TIME deals

New York Gambles on Full-Size Casinos to Boost Cash-Strapped Communities

New York Casinos
The Proctors Theater marquee displays a celebratory message after a New York State board announced earlier on Dec. 17, 2014, that the former Alco site in Schenectady, N.Y., would be recommended for a casino Patrick Dodson—AP

The recommendations favor gaming complexes situated in struggling upstate towns

A state board has recommended the approval of three full-size, Las Vegas–style casinos in New York State.

The three gaming complexes are slated for Schenectady (near the state capital, Albany), Tyre (near the Finger Lakes) and Sullivan County Catskills (north of New York City), the New York Times reports. They will be the first of their kind in the state.

The recommendations cap a competitive campaign by 16 casino developers for the right to set up shop in New York State, many of them hoping to tap New York City for customers.

Yet the board in the end rejected all six proposals for casinos immediately kitty-corner to the Big Apple, favoring instead developers with plans to give northward communities, still mourning the loss of a teeming manufacturing sector, a heady injection of jobs and cash.

Critics of New York State’s effort to expand gambling have doubted that casinos will renew hard-up towns and cities, citing a saturated regional gaming market, as well as predicting that casinos might hurt, not help, such places by sowing crime and spooking property values.

[NYT]

TIME celebrities

Lindsay Lohan Just Released an App Called ‘The Price of Fame’

Look out, Kim Kardashian!

Lindsay Lohan has teamed up with Space Inch game developers to get her own piece of Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood by releasing her own app, Lindsay Lohan’s Price of Fame.

According to a press release, the game is “designed as a parody on celebrity culture and paparazzi,” which reveals that La Lohan is now self-aware enough to poke fun at her own place in pop culture. Much like Kardashian’s wildly successful celebrity culture app, Lindsay Lohan’s Price of Fame lets players act like world famous professional celebrities by creating an avatar that can purchase outfits, accessories, toys and even pets.

“I love this game and am happy to be part of it. It’s so much fun!” said Lohan, who recently filed a lawsuit against the makers of Grand Theft Auto for allegedly incorporating her likeness into the game. She will undoubtedly love Lindsay Lohan’s Price of Fame even more if the game earns even a fraction of what Kardashian’s app has brought in. Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is estimated to bring in $200 million annually, with $85 million of that reportedly going to Ms. Kardashian herself.

TIME Gaming

Blood-Sucking Video Game Pulled From Kickstarter

The game would have extracted blood when you lose a point

A video game that sucks players’ blood has been pulled from Kickstarter for unspecified reasons.

“Blood Sport” is a project designed to “raise the stakes” of gaming, so that whenever a player gets hit in the video game, they lose blood in real life. Instead of the normal “rumble” that indicates an avatar has suffered a blow, Blood Sport players would be hooked up intravenously to their consul, so that blood could be taken out of their arteries.

“All we’re doing is hacking a pre-existing blood collection machine to take your gaming experience to the next level,” the creators wrote on their Kickstarter page. The technology is equipped with a feature that determines how much blood a player can lose without passing out.

The gaming technology could be used to stage “blood donation gaming events,” they said.

The Kickstarter was suspended Monday, for unspecified reasons. It had already raised almost $4,000 of its $250,000 goal.

TIME Video Games

Microsoft’s Black Friday Xbox One Deals Will Blow You Away

Visitors At The Eurogamer Expo 2013 For Gamers
A logo sits on an Xbox One games controller during the Eurogamer Expo 2013 in London, U.K., on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. Matthew Lloyd—Bloomberg / Getty Images

The Xbox One is about to get $50 cheaper

Microsoft is slashing the price of its Xbox One gaming console by $50 price and offering further discounts for select game titles for the Black Friday holiday weekend.

The Xbox One will retail for $349 at participating retail stores — or, for gamers who don’t care to be trampled under a Black Friday stampede, the console can be had at Microsoft’s online store.

A package deal that includes a Kinect and one free game from the popular Assassin’s Creed series will start at $449.

Further Xbox-related markdwons will be unveiled on Microsoft’s website as soon as this giant doomsday clock counts down to zero.

 

TIME apps

Tinder CEO Sean Rad Is Stepping Down

TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014 - Day 3
Tinder Co-Founder and CEO Sean Rad speaks onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt at Pier 48 on Sept. 10, 2014 in San Francisco. Steve Jennings—Getty Images

IAC plans to replace Rad with “an Eric Schmidt-like person"

Tinder’s CEO Sean Rad is out of the top role at the dating app that he helped to found over two years ago, a report says.

The side-swiping application is majority-owned by Barry Diller’s IAC, which has plans to replace Rad with “an Eric Schmidt-like person,” reported Forbes. Rad will remain on Tinder’s board and will act as president once the new CEO comes on board. Until then, he will stay on as the acting chief executive.

Rad has faced a tumultuous year, despite helping the dating service log 600% growth over the past 12 months. A sexual harassment lawsuit that led to the ouster of Tinder Chief Marketing Officer Justin Mateen also cast a pall over Rad’s leadership.

Whitney Wolfe, a co-founder of the app who was forced out, accused Rad and Mateen of sexually harassing her. The suit was settled in September, but not before Mateen resigned.

Rad’s demotion comes as Tinder launches an aggressive new monetization initiative for the dating service. The premium service will be an option on top of the otherwise free application and is the company’s first attempt to generate cash flow from the service.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Gaming

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Will Have a Zombie Mode

AUSTRALIA-IT-INTERNET-GAMES-CALL OF DUTY
A shopper poses with the newest instalment of the "Call of Duty" videogame at a midnight launch of per-ordered copies of the game in Sydney on Nov. 3, 2014. Saeed Khan—AFP/Getty Images

But it isn't planned for launch

Until now, it was only a strong rumor that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare would include the zombie-killing mode that’s become a popular sideshow in the series since first appearing in Call of Duty: World at War. However, Activision is now confirming a Zombie Mode is in the works for the new title, to be available at some later date as paid downloadable content.

Activision confirmed Advanced Warfare’s Zombie Mode after this email from GameStop was sent to people receiving updates on the game. However, the email was inaccurate in that Zombie Mode isn’t available for Monday’s Advanced Warfare launch and it won’t require players to get the $49.99 Season Pass to play Zombie Mode.

“This just in, Zombies are back as part of the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare season pass! Stop by any GameStop to pick up one of the most anticipated games to launch this year, along with 4-multiplayer map packs, Atlas Gorge, and yes – ZOBMIES,” read GameStop’s email. “All this is available for purchase today GameStop as part of the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare season pass for only $49.99.”

Previously leaked trailers for Advanced Warfare seemed to reveal the game’s zombies will be more 28 Days Later and less Dawn of the Dead in that they’re faster and they can jump, though little else is known at this point.

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.”

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