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US Consumer Technology Spending Expands in August

#artificialintelligence

Despite the uncertainty expressed at the end of July, consumers' self-reported tech spending expanded significantly according to August interviewing. In the latest round of results from IDC's Consumer Purchase & Subscription Index survey, consumer tech spending blew past the April benchmark as COVID-19 concern stabilized and optimism won out. Once again, consumer spend on devices led the way as respondents reported a 17% increase in their device expenditures, up 22% over the April baseline. Outlays with services rose 2%. Most devices saw gains, with video game consoles, phone accessories, and PCs/tablets as particularly strong performers.


Intellivision video game system reboot delayed amid coronavirus pandemic, now due in April 2021

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

A delay in the arrival of the rebooted Intellivision video game console. The Intellivision Amico, the modern reboot of the iconic Intellivision video game console, which had been scheduled to hit the market Oct. 10, now is scheduled for release April 15, 2021. Because of production challenges during the pandemic, the company decided to push back the system's launch. Not to do so would have compromised quality assurance, said Intellivision Entertainment CEO Tommy Tallarico during an online event Wednesday. "Ultimately our date is going to be determined by specific quality criteria that the team has defined and not a moment before," he said.


GPT-3 Creative Fiction

#artificialintelligence

What if I told a story here, how would that story start?" Thus, the summarization prompt: "My second grader asked me what this passage means: …" When a given prompt isn't working and GPT-3 keeps pivoting into other modes of completion, that may mean that one hasn't constrained it enough by imitating a correct output, and one needs to go further; writing the first few words or sentence of the target output may be necessary.


LCS projects a profitable 2021 season, despite navigating covid-19 crisis

Washington Post - Technology News

The LCS becoming the first top-tier esports league in the United States to become profitable is especially significant since the league offers its players the highest salaries in the industry. The average player salary in LCS is about $400,000 with the median salary being about $380,000, according to Greeley. This move to profitability would be all the more remarkable since, like just about all of the esports world, the league is heavily reliant on sponsors since the kinds of TV deals, and regular, in-person events with tens of thousands of spectators that feed the purses of traditional sports franchises have not yet emerged.


Miss Your Office? Some Companies Are Building Virtual Replicas

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

File-transfer service WeTransfer BV opened its virtual space on May 1, almost seven weeks after closing its physical offices in New York, Los Angeles and Amsterdam as part of the global effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Graphics reminiscent of early "Tomb Raider" videogames depict a version of the company's Dutch headquarters, adapted to include pool tables, techno music and in-jokes such as a "memorial" library named for the very- much-alive chief creative officer. Staff roam around in the form of avatars such as robots and panda bears. Gordon Willoughby, the chief executive of WeTransfer, said the platform helps provide the social experience of office life in the way that Zoom calls and Slack have replaced business meetings and desk-side chats. That is particularly valuable for recent hires, he said.


The giants of the video game industry have thrived in the pandemic. Can the success continue?

Washington Post - Technology News

But even if the industry gains new converts, questions around what comes next -- in terms of development and releasing new games and even the sustainability of gaming's newfound popularity -- loom large. Facing inherent challenges brought about by the pandemic, some developers have been forced to make tough decisions regarding how to satisfy their audience while also adhering to schedules set before the virus hit. And some elements of video game production cannot be completed without in-person interaction or expensive equipment and studio space. These challenges threaten to uproot carefully plotted timetables, and diminish some of the industry's otherwise impressive gains.


'Minecraft Earth' players can share their builds with just a web link

Engadget

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Microsoft has made Minecraft Earth easier and more appealing to play at home. It introduced "adventure crystals" that spawn where you are, and it improved access to "tappables" that spawn more often and closer to you. Now, Microsoft is making it easier to share Minecraft Earth builds with just a link. When you're ready to share, you can simply navigate to your build of choice and click the share button. The change should allow players to get a bit more social, while staying safe at home.


As the world weathers a pandemic, Nintendo may just be recession-proof

Washington Post - Technology News

On Thursday, the answer had a lot to do with the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the latest in a series of games that compel the player to plant flowers, catch bugs in nets and exist in a town inhabited by charming (and sometimes cranky) animal neighbors. During this unprecedented era of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, Nintendo put out a game that drops you on a deserted island with nothing but a tent and a few tools. The desire to escape and the need to be indoors combined perfectly; a marketing A.I. couldn't devise a product better suited to this particular marketplace. In 11 days, New Horizons sold over 11 million copies worldwide. The game has already outsold every other Animal Crossing title's lifetime sales.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now playing Animal Crossing. And she's visiting her followers.

Washington Post - Technology News

But the news broke Thursday afternoon that she had just purchased a Nintendo Switch and a copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the hottest entertainment property during the pandemic, with 5 million copies sold in March. Aida Chavez, a reporter for the Intercept, said she was having a "depressing" interview with Ocasio-Cortez about coronavirus policy. She wanted to ask a light question to end, and she got confirmation: AOC is on AC.


Finding comfort in the mundane: How life simulation games calm quarantine anxiety

Washington Post - Technology News

These games do what they say on the tin. They're often calm and low-stakes, setting simple, readily-achievable goals for players, and mirroring real life in their setting and aesthetic. Since the coronavirus outbreak, there's been a collective loosening on screen time usage restrictions. Even the World Health Organization is encouraging more video game play. So for those who have also lost a previous level of basic social interaction in their day-to-day routines, life sims resemble "normalcy" just enough to provide that perfect bit of social imitation.