How big is online gaming? As Andrew Webster of The Verge reports, pretty darn big:
Starting today the best Dota 2 players in the world will be competing for an insane prize pool of more than $10 million. And whether you’re a fan or just someone looking to learn what e-sports are all about, there are plenty of ways to watch — and it’s completely free. The event is being streamed at Dota2.com, and it all starts with the first day of playoffs today. There’s a standard live broadcast complete with commentary and analysis, but also a new “spoiler-free DVR” stream that lets you catch the matches at your own pace, in case you aren’t able to check it out in real-time.
$10 million for playing video games. And your parents told you gaming was a waste of time.
Next week, one of the biggest video games of the year, Titanfall, will be released. Except, as it turns out, in South America. As Kyle Orland of Ars Technica reports:
When Titanfall finally sees its worldwide release next week, South Africa will not be among the countries to get a version of the game. Early this morning, EA South Africa announced via Facebook that it has decided to hold off on a local release after poor Internet performance during the game’s recent beta test. South Africa’s Gamezone reports that local preorders are being canceled both by Origin and area brick-and-mortar retailers.
“After conducting recent online tests for Titanfall, we found that the performance rates in South Africa were not as high as we need to guarantee a great experience, so we have decided not to release Titanfall in South Africa at this time,” the post reads. “We understand this is a disappointment for local fans and will keep fans posted on any future plans regarding the release of Titanfall in South Africa.”
Interestingly, the video game’s online servers are powered by Microsoft’s cloud service, Azure, and the closest data center to South Africa is in Brazil. While missing out on a video game is no big deal in the grand scheme of things (unless you were excited to play it), Titanfall‘s absence in South Africa highlights the challenges involved in building an international product that is dependent on a robust Internet infrastructure.
At Read Write Web, Stephanie Chan looks at how video games are being used in education:
Video games utilized for education can have unique and positive effects. Two programs make this very clear: The National STEM Video Game Challenge is an annual call for middle to high schoolers to submit their own video game designs and compete on the national level with other children their age. By designing their own games, children learn the ins and outs of coding, strategy and digital creation.
The Mind Research Institute’s ST Math video game is another example of education gamification, as it utilizes the medium of a video game to teach students to conceptualize math in brand new ways. This lets children have a visual representation of math problems in motion; what was once just numbers placed flat in a textbook now dance to life with a digital companion to aid in figuring out solutions.
The gamification of education is radical and effective. Such alternative methods to today’s education system deserve a closer look.
Over at GigaOm, Ryan Lawler has penned an interesting look at how streaming video — and the proliferation of faster broadband — is helping bring greater attention to a fast-growing sport:
While previous attempts to broadcast professional gamers have stalled, the eSports market might finally have reached its tipping point, thanks to the ability to live stream tournaments online. And its Super Bowl moment might happen this weekend, as Major League Gaming live streams the final tournament of its pro season.
Via Talking Points Memo’s Carl Franzen comes a cool story about video game players, AIDS research, and an innovative solution to a problem:
As fanciful as it may sound at first, gamers on Foldit, a crowdsourced, online protein folding simulator from the University of Washington, actually managed to solve a longstanding problem in AIDS research that has vexed scientists for more than a decade. And they did so in about 10 days.
The full story, which involves spatial reasoning skills, structural determination, and something called “folding proteins,” is worth checking out.
Today, video games offer absurdly realistic graphics and the ability for people around the globe to mingle and clash in fantastic online worlds. But things were very different back in 1973, as this creaky ad for the Magnavox Odyssey — which made its debut on The Carol Burnett Show! — makes clear.
Yahoo! has some good news for the millions of people who enjoy fragging enemies and going on loot raids during their free time:
[V]ideo games have long been thought of as distractions to work and education, rather than aids. But there is a growing school of thought that says game-playing in moderation, and in your free time, can make you more successful in your career.
“We’re finding that the younger people coming into the teams who have had experience playing online games are the highest-level performers because they are constantly motivated to seek out the next challenge and grab on to performance metrics,” says John Hagel III, co-chairman of a tech-oriented strategy center for Deloitte. Hagel has been studying the effect that playing video games has on the performance of young professionals in the workplace.
Last fall, video game monolith EA found itself in a hornet’s nest when their game Spore was released with a rather severe Digital Rights Management (DRM) application. The Internet exploded, with the game’s page on Amazon receiving blistering reviews.
EA’s reason for the DRM was partially because the game itself had been leaked online weeks before its launch. And now, as Ars Technica reports, the company’s latest mega-franchise of a game, Sims 3, has reportedly been leaked to torrent sites.
With countries like France adopting severe “three strikes rules” to battle online piracy, the fight over online theft and copyright infringement—which goes all the way back to the days when Napster was a simple college file-sharing network—are still raging.
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