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Workers of the World Unite! It’s time for another edition of Power Up!

Six Days in FallujahIn Power Up 4! on April 8th, I wrote about Konami Digital Entertainment working with Atomic Games in North Carolina to produce Six Days in Fallujah, a Playstation 3 title that recreated this well known battle in Iraq. Now it appears that Konami is ‘bugging out’ of the project according to Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper. The company received many negative comments and e-mails from the United Kingdom and the United States that were highly critical of the company’s plan to publish this game. Game Politics also reports that the president of Atomic Games made comments at a recent Konami sponsored event that seemed to imply Iraqi insurgents were consulted during its development.

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Once upon a time a wise old game developer wrote a one page sheet that he called ‘The Ten Commandments of Game Design’. There are other game developers who have since written their own interpretations, but the  commandment I always tried to follow was this one:

‘Thou shalt design the game for the player and not for thyself.’

It’s really quite simple: Design the game for the person who will be playing it, not for your own gratification. Unfortunately, there are a goodly number of game developers who still make games that they want to play and therefore they assume everyone else will want to play. Every year several thousand game titles are released; the overwhelming majority of them are financial failures. Video game publishing is like any other entertainment industry. You churn out a mountain of dreck and hope some real gems will turn up.

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Lara CroftThe Power Up! cup overfloweth this week with a veritable cornucopia of interesting stories. Take a sip at your leisure!

Darn that President Obama! He’s everywhere these days. As the Protoss would say in StarcraftWe feel your presence‘. Game Politics has a short piece about a series of  famous videogame character images inspired by the Obama posters created by Shepherd Fairey. Here’s an image I like to call ‘The Audacity of Lara’. There’s also Niko Bellic (Grand Theft Auto 4), Gordon Freeman (Half Life), Master Chief (Halo), Pac Man, Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid), and several others.

In recognition of Earth Day 2009, National Geographic just released Plan it Green, (do you see the word play?), a Sim-City style strategy game that takes place in the picturesque town of Greenville and lets players develop their own ecologically sustainable community. You can download a trial version, or buy the full game.

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Here comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin’ down the Power Up trail!

ToddlersHow young is too young for children to start playing video games? Take a look at some interesting stories from Citizen Gamer that deal with this controversial question. What do you think?

Speaking of kids and computers, there’s a news story from Kentucky about $300,000 USD in federal funding to develop a computer game that teaches middle school and high school students about protecting themselves from online predators.

Here’s a story that emphasizes why it’s important for parents to scrutinize what kind of video games they buy for their children. A mother bought a new Playstation Portable console for her six year old son at a Wal-Mart in Manatee, Florida. The little boy turned it on and discovered all kinds of pornographic images concealed in the PSP memory card. You can view the news report here.

There’s plenty of crude, offensive language to be found in online game chat. Microsoft’s XBox Live Channel recently came under fire from American gay and lesbian activists for its policies on this matter.

Should there be a ‘sin tax’ on video games because some of them are considered violent? In Europe and the United States, the issue is starting to receive more attention than in past years. Here’s a story from the Hartford Examiner in Connecticut.

It might surprise you to know that there are several billion people in the world who don’t play video games because they can’t afford them! But a San Diego based company called Zeebo is hoping to change that with their development of a low cost video game console that can be sold in countries like Brazil, China, India, Russia, and other emerging markets.

Doctor ArkanoidDoctor Arkanoid

Maddie and Hannah Modelling Birthday Mii Shirts

Maddie and Hannah Modelling Birthday Mii Shirts

Planning birthday parties for children is an annual ritual that drives most parents insane. Even the most loving, patient mums and dads are sometimes brought to their knees by birthday party madness! I’ve likened the experience to wrangling a herd of cats high on catnip! Over the years, I’ve planned, organized, and entertained kids’ parties with a wide variety of themes, from the Olympics to pirates, princesses to Star Wars. So imagine my surprise when Dan, my close friend of many years and father to my adorable nieces, recently asked me to help with a Nintendo Wii birthday party. The idea for the party came from the birthday girl, my now 10 year old niece Hannah. (Note – Clever child! Takes after her uncle you know!)

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Spring has sprung, the grass has riz. I wonder where that Power Up! is?

Voulez vous jouer Lara Croft? On April 1st, the government of Quebec introduced a new language law that prohibits the sales of new English language video games if a French version is already available. To give you a bit of context about adapting video games for the French Canadian market, 22 years ago, video game publishers were required to produce all marketing and packaging materials in French for titles released in Quebec. Plus ca’ change, plus ca’ meme…

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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.