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Video Games Don't Have To Be Educational To Spark Learning

NPR Technology

Columnist Kaity Kline says a serious Assassin's Creed: Black Flag habit helped her ace a surprise quiz on the Caribbean. Columnist Kaity Kline says a serious Assassin's Creed: Black Flag habit helped her ace a surprise quiz on the Caribbean. When I was in high school, the best way I could describe myself was as a parent's worst nightmare: I didn't care about my education, didn't do homework, and was known to sleep in class. My SAT score was so bad that I still don't know how I did! My very frustrated mom threw that letter in the trash.


All-Girl Robotics Team In Afghanistan Works On Low-Cost Ventilator ... With Car Parts

NPR Technology

Elham Mansoori, member of Afghan Dreamers, an all-girls robotics team in Afghanistan, works on their prototype of a ventilator. In Afghanistan, a group of teenage girls are trying to build a mechanized, hand-operated ventilator for coronavirus patients, using a design from M.I.T. and parts from old Toyota Corollas. It sounds like an impossible dream, but then again, the all-girls robotics team in question is called the "Afghan Dreamers." Living a country where two-thirds of adolescent girls cannot read or write, they're used to overcoming challenges. The team of some dozen girls aged 15 to 17 was formed three years ago by Roya Mahboob, an Afghan tech entrepreneur who heads the Digital Citizen Fund, a group that runs classes for girls in STEM and robotics and oversees and funds the Afghan Dreamers.


Neither Flood, Nor Fire, Nor Virus Shakes The Virtual Calm Of 'Minecraft'

NPR Technology

When the real world seems too constrained, the endless horizons of Minecraft can be soothing. When the real world seems too constrained, the endless horizons of Minecraft can be soothing. E. closes the door behind him and steps out into the world. I stay put, cooking up ideas for home improvement. We've only known each other for a few months, but once the pandemic threw our lives off balance, we decided to move in together.


Can't Leave The House? Try Playing Competitive Video Games

NPR Technology

For millions of college students around the country, coronavirus lockdowns effectively canceled their hobbies and extracurriculars. The $20,000 prize pool will go to a SUNY student emergency aid fund, medical research, personal protective equipment and student scholarships. It's sponsored by Extreme Networks, a technology company that provides the technical infrastructure for varsity esports at Canton and other campuses around the country. "We want to reach out and continue to build community," says SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson. Over 400,000 SUNY students are now at home, and plans for returning to campuses are very much still in formation.


Why Fake Video, Audio May Not Be As Powerful In Spreading Disinformation As Feared

NPR Technology

"Deepfakes" are digitally altered images that make incidents appear real when they are not. Such altered files could have broad implications for politics. "Deepfakes" are digitally altered images that make incidents appear real when they are not. Such altered files could have broad implications for politics. Sophisticated fake media hasn't emerged as a factor in the disinformation wars in the ways once feared -- and two specialists say it may have missed its moment.


Travis Scott's Fortnite Event Draws Record Audience

NPR Technology

Ansel, age 11, plays Fortnite featuring Travis Scott's in-game event, "Astronomical," on April 23, 2020 in South Pasadena, Calif. Ansel, age 11, plays Fortnite featuring Travis Scott's in-game event, "Astronomical," on April 23, 2020 in South Pasadena, Calif. On Thursday, Grammy-nominated rapper Travis Scott performed to millions of fans worldwide -- not during a living room set or from an empty venue, but via the massively popular video game Fortnite. Fortnite's developer Epic Games says the virtual concert drew in 12.3 million players, setting "an all-time record" for an in-game event. Over the course of the performance, Scott appeared as a towering version of himself which transformed into different globe-headed avatars transported through a series of impossible landscapes.


Unicorn Riding Scooter In Fatal Crash

NPR Technology

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here. In late March, the scooter-sharing company Bird invited about a third of its employees to attend a thirty-minute "COVID-19 update" via Zoom. The meeting only lasted about two minutes, and it wasn't really an update. With what one employee later described as a "robotic-sounding, disembodied voice," an executive told the 406 employees they were fired.


'Half-Life: Alyx' And The Promise of Virtual Reality

NPR Technology

When Half-Life released in 1997, it was unlike any other first person shooter -- a genre of video games predicated on the central mechanic of blasting things with a firearm. Popular pioneers of the genre, like Doom and Quake, were known for being over-the-top and full of bombast. Half-Life is not like those games. It begins not with a bang, but with a slow, methodical tram ride. "Welcome to the Black Mesa research facility," says a sterile voice over the tram speakers; it is the first day on the job for MIT graduate scientist Gordon Freeman.


Party On, Online: Virtual Beer Pong Becomes An Emotional Lifeline For Workers

NPR Technology

That's the cat using a litter box," Dunlap explains. That's where Dunlap works and parties. He dials into weekly happy hours at Blumont, an international humanitarian group where Dunlap is director of business development. In recent weeks, dirty piles of laundry, pets chasing balls, curious babies and automated Roomba vacuum cleaners have all made cameos during video happy hour. "We had another colleague who showed us her vegetable garden; she's probably best situated, as a prepper," Dunlap says.


Newest Nintendo 'Animal Crossing' Arrives

NPR Technology

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a video game from Nintendo that's bringing comfort to millions of socially distant people around the world. MEGAN MANATA, BYLINE: It's a new day, perfect weather to go outside and water your flowers or maybe you'd like to spend your morning fishing. Maybe catching bugs is more your speed. Whatever way you want to spend your day, you can also pop by for a quick chat with your friendly furry neighbors. VANESSA NGUYEN: Right now, my favorite is Flo.