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December 3rd, 2014
01:53 PM ET

20 years of PlayStation

playstationI remember the first Sony PlayStation.

I remember thinking that "PlayStation" was a very silly name.

I remember wondering how Sony could possibly compete with Nintendo and Sega.

I remember looking at the oddly-shaped controller, with weird contoured grips that surprisingly felt good in your hand.

I remember playing Ridge Racer for the first time.

FULL POST

November 11th, 2014
07:04 AM ET

The wonder of Interstellar

Interstellar is a good movie. It's not a great movie. But I still found it an enjoyable ride.

It's an odd thing to say, because in some ways it's my least favorite film by director Christopher Nolan. Objectively speaking, it's flawed. It feels far too long, dragging on to make sure every last loose end is tied up. Dialogue sometimes feels less like normal people talking and more like scripted monologues. And even by a movie's standards, there are more than a few dramatic flourishes that are just too implausible to suspend your disbelief over.

Despite all that, Interstellar works for me.

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November 5th, 2014
02:17 PM ET

I think I'm too old for Call of Duty

I am 33 years old. But I think I am too old to play the latest Call of Duty game.

To be clear, this isn't to say I'm too old for video games in general. I love them! I play games all the time, whether it's Grand Theft Auto V or Pokemon X/Y.

Nor am I saying I'm too old for Call of Duty's brand of action, where the U.S. is constantly getting invaded, a double-cross is only ever minutes away, and everything explodes. That's all fine by me.

I feel too old to play Call of Duty because I don't think I have the reflexes to compete online in multiplayer anymore. FULL POST

January 31st, 2014
03:35 AM ET

Saving Nintendo

Nintendo is in trouble.

It's hard to disagree with that after it slashed its forecast for Wii U sales from 9 million to just 2.8 million. Less dramatic but perhaps just as troubling: It also cut its forecast for its market-leading 3DS handheld. Nintendo now expects to sell 13.5 million of them, down from the 18 million they originally expected.

But what's up for debate is how Nintendo can climb out of this hole. By far the most common solution suggested: Nintendo should put games like Mario and Zelda on smartphones and tablets.

I disagree.

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Filed under: Games • General • Personal musings • Technology
September 12th, 2013
08:02 AM ET

Behind the shocking numbers of the U.N. rape report

When I first read the report, I was aghast.

A U.N. study published this week revealed a truly shocking prevalence of rape across the Asia-Pacific region.

Out of more than 10,000 men surveyed:

  • Nearly a quarter of men interviewed admitted to raping a woman or girl.
  • Nearly half the respondents reported using physical or sexual violence against a female partner.
  • And nearly half of those who admitted to rape, first did so as a teenager with 12% of them under 15 years of age at the time.

The survey was conducted across six countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Papua New Guinea.

The findings in the report are mind-boggling. So how did the team gather such brutally honest responses?

"The methodology is something that we feel is quite innovative for the study," said James Lang, the Program Coordinator for Partners for Prevention, which carried out the study.

"We used these handheld devices - iPod Touches - to ensure men would answer the questions about the perpetration of violence in a completely anonymous way."

The survey team also never used the word rape. Instead, participants were asked questions such as, "Have you ever forced a woman who was not your wife or girlfriend at the time to have sex?" or "Have you ever had sex with a woman who was too drugged or drunk to indicate whether she wanted it?"

In addition to revealing the prevalence of sexual violence in the region, Lang says the study reaffirms that such violence is preventable.

"To prevent violence, we have to make violence unacceptable," Lang tells me. "We have to change these norms in communities where violence is allowed, as well as norms around gender equality and the subordination of women."

Lang's study has the statistics to shock anyone into recognizing the scourge of sexual violence in the region. Here's hoping it will spur policymakers across Asia into action and end the impunity for men who use violence against women.

September 6th, 2013
02:08 PM ET

LEGO: Getting more girls to build with bricks

With sales soaring 13% during the first of this year, LEGO is now the second-biggest toy company in the world.

Revenue growth was driven largely thanks to customers here in Asia, where the new "Legends of Chima" line has performed particularly well.

The company also says its LEGO Friends line is going strong. The franchise is unabashedly girly with its pink-hued boxes and sets like "Heartlake Pet Salon." When it launched, many said it reinforced sexist stereotypes.

So if "Friends" is more Barbie than LEGO, why is it such a huge hit for the Danish toymaker?

"It's really hitting at the heart of that particular consumer interest," LEGO CFO John Goodwin tells me.

"For a long period of time we had our evergreen products - the LEGO City line and LEGO Star Wars. But we felt there are a number of children out there, particularly girls, who were not getting themes relevant to their interest."

Goodwin goes on to say, "We are also seeing more girls' purchases of evergreen lines on the back of the Friends introduction because that whole experience of construction is getting more relevant for them."

So is a predominantly pink, gendered toy a bad thing if it gets more girls to build with bricks? I'm starting to think otherwise.

As for other female fans of LEGO who still can't stomach the series, there's always this - LEGO's first female scientist minifig.

August 30th, 2013
07:10 AM ET

Game Faces: Josef Fares

Video games aren't always seen as the best medium for storytelling. But I think they should be, for one simple reason: interactivity.

As the player, you're experiencing the story first-hand. Whatever happens to the protagonist of the story is happening to you as a player. How you act and react forms part of the story.

I think interactivity should, in theory, allow people to have a greater connection with the story. But too many games use non-interactive, cinematic sequences to show their most important scenes. At a time when games could hammer home the advantage they have over movies, the player instead puts down the controller to passively watch it unfold without his input.

So it's funny that it took a Swedish filmmaker to make a game that avoids cinematic tricks to tell his story.

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Filed under: Game Faces • Games • General • Personal musings
January 15th, 2013
10:22 PM ET

Coca-Cola: Anti-Obesity Crusader?

Play a game of word association and there's fat chance (pun entirely intended) you'd pair "Coca-Cola" with "healthy". Perhaps that's exactly why the world's most valuable brand is pumping millions of ad dollars into convincing us it cares about our bodies.

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Filed under: General • Health • Personal musings
December 21st, 2012
07:31 AM ET

Why I love my Raspberry Pi

My name was on the waiting list for the first batch of Raspberry Pi machines long before I traveled to Cambridge to meet Eben Upton.

Something about the tiny computer sent me back to my childhood days. It could plug into your TV, it could use the same programming language that I used in primary school. It was all very retro.

Only after I got my hands on one did I realize how useful the little thing actually is. At first I was excited about using it as an introduction to Linux and to refresh my dormant programming skills. It was only after I put some media software on it that it really became part of the furniture. FULL POST

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Filed under: Gadgets • General • Personal musings • Technology
December 14th, 2012
03:34 PM ET

Mapping showdown: Apple vs Google

All iPhone owners, rejoice: No longer do you have to put up with Apple's widely criticized Maps app. Google Maps is back, and it's much better than before.

And the irony is, we have Apple to thank for it.

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Filed under: Gadgets • General • Personal musings • Technology
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