For my son’s 10th birthday party, I “made” a Minecraft cake (decorating a store bought cake):
I ordered a sheet cake from Safeway with green frosting on top and edges. I made brownies, which I then frosted myself with green frosting, using a frosting tip, to simulate grass blocks, which I stacked on the left. The “lava” is orange frosting dusted with red decorating sugar.
I dug out a rectangle on the cake and filled it with blue jello to make a pool/pond. I used crushed chocolate cookies around the edge of the water, although I don’t think that was terribly successful. It might look better without it.
I lightly toasted shredded coconut and colored it with green food coloring. The paper figures are from The Ultimate Guide to Minecraft Papercraft. They were kind of tedious to make. Figure at least 20 minutes for each, and have toothpicks handy.
(HealthDay News) — A new survey challenges the notion that avid video gamers are antisocial loners. On the contrary, the findings suggest that gaming is actually a way to stay connected with friends and strengthen, rather than weaken, social ties.
The Pennsylvania researchers set out to gauge the habits and attitudes of regular gamers as well as the social interaction that group play engenders.
“In general, we were interested in how engagement with video games is related with perceptions of social support, based on the common belief that playing video games is socially isolating,” explained study lead author Benjamin Hickerson, an assistant professor in the department of recreation, parks and tourism management at Penn State in University Park, Pa.
via Survey Refutes ‘Loner’ Stereotype of Video Gamers.
(HealthDay News) — Parents are giving the current media rating systems poor grades.
Moms and dads definitely want help when it comes to deciding whether or not a movie, TV show or video game is appropriate for their children. But, new research says the current rating systems aren’t giving them the information they need.
In three different studies of parents, all reported in the July issue of Pediatrics, researchers found that parents want more detailed information about media content over the vague descriptions they’re being given now.
"When parents use media ratings and do set limits on the content of the media that their children see, there’s a powerful protective factor. Those kids do better in school and they get into fewer fights. Ratings have a tremendous potential to matter, and if they were more accurate, they could matter even more," said the lead author of the three studies, Douglas Gentile, an associate professor of psychology at Iowa State University.
via Parents Find Media Rating Systems Lacking.
For all of you Ultima geeks out there who remember Ultima VII Serpent Isle fondly (or still play it occasionally), it’s time to get happy. Thepal is remaking Serpent Isle using the Oblivion engine, and it looks great. Here you can see screenshots of Fawn.
Serpent Isle Remake website
(HealthDay News) — Contrary to what some might think, spending hours online playing video games and interacting with others through avatars may contribute to emotional health, if virtual gaming partners or opponents include real-world family members, findings from a new data analysis suggest.
Various research has touted the negative effects of spending too much solitary time playing video games, so "people think games are bad for you psychologically," explained study author Cuihua Shen. "We challenge that assumption," she said.
via Online Gaming With Real-World Friends Is Healthier: Study.
As I suspected, Zynga’s new Cityville is yet another game in which the only two ways you can advance are either to bug the crap out of your friends, or fork out money. Real money.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think that you should be able to advance in the game without being forced into one of those options, and only need to use friends or money for special perks.
I used to play Petville, and I didn’t mind shelling out cash once in a while for a special outfit or home decor. But then Zynga stopped creating new outfits that could be bought without shelling out real cash. I started feeling like I was being royally screwed. Thanks, but no thanks.
As a card-carrying computer geek, I’ve been playing what are known as computer role-playing games (CRPGs) for close to twenty years. I’ll try not to bore you with too many details, but basically the structure of these games consists of gaining experience for your character by doing battle and completing quests for non player (computer generated) characters. Since the internet really started going in the 1990s, I’ve also been playing online computer role playing games. Since you’re playing with many other players (real life players), the experience is much more social, and more competitive to some extent.