As one commenter for last year's annual Toy Fair wrap-up pointed out, there was once a time when Lincoln Logs were considered a cutting-edge toy. It was never so clear as it is now, though, that the heyday of the analog toy has long-since passed. 2012 shall be the year of the app-enabled toy.
What would the creators of some of the most beloved and widespread American toys make, if given a completely blank slate? We asked the driving forces behind toys like K'Nex, LEGO, Tickle Me Elmo, and Nerf to really explore their craziest impulses--and man, did they come up with some craziness.
German- or Euro-style board games--the best-known of which is probably Settlers of Catan, at least here in the States--are a revolution in analog gaming. They're everything Monopoly is not: often simple but fiendishly clever, designed with a minimum of boring down-time and a maximum of player interaction, without the indignity of getting eliminated or the any semblance of luck. (Dice are pretty much verboten in these games.)
A Euro-style game fan I spoke to referred to Monopoly, Life, and the like as "Amero-trash games."
I'm getting my MBA.
Of course, MBA stands in this case for the Master Builder Academy, a program run by LEGO that's designed to take your LEGO-building abilities from playful amateur to impress-your-friends amazing. It's a six-part course, and I've worked my way through the first two parts. Already I'm seeing a major change in the way I think about LEGO. This is the first of a three-part series documenting my journey from neophyte to Master Builder.
One full week of keeping track of absolutely everything, to see if gamification can net you a win in the game of life
By Matthew ShaerPosted 02.09.2012 at 2:56 pm 4 Comments
The experiment began at 11 a.m. in my bedroom in Brooklyn. I bought an app from the iTunes store called EpicWin, a fantasy-themed game designed to improve users' lives by motivating them to accomplish real-world goals with virtual-world rewards. Before starting the game, I had to pick and customize an avatar that would represent me in the digital landscape of EpicWin. I chose a cadaverous warrior named Calcium Facebone. He held a blunt mallet in one hand. "Add new task," the screen read.
Double Fine Productions, the cultishly adored videogame developer founded by gaming legend Tim Schafer, may have just blown up the entire system of videogame production. Struggling to get funding for their next game, Double Fine posted on Kickstarter, asking for $400,000. Eight hours later, they got it. 16 hours after that, they'd shattered the previous record for the most money ever earned on Kickstarter in 24 hours.
Predictions, opinions, and hopes from the creators of Gears of War,Mass Effect 3,Halo 4, and more
By Jon IrwinPosted 02.08.2012 at 1:30 pm 5 Comments
This month, Popular Science explores the future of fun. Here on PopSci.com, we've teamed up with the game experts at Kill Screen. We speak to top video game designers about their visions of the future of fun; take a look at the resurgence in making your own fun, and bring you a playable online arcade.
In 1907, Hungarian explorer Sir Marc Aurel Stein discovered the Diamond Sutra in north-west China, a Buddhist holy text believed to be the oldest printed book. Dated 868 A.D., the faded paper, wrapped around a wooden pole, looks nothing like our published texts. But at a foundational level, the scholar 1200 years ago would still absorb its material the same way we do today: by reading words from a page.
By Gus MastrapaPosted 02.07.2012 at 3:13 pm 10 Comments
The era of the rampage is officially over.
In 2001, Grand Theft Auto III introduced a mass audience to a new way of experiencing the world of a game: Instead of walking narrow corridors or outdoor environments that felt hemmed in by invisible walls and artificial barriers, you could explore a vast city.
Were these photos of New York taken by tourists, or by natives?
By Eric Fischer and John LounsberyPosted 02.07.2012 at 1:01 pm 0 Comments
Eric Fischer analyzed thousands of photos of New York. Based on the historical data from each uploader's Flickr account, he deduced which were taken by tourists and which by locals, and plotted the results on a map.
Now we've turned the geo-data into a game. Can you figure out which photos are which?
Five web-based games—all playable right here—that are redefining the way we have fun with video games online
By Filipe SalgadoPosted 02.06.2012 at 10:32 am 9 Comments
In our February issue, Popular Science explores the Future of Fun. Here on PopSci.com, we've teamed up with the video game experts at Kill Screen to bring you a week-long special feature exploring the unexpected ways we have fun with games today—and how what's even considered a "video game" is ever-changing.In our first feature this week, Kill Screen's Filipe Salgado pulls together five web-based Flash games (all playable right here) that showcase this new creativity.
On November 8th, 2011, Activision released the latest entry in the popular Call of Duty series, Modern Warfare 3. It sold 6.5 million copies in its first day, and stands as the highest-grossing entertainment launch of all time. The game was well received, but in almost every review a lack of innovation is brought up. The game iterates instead of innovates. It still remains a military shooter set in a present-day conflict. Its look and the way you play it remain largely the same as its predecessors. Big explosions and big setpieces, like videogames Michael Bay would make. And why change? With a budget in the millions, there is little room for experimentation. Game makers have found a recipe that sells well. Deviating from it can only hurt.
While big-budget games get further entrenched in big returns and big budgets, a lot of innovation has shifted to the internet. Developers, by themselves or in small teams, have turned the small scale of the browser into an asset, creating little Flash-based distractions that don't have to worry about commercial viability, and that innovate excitingly, either through theme, subject matter, or game play. They work outside the system. And the best part? They're all free.