•••• CNN published an extensive and interesting piece about the genre of game commentary videos and its most popular producer, "SeaNanners." I suppose it depends on the game, but it seems this whole "video games as a spectator sport" thing is gaining some traction. We did it, America. [CNN]
•••• Domain registration clues have lead folks to discern that box office smash "The Avengers" will get a console tie-in game called "Battle for Earth." With summer blockbuster tie-ins having a dodgy track record, let's hope this is more than just a platform-style runthrough of the film. [Cinema Blend]
•••• The National Endowment for the Arts is dropping $40,000 to make "Walden" the video game closer to reality. If you missed Philosophy 201 in college, "Walden" is 19th century thinker Henry David Thoreau's treatise on transcendentalism and living in a cabin by a pond. It's been a few years, but I'm pretty sure he didn't say "make sure you bring an Xbox or at least a Vita to the cabin." [Time]
•••• In further proof that kids are all the same anywhere, recruitment of child soldiers in Somalia is becoming more a of a challenge to militant warlords because video games are now more readily available. [Guardian]
***Activision is making a "Family Guy" game this fall. No details yet, but given the history of "The Simpsons" adaptations, it could go in a lot of interesting directions. Insert signature "Family Guy" cutaway gag. [Press release]
Out This Week
•••• "Starhawk" hits shelves tomorrow as a PS3-exclusive heir to 2007's "Warhawk." The early word is that the multiplayer and overall mechanics of the shooter are excellent. IGN's 9/10 review of "Starhawk" is here.
•••• "Warlock: Master of the Arcane," out on Tuesday for the PC seems a lot like "Civilization V" if it were coated in magic and sorcery. In fact, good or bad, it looks exactly like that. If you like both those things, this could be right up your alley.
•••• "Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition" makes its long-awaited Xbox Live arrival on Wednesday. "Minecraft" has been slowly and stealthily taking over the world for about a year now, and landing on the most mainstream of consoles might be its final step before invading popular culture indefinitely. I'm already waiting to post a link to the OK Go video done entirely in "Minecraft" as soon as they inevitably make it. For actual gaming purposes, "Minecraft" on the 360 might be a good way to get wary players who don't do a lot of PC gaming involving in the smash hit sandbox title.
Game Cache Classic
"The Avengers" success and eventual video game tie-in got me thinking about film to console crossovers that have actually been a success. The first one that comes to mind was 1993's "Aladdin" for the SEGA Genesis. Not only did the game capitalize on a wildly successful movie, but managed to do so with deft execution. The animation had the look and feel of a big-budget, controllable Disney film, along with the familiar and lovable music. While at its core it's your bog standard side-scroller, "Aladdin" provides depth and challenge to a world that was only able to be hinted at in a fast-paced 90 minute film.
Free Mobile Challenge
"Gravity Maze" by Geezmo has a free eight-level version out today that you should definitely take advantage up. A physics-based puzzle game, "Gravity Maze" is a perfect example of singular vision and simple but elegant gameplay artfully executed. You're basically trying to tumble your little roly-poly alien buddies through a one end of the maze to the other by tilting (and inverting!) your iPhone or iPad. If you don't crack a smile the first time you hear one of the little guys spontaneously burst into singing "Raw Hide," you are dead inside.
Really Important Video
This video isn't particularly funny or interesting. I know that's not a great sales pitch for your click, and given that only 65 people have watched it, maybe there's a reason it remains undiscovered. Still, something about it is incredibly zen and soothing on this particular Monday. It's just a slideshow of vaguely Nintendo-related images this guy found and set to 8-bit music. Why does this exist? I have no idea, but I think YouTube commenter "Mojito Quick" sums it up best: "Ya, dumb but I enjoy it."