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 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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