Kids in Northern Ireland are Living the Dream; Minecraft is Free in Every School

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Specifically, secondary schools across Northern Ireland are being given copies of MinecraftEdu, a version of the game designed to be educational.  This initiative is expected to bring Minecraft to 50,000 kids, and will be used to teach everything from art to history and computer coding:

Last week we worked with Artichoke and The Space to recreate, in Minecraft, a version of Burning Man artist David Best’s ‘Temple’ in Minecraft.

The real world Temple was a 70ft structure in the city that was ceremonially burnt. When we took it into the schools we were able to give young people a chance to create their own versions of the Temple, working alongside the artist. We’ve seen Minecraft being used to teach everything from coding to physics but I think that there’s a real opportunity to develop more of these kind of creative projects too.

Check Out This Guy's Infinitely Awesome Home Arcade

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Former Valve programmer and obvious gaming enthusiast Gary McTaggart has one of the coolest home arcades I've ever seen.  Named after his one eyed cat, Willy's Arcade houses dozens of classic arcade cabs and pinball machines.  But to really make this space special, Gary's also got a ton of gorgeous nerdy art on the walls and a custom diner complete with a jukebox.  This guy is living the dream!

Wired Takes Console Wars to a New Level by Smashing the Bits Out of a Bunch of Systems

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After dropping them fifteen feet up, the guys at Wired's Battle Damage poured Mountain Dew onto a long line of consoles from the SEGA Genesis up to the Xbox 360.  Why? To see which one is the strongest.  Which system do you think wins?

Disney's Trying to Help Make Video Games More Interactive

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The video above is a demo of Disney Research Center's work into creating true interactivity in video games.  A recently released paper from the center describes what they're doing:

We want interactive narratives to be an immersive experience in which users can influence the action or even create a storyline, but the complexity of the authoring task has worked against our ambitions. Our method of modeling multiple story arcs and resolving conflicts in the storylines makes it feasible to author interactive experiences that are free form, rather than constricted.


Most games suffer from limitations to interactivty that mean a story arc can only have a certain number of outcomes before creating them becomes too complex.  Disney Research is trying to eliminate those limitations using interactive behavior trees (IBT) that keep track of user interactions and fill in inconsistency gaps so that creators don't have to: "These automated tools empower the author to focus on storytelling, rather than worry about resolving every possible conflict as the many story arcs intersect."  In the example shown in the video demo, if one bear is supposed to throw the ball to the other, but doesn't have a ball to throw, the IBT lets the bear retreive one without the creator having to specify that action taking place.  Pretty neat!

If you're interested, take a look at the paper here.

Surprise, Surprise: You Can't Survive Those Leaps Into Haystacks

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In a paper titled "Falling Into Straw," physics students at the University of Leicester debunked any hope you had in the myth of leaping off a building and landing safely in a haystack in Assassin's Creed

After what I'm sure amounted to vigorous research into haystack leaps in the game, the students concluded that, put simply, you shouldn't do that IRL.  While the piles of loose straw would provide some cushioning from falls, you couldn't pull off the kind of jump an assassin does because the haystacks are too small.  The haystacks in game are only about 1.5m tall, and according to the paper, you could fall no further than 12-13m and expect that stack to save you.  If you're willing to sustain "severe injuries," you could stretch that height to about 50m, but you certainly won't be shanking any enemies after that leap of faith.

Hunger Looks Delightfully Unnerving

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From Swedish studio Tarsier comes Hunger, a game about helping a girl escape from a labyrinth of monsters in what the studio describes as a "suspense adventure" game.