TIME Television

Watch Anita Sarkeesian School Stephen Colbert on GamerGate

She even declares Colbert a feminist

The maker of a feminist video game who has faced vitriol from some members of the “GamerGate” online movement stopped by The Colbert Report on Wednesday and handily schooled the host’s fake gamer persona.

“I’m saving the princess, and I’m supposed to let the princess die? Is that what you want?” Colbert asks Anita Sarkeesian incredulously.

“Well maybe the princess shouldn’t be a damsel and she could save herself,” Sarkeesian replies, drawing cheers from women in the crowd. (“I didn’t know you brought a posse,” Colbert jokingly responds.)

The GamerGate movement, named after the Twitter hashtag that has fueled its growth, purports to challenge poor ethics in video-game journalism. But it has also unleashed a wave of sexist comments and threats against women in the overall gaming industry.

Sarkeesian, who has publicly criticized video-game culture for its portrayal of women, canceled a talk at Utah State University earlier this month after the school received an email threat of a shooting massacre. While the school considered it safe for the talk to continue, Sarkeesian decided to pull out of the event because the school was barred by state law from disallowing legal guns on campus during the event.

“They’re lashing out because we’re challenging the status quo of gaming as a male-dominated space,” Sarkeesian says. By the end of the interview, she even declares Colbert a feminist after he asks if he’s allowed — as a man — to be one.

See the full interview below:

TIME Gadgets

Google Unveils ‘First-of-its-Kind’ Android TV Streaming Device

Nexus Player Google

Nexus Player will stream movies, music and in a "first-of-its-kind" twist, online games

Google announced a “first-of-its-kind” device on Wednesday that will stream content from Android TV to home television sets, marking the search giant’s latest push to make televisions a little more web savvy.

The Nexus Player is a hockey-puck shaped device that will stream movies, music and videos through Android TV, which includes partnerships with Netflix and Hulu. The player comes with a spare, voice-controlled remote that can take verbal search commands for movie titles or names of performers.

What separates the device from rival set-top boxes such as Roku or Apple TV is its ability to double as a gaming system. A gamer can switch seamlessly from playing on the television to any other Android-compatible tablet or smartphone, though the game controller is sold separately.

 

TIME Gadgets

The Best Small Android Tablet

The Nvidia Shield has a beautiful display, blistering performance, a light, comfortable and good-looking design and a clean interface, making it the best small-screen Android tablet.

Nvidia ShieldShopping for a smaller tablet can be daunting, thanks to the sea of 7- to 8-inch Android devices available. It would be simple if most of the low-cost models were easily dismissed, but Android tablets are getting lighter, slimmer, faster and more powerful while simultaneously getting less expensive.

To find the very best tablets, I looked for four key elements: a bright, vivid, pixel-dense display that looks great at any angle; a lightweight design that’s comfortable to hold in one hand for long stretches; a powerful CPU coupled with a good amount of RAM for smooth, speedy multitasking; and an interface that’s easy to understand and navigate even if you’re not tech-savvy. Price was also a consideration — a great small tablet shouldn’t break the bank.

That narrowed the field down to three standout tablets: the Asus Memo Pad 8 ($129 on Amazon), the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 ($389 on Amazon) and the Nvidia SHIELD Tablet ($299 on Amazon). In the end, the Shield Tablet is my ultimate pick for best small tablet based on its balance of price point and feature set.

Made for Gamers, Great for Everyone

Nvidia designed the Shield Tablet primarily for gamers, so its long list of impressive features includes things like superfast gaming performance and the ability to wirelessly stream PC games from the computer to the tablet. The same elements that make this a great gaming tablet make it a great all-around tablet as well.

The Tegra K1 processor inside isn’t just quad-core; like most tablets, it has 192 graphics cores. That translates into a smooth experience no matter which app or game you’re running, and it ensures the tablet will be able to keep up with Android apps well into the future as they grow more complex and resource-hungry.

The Shield Tablet’s 8-inch, 1920 x 1200 resolution display creates deep colors and crisp details that don’t wash out or distort when you hold the tablet at an angle. Whether you use the Shield to read an e-book or a web page, its high pixel density means that small fonts stay sharp.

The Shield’s display doesn’t pop as much as the display on the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (2560 x 1600 Super AMOLED), and if you look closely, the difference in resolution is noticeable. If you want the very best display, the Tab S has it. But side by side, the Shield Tablet stands up quite well to this competition — especially impressive since it costs about $100 less.

Another notable difference between the two tablets is weight. The Tab S 8.4 is incredibly thin and light for its size, weighing 10.4 ounces versus the Shield’s 13.7 ounces. The Shield is still light enough to hold with one hand during long reading sessions or with two for longer gaming sessions without making your wrists ache.

Bonus: Stylus

On top of its sweet gaming features, the Shield Tablet offers one more extra that makes it enticing: a stylus. Just like the stylus for Nvidia’s last tablet, the Tegra Note 2, the Shield’s stylus is a step above the kind of capacitive styluses that work on any tablet, but it’s not the same technology used in active digitizer pens like those with the Galaxy Note series. Active pens are more desirable because they’re accurate and precise, making it easy to reject input from a palm or finger. They achieve this through wireless communication between the pen and the display, which makes the tablets more expensive.

Coupled with the processing power of the Tegra K1, the Nvidia DirectStylus 2 software emulates this functionality in the Shield’s pen, even though it’s not an active digitizer. You still get a very thin, precise tip, and there’s even some pressure sensitivity and (even more impressive) palm rejection — all without expensive hardware.

Nvidia has included a handful of note-taking and writing apps that take advantage of the pen, including Evernote, Write and a handwriting recognition keyboard. The company also developed a neat drawing app called Dabbler that emulates several different types of drawing and painting environments, including wet watercolors.

Outside of last year’s Galaxy Note 8, this is the best stylus experience available in the 8-inch tablet range.

Android and Interface

Most popular Android tablets come with an interface skin over the base operating system that changes the look and some of the functionality of the operating system. Google Nexus tablets and, now, the Shield tablet are major exceptions to this rule. Although Nvidia did a ton of work on the back end to give the tablet some gaming chops, the company didn’t mess much with how Android 4.4 KitKat operates, preserving the stock look and feel.

I’ve praised well-designed skins on tablets from Samsung, ASUS and other companies in previous reviews, and in truth, I prefer them since they smooth over some of Android’s rough edges and make executing some actions more efficient. However, KitKat is Google’s most polished version of Android to date, and if you prefer to take customization into your own hands, the Shield Tablet offers the same blank canvas that Nexus devices do.

You’ll find a few Shield-specific tweaks, such as the Shield Hub interface/menu for easy navigation while connected to a TV and using the game controller. (More on this later.) There’s also Console Mode for streaming full HD video or games to an HDTV. Otherwise, it’s Android business as usual.

Media

The same hardware that makes the Shield Tablet a gaming beast also makes it a great little machine for watching video, showing off pictures and listening to music. Between the beautiful display and the high-end graphics, you’ll enjoy smooth playback of full HD and 4K movies from the device or via streaming. The latter is possible thanks to a dual-band, 2×2 MIMO wireless antenna that connects to the strongest signal available to receive and send data at super-fast speeds.

The Shield sports a pair of speakers on the front, flanking the display. It’s no surprise, then, that the Shield’s audio quality is well above average — and not just because the sound blasts directly toward you. The sound quality is the best I’ve heard on a tablet, well rounded in the mid-range with actual bass. It bests the Galaxy Tab S 8.4’s sound without trying (although it doesn’t take much to earn that distinction, since most tablet speakers aren’t great). Still, it’s still a nice touch that means that you won’t need headphones to get a good audio experience.

Aside from Shield-optimized games in the Shield Hub, you won’t get any special or exclusive content sources beyond what you can find in the Google Play store.

Cameras

The Shield is singular in that it has 5-megapixel cameras on the back and the front. Both take above-average pictures for tablet cameras and are supported by a robust camera app that makes it possible to tweak settings for better images. The high-quality front camera is a bonus not only for people who love selfies but anyone who likes to video chat.

Gaming

nvidia-shield-controller
Nvidia

As I said at the start, you don’t need to be a gamer to appreciate all the great things about the Shield Tablet. But since it is designed for gamers, you’ll appreciate several features and accessories that only add to this device’s value.

First and foremost is the optional game controller ($60 at Amazon), designed to be just as comfortable and robust as an Xbox or PS4 controller. It communicates with the tablet wirelessly over Wi-Fi, not Bluetooth, managing lag so minuscule you’ll never notice it when playing. All of the games available via Nvidia’s Hub work with the controller out of the virtual box; for others, a mapping app lets you use it with almost any game.

The most impressive software feature is GameStream, a technology that makes it possible to play the high-end games stored on your PC using the tablet. Currently, GameStream only works when the computer and tablet are on the same wireless network — so just in the home — and with specific hardware on the PC side (not to mention some suggested routers). That said, being able to play a game meant for a computer on a tablet is really cool. And when you’re in console mode and connected via HDMI, you can play those same games on a big-screen HDTV without having to move the computer away from your desk.

Gamers love sharing gameplay with friends (bragging rights are important), so Nvidia has built in a sharing option that allows you to record game play for sharing or streaming to gaming video site Twitch.

The only drawback for gamers is that the $299 model only includes 16GB of internal storage. There’s a microSD card slot to hold media and some app data; however, this version of Android severely restricts moving and running apps from SD cards.

Games tend to take up more space than other apps, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on available space.

A 32GB model is available, although it comes with an additional element: LTE. The extra storage and antenna make for a $100 price bump.

Good Reviews Across the Board

At release, the Shield impressed pretty much every reviewer who got their hands on one.

PCMag praised it as “one of the most powerful mobile devices available right now,” calling Nvidia’s success at fitting so much power and flexibility into an 8-inch tablet “genuinely impressive.”

CNET sums it up nicely: “Even if you don’t take advantage of its gaming prowess, the Nvidia Shield Tablet is one of the most versatile — and affordable — high-performance 8-inch Android slates you can buy.”

The Best Small Tablet: Nvidia Shield Tablet

The Shield Tablet has all the elements of a great tablet: a beautiful display, blistering performance, a light, comfortable and good-looking design and a clean interface. It adds some sweet gaming features and a surprisingly excellent stylus on top of that, all for the relatively low price of $299.

Even if you don’t care about gaming, this tablet’s closest competition is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4, which costs almost $100 more. While the Galaxy Tab does have a lighter design and a brilliant display, the Shield is more than competitive on both fronts. That’s why it’s my top pick.

Runner-up: ASUS Memo Pad 8

Asus Memo Pad 8The $129 ASUS Memo Pad 8 is the tablet you want if you’re looking for something under $200. It used to be that tablets in this price range were either very limited in functionality or poorly built. That’s no longer true, and the Memo Pad line in particular has exemplified how low cost can be done right.

The 8-inch IPS display has a relatively low resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, but the quality of the screen itself is quite good. No matter what angle you hold it at, the vivid colors stay true and don’t wash out or distort. The screen gets pretty bright too, although it’s a bit reflective even at 100 percent brightness.

The Memo Pad is lightweight yet feels well-built and sturdy, not cheap. It runs on a quad-core Intel Atom processor, a decently powerful and speedy CPU for an Android 4.4 device, able to handle any basic app with ease. However, the Memo Pad’s relatively small amount of RAM (1GB) means that resource-hungry apps may choke. If your needs are simple — email, browsing, a few casual games — then you won’t have problems.

Asus has created a custom UI skin to go over Android called ZenUI. While it does add some functionality and change up the operating system’s menus a bit, this skin is mostly a light touch.

The closest competition in this price range is the Amazon Fire 6 ($99 on Amazon) and Fire 7 ($139 on Amazon) as well as the ASUS Memo Pad 7 ($125 on Amazon), the 7-inch version.

The Fire 6 is the most tempting of the bunch due to its $99 price. However, Amazon’s newest tablets continue to suffer the same challenge as always: a limited Android experience. With the Fire, you can only run apps from Amazon’s store. The company has a vast library, but it’s not as deep as Google Play.

The 7-inch Memo Pad is almost identical to the larger version both inside and out, and it’s the next generation of the very impressive Memo Pad HD 7 from last year.

Unfortunately, this year’s model doesn’t have as nice a display or as good a set of cameras. Unless you really want a 7-inch tablet instead of an 8-inch one, the larger version is worth the extra money.

This article was written by K.T. Bradford and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Gaming

Angry Birds Maker Rovio Plans to Cut Up to 130 Jobs

The Toy Fair
Angry Birds plush toys on display at the Toy Fair 2011 at Olympia Exhibition Centre on Jan. 25, 2011 in London, England. Tim Whitby—Getty Images

This represents 16% of the Finnish company's workforce

Rovio Entertainment, the company that brought Angry Birds to smartphones, toy stores and theme parks, said on Thursday it plans to cut up to 130 employees, or 16% of its workforce, “towards a simplified organization.”

Cue puns of the Finnish gaming company’s clipped wings and prematurely counted chickens.

Rovio announced in March that its 2013 net profit dropped by 50% from the prior year and, in August, the company replaced its chief executive.

“We have been building our team on assumptions of faster growth than have materialized,” Rovio said in a statement Thursday. But, maintaining a light tone, Rovio added, “as we consider these painful measures, we keep our eye on always delighting our fans with products they love.”

TIME gambling

Report: U.S. Gaming Industry Generated $240 Billion Economic Impact in 2013

Dustin Dunn
A man looks at a gambling machine at the Aristocrat booth during the Global Gaming Expo Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, in Las Vegas. John Locher—AP

Study published just as Massachusetts weighs whether to welcome casinos

The U.S. commercial and tribal gaming industries generated more than $240 billion in economic impact and employed some 1.7 million people in 2013, according to a new report from the American Gaming Association.

The sum includes the $38 billion that the gaming sector said it paid last year in local, state and federal taxes, the Associated Press reports.

The report, presented at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas on Tuesday, is the first to include commercial casinos and their Native American–run counterparts in the total figures, the Las Vegas Review-Journal says.

Oxford Economics, which complied the number, found that the two gaming industries, plus the manufacturers of the games inside, took in about $87.1 billion in total revenue in 2013.

In Massachusetts, voters will go to the polls in November to decide whether to allow three casinos and a slot parlor to set up shop in the state. A vocal anti-casino lobby there has expressed wariness over developers’ promises that their operations will earn billions of dollars in benefits for the state and local, hard-up towns.

Massachusetts casino opponents often point to the closure of multiple casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey’s gaming hub that had once seemed adherent to Newton’s law of motion — where the good times would never stop rolling.

Many experts have pinned the city’s troubles on an oversaturation of the gaming market, and some in Massachusetts say the casinos already studding New England and the mid-Atlantic coast bode ill for the Bay State’s flirtation with gaming.

The American Gaming Association said in a recent release that “while the Atlantic City gaming market faces challenges today as it adapts to increased competition,” casinos there nonetheless generated more than $241 million in tax revenue in 2013.

TIME Macau

Trouble Is Brewing in the World’s Biggest Gambling Hub

Gaming Workers Stage Labor Protest Against Casino Operators
SJM gaming workers protest in front of the Wynn Macau casino resort in Macau on Aug. 25, 2014 Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Chinese gaming city of Macau generates seven times the revenue of Vegas, but in the shadow of the casinos it's been a long, hot summer of discontent

Like gambling enclaves everywhere, Macau is awash in neon light. But if the lights seem to shine just that bit brighter here than elsewhere, that’s because this Special Autonomous Region of China — made up of a small peninsula, two islands and a chunk of reclamation on China’s southern coast — is the world’s richest gaming hub by far, and looks set to get even bigger.

Macau is the only place in China where casino gambling is legal (horse racing on a lavish scale takes place just across the Pearl River estuary in Hong Kong). That makes this onetime Portuguese colony the darling of international gaming juggernauts: it has 35 casinos in just 29.5 sq km (11.4 square miles). Last year, gaming companies, including global heavyweights Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International, took in more than $45 billion here, about seven times more than they did in Las Vegas.

Naturally, all the trappings of money are here, or will be — from designer boutiques to expensive Russian prostitutes to what will be the world’s largest fleet of Rolls Royce Phantoms, destined for a high-roller hotel that will open in 2016 with a presidential suite priced at $130,000 a night, and invitation-only jewelry stores where items will start at $1 million each.

But where there are a few people with a lot of money, there tend to be many discontented others without it, and Macau is no exception.

Among ordinary Macanese, widespread dissatisfaction with how the enclave’s government has handled numerous social issues — from income inequality to lagging rights for casino workers — has fueled a yearning for a government that is “accountable to us,” in the words of Jason Chao, the president of a fledgling pro-democracy group, the Open Macau Society.

Over the past few months, Macau has fairly rumbled with discontent, witnessing an unprecedented number of protests that signal what some observers believe is the beginning of a slow revolt against the status quo, where Beijing holds all the political cards.

“People are beginning to realize that the government is depriving them of the rights they deserve,” said Chao. “We are still in the early stages of change, but change is happening.”

Macau returned from Portuguese to Chinese sovereignty in 1999, and, like China’s other Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, is governed under the so-called “one country, two systems” principle.

The “two” part allows Macau’s citizens considerable freedoms not available in China. But the “one” part grants Beijing lordship over Macau’s political affairs, including the vetting of members of the committee that elects the city’s leader — a mayor-like role that bears the fittingly corporate title of Chief Executive.

So, on Aug. 28th, Macau’s 400-member electoral committee, comprising mostly Beijing loyalists, re-elected Fernando Chui as Macau’s Chief Executive. The ballot only had his name on it.

Macau’s democratic camp would like a Chief Executive directly elected by universal suffrage in 2019 — but in a town of reckless gamblers, nobody’s betting on it. Macau’s miniconstitution, known as the Basic Law, neither promises universal suffrage nor does it even guarantee election by committee. Beijing, if it wants, can sidestep the whole pseudo-election process and simply conduct local “consultations” to appoint a Chief Executive, the law says.

Unsurprisingly, democrats are poorly represented at the political level. The current 33-seat legislature (only 14 of which are elected) has just two democrats and two independents.

“The rule of law is not very good in Macau,” is how Bill Chou explains the historic weakness of the opposition. Chou is the vice-president of the New Macau Association, the city’s leading opposition group and a former political-science professor at the University of Macau. His contract was not renewed this summer after he faced disciplinary action for allegedly imposing his views on students. (The university denies Chou was sacked for his political beliefs and says it supports academic freedom.)

“In order to do business, and in order to have a career, you have depend on the goodwill of the government,” Chou says. “So people are very reluctant to take on the government. They don’t think they are powerful enough to challenge it.”

But things do seem to be changing. This spring, some 20,000 people protested a law that would have heaped lavish benefits on government retirees, while significant infrastructure issues in Macau went unaddressed. It was the largest demonstration in Macau in years and forced Chief Executive Chui to postpone consideration of the bill.

Then, in August, activists organized an unofficial referendum on prospects for democracy: Do you want universal suffrage in 2019, participants were asked, and, do you have confidence in the government? The government condemned the poll as illegal, detained the organizers, including Chao, and shut down the polling stations. (Polling continued online, however, where almost all of the 8,688 Macanese who took part supported universal suffrage and a huge majority declared their lack of confidence in the Chief Executive).

Meanwhile, almost a dozen protests have been held this summer by casino workers protesting low wages and benefits packages. About a quarter of the workforce is employed in the gaming sector: white croupier shirts can be seen drip-drying on the washing lines outside many a Macanese apartment.

“People are just starting to complain because they can see all this wealth that Macau is making, and, of course, it doesn’t trickle down to the population,” says Eric Sautede, a former professor at Macau’s University of St. Joseph, who was fired in June over his antigovernment views. “Macau is very successful, but there are problems.”

Those problems are mainly related to Macau’s transformation into a place that belongs to visitors, but not to the more than 600,000 people who live here. Macau has just one public hospital and a miserable public-transportation system. Though casino employees’ salaries have doubled since 2003, such an increase seems meager against casino revenues that are 11 times higher than they were a decade ago, says Lei Kuok-keong, vice president of the Forefront of the Macau Gaming, an independent labor union founded two years ago. Meanwhile, the average price of housing in Macau rose to $12,202 per sq m in June, up more than 29% from a year earlier, according to government statistics.

“I’m pretty sure that the central authorities [in Beijing] are aware of these inequalities and know that they could translate into something that could really grow out of hand,” said Sautede. “Macau’s government has this habit of dragging, of waiting. It has no courage. If it continues to do nothing, it could precipitate some kind of opening for change.”

Before Macau elects its next Chief Executive in 2019, the city will have squeezed in at least two new casinos: in three years, SJM Holdings, the oldest casino operator here, will open the Lisboa Palace, a Versailles-themed casino connected to three hotels, including one designed by Karl Lagerfeld; meanwhile, Louis XIII Holdings Ltd., of the Rolls Royce Phantoms, is also building an eponymously named casino resort promising “unsurpassed levels of luxury.” Both Sands and Wynn resorts, which already have sprawls in the territory, also have plans to add new hotel-casino complexes.

In August, Chui’s acceptance speech struck a contrite tone — perhaps betraying an awareness that social unrest here is growing. “In retrospect, many social problems could have been resolved more expeditiously and effectively,” said Chui. He also promised to “resolve the social injustices caused by the domination of a single industry,” according to the South China Morning Post.

But frustration has so far continued.

Last weekend, hundreds of casino workers gathered near the Grand Lisboa, an SJM casino and a skyline hog that bears an unusual resemblance to a prize-winning vegetable, overgrown to misshapen proportions. Protesters, shouting and carrying pickets, wore black T-shirts and demanded better wages and benefits. Across the public square, Calvin Klein models straddled each other on a billboard.

Alex Chan, a 29-year-old protester and SJM casino worker, hovered in the crowd, standing next to a mural of the Statue of Liberty. He was fed up with the casino, he said. But more than that, he said, he was fed up with government lassitude.

“The government always stands with the casino companies,” said Chan, who last month voted online for universal suffrage in Macau. But, he said, “I don’t think that the government cares about the people.”

TIME Minecraft

Dear Microsoft: Please Don’t Screw Up Minecraft. Sincerely, Parents

Microsoft To Acquire Maker Of Popular Minecraft Game For 2.5 Billion
MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 15: Daniel Llevara checks out the XBox 360 Minecraft game at a GameStop store on Sept. 15, 2014 in Miami. Joe Raedle—Getty Images

Children of all ages love it, parents love it, and Microsoft should leave it well enough alone. But will they?

Yesterday, news broke that Microsoft was acquiring Mojang, the creator of the “sandbox” game Minecraft for $2.5 billion. The move will bolster Microsoft’s gaming ambitions and further integrate Microsoft’s gaming system, Xbox, with the incredibly popular game.

While the business world was ogling the massive deal for the open-world game, which has an estimated 100 million downloads on PCs alone and brought in $100 million in profit last year, parents were wondering what this means for their Minecraft-addicted children.

Minecraft is the go-to game for parents and children alike, because it’s incredibly easy to learn and fun to play, involving nothing more than clicking and building anything from roller coasters to castles to tree forts. It’s impossible to win or lose and no one dies — it’s just building. There are no rules and no instructions, it’s intuitive and straightforward. Younger children, say, 6 and up, may prefer to play in “creative mode,” which let’s users simply wander the landscape and build whatever they can imagine and the game’s blocky graphics can allow. For older players, there’s the more challenging “survival mode,” filled with zombies, pigs, zombie pig men and a dragon lurking somewhere in the distance. Still, you can’t die in survival mode, you simply “respawn” and go back to what you were doing. It’s gaming lite, which is where the appeal lies for the next generation of gaming fans (just ask my 7-year-old son) and their parents who don’t want to hear cries of frustration over levels and character deaths.

Minecraft’s simplicity is the key to its inter-generational success and for any parent who has done battle with a Microsoft operating system — and with the specters of Windows Vista and Windows 8 and all their software and hardware compatibility issues floating in the air— it’s hard for parents whose children love Minecraft not to be slightly wary about news of the acquisition. Some parents (me) may have groaned loudly thinking about trying to explain the sudden addition of Microsoft Bob to the ranks of Minecraft characters like Herobrine and Steve. Then other questions started percolating: Would Minecraft only be accessible via a Zune? Would you need a Hotmail account to sign up? Would you have to download Internet Explorer? Would Microsoft Word’s ever-present helper Clippy become a creeper? (That’s a local Minecraft hostile, if you don’t play the game.)

The main concern for parents though, is that Microsoft will somehow change the game, making it more complex, allow in-app purchases, or require parental supervision (the horror!). While the game has only been around since 2009, it has grown to become one of the most popular computer games of all time, with over 16 million copies sold for computer use. Parents trust it to be safe, fun and ostensibly educational, operating both as a gateway to the world of computer science and helping to develop spatial recognition skills. Children of all ages love it, parents love it, and Microsoft should leave it well enough alone. But will they?

One likely possibility is that Microsoft may push more unique features towards its own Xbox platform. Currently, Minecraft can be played on several platforms, including desktop computers, tablets and smartphones, with PCs having the most functionality and advanced controls. Xbox has long been a popular way for kids to access the cubist landscape of Minecraft and it has the same functions as playing on a desktop. According to a Microsoft press release, Minecraft is the top online game on Xbox Live, with over two billion hours played on Xbox 360 in the last two years. Minecraft on Xbox also gained popularity thanks in no small part to YouTube users like Stampy Longhead, whose wildly popular videos feature the player touring through Minecraft worlds, narrating his findings in his excited British accent and feeding bones to digital dogs. (While parents may find the allure of these videos elusive, calling Stampy “wildly popular” is perhaps an understatement. Stampy was the fourth biggest YouTube channel in July with 199.6 million video views, the majority of which were undoubtedly racked up by my kid watching during lulls in summer activities while I tried to work.)

Stampy plays exclusively on Xbox and only visits worlds connected to the Xbox network, at least according to my son. The kid has been making a hard sell for weeks trying to convince me that he needs an Xbox for Minecraft use. If Microsoft expands its Xbox Minecraft network to its tablets or smartphones, it could transform millions of children around the world into walking, whining Microsoft acolytes (which may be part of Microsoft’s business plan), begging mom, dad and Santa to fill their stocking with Microsoft products. It’s probably not something that happens very often aside from the Xbox, as the company is still best-known for making corporate hardware and software bundles.

While parents may have fears of Microsoft corrupting Minecraft — or at least being bullied into buying Microsoft products for their clamoring underage Minecraft fans — some young players are concerned, as well. “I am worried that they might change Minecraft in a bad way,” said tech savvy 11-year old Zoel Boublil, who is an expert in all things Minecraft. “For example, what if they fire Notch, the CEO of Mojang? Notch, Jeb [Bergensten, the lead developer of Minecraft] and Dinnerbone [a game developer on Minecraft] all put in a lot of creativity and I hope Microsoft doesn’t just make it into some ‘normal’ game and what if they put Microsoft advertising on everything? That would not be cool.” This fear of rendering something once cool, corporate, is often fans’ biggest fear; adults who used to use MySpace or Flickr are familiar with this kind of thing. That said, Yahoo! hasn’t managed to change Tumblr culture too much yet, and it probably doesn’t want to.

The reality is that no one knows what will happen in the deal that Microsoft claims will close by the end of the year. Hopefully, Microsoft is business savvy enough to know not to mess with something that has universal, inter-generational appeal. And if they do? Well, there’s a zombie pigman that could take out Clippy, if necessary.

 

TIME Viral Videos

Teens React to the Nintendo Entertainment System in Hilarious Video

Starring Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams

Grab your controllers, because the latest installment of The Fine Bros. web series, “Teens React” introduces the raised-on-Wii kids of today what the past generation had to use to play Legend of Zelda.

The games themselves stumped some of the new players. While the tech-savvy teens had all heard of Super Mario Bros., thanks to the fact that it had been released for the Nintendo DS, Dragon Warrior 3 elicited confusion across the board, from “No, but it sounds rad!” to “No, I don’t LARP.”

The players were left to their own devices to figure out how to insert the seemingly giant cartridge into the console, but when trouble struck, the film makers instructed them on the fine art of blowing on the game cartridge. The teens were then allowed to play the first round of Super Mario Bros. and they all struggled to use the controller (“This is the least comfortable controller ever!”) while trying to collect coins and being chased by evil mushrooms (“I literally died the first time”) and gawking at the old-school graphics (“I feel like I’m in Wreck-It Ralph!”)

After getting versed in the history of the NES, the teens did take a moment to offer their respect to the classic console, thanking the little gray box for introducing the world at large to the joys of at-home gaming.

While the teens may have found the exercise slightly humiliating, the more insightful ones knew that it was pure karma. “I always make fun of my dad for not knowing how to use stuff,” noted one dejected teen. “Now he’s going to be watching this.”

MORE: Little By Little, Violent Video Games Make Us More Aggressive

MORE: Watch Kids React in Utter Bemusement at the Sight of an Old Computer

TIME Gaming

The One Reason the New Nintendo 3DS Is Going to Crush Competitors

Nintendo New 3DS Nintendo

Doubling down on what tablets and phones simply can't do

Nintendo unveiled an updated design for its popular handheld system, the 3DS, on August 29. The sleek new version is more powerful and packs a number of incremental improvements like better cameras and screens. As competition for consumers’ attention with phones and tablets increases, the Japanese gaming giant is also doubling down on something Apple iPads and devices powered by Google’s Android system typically don’t have: buttons. The New Nintendo 3DS features a new analog control stick as well as two new buttons.

Buttons matter because, no matter how much more powerful phones and tablets get or how much more sophisticated the software that runs on them, manipulating many games without them is still cumbersome. The best mobile games have devised unique control methods for touch interfaces, but titles with traditional setups—guiding a character across 3D space, for instance—still suffer. Nintendo’s trio of new buttons amounts to a keen doubling down on what a gaming-dedicated device like the 3DS still does best, namely playing console-like games.

On Nintendo’s new device, the right analog knob is located above the right-hand face buttons. In addition to the new controller, the gadget has third and fourth back trigger buttons, dubbed ZR and ZL buttons, located for use in conjunction with the new stick. The New 3DS will be available in both regular and XL-sized models with dimensions similar to current hardware.

In a presentation, the company promised a wider 3D viewing angle than previous models. Additional features include an automatic brightness adjustment sensor, Micro SD card slot, camera improvements, and colorful face buttons. The New 3DS will be available in Japan in October 2014. A U.S. release date has not been set yet.

 New 3DS
Nintendo
 New 3DS
Nintendo
 New 3DS
Nintendo
TIME Video Games

The Only Guide to PS4 vs Xbox One You’ll Ever Need

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FREDERIC J. BROWN—AFP/Getty Images

How to choose, how to choose... This is how

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 9.42.33 AM

This post is in partnership with Trusted Reviews. The article below was originally published at TrustedReviews.com.

By Larry Kim

Both the Xbox One and PS4 have been around for enough time to give us a solid grounding for the strengths and weaknesses of each. Whether you go for the people’s favourite, the PS4, or opt for the potentially more well-rounded Xbox will be decided on your preferences. The decision is not clear cut. To help you work out which console is right for you we’ve compared each aspect so you can safely decide between the PS4 or Xbox One.

As well as covering all the hardware angles we’ll also checking out the games that are already out and the games coming to the two consoles thanks to E3 2014.

Xbox One vs PS4 – Price and Release Date

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In a suprising, but honestly refreshing, turn of events Microsoft has made some major changes to the way it has been marketing the Xbox One. There were a few new things to note If you were looking to buy a PS4 or Xbox One a while back.

Most shocking of all is that the Kinect is no longer tied to the Xbox One – Microsoft has announced its plan to release a Kinect-free console for $399. That’s the same price as the PS4 without any games.

Whereas before the cost factor was a major issue when choosing between the two consoles, now they have reached parity.

Some of the restrictions that seemed to penalise Xbox One owners have also been restricted. You don’t have to purchase and Xbox Live Gold membership to access things like Netflix, which is a big bonus for those looking to make their console act as a home entertainment unit.

The Xbox One is now a lot more like the PS4. And in this case, that’s a good thing.

The Xbox One’s original ‘RRP’ was $499, where the PS4 has sold for $399 since it launched November.

However, we have already seen a bit of Xbox One price erosion, where most places still seem to sell the PS4 at its original price. Amazon currently sells the Xbox with Kinect for $499, just a little more than the proposed price of the console without Kinect. We’d probably take the Kinect for just $50.

Of course, most of you will likely want to buy a console along with a game, and that changes things significantly. Here are the current bundles you can order with the consoles:

bundles
Prices are based on what we could find from reputable retailers at the time of writing

Lots of the launch bundles are becoming scarce as they are replaced with newer games. The logic is pretty obvious – once a game’s price drops a few months after launch, it loses its bundle appeal.

The most up-to-date of the game bundles are the Titanfall Xbox One package and the Watch Dogs PS4 deal. Until recently the Xbox Titanfall package (which includes Kinect) was available for $499, but most of those deals have dried up.

SEE ALSO: Best Games of 2014 Round-up

Xbox One vs PS4 – Best Current and Future Games

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The most important factor with any game console is games. Forget graphical fidelity and looks, above all else, you should go with the console that has the games you want to play.

Many of this generation’s games will be available on both consoles which makes choosing between them that much trickier. This was true with the last generation too, but the Xbox One and PS4 make it easier than ever for developers to produce games cross-platform.

Let’s have a look at the top games that are already available, and those that are coming out for each console.

Best Future Xbox One Exclusives
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Halo 5: Guardians
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PS4 games 4What is it? Halo, naturally
Release date: 2015

At the moment we know very little about Halo 5: Guardians, aside from the name and that it’s coming to Xbox One next year. It’ll serve as the sequel to Halo 4, and be one of the leading Xbox One games for 2015.

The story is largely a mystery, but you can expect to see the same sort of fast first-person action seen in all the previous core Halo games. Are we excited? Yes. Do we need to know more about Halo 5? Definitely. We’ll be back with more details soon.

Halo: The Master Chief CollectionBlue line

Halo collectionWhat is it? Old Halo, made new
Release date: November 2014

As a way to bridge the gap between now and the release of Halo 5, we have Halo: The Master Chief Collection. It’s a pack of the four previous ‘core’ Halo games, all revved up for the Xbox One with 1080p, 60fps visuals.

The multiplayer has been reinstated too, including absolutely reams of maps from all four games. As part of the collection, you’ll get beta access to Halo 5: Guardians too, making it a must for Halo die-hards.

Forza Horizon 2Blue line

PS4 games 5What is it? Open-world racer
Release date: September 30 2014

The Forza series has split into two halves. There are the core Forza Motorsport titles and the rather less serious Horizon games, which have a free-roaming element.

Forza Horizon 2 takes place in Southern Europe, letting you roam in the area around a music festival, taking part in the usual dazzling array of races. This should prove to be a good visual showcase of what racers should look like on Xbox One, more so than the early Forza Motorsport 5.

Project SparkBlue line

PS4 games 6What is it? Game-creation tool
Release date: TBC

Project Spark is an intriguing game creation tool that will let you make full games, by the looks of it. Think of it as Xbox One’s alternative to Little Big Planet 3 and you won’t be too far off the mark.

It appears to let you make 3D adventures, 2D platformers, racers and puzzle games. But will it give you real scope? Will it be too difficult and time-consuming? Either way, we’re looking forward to finding out. While an Xbox One console exclusive, Project Spark will also be available on Windows 8.1.

Sunset OverdriveBlue line

PS4 games 8What is it? An OTT action game
Release date: TBC

People have been turned into mutants, thanks to an evil energy drink. The city is in chaos. And you are the hero who has to sort it all about.

Sunset Overdrive is a bit like Infamous, but with a sense of humour and a proper colour palette. This game could be bags of fun, especially if you’re after a game whose focus is pure fun, but that isn’t just aimed at kids.

Best Future PS4 Exclusives
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Little Big Planet 3
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PS4 gamesWhat is it? A platformer and game creation tool
Release Date: November 2014

Little Big Planet has become one of the defining series of the modern PlayStation era. And while it no longer attracts as much attention as something like Uncharted, it attracts kids and adults like almost nothing else.

It’s a cutesy platformer, but also a full game creation tool. You can really let your creativity rip with this Little Big Planet 3, and make games with no real knowledge of coding. To an extent it’s more of the same, and LBP3 is compatible with levels already in the LBP universe – of which there are more than 8.5 million

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s EndBlue line

PS4 games 1What is it? The PS4’s lead adventure title
Release Date: 2015

A Thief’s End is the first Uncharted game to come to PS4, and once again it’s a Nathan Drake Adventure. The Uncharted series offers some of the most cinematic experiences in gaming, and Uncharted 4 is no different.

It’s a “globe-trotting” adventure in which you’re looking to uncover a “historical conspiracy”. We don’t know a great deal about Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Yet. But we expect great things. Sony says it’ll have more to tell us in the coming months.

BloodborneBlue line

PS4 games 2What is it? A game from the makers of Dark Souls
Release Date: 2015

We don’t know much about Bloodborne yet, but there’s a reason to be excited already – it comes from the man behind the Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls games – Hidetaka Miyazaki.

As you’d expect from the creator of those grim classics, Bloodborne is not a barrel of laughs. It’s about a virus transmitted through the blood, something that turns people and creatures into horrific things. And it is horror, rather than fantasy, that is the theme this time around. For many, this will be one of the most exciting games of the next 12 months.

The Order 1886Blue line

PS4 games 3What is it? Action-adventure set in London
Release Date: 20 February 2015

It’s not often we get to see games set in London that aren’t racing titles. The Order 1886 is set here, and it’s an action adventure where you play a knight who is part of an order tasked with taking down a horrible breed of werewolf-like creatures.

Expect bad English accents, lots of moody, foggy environments and loads of shooty action. It’s getting pretty positive previews at present, although as a new IP we’ll have to wait to see if this is the real deal.

Best Current Xbox One games
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PS4 and Xbox One games 8
Titanfall
Available: NOW

The most exciting early Xbox One console exclusive is Titanfall. It is a sci-fi shooter, and it’s not afraid to be grim and serious, with a darker tone than the cross-platform Destiny.

Unusually, there’s no single-player mode in Titanfall, but there will be single player-style story elements weaved into the action to give play more meaning than the average multiplayer blast-fest. It sold 700,000 copies in its first week, but some have criticised it saying it looks like a last-gen game.

9/10 – Read our Titanfall review

PS4 and Xbox One games 1
Dead Rising 3
Available: NOW

Like the previous Dead Rising games, Dead Rising 3 is a third-person action game set around a zombie invasion. Its world is much larger than that of the last two games, though, based in a city rather than a specific location within a city.

It’s not the best showcase for next-gen graphics and it doesn’t have quite the spark of inventiveness seen in the former games. But it’s a launch line-up highlight, and something a little different.

7/10
– Read the full Dead Rising 3 review

PS4 and Xbox One games 3
Forza Motorsport 5
Available: NOW

The game that marks the Xbox One as the racer’s favourite at present, Forza Motorsport 5 is a semi-serious racing game that looks and feels great. Match it with something like the Mad Catz Pro Racing wheel and you’ll be in heaven.

However, it’s not the ultimate racing game, lacking some of the structural brilliance of the last game in the series, Forza 4. Still, for now it’s the best next-gen racer if you don’t want a pure arcade experience.

8/10 – Read the full Forza 5 review


SEE ALSO: Best Xbox One Games

 

Best current PS4 games
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PS4 and Xbox One games 6
Killzone: Shadowfall
Available: NOW
The single notable ‘gamer’s game’ that the PS4 had over the Xbox One at launch was Killzone: Shadowfall. It’s a grim first-person shooter set in the future, and a pretty good way to see what your shiny new console is capable of, compared to the PS3.

It’s not a shooter you’re likely to have fond memories of for years to come, but it’s a good job the PS4 had it to rely on given how many of the console’s other games were pushed back into 2014.

7/10 – Read our full Killzone: Shadow Fall review

PS4 and Xbox One games 5
Infamous: Second Son
Available: NOW
Infamous is a superhero game that’s not tied to a superhero license, and that’s a good thing in this case. You’re not tied to a famous character’s intentions, letting you play the good guy, or the bad guy. And your actions dictate the sort of powers you develop.

In style, it’s similar to the previous Infamous games, giving you an ‘open world’ city in which you can wreak havoc. This is the first major 2014 PS4 exclusive, and it has us a good deal more excited than Killzone: Shadow Fall.

9/10 - Read our full InFamous: Second Son review

SEE ALSO: Best PS4 Games

Best cross-platform games
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PS4 and Xbox One games
Call of Duty: Ghosts
Available: Now

One of the most-anticipated recent games is Call of Duty: Ghosts. It’s a first-person shooter, just like the other games in the series.

If you don’t like the genre, or have been unimpressed with the previous CoD games, it’s unlikely you’ll get on with this one. However, for fans of the series it’s a treat. It’s just not a particularly inventive or dynamic entry in the Call of Duty line. The ‘ghosts’ of the title are a special band of US forces who have to combat a group of terrorists trying to use a galactic superweapon to try and take down the US. It’s also the first Call of Duty game to feature a dog as part of your squad.

7/10 – Read the full Call of Duty: Ghosts review

PS4 and Xbox One games 7
Need for Speed: Rivals
Available: Now

The Need for Speed series has some serious ups and downs, but we’re happy – and surprised – to report that Need for Speed: Rivals is a highlight. As with the other games in the series, it’s an arcade racer rather than one that tries to be in any way realistic.

Its world is open, and it blends multiplayer and single player modes into a single environment for a seamless feel. It’s bags of fun, and the game that ensured neither console was without a good racer at launch.

9/10 – Read the full Need for Speed: Rivals review

PS4 and Xbox One games 2
Destiny
Available: September 2014

Destiny is a ‘new IP’, a game not based on an existing series. People are still extremely excited about it, though, because it’s made by Bungie, the development studio behind the first Halo games.

It’s a science fiction shooter that merges multiplayer and single player play styles – something we’re likely to see an awful lot of this year. What’s getting us more excited, though, is that it looks fantastic and offers grand vistas to explore. This game will come to previous-generation consoles as well as the new guard.

Read more about Destiny

Games – Conclusions

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At present, the Xbox One has a slightly better game line-up, and in the near future it has more significant exclusives. However, the series that came to define console exclusives in the PS3/360 era will remain the same. So if Uncharted means way more to you than Halo ever will, think carefully before dismissing the PS4.

We’ll find out a lot more about the future games coming out for these consoles during E3, which takes place in June.

Further on this feature we’ll look into every bit of each console in depth, but if you want a quicker read, here are the top reasons to buy each console.

There’s a lot more to making this decision. For the rest, go to TrustedReviews.com.

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