Gaming News: Warner Brothers buys Turbine, Brain Training doesn’t work, Will Facebook take over the Web?

It’s Sunday again and time for another dose of the weekly gaming news.

Warner Brothers acquires Turbine

The developers of LOTRO and Dungeons and Dragons Online was acquired this week by Warner Brothers. This deal means that Turbine loses their independence and that WB now owns all the rights to Lord of the Rings.

WB have been buying up a few games studios over the last few years, most notably Rocksteady (makers of Arkham Asylum) and TT Games (Lego Starwars). Although we don’t yet know if WB have plans for any of Turbine’s existing games, the MMO developer stated that fans can rest easy because nothing much is expected to change in the foreseeable future. But they would say that, wouldn’t they? We also know that Codemasters will continue running LOTRO in Europe.

In view of this announcement, I wonder whether the DDO offer wall which hit the headlines last week was less of a money making effort and more an attempt to prove the technology for Turbine’s new corporate masters. I suspect LOTRO will be fine, in fact it’ll probably be good for the developers to have access to the rest of the LOTRO canon. As for DDO, that’s a more interesting issue because Atari owns the D&D sublicence.

And if anyone is wondering what other IPs Warner Brothers owns which might be gameworthy, here is the list. The IPs which most intrigue me as possibilities are Harry Potter (duh) and The Wizard of Oz (the Oz books themselves are in the public domain, and it is a very well defined universe.)

Nolan Bushnell is Back at Atari

The legendary gaming entrepreneur who founded Atari in 1972 is back on the board. A couple of other senior directors left the board at the same time, including David Gardner who was Atari CEO until last December. Night of the Long Knives, anyone?

Brain Training Doesn’t Work, or Does It?

A study published in Nature (a respected scientific publication) this week showed that Brain Training games do not actually improve your memory or a host of other skills.

What they actually said was:

Statistically, there are no significant differences between the improvements seen in participants who played our brain training games, and those who just went on the internet for the same length of time.

So basically, messing around on the internet or playing just about any other kind of game would keep your brain ticking over as much as ‘brain training’. This is not to say that gaming can’t be good for you. There has been research showing that computer gaming helps people with dementia to keep their skills and memories, for example.

But good news! You don’t have to play a boring brain training game! Plants and Zombies for everyone!

You can like Facebook, but does Facebook like you?

Facebook’s F8 conference was used as a platform for announcing a whole slew of new changes and features.

Finally, giving permission to a third-party applications will become a one-click action, meaning that applications can get more data more quickly, and then keep it. Privacy concerns from users aside, this is the developers’ dream.

(My bolded text.) Facebook is not your friend. It is funded by advertising and by application developers. Any changes they make are with their funders and future funders in mind. This doesn’t mean that changes might not make life more convenient for users in future, but that isn’t the goal.

Social media sites, usually keen to support anything involving more people using social media have been awkwardly trying to backpedal on this one. Maybe, just maybe, it might not be a good idea to give facebook this much information?

Mashable, for example, explain the new ‘like’ button but with a caveat.

It’s in Facebook’s interests to lock up your social graph, and it’s in your best interests that it doesn’t.

Pete@Dragonchasers has also experimented with the new like button, and shares some of his concerns. My main concern is not so much whether I want to like webpages, it’s whether my friends might inadvertently share information about me. Just because I don’t mind my friends knowing my interests, that doesn’t mean I want every website they ever visit to know them as well.

Here’s more on how to protect your personal information on Facebook.

And if you run a blog on wordpress.com and would like to add a facebook ‘like’ button to the bottom of a post, you can generate some code to do that via GetSocial Live! There’s an example at the bottom of this post. I’m inclined to keep doing it, because Facebook users might like it and it’s really your choice whether or not to click.

Starcraft II gets an 18 Rating in Korea

This is bad news for the Blizzard team if the rating stands, given that Starcraft is practically a national sport in Korea. This week, the South Korean government’s Game Ratings board gave SC2 an 18+ rating.

Overclocker reports that an official cited:

the “game’s level of violence, foul language and depiction of drug use.”

Blizzard has gone back to them with their release candidate code to appeal for a second look at the rating. If they do have to adjust content to satisfy the Koreans, expect a delay in release.

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9 thoughts on “Gaming News: Warner Brothers buys Turbine, Brain Training doesn’t work, Will Facebook take over the Web?

  1. Maybe this Starcraft thing is good news. I did not like the “this is war, torture is okay” mentality that crept into WoW since WOTLK.

    They should rather tune down the cartoony look and excessive shoulders of the chars in their games and go for mature themes in the sense of the word, not combine cartoony looks with rather sinister and brutal themes. The world had enough Death Knights galore.

    This said, I hope LOTRO finds back to amazing landscapes in Rohan. Do not get me wrong, the Mirkwood is amazing. It is just by default not the best area for a sunshine and lollipop theme. ;)

  2. I think the cartoony look in WoW has become part of the charm, it could certainly use a graphics upgrade but the general art style has been pretty popular.

    It is odd with the mature themes because they do have some. If you check some of the old plaguelands quests, they’re genuinely poignant (I’m thinking of the Sister Pamela quest chain, and even the original Fordring one). But it’s all a mess with the WoW theme, they throw in a funny bit with poo from time to time, just because.

  3. The “brain training” game study only required participants to use the game for 10 minutes 3 times a week, for 6 weeks. Try doing a workout routine for a similar amount of time and see if you get results in 6 weeks.

  4. I think Blizzard will be falling over itself to get the rating lowered in Korea considering how insanely popular the original Starcraft is over there.

    Oddly enough (and I never thought I’d hear myself say this) but I do think that some countries, such as the UK, are almost becoming a little bit too relaxed with censorship. Not that I want anything to get banned but I have been very surprised over the past few years about the low certificates some films have been getting. Maybe it’s just a sign that I’m getting old :)

  5. I still have a box for Starcraft with the ESRB’s M rating, though it was later changed to a T rating. I suspect that Blizzard will want that T rating (or equivalent in whatever country).

    Tangentially and bluntly, I don’t consider foul language to be mature, and drug use and violence can be toned down a LONG way and you can still have a fun game.

    I’m guessing here, but I don’t think that StarCraft is huge in Korea because Marines are addicts or the Zerg splatter nicely. It seems to me that it’s the mechanics of the game that are the heart of the popularity. Sure, if it was Care Bears vs. Smurfs vs. G.I. Joe, completely sanitized, it would probably turn off some hardcore players, but the play is the core of the experience, at least in the long run. Just look at how popular StarCraft is with “ancient” graphics.

    It’s my uncultured opinion that hardcore players aren’t hardcore because they want gore, profanity and drugs in their games, it’s because they appreciate finely tuned, highly playable games. Those aren’t mutually exclusive, but neither do great games require trashy trappings.

  6. I guess for comparison, look at Warhammer 40k. There are some very dark themes in that game, and the dark gothic side is one of the reasons that people like it. Sure, you don’t HAVE to have people swearing or being addicted to superdrugs to do that, but if that’s the story the game designers want to tell, then it’s the one I want to see.

    So I hope that whatever they do for Korea, we get the original version.

  7. I find the Facebook thing very odd. Their business model seems based on disingenuous naive new internet users being upfront and honest. However it also teaches new internet users not to be honest by burning them a few times (malware etc).

    I can see the advantage of having a FB account although I don’t use it yet. I met an old friend I hadn’t seen for 10 years and she puts her photos there which might be nice to see. However if I did start to use it I would never want it connected in any way to my financial transactions. I can see why FB wants to spy on me. I don’t see any advantage for me though in allowing them to do so.

    Really, who wants an extra channel for viagra ads, Nigerian princes wanting to borrow my bank account to get their millions out of the country and Russian girls who want to fall in love? Why would anyone savvy want Facebook to pick out items of interest for us when we could just search or surf?

    I do wonder if I’m missing part of the picture.

    • It’s because of stuff like this likebutton site. You can see what sort of stuff your friends like without them actually having to recommend it.

      And also because it means websites can literally read your mind. If you randomly wandered around the web and liked the webpage of your favourite bands, totally unrelated music and retail sites will make sure to show you their stuff.

      But basically it’s mostly good for facebook. And yes, I agree that they lean heavily on having a naive user base. But it’s a huge user base, and it’s being educated that facebook IS the web.

      • Thanks for posting the Facebook privacy bit. I was partially aware of their new change, being the bit about websites being personalized for me; I was not aware I was allowing my FB friends to share MY information with 3rd-party websites.

        I’m not now…assuming we can trust Facebook.

        Will they really respect my wishes just because I unchecked a button on their own website? Or will there be a Class Action Lawsuit against Facebook in a couple of years for excessive invasion of privacy?

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