Topic: Digital media
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November 18, 2013 at 11:23 AM
It’s expensive and not fully baked yet, but I fell for Sony’s PlayStation 4 after it carried me away on a gaming binge last week.
November 13, 2013 at 6:27 PM
Normally I’m not a fan of flashing lights on a box below the TV set, but I love the LED light bar on top of Sony’s sleek new PlayStation 4 console.
September 25, 2013 at 4:01 PM
RealNetworks has radically redesigned its venerable media player software in a bid to make it relevant and appealing in today’s era of connected mobile devices.
September 9, 2013 at 10:15 AM
It took more than a decade, but Microsoft has finally consolidated its various digital music ventures under one roof, with a standard jukebox and streaming music service for the phone, PC and Xbox platforms.
July 24, 2013 at 12:37 PM
NBC News today confirmed that it’s relocating its Redmond team — the remnants of MSNBC.com — from Microsoft’s campus to the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle.
April 24, 2013 at 10:52 AM
Amazon.com may be preparing to release a new gadget to stream digital video content, posing a challenge to Roku, Apple TV and consoles such as the Xbox, PlayStation and Wii U.
March 20, 2013 at 2:48 PM
The latest leak information about Microsoft’s next Xbox reveals a new disc handling system that could prevent the resale and sharing of game discs.
January 22, 2013 at 10:43 AM
After a month on the wagon, I slipped off and used an assault rifle last week. It didn’t feel the same.
The rifle was in a new episode of “Halo 4″ that Microsoft was previewing for reporters at its Kirkland game studio. I blasted away at aliens on the screen, then swapped the rifle for more powerful weapons hidden in the game.
“Halo 4″ is a fun game with a rich sci-fi story that blurs the line between game, movies and episodic TV shows like “Star Trek.”
But action shooting games have lost some of their appeal since the Newtown shooting in December.
President Obama’s call last week for research into whether there’s a connection between violent games and gun violence is welcome, even if it’s motivated by politics. A definitive, objective analysis is overdue to address this unpleasant question hanging over the industry and lingering in the minds of players, parents and game developers.
Meanwhile, I’m not sure I want to play the military shooter “Call of Duty” again, even though it used to be a favorite and remains the best-selling game and a cornerstone of the industry.
Like the mass killer in Norway in 2011, the Newtown shooter was a fan of “Call of Duty.” Adam Lanza was a deranged loner who reportedly played the game in a basement room decorated with military posters.
That provided an opening to the gun lobby, which tried to deflect the call for more gun restrictions by blaming video games as well. Then it proposed bundling new gun restrictions with limits on games.
The bundling may sound logical, but it’s really political flimflam. Every politician and lobbyist knows that repeated attempts to crack down on violent games have gone nowhere and that the Supreme Court last year settled the issue, ruling that games are protected speech under the First Amendment.
So bundling game and gun restrictions would pretty much guarantee nothing will happen. It also shows that the gun lobby is concerned about protecting just one passage in the Constitution (but not the “well regulated” part of that passage).
Obama sidestepped this roadblock. He punted on games, without ignoring the concerns.
The study he proposed would follow on the heels of a new generation of game hardware promising even more realistic, immersive games. With luck, the heightened attention will push game publishers to be more creative and perhaps develop new franchises that are less centered on combat.
Some games are already evolving into more sophisticated entertainment, even if many still “cater to that innate male desire to have a shoot-em-up,” said Richard Rouse III, a Seattle game developer and author of a book on game design.
This is happening in part because players are getting older and have higher expectations. Half of American homes now have a game console, the average player is 30 and two-thirds are over 18, according to the Entertainment Software Association.
“In time, as the audience realizes some experiences are richer and fuller and more grounded in real life and struggles we all face, they’ll stop wanting ones that are so abstracted and removed from reality,” Rouse said.
Rouse drew a parallel to food, saying that people can only go so far with junk food before they crave something more nourishing.
“Eventually people figure out that empty calories aren’t such a good idea,” he said.
Rouse, who was hired by Microsoft in June, speaks at industry events on ways to incorporate moral choices into games.
An example he gives is “Far Cry 2,” a 2008 game by Ubisoft that puts players between warring factions in Africa. Players have choices about how to approach challenges. They can avoid combat by sneaking around things, and there are different tools to use besides guns.
Combat is still the heart of the game and what draws players in, but there’s more depth.
“Just as we can have serious movies about combat situations that deal with it seriously, games can do that as well,” he said.
For now, the most successful model is “Call of Duty.”
The latest version, subtitled “Black Ops II,” made more money after its November launch than any other entertainment product – more than the launch of any movie, book or album. It generated more than $1 billion in its first 15 days on the market, remained the best-seller through December and continues to be the most popular of the multiplayer games hosted on Microsoft’s Xbox Live service.
It’s a brutal game where you earn respect by quickly killing as many people as possible, preferably with an efficient shot to the head. But maybe it’s really an extension of the soldier games that boys have always played.
I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve been pretending to shoot people for as long as I can remember, from the mean streets of Spokane’s South Hill to the jungles of Magnolia and the galactic battlefields of “Halo.”
In elementary school, my parents took a stand and decided they wouldn’t buy toy guns for me and my brother.
So we played combat with sticks instead. Realizing this put our eyeballs at risk, my parents decided it was safer to provide an armory of toy guns instead.
Now we’d probably simply blast each other on the TV screen.
I’m just glad my kids are girls.
P.S. Here are a few thoughts on things parents can do to help ensure their kids don’t become too immersed in ultra-violent games:
1. Add a few of the more humane games to their diet. You can’t stop them from eating chips and fries, but maybe you can work in some fruit now and then.
2. Observe and play the games they play the most. It may not be your bag, but try to understand why it’s fun for them and what makes the games appealing.
3. Encourage cooperative play with friends — real ones, who are known offline — so the games complement rather than substitute for companionship.
4. Maintain access to the hardware and software you provide, and know how to access user accounts. Create your own account on the game service and become their friend, similar to the way you would on Facebook.
5. Play a match online with kids, or recruit a friend or family member to play online with them periodically. It adds real-world perspective to hunt for someone you really know, and not just blast away at strangers.
Who knows, it might even be cathartic.
January 14, 2013 at 9:10 AM
LAS VEGAS — If the Kirkland-based Bluetooth trade group made a dime for every Bluetooth device shown at CES last week, the group could buy itself a skyscraper and a 787.
Everywhere you looked were Bluetooth accessories, especially boomboxes that stream music from phones and PCs.
Here’s a sample of the boomboxes I saw on the floor, starting with Sony’s RDH-GTK37iP:
Here’s a phalanx of them, showing their light effects:
This setup has “2,000 watts of neighbor-waking power,” Sony representative Jeremey Miller said:
This is truly the Ferrari of boomboxes:
Sharp’s $249 GX-M10 has a jack for plugging in your guitar or bass; it has 100 watts, dual subwoofers and is on sale now:
A few retro models in the Craig booth:
Behringer said its 10,000-watt iNuke Boom is the world’s largest boombox:
December 11, 2012 at 10:27 AM
It was only a matter of time before Blake Irving was snapped up by another tech company.
Today Irving was named chief executive of Go Daddy, the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based web hosting and domain registrar that leads the market but is known particularly for its tawdry advertising.
Irving (pictured) starts Jan. 7, succeeding interim Chief Executive Scott Wagner. Wagner represented buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which led a $2.25 billion leveraged buyout of Go Daddy in 2011.
“Blake Irving’s deep technology experience and his history of developing new cutting-edge products and leading large global teams make him an enormously compelling choice to drive Go Daddy to the next level of its domestic and global growth,” founder and Chairman Bob Parsons said in a release.
Irving spent 15 years at Microsoft, rising to vice president of Microsoft’s Windows Live platform. He left in 2007 and ended up as chief product officer at Yahoo.
At Yahoo, Irving seemed like a potential successor to then-Chief Executive Carol Bartz but Yahoo instead replaced her with former PayPal executive Scott Thompson in January. He left in May, amid a flap over incorrect information on his resume.
Irving left Yahoo in April and put his energy into being a dad, surfing and restoring his family’s historic home in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Irving’s familiar with the Southwest. Between Microsoft and Yahoo, he invested in real estate in Santa Fe and he serves on the board of Scottsdale-based GolfLogix.
He also spent time teaching at Pepperdine University, where he earlier received an MBA after graduating from San Diego State.
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