Study Recommends Active Video Gaming to Improve Children’s Health

kinect-healthFinally, a scientific basis for spoiling your kids with a new Xbox Kinect system.

It seems like a no-brainer to us, but this study shows the similarity in energy expenditure between active video gaming like Wii and Microsoft Xbox Kinect and “real” exercise, suggesting the health benefits of this activity.

Researchers at The University of Western Australia, Liverpool John Moores University, and Swansea University concluded that “high intensity exergaming elicited an energy expenditure equivalent to moderate intensity exercise; low intensity exergaming resulted in an energy expenditure equivalent to low intensity exercise.”

They based their findings on a study of 15 children ages 9-11.

Participating in high-intensity games like Kinect Sports – 200m hurdles led to increased heart rate and the amount of energy burned.

“Higher intensity exergaming may be a good form of activity for children to use to gain long-term and sustained health benefits,” said Dr. Louise Naylor.

Elsewhere, researchers have identified the brain-benefits of playing video games, especially violent video games.

Five proven benefits of gaming include:

  • Improved Dexterity
  • Better Eyesight
  • Better Mood
  • Weight Loss
  • Faster Reflexes

Video games have also been shown to be a means of helping kids get better grades.

You won’t find us objecting to these conclusions.

Top 10 Female Superheroes of All Time

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Male superheroes are in books, movies, and television shows. Just about everywhere we look there is a superhero jumping out ready to save the day.

What about the strong and powerful female superheroes? Females are often in the background of the story offering support to the main superhero, but maybe it is time to reverse these roles. Perhaps the time has come to showcase females in the limelight as the main character of the story. Women and girls want to see female superheroes in the leading roles in movies, books, and shows. Young girls could benefit from seeing a beautiful, tough, and confident woman combating evil and wrong doings in comic books or on the big screen. Older generations of females would enjoy seeing a woman portrayed as the superhero equipped to save the world on her own. Many times women feel like real-life superheroes in their personal lives, so seeing a movie or television show based on a female superhero would be captivating and entertaining.

Here is a list of the top 10 female superheroes and a brief glimpse into their characters and story.

1. Wonder Woman

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Wonder Woman has a popularity that spans over many decades, and she is still quite a favorable character among women and girls of all ages. She made her first appearance in 1941 and is often referred to as a feminist superhero because she is relentless in her fight for women’s justice. In her red, white, and blue attire, Wonder Woman, a warrior princess of the Amazons, combats male supremacy with her supernatural powers and striking accessories that double as weaponry. Equipped with her tiara that serves as a projectile, and unbreakable bracelets, Wonder Woman is ready to save and defend what is true and just while still looking put-together and beautiful.

2. Elektra

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Elektra is a female ninja assassin or kunoichi of Greek descent who first appeared in 1981. Her only weapons are  the pair of bladed sai, that she carries with her at all times, and her intelligence. She is prepared to face anything that comes her way. The superhero Daredevil adores her, but their love affair will never amount to anything because Elektra tends to be violent. She is a no-nonsense female ready to attack at even the slightest opportunity. Elektra has appeared in many comic series over the years. Her debut was in Daredevil, but she then went on to appear in Wolverine and Thunderbolts. Elektra has been coined one of the most dangerous superhero women. She is a lethal force to be feared by all.

3. Phoenix

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Phoenix is a young superhero by the name of Jean Grey. She realized her telepathic powers at the age of 10 when she felt the feelings of her dying friend. Confused and unsure about what this ability was, she attempted to seek professional help. Unable to avoid her supernatural ability, she had to learn how to live with this newly found power. Her character is quite complex and experiences various stages throughout her existence. She is targeted, attacked, and, at times, nearly defeated. For instance, when Mastermind mentally influenced Phoenix resulting in Dark Phoenix. Some might think that this would be the end of Phoenix, but Jean would survive and return to her ordinary state. She doesn’t allow herself to fall into defeat. She might be knocked down from time to time, but she finds the courage and strength to dig out of the terrible circumstance and thrive.

4. Lara Croft

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Lara Croft is the main character in the Tomb Raider video game. Lara Croft is an English archaeologist who journeys into perilous tombs all over the world. She goes on adventures to look into old tombs and finds herself in some dangerous situations. The video game debuted in 1996, but Lara Croft definitely did not end there. Lara soon ventured beyond the video games into the movie scene, advertisements, and action figures. Lara is a character with a feminine and beautiful exterior appearance, yet a physical strength and intelligence about her that ensures she is much more than beauty alone. She holds her own and isn’t afraid to tackle difficult situations without help of others. Lara Croft has become a role model, sex symbol, and a staple in modern pop culture.

5. Ms. Marvel

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Ms. Marvel is a superhero character from the Marvel Comics. Ms. Marvel appeared in 1968 and has had a few names since she first appeared. She appears like a typical person to the naked eye, but do not let her appearance fool you. She is virtually indestructible because she is supernaturally strong with stamina like no other. Ms. Marvel’s body and health is resistant to dangerous toxins. This resistance increases her physical durability and strength. Ms. Marvel absorbs the energy around her further increasing her power and strength.

6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer was introduced in a television series in 1997. Buffy is a high school student with the ability to slay vampires. She attends Sunnydale High School, which happens to be located on Hellmouth, a portal to demon dimensions. So, regardless of whether or not she wants to put her slaying behind her, she realizes that the safety of those around her depends on hers, so he is forced to face these vampires. Besides slaying vampires, Buffy is a typical teenager dealing with the friends, love interests, and the obnoxious popular girls. She faces much of the same situations and serious conflicts of real-life teenagers. Towards the end of the series, Buffy teams up with a group of other females who gradually earn the power to slay vampires, and their team effort defeats Hellmouth.

7. Rogue

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Rogue is another young female superhero. She discovered her superhero powers when she was just a teenager, much like other superheroes. As these young females are dealing with the angst of teenage life, they discover they have a supernatural power that can be used for a purpose. Rogue realized early on that she could not live in a world surrounded by normal people. She was young and inexperienced, and she often found herself in very dangerous situations that she didn’t know how to handle herself. More often than not, Rogue found herself in troublesome predicaments with not-so-favorable outcomes. This was leaving Rogue confused and conflicted. The upset Rogue decides she wants to become part of a team, the X-Men, even though they are her enemy at the time. She proves herself by defending and protecting one of the X-Men members, and she is asked to join in their forces.

8. Supergirl

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Supergirl is the female version of Superman. She is actually related to him by more than having similar names. They are cousins. They share the same powers and weaknesses. She was introduced sometime in 1959 and made her first appearance in comic books. It didn’t take long for her to begin appearing in television, movies, and cartoons. She was just as famous as her counterpart, Superman. Although Supergirl dies in 1985, this was not entirely the end for her. Since then, there have been similar characters introduced but none were related to Superman until 2004. The modern day Supergirl is sent to live with her cousin, Superman, after a tragedy strikes Argo City. She attempts to lead a normal life while safeguarding her secret superhero identity, similar to her cousin’s lifestyle. They share the same lifestyle, issues, and abilities.

9. Black Widow

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Black Widow is a Soviet-spy enemy from the Iron Man feature. She began her career with no costume, but that was quickly rectified. Black Widow soon began wearing a tight Black Widow costume that has become synonymous with who she is as a superhero. Black Widow has had quite the career. She had her own series in 1970 and co-starred in Daredevil until 1975. She then joined the series The Champions until 1978. Later, she was known as part of the Avengers. Along with miniseries, novels, and short stories, the Black Widow was known for her high-tech weapons and athletic abilities. Her expertise in martial arts, ballet, and surveillance make her fun to watch and read about. Little girls enjoy her ballerina background, women enjoy her beautiful yet powerful persona, and everyone enjoys the action-packed storylines.

10. Storm

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Storm began as Ororo Monroe, an African priestesses. After losing her parents when a plan crashed into their home during an Arab-Israeli fight. She had nothing but the clothing on her back as she journeyed through life. She was taught how to pick pockets and steal. Her troubles did not end there. She survived by stealing until she found herself stealing from the wrong person. Although she was able to escape the troubles that she faced, she soon found herself being raped. She was forced to kill the man that was attempting to rape her. She discovered she had the ability to control the weather during her struggle across the Sahara Desert. It was not until she reached Kenya and spoke with Ainet, an elderly tribal woman, that she was taught how to use her powers in a responsible manner. She then became a member of X-Men and continued to learn more about herself and the world around her. The opportunity arose for her to become leader of the X-Men. The former leader Cyclops was no longer in the position to lead them, and Storm was torn whether she was the right choice. She would eventually become the leader of the X-Men and asserted herself as their leader.

Each of these women has different stories, different powers, and different lives, but they share so much in common. These women discover who they are through difficult times, trying times, and times of desperation. The times when most of us would give up or run and hide is usually the exact instance when the female superhero realizes her abilities, her strengths, and just how much she is capable of accomplishing. They are emotionally strong, determined, and relentless during any and all situations. They fight for their survival and for what they believe to be right. Even when these women find their superhero capabilities, life does not become simple and trouble-free. They still endure heartache, struggles, and circumstances that require great effort to endure–and who can’t relate to that?

Top 50 Resources For Game Designers and Developers

The video game industry is one of the most vibrant entertainment industries in the country. More than many others, video games are a rare medium where art meets an incredibly large and eager customer base making it often both lucrative and satisfying. Breaking into the industry can be complicated as many different types of people are needed, specialized programmers, engineers, physicists, graphic artists and more; designers are the ones that bring these varied individuals together to create a cohesive interactive entertainment experience. Getting a job in the industry can be a major challenge. Many schools are offering quality game design programs but there are things about design that can only be learned through experience. Many developers are hesitant to hire an unproven designer without a portfolio to run a project as even the smallest projects can have very high costs. What is the best way to break into the industry? Well a degree is a good start, but experience is even more important. Chet Faliszek, one of the lead video game writers for major developer Valve said it best

“How do you get yourself a job in the games industry? You just give yourself one… You’re in control of your own destiny… I’m being serious. There are no gatekeepers. There are no requirements.”

As technology has advanced throughout the years it has become more possible for small collections of developers to make high quality, successful games without the backing of major development houses. Mr. Faliszek means that the best way to land a job in the games industry is to create something good, make your own resume.
This resource guide is devoted to helping budding developers, game design students and people that are just interested in making video games find some of the best resources available to an independent developer. The guide lists some of the best game design theory websites, tutorials, tools, developer communities, blogs, conferences and digital retailers. These resources can be exactly what you need to help you give yourself a job in the games industry.

General

Gamasutra: Gamasutra is a new media hybrid falling somewhere between blogs and video game journalism. Content is primarily editorial and many of the contributors either are or have been involved in game development. There are many articles centered on game development and design particularly theory.

Game Developer Magazine: Game Developer Magazine is a traditional magazine publication targeted directly at up and coming developers. GDM is owned by UBM Tech, the parent company of Gamasutra.

Game Career Guide: Game Career Guide is a Gamasutra property focusing on publishing articles to aid prospective game developers break into the industry from all angles, whether it be ascending from the depths of QA or breaking through after earning a degree.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Rock, Paper, Shotgun is another new media games journalism website chock full of everything from tips for developers to reviews of new video games. Rock, Paper, Shotgun, covers all the big AAA titles but really likes to find hidden independent gems and what makes them so good.

Indie Games: Indie Games is another property of the Gamasutra brand focused solely on covering the rich world of independent games.

Tutorials and Design Theory

Music Remixing Tutorial: This is a music remixing tutorial aimed at independent game developers. One thing necessary for an indie developer is to be a bit of a jack of all trades and this means many people are forced to grow outside their realm of knowledge, basic tutorials such as this are a good thing to look for because you never know when you’ll need one.

Game Music Beginner’s Tutorial: This tutorial is for music as well the tutorial is not focused just on remixes, rather it provides a broad tutorial for new developers to use to get their feet wet and start learning the ropes.

Designer Do-s and Don’t-s: This is a list of Do-s and Don’t-s for independent game design. This article is one example of the kinds of things that aspiring devs can find in the archives of Gamasutra.

How to Design a Game that Doesn’t Suck: This is an in depth article on designing games that don’t suck. It’s full of useful design theory and principles that apply to design rather than the mechanics of making the game, meaning even though it was published in 2009, it is still relevant and will be for a long time.

Fundamental Design Theory: Another design theory article, this one focusing on the fundamentals of design from a designer that has been in the industry for a long time, his first major project being Ultima Online which was released in 1997.

13 Basic Design Principles: Another Gamasutra article focusing on game design principles. The author has worked for major studios such as EA and Page44 and in this article he repurposes the 12 principles of animation and applies similar tenets to the game development process.

Avoiding Common Mistakes: This is an old article detailing oft repeated mistakes made in the process of designing video games and how to avoid them. The author decided to write the article after playing many older games and realizing modern games were still making many of the same mistakes.

AI Development Resource: This is a resource website devoted to the development of one of the most important aspect of game development often overlooked by new developers, the artificial intelligence. The website features articles on AI development and different types of AI appropriate for different styles of game.

Tools and Development Resources

Screenflow: Screen recording is important for budding developers and this is a mac based screen recording tool for developers that have reached the stage where they are ready to capture some of their game and show it to the world.

FRAPS: FRAPS is a cheap screen recording program for the Windows system. It’s often used by gamers to record in game footage. FRAPS also measures the FPS giving devs a good idea of what kind of frame rate their game is achieving on specific systems.

Sony Vegas: Sony Vegas is a high quality video editing software suite that is affordable enough to be accessible to often underfunded independent game developers but high quality so as to ensure that videos are professional grade.

Final Cut Pro: Final Cut Pro is an expensive professional video editing software suite for the Mac but there is an express version that is priced affordably enough for independent developers and still provides an extremely high quality video editing environment.

GIMP: GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program and is a free, open source image editing software and a strong option for the creation of character designs and graphics for the budget conscious budding developer.

Photoshop: Photoshop is the undisputed king of image editing and is one of the most powerful professional tools available for game developers seeking to create high quality, professional grade graphics. The only drawback of photoshop is that it does come with a professional grade price tag.

Jewel Beat: New developers often can’t afford the premium royalty rates of musical artist’s existing works. Jewel Beat is a service for independent game developers and movie makers that provides over 4,000 royalty free sound effects and musical scores.

FL Studio: FL Studio is a powerful music creation suite perfect for those developers that prefer to create their own music and sound effects. The software is affordably priced and a strong option for musically inclined developers.

Game Maker: Game Maker is the premier software suite for the creation of 2d games. It features an easy to learn, difficult to master interface that allows developers to keep things as simple or complex as their skill level demands. One of the other great perks of this powerful software is that you can try it out with the free version and if you want to purchase it, the $40.00 price tag is very affordable.

Clickteam: Clickteam produces a powerful game development suite geared toward people wishing to develop for any of many multiple platforms whether it’s the iPhone, Andriod, Xbox Live Arcade, or the PC. It’s another development suite designed to provide optimum power for experienced programs and inexperienced programmers alike. Their products range in price from $70.00 to $370.00 dollars.

Unreal Development Kit: The Unreal Development Kit gives developers access to the industry titan Unreal III engine completely free for non-commercial or educational use. This means that for developers seeking to create something not in order to make a profit, but in order to show their chops, don’t have to pay a dime. Independent developers looking to use the UDK for commercial reasons can review the terms of the licensing agreement which does cater to independent developers and while expensive, is still free until you are ready to deploy a commercial product.

Unity Engine: The Unity Engine is behind such games as Mechwarrior Tactics and indie success Slender in addition to many others. Unity Pro has high costs both for the basic programs and its various addons but is an extremely powerful choice for developers looking to work in 3d.

Trello: Trello is a free collaboration tool, mindmapping, and workflow chart. Organization, delegation and a clear, concise record of the entire development process are key to the success of game development and Trello gives indie developers the tool to do this at no cost.

Communities and Networking

Game Dev: Game Dev is both an active developer community where devs from all over the industry share their insights, wisdom, and stories; an incredible resource for people interested in breaking into the gaming industry.

TIGSource: TIG Source is one of the most vibrant, helpful indie game development communities on the internet. If you are interested in breaking into the industry by creating something amazing, this community can help you get there.

Reddit: This is the indie gaming community of reddit. Community members post news and articles from all over the independent game development and fan worlds.

Indie Gamer Forums: The forums at Indie Gamer include an active developer discussion board where developers can share techniques, recruit talent, and find tutorials.

Game Maker Community: The Gamer Maker Community is an entire community built around the tool Game Maker which is one of the premier 2d indie development tools. This community knows everything about the program, all its ins and outs and can help budding developers master it in a short period of time.

Action Script Community: If Flash games are your interest, the forums at actionscript.org are the place to be. A vibrant community of people passionate about creating great flash games, this is a great resource for any prospective flash developer.

Blogs

How to Not Suck at Game Design: How to Not Suck at Game Design is a blog devoted to helping new developers avoid the pitfalls that often lead to the dismal failure of promising projects.

Jeff Vogel Blog: This blog is run by a prominent indie game designer and features his thoughts on what makes games successful or unsuccessful.

What Games Are: What Games Are is a blog about game design and development and also tackles issues such as “games as art”, the culture of gaming, and the state of the industry.

Untold Entertainment: The blog of Untold Entertainment features musings on growing your games, the usefulness of certain resources, and just about everything else going on in the industry.

Indie Dev Stories: Indie Dev Stories regales readers with tales from the indie game development community.

Penny-Arcade: Penny-Arcade has been a gaming blog since almost before gaming blogs were even a thing. The website features three comics and news posts per week and Penny-Arcade has become one of the major forces in the industry spawning things such as the wildly successful conference, The Penny-Arcade Expo.

Conferences

Penny-Arcade Developers Expo: PAX Dev is a conference put together by Penny-Arcade, the originators of PAX, the Penny-Arcade Expo. This is a developers only conference designed as a safe place away from prying eyes and media for developers of all stripes to get together and share insights into the gaming industry.

Penny-Arcade Expo: PAX, the Penny-Arcade Expo is a convention for gamers, by gamers and is quickly becoming the premier venue for major developers and indie developers alike to showcase their projects.

Game Developers Conference: The Game Developers Conference is the largest conference of its kind in the world and is held in multiple locations around the globe every year. A conference showcasing new technologies, ideas, and methods for developers.

Indie Games Festival: The Indie Games Festival is the longest running gaming festival focused exclusively on independent games. Top indie games are showcased and many developers attend to present their products. The festival is thrown by Gamasutra.

Indie Games Festival: Indiecade is an Indie Game focused festival that is open to developers and gamers alike and is one of the top venues in which to launch an indie game due to increased exposure to the developer’s target demographic, indie game enthusiasts.

Indiecade: The Game Design Conference is a gathering of designers from all aspect of the industry coming together to share insights, stories, and professional practices.

Digital Retailers and Marketing Tips

Ben Kuchera Marketing Lecture: This is a 50 minute lecture given by Ben Kuchera, former editor and writer for Ars Technica’s video game arm and now lead editor and writer for the Penny-Arcade Report. The lecture is full of useful insights and tips from an industry insider on the best marketing strategies for independent developers.

Zero Budget Marketing: An article from a South African game development magazine on the zero budget strategies for independent marketing.

STEAM: STEAM is the premier PC and Mac digital distribution platform for video games of all levels from AAA titles to tiny indie game projects. STEAM’s “Project Greenlight” turns to its customers to crowdsource the method by which they pick independent games to sell on the platform.

Gamer’s Gate: Gamer’s Gate is another leading digital distribution platform for PC and Mac with over 4,000 titles from major developers and independent developers alike.

Desurea: Desura is a community driven digital distribution platform dedicated to putting the best major games, mods and independent games on the map.

GOG: GOG is a platform that appeals to many independent developers as it specializes in games without digital rights management (DRM) and a built in indie fan demographic.