September 2011

Gamers Help Scientists In War On HIV/AIDS

Gamers, playing a game called Foldit, uncover the structure of a complex retro-viral protein structure similar to one found in HIV.

After reading a recent article in Ars Technica, my first question was, "There's a protein-folding game?" The answer, of course, is yes; it's called Foldit and it is an effort by scientists to enlist gamers' help in solving the incredible complexities of genetic proteins. Here's why. Proteins are made up of amino acids with are molecules of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. These proteins, present within genetic material, are folded in a multitude of complex ways that determines their various functions. "Due to the incredibly high number of degrees of freedom, understanding this structure is one of the hardest problems in modern science." Algorithms have helped to a certain extent, but a group of researchers created the game Foldit to enlist spatially savvy gamers in their protein folding studies. The results have been encouraging, to say the least.

"Batman: Arkham Asylum"

The Joker is throwing a party, and everyone's invited


Christopher Nolan reinvented Batman in 2005's Batman Begins, but it wasn't until The Dark Knight, three years later, that the renaissance truly kicked into higher gear. The success translated into the videogame world, where after a number of average Batman games, Rocksteady Studios unveiled Batman: Arkham Asylum, combining the feel of Nolan's reboot with the history and lore of the comics. Much like what he accomplished with The Dark Knight, Batman: Arkham Asylum has raised the bar for everything Batman going forward.







What to Look Forward to on the Vita


Sony will be edging out their latest portable device just in time for the holidays--on December 17th of this year, giving parents barely a week to snatch it up for their gamer offspring. The Vita seems to emulate the experience of intensive console gaming more closely than anything we've seen on the portable market so far. With a high resolution and solid processing power, the Vita will feel like something of a pocket PlayStation 2. And the roster of games set to run on the tablet seems to be growing to feature a decent number of new releases and classics alike. 

The Golden Age of Gaming Means Always Being Disappointed

Video games have entered a new golden age, but that just seems to make everyone less satisfied with what they have.

Video games have entered a new Golden Age of Gaming, that's for certain. Games are the higher performing, more diverse, and better designed than every before. In addition the industry has become big enough that they turn out really stellar games with some regularity (albeit amongst a lot of crap, too), but the independent developers still thrive and keep the industry innovative and vibrant. Finally the price of video games, though it may not seem like it, has declined in some markets and stabilized in others, partly due to the wide accessibility of games from PC, to console, to mobile tech. Even the gaming culture has found mainstream acceptance and nearly every news outlet has some niche spot for gamer info. However, Ben Kuchera, in a recent editorial post on Ars Technica, points out that the result of all this success is, "that no one is happy. With anything. Ever."

Amnesia: The Dark Descent - Horror Game Perfection

Bypassing the jump scares to get at the dark stuff

So long as there are parts of us that love to be scared, there will be people attempting to perfect the art of horror. A lot of folks have gotten it down pretty well. Hitchcock was a master of the jump/scream and some of Romero's classic flicks still make my skin crawl upon repeated visits to the material. But video games are relatively fresh as a medium, and as a result the horror game genre has only a few real gems. Silent Hill was probably the first horror game to match the best films in the genre in quality. But it wasn't until I played Amnesia: The Dark Descent that I really understood what it meant to craft a horror scene to perfection.

Portal: No Escape

How to do video game movies right


Game adaptations very rarely make for good films. You get the occasional exception, but they're usually of the campy, absurd stripe (see Clue, Tron). And the bad ones are just deeply, unforgivably bad--like Mortal Kombat or Doom or BloodRayne. Turns out you can't just weakly imitate the thin plot of a popular game franchise with overpaid Hollywood actors on the big screen. Not only will critics smash your work into the ground, people will believe them. It's not a huge stretch of the imagination to buy that the Prince of Persia flick starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a Persian (???) is not very good. And while we all may have seen that original Pokemon movie back in our youth, it doesn't exactly hold up to critical analysis under further scrutiny.