Thursday, September 30, 2010
A German student has created a computer game giving players a taste of life as an East German border guard shooting political fugitives fleeing to the West, to the outrage of victims' relatives.
The game "1378" -- the length in kilometers of the border between East and West Germany in the Cold War -- awards border guards who shoot an exceptional number of escapees a medal. They then find themselves in the year 2000, on trial for the shootings they carried out in the name of the East German Communist regime.
Players can also take on the role of East German fugitives trying to escape over the Berlin Wall. If caught, they are either shot or arrested and taken to prison.
Jens Stober, the 23-year-old who created the game as part of his university degree, said it had an educational aspect.
"Becoming an East German escapee or border guard enables players to identify with these figures," he said. "It's a novel way of encouraging young people to take an interest in coming to terms with recent German history."
But the Federal Foundation for the Reconciliation of the Communist Dictatorship said that while it welcomed different ways to come to terms with the 1949-1989 regime, it doubted young people would learn anything by shooting dissidents.
"Ultimately it's just an ego-shooter game, which is unacceptable given the historical context," said Dietrich Wolf, spokesman for the foundation.
Theodor Mettrup of the Association for Victims of Communist Tyranny said the game "makes a mockery of the victims."
"The shootings at the wall were no game -- they destroyed people's lives and families. But people playing this game won't get a sense of that," he told Reuters.
The game is due to be released on Sunday, the 20th anniversary of German reunification.
An estimated 1,000 East German citizens were killed trying to escape after the Wall was built in 1961. East German border guards were under instruction to shoot anyone trying to flee. The last East German to be shot crossing the border was Chris Gueffroy in February 1989.
WESTMINSTER, Calif. (AP) -- Authorities in Orange County are searching for a burglary suspect found nude under a bed by a homeowner. Westminster police said the suspect repeatedly apologized and put on his pants after he was discovered early Saturday. The man told the homeowner he was on drugs and ran from the house shirtless and wearing khaki pants, City News Service reported.
The homeowner told police he discovered the stranger when he heard "rustling sounds" coming from under the bed.
Police determined the suspect got into the house by using a ladder found in a side yard to climb through a second-story window.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) -- Shhhh! Arrest under way. A man fleeing police after a traffic stop in Missoula, Mont., ran into the city library Wednesday and hid in a restroom, prompting an evacuation while police arrested him.
Police say the man refused to get out of his vehicle during a traffic stop. While driving away, he struck the front tire of a bicycle. Lt. Geron Wade says the bicyclist did not appear to be seriously injured.
Officers responded to the library after someone called police reporting a very nervous-looking man standing on the sidewalk outside.
Wade says an officer spotted the man going into a restroom and the library was evacuated for about 30 minutes while he was arrested.
MURRIETA, Calif. (AP) -- A Southern California pot farmer is suing his landlord because his $35,000 indoor marijuana crop was stolen during a break-in. Gary Hite, who rents the 1,892-square-foot unit in a Murrieta business park, filed the Riverside County lawsuit against Hunco Way LLC claiming negligence and breach of contract. Hite's suit said he grows the marijuana for medicinal purposes.
The Superior Court suit alleges the landlord failed to fix a broken door and lock after a May 17 break-in in a neighboring unit.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported burglars entered the open unit on June 7 and smashed through the drywall to get into his marijuana warehouse space.
The suit said 35 plants worth $1,000 each were stolen.
Police said Hite's pot operation was illegal and he had been cited for various code violations.
For the past four years, Nintendo has the market to itself when it comes to motion control gaming. That’s finally coming to an end – and it has some people wondering about how the company will fare moving forward.
In mid-September, Sony launched PlayStation Move, a motion sensor that mimics – and, in some ways, improves upon - the Wii remote. Come November, Microsoft will join the fight with Kinect, a camera-based system that eliminates the need for controllers altogether.
Both companies are counting on the new peripherals to extend the life of the PS3 and Xbox 360 – and are planning full-scale marketing assaults as the holidays draw near. Expect those ads to tout the convenience of motion control blended with the beauty of high definition graphics and a robust multiplayer environment.
The Wii might seem to pale in comparison. While it might have been the innovator in the space, Nintendo’s system is graphically far behind the others – and the company has never shown a strong interest in online gaming. Players (especially long-time fans) have criticized the company on both points. Repeatedly.
But while the Wii might not have the horsepower or online presence of the Xbox 360 or PS3, it’s far from obsolete. Nintendo still has several things working in its favor in this fight – and it could have a few tricks up its sleeve as well.
The biggest advantage? Price.
Kinect will cost $150, which is $50 more than most publishers were hoping. Move’s pricing is more complex, since it has multiple parts, but for people to get the complete set, they’ll have to spend $130.
That’s just for the controllers. Packs that include the console will run $300 for the Xbox/Kinect bundle and $400 for the PS3/Move bundle. Compare that to just $199 for the Wii. If Microsoft and Sony are serious about trying to woo the casual audience, they’re going to have to lower prices - and fast.
That’s assuming they can convince casual players that they have something drastically different to offer. The first batch of games for the Move and Kinect could easily pass for a “Wii greatest hits” collection – with exercise, brain training and pet-simulation games leading the charge. The thinking, apparently, was to coax players over with something familiar – but given the still shaky state of the economy, that may not be enough to lure Wii fans.
Microsoft and Sony are also extremely dependent on the core gamer and will have to walk a balancing act. Kinect and “Halo” don’t seem like a natural fit – and the Move elements of “SOCOM 4” that Sony has shown so far haven’t exactly made players eager to try them out.
Although Wii sales haven’t been as brisk this year as they have historically, the system still has a tremendous base of users. Worldwide, over 73 million Wiis have been sold. In the U.S. alone, 30 million are in homes. And the owners of those machines have had a lot of time to get used to them and learn what sorts of games they like. So has Nintendo.
Even if Move and Kinect begin to significantly chip away at the Wii’s lead, there’s plenty of room for Nintendo to lower the system’s price – and at least one analyst thinks Nintendo could have more aggressive plans to fight back.
“I expect a console refresh as early as the last part of next year,” says Colin Sebastian of Lazard Capital Markets. ”I think a high definition ‘Wii Plus’ – something with a much bigger and better online platform – would be fairly significant. It would put them, from a platform perspective, on a more level playing field.”
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