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7:00 PM on 03.26.2015

Having trouble with VR nausea? Just follow your nose!

With more people trying out virtual reality headsets these days, an increasingly common issue is motion sickness brought on when visual information and motion don't match up. For simulators that involve walking, it can confus...

Darren Nakamura

6:15 PM on 02.25.2015

Scientists: Don't jump off buildings into haystacks like an assassin

Everybody knows that people who play videogames are impressionable. After playing Pac-Man, we invariably binge eat. After a session with Call of Duty, we all joined the military. But science says that maybe we shouldn't do ev...

Darren Nakamura

4:30 PM on 02.11.2015

New PBS Digital show Space Time! asks what planet Super Mario World takes place on

I always enjoy PBS Digital's Game/Show as a source for smart commentary on the culture surrounding games. The whole videogame thing must be good for views, because the first episode of newest show Space Time! is all abo...

Darren Nakamura

4:00 PM on 01.01.2015

Board Game Review: Evolution

[Note: We've been known to do board game reviews from time to time, and although this one isn't exactly based on E.V.O.: Search for Eden on the SNES, it's close enough. Happy New Year! --Chris Carter] Two things that def...

Darren Nakamura


3:00 PM on 10.28.2014

Particulars explores the subatomic world next month

I always appreciate seeing science represented in games, outside of the typical "heroes need to clean up the mess these mad scientists made" trope. Videogames can be so powerful as tools for learning, and that potential is s...

Darren Nakamura

10:45 AM on 10.28.2014

Play free puzzler Transmission and maybe learn a little

At first, Transmission looks like a pretty standard Eulerian path-based puzzle game. That is not a bad thing; I was pretty hooked on Lyne for a while. But as Transmission progresses, it follows the history of electronic commu...

Darren Nakamura



Extrasolar does exoplanet exploration, but it is more than meets the eye photo
Extrasolar does exoplanet exploration, but it is more than meets the eye
by Darren Nakamura

When I was talking to one of the developers of Extrasolar on the show floor at PAX East, I said something that I now regret. "This looks like something I would really like, but might not appeal to a ton of other people." He responded gracefully, simply saying that they have a healthy number of players, and a good percentage of players see it through to the end.

To be fair, the presentation of Extrasolar in the Indie MEGABOOTH was intentionally muted. There, it was shown as a simple exploration game on an extrasolar planet. The player tells the rover where to go, and after a set amount of time it sends back a photo. The intrinsic value of that alone was enough to get me started, and I urge others to sign up for it now to experience it as intended. If you need further convincing, then keep reading. Prepare for minor spoilers.

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2:45 PM on 04.18.2014

Civilization: Beyond Earth designers inspired by Cosmos

To take a brief aside from videogames: are you watching Cosmos: a Spacetime Odyssey? If not, you should be, especially if you are not particularly scientifically literate. It is filled with a lot of important information abou...

Darren Nakamura



Preview: South Park: The Stick of Truth is ambitious photo
Preview: South Park: The Stick of Truth is ambitious
by Alessandro Fillari

So, where were you when South Park: The Stick of Truth was announced? This was all the way back in 2011, around the time another certain RPG title was on the minds of players. It was certainly a surprising reveal, don't you think? A brand new full-fledged RPG developed by Obsidian Entertainment and written and produced by the talent from the show? Sounded pretty cool to me. With an initial 2012 release date, I was looking forward to the day I could try it out.

But then things happened; it got delayed, and delayed again, and then the original publisher THQ filed for bankruptcy. Things seemed to have looked up when Ubisoft acquired publishing rights and announced a new date. But then it got delayed again, and again. This game has been delayed so much, the TV show it's based on has actually poked fun at the situation. Seriously, go check out the episode "Titties & Dragons" -- it was almost like a tease.

But now, we can  see the light at the end of the tunnel as the game has finally gone gold. With less than a month away from release, Ubisoft invited the press to get some much-appreciated hands-on time with the long-delayed title. Though read ahead with warning: if you hate South Park and you're otherwise easily offended, I can tell you now this game will probably piss you off.

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4:00 PM on 01.22.2014

Oculus Rift used for gender swap experience (NSFW)

The Oculus Rift is impressive technology, and it has sparked interest in virtual reality at levels not seen since the 1990s. Still, despite the improved latency in head tracking and the improved field of view, one thing that ...

Darren Nakamura



ViviTouch: The future of feedback photo
ViviTouch: The future of feedback
by Dale North

You know how controller rumble works right now, don't you? In most controllers you'll find a couple of motors that spin weights. These spin up when you're supposed to feel the rumble effect, and then begin spinning down when the effect is supposed to stop. The result: you hands shake. While vibration technology has advanced over the years, we're still basically getting the same kind of feedback -- a general controller shaking.

What if there were a way to localize feedback to a single button or stick? What if there were a way to have varying degrees of vibration sent to each zone? Instead of just a single kind of hand-numbing buzzing, what if we could feel a full range of sensations in our fingertips? 

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4:30 PM on 09.09.2013

Mecanika wants to teach Newtonian mechanics with robots

As somebody who has had ideas for using games as tools for education, things like Mecanika are particularly interesting to me. Though physics has become more prominent in games as time has passed, developer CREO wants to uti...

Darren Nakamura

9:30 PM on 08.06.2013

Oculus Rift and Virtuix Omni used in virtual walk on Mars

If the slew of recent and upcoming games on the red planet are any indication, there is a significant amount of interest in exploring Earth's second-closest neighbor. Nobody knows this better than the engineers at NASA's Jet...

Darren Nakamura

6:15 PM on 08.01.2013

Take On Mars lands on Steam Early Access

Last month, we heard that Bohemia Interactive's Mars exploration simulation Take On Mars would be coming to Steam Early Access today. They were not lying; it is now available to purchase for $12.99 on Steam. The player acts ...

Darren Nakamura

10:00 PM on 07.31.2013

Hadron's Forge features asteroid mining, real elements

Minecraft in space isn't exactly an original idea. StarForge showed up last year with impressive technology to back up that basic conceit and a greater focus on combat. Hadron's Forge starts with some of the same ideas: coll...

Darren Nakamura



Using SCIENCE to learn the effects of killing used games photo
Using SCIENCE to learn the effects of killing used games
by Tony Ponce

With all this hubbub over used games and whether eliminating them would be good or bad for the overall industry, it was only a matter of time before SCIENCE was brought in to drop some truth bombs. Professors Masakazu Ishihara (New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business) and Andrew Ching (University of Toronto Rotman School of Management) have closely studied the Japanese gaming market, where pre-owned business is much more significant than it is in the US, and shared their findings in a paper published on December 15, 2012.

Their verdict? Not quite what you'd expect.

Ishihara and Ching found that, all else remaining equal, eliminating the used market would result in a 10% drop in publishers' profits per game. However, if average retail prices for software were to drop by a third across the board -- $40 down from $60 -- publishers could actually see a 19% rise in profits. Of course, the profit increase scenario would only work if publishers agree to a reduced MSRP, the likelihood of which is up for debate.

Ishihara and Ching's study demonstrates that there are many factors involved in used game sales and purchases. Consumers assign value to their individual software purchases, and some of that value is derived from their ability to resell it down the road. Reduced retail prices could feasibly counterbalance the loss of resales.

No matter how you look at it, this is a far more complex situation than anyone could have imagined.

Dynamic Demand for New and Used Durable Goods without Physical Depreciation: The Case of Japanese Video Games [Social Science Research Network via Wired] (Thanks, M Gross!)

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