Guide Cognitive monthly, June 2009 -- Duke Nukem Comes to Dinner: Do Violent Games Make Violent Kids?

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You can see that the game is understanding your every movement of the "racquet" when belting back balls spat out by a machine, but Screen Play was having difficulty pinpointing parts of the court with any consistent accuracy. The idea is to place the ball with the direction of your follow-through, which doesn't feel that intuitive and seems to have a steep learning curve.

Grand Slam is clearly not the instantly accessible party game that many hoped it might be. But my persistence was starting to pay off and I was enjoying the game more and more as I spent more time with it. I'm really looking forward to getting stuck in Wii Sports Resort in the coming weeks. What have you been playing lately? And what are you most looking forward to?

Cognitive Monthly, May 2009: The Illusion of Theater

When I launched the Your Turn community blogging initiative in March last year, I was confident some talented writers would soon emerge. But I have since been blown away by the high standard of contributions submitted each week, which has demonstrated the breadth of knowledge, creativity and writing skill of many members of the Screen Play community.

Today I'm thrilled to launch a brand new weekly column by one of the Screen Play community's brightest stars: James has penned many fantastic blogs for Screen Play over the past year, including pieces on game pricing , the latest technology , emotional involvement , buzzwords , gaming visuals and interviews with developers.

His astonishing reservoir of gaming and pop culture knowledge is a huge asset to the blog, and I'm rapt to be able to give DexX the opportunity to more regularly demonstrate his talents. James is a Melbourne-based office worker who holds down a day job in order to pay for his gaming habit.

At 35 he "still hasn't decided what to do when he grows up", but he reckons "games journalism sounds like fun". His first piece under the new Split Screen banner today is an appropriate look at where it all began Australia's proposed web filter could soon block adult gamers from playing massively multiplayer online games and accessing oversites websites that sell video games that have been refused classification in this country. A spokesman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the filter would cover "computer games such as web-based flash games and downloadable games, if a complaint is received and the content is determined by ACMA to be Refused Classification".

The filtering could also block "the importation of physical copies of computer games sold over the internet which have been classified RC", the spokesman said. Click here to read the full story from Asher Moses, and let me know what you think in the comments section below. Apple releases its updated iPhone in Australia today after already selling one million of the new devices in just three days overseas. The latest "3GS" version of the iPhone makes some significant improvements for game players and game developers, including longer battery life, increased processing power, peer-to-peer gaming, and changes that allow developers to now charge for additional content like extra levels.

There are now over 80 million iPhone or iPod Touch devices in the hands of people around the world, and Apple's App Store has also been an astonishing success. There are now over 50, applications available, including over games, and customers have already downloaded over one billion applications. Guitar Hero Greatest Hits is released in Australia today, featuring 48 fan-favourite tracks from the first four games in the popular series.

Unlike the versions found on the original games, all tracks can be played in four-player band mode rather than just on guitar, whether with mates in your lounge room or with faraway friends online. But I've got a quick question for you today: One of the trends evident at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo was that games distributed via digital downloads are no longer the "second class citizens" of the gaming world.

It wasn't too long ago that downloadable games could get away with having lower production values and short play times because of their typically cheap prices. But games like Epic's Shadow Complex, to be released on Xbox Live in the coming months, highlight that many downloadable games now feature the same high-quality presentation and similar long-term appeal compared to many full-priced disc-based games.

Video Games Don't Cause Violent Behavior

Screen Play caught up with Donald Mustard, Creative Director at Epic offshoot Chair Entertainment, at the recent gaming expo, where he confirmed that the goal of the small man team working on the game was to "immediately show this is where Xbox Live Arcade is going". One of the most interesting announcements of E3 was the partnership between Team Ninja and Nintendo to "reimagine" Metroid.

The news might have prompted cynics and teenage boys to imagine Samus Aran staring in a new beach volleyball game, but more optimistic gamers might have drooled at the prospect of Team Ninja's fighting game expertise being injected into a thrilling new Metroid adventure. The result of the collaboration is due to be released on Wii next year, but looks to be a blend of more traditional third-person Metroid action as well as the first-person blasting from the Metroid Prime series. Let's hope it is something special.

While well known for forging their own path and seemingly reluctant to work with external parties, Nintendo in recent years has displayed more interest in partnering with third parties on games featuring even its most cherished characters. Naughty Dog's Richard Lemarchand has another reason to be " absolutely delighted " - Uncharted 2 has been voted the best game at E3. The Game Critics Awards this year saw votes cast by 29 gaming publications including leading magazines and websites.

Sony will be pleased to pick up best of show and best console game awards for Uncharted 2, but lost the battle of the new motion controllers, with Microsoft picking up the best hardware gong for Project Natal. The brilliant Scribblenauts was the show's most original game and the best handheld game, but Nintendo went home empty handed. Click below for the full results. Today's fantastic Your Turn debut is from Darwin-based reader Leigh Martin, who says he is "fascinated by the culture of video games".

These days Leigh tends to buy a couple of games at once to prolong the time before he is tempted to buy another one. But today he wonders what it would be like if the point of sale was the start of the process of making a game, rather than at the end. Today the year-old dedicated gamer shares his thoughts on the Pikmin re-release for the Wii from the perspective of a newcomer. He also loved Pikmin so much that he completed it in just a few days.

Click below to find out why. It's hard to know whether it was caused by hired help, enthusiastic Sony employees or genuine gaming fans, but the wildly enthusiastic whooping and hollering for Uncharted 2: Naughty Dog's co-lead game designer snuck into the press conference for the game's demonstration on a giant screen and was "absolutely delighted" by the reaction to the impressive sequence.

More recently, the year-old owner and operator of AustralianGamer. Not only does Yug act as a graphic designer, community manager and shameless PR hussy for AustralianGamer, but he also stars in the upcoming GameDamage TV show, has established a Brisbane video game cocktail lounge, and is routinely called upon for speaking engagements and even game development duties. I'm thrilled that Yug has taken time out of his hectic schedule to pen his first Your Turn contribution for Screen Play, a post that he suggests might be the first of an occasional "how to" series.

Click below for Yug's highly instructional Your Turn debut. Take-Two has enjoyed so much success with the desperately mediocre Carnival Games that it has now taken the concept of party games to its most literal degree. You can even sing Happy Birthday karaoke-style at the end of the game. I guess at most houses the game is going to sit on the shelf for days of the year, which wouldn't be all that different to a lot of the other tat released on Wii. Meanwhile, my kids still beg to play Wii Sports every weekend, and giggle, cheer and dash around the lounge room having an absolute ball whenever they do get the chance to play.

Every Wii Sports session is still a party, even two and a half years later.

At the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, over samples of "Gamer Grub" were given away to starving and exhausted attendees who needed to fill their tummies and get a quick energy boost. The manufacturer of the snack claims it has been "scientifically formulated to enhance cognitive functions for gamers" and the packaging helps "enhance a gamer's ability to consume the tasty snacks in an efficient manner to prevent keyboard crumbs and greasy fingers".

Gamer Grub comes in four flavours: Screen Play tried both the pizza and chocolate variants, and wasn't keen to go back for more.

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As the snack is hopefully unlikely to make it's way onto Australian shores, today Screen Play would like to hear about your greatest gaming gastronomical goodies. I've also listed 30 of my own snacks that are well suited to gaming. Dylan 'dylillama' Foulcher is an expatriate Aussie who lives, works, and games in London. Today he returns to the topic and argues why some a censorship case in the US is actually landmark in the history of interactive entertainment which could help games be taken seriously as a new medium for exploring ideas.

LucasArts is a strange, baffling, two-headed beast. LucasArts is also strange because on the one hand it has courted disaster by shamelessly exploiting the Star Wars license, yet on the other hand has chosen not to exploit its equally valuable catalogue of classic games. While the fans have screamed for retro re-releases of classic point-and-click adventures for the well-suited Nintendo DS and Wii platforms, LucasArts has all-but ignored their desperate pleas. Click below for the full interview.

Fresh from tackling masculinity in video games but having a few of his SNAG limbs broken in the scrum Jacob Martin has recently been coming to terms with his experiences as a "Generation Y" gamer. Having lived nearly 20 years, Jacob reckons he is "almost a full fledged adult gamer", and "almost ready to start investing in a rocking chair, a cane and a lawn to shoo children off with a loud voice".

Jacob has overcome many challenges in his life, including completing Ocarina of Time for the second time last week.

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After some "careful consideration", Jacob has returned to Screen Play to "address the problems with gaming that have arisen since becoming a gamer in the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation era". Click below for Jacob's latest entertaining read. The three-year-old Screen Play blog celebrates another significant moment today as we begin broadcasting in amazing quadraphonic sound.

The Screen Play blog, including all of your insightful, passionate and articulate comments, will now be seen on four websites across the Fairfax stable. The changes will help build an even more vibrant community of gamers from all around Australia. Thanks for your patience during the migration to the new system today, and a big thank you for your ongoing readership and support. I would also like to give a warm welcome to any Screen Play newcomers.

The "serious games" sector could overtake the interactive entertainment business within the next decade according to an expert in the use of games for learning. A major Serious Games conference was held in Sydney on Friday, featuring speakers from all around the world. Keynote speaker of the XMediaLab conference and CEO of The Inspiracy, Noah Falstein, told the conference that he thinks "it is inevitable that computer games with purposes beyond entertainment will someday grow to rival and eclipse the current entertainment-only game market, perhaps even within the next 10 years.

Many people still consider computer games as vacuous, violent timewasters. Many critics consider games as pointless escapism for children, while others label them dangerously addictive and anti-social, with massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft and the anarchic Grand Theft Auto series usually the popular targets for attack. Life, work and travel has got in the way of my game time recently, but the weekend provided the chance to pit two superhero romps against each other.

It's almost a shame that Prototype and inFamous have lobbed onto the market at the same time considering how similar they are in many respects. Both are certainly worthy of your cash and time. This week I also plan to prove I ain't 'fraid of no movie license, and get stuck into Ghostbusters on PS3.

Shigeru Miyamoto is one of the past century's most successful artists and undisputedly the games industry's most respected designer. The father of Mario and countless other much-loved gaming icons, Miyamoto's genius is stamped on every product he touches. But just a few years ago, it seemed that Miyamoto like his company was becoming an anachronism in the industry he helped create.

In a rapidly changing and maturing market which was now suddenly more focused on adults rather than children, many felt Miyamoto was becoming out-of-touch. As the designer entered his 50s and Nintendo's share of the ever-growing interactive entertainment industry began to shrink, the Japanese Peter Pan was increasingly berated for refusing to grow up. We all know how the story has turned around in recent years. Nintendo is the industry leader once again, with Miyamoto and his President Satoru Iwata orchestrating an astonishing comeback by producing incredibly novel experiences like Nintendogs, Brain Training, Wii Fit and Wii Sports, as well as clever updates of more traditional Nintendo fare like New Super Mario Bros.

Nintendo has now sold over 50 million Wii consoles, and over million DS handhelds. Screen Play was fortunate to get a disappointingly brief interview with Miyamoto at the Electronic Entertainment Expo last week. Click below for some of the highlights. Sony has launched its free music video service for Australian PlayStation 3 owners. The service lets PS3 users get a free music video fix at any time via streaming video technology.

Sony research has found that music playback is the most used feature of the PlayStation 3 after gaming, and Vidzone provides over 10, music videos on demand. Users can select single videos to watch or create playlists.

Cognitive monthly, June 2009 -- Duke Nukem Comes to Dinner: Do Violent Games Make Violent Kids?

PSP users can also create playlists at work and have the music waiting for them when they get home. The service features advertising and music from a range of labels, not just Sony artists. Regular content updates are promised. One of the most interesting features of Mass Effect 2 discussed at last week's Electronic Entertainment Expo is that the game will examine your save game from its predecessor, and alter the story in accordance with your previously chosen path.

Your decisions in the original Mass Effect will affect the story in Mass Effect 2.

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For a story-driven role playing series like Mass Effect, the feature seems like a most welcome and appropriate addition that will greatly assist in making players feel like they are genuinely directing Lieutenant Commander Shepard's unique story rather than just following a linear path. But I'm keen to hear from you today about whether you think the same technology could also be used in other franchises to interesting effect The Freeplay independent game developers conference will be held at the State Library of Victoria on August 14 and Freeplay was founded in by Marcus Westbury and a dedicated team of indie game developers.

Three conferences have been held in Melbourne in previous years, featuring both local and international speakers. This year's event is being organised by indie game experts Paul Callaghan and Eve Penford-Dennis who promise an interesting and diverse line-up of speakers and a range of workshops and ancillary industry-building and social events where attendees can talk, share ideas and build connections. The organisers believe that the opportunities for independent developers to create and distribute innovative games has risen dramatically in recent years thanks to simple, low-cost development tools and digital download services like Apple's App Store, Nintendo's WiiWare and Microsoft's XNA.

Tom Crago, President of the Game Developers' Association of Australia said that Freeplay has proven to be a great forum for bringing together students and indie games developers. Do the benefits of gaming outweigh the many potential harms? Cognitive Monthly is an in-depth mini e-book that you can download and read on your computer, iPod, iPhone, e-reader, or any device that can handle a PDF.

Each month we cover a different cognitive psychology issue. I suppose you just outed yourself as someone who knows nothing about contemporary gaming. Maybe this certifies you as less geeky, but it takes away from your credibility. The only major Duke Nukem title in development was in development for more than a decade and then was canceled.

I know, I know. Any possibility that this will go back up? The NFL playoffs are about to start, and tonight, the elected…. Science Blogs Go to Select Blog Cognitive Daily Cognitive Monthly: June issue now available Posted by Dave Munger on June 1, Casey Fleser Cognitive Monthly is an in-depth mini e-book that you can download and read on your computer, iPod, iPhone, e-reader, or any device that can handle a PDF.