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This week I’m introducing a new posting called ‘Power Up!’ to highlight interesting headlines about video games appearing in the media. I plan to do this each week.

The Sony Playstation 2 lives! Sony Computer Entertainment is reporting the sale of their 50 millionth PS2 console in North America since it was first released in 2000.

Sales of the Nintendo Wii did very well in 2008. The game console that perplexed many a die hard gamer and game developer when it debuted in 2006 is now extremely popular around the world.

There are now more internet users in China than any other country in the world. According to reports, there are 298 million active users.

At last week’s Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, the CEO of Activision Blizzard delivered a keynote speech where he talked about video games eclipsing other media to become a dominant form of entertainment.

There’s an interesting news story from the UK about the effects of using video games like Tetris to treat post traumatic stress disorder.

Video games are increasingly becoming a form of political expression. In 2007, the Lebanese political organization Hezbollah released ‘Special Force 2‘ – a game that dealt with its conflict against Israel. In 2009, there’s a game called Raid Gaza that deals with the current conflict between Hamas and Israel.

And finally…if you’re hungry for World of Warcraft, take a look at this new restaurant in Beijing, China for faithful players who just can’t get enough Azeroth in their diet:

Doctor Arkanoid


(Note: This post is about the evolution of music based home video games. No offense intended to die hard Amiga, Apple, Atari, and Commodore 64 fans. I’ll cover music based personal computer games another time. I promise!)

Every year the commercial video game industry pumps out several thousand new titles across all platforms in North America. Christmas is still the ‘make or break’ time for many developers and publishers. The currently terrible economic conditions are hammering the industry worldwide. Thousands of creative folk are losing their jobs.  In the big leagues of commercial video games, it’s all about having a ‘Top 20‘ hit that catches the player’s imagination – and their money.

Since 2005, music based video games like Guitar Hero and more recently Rock Band gained status as the hot new hit, grabbing everyone’s attention with the ultimate fantasy of ‘living large’ as a big time rock star. Of course! It makes perfect sense when you think about it. But not so long ago this genre was considered an odd niche that belonged to those quirky gamers in Japan. It took many years to gain acceptance.

So where did the idea for musical video games come from? The roots of this genre go back to 1974, when Atari released their arcade title ‘Touch Me‘. But it was in 1978 at New York City’s Studio 54 night club, when the Milton Bradley Company debuted a disco newcomer named ‘Simon‘.

Simon was the epitomy of cool. It became an icon of the early 1980’s.

The game was a huge hit and many companies created copycat titles. Even Atari came out with a portable version of Touch Me.

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Happy New Year to one and all from Doctor Arkanoid!

Or as the Japanese would say ‘Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!’

How was your Christmas? Was it festive? Was it peaceful? Perhaps it was something like this:

This Christmas, many families became the proud owners of a new video game console. Perhaps it was a Nintendo Wii, a Playstation 3, or an XBox 360. Maybe Santa stuffed a Nintendo DS, a Playstation Portable, or an I-Pod Touch into a stocking or two. And if you were especially good this year, perhaps a bright and shiny Mac or PC was hiding under the Christmas tree! For gamers young and old, “…it’s the most wonderful time of the year…!”

A new video game console in the home can be a big thing. The children are ecstatic because now they can play games they heard about or experienced somewhere else. Some parents are just as happy about this prospect as their kids. In other homes, a few mums and dads are thinking ‘what have we done?’. For many parents, a video game console is a Pandora’s Box full of wonders and a few gremlins as well.

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Anthony Gurr and Doctor Arkanoid - Revelations From the Inner Sanctum!, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Anthony Gurr and Doctor Arkanoid - Revelations From the Inner Sanctum! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.