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High school students design a virtual disability simulation with a game engine

This is video of a virtual disability simulation; its object is to get a character who uses a wheelchair from one end of a city to the other. The simulation uses the Cube 2 engine. It was designed in the summer of 2007 by Project Beta, a team of Philadelphia high school students involved in the Building Information Technology Skills (bITS) program. bITS is sponsored by the Information Technology and Society Research Group (ITSRG) at Temple University.

My first experience as a playtester

Playtest Lab

Back when I was a little kid in the late 1980s, I had this idealized vision of how awesome it must be to play video games for a living. I knew that there were people out there who played games for the purpose of quality testing and so on, and for whatever reason, my little kid brain thought it must be the greatest job in the world. I probably saw it as at least on par to working at a candy factory. It all comes down to that fact that I had no understanding of the law of diminishing returns and therefore believed that being able to do a thing that I like all day every day must be nothing short of bliss.

Heidi Klum unleashes her inner Tom Cruise from Risky Business

Guitar Hero: World Tour - 1
Rock Band 2 - 0

The Horror Geek presents: Left 4 Dead intro movie

Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of game previews or watching pre-release footage online. I guess, as a reviewer, I've always felt it was better to come into a game cold and experience it fresh on my first playthrough. Even when I'd attend E3 in years past, I was hesitant to spend too much time playing pre-release builds of games because I didn't want anything to spoil my experience with the full version.

That being said, I've broken my rule (albeit slightly) with Valve's Left 4 Dead. I don't think I've been this excited for a zombie game since Resident Evil 2—so when the intro movie appeared online on Halloween, I fought the urge to watch it. I made it through the weekend before finally caving. So, here it is—a few days late, but still very cool—the opening cinematic for Left 4 Dead.

Start practicing your headshots—the game hits retailers on November 18th.

Interview with World of Goo developer, 2D Boy

So after being completely impressed with WiiWare's World of Goo, I hit up the developers for a brief word. Quite friendly and accommodating, this is what 2D Boy's Kyle Gabler and Ron Carmel had to say...

Disabled gamer case study: Why I like the games I like

A lot of games I like are about running around finding things. Although I only know where a few places are in my town and go everywhere else with my mother or a friend, I've remembered the layout of Hyrule in A Link to the Past without having played it for years. While I have a lot of trouble navigating 3-dimensional space that I'm physically in, it's much easier to find my way around a 2D expanse on a screen.

A lot of games I like are about running around finding things. Although I only know where a few places are in my town and go everywhere else with my mother or a friend, I've remembered the layout of Hyrule in A Link to the Past without having played it for years. While I have a lot of trouble navigating 3-dimensional space that I'm physically in, it's much easier to find my way around a 2D expanse on a screen.

Even vampires are playing the Wii

The Wii was seen on HBO's True Blood of all places this past weekend. HBO seems to have just taken that product placement money and didn't think twice. No observation, no explanation during its brief appearance. There wasn't even the cursory, "I play videogames because being a 200-year-old vampire I can no longer play golf or sports during the day." None of that. They just made sure the Wii-mote was in view and dropped the "Wii" name a few times.

Fallout 3: Absolute hell on productivity

The last few days have been absolute hell on my productivity. Fallout 3 was just released, and pretty much everything else going on has been put on indefinite hold while I make my way through the irradiated wastelands.

To be brutally honest, the game didn't make a strong first impression with me once I actually had the disc. I wasn't the biggest fan of Bethesda's Oblivion, and the first day or so spent in post-apocalyptic D.C. is guaranteed to seem like nothing so much as Oblivion with guns.

Back in the game

So it's been 143 days since my last blog post. Back in June I made sort of a semi-pledge to "take a little time each week to keep this blog updated." Well, that obviously didn't happen, and I'd just like to apologize to all of my regular readers (all three of you) for my lack of follow through. Not that I don't have a good excuse.

According to the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory, the last five months have constituted a "moderate life crisis" with "50% chance of illness such as: headache, diabetes, fatigue, hypertension, chest and back pain, ulcers, infectious disease, etc." That's probably pushing it, but the point is that with graduating, moving to Seattle, starting a new job, and getting married, I had a lot on my plate.

Wii, PS3 used in therapy for kids with cerebral palsy

A case study conducted by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and published in the October 2008 issue of the American Physical Therapy Association's journal found that when a teenage boy with cerebral palsy played Wii Sports as part of his regular therapy, "there were positive outcomes at the impairment and functional levels," according to the abstract.

While I couldn't find a full-text version of the article, SpecialKids.com reports on the study in more detail:

[T]he patient was a 13-year-old male with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy. In a school-based setting, he participated in 11 training sessions, over a four-week period, using the Wii while continuing to receive physical and occupational therapy. The sessions were each between 60 and 90 minutes long and used the Wii sports games software, which offers boxing, tennis, bowling, and golf. He trained in both standing and sitting positions.
“ 'Improvements in visual-perceptual processing, postural control, and functional mobility were measured after training,'” the researchers reported.
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