‘Call of Duty’ Creators Are Implementing More Systems to Curb Racism in Games | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Sourced from Polygon.

Call of Duty developers Infinity Ward has announced that the company will be issuing more bans for racist usernames, and will begin taking more steps to monitor racist content in-game in the future.
The Call of Duty series of games has become infamous for hosting a large number of trolls who use racist insults to harass other players, usually via voice chat.
“There is no place for racist content in our game. This is an effort we began with launch and we need to do a better job. We’re issuing thousands of daily bans of racist and hate-oriented names,” Infinity Ward says in a tweet.

pic.twitter.com/o2nR4ZNQL0
— Infinity Ward (@InfinityWard) June 3, 2020

Infinity Ward will also add more ways for the company to filter racist content and ban players for it – including new and improved reporting tools. These new features and promises come in the wake of a Reddit user calling out the developer via a video showing dozens of accounts using the n-word as their usernames. While racial slurs on their own are not allowed to be set as usernames, players had been using symbols to bypass existing filters.
Polygon suggests that these oversights are being especially highlighted amidst the ongoing protests surrounding the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Video Game Developers Support #BlackLivesMatter
Many other video game companies have also come forward with statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement as well as donations to related causes and promises to diversity the gaming industry.

#BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/wOvXXYK6AW
— Pokémon (@Pokemon) June 3, 2020

Pokémon International pledged $100,000 to the American Tempemail Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), saying in a Tweet that it “…[stands] in solidarity with [its] Black employees, fans and families who continue to be impacted by systemic racism and senseless violence.”

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— Naughty Dog (@Naughty_Dog) June 1, 2020

The Last of Us developers Naughty Dog, critically lauded for their highly inclusive and progressive video games has leant its voice to the movement.
Even huge companies like Ubisoft and PlayStation have weighed in.

We stand in solidarity with Black team members, players, and the Black community. We are making a $100,000 contribution to the NAACP and Black Lives Matter and encourage those who are able to, to donate. #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/KpHZCF6VWx
— Ubisoft (@Ubisoft) June 2, 2020

pic.twitter.com/fnkB9ZmYg5
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) June 1, 2020

Edited by Luis MonzonFollow Luis Monzon on TwitterFollow Tempemail on Twitter


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5 Best Video Games For Parents and Kids Under Lockdown | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Sourced from The Guardian.

With only grade 7 and grade 12 learners returning to school in the next few weeks, most children are still confined to their homes under the nationwide level 3 lockdown in South Africa.
While many parents are working from home, and children are schooling from home as well, there is always a few hours of the day to settle down to some video games together. Of course, you don’t want your kids drowning in screen time, but if you’re a parent that games, or if your children game, this is an excellent way to connect with them.
The following are 5 great video games to play with your children during level 3 lockdown in South Africa that are certain to be fun for both you and your kids:
5. FIFA or any other sports game

Extremely popular in South Africa, the FIFA games are usually a staple in most households.
Sports are a great way to connect with your children, and with FIFA or other sports video games, you can do that within the safety of your home. Play for hours. Runs tournaments, and share your love of football with your offspring.
Available on Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Mac OS and Nintendo Switch.
4. Untitled Goose Game

Play as a mischievous little goose in a picturesque village in this fun and harmless title. Your kids will laugh with you as the goose gets up to hijinks with the people of the village.
This puzzle-stealth game received rave reviews for its silliness and unbridled charm
Game Informer writes that “Untitled Goose Game is a great concept, and ends in the same charming way it started. Pranking people is fun, and doing it as a goose just adds to the thrill.”
Available on Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Mac OS and Nintendo Switch.
3. Rocket League

A sports game with a twist, CNET writes that Rocket League works for kids on a number of levels.
Flying jet-fueled cars playing football is probably all you need to know about how and why children gravitate towards Rocket League. Super fun, super-fast gameplay with familiar rules.
The game supports same-screen multiplayer, useful to play as a family. It also features bots your kids can play against if you’re not around to play with them.
Available on Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Mac OS and Nintendo Switch.
2. Portal 2

One of the best games ever made. In the ultimate puzzle game Portal 2 parents and kids can team up through a series of mind-bending and intricate problems and puzzles that stretch the limits of spatial reasoning.
With its tongue-in-cheek approach to sci-fi, Portal 2 is a super fun distraction from the lockdown tedium. A must-play for parents and children alike.
Available on Windows, Mac OS, PS3 and Xbox 360.
1. Minecraft

Called the Lego for a new generation. Minecraft is so good for kids that it used in schools to help children with creativity and problem-solving.
Explore an endless virtual world where you and yours can build whatever you want – from tall towers to fathomless dungeons. Survive against blocky skeletons and giant spiders and defeat the legendary Ender Dragon together in this ultimate kid-and-parent friendly title.
Available everywhere and on everything.
By Luis MonzonFollow Luis Monzon on TwitterFollow Tempemail on Twitter

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The Last of Us Part II: so much more than just another zombie story | Games – Blog – 10 minute

Now 25 years on from the outbreak, Seattle is completely overgrown. Abandoned cars are still lined up on the highway, rusted and rooted down by vegetation bursting through the tarmac. Skyscrapers still pierce the sky, their metal skeletons exposed by the bombs that were dropped in early, vain attempts to contain the fungal sickness that was spreading through the population. In any one of these buildings, there could still be the infected: aggressive runners, who still retain at least the appearance of humanity, or the skin-crawling clickers, hosts who have long since lost their sight and selves to the fungus – or worse.
As usual in post-apocalyptic fiction, there are also other people out to do you harm. In The Last of Us Part II, you are Ellie, a 19-year-old survivor who happens to be the only known person with immunity to the contagion that’s destroyed humanity – but immunity won’t save her from bullets, or from being savaged to death, so whenever you get into a combat situation the tension is absurdly high. This isn’t a game with shootouts and explosions and powerful weapons – instead it’s desperate grappling with a knife, improvised molotov cocktails, hiding prone in long grass while people patrol with guard dogs.
In 2013, The Last of Us was one of the last truly great games to be released on the PlayStation 3, a trans-American road trip that pushed both the technological and storytelling boundaries of video games. Ellie, then 14, wasn’t centre stage in that game: instead it was Joel, a smuggler trying to deliver her across the country to an organisation that might be able to use her immunity to develop a vaccine. With apologies to anyone who hasn’t played it yet: that didn’t work out.

Extraordinarily realistic characters and arresting locations … The Last of Us Part II expands the possibilities for its genre. Photograph: Naughty Dog/Sony
Seven years later, The Last of Us Part II is arriving at the end of the life of the PlayStation 4. The world is still devastated; there’s still no hope. This time we play as Ellie herself, on a different kind of journey.
“The first game is about the unconditional love that parents have for their child and how insane that can be – the beautiful things that love can make people do, and the scary things,” says Neil Druckmann, lead writer and director of The Last of Us and its sequel, and VP of its developer, Naughty Dog. “This is asking the same question but from a slightly different angle: if someone has wronged someone you love, hurt someone you love, how far are you willing to go to do right by them and bring the people responsible to justice?”

It’s a story about people, and the extraordinary and horrific things they can do for each other, or to each other

Naughty Dog is to story-driven video games what Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption developer Rockstar is to open-world ones: whenever the studio comes out with a new game, it’s an event that expands the possibilities for its genre. The Last of Us Part II’s extraordinarily realistic characters and performances and its arresting locations are part of this, but technology can only take things so far when it comes to storytelling. What distinguishes Naughty Dog’s games from other expensive, cutting-edge action games is that many of the best, most memorable moments come not from shootouts or thrilling set pieces – though Naughty Dog is famously excellent at those – but from conversations.
“We’ve discovered that we don’t actually need as much action as we usually think about with a game like this,” says Druckmann. “Those quiet, thoughtful moments where people are just talking, or where you’re walking around looking and interacting with a scene, are important in themselves – and then we move on to the tension.”

The Last of Us was already an extremely violent game, but Part II is even more so. In a short sequence premiered last week, in which Ellie weaves her way through the city to track down a woman in a heavily guarded Seattle hospital, we see the sort of graphic violence usually confined to the most intense horror movie. This is not playful violence; it is not exactly supposed to be fun, though plenty of players will surely nonetheless enjoy experimenting with the game’s tools for stealth and murder. Instead The Last of Us goes to immense lengths to make its violence feel consequential, in contrast to the casual pointing and shooting of most action games, in which you hardly give a thought about the body count you’re amassing as you cheerfully plough through hundreds of grunts.
“We needed to ground the violence,” says Druckmann. “It’s not completely realistic but we are going for believability. The feeling that we’re after when you’re playing these violent sequences, the adrenaline and tension, is more important than pure realism. That’s how we judge what’s too much, what is too little – to thread the needle and show the consequences of your actions.”
Video game storytelling has greatly improved in the past seven years, in both the indie and blockbuster spaces. Creators, designers and writers from ever more diverse backgrounds are using games’ interactivity and capacity for putting you in another person’s shoes to tell the kinds of tales about the kinds of people that would have been unthinkable a decade ago, when even having a female lead character was a novelty. Against that backdrop you might wonder what yet another violent post-apocalyptic video game might have to offer in 2020. 

Precious immunity … in combat situations, the tension is absurdly high. Photograph: Naughty Dog/Sony
But Naughty Dog’s willingness to tackle difficult and sometimes distressing themes and material, in a way that’s grounded in believable characters, make this more than just another zombie story. Like the best post-apocalyptic fiction, from the early seasons of The Walking Dead to The Road, it’s a story about people, and the extraordinary and horrific things they can do for each other, or to each other.
It takes some endurance to play a game like this, but in return you get an experience more affecting for its intensity – the kind of experience you can only get from a video game, where both the danger and the characters feel incomparably up-close and personal.

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From Street Fighter to Sonic the Hedgehog: 10 of the best retro games | Games – Blog – 10 minute

Pac-Man
In difficult times, nostalgia can be a balm, and sometimes you want your games to be totally uncomplicated. Currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, the original iteration of Pac-Man still rules. It is a simple game – gobble the dots, avoid the ghosts – but the genius is in the details: did you know that each ghost behaves slightly differently according to their personality?Smartphones and consoles
Final Fantasy VII
A landmark game for storytelling with big swords and bigger hair, Final Fantasy VII might look a bit rough these days but the tale it tells is still rich and absorbing. There is a fancy, beautiful-looking remake available now, but the original version is much cheaper, still pretty great, and hits that 90s nostalgia spot.Smartphones and consoles
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection
Were you even a teenager in the 90s if you didn’t spend hours beating up your friends in Street Fighter II? This collection of beat ’em-up classics includes all the most popular Street Fighter games and many more besides, so whichever one was your favourite, you’ll find it here, alongside reams of interesting museum content.PC and consoles

So long, suckers … Day of the Tentacle Remastered. Photograph: LucasArts
Day of the Tentacle Remastered
Chase a power-hungry tentacle through history by solving obscure puzzles and chatting to weird characters. With a whole portfolio of witty old LucasArts adventure games to choose from (Monkey Island, anyone?), it’s hard to pick just one to recommend, but Day of the Tentacle wins out because it’s the most endearingly weird, and its remaster is the most skilfully done.PC, Mac, consoles and iPhone/iPad
Donkey Kong
Ever fancied yourself as a bit-player in The King of Kong? Until a couple of years ago, you couldn’t play an arcade-perfect version of this notoriously brilliant man-v-ape platform game without buying an actual arcade cabinet, but thankfully now you can leap over barrels, scale girders and smack things with a hammer for just a few quid on Nintendo Switch.Nintendo Switch
Sonic the Hedgehog
Who needs film-quality characters when you can have Sonic, whose twin personality traits are “blue” and “fast”? Sonic’s azure skies, bright greens, sparkly soundtrack and super speeds transport you back to simpler times, and cutting quick paths through these glossy, colourful landscapes still feels exciting.Smartphones and consoles

Chief whip … Castlevania Anniversary Collection. Photograph: Konami Digital Entertainment
Castlevania Anniversary Collection
These speedy, demanding, sprawling gothic action games have you whipping vampiric hordes into shape through forests, castles and clock towers in medieval Europe. It’s amazing even now to see what the early Castlevania games could do with a few colours, detailed pixel art and intricate, spooky chiptune music.PC and consoles
Super Mario World
There are few things more purely joyful than jumping Mario around Nintendo’s colourful and meticulously well-designed video game playgrounds. Stuffed with fun power-ups and secret routes that were the stuff of playground legend, this SNES classic is the best of the old-school Mario games, and marked the first appearance of cheerful green dinosaur Yoshi.Nintendo Switch, Nintendo SNES Classic
Doom 64
Forget cinematic stories that justify why you’re about to spend several hours shooting things in the face. This is old-school Doom: guns, demons, mazes of oppressive corridors and coloured keys. The new rerelease of this under-appreciated version of Doom is nicer to look at and smoother to play, but it doesn’t mess with the core appeal of shooting and strafing.PC and consoles
Streets of Rage 2
You might have seen some chat about Streets of Rage 4, the first new game in this beloved series of comic-book brawlers for 26 years. If you want the unreconstructed retro experience, though, play Streets of Rage 2. Fly-kicking your way through numberless small-time thugs in grimy, neon-lit streets seemed so edgy at the time, but now it is oddly comforting. Smartphones and PC

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Move over, Fortnite: how Valorant became the next big competitive game | Games – Blog – 10 minute

On a Tuesday in early April, viewers around the globe watched streamers on Twitch play one particular game for a combined 34m hours, smashing established live-streaming viewership records. The game in question, Valorant by Riot Games, has been averaging hundreds of thousands of daily spectators ever since, quickly displacing Twitch stalwarts such as League of Legends and Fortnite.
Valorant is a ready-baked esport: a competitive shooter designed to be watched as well as played. After a few weeks with Valorant, I’ve found it to be a careful mix of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s meticulous but rewarding gunplay and Overwatch’s characters and soft-edged charm.
This combination – complemented by expensive anti-cheat measures and super-fast servers – has made it an easy sell for hardcore players. Many professional crack shots are jumping ship from games such as Apex Legends and Fortnite, the most notable departure thus far being 2019 Overwatch League MVP Jay “Sinatraa” Won, who revealed in April that he was leaving Blizzard’s hero shooter behind to focus on Valorant.

Yet for the casual player like me, Valorant still has a lot to offer. While I might not be the most accurate shot, I can still be useful in other areas. My preferred character, Cypher – one of nine in the game right now – has the tools to provide match-winning information about the enemy team through careful camera placement and pesky tripwires. It turns every round into a battle of wits as well as accuracy, weaving personal narratives into a conventionally cold competitive format.
The game’s slick design has enabled its meteoric rise on Twitch, but a crucial difference between this game and previous contenders is that almost no one could get their hands on it for weeks. Valorant spent almost two months in a very limited closed beta stage, which ends today on 28 May, and the digital keys to the virtual kingdom were a hot commodity. Riot Games’ clever marketing scheme was to let streamers give away keys to their viewers, incentivising millions of people to watch the game being played in the hopes of gaining access for themselves.
This led to an initial boom, but it didn’t take long for things to turn sour. Top streamer Dr Disrespect was caught fraudulently advertising beta keys, and some players with access took to eBay to trade their accounts for profit. In an attempt to keep the system fair, Riot swept its player database, banning many account sellers, and later opened up giveaway drops to all streamers with beta access instead of a curated few. But then people started streaming prerecorded footage of their gameplay, claiming that they were “live-playing” Valorant, trying to bring in more viewers.

‘Team game’ … Valorant. Photograph: Riot Games
Under lockdown, when viewers may have more free time than usual, Riot’s approach has created a perfect storm of hype. But it has also left some debris in its wake. While writing this, I watched a houseful of streamers play the game in shifts to a drop-desperate audience in the hundreds – yet the chat was devoid of conversation, beyond viewers pinging the watch-time command to expose the nauseating amount of hours they’ve spent watching and hoping for access. I’m not sure this is what Riot had in mind when it kicked off this campaign.
For those who snagged a coveted beta key, the watching and waiting was worth it. Having played Counter-Strike for almost two decades, Kai Powell spent roughly 50 hours waiting for Valorant access over three or four days. “I like that Valorant feels different from other hero shooters because the abilities supplement the gunplay,” Powell tells me. “If you look at Overwatch, you’re locked into whatever weapons that character comes with.”
Natalie Flores has spent more than 1,500 hours in Overwatch, but now plays Valorant on a daily basis. “Valorant is a team game, but doing well individually is enough to lead your team to victory,” Flores tells me. “Too often, I’m doing well in Overwatch, but my teammates will deny constant opportunities to coordinate attacks together … even if it ends in a victory, the process leading up to the win was so exhausting that it usually doesn’t feel rewarding!”

Instant hit … Valorant. Photograph: Riot Games
Yet like many competitive esports – including Riot’s own League of Legends – Valorant already has a toxicity problem. (A recent example posted to Twitter shows a Riot developer being hit on and then harassed while playing her own game.) “Riot will need to focus on creating some structural changes or else many people, especially people of colour or women like me, won’t stick around,” Flores says. “And we make up a too significant portion of every game’s player base for any company to ignore.”
With the recent introduction of a ranked mode bringing structure to competitive play, Valorant’s success appears to be a foregone conclusion. Esports organisations such as Sentinels, T1 and Ninjas in Pyjamas are stocking teams with ex-Overwatch and Counter-Strike professionals as we speak, and given the streaming numbers, it’s hard to accuse any of them of jumping the gun. Riot will have an esports giant in its roster when the game launches next week.

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In video game stories, it’s often side quests that are most meaningful | Games – Blog – 10 minute

It is a narrative standard in role-playing adventure games: the hero is pitted against a Big Evil, who has a strategic or chaotic hunger to destroy the world we know. From Shinra’s greedy harvesting of the planet’s resources in Final Fantasy VII Remake to Ganondorf’s quest for power and destruction across more than 30 years of Legend of Zelda games, the stakes are always astronomically high.
But what really makes these fictional realms worth saving? Role-playing games need to offer more than a sequence of linked events toward a monumental finale. A world is made of people, not just objectives.
This is where side quests come in: the tiny stories that make the emotional texture of a journey richer and fuller. Whether we’re talking role-playing epics such as Final Fantasy and The Witcher, or indie adventures such as Night in the Woods and Iconoclasts, it is off the beaten path that the stories gain their power.

Side quests are not just portals to smaller adventures, they are demonstrations of kindness

Across a lifetime of playing video games, I think most often of these side quests: lost animals, medicine in need of delivering before the ingredients expire, underwear retrieved from a bedroom where it shouldn’t be, baby rats that must be fed every day, hiding a cursed fiance and his panicked bride in the nights before their wedding. All of these tiny stories are alleyways off the main drag of the quest, but ones I happily get lost down. I prefer a Cloud Strife who will stop to help a child in a slum find her lost cats to the one who would power through undeterred to his climactic battle. I prefer a Geralt who will gamely search for an old woman’s favourite frying pan or a Fallout 4 Sole Survivor who’ll assist a bunch of sailor robots as they launch their rusty ship for one last voyage.

Small fry … this humble pan forms the basis of a whole side mission in The Witcher 3. Photograph: Witcher 3
This is the kind of hero I would be, I think. I hope. I am interested in ways that we can play games and save worlds without violence, ways in which gameplay utilises curiosity, helpfulness and generosity as power in the place of a gun or a sword. Side quests are not just portals to smaller adventures, they are demonstrations of kindness.
In Paper Mario: the Thousand-Year Door, a starkly underrated RPG, we are invited to spend time keeping the ageing mayor of a village of Koopas company, or assembling a cake for a psychic who lives beneath the central town of Rogueport. These simple, transactional quests elevate the adventure, giving the world and its oddball creatures an independent life. And there is no rush: the princess will still be waiting in another castle when we are done.
The transgressive indie adventure Undertale turns the stuff of side quests into the main thrust of the game: talking to the monsters lets you pass them by safely. Rather than electing the simple input of violence, the game asks you to consider conversation and engagement instead, mercy as the ultimate display of heroism. In this way, every encounter becomes a tiny story of its own: a healing operation, a brief journey taken.
The first real side quest that impacted me profoundly when I was growing up was a classic within a classic. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, on the Nintendo 64, Kakariko Village. Upon arriving at the game’s first town, we are asked in simple terms by a stressed-out girl called Anju to help her find her chickens. She can’t go and get them herself because she can’t touch them – they’ll make her sick. So off you go. Though we have the burden of an entire kingdom on our young shoulders, a heavy sword, and an even heavier quest, we help her. We trek up behind the windmill, clamber over fences, thrash open boxes, and for a few minutes, we are just a child, running after chickens. In return, she gives us an empty glass bottle and sends us on our way.

Simple pleasures … there is more to life in Legend of Zelda than saving the world from Ganondorf. Photograph: Nintendo
The bottle, though not a weapon, becomes one of the most useful items in the entire game. Later, we use it to hold ingredients for medicine to help another citizen of Hyrule. It can hold potions, and milk, to heal us, too. The chickens weren’t even that hard to find.
In the shadow of huge plot devices like destiny and impending doom, it is important that adventure games give us the chance to yield to tiny, human interactions. We must be given space to heal the citizens of the world, as well as the world itself – to find beloved pets, gather ingredients, solve disputes. To put down your sword, and offer your hand instead.
• Sarah Maria Griffin is an author from Dublin, Ireland. Her most recent novel is Other Words for Smoke. She tweets @griffski.

Tempemail , Tempmail Temp email addressess (10 minutes emails)– When you want to create account on some forum or social media, like Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, TikTok you have to enter information about your e-mail box to get an activation link. Unfortunately, after registration, this social media sends you dozens of messages with useless information, which you are not interested in. To avoid that, visit this Temp mail generator: tempemail.co and you will have a Temp mail disposable address and end up on a bunch of spam lists. This email will expire after 10 minute so you can call this Temp mail 10 minute email. Our service is free! Let’s enjoy!

Minecraft Dungeons review – hours of fun for locked-down families | Games – Blog – 10 minute

When the idea to make a Minecraft spinoff was first batted around at Mojang Studios, a dungeon crawler game must have been one of the first suggestions. From Gauntlet to Diablo, this genre has always featured dank subterranean lairs, treasure chests and warrior skeletons – all beloved Minecraft components. The signature blocky visuals also work well, ensuring that Minecraft Dungeons will look familiar to fans as they hurtle through dioramas of hack-and-slash fun that rearrange themselves each time you play.
The plot is paper thin: a vengeful loner discovers a treasure that turns him into a powerful mage and duly begins a reign of terror over the Minecraft kingdom. The game can be played alone, but it is most enjoyable to play its co-op mode, which can be enjoyed on a console or online. In this mode players work together to bring down waves of skeletons, slime monsters, and giant spiders, reviving fallen allies as they go. With four players taking part, each equipped with magical weapons, the screen is soon awash with arrows, explosions, lightning bolts and freeze rays in a confusing but exciting light show. As Gauntlet veterans will recall, it’s the hidden rhythms of this genre that are really delightful; the anticipation of the next wave of enemies, the anarchy of battle, then the delicious gluttony of loot collection.

Intuitive fighting … Minecraft Dungeons. Photograph: Microsoft
Fighting is highly intuitive – one button for melee attacks, one for ranged weapons. You start with a basic sword and bow, but soon unlock more powerful weapons such as spears, battle hammers and rapid-fire crossbows. You can also earn enchantments for your weapons, giving them new attacks – a poison cloud or lightning strike, for example. Armour and artefacts imbue you with their own special abilities, from lasers to healing auras. The generous cornucopia of defensive and attacking options add a rich seam of strategy and planning to the chaos of the levels.

From the first encounter with a cute skeletal archer to the final mega battle against the Arch Illager himself, Minecraft Dungeons is a delightful thrill ride of a dungeon game. The levels are filled with detail, from lush pixellated woodlands to deep red stone caverns where clattering mine carts rush through the narrow tunnels and torches flicker on craggy walls. Each level has a clear path to the end, but there are plenty of side routes to explore, along with whole cast of baddies and bosses including the terrifying Endermen, accompanied by horror movie music, and necromancers who generate hordes of zombies.
Minecraft Dungeons is enlivened by a sprightly, varied score, theatrical sound effects and many references to the original Minecraft. If you aren’t charmed by the baby zombies rushing at you, arms outstretched, or by the collectible anthropomorphic dungeon keys that run away in terror when you’re attacked, then you have had your soul extracted by a sorcerer.

Minecraft Dungeons isn’t exactly an epic challenge. You’ll be able to complete a basic run-through in an evening, though escalating difficulty levels bring up ever more powerful and interesting weapons and items. Plus, as the levels are partly random, they’re never quite the same when you return, adding to the replay value. Some players will find it galling that the game map shows an unavailable area that will be available to purchase later on.
It’s also a shame that we see none of the main game’s focus on player creativity. Between each level you’re returned to your training camp where you can buy new items and practise with fresh weapons, and it would have been a nice touch to be able to build your own little castle there. But as a retro-tinged hack-and-slash jaunt with plenty of Mojang character and humour, Minecraft Dungeons is a hugely diverting treat that’ll provide hours of fun for locked-down families.

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‘Transcendentally boring’: the joy of job simulation games | Games – Blog – 10 minute

There is no escape for me this time. The rear axle of my pick-up truck is wedged on a boulder protruding from the mud in the middle of a deserted backwater road in Michigan. I’ve tried to attach a winch to a nearby tree to pull myself out, but it’s not working. I will have to abandon the vehicle, fit up another and try again. This load of timber is not going to deliver itself.
I am playing Snowrunner, the latest in a series of painstakingly authentic offroad delivery simulator games in which players have to haul goods through a variety of unforgiving landscapes at speeds that would shame a garden snail. Before each trip you have to select exactly the right vehicle for the job, fit the correct tyres and work out your likely fuel consumption to the nearest millilitre. On the frozen roads of northern Alaska, there is no room for shoddy planning.
Over the last five years there has been a renaissance in serious job simulator games. Titles such as Euro Truck Simulator, Bus Simulator and Train Sim World have attracted huge fanbases and critical acclaim, each replicating its profession with unremitting attention to detail. In an entertainment sector where ludicrous power fantasies rule, where players get to be space marines, ancient warrior princesses and football superstars, it seems antithetical that 25 million people have bought Farming Simulator, a game in which your main challenge is to harvest a successful wheat crop.

Devoted following … Bus Simulator 18. Photograph: Astragon
But it is the very precision of these games that has attracted such a devoted following. “Throughout development we gather a lot of questions,” says Julian Mautner at Stillalive studios, the team behind the Bus Simulator games. “When you turn the ignition key once, which functions of the bus actually work, and which icons on the dashboard light up? What happens afterwards when you turn it into second position? These are the details our players really care about.”
According to Mautner, the studio has a partnership with its local transport company, IVB (Innsbrucker Verkehrsbetriebe), which they regularly visit to inspect real-life buses and take hundreds of pictures. “We also talk to the bus drivers about their everyday challenges, about special situations or tricky manoeuvres they had to execute,” he says. “That provides us with immensely valuable insights into the workings of a transportation company.”

In an unpredictable world, it is calming to open the doors of a bus at the right time, to give the correct change

Meanwhile, the coders accurately simulate all aspects of engine performance – gear changing, torque, acceleration – using information from manufacturers. The audio team makes more than 1,000 recordings of sounds from all around different buses. The artists recreate interiors exactly. As Mautner explains: “Nowadays we aim to get actual 3D data for the cockpits, because replicating the details from images and blueprints often led to small inaccuracies that the community noted.”
The landscapes are vitally important, too. With truck and train driving simulators much of the appeal is the scenery that whizzes past as you’re hauling goods from Berlin to Bonne, or driving a Great Western train to Cornwall. “Real-world references are essential for the world creation,” says Ondrej Dufek, a project leader at SCS Software, the creators of Euro Truck Simulator and American Truck Simulator. “Google Earth, Maps and Street View are a vital tools and sources of photo references. On YouTube, there are also videos from truckers who drive across various states and countries, commenting on their surroundings and pointing out interesting stuff. Information about elevation, economy, industries, markets, traffic density, freight routes, weather, even demographics – everything is important and helps us decide what roads and cities to put in our world.”

Not just for pernickety obsessives … Train Sim World. Photograph: Dovetail Games
“Sometimes we’ll take photos straight against a wall so our artists can see what kind of brick is being used,” says Matt Peddlestone, a senior producer at Dovetail Games which makes Train Sim World. “As you go down a route, the supplier of the brick changes because the bricks are being made locally and the colours of the building will change. We want to capture that.”
It’s easy to think of hardcore sim fans as pernickety obsessives, but there is a quiet joy in interacting with these lovingly replicated systems of lights, switches and signals. In an unpredictable world, it is calming to open the doors of a bus at the right time, to give the correct change, to set the heating system correctly, to obey the traffic signs. It is gratifying to see a button, to press it and to know something will happen.
“I play simulators because by their nature they are internally consistent,” says fan Melissa Harper. “If you’re playing a game and you’re in a cockpit, and you can’t press all the buttons, that absolutely slaughters the experience for me. But in Microsoft Flight Simulator, you can press all the buttons, and they all do something. That’s SO satisfying, and then you can learn what they all do.”
Her favourite example is the ultra hardcore Stormworks: Build and Rescue, where you run your own sea rescue service. “It’s the most brutal game I’ve ever played,” she enthuses. “You have to make the whole plane yourself – and all those hundreds of buttons? You have to place them by hand! The developers just toss you into a ridiculously complicated editor and say, ‘Hey, it’s only aircraft, propulsion and electrical engineering, how hard could it be? F*** you.’ It is my favourite game.”

First build your own aircraft … Stormworks. Photograph: Green Man Gaming
All the simulation developers I spoke to know that some of their players are professionals in the field being simulated. The Train Sim World developers are quickly told when a siding has been placed in slightly the wrong position, or if a certain signal outside Stratford never shows a green light, only ever yellow because that’s the way it’s been wired. “Drivers send us tips,” says Dufek. “What truck stops and unique landmarks we should include, which parts of the roads are infamous for their difficulty (steep climbs, mountain passes).”

Beyond all this, simulators have an emotional and nostalgic value. Train Sim World lets players drive historical trains and journeys, which has allowed retired drivers to rediscover routes they once travelled every day. Fishing: Barents Sea Simulator was inspired by the life of co-creator Goran Myrland’s grandfather, a fisherman in 1950s Norway. “He owned a classic boat just like the Follabuen, which is in our game,” says Yasemin Hamurcu, COO at Misc Games. “He spent months with his crew on the rough sea to find the best catch, to earn money and provide for his family. His wife always worried about him, hoping he would come home safely.”
I have friends who drive for hours in Euro Truck Simulator, using the game’s real in-game radio app to pick up local stations. For me, Snowrunner has been almost hypnotic – it’s given me longer to take in the scenery, to get the feel of rural North America. Many players aren’t here for the authenticity of the equipment of the simulation minutiae; they’re here to experience a landscape in their own way, in their own time. A slow and steady escape.

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The game that ate the world: 40 facts on Pac-Man’s 40th birthday | Games – Blog – 10 minute

It was on this day in 1980 that one of gaming’s most iconic characters made his debut. To celebrate, here are 40 facts about the ravenous yellow circle and his proud, pill-popping legacy …
1. Pac-Man was created by game designer Toru Iwatani – he was just 24 at the time. The idea for the character came to him when he removed a slice from a pizza.
2. He was also partly inspired by the onomatopoeic phrase paku paku meaning “chomp chomp” and the kanji symbol for the word taberu meaning “to eat”.
3. In 2010, Iwatani told Wired that Pac-Man particularly targeted female players. “When you think about things women like, you think about fashion, or fortune-telling, or food or dating boyfriends. So I decided to theme the game around ‘eating’.” There is absolutely nothing problematic about this statement …
4. To make the game more kawaii (“cute”), Iwatani designed the ghosts in bright colours and gave them large doe-eyes.
5. The ghosts are called Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde and they each have their own personalities based on AI routines. Blinky constantly chases Pac-Man, Pinky attempts to ambush him, Inky is randomised depending on Pac-Man’s position and Clyde will get close to the player then attempt to flee to the bottom left corner, potentially cutting off escape routes.

Arcade adventure … Pac-Man. Photograph: Adam Berry/Getty Images
6. The idea of eating a power pill to give Pac-Man super strength came partly from the cartoon Popeye and his love of spinach, and partly from the Japanese concept of kokoro (“spirit”) or life force. It’s considered one of the first examples of a “power up” in video game history.
7. Pac-Man manufacturer Namco installed the first machine in a movie theatre in Shibuya, Tokyo, on 22 May 1980.
8. The game was only a moderate success until its blockbusting US launch the following October.
9. It was originally called Puck Man, but the US distributor Midway was worried that the word Puck could easily be modified by mischievous vandals into something ruder. Hence, Pac-Man.
10. The game features short animated sequences between levels, showing Pac-Man being chased by the ghosts. This was one of the first examples of a non-interactive video game “cutscene”.
11. Martin Amis was a fan of the game and in his 1982 book Invasion of the Space Invaders claimed to have spent weeks in “a Pac-Man-fed stupor […] unwilling and unable to think about anything else”.
12. Within a year of Pac-Man’s launch, 100,000 units had been sold and 250m games were being played every week. Pac-Man became gaming’s first marketable mascot, with licensed merchandise including lunchboxes, joke books, T-shirts, board games, pyjamas and, for the romantic gamer, Valentine cards.

Inspired by pizza … Toru Iwatani, creator of Pac-Man. Photograph: Elvis Gonzalez/EPA
13. A strategy guide to the game, Mastering Pac-Man by professional blackjack player Ken Uston, sold more than 1m copies.
14. With its simplified maze and blocky visuals, the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man is widely considered one of the worst arcade-to-home console conversions of all time. Although it sold 7m copies, the game was so wretched it has been widely blamed for the 1983 video game crash, alongside the similarly poor title, ET.
15. Japanese toy manufacturer Tomy made a famously beautiful, handheld Pac-Man game in the shape of an enormous yellow blob with an LCD display. This advert for the device is quite a rush.
16. The tribute song Pac-Man Fever by artists Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia reached number nine in the US charts in March 1982. An album of video-game-inspired songs followed. It was not good.
17. The game’s distinctive electronic music and sound effects were also an inspiration to early hip-hop pioneers. Notable examples include Jonzun Crew’s Pack Jam and Newcleus’s Jam on Revenge (The Wikki-Wikki Song).
18. The game gave us this Marcus Brigstocke joke: “If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music.”
19. In 1981, Japanese manufacturer Shoei released a terrible “erotic” version of Pac-Man called Streaking. It was later heavily featured in the movie Joysticks, which belonged to the 1980s teen sex comedy genre popularised by Porky’s. Here is the movie trailer. Please don’t watch it.
20. The movie also featured preview footage of Super Pac-Man, Namco’s official sequel to the original game.
21. In a 1982 episode of the sitcom Taxi, Louie (Danny DeVito) installs a Pac-Man cabinet in the garage and Jim (Christopher Lloyd) becomes addicted to the game. The scene is effectively a how-to guide and an advert for Pac-Man rolled into one.

22. Pac-Man was a major element in the appalling Adam Sandler comedy Pixels, with Toru Iwatani getting a cameo as an arcade repairman. But let’s just forget about that, shall we?
23. In 1999, Billy Mitchell became the first person to obtain a perfect Pac-Man score of 3,333,360, eating every dot, power pill, ghost and bonus on every level without losing a single life. However, Mitchell was later accused of cheating by video game records supervisor Twin Galaxies. The record was equalled by David Race in 2012.
24. It is impossible to score higher than that because of a bug in the game that turns the screen to gibberish on the 256th screen.
25. The success of Pac-Man inspired US distributor Bally Midway to create a series of mostly identical sequels: Ms Pac-Man, Pac-Man Plus, Jr Pac-Man, Baby Pac-Man (which added a mini pinball table under the monitor) and Professor Pac-Man.
26. Professor Pac-Man was a quiz game depicting Pac-Man in a mortar board and glasses. It was not a success.
27. In 1982, Hanna-Barbera produced a Pac-Man cartoon series. It features Pac-Man, Ms Pac-Man, their child Pac-Baby and their cat Sour Puss as they attempt to elude the evil Mezmaron who is obsessed with power pills. The intro sequence is a work of hallucinogenic brilliance.
28. In his book Trigger Happy, writer Steven Poole suggested Pac-Man was a precursor to survivor horror games such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill due to its confined, maze-like map, supernatural enemies and emphasis on evasion.
29. In corporate parlance, “the Pac-Man defence” is a strategy in which a company targeted for a hostile takeover attempts to turn the tables and purchase the acquirer.
30. Ms Pac-Man is widely considered a better game than Pac-Man, due to the more varied maze design and improved ghost AI.
31. However, it is most remembered for the image on the side of the game cabinet, which depicts Ms Pac-Man with high heels, red lipstick and fluttering eyelashes, making her the decade’s most bizarre and confusing sex symbol. And, bearing in mind we’re talking about the 80s, that’s really saying something.

Unlikely sex symbol … Ms Pac-Man
32. In the Friends episode The One Where Joey Dates Rachel, Phoebe gives Chandler and Monica a pristine Ms Pac-Man cabinet as a late wedding present – a generous gift as it would have cost about $2,500.
33. Namco has regularly attempted to update and expand the Pac-Man concept. Sometimes this has worked (scrolling platformers Pac-Land and Pac in Time, and the isometrically viewed Pac-Mania); sometimes it really hasn’t (risible party game Pac-Man Fever and mystifying off-road driving sim Pac-Man World Rally).
34. Pac-Man has also appeared as a playable guest character in many other games, including Everybody’s Golf, Mario Kart Arcade GP and Street Fighter X Tekken. He stars as the world’s cutest racing car in Ridge Racer Type 4.
35. Swiss tech company ClearSpace is developing a satellite capable of orbiting Earth and gobbling up space junk. The project leader nicknamed it “the Pac-Man system”.
36. In 2004, New York University students created a real-world version of Pac-Man entitled Pac-Manhattan, in which a player dressed as Pac-Man had to run around the city avoiding students dressed as ghosts. The game used mobile phone GPS signals to track their positions.
37. French street artist Invader has created several mosaic works featuring the Pac-Man character and ghosts, notably in Paris and Bilbao.
38. For his spring/summer 2009 collection, fashion designer Giles Deacon dressed the models in gigantic Pac-Man helmets and had dots painted along the runway.
39. In 2012, Pac-Man was one of 14 video games brought into the collection at MoMA in New York and displayed in its architecture and design gallery.
40. Toru Iwatani returned to Pac-Man in 2007, co-designing the brilliant Xbox title Pac-Man Championship Edition, which adds a time limit and an endlessly transforming maze layout. It was a fitting end to his Pac-Man odyssey.

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Can virtual reality help get you through lockdown? | Games – Blog – 10 minute

Right now, it feels as if there is no escape. We’re stuck at home for most of the day, our only respite coming from the odd stroll around the block.
But make a list of the things you miss most from your pre-lockdown life and chances are you can probably do some form of them in virtual reality. From travelling abroad to exercising outside, and even visiting friends, it’s all possible if you’re willing to strap on a headset.

Consumer VR technology, although still not perfect, has improved a lot in the past couple of years. The most advanced headsets are the HTC Vive (or its more living-room-friendly variant, Cosmos, from £500), Valve Index (£920) and Oculus Rift S (£400), all of which boast very high definition displays, extraordinary responsiveness and intricate controller tracking – but they’re expensive, quite complicated to set up and they need to be attached via cables to a high-end PC.

There are alternatives. PlayStation VR (£260) plugs into a PS4 console and provides a decent though comparatively low resolution experience with a really vast range of games, including platformer Astro Bot Rescue Mission and epic space exploration sim No Man’s Sky.

Explore space or climb a mountain while your partner is watching TV … Oculus Quest, an all-in-one headset with wireless controllers. Photograph: Facebook/Reuters

Our favourite, though, is the Oculus Quest (from £400), a powerful standalone headset that requires no connection to a PC and feels as comfortable and unintrusive as the tech currently gets. It comes with two wireless controllers that track your arm movements accurately, and the setup process is intuitive: you simply use the controllers to draw out the usable space in your living room, and an external camera makes sure you don’t get carried away and trip over your coffee table.

Apps such as AltSpaceVR have let me meet strangers with weird avatars in virtual hangouts – as unsettling as it sounds

Being freed from a bulky PC opens up the possibilities of VR as a casual home entertainment option. It means you can sit on your sofa (or in bed) and explore space or climb a mountain while your partner is watching TV. Over the past fortnight I’ve been happily trawling YouTube, Amazon and Oculus for short 360-degree VR movies (mostly available for free), and have spent many happy minutes swimming with sharks and gatecrashing LA pool parties. Quest has also made energetic games like the excellent Beat Saber and SuperHot feel safer because you’re not worried about tripping over a cable that’s coming out of your head. Apps such as AltSpaceVR have also let me meet strangers with weird avatars in virtual hangouts, which has been as unsettling as it sounds.
Recently, I may have taken my interest in VR technology a bit far by accepting a Roto VR Chair on loan from British tech startup Roto VR. It looks like a sports car seat mounted on a circular plinth, but it comes with an ingenious head-tracking device that you attach to your VR headset so that the chair rotates in the direction you’re looking.
At first the movement is rather unsettling, but as you get used to it, it adds a rather wonderful sense of being physically present in a world, which is perfect for virtual tourism apps as well as multidirectional games such as Robo Recall. The head-tracking rotation is also meant to cut down on VR motion sickness because it reduces the disparity between the screened activity and our body’s sense of where it is and what it’s doing. (There are also foot pedals to control forward and backward movement, although few games currently support this feature.) It’s expensive at $999 (£800) – Roto VR says most of its pre-orders have been from universities, businesses and arcades – but perhaps if the lockdown goes on much longer, many more living rooms will have one.
Even without a revolving chair, VR games and experiences are now providing a true sense of “presence”, the holy grail of the technology – and for a few minutes every day, I have genuinely forgotten that I’m standing alone in the living room in my pyjamas swinging my arms about.
Here are some of our favourite lockdown apps for VR:
Everest VR: Journey to the Top of the World (Oculus TV; Oculus and Samsung Gear VR)
Jaw-on-the-floor VR documentary with crisp visuals. A must-watch emotional journey from the Alps to the Himalayas, following mountain climbers. If you see just one 360-degree video, make it this one.

Supernatural (Within; Oculus Quest)

Bored with indoor exercise? This cardio fitness app will transport you to stunning photorealistic landscapes for a workout. Put on a fan to feel the breeze, as you bop to pacey daily routines, each accompanied with energising music. We tried it out before launch – it’s a tremendous amount of fun and very sweaty. Similar to Peloton, Supernatural has a library of on-demand fitness programmes. New sessions are released every day, each with a virtual coach who hovers in front of you.
VTime XR (VTime Limited; multiple headsets)
Straightforward but nifty app that will go some way to address what for many people has been the most challenging aspect of lockdown – the inability to visit friends and family in their homes. Upload 360 photos of your dining room and you can recreate a dinner party for up to four people.

Astonishing views … The Climb is an authentic climbing simulator. Photograph: Crytek
The Climb (Crytek; Oculus Quest and Rift)
A thrilling rock-climbing simulator, which feels surprisingly similar to the real-life experience, with players having to select the best route and regularly apply chalk to their hands. Best to do short sessions as you might get a little queasy. Oh, and don’t look down.
Ultrawings (Bit Planet Games; multiple headsets)
Surprisingly decent flight simulator considering the current limitations of VR graphics. Island-hop from airport to airport in a microlight, glider or aerobatic plane.
Bigscreen Cinema (Bigscreen; Multiple major VR headsets)
Several VR apps offer the option of playing films, but none recreate the full experience of heading to the movies like this one. With several blockbusters playing at any one time, enter a cinema lobby with friends and see what’s on. Spillable popcorn and soda included.
Rec Room (Rec Room; multiple headsets)
Rec Room is your go-to app for fun group activities. The visuals are undoubtedly cartoonish, but when you’re splurting off rounds in a paintball game or playing virtual dodgeball with others around the world, you’ll soon forget. Also included are escape rooms, although maybe lockdown is already claustrophobic enough.
Job Simulator (Owlchemy Labs; multiple headsets)
Some of you might even be missing the office by now (ahem, parents?) Job Simulator goes some way to recreate the experience of pre-pandemic employment. Don’t be put off, though, it’s not for workaholics. If you like, you can spend your time throwing coffee mugs at the boss.
Nature Treks VR (GreenerGames; multiple headsets)
A nature exploration and relaxation app recommended to us by VR developer Sam Watts of Make Real: “It has a series of calming interactive scenes you can chill out in and influence, with a yoga breathing mode.”
Sansar (Sansar; Multiple headsets)
Basically, the VR version of experimental virtual world Second Life, now sold by Linden Lab but still in development by much of the same team. “Great if you’re looking for more realistic graphics,” says Dan Page of VR firm Opposable Group. “Its major focus right now is music, but there are all sorts of socials and podcast recordings that regularly take place on the platform.”
The Room VR: A Dark Matter (Fireproof Games; multiple headsets)
A brilliantly designed and truly engrossing VR take on the award-winning smartphone puzzle game series, where you explore an archaeological museum deciphering hidden codes and unlocking intricate devices.
Half-Life Alyx (Valve; multiple headsets)
The long-awaited new addition to the legendary sci-fi shooter series is an absolutely stunning showcase of virtual reality technology, putting you right in the middle of humanity’s fight against alien invaders.
Other games to tryWe also recommend: ridiculous comedy romp Accounting+; surreal wildlife adventure Paper Beast; heartwarming action puzzler Moss; the atmospheric Star Wars demo Vader Immortal; and the frenzied multiplayer co-op experiences, Star Trek Bridge Crew, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes and Spaceteam.

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