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TIME - Tech


Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 2, a Nostalgia Trip With Plenty of Growth, Is Right at Home in 2020

TIME - Tech

When skateboarding video game Tony Hawk's Pro Skater arrived on the PlayStation in 1999, no one could have expected the cultural impact it would have or how much muscle memory it would ingrain into dedicated fans. It was an enormous hit with skaters and non-skaters alike, helping to usher in a more-mainstream acceptance of skateboarding culture, define a new video game genre and teach tens of thousands the words to Motörhead's "Ace of Spades." Twenty-one years after the release of the first game, publisher Activision and developer Vicarious Visions will release Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 2, a ground-up remaster of the first two games, on Sept. 4, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. And while it sticks very closely to its source, the new game feels like it belongs in 2020, with a greater focus on representation and a firm grounding in that angsty skate culture aesthetic. Tony Hawk himself couldn't be more excited about the release. "You don't understand how many people ask me about [Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2]," Hawk told TIME.


Video Games May Be Key to Keeping World War II Memory Alive. Here Are 5 WWII Games Worth Playing, According to a Historian

TIME - Tech

The 75th anniversary of Japan formally surrendering to the U.S. aboard the battleship USS Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945, arrives at a moment when the question of how the war is remembered feels more necessary than ever. Veterans' stories, books, movies and TV shows have kept memories of the war alive for the last 75 years, but how will those stories be told when there are fewer people around who lived through those era-defining years? Recently, some people in younger generations have turned to a perhaps surprising source for World War II stories: video games. Games have become more realistic not only in terms of technological advancements, but also in terms of featuring real people and, at least in terms of blockbuster games like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty, getting input from real experts on military history. For example, the upcoming virtual-reality game Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond will feature documentary shorts, and creators interviewed WWII veterans about their wartime experiences to inform the set, which includes missions across Europe and in Tunisia.


Artificial Intelligence Is Here To Calm Your Road Rage

TIME - Tech

I am behind the wheel of a Nissan Leaf, circling a parking lot, trying not to let the day's nagging worries and checklists distract me to the point of imperiling pedestrians. Like all drivers, I am unwittingly communicating my stress to this vehicle in countless subtle ways: the strength of my grip on the steering wheel, the slight expansion of my back against the seat as I breathe, the things I mutter to myself as I pilot around cars and distracted pedestrians checking their phones in the parking lot. "Hello, Corinne," a calm voice says from the audio system. The conversation that ensues offers a window into the ways in which artificial intelligence could transform our experience behind the wheel: not by driving the car for us, but by taking better care of us as we drive. Before coronavirus drastically altered our routines, three-quarters of U.S. workers--some 118 million people--commuted to the office alone in a car.


Blizzard Employees Share Salaries With Each Other to Protest Wage Disparities

TIME - Tech

Employees at Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Activision Blizzard Inc., began circulating a spreadsheet on Friday to anonymously share salaries and recent pay increases, the latest example of rising tension in the video game industry over wage disparities and executive compensation. Blizzard, based in Irvine, California, makes popular games including Diablo and World of Warcraft. In 2019, after an internal survey revealed that more than half of Blizzard workers were unhappy with their compensation, the company told staff it would perform a study to ensure fair pay, according to people familiar with the situation. Blizzard implemented the results of that study last month, which led to an outcry on the company's internal Slack messaging boards. One employee then created a spreadsheet and encouraged staff to share their compensation information.


The Best Video Games of 2020 (So Far)

TIME - Tech

Summer and fall are often the worst time to be a video game fan. Publishers often hold their best stuff til the end of the year, and it's worse this year, because Microsoft and Sony are hanging on to their biggest games until the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are out this holiday season. Still, 2020 has already offered an embarrassment of riches for gamers. Here are the best video games of 2020 so far, to tide you over til year's end: Doom Eternal ripped and tore its way into our hearts at the beginning of the year and hasn't been topped since. What makes Doom Eternal so remarkable is that it managed to improve on its predecessor, and in so doing proved the almost 30-year-old franchise is still as vibrant and vital as it was in 1993.


Want to Stop Looking Terrible on Zoom? 7 Quick Tips to Up Your Video Calling Game

TIME - Tech

Let's face it: Many of us are going to be working from home for a long time, especially as cases of COVID-19 continue to spike across the country. That means we're going to be making video calls for a lot longer--so why not figure out how to look and sound as good as possible in them? Here are some tips for clearer video, fuller audio, and better connections between your friends or coworkers, along with suggestions from a professional filmmaker. Even if you're using the dinky camera on your laptop, the right lighting setup will make you look a lot better. No, you don't need a studio-quality setup costing hundreds of dollars--you just need to make sure you light sources are positioned the right way.


Apple Ditching Intel Could Mean Big Changes Ahead for Mac Desktops and Laptops

TIME - Tech

Apple's first-ever virtual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) came with the usual slew of mostly predictable announcements, like upgrades to the iPhone and iPad operating systems, new features for its AirPod earbuds, and more. But its most striking news was a decision to shift from powering its Mac devices with Intel processors in favor of its own homemade chip, which it's calling "Apple silicon." The transition to Apple silicon will take about two years; more Intel-powered Macs are yet to come. Apple silicon differs from Intel's processors by virtue of their architecture, which determines how a computer executes tasks. Apple is using ARM technology, which boasts faster performance with less power use compared to the architecture used by Intel (and its rival AMD). Generally, ARM processors make sense for devices like phones and tablets (because ARM chips use less battery power), while Intel and AMD's chips have made more sense for high-performance desktops and laptops (where battery usage is less of a concern).


The U.S. Is Catching Up With China in AI Adoption, Kai-Fu Lee Says

TIME - Tech

The U.S. has started to catch up to China on the adoption of Artificial Intelligence technology, says AI expert Kai-Fu Lee. When Lee--the chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures--wrote his book AI Superpowers in 2018, he argued that China was faster in implementing and monetizing AI technology. But the U.S. has started to close the gap on adopting and using AI day-to-day Lee said at Wednesday's TIME100 Talks event. "China was way ahead in things like mobile payments, food delivery, robotics for delivery, things like that, but we also saw recently, in the U.S., very quickly peoples' habits were forming about ordering food from home, about use of robotics in various places, in using more mobile technologies, mobile payments," said Lee, who has been at the forefront of AI innovation for over three decades at Apple, Microsoft, Google and today as an investor in Chinese tech startups. The Chinese Communist Party has placed a huge focus in recent years on technological advancement to drive its economic growth.


Google's Slick Pixel Buds Finally Give Android Users the AirPods They Deserve

TIME - Tech

When it comes to headphones, especially truly wireless versions, it's hard to top those made by a certain Cupertino-based company named after a popular fruit. Google's own attempt to recreate the magic that is the Apple AirPods is here, and it's safe to say the reboot of the Android-friendly Pixel Buds is a pretty good one. The $179 truly wireless earbuds ditch the connecting wire found on the previous model, but maintain all the features that made the last version so appealing. While issues like fit and minor quirks -- especially with the AI-powered Google Assistant -- still exist, the end result is a pair of truly wireless buds with the same high-end build quality as the competition, and a welcome addition to the Android ecosystem. If only they didn't chafe so much.


Video Games Are a Great Way to Pass the Time and Keep You Connected. Here's How to Get Started

TIME - Tech

For the millions of people largely stuck indoors amid the COVID-19 pandemic, finding ways to pass the time is half the battle. But what to do if you've binge-watched all the shows on your list, got sick of doing puzzles and you can't stomach yet another classic sports rebroadcast? Video games are here to help. Not only are they a great way to stay entertained, they can also be an excellent group activity, whether you're playing "locally" on the couch with your immediate family, or online with friends to spend quality time together while social distancing. If you've been thinking about getting into gaming as a new hobby, here are some tips on getting started, as well as some game suggestions.