the parents who let their children play massive amounts of games, and thank the lord for parents that let their children read books. These are the children who turn into the right kind of kids, and the right kind of college students, in my eyes.I was an avid reader as a young child, so when the time came for me to decide if I was going to be good at math or English, I turned to the written word. Since then, I've had a love affair with English (and a hatred of numbers) that has flourished for many semesters of college. I can honestly say I'm better and smarter for this than I would have been otherwise. I probably would've had a few points fewer on my GPA than I do now. Plus, reading a lot makes someone a bit of an egomaniac about themselves, which is also fun.But video games? Video games are what I think really help bring someone up a few levels on the old smart-o-meter. The problem solving skills honed on games such as Bust-A-Move (where three colors of bubbles had to touch to be broken) or Dr. Mario (where three colors of unidentified prescription drugs had to touch to be broken) taught valuable problem solving lessons to generations of children. If I'm ever in a situation where I have three colors that need to be lined up to touch one another lest I be chopped to pieces, I'll be golden.In seriousness, these games teach valuable problem solving skills. Sitting for a few hours, playing these games all night long was not only the only way to keep myself from crying because I had no friends, it was also teaching me how to tackle difficult, albeit digital, puzzles. The puzzle solving problems segue into so much more. Puzzle solving in video games is essentially being given a situation, being given a goal to reach from that situation, being given a few means to solve the problem and determining a solution. Not only is solving puzzles the basis of various disciplines such as philosophy, science, architecture and medicine, it is also the basis for basic logic.Every time I, as a journalist, am given a situation where I need to determine some kind of truth, I have to admit my adventures in Zelda and Link helped me get to the place I am where I can walk through the correct steps to find the truth. Finding the truth is all about seeing a situation and using logic to find some kind of end - hopefully, the correct end.Video games taught me logic as a child, and with the future of video gaming being so bright, I'm sure the future generations will only be better than we ever could be. I can't even get close to playing games on this new X-Box 360 - the controls are too complex. But if I was helped this much in learning puzzle solving and logic with only two or four buttons, imagine how good the kids playing the eight-button, two control stick X-Box controls have?I'm not the only one who loves playing video games, and I'm for sure not the only one who knows the tremendous benefit of them. The Pine Log's adviser Pat Spence talks about wanting to play video games to keep her mind sharp. They have an original X-Box in the SGA office, and the last time I was there, they were playing Halo. Many other campus offices have a system or two-we have three in The Pine Log right now, and let me tell you, it helps with not only puzzle solving skills, but also with relieving stress.If you aren't a fan of the video games, or hate the demon box that is television all together, there are other mind exercises for you to try.We have the Sudoku puzzles on page two, every issue. My mother plays them to, in her words, "stave off the Alzheimer's." There's always a rousing game of spider solitaire, which you can find on any Windows computer. There’s tons of games on the Internet that are nothing but big puzzles to tone your brain muscle. Search for "flash games" to see a big list of interesting games to keep you sharp.Video games aren’t for idiots. If anything else, idiots should pick up a game to make them a bit smarterAndy Phifer is a journalism senior from Arlington. His favorite game ever is "Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars" for the Super Nintendo.


Bloody, sociopathic protagonists populate popular video games

Redmond Carolipio, Staff Writer
It's never been a better time to be bad - if you're a gamer.
While moviegoers, TV addicts and music lovers have grown to root for the bad guy, flawed characters have also earned a special place in the hearts of video-game players.
The heroic landscape once ruled by bouncing plumbers and speedy blue hedgehogs has been changed by the arrival of demon hunters, mentally tormented cops and most recently, gangsters.
Eric Elder, who heads the Game Art and Design program at the Art Institute of California in Los Angeles, links the shift to darker characters to the classic "Superman vs. Batman" discussion.
"In the '50s, people's idea of the ideal American was good and wholesome, like Superman," he said. "But then in the '70s, '80s and '90s, people just couldn't relate to something like that, because it's not realistic. Batman is more interesting - he's heroic and loyal, but he's got issues. There's different shades to him."
Elder also mentioned key characteristics that an anti-hero must have in order to appeal to the audience.
"First, you have to give him one really good attribute - he loves his family, he loves what he does, things like that," he said. "Then, when he does the bad stuff, you have to believe he's doing it for the right reason. It's his mission."
The concept of heroes and anti-heroes wasn't prevalent in the early days of gaming because there wasn't any technological room for it, said Keith Robinson, president of Intellivision, one of gaming's oldest companies.
"Back in the late '70s and '80s, the games didn't have all the pixels and the size to allow for personality. You'd have a game like 'Pitfall Harry,' but all you knew was that his name was Harry," Robinson said. "Now, you have cinematics and other things that create these almost living and breathing characters."
While it's difficult to find a game that "started" the move toward grittier, darker heroes, there's certainly no problem finding them now. Many of today's more popular games feature protagonists that range from dark and brooding to bloody and sociopathic.
For example, there's Max Payne, a skilled but chronically depressed police officer constantly haunted by the deaths of his wife and baby. One of the most awarded games of 2005, Sony's "God of War," featured Kratos, a former Spartan warrior whose skin is covered in the ashes of his dead family - whom he killed with his own hands. There's also Agent 47 of the "Hitman" series, a blank slate of a man who excels at the art of contract killing.
Gaming's darker side has drawn plenty of public ire, especially when it comes to the concept
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of street violence.
A favorite target is the 'Grand Theft Auto" franchise, which places players in the roles of various thugs, all of whom enjoy a violent freedom that has been well-documented and often decried.
The game currently in the cross hairs is "25 to Life" from Eidos Interactive. It pits police officers against gangsters.
Players assume the role of a gang member who's trying to leave behind his life of crime. But much of the action involves the main character shooting scores of police officers to survive.
Upon the game's release, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund launched an online petition to pull it off the shelves. According to the fund's Web site, the petition has amassed more than 200,000 signatures.
"We've obviously touched a vein in society," said Bruce Mendelsohn, spokesman for the organization. "With the reaction we've gotten, we might try to bring even more pressure."
The Rev. Reginald Beamon, a San Bernardino community activist and a one-time gang member, said games like "25 to Life" don't do anything to illuminate the real struggle against gangs.
"It secures the stereotypes of who these gang members are, what they look like, as well as their activities," he said. "It could also bring a sense of value - get them thinking, 'We're getting recognition for who we are.' We need to make sure the young people playing these games get an education."
That's the plan for Roderick Woodruff, co-founder of the Urban Video Game Academy, which educates inner city kids in the basics of game design - meaning plenty of math and writing.
Woodruff manages the school in Washington, but there are other academies in Baltimore and Atlanta.
"We're trying to create a new crop of storytellers," he said. "What we're seeing now with some characters is that it's all about misogyny and killing. There's nothing to emulate. We're out of the age of Superman."
Elder, of the Art Institute, said we're probably going to stay there.
"There's definitely going to be more variation in the future," he said, "but I can't see us going back. Society would have to move backward."


Authors write guides for video games

NEW YORK, March 5 (UPI) -- About 25 professional U.S. authors are writing strategy guides for video games -- which are big sellers.
The guide for the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, has sold 748,000 since it was released in 2004.
Author David Hodgson estimates that the 55 strategy guides he has written have sold about 1 million copies, reported the New York Times Sunday.
Video games are not usually associated with reading, but the strategy guides are full-color books that tell players the best ways to solve puzzles, find and use weapons and other accessories, discover hidden bounty and navigate the virtual world.
"It's like writing a travel guide to a place that doesn't exist," Hodgson said. "Whereas (Arthur) Frommer's guides tell you what hotel to stay in, I tell you which hotel not to stay in because you're going to get dragged down by a gangster."


Family Guy Video Games Hitting Consoles This Fall

2K Games set to bring Peter, Stewie, Brian, and the rest of the Griffin clan to consoles later this year.By David Chapman March 6, 2006

Take-Two Interactive and Twentieth Century Fox today announced an exclusive licensing agreement to produce a series of video games based on Fox's hit animated series Family Guy. The games will be released under Take-Two's 2K Games publishing label, working closely with series creator Seth McFarlane.According to Elie Dekel, Executive Vice President, Fox Licensing and Merchandising, "2K Games really understands the distinct humor and unique voice of Family Guy. We're confident that they will develop a hilarious and entertaining game for fans of the show as well as for gamers." "The irreverent and satirical Family Guy humor that has made the show a smash hit opens up exciting and untapped possibilities in game development," said Christoph Hartmann, Managing Director of 2K Games. "We are looking forward to bringing the colorful Family Guy characters to life in a one-of-a-kind action/adventure style game." Now in development at High Voltage Software, the folks responsible for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude, the first Family Guy game is scheduled to hit the current generation of game consoles sometime this fall.


Games can be teaching tools, author says

Diana ThorpMARCH 07, 2006
VIDEO games are teaching children skills to take them into the 21st century and should be welcomed as an educational tool, according to US learning expert Marc Prensky.
School's in: Marc Prensky says game players can learn skills such as teamworkTeamwork and powers of deduction are valuable skills that students can learn from games.
Concern about children and video games comes mostly from people who have never played the games and don't understand them, Prensky says.
The critics are disrespectful of the work children do in learning the games, he says.
Anything an adult might object to is probably a small part of the game, he says.
"It's an opportunity for you as a parent, or as a teacher - as an adult - to engage your kid in an important discussion, such as: hitting someone over the head with a baseball bat in a game doesn't mean you should do it in life," Prensky says.
Adults should engage children in conversation and not just ban the games, an act likely to anger the children and give them the message that they're not respected, he says.
"What's happening, especially in education and to some extent families, is that the teachers disrespect the kids, they say: this is wasting your mind and ruining your life.
"Then the kids turn around and disrespect the teachers and tell them they're technologically illiterate, and their opinions are useless.
"It's setting up a horrible cycle, a very destructive cycle and the only way we can get around that, I think, is to have mutual respect."
Children benefit from video games in many ways, including learning to work effectively with others, he says.
"They learn to make good decisions under stress, they learn new skills, they learn to take prudent risks, they learn scientific deduction, they learn to persist to solve difficult problems, dealing with large amounts of data, they learn to make ethical and moral decisions and to even manage, in many games, businesses and other people," Prensky says.
"This stuff needs to be tempered by other messages," he says.
"If a kid spent all his time playing only violent games and killing people, and nobody ever asked why they were doing that, or said killing is not right, that would be a problem. We live in an age where there are counter-messages, so it's important to make sure the kids get those messages."
Prensky is concerned about people moving quickly to ban things, such as mobile phones, in schools.
"Instead of figuring out how we can use this stuff and where it's good and where it's not good and how we can take advantage of this great technology that the kids have in their pockets, we say it's bad and it should be banned," he says.
Prensky's latest book Don't Bother Me, Mom - I'm Learning: How Computer and Video Games are Preparing Your Kids for 21st Century Success will be launched soon.
He was in Adelaide at education.au's first 2006 national Transforming Learning Through ICT seminars last week.
The Australian

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