Boy Scouts can earn a video gaming pin

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CNN’s Cody McCloy blogs on finding out that the Boy Scouts are now offering a video gaming pin.

If you’re thinking that the Boy Scouts have gone nuts, that’s a reaction not entirely without reason as he outlines that it could simply be an attempt by the Scouts to remain relevant in today’s world. There’s no doubt that since the days of earning badges for campfires, being technically savvy has become as important a skill – especially in today’s workplace – and games are a big part of today’s social experience. But a badge for gaming?

Looking at the requirements for the actual pin on the official Boy Scouting page, it actually does sound like a positive move by the organization to promote an understanding of games with the help of family and friends. This isn’t something thrown together after seeing how big Modern Warfare 2 had become.

Doing things such as explaining why a rating system is important, teaching an adult or a friend how to play a game appropriate to their age group, or creating a schedule balancing homework and gaming are only a few of the ways that Scouts can earn it. One or two other requirements are a little iffy such as doing comparison shopping between game stores, but it doesn’t sound like the Scouts that want to earn this pin will simply “play games” to get it.

With as much flak as games sometimes receive, it’s refreshing to find efforts like these – especially from an organization that works with kids – that at least try to promote understanding as opposed to chasing blame. And that’s a win for everybody.

Red Faction: The Movie

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No, really. According to Broadcasting & Cable, THQ’s game franchise, Red Faction, is getting its own two-hour movie…on Syfy.

Now before you start groaning at hearing that Syfy is involved in this one and can’t wash the memories of such notable films as SS Doomtrooper or The Black Hole (not to be confused with the fine 1979 Disney movie of the same name), the network is also known for its very gritty reboot of the Battlestar Galactica series as well as the long-running SG-1 series (now evolved into Stargate Universe) based on the Stargate film.

I’m guessing that it’s going to take its cue from the most recent game, Red Faction Guerilla. The franchise is chock full of potential story ideas depending on how they play the whole “rebellion on Mars against Earth” thing with the potential for colonial lines being drawn in the red sand, factions vying for supremacy, a bit of Mad Max in the wilderness, and making it as gritty as Battlestar.

But if they ever do it that way, only one request: retire the shaky cam “reality” thing. It’s done. It was done when the Blair Witch did it. Thank you.

Bungie and Activision: The Alliance

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Do you hear that? If you listen very closely, it’s the sound of Bobby Kotick rubbing his hands together with glee.

Halo developer, Bungie, has announced via its blog that they’ve just signed a ten year alliance with Activision. It might not be as astounding to some as the NFL’s deal with EA over Madden, but to Halo fans, it’s just as huge.

It’s certainly a bold step considering the exodus bleeding Infinity Ward’s ranks at the moment, but the announcement makes it sound as if they will remain as independent as they are by making it clear that they will own their own IPs. There’s also no mention of Activision buying a stake in the development house, although the announcement did also mention that there were undisclosed terms.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the details were hammered out over seeing what is going on with Infinity Ward, but there you have it. Halo’s developers have found a new port for their fleet of ideas to depart from. The next few years will tell us the rest of the story.

UPDATED: Kotaku has the scoop on just what Bungie has planned with Activision and not surprisingly, leaves us wanting for more. Some highlights:

  • brand new IP will be an action game set in a new universe
  • will leverage their experience with Halo, but the game won’t be based on any of their past properties
  • Bungie’s alliance with Activision will allow them to reach multiple platforms
  • probably won’t hear anything on just what the game will be about or what genre it will take place in until AFTER 2010. Ouch.

Kotaku also has a few other speculative guesses, one of which suggests that Bungie’s next big thing might have a subscription. Activision acknowledges that an online component “should be expected to be a big part of their next game.”.

Bungie’s work with Halo Waypoint had given their fans a closer connection to Halo’s world, so their next game may already have something similar planned to bring players closer together, or in how they intend to share content, short of making it an MMO.

Let the waiting begin.

No manual for you!

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It looks like Ubisoft is ready to deliver a knock-out blow to manuals. At least for some of their games.

Eurogamer notes that Ubisoft’s “green” initiative isn’t without merit: to make a ton of manuals, it takes thirteen presumably standard-sized trees into a process that pumps out 6000 lbs. of CO2 and produces 15000 gallons of waste water. Sounds like something that Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe might be caught swimming in.

Splinter Cell: Conviction will also be one of the last games that will actually have one. Going forward, everything you will need will apparently be shown to you in-game and if you really want to read one, a digitized copy will be provided as well. In recent years, RPGs have been doing a lot of this by actually providing plenty of in-game material, such as “books” and scrolls that can actually be read.

It’s obviously a cost-cutting measure, but it also gives Ubisoft a nice “green” checkmark for the environment at the same time. Not every game really needs one as much as they did in the past, either. For someone that has grown up with manuals bursting with details on the PC, it’s something that I’m going to have to get used to.

In the eighties and nineties, before tech had managed to come closer to helping realize the imaginations of the game developers that had shaped their worlds through it, manuals and little extras like actual amulets, crystals, folding maps, and even fake props such as newspaper clippings helped to further immerse the player. Thanks to better tech, that kind of help is probably no longer as important as it used to be when much of that is now in the actual game.

That, and the fact that gaming is so much larger than it had been before with higher sales required for anything to break even nowadays. Creating that many extras can’t be cheap which is probably a big reason as to why most of the interesting ones are found in CEs and LEs.

Eric Wittmershaus at PressDemocrat also points out that it doesn’t make sense for every game to have one other than those with involved systems, such as an RPG like Dragon Age.

Then again, hint guides have been doubling as manuals by providing the basics with their tables and skill tree diagrams, anyway. But if paperless RPGs do come around, I can only hope they don’t follow FFXIII’s lead with a twenty hour tutorial.

Fans select Drew Brees for sacrifice

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New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees will be the latest to test his fate against the Madden Cover gods, thanks to the results of first-ever online fan voting for the game’s next cover athlete for Madden ’11. Brees beat out Minnesota sack machine Jared Allen and Indianapolis wideout Reggie Wayne. If you remember, the famed “Madden Curse” decided to smite Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu following his joint appearance on the cover of Madden ’10 with Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Then again, Brees IS the QB for the Saints. Surely a Saint can negate the curse … right?

Among the game’s new features in its effort for a “simpler, quicker, deeper” experience, according to EA:

Simpler: Call plays like an NFL coach with ease using an all-new play-calling system, GameFlow, which executes an authentic, situational game plan for you.

Quicker: The new play-calling system will enable players to spend more time on the field and less in the playbook – completing games in half of the time.

Deeper: Madden NFL 11 is feature-rich, with improved animations and control options, enhanced online functionality, and new broadcast and audio presentation that delivers the NFL experience fans have come to expect.

Review: Splinter Cell – Conviction

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Revenge isn’t always carried through someone’s force of will. Sometimes, it’s through his skill.

Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell: Conviction spends a lot of time trying to prove this point, transforming one of its flagship characters into an aggressive, precise and predatory instrument of death. Sam Fisher is full of rage, and players get to reap the benefits in a short but very sweet body of work that boasts the most pure fun of any game in the series.

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Pair of characters revealed for Tranformers: WFC

Activision sent out pics and bios of an Autobot and a Decepticon for Transformers: War for Cybertron, due out June 22.

The Autobot is Air Raid, who turns into a jet and uses as EMP shotgun:

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The Actvision bio refers to him as such:

Fearless and rash, Air Raid is always ready for a fight. He prefers diving head first into a pack of Decepticons rather than shooting them from afar because it’s more fun. That is his only real goal in life; to have fun. This attitude always seems to place him and his fellows in danger, but he always manages to get himself and his friends out of it.

I remember the same was said for Brawn, who transformed into a small all-terrain vehicle. This was before he decided to run at Megatron and the Decepticons in “Transformers: The Movie” and ended up getting a hole blown in him for his trouble.

Speaking of Decepticons, the one named Breakdown is after the jump.
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Trailer for Gears of War 3

Cliff Bleszinski of Epic Games dropped the trailer for Gears of War 3 during his appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

I’m having trouble embedding this one, so this link is going to have to do for now.

Note the tentacled Locust creature as well as the presence of a female Gear soldier, something that’s been missing from the first two installments. Before this, the only females I can remember were Anya, the communications / intel officer and the Locust Queen. I guess you can sort of throw Dom’s wife in there, but … I’m not sure she counts. The game, according to the trailer, should be coming out around this time next year.