ISFE Analyzes Positive Effects Of Video Games
Gamasutra - San Francisco,CA,USA... Europe (ISFE) in Brussels titled “PC and videogames: friends or foes?” brought together consumers, publishers and developers of video games throughout the ...

Video games and social change
News 8 Austin - Austin,TX,USADeath Penalty for Fun, Darfur is Dying, these are not the names of scathing, investigative reports on hotly debated global issues but rather video games. ...

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Video Games Becoming More Physical in Health Clubs
Fitcommerce - USA... It's the next in the line of calorie burning video games. The company calls it "Exertainment". " electronic entertainment is now part of the solution". ...

Blood and Guts Not Needed for Great Video Games
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Video Games Live announces festival events for Houston concert

Renowned video game composers Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall today announced the pre- and post-show festival events planned for the July 14th Houston, TX performance of Video Games Live presented by the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Created and produced by Tallarico and Wall’s production company, Mystical Stone Entertainment LLC, Video Games Live features music from popular video games performed by top orchestras and choirs around the world, combining exclusive video footage and music arrangements, synchronized lighting, solo performers, electronic percussionists and unique interactive segments to create an explosive audio-visual entertainment experience.
This upcoming performance taking at the Jones Hall on Friday, July 14th will be the first time video game music has been performed in Houston and will consist of over 132+ musicians. To commemorate the event, Video Games Live will be opening the doors early to present a pre-show festival from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. which is free to all ticket holders. Tickets ($21 - $66) are on sale now at the Houston Symphony website: http://www.houstonsymphony.org/ticket/production.aspx?id=1027&src=t, or by calling (713) 224-7575. Group sales of 10 or more: (713) 238-1435.
The pre-show festival will include a competition sponsored by RedOctane featuring the yet to be released Guitar Hero II. Other playable games on site (presented by Game Crazy) consist of top selling hits from the Nintendo GameCube, Sony PlayStation 2, Microsoft XBOX and Xbox 360 which include Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Halo, Dance Dance Revolution, Burnout Revenge, Dead or Alive 4 and Fight Night. Other pre-show festivities include a costume contest where audience members can come dressed as their favorite video game characters to compete for a THX approved 5.1 speaker system from Logitech. Finalists will be judged on stage by the audience.
Other prizes throughout the evening include a $2,500 Ferrari laptop courtesy of AMD which will be given away on stage during the Interactive Symphony segment, starring one of the most beloved classic arcade games of all time, Frogger, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Two audience members will compete for 90 seconds while the orchestra plays along, changing the musical score on-the-fly depending on what the contestants are doing on screen.
The audience will also be treated to a special solo performance by pianist Lee Ann Leung who will be premiering his special Final Fantasy piano arrangement at this concert, performing over ten Final Fantasy favorites.
The post-show meet-and-greet where fans can interact with several noted game composers and designers will consist of industry luminaries who have worked on projects such as Halo, Warcraft, God of War, Myst, Splinter Cell, Metroid Prime, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, EverQuest II, Earthworm Jim, Unreal, Guitar Hero, Baldur's Gate, Quake, Doom, Brothers In Arms, Counter-Strike, and Half-Life.
Additionally, Video Games Live will be giving away an autographed program with over 30 of the most famous video game designers and composers to one lucky winner by filling out an entry card at the costume contest booth during the show. Names include creators Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear Solid), Yuji Naka (Sonic the Hedgehog), Nolan Bushnell (Pong, Atari), Toby Gard (Lara Croft, Tomb Raider), Bill Roper (Warcraft), celebrity Elijah Wood and others.
Other locations currently on sale include: Chicago, Indianapolis, Toronto and Los Angeles (Hollywood Bowl). A complete list of tour dates can be found at: http://www.videogameslive.com/index.php?s=home.

Can Madison become a video game Mecca?
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Video games pay off for 8-year-old

Adam Balkin, Tech Talk
Tech TalkVictor De Leon has already earned enough money for college.
NEW YORK -- Like other 8-year-olds, Victor De Leon plays video games. But he’s so good, he gets paid to play.
Victor, or “LiL Poison” as he called in the gaming world, takes part in professional “Halo” tournaments. And he is rarely defeated.
“He's really good. I can't explain it,” said his father, also named Victor. “For instance, he participated in this event in December in Chicago. And out of, I think, more than 550 people, he came in second. These are people that are my age, in their 20s, 30s or teens.”
Part of what gives young Victor his edge is that he doesn’t know the meaning of pressure.

Companies pay Victor De Leon to play in tournaments.
“I don't get nervous when I play,” he said.
What goes through his mind before competing against other people?
“That I'm going to beat them,” he said.
Little Victor has been gaming for three-quarters of his life. His dad said he has been playing since he was 2.
“There were times he started crying, so I just gave him the controller and he would stop,” his father said. “It got to the point where he started moving it and basically got the concept of what to do. It was kind of weird. So I started showing him what this button meant, what that button meant. In just a couple months, he was doing everything I was doing.”
But this ability has gone far beyond a party trick or hobby. “LiL Poison” now has sponsorships, companies that pay him to travel the country and play games. One gaming Web site pays for young Victor’s travel to Major League Gaming tournaments. It also gives him a little extra money, which his father puts straight into a trust fund.
“LiL Poison” has already earned enough money for college, so it’s no surprise that his parents actually budget some gaming after school.
“He comes home from school; does homework first; takes a little break; eats, of course; and then plays two games,” his dad said. “That's it, just two. Then we leave, and he comes to my parents’ house, goes in the pool, plays basketball. Then 8 o’clock comes, and he plays with the team from 8 to 10 p.m.”
Little Victor said he's not sure if he'll pursue gaming when he gets older. His parents said they’ll let him do what he wants.


Pinball Parlors Shake Up Japan's Biggest Leisure Industry

July 12 (Bloomberg) -- Japan's pinball parlors, which generated 29.5 trillion yen ($260 billion) in sales last year, are going through a shake-up.
Operators of ``pachinko'' halls such as Gaia Co. and Daiei Com. are using asset-backed bonds to pay for new machines and venues to reverse a decade-long decline in the nation's biggest leisure industry.
Pachinko parlors lost 11 million players, 40 percent of their clientele, in the decade through 2005 as the country stumbled from one recession to another. Now, encouraged by the fastest annual growth in 15 years, companies such as Gaia and Kyoto-based Maruhan Corp., the biggest operator, are trying to win back customers with new venues, squeezing out smaller rivals.
The pachinko industry ``is in the midst of a shake-out,'' said Shinsei Bank Ltd. General Manager Ichiro Masuda. ``Stronger operators are adding bigger amenities and selling bonds backed by revenue, giving them access to larger pools of cash than can be obtained through bank borrowings.''
Shinsei Bank and Merrill Lynch & Co. plan to arrange as much as 160 billion yen of asset-backed debt for pachinko companies.
Pachinko is a Japanese version of pinball in which the player seeks to amass piles of small, steel balls that can then be exchanged for prizes. Under Japanese law, cash cannot be paid out on the premises, but there is usually a small booth located nearby where players can exchange their prizes for money.
Gaia, Japan's third-largest pachinko hall operator with 170 outlets, plans to use proceeds from asset-backed bonds to buy real estate, build more outlets and replace its pinball machines, said Kenji Sawada, 50, general treasury manager.
`Handful' Will Survive
Tokyo-based Gaia added 53 parlors in 2005 to expand its share in a market that hasn't grown in more than a decade. The total number of pachinko parlors in Japan fell for the 10th straight year in 2005 to 15,165 from 15,617, according to Zennichiyuren, a pachinko hall association in Japan. The average number of game machines per hall rose to 323 from 260 ten years ago, as stronger operators built bigger halls to attract customers.
``There will be only a handful of operators in the near future, dominating most of the market'' said Gaia's Sawada. The December deal was Japan's first disclosed sale of debt backed by a pachinko business. This type of fundraising will ``make a big difference in the reshuffle,'' he said.
The industry's huge revenue is attracting banks looking for new business.
Shinsei Bank, the first Japanese lender bought by overseas investors, has started giving loans to pachinko operators and plans to repackage them into bonds worth 50 billion to 100 billion yen backed by takings from parlors, said Yoshitaka Hata, chief operating officer at Shinsei's securities unit. Merrill has similar plans.
Daiei Debt
Shinsei arranged 23 billion yen of financing for Daiei in December, Masuda said. The bank plans to segregate operating cash flow from Daiei's 16 parlors for asset-backed bonds.
``Pachinko halls, with their abundant cash, are a promising target as asset-backed bonds for consumer lenders become a mature product in Japan,'' Jun Mihara, a Tokyo-based managing director at Merrill Lynch, said in an interview last month.
Merrill and Shinsei follow Deutsche Bank AG, which arranged a 70 billion-yen asset-backed security for Gaia in December.
The reviving fortunes of pachinko halls are illustrated by Maruhan, the biggest with 190 sites and 8,428 staff. Maruhan's sales rose 28 percent to 1.6 trillion yen in the year ended March 31, according to data on its Web site. The company is run by Chairman Han Chang-Woo, 75, who came to Japan from Korea after the war and set up the business in 1957.
Still, investors in the industry face risks.
Tax Evasion
The number of pachinko players dropped 40 percent to 18 million in 2005 from 29 million in 1995, according to Japan's Productivity Center for Socio-Economic Development. The industry's total revenue dropped 4.6 percent to 29.5 trillion yen in the same period.
As the big operators fund expansion, smaller players are losing out. Osaka Bussan Co., an operator of eight pachinko halls, failed in November with 6.8 billion yen of debt. Space Value Co., an operator in Chiba Prefecture, has applied to creditors for time to restructure the company, according to Teikoku Databank Ltd., a Tokyo-based researcher.
The gaming halls have also suffered a wave of bad publicity over tax evasion and their system of payouts.
Bars, pachinko halls and processors of industrial waste were the worst three industries in terms of frequent tax evasion, the National Tax Agency said in November. The cash redemption policy is one of the industry's biggest problems, given that it is technically illegal, said economist Takashi Kadokura at BRICs Research Institute in Japan's Yokosuka City.
``The pachinko industry's structural problems may accelerate the customer drain,'' said Kadokura, adding that the industry needed to modernize and erase negative publicity.
Japanese law only allows people to bet cash at government- managed gambling facilities such as horse-racing, bicycling and power-boat events. Pachinko parlors also aren't traded on the nation's stock exchanges, limiting the amount of information available about their finances.



Konami trademarks 'Guitar Revolution'

The maker of Guitar Freaks may be planning a new axe-based music game for US release.
By Patrick Caldwell, GameSpot
Posted Jul 10, 2006 3:57 pm PT
Perhaps hoping to capitalize on some of the success of Red Octane's breakout hit Guitar Hero, publisher Konami has made a filing with the US government to trademark the moniker "Guitar Revolution"--a title that shares the nomenclature found in the company's other music and rhythm games.
The trademark, filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office on June 29, is littered with selected keywords and phrases used to describe the company's new endeavor. Among the trademark's listed descriptions are "video game controller in the form of an electronic toy guitar, sold as a unit," "stand alone electronic game machines with electronic toy guitars," and "coin-operated video games."
If Konami does release a guitar-based rhythm game, it won't be unfamiliar territory for the Japanese company. In 1999 it released the arcade and PlayStation game Guitar Freaks, often seen as the inspiration for last year's Guitar Hero on the PlayStation 2. Red Octane's Guitar Hero has since spawned a sequel and scored critical praise, industry nods, and more than 400,000 copies sold, despite a hefty $70 price tag.
The name of Konami's trademark--"Guitar Revolution"--also fits snugly into Konami's current line of other Revolution music-based games, Dance Dance Revolution and Karaoke Revolution.
Konami had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.


Video Games Are Good For You, Apparently! Of course they are...

By: Kim Kaze on 7/10/2006
Experts have spent this last week pointing out the many positive aspects of gaming in today's world; everything from education to assisting those with special needs...
A ground-breaking meeting took place in Brussels on Thursday 6th July involving consumers, publishers and developers of video games throughout the European Union. Participants including parents’ representatives heard a panel of independent experts, including psychologists and media specialists, express their views about the impact of videogames on players, especially the younger ones. Patrice Chazerand, secretary general, ISFE, was quoted as saying: “In light of such a thorough analysis of current issues and such a lively dialogue, we should not let this intellectual stimulation die out. ISFE will see to building upon this exchange and make it happen on a permanent or regular basis”.
The experts present, drawn from universities and research institutions throughout Europe (see list attached), focused on the different perceptions, both positive and negative, that exist today about the industry and also its player community. A majority of experts came down in favour of the positive aspects of the videogame and pointed to the growing number of innovative applications in fields ranging from education, the treatment of behavioural problems with youngster, including attention deficit disorders, manned space exploration, etc. While none of the participating experts would consider videogame playing as an addictive pastime in itself, a consensus emerged as to the need for proper independent research, together with adequate education of parents as to the nature of games.




Posted: 7/10/2006
Playing pinball isn’t only fun but now it can make you rich! Just download the “Two Worlds” PC pinball table at www.dream-pinball.com for free from August 12th on, start playing, and register from August 15th on. The one with the most points in a single game will win $10,000 Dollars on 31st August and be crowned the Cyber Pinball World Cup 2006 wizard.
There are also cool prizes for second and third place so don’t sweat it if you don’t end up on top. The competition is part of the wide scale promotional activity for the role playing game “Two Worlds” (www.2-worlds.com).
The free pinball game is only one table from the upcoming blockbuster PC title “Dream Pinball 3D”- coming out later this summer.

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