Cybernaut 

Microsoft bids for game superiority

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XNA will also create a PC standard that will enable Xbox and PC users to play the same games online. The Xbox joystick will also be able to be used on PC’s.

It’s a bold gamble for market share, and if Microsoft is successful then their competition in the console market better do some quick thinking if they want to stay in the game. Playstation 3 and GameCube 2 better be damn good.

Psychiatric couch potatoes

Speaking of games, the University of Quebec is looking seriously at the potential of using video games and virtual reality worlds to treat debilitating phobias, empowering patients while offering a cheaper and more enjoyable alternative to the shrink.

Virtual Reality equipment is already used to help people face their fears, such as the fear of flying and the fear of wide open spaces. People who are social recluses or are battling addictions have been steered into Internet chat rooms for years where they are encouraged to converse anonymously with strangers and join support groups.

The idea to use video games to tackle fears is the next step. A fraction of the cost of VR machines, PC games may be just as effective for some patients.

Two of the games currently used are Half Life, where killing spiders helps people battle arachnophobia, and Unreal Tournament, which is used to treat people with a fear of heights or claustrophobia. Both games allow users to create levels and custom tournaments that relate to specific phobias.

The experience really comes to life with the use of head-mounted displays and head-tracking sensors that are already available to hardcore video game junkies.

Now gamers can add "therapy" to their long list of self-justifications, along with hand-eye-co-ordination, logic and brain development, and memory skills.

Game Over all about the cameos

While we’re still on the subject of games, may I draw your attention to a new television show on UPN called Game Over. The same network that brought us Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Mullets, America’s Next Top Model, and 80 different shows featuring Wayan’s siblings, and a whole lot of wrestling has introduced a new 3D computer-animated sitcom called Game Over.

The show is all about the Smashenburns family, a group of cast members from various video games, and the world they live in when they’re off-duty. The parents, Rip and Raquel Smashenburn, are voiced capably by Seinfeld’s Puddy, Pattrick Warburton, and Charlie’s Angel Lucy Lui, and the plot lines mix traditional sitcom stories with video game culture.

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