Tag: video games

Take a Trip Inside the Minds of Eccentric Inventors With Context-Free Patent Art

By Sarah Zhang | April 27, 2012 2:58 pm

The new Tumblelog Context Free Patent Art confirms what we always thought: there is a lot of weird stuff lurking in archives of the patent office. And sometimes, you just don’t need/want an explanation.

Here are some of our favorites. Take your best guess at the context for these images—or at least some legitimate excuse/explanation—in the comments!

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

DARPA Wants to Train Soldiers to Be the Life of the Party—With Video Games

By Jennifer Welsh | March 14, 2011 8:59 am

Take a look at the guy standing alone next to the punch bowl at a party and it’s clear: meeting new people can be pretty challenging.

And while parties can be tough for some, it’s even more difficult to integrate and interact after being deposited on the other side of the world in a completely new culture.

Being a suave, talkative ambassador for your countries is difficult under these circumstances, and the nerds at DARPA decided that soldiers could use a lesson in what they call “basic human dynamics skills.” They’ve decided that our soldiers just aren’t smooth enough and could use lessons to turn them into the ultimate conversationalist.

Wired’s Danger Room blog reports on the DARPA announcement:

“After such training,” the agency adds, “soldiers will be able to approach and engage strangers in unfamiliar social environments, orient to unfamiliar patterns of behavior, recover from social mistakes, de-escalate conflict, rigorously practice transition in and out of force situations and engage in the process of discovering and adapting to previously unknown ‘rules of the game’ encountered in social engagements.”

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U.S. Spies May Soon Make Smarter Decisions, Thanks to Video Games

By Patrick Morgan | January 27, 2011 12:02 pm

Even U.S. intelligence agents make decidedly unintelligent decisions at times. So it may not come as a surprise that the government is willing to invest in any project that could help agencies spot and correct their own decision-skewing prejudices–even if that project is a video game.

Dubbed “Sirius,” the anti-bias project is the brainchild of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), a government agency whose mission statement might as well have come from a spy novel: to invest in “high-risk/high-payoff research programs that have the potential to provide our nation with an overwhelming intelligence advantage over future adversaries.”

One of those overwhemlming advantages: clear, bias-free thinking. That’s why computer scientists, gaming experts, social scientists, and statisticians will descend on Washington, D.C. in February to discuss the program. The focus of the Sirius project is on “serious games,” or educational video games. As IARPA reports:

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Pac-Man Gets a Biotic Upgrade: Now Gamers Play It With Microbes

By Patrick Morgan | January 19, 2011 1:55 pm

Pac-Man is looking different these days–he’s slimmed down, translucent, and has grown a mane of cilia. And he’s also alive. Meet Pac-Mecium, one of eight “biotic games” developed by Stanford physicist Ingmar Riedel-Kruse and his team. For the first time in gaming history, players directly “control” living organisms such as paramecia–a breakthrough that could lead to the baby boom of citizen scientists.

In a paper published in the journal Lab on a Chip, the researchers describe the games they made with names like “Biotic Pinball” and “POND PONG” and “Ciliaball,” in which humans interact with everything from a few molecules to colonies of cells. In the case of PAC-Mecium, a game board image is projected over a paramecium, and while the player sees the image via a live camera, the paramecium’s progress and score are accounted for by a microprocessor. As Stanford News reports:

The player attempts to control the paramecia using a controller that is much like a typical video game controller. In some games, such as PAC-mecium, the player controls the polarity of a mild electrical field applied across the fluid chamber, which influences the direction the paramecia move.  In Biotic Pinball, the player injects occasional whiffs of a chemical into the fluid, causing the paramecia to swim one direction or another.

If you’re hankering for a day at the races but don’t live near a horse track, you can now play “PolymerRace,” in which you can place bets on how fast a machine can copy DNA. In it, the players are fed the output of a Polymerase Chain Reaction machine, which copies DNA, and employing both chance and logic, they place their wagers on which line they think is the fastest.

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Pee-based Gaming Coming to a Urinal Near You (If You're in Japan)

By Jennifer Welsh | December 16, 2010 11:38 am

For you men, peeing has become complicated these days: You have to deal with everything from tests judging your ability to pick a urinal to pictures of women laughing at you. It’s about time someone put the fun back in pee time, and SEGA thinks they have just the thing: urinal gaming. As Pocket Lint describes:

This wacky video (filmed in Japan, where else?) shows off the pee-based game in which the speed and accuracy of your urine stream is judged and converted to a cartoon-like mini-game display on the LCD.

Games to play with you pee include a graffiti cleaning task, a Marilyn Monroe-esque trick that blows wind up a lady’s skirt, and a game that asks you to shoot milk from your character’s nose. You control the game by hitting the sensor in the urinal, which rates you on how long and hard you can pee. The aim of the game is to help dudes stay on target, Popular Science explains:

If you can’t go standing up, perhaps Toirettsu isn’t for you (sorry ladies, but your hands-free method allows you to play Angry Birds on the can anyhow). Toirettsu targets restaurant and retail environments, ostensibly in hopes that by giving users goal-oriented mini-games to focus on, their men’s room floors might stay a bit cleaner as gents have somewhere to aim. And, of course, it gives establishments (and Sega) somewhere to place an ad.

Related Content:
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Gaming at work positively correlated with multitasking
Discoblog: The Good Old Days, When Psychologists Used to Hang Out in Toilet Stalls
Discoblog: Brazilians Urged to Pee in the Shower to Conserve Water
Discoblog: Step 1: Pee on Stick. Step 2: Ask Your Phone if You Have an STD
Bad Astronomy: In space, no one can hear you pee
DISCOVER: Video Games That Make the World Better



Kinect Hacks: Turn Invisible, Make an Instant Light Saber, & More

By Jennifer Welsh | December 2, 2010 2:10 pm

kinectThe next generation of video game control is upon us with the release of Microsoft’s Kinect–which allows users to control special XBOX 360 games with their entire body.

Hackers have been eagerly digging into the device, especially since Microsoft’s Shannon Loftis told Science Friday’s Ira Flatow that no hackers would get in trouble for finding alternate uses for the Kinect:

“I’m very excited to see that people are so inspired that it was less than a week after the Kinect came out before they had started creating and thinking about what they could do.”

Here’s a list of some of our favorite, jaw-dropping hacks: Invisibility without the cloak, 3D video, Minority Report-style computing, real-life Star Wars, and the best shadow puppets you’ve ever seen.

5. Makes the best shadow puppets EVER:

Built in a day by Theo Watson and Emily Gobeille, this little hack replaces your hand and arm with a movable bird puppet. You can control the bird, and even make it squawk.

Video: Vimeo/Theo Watson

4. Real-time light-saber action:

YouTube user yankayan hacked his Kinect to transform a normal wooden stick into a light-saber in real-time, with real light-saber whooshing sounds!

Video: YouTube/yahkeyan

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!, Top Posts

To Animate a Drunken Mess, Use New Algorithms for Wrinkled Clothing and Flushed Faces

By Jennifer Welsh | October 25, 2010 12:27 pm

wow-girlThe virtual world is getting more realistic. New animation advancements in true-to-reality rumpling of clothes and face reddening are pushing us closer to the event horizon of the Uncanny Valley.

The first advancement is an algorithm designed to give animated clothes life-like wrinkling and crumpling while you are besting that orc. While more realistically rendered clothing won’t increase your manna, it may make digital effects in the next Matrix movie even better, New Scientist reports:

“This is exactly what people like me want,” says Andy Lomas, a software developer who produced digital effects for the film The Matrix and is based at computer graphics firm The Foundry in London. “I want to be able to capture the fundamental nature of an actor’s clothing, but also have the freedom to change the way he or she moves.”

The algorithm was created from footage of people IRL. The researchers, lead by Carsten Stoll at the Max Plank Institute, mapped the actor’s movements (and how their clothes moved in reaction) onto a skeleton, which they could animate. Animations of new movements of the skeleton were able to recreate how clothing would move in real life, Stoll told New Scientist:

“If the double is wearing a chiffon skirt in the original sequence, it will swish realistically in all of the new sequences too,” says Stoll.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

A Romantic Getaway for Japanese Men & Their Virtual Girlfriends

By Joseph Calamia | September 1, 2010 11:12 am

Don’t be fooled by the men taking solo vacation pictures and eating alone at the Japanese resort town of Atami. These guys may look lonely as they sit and poke at their video game devices, but love is in the air. In a promotion that ended yesterday, Atami teamed up with Konami, the manufacturer of the dating video game LovePlus+, to offer a place for players and their virtual girlfriends to get away.

The game, available on Nintendo’s handheld DS, allows players to win their girlfriend’s virtual heart by completing homework, working out, texting, kissing (using a stylus to touch the girl’s face), and calling (via the system’s built-in microphone). It made headlines last year when one player, SAL9000, decided to marry his virtual girl Nene Anegasaki (see video above, via Boing Boing).

Play the dating game just right and you win a virtual getaway to Atami. The recent promotion allowed players to visit the sites they’d seen in the game in real life, though with a little plus–their girlfriends’ faces plastered on everything from banners to fish cakes.

Atsurou Ohno, managing director of Atami’s Hotel Ohnoya, told the The Wall Street Journal in a video interview that Atami tried to create a real experience for the some 1,500 “couples” who flocked to the town.

“We place two of everything in the rooms, even if there is only one person.”

Some of the guests paid up to $500 for a night in Atami hotel rooms–which, we also note from the WSJ video, had two separate beds.

Related content:
Discoblog: Lust & Love Apps: Playboy Tames Down, Imaginary Girlfriend Steps Up
Discoblog: Augmented Reality Phone App Can Identify Strangers on the Street
Discoblog: Is Apple Taking Sexy Back? Raunchy Apps Vanish From the App Store

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Sex & Mating, Technology Attacks!

Sorry, NASA: Discover Blogger Almost Destroyed Your Moon Colony

By Joseph Calamia | July 7, 2010 9:20 am

I spent some fifteen minutes on the moon yesterday. It wasn’t pretty. A meteor strike knocked out my base’s life support; I crashed a robot into a NASA supply shed; and, while I fiddled around with a welding torch, a gas line exploded.

Moonbase Alpha, the first of two commercial-quality online games that NASA has just developed, taught me a lot: how a solar panel-powered life-support system might work, what “regolith processing” really means, and the weird gait I’d have if I tried to sprint on the lunar surface. Perhaps it also taught me that I’m not cut out to be an astronaut, but maybe I’ll try multiplayer mode before making that decision.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Aliens Therefrom

Did Google Pac-Man Destroy Worker Productivity? We're Unconvinced.

By Joseph Calamia | May 25, 2010 12:05 pm

Pac-ManExpletives and MIDI music rose from office cubicles this past Friday: Pac-Man had returned.

On May 21, Google replaced its usual blue, yellow, red, and green title with what the company calls a “doodle.”  But unlike previous replacements, which have celebrated everything from Pi day to Norman Rockwell’s birthday, for Pac-Man’s special day (the 30th Anniversary of the game’s Japan release) Google pulled out the big guns, er, ghost-eaters.

This time, the doodle was an animated and playable version of the 1980s Namco video game, complete with our pie-shaped hero and his multicolored ghost foes: Blinky (red), Pinky (pink), Inky (cyan), and Clyde (orange).

But some kill-joys complain that Friday’s Pac-Man play hindered productivity, and set out to determine just how much money had been frittered away as employees avoided their work.

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