Why are games fun? In part, because they challenge our ability to think. Even simple games like Tic-Tac-Toe, Nim and Kalah, or puzzles like the Eights Puzzle, are challenging to children. More complex games like checkers, chess, bridge, and Go are difficult enough that it takes years for gifted adults to master them. Nearly all games require seeing patterns, making plans, searching combinations, judging alternative moves, and learning from experience, all being skills which are also involved in many daily tasks.
It's no surprise that Alan Turing proposed chess playing as a good project for studying computers' ability to reason. In many ways, games have provided simple proving grounds for many of AI's powerful ideas.
Turbo Kid is a charming, ultra-violent homage to Saturday morning cartoons that takes place in a post-apocalyptic version of 1997. It's one of my favorite movies of the last decade, so the announcement that a game based on the film is on the way has made my week. You'll play as The Kid, who battles his way across the wasteland as he searches for a friend. Developer Outerminds (best known for making YouTuber PewDiePie's games) says Turbo Kid is a Metroidvania with large and diverse environments, rad BMX tricks and a heartwarming story. The game has a pixel art style and promises copious low-res gore.
Tempted by the promise of an epic Viking saga for the ages, a wave of positive reviews, and a need for something new to play on my PlayStation 5 (sorry), I bought Assassin's Creed Valhalla. It's an enormous open-world action RPG that casts you as Eivor of the Raven Clan, on a mission to conquer England during the Dark Ages. The snowy mountains and sparse settlements of Norway serve as an ideal tutorial environment. By the time you load up the longship to settle in a beautifully realized and atmospheric Anglo-Saxon England, you feel like a real Viking raider. The forests of England are teeming with wildlife, and the towns are peppered with Roman ruins.
What's the hardest video game you've ever played? If it wasn't QWOP then let me tell you right know that you don't know how truly difficult a game can be. The deceptively simple running game is so challenging to master that even an AI trained using machine learning still only mustered a top 10 score instead of shattering the record. If you've never played QWOP before, you owe it to yourself to give it a try and see if you can even get your sprinter off the starting line. Developed by Bennett Foddy back in 2008, QWOP was inspired by an '80s arcade game called Track & Field that requires players to mindlessly mashing buttons to win a race.
In both of these cases, the work that accountants and bank tellers are performing is higher-skilled than the work they were doing before. Sometimes something entirely different happens, and the new jobs rely on fundamentally different skills than the old ones, even though, superficially, they seem similar. The invention of the washing machine greatly cut down on the arduous task of scrubbing clothes by hand. Not only were factory jobs created to make the washing machines, but laundromats became a new convenience, and they created jobs, too. Running a successful laundromat requires someone to be able to run a small business.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus lets players hunt the tiny monsters in a new, open-world setting. Pokémon Legends: Arceus lets players hunt the tiny monsters in a new, open-world setting. From cartoons to trading cards to toys, Pokémon has been a succesful media franchise for 25 years, with tons of fans from all over the world. But fans of the Pokémon video games have been begging for a major shake-up to the series -- and now, with the announcement of the new Pokémon Legends: Arceus, they may get one. Earlier this month, Pokémon player ChocolateKieran -- who asked us to refer to him by his username for privacy and safety reasons -- was watching the company's 25th anniversary live stream with his followers on Twitch.
Marisa Johnson's six-year-old daughter was just learning to read independently when her Alameda, California, school shut down last year. Without solid literacy skills and lots of time stuck at home, the tot is spending much more time playing video games and watching shows than reading books. "She's definitely reading less," Johnson says. "The only way we can be alone among ourselves is with screens." As many parents know, screen time has ballooned during the pandemic.
Rather than forcing a game development team to use certain assets from the Marvel Cinematic Universe or from the original looks of the comics, for example, those have now become open discussions for what fits best for each game. This gave Insomniac Games, the developer behind "Marvel's Spider-Man" and "Miles Morales," the freedom to design their own Spider-Man suits, and Crystal Dynamics, who made "Marvel's Avengers," the choice to place Ms. Marvel (also known as Kamala Khan) front-and-center in the story. But Marvel is more strict about principles relating to their worlds and characters. Among the most important for Spider-Man is that he does not kill.
Video game characters do not have great sex lives. The sex in Cyberpunk 2077, one of the biggest releases of the decade, was lambasted by PC Gamer as "horrifying" and "truly awful" for its weak writing and general clunkiness; character models designed to run and shoot just look strange when made to contort in moments of intimacy. But while Cyberpunk was criticized for its bad sex--and for flubbing LGBTQ representation--the erotic indie title Hardcoded was gathering praise for its explicit, queer-friendly sexuality set against a dystopian cyberpunk backdrop. Sex has been part of gaming from the beginning--Atari 2600 owners could buy Custer's Revenge, a heavily criticized rape fantasy that sold 80,000 copies--but for most of the medium's history, any sexuality was aimed at straight white men with all the subtlety of a horny sledgehammer. It was seen as a mark of maturity for the God of War franchise when its 2018 installment abandoned the subject entirely rather than return to the cringeworthy "Here are some tits, you rube" minigames of previous entries.
Though "The Last of Us Part II" ended 2020 as the year's most highly acclaimed title, it arrived last summer in a flurry of controversy. In the aforementioned scene, the main character of the first game, Joel Miller, was brutally murdered by a new character and protagonist to the series, Abby Anderson. In a cabin besieged by a heavy snowstorm, Abby reached for a nearby set of golf clubs to deal the fatal blow that left many players horrified, saddened, and in some cases, incredibly angry.