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    March 18, 2016
    PlayStation VR: Virtual Reality For Only $400

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    Last summer, while I was at a concert festival, I got a chance to stand in line for a few hours and partake of a special event inside a trailer.  That event was a chance to try out a virtual reality headset.  It was the HTC Vive, and it was awesome.  It was just a proof of concept, staggering around in a dark room with a helmet on, but it was a whole lot of fun and I’ll never be able to afford one.  However, the burst of virtual reality head appliances has kicked off a growth from an unlikely player:  Sony.  Sony’s PlayStation VR is only going to run $400, and it just might change what video games can do.

    Says Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House:  “The most fascinating thing is how VR has rewritten the rulebook of what game design should be.  It’s levelled the playing field in terms of production values.  What has encouraged me is that there’s an opportunity for smaller developers with simpler game mechanics that are very well crafted for the VR experience to have more of a significant presence than they would have on a blockbuster console.  It’s intriguing.”

    That’s the issue with VR.  It’s very expensive, at least for now.  But a lot of people already have a PS4, so another $400 on top of that to have immersive game play?  That’s a really good price, and a low entry barrier.

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    February 18, 2016
    Google Play Games Drops Google+

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    Google+ hasn’t been very successful.  It was launched with high hopes and a lot of money behind it, but it’s failed to thrive no matter how much Google pushed it onto the public.  Google wanted your Google+ account to link up with YouTube, Google Play, your Android phone, and pretty much everything else Google-related.  However, that’s coming to a rapid close.  Google is dropping the Google+ requirement for Google Play Games.

    Google is rolling out something called Gamer IDs to replace the Google+ login requirement, which is a good thing in that it allows people to select a gamer handle rather than be stuck using their real name (or whatever they have signed up as their Google+ name) or GMail account.  The best thing about the Gamer ID is that once you set it up, you won’t have to log in for every game; the system will remember your ID and sign you in on all of your games.  And if you download a new game, Google’s new gamer system will log you in, too.

    Sounds like an improvement all the way around to me.

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    February 11, 2016
    Free Classic Windows Games

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    Once again, the Internet Archive has proven itself to be a source of awesome stuff.  From the previous announcement of classic Windows viruses, now comes something that’ll have a little more positive memories.  We’re talking about old-school Windows games!  The Internet Archive has a whole fleet of 3.1 games and other classic bits of software.

    There are over 1000 games in the Windows 3.1 collection, including some classics like the awesome old Wheel of Fortune game.  However, it’s not just toys; there are also 300 classic productivity programs, like Write and Paintbrush.  As with the viruses, it boots up in a browser version of DOSBox and can be run from within your browser.

    Impressively, there’s a full installation of Windows 3.1 that you can have at your disposal, in case you want to get in touch with your inner George R.R. Martin and do some writing without all the distractions of modern technology (or all the distractions of a typewriter).  There’s also some original Windows 3.1 promotional material for, of all things, Windows 95.  Talk about a blast from the past!

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    November 9, 2015
    Microsoft Reveals First Backwards-Compatible Games

    One of the biggest features of the original Xbox 360 was the ability to play old Xbox games.  That’s a great marketing carrot to roll out, because there are a lot of great games and it’s not always easy to remake or port them over to the next gaming system.  Without that planned obsolescence, it’s easy to increase sales, and Microsoft has been very cooperative with game developing partners in this regard.  It gets more difficult every time, but it keeps happening time and time again.  Microsoft has announced the first batch of backwards-compatible Xbox One games.

    The first collection of 104 games is coming out soon, thanks to some huge updates coming down the pike.  A lot of them will be Xbox Live Arcade games, but there are some AAA titles involved, like Fallout 3, Assassins Creed II, and South Park: The Stick Of Truth.  It’s going to be the first of a series of updates, with other games being added to the backwards compatible list monthly from a variety of publishers.

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    July 24, 2015
    Fallout Shelter Coming To Android August 13

    Call it a belated birthday present for me.  Two months ago, the Bethesda mobile game Fallout Shelter made its debut on iPhones, about the time Bethesda announced that Fallout 4 was going to be a thing that happens on PCs and consoles throughout the world.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it wasn’t immediately available for Android users, just Apple users.  That’s changing, thankfully.  Fallout Shelter is coming to Android on August 13.

    The good thing about the game is that it’s going to continue to be free to download, though users are still able to pay for helpful items within the game and various bonus boosts.  Of course, there will also be content updates to bring the game a little closer to Fallout 4’s content.  They’ll be adding the helpful Mr. Handy robot, as well as new enemies like the dreaded Deathclaw.  That’s very exciting stuff for Fallout nerds like myself.

    I just hope that the game is as fun as I’m hoping it is.  Even if it’s only half as fun as I’m expecting, it’s going to be fun.

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    July 17, 2015
    Rovio Announces Angry Birds 2

    Flick a finger, knock down some pigs.  It’s a very simple idea, but the execution is still awesome, and Angry Birds remains one of the most addictive games I have ever played.  I have wasted hours trying to get three stars on every level, and even now sometimes I’ll pick up the 2009 original and try my hand at birding.  Rovio hopes to recapture that addictive magic once again with a brand new game featuring some familiar, angry faces.  Rovio has announced a sequel to their hit game Angry Birds.

    If you’re surprised there’s a sequel, well, so am I.  Rovio focused a lot on creating spin-0ff games, like the Star Wars Angry Birds, the Angry Birds go-kart game, and the Angry Birds RPG.  There’s also all the tee-shirts, toys, and other assorted products that have kept the game in the public’s eye, even as downloads for the game waned.  Still, in 2014, Rovio brought in $172.3 million in revenue.  That’s down from 2013, but still really impressive.  No doubt the company hopes that a return to classic Angry Birding will be a benefit to the bottom line.

    Image via Angry Birds Twitter.

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    June 24, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: MBTA After The Bomb

    Via Reddit Gaming

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    June 13, 2015
    YouTube Launching Gamers-Only Section

    These days, everyone’s always playing video games.  I know this because everyone has a smart phone, and even the dumbest old-school mobile phone has games on it, so everywhere you go, from the store to the traffic jam on the freeway, everyone around you is probably playing a game, and if they’re not, they’re thinking about games.  Game culture has become a huge business, and YouTube wants to wolidify its position as the online video provider of choice for gamers looking for a Twitch alternative.  YouTube is launching YouTube Gamers, a dedicated section of YouTube just for video game ephemera.

    “On YouTube, gaming has spawned entirely new genres of videos, from let’s plays, walkthroughs, and speedruns to cooking and music videos. Now, it’s our turn to return the favor with something built just for gamers,” writes Alan Joyce, YouTube Gaming’s project manager, in an official YouTube blog post.  “This summer, we’ll launch YouTube Gaming, a brand new app and website to keep you connected to the games, players, and culture that matter to you, with videos, live streams, and the biggest community of gamers on the web—all in one place.”

    Minecraft videos draw millions of views.  Let’s Play videos are a huge business.  Walk-throughs and whatnot are also very popular.  Everyone loves video game videos, it seems, and it makes sense to keep your Call of Duty away from your Call Me Maybe.  YouTube Gaming will also offer live streaming and the ability to tip channel owners directly; channel owners also get a split of the profits of their advertising, so that might be a good reason to start your own retro gaming channel or something.

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    May 18, 2015
    Microsoft Vs The World In Solitaire

    I have spent hours by myself, playing a very simple card game.  The card game, of course, is Solitaire.  I learned it by watching my grandmother play it on a deck of actual cards, and when we finally got our first computer, well, it was only natural that solitaire became my game of choice on the computer, especially since this was before we had any video games on the computer and online gaming was in its infancy.  Well, now it’s still happening, and with every computer, a new version of Microsoft’s Solitaire Collection.  Microsoft is taking on the world in a Solitaire Tournament.

    The reason for the tournament is actually pretty fun.  After all, it was 25 years ago that Microsoft first added the Solitaire game suite to their computers.  It’s only natural that the company now determine the Microsoft champions of solo computer card games, then allow those champions to challenge the world.

    The Microsoft Solitare Tournament kicks off on June 5.

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    May 12, 2015
    Guitar Hero Is Coming Back

    Guitar Hero is one of the biggest gaming franchises in gaming history.  Between Guitar Hero and Rock Band, millions of games and millions of downloaded tracks were sold, but with all fads, it faded into the background and disappeared.  However, never underestimate the power of nostalgia, and never underestimate the power of a new generation of music fans looking to enjoy rhythm games in high definition.  Guitar Hero is coming back with new songs and a newly designed six-button controller.

    Of course, it’s still a Guitar Hero controller, not an actual guitar, so forget about learning anything while you game.  Still, at least there’s a new controller, and hopefully that means new drums, a new microphone, and a chance to dust off my very rusty skills.  Although I have no idea how they’re going to do a Guitar Hero game with a Skrillex song, but I love the idea of rocking out to some Judas Priest, The Rolling Stones, and Pantera.

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