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In or out of the gaming closet on a first date?

As part of a new Gaming with Spouses series for the GameCritics.com podcast, I thought it would be interesting to pose the following question to to several of my women friends: "If on a first date, a guy reveals that he's a "gamer" (meaning he plays a lot of video games), is this a good or bad thing?" Here are some of the responses that I got back.

Animal Crossing: City Folk, a new subtitle, same basic game

Deja vu?!

Animal Crossing: City Folk is the new Wii version of the hit game Animal Crossing. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the US-original Gamecube (GCN) version of Animal Crossing, and in fact, I just checked in on my town a couple of months ago. (Sadly, one of my original residents decided to move out, after several years of residence. I was surprised to say the least!)

The new City Folk appears to be a refinement of the series. It looks like a smoother version of Animal Crossing (GCN) modified with some features from Wild World (the DS iteration). Notably, terrain is on a curved surface instead of being flat, Copper runs the gate to the outside world tucked into a northern cave, the sky has constellations and I believe accessories are available.

A trilogy of gaming-disability news

Since they're all so cool I couldn't decide between them, here are three neat things I found:

1. Max Shooter, an XBox 360 adapter

2. "Strikes for Strokes donations aid in rehab," from Mt. Vernon Register-News

3. SpecialEffect.org.uk

Virtual reality project lets kids with Down Syndrome communicate with each other

"Collaborative networked framework for the rehabilitation of children with Down's Syndrome" (PDF) is an old paper from the University of Averio in Portugal, but the project described is really interesting. Presented at the third International Conference on Disability, Virtual Reality and Associated Technology in Alghero, Italy in 2000, the authors propose "a multi-user virtual communication platform that enables rehabilitation and social integration of Down's Syndrome children."

PETA spoofs Cooking Mama for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is trying to get the word out about the conditions turkeys are born into, raised and slaughtered in just so they can become that delicious dining table center piece on the last Thursday of November.

In typical PETA fashion, it has co-opted something that mainstream society can relate to (Majesco's Cooking Mama) and made sure its version hemorrhages buckets of blood (blood pours from broken eggs!). And it also makes sure to throw as much chilling information and videos into the mix as "bonuses" to further shock you into vegetarianism.

Whether this will persuade meat eaters to change their ways is debatable—I, for one, kept playing trying to better my score—but whatever your view, Cooking Mama: Mama Kills Animals Unauthorized PETA Edition is an entertaining diversion.

Cooking Mama: Mama Kills Animals Unauthorized PETA Edition

Heidi Klum Guitar Hero commercial on The O'Reilly Factor

Bill O'Reilly must have had an intern scouring the Internet for news because the Internet-only version of the Heidi Klum Guitar Hero World Tour commercial was the subject of discussion on last week's The O'Reilly Factor.

The twist is that O'Reilly thinks like most red-blooded American (male) gamers, that Heidi Klum in nothing but a T-Shirt and underwear is very appealing.

But in an effort to not come off as sexist or offend his conservative viewers who might have a problem with the video—and his approval of said video—he asks two pundits to chime in. And in another twist, the conservative female pundits see nothing wrong with the commercial for the most part. 

Heidi Klum Guitar Hero World Tour Commercial on O'Reilly Factor

GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 3

It's the thrilling third episode of the GameCritics.com Podcast!
This week's topics include:

  • Impressions of Art Style: ROTOHEX, Gears of War 2, Castlevania: Order of Ecclasia, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts demo and Tomb Raider: Underworld demo
  • The Annual Holiday Gaming Glut: Its impact on gamers and the industry.

Download: Right click here and select "Save Target As..."
Subscribe: iTunes | Zune | RSS

Please send mailbag questions to podcast (at) gamecritics (dot) com.

Motion-sensing PlayStation controllers for gamers with disabilities just in time for the holidays

Via Computeractive.uk:

UK charity AbilityNet is partnering with Excitim Ltd. to make PlayStation, PS2 and PS3 controllers that can be manipulated with head movement. Part of their "Dream" line of adapted toys for kids with disabilities, the Dream-Gamer comes with a motion-sensing baseball cap which " enable[s] individuals to use head movements to control aspects of the game such as moving left, right, forward or backwards."

Video: Gamer, tech journalist Michael Phillips demonstrates his accessible Mac setup

Michael Phillips is a gamer, tech journalist and AppleMaster. He's written for Inside Mac Games. Michael has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and uses a USB switch interface called Swifty and SwitchXS, a program which lets people who use switches access all Mac applications. Right now, he's the editor for AssistiveGaming.com.

Dead Space and the evolution and elimination of HUDs

Dead Space

As far as the video game part of my life goes, last week was all about Dead Space. Well, I also finished up the original Metal Gear Solid (After the credits rolled, my mostly non-gaming wife aptly summed it up as "very Japanese.") but I digress. I rented the PS3 version from Blockbuster and played it steadily through the week until finally beating it on Sunday night. My wife was actually backseat for the entire duration, so props to her for sticking it out.

While I wouldn't consider Dead Space a truly great game, I do think it's a very good one. The graphics and sound are top notch, the zero gravity gameplay is quite cool, the story is decent (enhanced by watching the six downloadable video comics), and the game as a whole just does a great job of delivering the scares. Oh yeah, and I really dug the way the game handled being in a vacuum with no sound. Rather than talk about that stuff, however, I'd like to focus in on something that really stood out to me about Dead Space: the absence of a HUD.

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