New VR program encourages natural communication, teams up with game company Wizards to simulate Dungeons & Dragons

Source: AltSpaceVR
AltSpaceVR is attempting to bridge the virtual and the physical through their extensive VR engine that is capable of transmitting body language to your friends. They have partnered up with gaming company Wizards of the Coast to create a tabletop role-playing game (RPG) experience in virtual reality based on Wizards' own Dungeons & Dragons RPG. Both companies believe that the presence provided by AltSpaceVR is capable of enhancing the digital RPG experience in ways that have not been explored.

Using a combination of 3D game objects and 2D information panels, players are able to access information with ease, while still retaining the "old-fashioned" elements of rolling dice, moving figurines, and writing character information sheets that many players feel is at the core of any tabletop RPG experience.

AltSpaceVR and Wizards of the Coast are both extremely excited about expanding the software to be a complete virtual environment, and refer to this version of their software as the "first step" in their partnership. While the future of virtual reality is still unclear, it is obvious that gaming will play a major role in developing the experience.

Source: Gizmodo

New 3D Glasses Sync with Microsoft Kinect Using Eye Tracking Software to Allow the Gamer to Have a More Realistic Gaming Experience

SensoMotoric Instruments' new eye tracking 3D glasses bring 3D gaming to a new level.  The glasses
Source: 3D Focus
not only track the user's gaze, but also the head and motion.  The glasses' detection of 3D objects allow the gamer to interact with the virtual elements with only their gaze.

A tiny camera on each side of the glasses track eye movement, while a scene camera records what is in front of the viewer.  They are also able to customize the experience by detecting the eye distance of the gamer.

SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI), partnered with Volfoni, who provided the 3D lenses, to complete the project.  Not only is the product useful for video gaming, but the glasses can also be used for improving product pre-testing, viewing 3D product designs, or navigating through virtual space/landscaping plans.

Standard Xbox One Controllers Now Have The Same Button Remapping Feature As The New Xbox Elite Controllers

Xbox has recently announced that the standard Xbox One controllers that most gamers now own will have a button remapping feature that allows users to change button functions. So, if you do not want the "A" button to be jump in a certain game you can switch it so the "Y" button is jump.

However, this is as far as the feature can go for the standard controllers. The Xbox Elite controllers have much more features including remapping multiple buttons, adjusting thumbtack and trigger button sensitivity, adjusting vibration motors, swappable parts, and trigger button locks.

The important factor here is that you can only have one configuration per user with the standard controller but with the Elite controller you can have up to 256 configurations per user.

The Elite controller debuted October 27th,  2015 and is selling for $250. It is recommended for gamers who do not already own Xbox Ones to get the Xbox One Elite bundle that came out November 3rd which includes the Xbox One and Elite controllers.

The Placebo Effect increases gaming experiences because users believe something new is something better

The Placebo Effect is when a subject is given a fake treatment or a false piece of information about something. This makes it so the subject's experience increases in a positive outcome, all the while being fooled by their own mind. In this study the Placebo effect is incorporated into a video game. Paul Cairns and Alena Denisova asked 21 people to play two rounds of Don’t Starve, a game where players must collect objects using a map in order to survive. One group used a map that was randomly generated. The second group was told the map would be controlled by an “adaptive AI” that could change the map based on the players skill. 

The results showed how gullible the gamers were. In group 2 it appeared to have increased their confidence in how AI helped them perform. The experiments showed how people’s expectations play an important role in their gaming experiences. The article remarks that the placebo doesn’t even have to be a intricate feature like AI, and that the influence could be just as strong if the gamer were just using the latest version of a game. Expectations show that if something is new or more advanced from before then it must be better.

University of Washington graduate discovers new brain to brain connection using EEG cap with potential for "mind reading"
     Researchers at the University of Washington might have found a breakthrough in technology. People talk about mind reading as if it were a dream and would never become a reality. The linking between the two brains can result in the person asking the questions knowing exactly what is on the mind of the person answering. A series of question and answers were asked, with it resulting in the correct responses by the inquirer.
     The new system has the first participant wearing an EEG (electroencephalagrophy) machine and the respondent being shown an object on the computer screen. The respondent is given a yes and no question and answers based on LED lights. Through the series of questions, the inquirer typically came out with the right answer. This is the researchers way of showing what other people are thinking through signals and putting this in the other person's brain.
     This study is only the first steps to translating what is going on in the human brain and sharing it with other people. Researcher Stocco says, "[...] we can only communicate part of whatever our brain processes". With these kind of strides, there is only room to move forward.

Apple's 3D Touch introduces pressure-sensitive inputs which has the potential to revolutionize mobile gaming
Apple's 3D touch is a brand new interface that will incorporate varying levels of pressure to control various aspects of a gaming system. Up until this point in technology, mobile devices have been limited to one control option; the screen. For mobile gaming, 3D touch has the potential to expand the mobile gaming market with these new capabilities in mind.

With 3D touch, devices will now be able to sense how much pressure is being placed onto a screen and associate that amount with a certain command. Apple described one way in which a user could use 3D touch for completing a common command on an iPhone, "you could lightly press on an email message to bring up a preview of the contents, then press harder to snap into the email message itself."

As for gaming, Pixel Toy's upcoming mobile game, Warhammer 4000: Free Blade, will incorporate 3D touch in their game setup. During Apple's Warhammer demo at the Apple Event held in September, "pressing harder focused the mech's aim and pressing harder still swapped weapons, all without taking your finger off the screen." Forbes writer, Erik Kain, proposed for 3D touch to be used in categories other than shooter games to "control how high a character jumps or how far they move to the side," and in puzzle games to "make puzzle-solving more intricate."

AltspaceVR is incorporating virtual reality technology to allow gamers to physically be in Dungeons and Dragons

  AltspaceVR is a technology company which focuses on virtual reality. Similar to Oculus, the company aids in the production of virtual reality lenses which allow the user to be immersed in a vast, intricate virtual reality. Altspace VR  specializes in the field of gaming.

   Recently, AltspaceVR has teamed up with Wizards of the Coast, the long time publishers of Dungeons and Dragons, to create a virtual reality for players to interact while playing the famous board game.

     The company posted a video which describes how to play the game using their software. In a nutshell, the user puts on the virtual lens. The user joins a party with their friends/adversaries and starts a game; using their hands and legs to navigate.

  The player may then choose their actions and moves by gesturing towards the wanted command. In addition, the user may interact verbally and communicate with their friends using the microphone embedded in the lens. The virtual reality aspect to this game will provide a more intimate and real experience on how Dungeon and Dragon's should be like.

The product is still in its testing phase and the release date has not officially been announced. The arrival of virtual reality in the past year or so has already got other corporations such as Oculus, Vrideo and MediaSpike working. Virtual reality can be applied to a variety of applications other than a normal board game like DD and may be an integral part of gaming in the near future.

Virtuix Omni allows full emersion into a video game by focusing not only on your visuals but as well as your physical movements

Source: Virtuix
Virtuix Omni is a series of devices that allow the user to further their gaming experiences like never before. Intergraded devices focus on your visual and physical interactions, which until now has never been done and is claimed to give you a deeper emersion to the game.

The Omni platform, harness and Oculus Rift allow the user to not only experience a game as if it was in real life, but as well as feel it. The track pad and harness sense the individual’s movements in order to replicate it immediately to the video game character.  An example of this is if you want your character to run, you must run on the track pad yourself in order for the character to fully mimic you. Since there is a harness, the user can also sit down as his character is sitting in a car driving. This also will allow the user to physically crouch just as his virtual character does. 

The other key device is the Oculus Rift. The device is worn on the users head and allows the individual to see the game in a virtual reality rather just on his television screen.  

The product is being launched this quarter and has released videos of it being used on primarily shooter games. This application has been said that it can be used for several types of games and with its capabilities, it seems likely.

Madden NFL 16 adds new catching system that gives players more control over the wide receivers

For the first time ever the creators of the new Madden NFL 16 have made changes to the receiving options. Previously in the other Maddens there has only been one option for receiver's to catch the ball which was pressing Y/Triangle, allowing wide receivers to jump up and catch the ball. Madden players complained to the creators saying that there were not enough controls for the wide receivers.

The new catching system in Madden NFL 16 gives the player three different options to catch the ball. The first option allows the receiver to catch the ball and keep running by pressing square/X. This option allows the receivers to also run down balls that are thrown out in front of them. The second option allows wide receivers to catch the ball and fall right down to the ground by pressing X/A. This option helps wide receivers fall right to the ground while catching the ball with defenders around to avoid being hit. The third option allows wide receivers to jump up and make plays over the defender by pressing Triangle/Y. This option helps receivers catch the deep passes that are high in the air.

People who play action video games are more likely to have increased grey matter and connections in the brain

According to an article, researchers found that playing action video game (AVG) increases your brain functions particularly in your attentional and sensorimotor networks. Action video game experts were able to accomplish tasks associated with these networks better than others.

Furthermore, researchers used fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to look at the differences in the brains of AVG experts and AVG amateurs. They found that the experts had more grey matter in their brain as well as a significantly larger amount of connection in the left hemisphere of their brain.

Overall, I would trust the source of the information. The information in the article is based on an actual study conducted by researchers that is clearly cited. The actual research itself appears legitimate. The only issue with the study itself is that the sample size is of only 57 people.

In the article, there is a bias in favor of the research results. The author of the article is gamer. He ends the article with "It turns out that the years I spent playing Wolfenstein, Counterstrike, and Unreal Tournament didn't completely go to waste."

NIH Study Shows Positive Effects of Video Games on Pain Management

When talk of health effects being correlated to the use of video games, the topic most often leads to the discussion of violent tendencies, however a study by the NIH proved this is not always true.  The study showed the positive effects that video game usage can have on individuals which need a mental escape from physical pain.

The example used by the post by NIH, was that an individual who kept picking at a sore was provided a hand held video game and his sore healed very quickly after the “treatment” of a video game was provided.  The study also addressed the fact that it is necessary to acknowledge the potential dangerous effects excessive video game use can have.

The article was posted on NIH’s website and provides their information in a very well rounded manner. I believe the source gives it a large amount of credibility because the public knows that the NIH is a truthful source and will report the facts. The article evaluated the potential negative effects in addition to the positive, and provided a rather unbiased view of the topic.

Non-violent video games beneficial for children with autism by developing social interaction skills

According to a study done by German and Austrian researchers, non-violent video games with a storytelling aspect have a positive effect on autistic children by improving their social engagement skills.

Since children with autism often lack public interaction and communication abilities, the requirement for them to make decisions and connect with other characters via games becomes educational.  The video games teach children acceptable and expected social behaviors like eye contact and empathy.

This is largely contributed to the theory of mind which addresses how storytelling allows one to access other's mental states.  Gamers become absorbed in the story and as a result experience a psychological impact.

I found this article to be trustful and contain accurate information.  The article was published on Medical Daily which is a valid news source with a positive reputation.  Samantha Olson, the writer of this article, was selected by the National Press Foundation as a 2015 Journalism Fellow depicting her credibility as a writer.

The study itself was published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal which is a honorable source.  Olson does a quality job of presenting the facts of this study throughout her article without personal opinions.

New video game company focuses on games to help elderly build cognitive skills

Courtesy of Creative Commons
A video game lab based in San Francisco created a brain training game geared toward helping the elderly retain and build brain skills, according to a New York Times Magazine article by Clive Thompson.

The lab is ran by video game developer Adam Gazzaley and focuses its products on users over age 60. The brain training game Project: Evo was released in 2014 on the iPad and aims to provide positive psychological effects for the elderly users. The brain games focus on testing several different mental aspects simultaneously.

Overall, more research is needed on the elderly to see what the effects are. The article cites research on children that shown video games improve certain cognitive abilities, but that research is not their for adults over age 60. Gazzaley is cautiously confident in the impact his games will have, but overall, researchers are uncertain and split on the top of video games with regards to psychological benefit.

Personally, I trust this source for information and believe the article is very well-balanced. The magazine has a strong reputation and the article is proof of that with sources that are both extremely optimistic and pessimistic of the effects. Thompson does not get bogged down in the details, however, as he manages to show the balance in an intricate, ongoing science issue through questions such as one cognitive psychologist saying of the research consensus, "It's a big, muddled mess."

Studies show that video games can have both a negative and positive effect on a child's development.

In a study by Vanderbilt University, researchers analyzed the effect of video games on child development.

The study found that violent video games have a negative effect on children. The students who played a violent video game had more health issues like a higher heart rate dizziness, nausea and more aggressive thoughts than those who didn’t play. Aside from various negative effects, the researchers also brought up the positive effects of video games. Studies have shown that playing video games can teach people how to follow directions and how to solve-problems. They concluded the article by discussing the difficulty in finding the fine-line between a healthy amount of gaming and an excessive amount. It was a very interesting and well written article.

This article was a very reliable source of information. It comes from a group of college educators who have done extensive research on the subject. They presented both the positive and negatives of video games and they left out their judgment and opinions. It wasn’t a one-sided study in the least. The article was backed by facts and statistics that were cited throughout. For these reasons, I don’t think the article is biased.

APA suggests that different types of video games bring different types of benefits including learning, health, and even social benefits to players.

According to the American Psychological Association, strategic games, violent fps games, role-playing games, and even casual games like "Angry Birds" can have different benefits to the players.

Playing any video games "strengthen a range of cognitive skills..." like reasoning, spatial navigation, memory, and perception. This phenomenon was especially present for the violent shooter games, where players have to think about objects in three dimensions.

Strategic games improved children's problem-solving skills. Even casual games like "Angry Birds" improved emotional health. Failures that players faced in games also helped players to build emotional resilience to failures in real life. Virtual reality games like "World of Warcraft" also taught players how to work with others.

Interestingly, playing any video games enhanced creativity, a trend not present when merely using other technology, like phones. With these results, the debate about whether video games are good or bad seems to be over.

I completely trust this article, not only because APA is the single most reliable and trustworthy source regarding facts about human psychology, but also because it simply does not have any reason to be biased about this topic. This article is not biased because it addresses some claims of people who think that the video games are bad, but counters such claims with the results found from researches.

Teens who play video games with 'pro-social rewards' show more empathy and are more motivated to be helpful in their daily lives

A study revealed when teenagers play a video game that is "pro-social" and rewards players for helping others, they are more likely to be empathetic and helpful in their daily lives.

Over 97 percent of teens in the United States play video games, according to Palo Alto Medical Center, and the most recognized positive effect of video games links the virtual interactive experiences with improved computer literacy and manual dexterity.

Although video games can positively affect teenagers' personalities, an Iowa University study indicates teenagers who play games that involve some variation of violent content have proven to act more aggressively in social situations.

In most violent video games, users benefit from engaging in digital violent behavior. Since violent acts are consistently repeated throughout the games, real-life behavior becomes more aggressive because repetition has proven to be an effective teaching method.

Ultimately, the source of information appears to be trustworthy. It comes directly from a medical center and relies on various studies conducted to evaluate the effects of video games. There does not appear to be any form of bias either. The report seems to be balanced since it discussed both the positive and negative effects of video games. Therefore, individuals who believe video games have positive or negative effects can indicate the effects of the hostile media effect.

Studies show children who play video games undergo both positive and negative effects on their cognitive and behavioral development.

Video games are popular amongst children, however, some believe video games may have adverse effects on a child's development. However, an article released shows that actually there are both pros and cons to children playing video games.

In fact several studies show that video games can improve a child's spatial and cognitive abilities. However, research has also shown video games have negative effects as well. Studies show that violent video games can cause children to develop more aggressive behaviors later on in life.

 I trust this source because it's a parenting website and the article section is meant to inform parents on both ends of the spectrum, the positive and negative effects of children playing video games.

Personally, the true reason I trust this article is because it's balanced. By providing research to support both ends, I can't help but feel that the writer's true intentions is to inform in an unbiased manner. If this article didn't cover both the positive and negative effects of video games, then I might feel some bias exists but because the writer covers both sides and consistently use research to back up his/her claims I feel the article is balanced and trustworthy.

Goal Orientation of Video Games Helps Combat Depression
Recent longitudinal studies have linked video game play to mental health. With an oversimplification, this article from Slate says that video game play is the neurological opposite of depression.

Using fMRIs, researchers have viewed the two parts of the brain that become stimulated during video game play: the reward pathways, the part most associated with motivation and goal-orientation, and the hippocampus, the region responsible for learning and memory. During play, the gamer is constantly focused on a goal and motivated to reach the finish line. As the gamer anticipates his or her success, the reward pathways are stimulated.

Patients who suffer from Clinical Depression, have a chronically under stimulated, and ever shrinking reward pathways and hippocampus, thus correlating video games and positive effects on a gamer's mental health.

There is however a large caveat to this new finding. For those who play video games as a game, just for fun, can have very positive effects from it, for they build confidence and gain problem-solving skills. Yet, those who play video games as an escape from their daily lives will actually experience problematic results, like excess anxiety. About 41% of frequent game players claim they are escapists, and this portion of gamers are the ones many refer to when they say video games are a waste of time.