EUROPEAN PINBALL CHAMPIONSHIP 2006
It's off to Munich for the European Pinball Championship. Teams from 10 countries and over 170 individual competitors compete for the title of European Champion.
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More Adults Are Turning To Video Games
New York, NY (AHN) - Americans are turning to video games to enjoy themselves, according to a new poll.
An AP-AOL Games poll says 40 percent of American adults play games on a computer or a console, such as the XBox or PlayStation.
While men, younger adults, and minorities are more likely to be playing video games, 45 percent of those who would call themselves a "gamer" play online.
Gaming is also solidifying itself as a serious business market, with over a third of online gamers spending $200 last year on the hobby.
This could be good news for Sony and Nintendo, both of which are preparing to launch their latest generation gaming consoles, with previews at the famous Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.
The AP-AOL Games poll of 3,024 U.S. adults, including 1,046 gamers, was conducted by Ipsos, an international polling firm, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Islamists using U.S. video games in youth appeal
WASHINGTON, May 4 (Reuters) - The makers of combat video games have unwittingly become part of a global propaganda campaign by Islamic militants to exhort Muslim youths to take up arms against the United States, officials said on Thursday.
Tech-savvy militants from al Qaeda and other groups have modified video war games so that U.S. troops play the role of bad guys in running gunfights against heavily armed Islamic radical heroes, Defense Department official and contractors told Congress.
The games appear on militant Web sites, where youths as young as 7 can play at being troop-killing urban guerrillas after registering with the site's sponsors.
"What we have seen is that any video game that comes out ... they'll modify it and change the game for their needs," said Dan Devlin, a Defense Department public diplomacy specialist.
Devlin spoke before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, at which contractors from San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp., or SAIC, gave lawmakers a presentation that focused on Iraq as an engine for Islamic militant propaganda from Indonesia to Turkey and Chechnya.
SAIC has a $7 million Defense Department contract to monitor 1,500 militant Web sites that provide al Qaeda and other militant organizations with a main venue for communications, fund-raising, recruitment and training.
The sites use a variety of emotionally charged content, from images of real U.S. soldiers being hit by snipers in Iraq to video-recordings of American televangelists including Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell making disparaging remarks about Islam.
'INFIDELS CAME TO MY VILLAGE'
The underlying propaganda message, officials say, is that the United States is waging a crusade against Islam in order to control Middle Eastern oil, and that Muslims should fight to protect Islam from humiliation.
One of the latest video games modified by militants is the popular "Battlefield 2" from leading video game publisher, Electronic Arts Inc
Jeff Brown, a spokesman for Electronic Arts, said enthuisasts often write software modifications, known as "mods," to video games.
"Millions of people create mods on games around the world," he said. "We have absolutely no control over them. It's like drawing a mustache on a picture."
"Battlefield 2" ordinarily shows U.S. troops engaging forces from China or a united Middle East coalition. But in a modified video trailer posted on Islamic Web sites and shown to lawmakers, the game depicts a man in Arab headdress carrying an automatic weapon into combat with U.S. invaders.
"I was just a boy when the infidels came to my village in Blackhawk helicopters," a narrator's voice said as the screen flashed between images of street-level gunfights, explosions and helicopter assaults.
Then came a recording of President George W. Bush's Sept. 16, 2001, statement: "This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while." It was edited to repeat the word "crusade," which Muslims often define as an attack on Islam by Christianity.
Two militant videos were also pointed out to lawmakers including one called "Lion of Falluja," the city in Iraqi's violent Anbar province that has long been seen as a symbol of militant resistance.
Critics of the U.S. video game industry have long blamed the products for violence among American teenagers in civilian society, including high-profile shootings at public schools.
SAIC executive Eric Michael said researchers suspect Islamic militants are using video games to train recruits and condition youth to attack U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq.
al-Qaida modifies war video games to be anti-U.S.
Tech-savvy militants from al-Qaida and other groups have modified war video games so that U.S. troops play the role of bad guys in running gunfights against heavily armed Islamic radical heroes, Defense Department officials and contractors testified. The games appear on militant Web sites, where youths can play at being troop-killing urban guerrillas after registering with the site’s sponsors. “What we have seen is that any video game that comes out ... they’ll modify it and change the game for their needs,” said Devlin.
Women get in the games, from playing to developing them
Knight Ridder News Service
Jennifer Mirisciotti — and her custom-painted pink-and-white Xbox — represents the growing number of women who are hard-core gamers.
"I'm not a big fan of the color pink," said Mirisciotti, 24, of Eastpointe, Mich. "But when I kick some guy's butt, it hurts their ego even more to get their butt kicked by a chick with a pink Xbox!"
Women make up 43 percent of all video game players, according to the 2005 survey by the Entertainment Software Association. That's up from 38 percent in a similar survey in 2003. Though women aren't quite yet the majority among game players, they're involved in 55 percent of all game-buying decisions, according to the association of the video game makers.
And many gamers say women have come a long, long way.
"I have found that 90 percent of the women I play against/with are better than average players or downright awesome," said Lora Day, 40, of Melvindale, Mich., aka "Daygirl."
You probably wouldn't want to take on 15-year-old Tanisha Walton of Detroit in football. She commonly cleans the clocks of many guys in "Madden NFL."
Not too surprising, considering both her mother and her younger sister also play.
"People are very surprised to hear I'm a gamer. And the reason is because I'm a young lady," Tanisha said. "I guess people think women are only on this earth to cook, clean, shop, talk on the phone and talk to guys. I'm sorry to say it, but women are taking over some things now."
There are also a surprising number of women who play after having picked up a controller or mouse later in life when they saw others enjoying it.
"I've been playing since my granddaughters got a PlayStation for Christmas one year," said Gayle Rogers, 63, of Saline, Mich. "They had a bowling game that we all enjoyed, and that hooked me into getting my own system. I play mostly the 'Everyone' type of game, like 'Spyro,' 'Ape Escape' and so on."
But with hard-core games — titles where you shell out big bucks as opposed to those oh-so-addictive casual games on Web sites or Xbox Live Arcade — the number of female players drops to about 1 in 5.
Critics say the men's club of developers in these games sometimes leads to demeaning portraits of women.
Frequently, women are portrayed as sex objects, like the buxom babes who crawl all over the heroes in most action games. Or they're immoral targets of violence, like the prostitutes you can beat up for cash in "Grand Theft Auto."
Violence specifically portrayed against women, patronizing "pink" video games marketed just for girls and other gaming faux pas tend to drive women away.
Still, the percentage of women in the industry is growing rapidly, with analysts agreeing that gaming companies are working to increase their gender diversity.
The number of women in the industry has risen from 5 percent to 11.5 percent in the past few years, according to the International Game Developers Association. The majority are employed in marketing, operations and human resources, not game development.
"The momentum is really picking up," said Sheri Graner Ray, industry veteran and author of "Gender Inclusive Game Design: Expanding the Market."
"I feel like there's hope now," she said. "I wasn't feeling that way a few years ago."
Lauren Taube, 15, of Brighton, Mich., started playing young, and now she's captivated by gaming.
"Last year, I had to give a persuasive speech in my English class," she said. "Can you guess what I did it on? Yeah, that's right: video games."
Many of the female gamers interviewed said they liked the chat, interaction and competition they got from playing games against folks online.
The reception from opponents who find out on voice chat that they're playing against women is generally good, the female players said, though the guys are often surprised.
"I really don't notice much of any difference playing with girls or guys online," said Zack Rovinsky, 17, of Birmingham, Mich. "They play just as hard, talk just as much trash and get just as ticked when they lose. The only difference is that every guy in the game feels the need to ask if she's really a girl."
Ruth Songer, 54, of Dryden, Mich., said gaming is her dirty little secret.
"It all started out so harmlessly about eight years ago," she said. "I saw a young man playing a demo game in a store." Her husband "thought I was crazy but bought me a PlayStation for Christmas that year.
"Initially, I would go to stores and pretend to be purchasing games for our son. We have no son. Eventually, I just dropped the pretense, and now I complain loudly to the store clerk about how often game release dates are set back."
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