gzipped_tar writes "According to Spiegel Online, 'A new computer game where players assume the roles of border guards and shoot people trying to escape from communist East Germany has unleashed a storm of controversy in Germany. The game's creator says he wanted to teach young people about history, but he has been accused of glorifying violence. ... The name of the multi-player FPS game, 1,378 (kilometers), was inspired by the length of the border between East and West Germany. ... [Players] choose between the roles of the border guards or would-be escapees: the escapee only has one goal — to get over the wall, but the border guard has more options, and can shoot or capture the escapee. He can also swap sides and try to clamber over the border defenses himself.' By choosing to play the border guard and kill the escapee, the player would win an in-game medal from the government of East Germany. But then the guard would time-travel forward to the year 2000, where he would have to stand trial. Jens Stober, 23, designed the game as a media art student at the University of Design, Media and Arts in Karlsruhe. He said that his intention was to teach young people about German history."
adeelarshad82 writes "Microsoft unveiled a new wireless Xbox 360 controller, which features a revamped D-pad that transforms from a plus to a disc. The new D-pad was developed to address complaints from users. Other new features include: A, B, X, and Y buttons that are gray instead of the standard red, green, yellow, and blue; and a matte silver color. The controller includes 2.4-GHz wireless technology with a 30-foot range."
An anonymous reader writes "Big news for Star Wars fans looking forward to BioWare's upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG — space combat has been confirmed for the game. Players will be able to fly around the galaxy in their own personal starships, avoiding asteroid belts, landing in dangerous territory and battling other vessels. The initial news makes it sound like a cross between Mass Effect's galaxy map and a traditional space fighting game, where players will have to find 'hotspots' on the galaxy map in order to enter a particular zone."
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC has accidentally insulted its Facebook followers by revealing a version of a new website which wasn't yet ready for public consumption and in which it referred to its social media followers as 'saddos.' The same website also features a picture of the Queen, described as the Pakistan hockey team. File this one under 'a really bad day at the office' for one web developer."
Here's an interesting article on the life and times of 24-year-old Jordan Kavoosi, who has made a business of plagiarism. His Essay Writing Company employs writers from across the country, and will deliver a paper on any subject for $23 per page. In addition, his company will get it done in 48 hours, and he guarantees at least a B grade or your money back. From the article: "'Sure it's unethical, but it's just a business,' Kavoosi explains. 'I mean, what about strip clubs or porn shops? Those are unethical, and city-approved.'"
Zarrot writes "Turbine has listened to the community and backed away from the partnership with SuperRewards that we discussed yesterday. Quoting: 'Based on your feedback, we're stepping away from the "Offer" category for now. We'll keep exploring alternate ways for players who want points to get them. We'll also continue to innovate in pricing and accessibility because that's who we are. As of today, the Offer Wall is coming down. We'll collect all the feedback we've received over the last few days and will use it to guide future decisions.'"
Joe Helfrich writes "Ubisoft's Settlers 7 servers have been causing problems for over a week for users worldwide, and Australian gamers are hardly able to connect at all. 'The problem reportedly strikes after the game has already confirmed an active Internet connection, and prevents the user from playing even the single-player campaign, returning the error "server not available." But they are available, because other people are logged into them and merrily playing away.' Wonder how they're going to describe this one as an attack."
krou writes "In an experiment conducted by a Princeton University team, 'Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.' Long-term consumption also 'led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides.' Psychology professor Bart Hoebel commented that 'When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight.'"
justice4all writes "If it means shorter lines at the supermarket, a quarter of Germans would be happy to have a chip implanted under their skin. The head of Germany's main IT trade body told the audience at the opening ceremony of the CeBIT technology exhibition that one in four of his countrymen are happy to have a microchip inserted for ID purposes."
mjn writes "Computational media researcher Nick Montfort traces the murky origins of Zork's name. It's well known that the word was used in MIT hacker jargon around that time, but how did it get there? Candidates are the term 'zorch' from late 1950s DIY electronics slang, the use of the term as a placeholder in some early 1970s textbooks, the typo a QWERTY user would get if he typed 'work' on an AZERTY keyboard, and several uses in obscure sci-fi. No solid answers so far, though, as there are problems with many of the possible explanations that would have made MIT hackers unlikely to have run across them at the right time."
Spacezilla writes "EA is dropping the bomb on a number of their video game servers, shutting down the online fun for many of their Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3 games. Not only is the inclusion of PS3 and Xbox 360 titles odd, the date the games were released is even more surprising. Yes, Madden 07 and 08 are included in the shutdown... but Madden 09 on all consoles as well?"
andylim writes "Parrot has unveiled a remote-controlled helicopter that boasts augmented reality games. The helicopter is controlled using an iPhone or iPod Touch's accelerometer and touchscreen. There's a camera on the front of the helicopter, which you can use to navigate and to play augmented reality games, including a game that involves fighting a gigantic robot."
TechCrunch has an article about a startup called iMo, which aims to enable control of any PC game using an iPhone or iPod Touch. The idea is to reduce the need for gaming peripherals while you're on the move, and make motion-control available to more players. Quoting: "The system also features onscreen controls for the iPhone and iPod Touch, as not every PC game will benefit from using things like the accelerometer, obviously. This all works via both Bluetooth and WiFi connections between your device and your computer. The plan is to offer iMo in the App Store for $0.99; the first version should be available new in the App Store. And long-term, the company hopes to make it available on other mobile platforms as well, including Android. And ultimately, they'd love to include support for gaming consoles as well, like the aforementioned Wii, the PS3, and the Xbox 360."
CNet is running an article that looks at the growing parallels between the major movie studios and some of the most successful game publishers, which have gradually turned into the juggernauts of the industry as they've absorbed a variety of smaller developers in recent years. "If we consider Hollywood — the model to which the video game industry is always compared — it doesn't take long before we realize that it's dominated by a handful of studios that effectively control a large percentage of the industry, while the independent studios are left trying to defy the percentages and get their innovative and artistic films to the masses. Since most fail, it's the big studios that enjoy profits as the independents try to find some way to stay alive." Gamasutra has a related piece suggesting the opposite trend: "Smaller, less expensive games made by smaller, more agile teams seem like a very logical step, now that the industry structure is better able to support it, with no less than three venues on which to distribute content as a small team. These are downloadable console, direct to consumer PC downloads via Steam-like services, portals, or direct sale, and iPhone and potentially DSi downloads."