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February 20 2014

February 19 2014

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January 07 2014

China Lifts 14-Year-Old Ban on Foreign Video-Game Consoles

You can't legally buy an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4 in China, but that might change very soon.

China's State Council on Monday lifted a 14-year-old ban on the sale of foreign video-game consoles, paving the way for Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony to enter a market that's dominated by PCs, according to Reuters

China's Ministry of Culture banned foreign consoles in 2000 on the basis that video games had a negative effect on youth's mental and physical health. Now, foreign companies will be allowed to make gaming consoles within Shanghai's free-trade zone, but each console will have to be inspected and approved by the Ministry of Culture Read more...

More about China, Videogames, Video Game Consoles, Gaming, and Us World

October 25 2013

E-Cigarette Brand Apologizes for Advertising in Kids iPad Game

British American Tobacco has apologized for running an ad for its Vype e-cigarette in an iPad game aimed at children.

The ad drew attention after Graham Brown-Martin, a UK-based author, tweeted a pic of the ad:

.@ecigaretteforum agreed, so over to @batpress why are you advertising to kids via iPad games? pic.twitter.com/aVstTSrFPM

— Graham Brown-Martin (@GrahamBM) October 25, 2013

BAT quickly apologized with the following tweet:

We've found a problem with the advertising of Vype. We apologise and have pulled all online Vype advertising. We're investigating the cause

— BAT Press Office (@BATPress) October 25, 2013

More about Advertising, Videogames, Kids, Ipad, and Business

October 24 2013

Video Imagines First-Person Pokemon Game Through Pikachu's Eyes

Curious to see the world through Pikachu's eyes?

Gamer network Machinima has created a video that imagines what it would be like to play a first-person Pokemon game, starring Pikachu.

The video features an epic battle between Bulbasaur and Pikachu. Although our mouse-like hero falters at first, taking a dizzying tumble into a tree, he eventually emerges victorious. Watch it in full, above.

Image: Youtube, Machinima

More about Viral Videos, Videogames, Pokemon, Watercooler, and Videos

September 08 2013

How to Stream Your Games Live

With great power comes great responsibility. So, if you have serious gaming skills, then you’re pretty much contractually obligated to show the rest of us how it’s done.

It’s not just about bragging rights. Live-stream gaming has become immensely popular, with the live streaming site Twitch getting more than 35 million unique viewers per month, each of whom watches an average of 1.5 hours of video per day. This is due largely to the 600,000 unique broadcasts aired each month.

These numbers are set to explode even more with the upcoming release of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, both of which have announced partnerships with Twitch to make live streaming even simpler Read more...

More about Social, Gaming, Livestream, Videogames, and Features

October 12 2011

NASA Turns its Space Missions into a Kid-Friendly Video Game

NASA hopes its new space mission simulation video game will get tech-saturated kids excited about space travel.

The game, called NetworKing, is free and works on PC and Mac. The goal is to establish integrated communications networks, while getting users familiar with NASA’s 5 year-old Space Communication and Navigation program. Players create command stations around the globe and accept clients like satellites and space telescopes. Throughout the game, you earn points to acquire more clients.

Players with the best communications networks can buy more complex clients like the International Space Station, the Kepler mission and the Hubble Space Telescope.

SEE ALSO: How NASA Plans to Make Astrophysics Fun With an Ambitious Social Game

The game is not the first planned NASA digital media initiative. NASA currently offers a 3D Station Spacewalk game for PC and Mac. A Tweetup of 150 NASA followers for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover liftoff is planned for Nov. 25 and a beta launch of an astrophysics game is expected in late 2012.

Do you think the game will get kids excited about space travel? Let us know in the comments.

More About: NASA, Tweetup, videogames

July 08 2011

Space Invaders Movie Set to Reboot Franchise

Space Invaders, the classic ’80s videogame, may be coming to a theater near you.

Producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Gigi Pritzker have optioned the rights to develop the project, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The two are looking for a writer.

For the uninitiated, Space Invaders was introduced in 1978 and became a pop culture phenomenon during the next decade when it was made available for the Atari 2600. The title is the top arcade game of all time, according to the Guinness World Records.

Given that brand equity and the track record for other films based on ’80s properties, like Transformers, the idea of a Space Invaders movie has been around for a while. Last March, the L.A. Times reported that Warner Bros. was negotiating with Space Invaders owner Taito about a movie.

Additionally, di Bonaventura has brought toy properties to the big screen. He is one of the producers of the Transformers films as well as G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra.

Meanwhile, a slew of movies based on videogames are in various stages of production. That list includes an Asteroids movie, a Missile Command flick and one based on Angry Birds. In the case of Space Invaders, though, the cult TV show Futurama seems to have beaten di Bonaventura and Pritzker to the punch with an episode based on the game.

More About: atari, space invaders, transformers, videogames

For more Media coverage:

June 13 2011

CGI Baby Plays Guitar in Stealth Ad [VIDEO]

In a viral video that’s racked up more than 1 million views since going on YouTube June 6, a baby rocks out to the Black Keys with the help of CGI.

The video shows no overt reference to Ubisoft or its Rocksmith (besides a brief glimpse of the game on the TV), but because Rocksmith won’t be available for several months, at the earliest, we assume it’s a Ubisoft-created promo for the game.

Unruly Media also includes the video on its Mashable Global Ads Chart. Ubisoft reps could not be reached for comment.

SEE ALSO: 9 Viral Videos That Are Actually Advertising

Ubisoft introduced Rocksmith in March, shortly after Activision Blizzard announced it was shutting down the Guitar Hero franchise. Unlike Guitar Hero, Rocksmith uses a real guitar and promises to teach users to play the instrument.

More About: advertising, Rocksmith, ubisoft, videogames, viral videos

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March 20 2011

February 10 2011

Guitar Hero Gone: What Went Wrong?

The premiere plastic guitar game just flamed out. Activision, beset by falling sales, has decided to shutter the division that created Guitar Hero and its sequels.

It’s an ignominious exit for a title that was once touted as the first great game franchise of the 21st century. Guitar Hero was created in 2005 by indie studio RedOctane, in collaboration with Harmonix, which had previously found success with the Karaoke Revolution franchise. Karaoke Revolution, where players plugged microphones into their consoles and were scored on the accuracy of their singing, was the first game to show a significant number of videogamers were interested in making “music.” RedOctane’s Guitar Hero proved they were equally interested in shredding a plastic guitar. Activision purchased the franchise in 2006 for $100 million; to date it has shipped more than 25 million units for a roughly $2 billion ROI. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock made $1 billion on its own. Harmonix went on to publish the highly successful Rock Band franchise, which added drums, microphones and keyboards to the plastic guitar mix.

How the mighty have fallen. The holiday season was a disastrous one for the music game genre. First Harmonix was sold by Viacom to a consortium of shareholders; the terms were undisclosed, but it was reported to be a fire sale. MTV Games, which collaborated with Harmonix on Rock Band, was shut down. Guitar Heroes: Warriors of Rock, the sixth title in the series, received lackluster reviews and even more lackluster sales. Activision posted a $233 million net loss for the fourth quarter. Its decision to lay off the 500-person Guitar Hero division was, Activision said in a press release today, “due to continued declines in the music genre.”

So what stopped the music? The first culprit: oversaturation. There are just too many games competing in the genre (Band Hero and DJ Hero, anyone?), with too many pricey controllers. A Warriors of Rock guitar bundle will set you back $80. Considering many of the controllers do not play nice with similar games, that’s a lot of dough to drop on pretend jamming.

Secondly, there’s the novelty factor. The dynamics of the game changed little from one title to the next, despite the introduction of innovations such as a touch-sensitive slide bar on later guitar controllers. At a certain stage, users are going to be more interested in picking up a real guitar. The series also felt like it was running out of great rock anthems for users to emulate. Reviews of Warriors of Rock complained that the set list seemed dull and full of synth-heavy tunes.

Finally, of course, Activision isn’t going to stop actually selling Guitar Hero titles any time soon. If you’re interested in becoming a maestro of the pretend Gibson, you can still pick up the Guitar Hero back catalog and buy extra songs online. Guitar Hero and Rock Band may one day be seen as a classic party game, pulled out of the closet at holidays and special gatherings, the way we play Monopoly or Scrabble today. Maybe it’s time you introduced Grandma to the plastic guitar.

More About: activision, guitar hero, videogames

For more Tech & Gadgets coverage:

September 25 2010

HOW TO: Score a Job in Social Gaming

boy game image

Everyone likes to play games, especially when those games involve your social circle. “Social gaming” is a relatively new category of video game for a variety of reasons. The explosion of social media sites like Facebook opened the door for independent app creators. What started as simple graffiti programs has grown to include complex, incredibly popular games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars, among others.

Mobile too has seen a lot of recent growth in the social gaming market. While mobile games were once limited by the graphical and processing capabilities of older hardware, smartphones have paved a new way. Now, with the iPhone planning to use the Unreal engine (also used on the Gears of War series), and technology rapidly improving across BlackBerry, Android (and not to mention the iPad), social games have started to increase both in quality and popularity.

While social games are gaining traction, few people know how those games are actually made. Behind every game, from the FarmVilles to the smallest indie creations, is a team of developers, designers and programmers; even if that “team” is just you and your best friend.

Still, social gaming can be a tough market to break into, especially as more and more people move from “traditional” console games to work in the space. To help, we spoke with some industry pros to get some tips on tackling the social gaming job market.

The Easy-Ins and Hard Routes

mafia wars image

Of all the roles that contribute to creating a game, some are easier to approach than others. “As with any game development, the easiest jobs to get are the Q/A or testing jobs,” said Shane Satterfield, Editor-in-Chief of GameTrailers.com. “With so many ex-console [developers] moving into the space, competition for higher level jobs are beginning to get fierce, so testing is a good way to get your foot in the door.” Satterfield cautioned against immediately gunning for a game development position as more people have to work for years before becoming a game developer or designer.

A solid engineer, while perhaps not the “sexiest” job, is almost always a welcome member to a team. “We have so many people playing our games,” said Amitt Mahajan, director of engineering at Zynga Games. “We have unique problems when it comes to scaling our servers to handle the millions and millions and people that play our games every day… we’re looking for folks willing to learn and grow with us in scaling servers.” Zynga’s Staffing Director, Florence Thinh emphatically agreed, writing: “Engineers, engineers, engineers! For popular web companies… finding a strong PHP [or] Flash developer is a hot commodity. Also, UI Designers.”

Star Qualities

Regardless of what position or foothold you’re looking for, there are basic qualities that social gaming companies look for. Aside from solid skill sets and passion, it’s important to demonstrate flexibility and desire to learn. Social games (in general) have smaller staffs than traditional games where individuals can be responsible for several different roles. Mahajan stressed the importance of a candidate willing to learn and grow with the company and their specific games. “The hiring practices are very similar in that regard,” Mahajan said. “We look for folks that have demonstrated some passion in their spare time and the ability to actually finish those products.”

If you’re interested in games, Mahajan said, there’s no better experience (or way to show an employer) than to start making them yourself. “You actually get live feedback, it’s much easier to learn what you did wrong… to have an idea and follow through with it, that’s a good sign for potential investors and employers.” That drive and passion is mirrored by Thinh. They look for candidates who don’t get discouraged easily, are flexible, ambitious, smart, and creative.

Still, your resume and even your portfolio should genuinely reflect your personality. It’s less important to present yourself as a seasoned professional (if you aren’t) and better to include information and samples that speak to your interests, passions, and skills.

Some Realities

gametrailers image

As much as social gaming might seem like, well, “fun and games,” the reality is that developing social games is a lot of hard work. “You have to have an amazing work ethic and you have to be incredibly passionate about it. And by that I don’t mean that you like to play video games,” Satterfield said. “I mean that you like to talk to friends and family about them on a much deeper level and you’re passionate enough about it to get in arguments.” Social games are made on strict deadlines with lots of pressure and long hours, especially at smaller studios. Those conditions also afford room for creativity and real ownership over the final product. It’s a give and take that can be grueling but ultimately beneficial.

Console Comparisons

farmville image

Social games are not like console games for both better and for worse. Console games are able to run at faster speeds with better graphics with more complex game environments. But that’s not really the whole story. Social games are able to present features and unique perspectives that large budget console games can’t.

Ultimately, games are about connecting with people, whether you are playing multiplayer or simply sharing stories with friends about that impossible level in Contra. Social games inherently reinforce that joint experience. “It’s like a live service,” Mahajan said, “we worry about the user experience at any given second… the key thing is that we’re a service and not a boxed product.” That ever-changing game experience allows for quick changes and an organic work experience based on feedback and interaction.


We play games to connect, and social games are inherently built to do just that. “The common mistakes games make is they focus too much on the game on not enough on what you’re doing with friends,” Mahajan said. It’s also important to think about whether the game could be played over your morning coffee or in the subway. “Games are meant to fill those gaps you have in your life.”

Satterfield might agree: “It may seem obvious, but I think the best element of social games is being forced to interact with others. The sharing is especially important as it builds a sense of community within the player that motivates them to reciprocate. This is something that flashy console games have yet to really get right.”

Getting a job in social gaming can be tricky but for people willing to pay their dues it can also lead to amazing creative possibilities in a quickly expanding field. As Satterfield concluded: “The first few years can be a grind, but for those who are talented and dedicated enough, it can be incredibly rewarding.”

Mashable Job Board Listings

Software Engineer at Digital Madhouse in Scottsdale, AZ.

User Experience Designer at Mobio Identity Systems, Inc. in Vancouver, Canada.

User Experience Designer at Musician’s Friend in Medford, OR.

Senior Software Engineer, Social Media at Constant Contact in Waltham, MA.

Web Creative Specialist at Logitech in Fremont, CA.

iPhone Developer at Kazaam Interactive in Newton, PA.

Creative Director at Tokii in Oakville, Canada.

Mashable’s Job Board has a variety of web 2.0, application development, business development and social networking job opportunities available. Check them out at here.

Find a Web 2.0 Job with Mashable

Got a job posting to share with our readers? Post a job to Mashable today ($99 for a 30 day listing) and get it highlighted every week on Mashable.com (in addition to exposure all day every day in the Mashable marketplace).

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, PacoRomero

Reviews: Android, BlackBerry Rocks!, Mashable, PHP, iPhone, iStockphoto

More About: farmville, games, gametrailers, job, job search series, jobs, Mafia Wars, Mobile 2.0, shane satterfield, social games, social gaming, videogames, Zynga

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