Oh, you wacky scientists. What are you up to now?
Well, Informatics research scientists at the University of California, Irvine have built an Outrun arcade cabinet that can be driven on the road. For real.
Oh, you wacky scientists. What are you up to now?
Well, Informatics research scientists at the University of California, Irvine have built an Outrun arcade cabinet that can be driven on the road. For real.
Ubisoft, faced with a groundswell of opposition to the copy protection in the PC version of Driver: San Francisco, has announced that the game will not require a constant connection to a server in order to play. Players will no longer be required to have a constant internet connection in order to play the game, but they will still need to sign in online at the game’s launch.
A new study from Temple University finds that teens are highly susceptible to peer pressure, or peer acceptance - even if it means taking extreme risks. Researchers used "functional magnetic resonance imaging scans" on 40 teenagers and adults to determine if there were differences in brain activity when adolescents are alone compared to when they are with their friends. The study found that teenage peer pressure has a clear effect on brain signals related to risk and reward.
To quote a poignant line from Ground Hog Day, "don't drive angry!" But that is exactly what video game players do. A new study by UK-based tire manufacturer Continental Tyres found that people who spend time playing driving games are more dangerous when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
The study cited Gran Turismo and Grand Theft Auto as two games that had a particularly bad influence on players. In other words, they took the virtual driving skills out into the real world. The study asked 2,000 motorists (half gamers, half non-gamers) between the ages of 17 and 39 on their driving habits. Though gamers believe they are more skilled than the average driver, many also say they take higher risks and making more claims on their insurance as a result.
"Gamers take more risks than non-gamers, possibly due to the lack of real consequences in the game," said Tim Bailey, safety expert at Continental Tyres.
New research using a video game driving simulation is helping teen drivers with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) cope with the rigors, trials, and challenges of driving. The research is being conducted by Gregory A. Fabiano, UB associate professor of counseling, school and educational psychology at the University of Buffalo. The new leg of the research recently received a $2.8 million grant from the National Institute of Health's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Fabiano has already established a therapeutic program that helps these teens become better drivers and builds better relationship with their parents.
Funded by the UMass Memorial Medical Center and the Allstate Foundation, a new simulator, meant to demonstrate the perils of texting while driving, is making the rounds of Massachusetts high schools.
Teen D.R.I.V.E (Distracted Reality an Interactive Virtual Education) is a pretty snazzy looking simulator, which ends with a “patient’s-eye view” from a stretcher after a crash and an appearance before a judge to receive penalties, which go into effect in Massachusetts today.
If you’re allergic to clichés, please skim past the following quote from Allstate Foundation spokesman Chris Connor, who stated, “This is an opportunity to realistically engage teens in a manner they understand – video games, a simulation."
Insurance company The Hartford is promoting a game called DriveSharp and offering its elderly policy holders a $50 rebate for those that complete 10 hours of play in the title.
DriveSharp is built around three separate exercises—Jewel Diver, Sweeper Seeker and Road Tour—which may “feel like games but are serious science.” It was claimed that a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association reported that users of DriveSharp reduced car crashes, increased useful field of view, reacted faster to dangers and drove with greater confidence at night.
The game costs $79, which might lead you to ask what a user would get out of their $19 investment (after a rebate). A rep from The Hartford answered that question for the Hartford Courant, stating, “Peace of mind and maintaining independence by continuing to drive.”
Food, friends, family and football… what a great holiday.
We’ll be taking some time off here at GP to celebrate Thanksgiving and participate in the annual rite of seeing who can achieve the most disjointed belly.
For those celebrating, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving! To everyone else, whether you like turkey or not, enjoy your weekend! To all, thanks for your continued readership and support.
MSNBC’s Citizen Gamer column offers some advice on how to best survive the holiday. Hint: it involves videogames.
|Image via ICanHasCheezburger|
Last Sunday morning, a Utah police officer chased a car that blew through stop signs and narrowly missed a pedestrian. Imagine the pursuing cop’s surprise when the car came to a stop and out popped a 7-year-old boy.
On Thursday, Captain Klint Anderson of the Weber County Sheriff’s Office spoke of the incident to Fox News. Young Preston Scarbrough told police he had taken the family car because he didn’t want to go to church that morning (he later told his mom he just wanted to give driving a go).
Fox News: “How did he even learn how to [drive]?”
Anderson: “Well, we’re not exactly sure except that his father has grounded him from one of his video games which involves operating vehicles so…”
Fox News: “Something like a Grand Theft Auto, something like that?”
Anderson: “I have no idea. I didn’t ask the father what game it was but some of those video games are pretty realistic.”
The following day, the Scarbrough family appeared on NBC's Today Show. Preston’s father, who initially thought the police sirens outside were coming from one of his boy’s video games, confirmed that the little lawbreaker had been grounded for four days with no TV or games.
We’re going to throw away those driving video games for sure.
Preston, for his part, explained how he learned to drive.
Watched my mom. Watched my sister.
An 18-year-old Maryland man is heading to jail for seven years for a crime which prosecutors allege was inspired by Grand Theft Auto.
Hometown Annapolis reports that Nathan Wade Hartley, Jr. "door checked" two young brothers last August. Hartley, who had three friends in his car at the time, drove at the boys (ages 11 and 15), striking one by opening the driver's door of his Honda Civic and hitting the other with the front end of his car. The boys were critically injured in the assault.
Deputy State's Attorney John Mark McDonald commented on the case:
This was particularly disturbing... It just makes me worry about what he will do in the future... The only reason these kids are alive is luck or grace or whatever you want to call it.
Maryland radio station WTOP-FM has more:
A teenager is headed to prison for what prosecutors say was a senseless crime inspired by a video game.
In the popular game "Grand Theft Auto," players drive virtual cars and intentionally hit pedestrians by smacking them with open car doors. It's called "door checking," and prosecutors say 18-year-old Nathan Hartley decided to try it with a real car last summer.
GP: Is "door checking" possible in GTA? I'm having trouble locating any videos depicting it...
UPDATE: PS3 Attitude spoke to prosecutor McDonald, who denied linking the crime to GTA:
The suggestion came through the Defendant. I have never seen Grand Theft Auto, and had never heard of ‘door-checking’ until this case. It was a defense he set forth in attempting to waive his case back to the juvenile court. The State did not introduce the game into the prosecution of this case. It added nothing. My comments on the game were to rebut his reasoning for doing what he did.
I did not suggest that the game was to blame for his conduct, and would not. The blame lies entirely with Nathan Hartley. I stated as much in court. As I indicated, I have never even seen the game and I was not passing any judgment on the game. I was simply arguing why I felt his justification was not valid.
GamePolitics was in touch with Hometown Annapolis reporter Scott Daugherty, whose original article seemed to suggest that prosecutor McDonald make the GTA link to the crime. Here's what Daugherty told us:
It's been awhile since I've played GTA and the prosecutor has never seen the game. According to the prosecutor, Hartley's defense attorney referenced GTA in court as a defense... I guess the old, "it's not my fault, the video games made me do it," defense.
While I don't recall being able to specifically door check someone in GTA Vice City (the last one played), I do remember clipping pedestrians as I drove down the sidewalk. If you hit one they would fly off to the side.
That is the best I can offer.
The New York State Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill which bans texting, playing video games or surfing the Internet while driving, reports Buffalo Business First.
The measure, which previously was approved by the New York Assembly, now goes to Gov. David Paterson, who is expected to sign it into law. If so, the new regulations will take effect in November.
Newsday offers a comment from bill sponsor Sen. Martin Dilan (D):
This is a long-overdue safety measure for New York. Texting and burgeoning [portable electronic] technologies continue to pose serious, and sometimes fatal, distractions to drivers of all ages.
Violators of the new law will be subject to a $150 fine. However, the ban on portable electronics is considered a secondary offense, which means that it could only be levied if a driver is pulled over for another violation.
GamePolitics readers are familiar with the Digital Rights Management controversy which marred the release of Will Wright's long-awaited Spore last year.
But DRM and the consumer-unfriendly Digital Millenium Copyright Act are apparently concerns for drivers as well as gamers.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that a proposal before Congress would allow independent auto repair shops to break the DRM which currently locks them out of your car's diagnostic computer:
The Right-To-Repair Act of 2009 (H.R. 2057)... points to a much bigger consumer issue... One underlying legal problem here is the DMCA, which prohibits bypassing or circumventing "technological protection measures..."
And the issue goes beyond the importance of being able to get independent repair and maintenance services. The use of technological "locks" against tinkerers also threatens "user innovation" -- the kinds of innovation that traditionally have come from independent tinkerers -- which has increasingly been recognized as an important part of economic growth and technological improvement...
In short, thanks to the DMCA, we need a Right-To-Repair Act not just for cars, but increasingly for all the things we own.
Via: boing boing
Surely we can all agree that texting while behind the wheel is a very bad idea. But how do you drive such a fact through the thick skull of your average teenager?
Why, with video games of course!
As part of a nationwide contest put on by the National Organization for Youth Safety, Colorado’s Vail Christian High School has introduced the “distracted and drowsy driving project.” The initiative aims to show kids first-hand how dangerous distracted driving is by having students read and send texts while playing Mario Kart Wii. And yes, they’re using the Wii Wheel to control their karts.
So, is the program effective? Said 13-year-old Alli O'Brian:
I ran into a lot of things and it was very stressful. I don't think I'll text [while driving].
Vail Christian High School is one of twenty schools from around the country participating in the contest. The school with the best safety program will receive a $10,000 award.
Hit up 9news.com for video coverage of the program.
-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics correspondent Andrew Eisen…
Gaming while driving will earn you a ticket in Honolulu soon.
The Star-Times reports that on Thursday Mayor Mufi Hannemann will sign into law a bill that bans the use of all portable electronic devices by motorists. The measure, recently passed by City Council, contains an exception for hands-free devices.
Earlier this year Mayor Hannemann, acting on the advice of his police chief, vetoed a similar bill which would have made texting - but not general mobile phone use - illegal while driving.
A new study maintains that video games which simulate driving provoke a higher aggressive response than do violent games.
Drs. Simon Goodson and Sarah Pearson of the U.K.'s Huddersfield University will present their findings this week at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in Brighton.
Using an Xbox 360, the researchers studied players of Project Gotham Racing, a "3D table tennis game" and an unspecified first-person shooter. They found that the racing game caused the greatest changes in heart rate and brain activity. The shooter caused the least.
The conference program synopsizes their presentation:
Research has suggested a link between videogame violence and aggression using cognitive and physiological evidence. However, previous researchers have made sweeping generalisations about the nature of videogames. Using the latest hi-definition console both cognitive (BSPAQ) and physiological (ECG EEG & Respiration) measures were taken of participants playing a violent shooting game a driving game or a 3D table tennis game.
Results suggest that rather than a game containing graphic violence a driving game had the
greatest impact on the participants. Given the high levels of realism in modern games a re-evaluation of the relations between videogames and violence is needed.
A Michigan State Senator has proposed legislation that would ban texting or playing video games while driving, reports ClickOn Detroit.
Sen. Buzz Thomas (D), the sponsor of the measure, said:
There is no need to be sending a text while driving your car, it’s one of the most dangerous things a driver can do. If it’s really that important, pull over and send your message, or just wait until you get to where you are going.
This is the second session in which I have introduced this bill, and hopefully we can all realize the urgency and just get this passed.
If the bill becomes law, violations would carry a $100 fine.
The mayor of Honolulu has vetoed a recently-passed law that would make it illegal to text or play a video game while driving.
As reported by the Honolulu Star, Mayor Mufi Hannemann (left) notified City Council by letter that he was exercising his veto power over concerns about enforcement of the measure. The gaming/texting while driving law was passed by City Council late last month. The Mayor explained his veto in his letter:
I applaud the Council's intent to address this public safety matter. A police officer operating a motor vehicle will only have a second or two to determine if the driver is committing a violation by text messaging or playing a video game.
As GamePolitics has previously reported, Honolulu's police chief also expressed concerns about the ability of his officers to enforce the measure. Mayor Hannemann has indicated that he would support a more generalized ban on cell phone use while driving.
Meanwhile, City Councilman Charles Djou criticized the Mayor's decision:
The facts are as they stood two weeks ago. The Council should override, and the only reason a Council member should change one's mind is politics.
A proposal to ban texting and playing video games while driving has been passed by the Honolulu City Council, according to the Honolulu Advertiser.
As GamePolitics previously reported, the measure does not enjoy the support of the city's police department due to perceived difficulties in enforcement. City Councilman Nestor Garcia commented on the passage of the bill:
Most citizens will abide by it so if we can prevent one accident, whether it be by texting or playing a video game, then the imperfect law on the books will have done its job.
However, Councilman Rod Tam, who cast the only dissenting vote, criticized the measure:
This is bad legislation — unenforceable — an embarrassing situation.
The 2008 case of a city bus driver who was photographed playing a handheld game while driving was part of the impetus behind the new law. In discussing the bill, sponsor Charles Djou (left) harkened back to the bus incident:
Although the bus driver received some administrative punishment, there was nothing wrong or illegal with that bus driver engaging in that activity. This Honolulu City Council needs to make a very clear statement that that sort of activity should not be allowed on our public roadways.
It's hard to argue with this one...
The Honolulu City Council is considering a measure which would ban text messaging and playing video games while driving.
As reported by the Honolulu Advertiser, the council will vote on the bill later this month. Perhaps surprisingly, the Honolulu Police Department does not support the idea:
Police do not support the bill because "we can't enforce it because we can't determine what the person is doing while driving," said Maj. Thomas T. Nitta, head of the department's traffic division.
As GamePolitics reported last September, a Honolulu city bus driver was suspended after a passenger photographed him playing a handheld game while driving.
GP: I really think that I should be dispatched to Honolulu to cover this story in person for a couple of weeks...
Surprisingly, the head of MADD Canada has flatly dismissed a game designed to teach users the perils of DUI. As reported by the Globe and Mail, CEO Andrew Murie has "no interest" in Booze Cruise, a drunk driving simulation developed at the University of Calgary.
While MADD Canada sees no value in the game, the U.S. Army is in the process of adopting Booze Cruise as a tool to educate military personnel on the dangers of getting behind the wheel while impaired.
MADD Canada's objection appears to be that the game lets players know - based on body weight - how much they can imbibe before becoming intoxicated. That would seem like a pretty valuable thing of which to be aware. However, Murie said:
We've spent decades telling people not to drink and drive, and this simulator, one of the skills it teaches is to drink so much, and then drive.
GP: In some ways, Murie's objection to Booze Cruise is reminiscent of the sex education vs. abstinence debate.
Via: What They Play
A six-year-old Virginia boy who tried to drive his family car to school told police that he learned to drive from playing Grand Theft Auto and Monster Truck Jam.
As reported by the Associated Press, the boy missed his school bus and took the keys to the family ride, a 2005 Ford Taurus. His mother was sleeping at the time. From the AP report:
He made at least two 90-degree turns, passed several cars and ran off the rural two-lane road several times before hitting an embankment and utility pole about a mile and a half from school.
"He was very intent on getting to school," said Northumberland County Sheriff Chuck Wilkins. "When he got out of the car, he started walking to school. He did not want to miss breakfast and PE."
The boy's parents were subsequently charged with child endangerment by police. The boy and his four-year-old brother were placed in protective custody.
GP: Giving GTA to a six-year-old? Unbelievable...
Yesterday GamePolitics reported that police in Australia and Winnipeg engaged in a bit of game bashing by relating stolen cars and reckless road behavior to driving games.
Today, the Peterborough Examiner reports that cops in Ontario are using a driving game in a positive way to help educate high school students about the dangers of drunk driving. Officers there have combined an unspecified game with the shell of an automobile to simulate a real-world driving experience. Students then don "beer goggles" which warp one's vision in a manner similar to a state of high intoxication. Sgt. John Ogrodnik commented:
If anyone actually did this they would never want to get behind the wheel of their car (while drunk).
Police in Winnipeg believe that a quartet of youthful offenders were acting out in video game-like fashion by stealing cars and fleeing from pursuing officers.
CBC reports on comments by Sgt. Doug Safioles:
They all play the game, they talk about the game, they tell their probation officers it's a game. It's a huge rush. They taunt the police on purpose to engage in chases.
Safioles, who did not link the teens to a specific game, made similar comments in May. At that time, however, a youth advocate linked the crimes to the region's high level of poverty.
Meanwhile, in Australia, the Daily Telegraph reports that Superintendent Dave Evans of the New South Wales police has blamed video games for a lack of responsibility on the part of teen drivers:
Video games can have a negative impact on young drivers because it increases their complacency and their indulgence in risk-taking behaviour. In games you race, you crash and it is a matter of pressing the buttons and off you go again. In real life it doesn't work that way, you can be killed.
It might seem obvious that rocking out with Guitar Hero: On Tour on your Nintendo DS while cruising down the freeway is not a good idea.
But a cabinet member in Canada wants to make it official. As reported by the St. Catherine's Standard, Transportation Minister Jim Bradley (smiling at left) has introduced a bill to outlaw the use of handheld electronic devices while driving. Among the measure's prohibitions are mobile phones, DVD players and portable video game systems.
Violators would be subject to a $500 fine. Of his proposal, Bradley said:
You should have both hands on the wheel...
Passengers would not be restricted from using portable electronics.
Things are looking up for gray gamers.
First there was the Wii, then there was Brain Age, and now this. A pilot program being tested by Allstate may result in over 50's getting cheaper auto insurance for playing video games.
As reported by the Associated Press, Allstate's InSight program will be tested among 50-75 year-olds in Pennsylvania:
The group's accident rates will be compared to a control group of people who do not play the games. The games are not all specific to driving. They're designed to reverse age-related cognitive decline and improve visual alertness.
For example, a game called "Jewel Diver" has players keep track of underwater jewels that pop up on the screen for a moment before they are hidden under fish swimming around.
A Honolulu bus driver has been relieved of his duties for playing a handheld video game while operating the bus. The incident came to light after a concerned passenger shot cell phone video of the man, who can be seen playing what appears to be a light-colored Nintendo DS or PSP.
The driver was placed on unpaid leave while the bus company investigates. The KGMB-9 news report features an interview with Denita Waltz, the passenger who took the video:
The whole experience was terrifying. He was continuously playing his video game on the bus. Continuously. At times he was driving, playing with it. At times he was sitting there playing with it. He was a hazard. He was playing his video game. He was speeding on the highway. He had his legs and feet up on the dashboard.
It was a very petrifying moment. And when the bus did stop I kept on telling my son, 'Hurry! Get off the bus. Just get off the bus..
GP: It's a good bet that he wasn't playing Bus Driver.
A member of Great Britain's Parliament had harsh words for Electronic Arts after a marketing stunt for Mercenaries 2 gridlocked her district during the morning rush hour.
Hoping to draw attention to the game, EA gave away £20,000 of fuel at a station in North London. The Telegraph reports on the ensuing traffic jam:
A petrol station which gave away free fuel has been temporarily shut down after motorists flocking to its pumps caused traffic chaos...
Norman Tidiman, from Hackney... said: "I saw a girl who stopped because she wasn't going to make the lights, and the man in the car behind her got out his car and started to bully her.
Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone (left) was not pleased with EA:
Whilst a lucky few might have got some free petrol, hundreds of local residents have faced misery on their daily journeys this morning. They deserve an apology for being the victims of such an ill-thought out media stunt...
Trying to recreate Venezuelan-style fuel riots on the streets of London is completely irresponsible and downright dangerous...
An EA rep told the Telegraph that police ultimately shut the event down as too disruptive. Mercs 2, of course, is set in Venezuela, where petroleum is a huge economic force. As in a similar event held in Los Angeles last week, the station was decorated to match the theme of the game.
Okay, so a pre-teen probably shouldn't be playing Grand Theft Auto.
But, as MyWebTimes reports, 11-year-old Audrey Plique's GTA gaming sessions may have saved her family's life after their car rolled over on the night of August 27th. Karen Norris, Audrey's mom, explains:
She just knew, from playing 'Grand Theft Auto.' She saw on there that when a car rolls over, it can blow up. She knew that could happen to us...
She showed the kind of bravery and courage you don't expect from an 11-year-old. She stayed composed. She sounded upset, but she knew the things she had to get done to help her parents and her siblings.
Audrey was just glad that she was able to save her family. It's unclear whether she saved her progress in GTA.
GP: Thanks to several GP readers who pointed us toward this story. And, why yes, I do suck at PhotoShop...