Video games

7.28.16: No Man's Sky, Star Trek Fan Films, & 10MWW

Jul 28, 2016
Jane Dominguez via Flickr CC /

On today's show: a look into the strict guidelines CBS and Paramount have set for those Star Trek fan films, a game reviewer gives us a sneak peek at a revolutionary new game called No Man's Sky which puts players into an unfathomably large universe, and the latest installment of the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop with acclaimed author Judy Blume. 

Sadie Hernandez via Flickr CC /

Here at Word of Mouth, we spend a lot of time researching, recording, and listening to wonderful – and sometimes weird – audio. Today, a new installment of “Overheard.” This time we pull in some NHPR colleagues to share some of the best examples of sound the internet has to offer – some healthy curiosity required.

Then, a Pokebattle for the ages. Two teams duke it out over whether Pokémon go helps or hinders the experience of being in the natural world – and tussle over who has the right to decide that.  

L: Chris R: Camilo Rueda López via flickr Creative Commons / L: | R:

Most Americans know far more about the names of the royals than how British democracy works, but many Brits are closely following the presidential primary here in the U.S. On today’s show, The Guardian's man in NH gives us a British perspective on America’s election.

Then, between the paltry snow cover and spring-like temperatures, suffice it to say, this has been a very strange New Hampshire winter, and the unseasonable temperatures have put a dent in many winter activities. Among the hardest hit? Ice fishing. We'll get the fisherman's perspective on the winter that hasn't really started.

Kids and Digital Media: What Parents Need to Know

Dec 22, 2015
Mike / Flickr/CC

This holiday season, many kids are asking for shiny new devices, but some parents worry about how access to all this may affect children. We talk with the author of a new book that takes a fact-not-fear approach to exposing kids to technology, and promises to help parents navigate the digital world.


Brady Carlson / NHPR

A group of game developers is looking to build a place for New Hampshire in the future of video games - and it starts with the new development hub known as Game Assembly.

niXerKG via Flickr CC /

Lots of organizations use 5ks and "fun runs" to raise money for charity – few involve sitting on a couch for hours at a time.  Today, how a super-fast, bizarre style of video-game playing has become a fundraising cash cow. Plus, we’ll celebrate the 30th anniversary of the video game industry’s most lucrative character of all time: Mario! Then, as the Daily Show’s “Senior Muslim or Foreign Looking Correspondent,” Aasif Mandvi helped Americans laugh at their own prejudice. We’ll hear why he almost refused the job. 

Such a Groke via Flickr CC /

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 30% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 are living at home with their parents. There are many opinions as to why - but perhaps parental techniques are partly to blame. On today's show: can over-parenting ruin confidence? Then, the value of teaching kids to cook, and how coloring books - for adults, mind you - are on the rise. And finally, we take a look at the more political side of well-beloved Dr. Seuss.

artubr via Flickr CC /

Pro sports have been plagued by doping scandals for years. The next sport up for scrutiny? Video games. Today, randomized drug testing comes to electronic gaming. Also, a new publishing niche: coloring books for adults.  We’ll find out why an increasing number of grownups are finding time to color in between the lines.  And a debate on the pros and cons of a controversial literary device – the sometimes clever, often groan-inducing pun.  

Eric Draper / White House

If you grew up in the 1970s or 80s, the sound of Simon may be familiar to you. It’s the electronic memory game that gives you increasingly difficult patterns of sounds and colors to remember and repeat.

Some of the credit for inventing it goes to late Manchester resident Ralph Baer. Baer was part of a team that developed the first home video game in the late 1960s'. The National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. has included Baer’s Manchester, N.H. workshop as part of its innovation wing.

Paul L. Dineen via flickr Creative Commons /

“Birthday suit”, “in the buff”, “wearing nothing but a smile.” Call it what you will, on today’s show we’ll strip bare the American nudism movement and we’ll explore the progressive-era origins and continuing tensions over what it means to take it all off.

Then, we’ll hear about two young men who embarked on a bold crime spree, stealing thousands in gold and weapons. The hitch? It all went down in a video game. 

Leveling The Playing Field: Digital Games & Children

May 21, 2015
amanda tipton via flickr Creative Commons /

In 1983 Ronald Reagan gave a speech at Disney’s Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida extolling his new found understanding of the virtues of video games: “I recently learned something quite interesting about video games.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Video Games & History

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According to a report from the National Park Service only 7% of annual park visitors are African American. On today’s show, we delve into environmental history and cultural studies to find out why the story of the American outdoors is so white.

Then, environmentalists have taken many tacks to get people to be “greener”: the doomsday approach, education, shame. Now new research suggests another way to increase green behaviors: a salary. Why paying people an hourly wage decreases environmentally-friendly behaviors.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Women In Gaming And Tech

Nov 24, 2014
John / Flickr/CC

While just as many females as males play, the gaming world has a reputation as a less-than-welcoming community for women, with some extreme harassment in a recent controversy dubbed Gamergate. We’ll look at the conversation since Gamergate, from why gaming culture has these elements, to the challenges women face in the tech industry.


Ryan Lessard / NHPR

 A newly-formed group of independent video game developers in Manchester looks poised to open a game developers’ incubator in the city’s Millyard by the end of the year.

Local game developer David Carrigg is one of the founders of the state chapter of the International Game Developers Association, which is leading the creation of the incubator called Game Assembly.

Geoff Jones via flickr Creative Commons

Israelis and Palestinians recently agreed to a cease fire, but while the conflict may be on hold in Gaza, it continues to erupt online.  On today’s show: from Hitler hashtags to Facebook groups seeking revenge on Hamas, is social media trolling, stoking Israeli-Palestinian tensions? 

Then, late last month Amazon bought the online video platform “Twitch” for nearly one-hundred million dollars-- we’ll find out why the streaming service is such a hot commodity and why people would want to watch someone else play videogames in the first place.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.

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A New Look at Violent Video Games (9:00):

A study from Dartmouth suggests teens who play certain games are more likely to develop what one researcher calls a “warped moral compass.” But others argue singling out one form of entertainment is over-simplified and ignores other factors.


8.10.14: The Game Show!

Aug 9, 2014
mbiebusch via flickr Creative Commons

Welcome to the show, and come on down! Wait. Rewind. This isn't that kind of game show - but it is a show all about games. From video games, to board games, to game culture, we spoke with the industry game changers. Our adventurous host Virginia Prescott even took a dive into the virtual world of gaming with a Skyrim sesh for better ("I just swiped at someone pretty mightily!") or worse ("I'm getting slaughtered!"). Check out her experience and gaming pointers here. Is she now a self-proclaimed gamer? Find out on today's show - join us for the fun and games here and on our Twitter and Facebook!

Listen to all the fun of our full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Liz West via flickr Creative Commons

From tailfins to compact discs, America’s economy hums along on technology that goes out of date. Today on Word of Mouth, the collectors, sentimentalists and other hold-outs to market obsolescence.

6.24.14: Not Dead Yet!

Jun 24, 2014
Jim Golden, "Relics of Technology"

From tailfins to compact discs, America’s economy hums along on  technology that goes out of date. Today on Word of Mouth, the collectors, sentimentalists and other hold-outs to market obsolescence.  We take a look at why the Smithsonian Archive is cooking, freezing and drowning CDs. And then, teaching penmanship is considered passé in the age of the keyboard, but new research suggests that handwriting is essential to learning. Plus, we’ll hear from the world record holder for the largest video game collection.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Classic Video Game Music: From Bosses To Beats

Apr 26, 2014
Coleman via flickr Creative Commons

Classic video game music evokes a special kind of nostalgia, a mixture of childhood whimsy laced with pixel-fueled frustration. For musicians, sampling video game music adds an extra layer of fantasy in otherwise hardcore genres like rap and metal. Spin even compiled 50 Rap Songs Based on Video Game Samples (Some are NSFW. All are awesome). In metalcore, sampling video game music resulted in an entirely new genre in the late 1990s at first jokingly called NintendocoreWizards and Warriors is pretty great, as are most of the songs by Horse the Band. Themes from the NES and Super Nintendo eras are especially popular. I tapped into my Nintendo nostalgia for some of the best classics (and admittedly my favorites):

Maureen McMurray

Authored by Sarah Thomas 

We reached out on Facebook to find out what video game you wanted Word of Mouth host Virginia Prescott to play for our game show. Options were limited to Producer Taylor Quimby's Xbox games, which include Call of Duty, Skyrim, Portal 2, BioShock Infinite and Halo 4. The masses ultimately chose Skyrim, drawn to its "Game of Thrones-ness" and option to "pretend to be a stabby turn-of-the-century street urchin." With virtual mace in hand, Virginia bravely took on the world of Skyrim and learned a few lessons along the way., Sergey Galyonkin, Phill Roussin & Ian Thomson via flickr Creative Commons

Facebook is making headlines once again with its two billion dollar acquisition of virtual reality company Oculus VR. Today on Word Of Mouth, a look into why the social network has put so much stock in virtual reality. And it’s opening day for the Red Sox as they take on the Baltimore Orioles today. Fans are hoping this year’s roster will bring them to the World Series again, but how much can we really predict at this point in the season? And are stats the final word?

Producer Zach Nugent has been scouring record stores for the best new music offerings in a new segment we're calling The Audio Orchard.

Then we talk with a National Geographic columnist who argues for lifelong love of  dinosaurs.

Finally, NHPR environmental reporter Sam Evans-Brown brings us the story of a UNH "pee bus" project. Urine, it turns out, can be pretty useful.

Listen to the whole show and click Read more for individual segments.

snooze via Flickr Creative Commons

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.

Brandon Burris via flickr Creative Commons

We like to think of the Word of Mouth Saturday show as a convenient, one-hour public radio field trip. So pack a special picnic lunch and grab a buddy, here's what's on the itinerary this week:

  • Bill Maher Love him or hate him, it really doesn't matter, Bill Maher is a great interview.
  • Field Trips Jay Phillip Greene explains his recent study on the power of the school field trip. Turns out they have real and powerful educational value.

ATOMIC Hot Links via flickr Creative Commons

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.

Playing Pac Man In The Library

Aug 6, 2013

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, younger patrons don’t use libraries only as a place to study, they also go there to “hang out” in place that feels calm. It’s a little less serene at the Chattanooga Public Library.  Justin Hoenke is the teen librarian there...we were a little stunned to find an article Justin wrote called “Why I bought an original 1981 Ms. Pac Man Arcade machine for my library”

skippyjon via flickr Creative Commons

In May of 2012, feminist blogger and pop culture critic Anita Sarkeesian launched a Kickstarter campaign called “Tropes Versus Women in Video Games.” 

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.