With 7.6 million subscribers, more people play the multiplayer online game World of Warcraft than live in the state of Massachusetts. According to NSA documents disclosed by former contractor Edward Snowden, at least some of those slaying dragons on World of Warcraft are posing as elf mages and dwarf warriors, but are actually American and British spies. The leaked NSA docs identified Worlds of Warcraft, Second Life and some Xbox games as a potential “target-rich communication network” allowing suspects “a way to hide in plain sight. The snarky comments following the leak charge intelligence agents as just wanting to play video games. Joining me now to talk about this discovery is Mark Mazzetti, who covers national security for the New York Times, and reported on the strategy.
There’s been a lot of fuss made in recent years over the increasing “gamification” of everyday life – that is, the use of game mechanics in unusual settings like personal fitness, or in schools – where the incentive to get points or awards might have more motivational power than getting good grades, or dropping a dress size. In the workplace, companies like Cold Stone Creamery and the Miller Brewing have starting using video games to train fresh hires – and a recent study by the University of Colorado found that employees trained using video games did their jobs better, and retained information longer than those who were instructed by more conventional methods. One company thinks video games can play a role in businesses even earlier – before an employee has even been hired.
Grand Theft Auto V, was released last week to rave reviews and record sales. The video game sold over 13 million copies in the first 24 hours and is projected to gross well over a billion dollars. Rockstar’s satirical crime series has regularly topped video game charts, but it’s just as often been presented as “exhibit a” in the debate over violent video games and whether they have a real-life influence on players. Grand Theft Auto III, the first mainstream success in the series, was at the center of one such debate in the early 2000’s, but a decade later the franchise is more popular than ever.
Joining us to talk a little bit about the history of how Grand Theft Auto became a household name and its legacy on the video game industry at large is Dr. Jeremy Saucier, the assistant director of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games. Also with us is Jamin Warren, founder of video-game arts and culture company, Killscreen.
The "military-entertainment complex" has been quietly developing for decades. The Pentagon helped sponsor the first personal computers, a few big-budget hollywood films and funded the M.I.T. graduate students who created the first video game, called Spacewar!, in 1962. And for decades, the military has used video games and digital simulations to train troops.
The U.S. Army-developed video game America’s Army was originally invented as a means of re-branding the military in the eyes of teenagers. It is now the Army’s go-to tool and has even worked its way into public school lesson plans. Corey Mead is Assistant Professor of English at CUNY’s Baruch College, and author of War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict.
Anita asked for $6000 to make a video series analyzing gender roles in video games; identifying and exploring tropes like “the sexy sidekick” and “the mercy killing.” She raised the money in one day – and eventually raised $158,000. The project’s first video, “Damsel in Distress Part One” hit YouTube in March.
This past weekend, Funspot arcade in Laconia, New Hampshire, played host to the International Classic Video Game Tournament. Gamers from all over the world have been traveling to Funspot for the past 15 years to compete against each other, sometimes on video games that were born long before they were. For many, it's a chance to play rare games that they've only heard about. For others it's a great chance to connect with like-minded friends over a friendly, albeit competitive, game of Tapper.
The competition runs for four days as participants try to post the high score on each of the tournament games. Outside the cordoned-off area reserved for the tournament, the rest of Funspot's American Classic Arcade Museum is open to the public. Mixed in amongst the novice players, you're likely to see world record holders trying to beat their high scores in between their tournament play. I spoke to three gamers who have made the nostalgic trip to Funspot repeatedly, enticed by the pristine machines and the sense of camaraderie among the players.
Special thanks to Derek Janiak for his help wrangling the elusive video gamers in theirnatural habitat.
In February of 2011, Jon Lynch visited the newly opened Pinball Wizard Arcade in Pelham, New Hampshire, where more than 200 impeccably restored pinball and vintage 80's video games are still luring gamers looking for big-time nostalgia.
In a product launch last Tuesday, gamers around the world waited with bated breath to see what innovations the Xbox One, Microsoft’s third console entry, would offer the gaming world.
The exhibition was sleek, innovative, trendy...and made almost no reference to gaming. Maybe not surprising, given that online entertainment usage outstripped online gaming for the first time last year. Here to discuss what Microsoft’s new console means for the future of home entertainment technology is Jamin Warren, co-founder of Killscreen and former culture reporter for the Wall Street Journal.
Create your own game in a day and a half. That's the challenge awaiting participants in this weekend's New Hampshire Game Jam in Manchester.
Glenn Given and Michael Taylor are organizing the Jam; they sit down with All Things Considered host Brady Carlson to discuss how it works, the gaming scene in the region and what you can learn from trying to create your own games.
A major spill of heavy crude oil in Arkansas couldn’t come at a worse time for the Canadian tar sands industry - though President Obama has hinted he’s preparing to green-light the much-debated Keystone XL pipeline, any push in the wrong direction could finish the project before it even begins. Meanwhile a new report from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce says that, without new pipelines to help ease production bottlenecks, Canada will be missing out on an estimated 15 billion dollars annually.
Since its name was first coined in 1984, cosplay has grown in popularity from a fringe convention pastime to a performance art form... Inspiring thriving real-world and social networks, and even competitions, like the World Cosplay Summit. Now, photographer Anna Fischer is looking to take the role playing subculture even further outside the convention-center walls of comic-con to a whole other level - the great outdoors. Her Kickstarter-fueled project is called “The Wild Places.”