In the past year, Candy Crush Saga has been downloaded some 500 million times and played more than 150 billion times. The game got off to a slow start as an online game two years ago, but after some design changes expressly intended to thwart players tempted to put it down, it has become a global phenomenon--popular everywhere from Brazil to Hong Kong. It is the first game of the smartphone era to top the most-downloaded charts for Apple iOS, Google Android and Facebook simultaneously.
The rules of play are simple: line up three candies of the same color and repeat. But within that basic premise, Candy Crush's maker, a London-based software company called King, has devised an apparatus that is almost frighteningly effective at turning new players into fanatics--and making money too. Which is a particularly sweet trick considering that Candy Crush is free to download and free to play.
“"Since its near-insolvency in 2003, Lego has transformed itself into an innovation machine. The majority of its revenue still comes from refining classic Lego lines such as City and Star Wars, licensing more recent mega-hits such as Lord of the Rings, and inventing themes such as Lego Friends for the girls' toy market. Launched in early 2012, Friends was backed by years of research and a $40 million marketing campaign. That year, the company went on to sell twice as much of the Friends line as originally forecast. Legocontinues to experiment with new offerings. Through its partnership with Chicago architect Adam Reed Tucker, it developed its Architecture line -- eproductions of iconic buildings rendered in Lego. The iPhone game Life of George, introduced in 2011, is a mash-up of digital and physical Lego play.
Then there is Cuusoo, just one of the company's many adventures in crowdsourcing ideas. Launched in Japan in 2008 and globally in April 2011, Cuusoo invites users to submit -- and vote for -- ideas for new Lego sets. If a design wins 10,000 votes, Lego reviews it for possible production; if the design is developed and launched, its creators get a one per cent cut of the product's total net sales. In 2011, a Cuusoo concept for a Legoset based on online game Minecraft racked up 10,000 votes in just 48 hours, an outpouring of support that compelled Lego to announce that it would produce the set. Six months later (one-third of the usual development time), Lego Minecraft Micro World hit the market. With Cuusoo, Lego moved from tapping the wisdom of a few elite cliques to sourcing the talents of massive crowds.”
You probably haven't heard of the World Puzzle Championship either, but you should have, because it's the most extreme test of pure logical-reasoning power on the planet. It has taken place annually for the past 21 years; in 2012 it drew 145 contestants from 26 countries, many of them people who eat, breathe and, on the rare occasions when they sleep, dream about puzzles full time.
These guys are outliers, honest-to-God geniuses. But they're just the most illustrious representatives--the apex predators--of a vast, worldwide puzzling population that numbers in the hundreds of millions. Puzzles have always been a ubiquitous but unassuming and peripheral presence in our lives, folded meekly into the back pages of magazines and newspapers. But with the rise of the Internet and mobile devices, they've moved closer to center stage and become a not insignificant part of global culture, almost as pervasive, in terms of their reach and the number of person-hours they consume, as television and movies. No one knows exactly how many Americans do puzzles, but everyone agrees that the number of crossword puzzlers runs into the tens of millions. Estimates for the number of sudoku players run up to 80 million worldwide. And that's to say nothing of puzzlish and puzzlesque activities like Scrabble, Words with Friends, bridge, Tetris, Rubik's Cubes (over 300 million sold) and Angry Birds (260 million users at last count). Now that puzzles have escaped from newspapers and migrated onto our phones and tablets, no idle moment is safe from them
“It’s July and the San Diego Gaslamp District has boosted its foot traffic to Times Square levels. That can only mean one thing : Comic-Con is here once again!
As usual, the Con kicks off with Preview night, followed by four days a seemingly endless stream of TV, Film and Comics panels, each toting a line from here to Anaheim.
If you’re here in San Diego early, you’re going to want to check out the convention floor (an excellent opportunity to get in your pictures of all the cars, gadgets and cosplay before the big crowds come). You’ll be able to check out which game developer and publishers on here showing off their latest games. TV aficionados will want to check out the Sneak Peek pilot screenings going down in Ballroom 20. On display will be the pilots for Revolution, Cult, Arrow, The Following and 666 Park Avenue.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Peter Jackson, Matt Damon, Robert Downey, Jr., Sam Raimi and Guillermo del Toro are just some of the announced stars promoting big movies like Man of Steel, Expendables 2, The Hobbit, Wreck-It Ralph and Pacific Rim.
There are more attendees – over 127,000 registered attendees and an additional 3,000 members of the press. And more things to do outside of the convention center like Zac Levi’s Nerd HQ. There are also plenty of video games from big companies like Activision, Electronic Arts, Capcom, Konami, Square Enix, Sega, Namco Bandai, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Gazillion, to name a few.
Stats from the Global Attractions Attendance Report show the most popular theme parks in the world, and Orlando (with nearby Kissimmee, Lake Buena Vista, Tampa), Los Angeles (and nearby Anaheim and San Diego), Japan, S. Korea are prominent. But even more impressive is Asia as it leads the world in water theme parks.
These parks, in turn, have plenty of technology – The Harry Potter Quidditch match at Universal in Orlando, the interactive manta-ray experience coaster at SeaWorld in San Diego among others. There is technology in the synchronized fireworks and in crowd management like the Q-band in photo from UK based Lo-Q. “Using a waterproof RFID wristband, customers reserve their favourite slide at a touchscreen kiosk. Their Q-band then displays the slide number and a wait time Once the wait time has counted down to zero, it's time to ride and they jump straight on.”
“The gaming pioneer -- which spearheaded arcade games and home video-game consoles -- is reinventing itself to adapt to the era of mobile and social games.
Atari has been synonymous with games and gaming since Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney founded it in 1972. The company's products, such as "Pong" and the Atari 2600, helped define the computer entertainment industry from the 1970s to the mid-1980s.
About five years ago, the company got away from developing its own games to focus on publishing and distribution.”
Like all media businesses, the games industry is changing fast. What makes it different from the rest is that it has welcomed change and innovation and thrived on it. It is now growing in all sorts of unexpected ways. For example, the best players can earn money (sometimes a lot of it) from “e-sports”—that is, video games played professionally, in front of a crowd. And after years of talk about an imminent “virtual reality” revolution, it is the games industry that has perfected cheap, convincing simulations of the real world. Technology pioneered by games is now being put to use in fields from military training programmes to molecular biology and virtual showrooms for cars. The industry has even spawned a management technique, “gamification”, that applies the psychological principles of game design to motivating workers and engaging customers.
“Online gamers have achieved a feat beyond the realm of Second Life or Dungeons and Dragons: they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade.
The exploit is published on Sunday in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, where -- exceptionally in scientific publishing -- both gamers and researchers are honoured as co-authors.
Their target was a monomeric protease enzyme, a cutting agent in the complex molecular tailoring of retroviruses, a family that includes HIV.”
“Developed in 2008 by the University of Washington, (Foldit) is a fun-for-purpose video game in which gamers, divided into competing groups, compete to unfold chains of amino acids -- the building blocks of proteins -- using a set of online tools.
To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks.”