TIME Innovation

How Using Data Could Stop Deadly Police Encounters

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Can police use data to prevent deadly encounters?

By Larry Greenemeier in Scientific American

2. Malaria kills half a million people every year. A first-ever vaccine is one step closer to reality.

By Alexandra Sifferlin in Time

3. NASA has discovered an older Earth-like planet. Can it tell us our future?

By Sarah Fecht in Popular Science

4. You can help verify the code that runs our nation’s defense — by playing these browser games.

By Paul Rubens at the BBC

5. Is it time to say goodbye to tipping?

By Twilight Greenaway in Civil Eats

 

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Video Games

Professional Video Gamers to Be Tested for Doping

Games League of Legends
Mark J. Terrill—AP The team of SK Telecom T1 competes in the second round at the League of Legends Season 3 World Championship Final on Oct. 4, 2013, in Los Angeles.

The Electronic Sports League will begin testing gamers for performance enhancing drugs from August

Professional video gamers will soon be subjected to the same scrutiny as professional athletes.

The largest and oldest professional video game organization, the Electronic Sports League (ESL), announced in a statement Thursday that starting in August they’ll begin testing gamers for performance enhancing drugs.

“As the world’s largest and oldest esports organization, ESL has an ongoing commitment to safeguarding both the integrity of our competitions and that of esports as a whole – we wish to ensure we can provide a fair playing field for all participating players,”a post on ESL’s website reads.

The first tests will be administered at the ESL One Cologne event in August, according to the statement.

Sports Illustrated reports the announcement comes in the wake of a scandal surrounding a team that admitted to taking the anti hyperactivity and attention deficit correction drug Adderall during a recent competition.

TIME destiny

This Video Perfectly Captures What It’s Like to Lose Your Mind Over a Video Game

Everybody needs a friend commentating like this

Ah, Destiny. Bungie’s massively multiplayer shooter inspires great devotion and exasperation in players. But, at it’s best, it can be an addicting, adrenalin-pumping experience. Take the above video—warning it contains some profanity, you may want to wear headphones—the colorful commentary in which was supposedly accidentally recorded by the player’s Playstation 4. Kyle, who was watching a friend play, can be heard egging him on and generally commentating on the increasingly bonkers state of the match in Destiny‘s Crucible multiplayer mode. Everybody needs a pal like Kyle now and then.

[Source: Reddit]

TIME Video Games

Here’s When You Can Get Nintendo’s Sweet New Amiibo

The nostalgia factor is very high

Nintendo has taken the wraps off several special editions of Super Mario Maker, its make-your-own-Mario game slated for released later this year. The company also confirmed the release date for two of its most anticipated Amiibo figurines of its iconic Mario mascot.

The figurines, which connect to various Nintendo digital titles, will come in two variants, the traditional NES Super Mario Bros. in brown and red and referred to as “Classic Colours” and one in current shades dubbed “Modern Colours.” Classic Colours Mario Amiibo will be available as a standalone product September 11 in Europe and September 12 in Australia. The Modern Colours version will be available October 23 in Europe and October 24 in Australia.

A special-edition Nintendo Wii U bundle will pack Mario Maker in with a console. There’s currently no word on U.S. release dates.

 Mario Amiibo
NintendoOne of Nintendo’s new Mario-themed Amiibo.
TIME Video Games

Here’s Why Everybody Loves This Bizarre New Soccer Game

It's the weirdest, wildest demolition-derby you can imagine

It’s like soccer with race cars. That’s the elevator pitch for San Diego studio Psyonix’s Rocket League, a zany ball-punching demolition derby for PC and PlayStation 4. The game arrived without ceremony two weeks ago, but it’s already clinched over 5,000 “overwhelmingly positive” reviews on Steam. It’s now pretty much what everyone’s talking about.

Imagine Hot Wheels with something like Moon-gravity physics: swarms of splashy, customizable rocket-propelled dragsters that can leap into the air like tumbling ultralights. Players scoot or soar over futuristic astroturf fields honeycombed in weird symbology and enclosed within translucent hexagonal domes. The goal: to chase down a gargantuan ball (bigger than the vehicles themselves) and send it careening into soccer-style goal posts. And like soccer, it’s all about finessing assists and saves, but with a kind of outré elegance that’s like watching four-wheeled ballet dancers glide, plummet and pirouette.

MORE: Here’s Why Valve’s Virtual Reality Controllers Are So Vital

It’s weird, no doubt about it, and at first tends to play as bizarrely as it sounds. Figuring out how to best avail yourself of subtle variations in vehicle mass and momentum becomes as essential as sussing the statistical differences between top footballers in FIFA 15. But once you get the hang of the controls—and you will, it’s just a matter of your brain doing that thing brains do when recalibrating to alt-gravity physics—it becomes second nature. Stunts that look impossible in clips, say leaping into the air, rebounding off the dome and arrowing across the field, then flipping your hind end around at the last minute to smack the ball as it crosscuts your trajectory and score a goal, become eminently possible.

Rocket League, it’s worth mentioning, is a kind of sequel to a 2008 game clumsily titled Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars. But the latter was only available for PlayStation 3, and didn’t generate the critical buzz Rocket League‘s been getting. What’s more, Rocket League supports cross-platform play, allowing PlayStation 4 and Windows players to square off across ecosystems.

Think of it as football unbound, and another example of the power of games to bring totally ridiculous ideas (that turn out to be pretty darned good ones) to life.

TIME Virtual Reality

Here’s Why Valve’s Virtual Reality Controllers Are So Vital

HTC Vive
HTC HTC Vive

Everything gets infinitely more immersive

As of last week, I’ve finally tried all three major, high-end virtual reality headsets: Oculus VR’s Rift, Sony’s Morpheus and HTC/Valve’s Vive. From a new user’s perspective, all three experiences felt mostly similar. I’m convinced that when these headsets start hitting the market next year, a winner will be crowned based on available content, not differences in underlying technology.

But the Vive demo had something I hadn’t experienced yet, and it made the virtual reality experience much more immersive: VR-tuned controllers.

Before I tried the Vive, my experiences in virtual reality were mostly hands-free. I could look around various digital domains, but actually interacting with the ersatz world around me was largely either impossible or meant using the same kind of controllers designed for traditional video games (or, worse, a keyboard and mouse). The Vive demo, however, featured new controllers that look a bit like a sword hilt, designed specifically to let users manipulate objects and other elements in virtual reality.

What VR controllers actually let you do depends on the simulation you’ve got loaded up. In the demo I tried at a downtown New York City hotel on July 16, that meant a combination of clearing tiny fish out of the way of my scuba mask to get a better look at a humpback whale, grabbing the right ingredients out of a fridge and placing them in a pot to make soup, and failing miserably at rebuilding a broken robot. And all of these things felt incredibly natural and intuitive after just a minute or two.

HTC’s Vive won’t have a monopoly on virtual reality controllers; the Facebook-owned Oculus has announced a pair of its own, too. That these companies realize the importance of actual interaction in virtual reality is great news for fans of the medium. While modern VR totally blew me away the first time I used it, I was getting a little bored by the concept come time to put the Vive on. But the controllers added an entirely new element that’s got me thinking about much more complex possibilities in the virtual space, like adventure games (virtual reality Myst, anyone?), puzzlers (VR Monument Valley, yes please) and action titles (VR Star Wars: Lightsaber Battle, shut up and take my money).

Now, more than ever, I can’t wait to see the inevitably crazy ideas actual VR content creators cook up.

TIME Video Games

Go Ahead and Treat Yourself to 90 Gorgeous Seconds of No Man’s Sky

A new trailer. More wonder

No Man’s Sky, the massively open space exploration game coming to PC and Playstation 4, is creeping closer to reality. Though an official date hasn’t been announced, more information about the Hello Games-developed title has been made available throughout the month of July. (A big source has been IGN’s great video series; The New Yorker also ran an excellent profile of the studio working on the game.) The title promises to let players explore a vast universe of procedurally generated worlds, discovering new species, mining resources, trading and fighting with one another. And check out our impressions and hopes for No Man’s Sky here.

TIME Virtual Reality

Watch the Demo That Will Make You Want Virtual Reality Right Now

Mind-blowing, totally mind-blowing

One of the most talked-about virtual reality products, the Vive developed by games giant Valve and smartphone maker HTC, has been making the rounds with a particularly enticing demonstration: a brand new game in the massively popular Portal universe. Clips of what players see during the experience have cropped up here and there; now, you can watch the entire play through in the video above. In the demo, players find themselves inside a workshop tasked with assembling one of the game’s wisecracking robots, among other tasks. One of the important distinctions of Valve’s VR implementation is its unique controllers, which can be seen being used in this clip.

TIME Video Games

Alex Morgan and Lionel Messi Will Share the FIFA 16 Cover

FIFA 16
EA Sports FIFA 16

The game features women's teams for the first time

EA Sports’ FIFA 16 will be the first in the franchise’s history to feature women on its cover.

U.S. Women’s National Team star Alex Morgan will grace the cover of FIFA 16 when it goes on sale domestically in late-September, Electronic Arts announced Monday. Morgan, the team’s star forward, will share the cover with Argentinian male soccer star and FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi on games sold in the U.S. Meanwhile, Messi will share the spotlight with Canadian Women’s National Team player Christine Sinclair on copies sold in Canada.

News that the latest FIFA cover will feature Morgan and Sinclair comes less than two months after EA announced that the new game will be the first in the franchise’s history to give gamers the option of competing with women’s teams. FIFA 16 will include the option of gameplay between a handful of different women’s national teams, including the U.S., Canada, England and Germany. Fortune spoke to EA CEO Andrew Wilson earlier this month about the decision to include women’s teams in the game.

Morgan is one of the biggest names on the USWNT, fresh off its dominant run in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. Earlier this month, the U.S. defeated Japan to win the tournament for the first time since 1999. Morgan played through a knee injury throughout the tournament, but still scored a goal against Colombia in her team’s quarterfinal match. In a statement, Morgan called her cover treatment “an incredible honor.”

Following the USWNT’s World Cup victory, fans created an online petition to convince EA to put the U.S. team on the FIFA 16 cover. EA also lets fans vote on male and female players to be featured on regional editions of the game.

“As soon as we knew Women’s National Teams were joining FIFA 16, we immediately recognized that Christine and Alex would be the perfect cover athletes based on their accomplishments and what they represent for their respective countries and the sport of women’s soccer,” David Pekush, senior manager of North America marketing for EA Sports, said in a statement.

EA decided to add women’s teams to FIFA just ahead of this year’s World Cup, which proved to be a wildly successful tournament in terms of television ratings. The USWNT’s title game against Japan attracted more U.S. viewers than any soccer match in history.

TIME Video Games

5 Reasons to Buy the Xbox One Right Now

US-ENTERTAINMENT-IT-INTERNET-VIDEOGAMES-MICROSOFT-XBOX
AFP—AFP/Getty Images A member of the Microsoft security team watches over the newly unveiled Xbox One videogame console at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington, on May 21, 2013.

You love Halo, don't you?

It’s axiomatic to the game console wars that a vocal minority will forever turn the “which to buy” debate into a fracas over technical exotica. Microsoft’s Xbox One has suffered more than Sony’s PlayStation 4 in this regard, struggling to hit today’s high-def sweet spot (1o80p) in faceoffs with its more popular rival. It hasn’t helped that the Xbox One looks like a kludgy 1980s desktop computer, a throwback to boxy “kitchen sink” power design.

But on balance, the Xbox One remains a fine choice in 2015, flush with outstanding exclusives, a lower price tag and increasingly close integration with Microsoft’s ubiquitous Windows ecosystem. And those first-gen disparities between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have dwindled as development’s matured, proving both systems are well-matched powerhouses in the hands of experts.

Here’s a roundup of reasons to consider the Xbox One, mid-2015 edition.

Halo 5: Guardians

The only place to play the fifth installment in Microsoft’s storied sci-fi Halo series is the Xbox One. Halo 5: Guardians arrives October 27—a week earlier for Limited Collector’s Edition buyers. And if you want to replay the first four games remastered for Xbox One, the Halo Master Chief Collection, whose online features were still in triage through the early part of this year, looks to finally be in solid shape.

Beyond Halo? Formidable Xbox One exclusives out now or coming this year include Sunset Overdrive, Ori and the Blind Forest, Cuphead, Titanfall, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Forza Motorsport 6.

Your friends play on Xbox Live

Social networks are the future of any online-focused platform. No one save Sony and Microsoft have the hard statistical data accounting for who played what, where and how often on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but if your friends mostly live on Xbox Live, abandoning your pals to play with strangers may be out of the question. (Note that Xbox Live runs $60 a year, and it’s mandatory if you want to play games or do much of anything else with the Xbox One online.)

You can stream Xbox One games to a Windows 10 PC

You’ll need a Windows 10 computer, of course, but if you already have a prerelease version of the operating system (or plan to get one when the public version of Windows 10 arrives on July 29) and you like the idea of cordless platform interoperability, this slick little bonus feature just emerged from beta.

Sidebar: Microsoft plans to reintroduce cross-platform gaming (Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs) with Fable Legends later this year. And Windows 10 will itself soon replace the Xbox One’s native operating system as part of Microsoft’s ongoing OS unification strategy.

It’s cheaper than Sony’s PlayStation 4

By only $50 ($350 versus $400), sure. But that’s more than the price of a used game and nearly the price of a new one. If you want the least expensive game console, that’s technically Nintendo’s Wii U. But if you want the least expensive (upfront) platform that plays third-party games like Grand Theft Auto V, The Witcher 3 and Batman: Arkham Knight, the Xbox One wins the price tag war — for now.

Backward compatibility

Console-makers are under no obligation to retrofit their flagship systems with prior-gen titles, but when they do, no one’s going to complain. The Xbox 360 has a powerful back library well worth preserving. The initial list of backward compatible games (in beta, as part of the Xbox One preview program) may look small, but expect it to grow, and anything that made piles of cash to appear on it eventually.

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