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Archive for the ‘video games’ Category

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“Nearly everybody expected spectacular things from Tom Riddle, prefect, Head Boy, winner of the Award for Special Services to the School. …The next thing the staff knew, Voldemort was working at Borgin and Burkes.” —Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince p.430-1

A picture of Lord Voldemort
How do you get a job in a store that sells magical artifacts? Ask the owner, “How much for Kirby’s Adventure?

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Yellow capital letters spread out on a scroll of parchment. The text reads: "Dokapon Journey." In the center is a compass with a red arrow, of the kind used in some board games.

Yellow capital letters spread out on a scroll of parchment. The text reads: "Dokapon Journey." In the center is a compass with a red arrow, of the kind used in some board games.

Developed by Sting Entertainment, Dokapon Journey is a “friendship-destroying RPG” (slash board game) where up to four players can compete to save towns from monsters and to make themselves rich. It can also be played single-player with CPU-controlled opponents, but where’s the fun in that? (more…)

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A brown-haired boy in a brown suit and white shirt, standing on a dance pad. In the upper right corner is a bar that says "Player 1." Underneath that are four arrows--left, down, up, right. Beneath that is the word "Perfect" and a right-pointing arrow. The scene is on a fiery orange background.

A brown-haired boy in a brown suit and white shirt, standing on a dance pad. In the upper right corner is a bar that says "Player 1." Underneath that are four arrows--left, down, up, right. Beneath that is the word "Perfect" and a right-pointing arrow. The scene is on a fiery orange background.

West Virginia was the first school system in the United States to incorporate a video game (Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution) into its physical education curriculum. Now, West Virginia University, ResCare Home Care and the Special Olympics are conducting a study to see if the series has benefits for people with disabilities. According to the very small blurb I was able to find, “Participants will play the game three days a week, for eight weeks. If it is successful, the Special Olympics may consider making ‘DDR’ a competitive event during its annual games.”

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Since this past weekend was my birthday (I got several games, including one I’m ashamed to have taken so long to get to), this week’s post is another trilogy of disability-related gaming news.

A woman with long dark hair stands in front of a factory wearing a white, backless, sleeveless dress. She is facing right, looking off into the distance.

A woman with long dark hair wearing a white, backless, sleeveless dress. She is facing right, looking off into the distance.

Heather Kuzmich, a finalist on cycle nine of America’s Next Top Model who won nine CoverGirl of the Week awards and has a form of autism called Asperger Syndrome, is studying video game-art design at the Illinois Institute of Art. In an interview with founder of Voodoo PC Rahul Snood, she said:

To be honest, I always wanted to do something that included art and creating stuff with my hands. At first I wanted to get into costume design, but that soon changed to game design, especially since I frigging love games and love doing weird designs for characters.

The news, review and community site for gamers with disabilities AbleGamers.com announced on January 30 that Mythic Entertainment’s MMORPG was the most accessible mainstream game released last year. Right from its September 18, 2008 release date, Warhammer Online

include[d] options for the physically disabled such as mapping nearly all actions to the keyboard, or playing the entire game just by using a mouse or special controllers. There is also text for all key events to aid the hearing impaired and the game has also been made accessible to the colorblind.

Despite the features available upon launch, members of the disabled community still had one concern: Warhammer did not work with the On-Screen Keyboard. This is a tool gamers with physical limitations use to type data on screen with a mouse. It is one of the few MMOs that missed this feature.

According to Mythic, a new patch will be released within the next two weeks taking care of the On-Screen Keyboard.

In “Subtitles: Increasing Game Accessibility, Comprehension” over at Gamasutra, Gareth Griffiths provides 16 guidelines to help make video game captions usable by everyone from Deaf and hard of hearing gamers to HDTV owners. One of my favorite recommendations is to make the button that controls the subtitles different from the “action” button, so that players who are reading through conversations quickly don’t accidentally start those conversations over or choose a response they don’t mean to.

(Crossposted at GameCritics.com)

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The NEC Foundation of America has awarded a $32,000 grant to the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) “to support the dissemination and use of therapeutic video games to serve children with severe sensory and motor disabilities,” according to NJIT’s press release.

The website for NJIT’s Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) says that:

The video game platform contains games with programmable graphics objects. Each game piece behaves in a preprogrammed fashion, following specified rules. These rules may alter movement pattern, changing shape, color or size and even disappearing altogether. Each game piece is capable of assessing its environment and calculating its distance from the nearest object in a specified direction.

The games will use a webcam to analyze player input, and also that this input will be judged on color rather than body movement:

A color detection algorithm for red green and blue markers has been developed to act as the user’s input. A colored marker can be anything the child can grasp, wear or attach to themselves like colored tape or a Velcro band.

Judging responses on color rather than body movement will make it easier for people with non-standard ways of moving to play.

According to director of the RERC Richard Foulds, PhD. “The game will improve neuro-plasticity through intensive and repetitive training.” More than 50 partners will receive and test the software.

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A young man in profile with long, silvery-blond hair and a black jacket and pants. He's looking up, and off into the distance.

In Sexuality and Homophobia in Persona 4, Samantha Xu examines the relationship between Persona 4’s “rough-and-tumble teen” Kanji Tatsumi and his flamboyant alter-ego:

Kanji is feared by the locals and maintains a confrontational machismo toward the other characters throughout the game. He is a loyal son and employee at his family’s textile shop, and it’s not until the debut of his alter-ego Shadow Kanji that we are made aware of his inner sexual turmoil

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