ORLANDO, Fla.--You might think that 33 years after the original "Star Wars" film was released, George Lucas' science-fiction universe might be getting a little long in the tooth.
But if the countless beaming kids at Celebration V, the huge "Star Wars" fan fest being held here, are any indication, the future is very bright for the multibillion-dollar franchise. And it's not just because of the many "Star Wars" video games, books, comics, and toys that have come out in recent years, most of them clearly targeting a young audience.
In fact, when … Read more
ORLANDO, Fla.--If you were a member of the Rebel Alliance and were in the room I was in this afternoon, you might well have been a little nervous.
After all, standing guard throughout the room and in the hallway outside, were uniformed Imperial Stormtroopers brandishing serious-looking weapons. They were definitely there to keep order, and if you weren't loyal to Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine, you were definitely on their bad side.
What I never expected, though, was the tenacity of some readers in trying to identify each day's mystery photograph, nor the clever and often complex methods some employ in doing so.
If you haven't been following the Picture of the Day, I've been posting an image every day since June 7 and tasking readers with figuring out what it's a … Read more
Maybe it's an American thing; we love big stuff. We equate size with quality, and think that exquisitely designed, silly, expensive products are always better than more affordable alternatives. Is the new iPod always better than last year's model? Then again, how do you define "better"?
A lot of audiophiles believe more watts, more power, higher digital sampling rates, higher resolution, heavier turntable platters, speakers with more drivers, bigger drivers, or more channels of sound will always produce better sound. It ain't necessarily so.
Don't get me wrong, I love high-end audio. But I … Read more
Thirty-five years ago, Hello Kitty dropped an atomic cute bomb on the world and the universe was forever changed.
Developed in 1974, the iconic kawaii cat debuted with Japanese character licensing firm Sanrio in 1975 on a small change purse that sold for 240 yen (around 80 cents at the time). Sanrio has since built a vast global empire on Kitty's popularity, and related licensing deals now account for a huge chunk (some say about half) of Sanrio's $5 billion in annual sales.
Over the past three and a half decades, Kitty's mouth-missing face has graced thousands … Read more
What was once the world's tallest skyscraper now aims to be the greenest.
New York's iconic Empire State Building, which played a starring role in the movie "King Kong," is set to undergo a retrofit that could cut the 102-story building's energy consumption by up to 38 percent. The energy-saving measures will initially cost approximately $20 million and will take an estimated two years to implement, according to press materials.
SAN FRANCISCO--If you draw a straight line representing the evolution of video games from the Atari 2600 to the Nintendo Wii, one thing is clear: if you don't know your past, you can't know your future.
That was the central lesson of Georgia Tech professor Ian Bogost's Friday talk at the Game Developers Conference here, "Learning from the Atari 2600." Essentially, Bogost argued, it's not always necessary to reinvent the wheel; sometimes, instead of being discarded as so much arcane, the discoveries of the past are best adapted for the future.
Bogost and MIT assistant professor Nick Monfort recently published Racing the Beam, a book about the iconic Atari VCS, popularly known as the 2600. So Bogost's talk Friday was clearly drawn from the research for that project. And while his fondness for the 1970s-era video game console was evident, the point he was really trying to make was that the seeds of successful games--especially those enjoyed by large groups of diverse people--have very little to do with the latest and greatest technology and much more to do with mechanics that make for enjoyable shared experiences.
For Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell, a former carnival barker, the bloodlines that led to the 2600 were three things, Bogost argued: the fun-for-the-whole-family excitement of a midway, the shared competition of a game of darts played in a tavern, and the gather-around-the-TV sense of family time afforded by the den. At the same time, Bushnell wanted to repeat the success he'd had with coin-op arcade games like "Pong," but for the home.
What he was after was what Nintendo has also tried to build into its Wii: a feeling that people can have fun doing something together. That's why going to the movies is so much fun, or going out with friends to a bar: because it's something people can do together, in a social space, whether they're competing or not.
And it's about context, Bogost said. You can drink at home, but it's not as fun as doing it in a bar. Or you play pool in your house, but it's not the same thing as doing it with friends at the local tavern. And while no video game system can replicate being out in public, the right mix of game mechanics and tools can allow people to feel like they're in the middle of a social scene, even if they're in their living room.
"That's why Wii Bowling is the best game in the Wii Sports collection," Bogost said. "It really re-creates the experience and context" of real bowling.
"So what we see, I think in the (2600)," Bogost said, "is the adaptation of familiar subjects for familiar spaces."
He talked about the successes and failures of some of the games designed for the 2600, explaining that, for example, the original 2600 Pac-Man game didn't work because its designers didn't do a good job of adapting many of the atmospheric elements of the original arcade version. For example, it was missing the familiar music, as well as the animation of Pac-Man chomping and turning as he made his way around the maze. … Read more
Kitchens can never have enough counter space. Trying to create even the simplest of dishes requires a good workable area. From chopping vegetables to marinating meats, it is essential to have room to work with. Unfortunately, many small kitchens offer very little workable area. Luckily, there are solutions. From tables to additional stands, there are products designed to address this very need. However, the island is the one piece of kitchen furniture that I have found that I cannot live without.
Action spy dramas increasingly feature a computer geek character who accesses everything from satellite imagery to floor plans to convenience store security cameras, then feeds the data to his team, saving the day. This type of work, it turns out, is easier said than done.
Two agencies are trying to make it easier to access and blend Web-based snoop-scoop. The U.S. Joint Forces Command and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency are sponsoring an annual demonstration called Empire Challenge, which "seeks to improve interoperability of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance activities" among end users.