Robots are usually seen as hard-shelled creatures with big motors and strong metal arms. New efforts, however, are exploring how robots can be made of softer materials, like squishy rubber. In particular, researchers at Harvard University are playing with a robot based on the body physics of cuttlefish, including the ability to change color. This creepy creature walks by means of compressed air pumped through its limbs, and can hide itself thanks to special dyes flowing along veins in its body. BBC News has the story.
Video games have an incredible power to teach. While computers have made their way into the classroom, video games are still seen as toys, instead of the powerful learning tools which they really are. Iowa State University psychology professor Douglas Gentile is traveling to Washington to brief the White House on how video games can be used to teach. The hope is that this conference will lead toward new support for video games as teaching tools in the classroom. Game Politics has the story.
Let’s play Borderlands with our friends over at MMO Anthropology! The bandit leader Sledge is no more, and we head back to Fyrestone for the reward. There’s still time to kick a few puppies and murder some low-level bandits, though. Also, we gain clearance to enter the Dahl Headlands.
The latest expansion to reinforce World of Warcraft’s steel grip around the throat of the gaming community is Mists of Pandaria. This expansion will unveil the land of kung-fu panda people, because if there’s one thing Warcraft lacks, it’s fighting and furries. Check out this cinematic trailer that does a pretty good job getting across the whole kung-fu panda deal.
Steam Community is something of a redesign of Steam that allows gamers to socialize easier. It includes game hubs, to allow players to browse popular content, updates to Steam groups that make them easier to use and join, a central location for your personal content, and more options for browsing and playing with your Steam friends. Right now, the beta is open to those who have earned the “Pillar of the Steam Community” achievement on Steam, and their invited friends. VG24/7 has the story.
The Hyrule Historia is the game bible of the Legend of Zelda series. It contains artwork, a history of the Zelda games, an official timeline, and interviews with the creators of Nintendo’s celebrated adventure game series. It’s also very, very out of print, and only available in Japanese. That’s set to change, as Dark Horse Comics has picked up the Hyrule Historia in a localization project that will see this collector’s book released early next year. Destructoid has the story.
Perfect World is a name you might have heard. Chance are, you play one of their games. This Chinese company has been making inroads into the western gaming market through a strategy of free-to-play games backed by an unending stream of cash shop virtual goods. In the States, Perfect World pulls the strings of puppet-company Cryptic Studios. That means City of Heroes and Star Trek Online are now PWE games, and have already felt the corruption of this company’s free-to-play plans. Check out this interview with Alan Chen, the fellow responsible for Perfect World’s local conquests. VentureBeat has the story.
The ancient art of cleaning money is coming to the digital age, at least if a report from the financial watchdog AUSTRAC is to be believed. Virtual worlds and MMOs offer criminals an opportunity to convert their dirty money into game resources, which can then be reconverted into shiny clean cash. While there is no present evidence this is happening on any large scale, the vulnerability is there, and the chance of criminal organizations turning their attention to virtual worlds will only increase as more money pours into the cyberscape. Already, phishing and gold farming operations show the potential for organized mischief in online games. Computerworld has the story.
Sony’s latest portable game system, the PlayStation Vita, has launched to a rough start. Sales of the device are slow, and the Nintendo 3DS is eating the market alive. While Sony engineers are working to drop the hardware cost of the Vita, Sony execs denied any price cut in the present year. Instead, they hope to lure customers by dangling bundled games as dripping bait. Eurogamer has the story.
Just in case you were holding off from the latest Humble Android Bundle because you don’t have one of those smartphone things the kids are all into, word up, gramps. This bundle also comes with PC, Mac, and Linux versions of the games wrapped inside. Those games being Fieldrunners, Bit.Trip Beat, SpaceChem and Uplink, with the special bonus Spirits for those who buy in with the heavy cash. Word on the street is these are pretty good games, so maybe you should take a look. Rock, Paper, Shotgun has the story.