Posts by Chris Morris

  • Crossword champ Dan Feyer beats rival by a half-second to win sixth straight title

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 15 hrs ago

    Forget Wrestlemania - the real battle of titans this weekend was held at a Marriott in Stamford, CT.

    The event: The 38th annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. The combatants: Tyler Hinman and Dan Feyer, the reigning kings of crosswords for the past 10 years.

    As most expected, the three-day tournament came down to the two men. Each has won five consecutive titles at the event. This year was the tie-breaker.

    They donned sound-dampening headphones and began working on the giant white-board puzzles in front of a packed crowd. In the end, Feyer completed his puzzle an astonishing half-second ahead of Hinman to pick up his sixth win in a row, along with a $5,000 check and a commemerative silver bowl.

    Before going head to head with Hinman, Feyer had to outperform more than 565 other competitors at the event, which returned to its original home in Connecticut this year after a seven-year stint in Brooklyn, New York.

  • The cure for VR sickness? A virtual nose

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 5 days ago

    Concerned that VR gaming will make you queasy or lightheaded? Researchers at Purdue University may have sniffed out the solution.

    David Whittinghill, an assistant professor in Purdue’s Department of Computer Graphics Technology, says 'simulation sickness' could be nipped in the bud by simply sticking a giant fake nose on the screen.

    Yep, virtual Groucho glasses provide a fixed visual reference, which you brain can latch onto to prevent you from experiencing vertigo or motion sickness. It's the same reason you're less likely to experience sickening sensations in a flight simulator, since the game's cockpit gives you a similar reference point.

    "The problem is your perceptual system does not like it when the motion of your body and your visual system are out of synch," says Whittinghill. "So if you see motion in your field of view you expect to be moving, and if you have motion in your eyes without motion in your vestibular system [a liquid-filled part of your inner ear that helps you balance] you get sick."

  • Playing 'Space Invaders' with real lasers is scary and awesome

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 7 days ago

    Thirty-seven years after its debut, it's still a lot of fun to watch the iconic Space Invaders aliens blink out of existence when your shot lands on screen.

    But watching them catch fire? That’s better. Way better.

    Using a laser cutter, an Arduino mini-computer, and a terrific sense of imagination, a hobbyist in the U.K. has created a real-world version of the arcade classic that literally burns the aliens up when your aim is true.

    "It’s got aliens, lasers and general destruction so what’s not to love, especially if you could replicate most of that functionality in the real world," said creator Martin Raynsford.

    The project took about four months to conceptualize, but once Raynsford knew what he had to do, it took him just a few nights to put together, he says.

    The bug-like creatures are made out of paper in this version, and when hit by the laser, they burst into satisfying flame. The ‘shields’ are made of foam, and just like the game, they block the first shot by the player. That initial volley burns a hole through the shield, though, making subsequent blasts through it possible.

  • These lucky cities are now 'Monopoly' properties

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 12 days ago

    Take a hike, Boardwalk. Pierre is moving in.

    On Thursday, Hasbro revealed the results of a fan competition to choose which cities would appear as properties in Monopoly: Here & Now. March 19 marks the 80 th anniversary of the classic board game.

    Some 4 million votes were cast over three weeks by board gamers in 182 countries. The big winner? That honor goes to the unlikely choice of Pierre, South Dakota, which topped the votes in the U.S. (Lima, Peru was tops for the global edition.). Pierre takes over Boardwalk, the most coveted property on the Monopoly board.

    So how did a city of just 13,984 people beat out significantly bigger cities like New York and Boston? It came down to a coordinated effort.

    “Our community members, school district, local media and several state government offices all worked together to make Pierre the Boardwalk space … and we’re thrilled to be the top spot,” said Pierre Mayor Laurie Gill.

    The other big winner was Minneapolis, Minnesota, which will join Pierre by replacing Park Place.

    Green New York, NY Virginia Beach, VA Los Angeles, CA

  • Nintendo finally announces plans to make mobile games

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 13 days ago

    If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

    Nintendo has fought long and hard against the rise of gaming on smartphones and tablets, but the company reversed course Tuesday by signing a deal with Japanese mobile giant DeNA which will result in Mario, Donkey Kong, and the rest of Nintendo’s rich stable of characters making their way to Android and iOS devices.

    The terms of the alliance gives Nintendo a 10 percent ownership stake in DeNA. DeNA will in turn receive a 1.24 percent ownership stake in Nintendo.

    The companies noted that they will not simply be porting games from Nintendo’s video game systems. Rather, both Nintendo and DeNA will be developing brand new apps. The deal gives DeNA access to all of Nintendo’s IP -- from its famous mascot Mario to lesser known characters and games.

    "In order to create completely new game experiences for smart devices, all Nintendo IP will be eligible for development and exploration by the alliance," reads a statement released by the companies. "As these consumers enjoy the unique kind of gameplay found only with Nintendo, they will have the opportunity to explore even more premium experiences on Nintendo’s dedicated video game platforms."

  • 3DS drives big video game system sales in February

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 18 days ago

    Argue all you want about the impact of smartphones and tablets on dedicated handheld gaming systems, but it’s hard to argue with Nintendo’s latest numbers.

    The company’s New 3DS XL system – buoyed by The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D – led the video game industry to a terrific February, with sales of both hardware and software handily beating the 2014 totals. Totaled together, the various models of the 3DS topped the hardware chart for the month, with nearly 400,000 units sold.

    [Related: Review: Time flies and you're having fun in 'The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D']

    Overall, the industry was up 8 percent, with brick and mortar sales totaling $955.6 million, according to The NPD Group. Hardware was the biggest driver of that, posting a 10 percent sales increase to $378.2 million, while software was up 7 percent to $338.9 million.

    “Increased portable hardware sales of 153 percent versus February 2014 helped to propel the entire hardware category,” said NPD analyst Liam Callahan.

    Here are the month’s top 10 selling titles.

    Rank

    1

    2

    3

  • Nvidia’s Shield is a 4K Android console

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 26 days ago

    Add Nvidia to the list of companies that want to rule your living room.

    At the Game Developer’s Conference Tuesday night, the company announced the Nvidia Shield console, an Android-based set-top box built for gamers. It’s due out in May for $199.

    The Shield, which is capable of 4K playback and will ship with a game controller that Nvidia claims has a 40-hour battery life, will be powered by the company’s flagship Tegra X1 mobile chip. In showcasing the power of that chip, though, the company didn’t compare it to modern consoles from Microsoft and Sony, but instead baselined it against the 10-year-old Xbox 360, saying Tegra X1 offered twice the visual performance.

    The curious comparison was just one of the head-scratching moments of the lengthy presentation. While Nvidia positioned the Shield as a revolutionary system powered by a revolutionary cloud streaming service called Grid, it conveniently ignored the slew of other Android set-top boxes on the market.

    Yes. You’ll have to pay a premium to pay full price for a new PC game.

  • You'll need a prescription to play Ubisoft's newest game

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 27 days ago

    While your parents might insist that too many video games are bad for your eyes, one particular game might be just what your pupils are looking for.

    Two years after a landmark study showing that video games   could be beneficialin treating patients with lazy eye, game maker Ubisoft has partnered with medical developer Amblyotech and Montreal’s McGill University to create   Dig Rush , a game designed to help people suffering from the disorder.

    Clinically known as amblyopia, lazy eye involves the loss of vision in one eye that otherwise appears normal. The disorder affects between 1 percent and 5 percent of the population.

    Traditional therapy for amblyopia over the past two centuries has required extensive use of eye patches, but its effectiveness has been questioned by the scientific community. Video games have proven to have great potential here, and indeed, that seems to be the case with   Dig Rush . 

  • Report: Smartphone and tablet gaming outpacing handheld systems

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 1 mth ago

    Over the past few years, we’ve seen smartphone and tablet gaming take bigger and bigger bites out of the handheld gaming market. In 2014, it took the biggest bite yet.

    Last year, game spending on iOS and Google Play in the fourth quarter exceeded that of handheld game systems. Put another way: Even though your favorite 3DS or PS Vita game commands a premium price, more people were buying game apps, and spending cash within those games.

    The data comes from a new report from App Annie and IDC, which points to an ongoing tidal shift in how we game on the go.

    There was a little good news for handheld systems. Game spending in the fourth quarer of last year (when most of the money changes hands in the gaming industry) was up 5 percent from the same period in 2013. The insalled base dropped by over 10 million, though, meaning a big chunk of people were either getting rid of or no longer playing on the systems.

    The opposite is happening with smartphones and tablets, as the number of those devices used for gaming topped 1 billion for the first time.

  • Nintendo’s Amiibo toys are turning into serious collectibles

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 1 mth ago

    Nintendo characters like Mario, Kirby, and Link have long thrilled fans. But these days, it isn’t just their games that have players rummaging through their wallets.

    It’s their figurines.

    Introduced in November to coincide with the release of   Super Smash Bros.  for the Wii U, Nintendo’s Amiibo toy line lets players access new features, abilities, and characters in various Nintendo games. And it’s ballooned into a bona fide hit, creating a hot secondary market for the company’s products.

    Nintendo has been coy about specific sales numbers, but according to their Q3 financials, the company sold   5.7 million   Amiibo figurines globally through the end of 2014.

    Related:   Review: ‘Super Smash Bros. for Wii U’ Is a Beautiful Beatdown 

    The company could also follow the path blazed by the card game Magic: The Gathering , says senior managing director and legendary game maker Shigeru Miyamoto.