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Plugged In

PAX 2010 Packs Seattle’s Washington State Convention Center Over Labor Day Weekend

Plugged In

Associated Content

Dedicated gamers have a reputation for enjoying solitude, but that
wasn't the case in Washington State over the Labor Day Weekend. In
Seattle, the 2010 Penny Arcade Expo, also known as PAX10, attracted a
sell-out crowd of gamer players and industry professionals. Mixed in
with all the graphics and computer-generated explosions, attendees
could participate in panels and other activities that didn't take place
on a computer screen.

Massively Multiplayer Games open doors for the disabled

It has taken game companies a while to catch on, but massively
multiplayer games, also known as MMOs, level the playing field for
everyone, especially those who have some form of disability.

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PAX 2010

At a Saturday afternoon panel discussion, Mark Barlet, President and
CEO of the AbleGamers Foundation, said one reason for this is the
gaming industry's slow "churn rate". "Once you become a gamer, you stay
a gamer. You guys are here because you are gamers," Barlet said. "In 15
years, you are going to be gamers. In 50 years, you are going to be
gamers--but some of you won't be here anymore."

Barlet, who was wearing his first pair of trifocal glasses, said
that gaming companies finally starting to think about visual conditions
like macular degeneration, which affects the center of the retina.

"One of the reasons we asked [Warhammer Online's] Paul Barnett on
the panel is that he's disabled and the game he made is a very
accessible game," Barlet said. "He's colorblind and he's hard of
hearing, so he made sure that when you look at your maps, they are not
red and green. They are like this ugly green and this ugly other color."

Tossing out some "Star Wars" candy

Thirty-three years after "Star Wars" arrived in theaters, George
Lucas's influence still reaches far beyond the movie screen. On
Saturday, September 4, PAX 2010 attendees lined up around Seattle's
massive Benaroya Hall to get an advance look at some changes in the
Star Wars gaming universe.

LucasArts' "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II," due in stores on
October 26, continues the saga of Starkiller, Darth Vader's skilled
apprentice. This time, however, Starkiller's former master betrays him,
and in the opening sequence the angry Sith warrior makes a bloody
escape from Vader's minions.

"Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II," lets Starkiller wield two
lightsabers at the same time, and the animation lets him employ his
weapons with surgeon-like precision. He also has the ability to go
one-on-one with Imperial attack fighters, which creates some wild, even
humorous effects when a damaged fighter goes out of control.

Bioware also was on hand at Benaroya Hall to show some more details
about "Star Wars: The Old Republic." This MMO game contains a lot of
back-history, including why the Sith Lords broke away from the rest of
the Jedi. Players also get more choices on their characters and
abilities.

Creative videogame marketing

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Gamers at PAX

In preparation for the release of "Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood,"
Ubisoft had a group of young people protesting outside the Washington
State Convention Center. Their signs mentioned "stopping a friend from
cutting," which brought to mind a certain psychological disorder. As it
turned out, their literature was actually a series of postcards
intended for gamers to send to their friends after "knifing them in the
back" during a game.

The future is here

Twenty-five years ago, "Back to the Future" rocked the box office.
In honor of its achievements, Telltale Games is releasing a new "Back
to the Future" game, with Christopher Lloyd reprising his role of Dr.
Emmett Brown. Telltale also set up a display featuring a time-traveling
DeLorean, which had a flux capacitor but lacked a Mr. Fusion power
source.

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