Wizard World

Here are some photos from my recent trip to Wizard World. Wizard World is a Comic Con run by Wizard Entertainment, which is a pop culture magazine and web site. It’s a great event to attend, especially if you’re into gaming. Take a look below, and I definitely recommend attending at some point if you have a chance.

 

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Grand Theft Auto Film

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The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has announced that it is currently working on what may hopefully be the first of many Grand Theft Auto inspired films. While it won’t be a work of fiction, much less an actual series or movie based on the contents of any Grand Theft Auto title, it will be a factual drama based on the franchise’s creation and success.

The special 90-minute drama will tell the story of the controversial start of what is currently one of the most popular video game franchise around. The most recent game, Grand Theft Auto V, sold $1 billion in its first three days making it the fastest selling entertainment product in history. BBC’s current working title is Game Changer and it will star Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and Bill Paxton (Apollo 13) in lead roles as Sam Houser, the creative mind behind GTA with Paxton playing lawyer Jack Thompson who headed the first of many crusades against the game’s release and the entire franchise that would develop from it.

The drama will not just focus on the conflict between Jack Thompson and Sam Houser and his team of closely knit developers. Although Jack Thompson sought to have the game banned due to its content, which surely many are already familiar with, the drama will shine light on how close Sam Houser and his brother Dan were to the team that helped them launch this video game giant.

Since 1994, Grand Theft Auto attracted attention that the creators perhaps never foresaw, be it all the critical acclaim that has made it so big or the ire of parents and politicians who were frightened by the idea of children playing the game. Giving it its own movie, and on a large network like BBC, shows just how far video games have come and how much they are a part of our culture.

Take a look at the full article here.

 

Artificial Intelligence Learns to Play Video Games

anthony beyer ai

I came across a really interesting article online about Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence, and it’s ability to not only execute tasks, but also to learn. It learned to play video games, but there are countless possible circumstances to which such technology can be applied in the future.

Of course, artificial intelligence playing a video is nothing new. If you’ve ever played a sports or fighting video game alone, you have played against artificial intelligence that itself must recognize certain patterns in order to compete with you in the context of the game. The difference here is that this artificial intelligence was not just programmed to play a certain game, but taught itself to play 49 of them. It appears from the article that these were pretty rudimentary Atari games, not more complex modern day ones, but if AI can learn these, it’s just a matter time of time before it can learn more.

The key that makes this technology applicable to a multitude of scenarios, both in video games and potentially in the real world, is adaptability. A computer, by now, can be easily programmed to recognize a limited number of potential patterns, but if it can adapt to new situations, it can recognize an unlimited number of patterns. And if it can do that, then the technology can be applied even to the real world, not just a programmed, artificial one. It is apparently not such a far jump from learning to play a few dozen Atari games to a car that can drive itself, interacting with the world and prepared for most or all of the potential situations it could encounter.

Video Games in the Olympics?

Anthony Beyer League-of-LegendsI was reading an article today that was discussing how valid it would be to have video games included as a sport in the Olympics. While you may laugh at this prospect, there is a game called League of Legends which has a World Championship event that literally TENS OF MILLIONS of people watch, including a stadium packed with tens of thousands (most of the additional spectators watch online). Now, I suppose the only real question here is, “What constitutes a sport?” because the viewership is obviously there for this to be a mainstream, very highly watched event.

A couple of things come to mind. The first is curling. This is an age old Olympic event that most people would be hard pressed to define as an actual sport if actually pressed on the issue. While it is entertaining to watch, as I suspect this League of Legends championship probably is also, it is hard to justify it as an olympic event next to other winter sports like, say, hockey. That being said, there is both physical exertion and skill involved in curling. Then again, they are also involved in difficult video games.

Anthony Beyer OlympicsI suppose I would say that I don’t necessarily think video games should be included in the Olympics. The Olympics are games based on competitions that took place thousands of years ago. And while there have certainly been additions since then (basketball for example, and many others), adding digital forms of competition to the games may really be against the spirit of the games. That being said, I don’t see any reason big video game competitions couldn’t also be big events in themselves, especially if there are as many people interested in watching them as spectators as there appear to be.

Super Smash Bros

Anthony Beyer CoverSuper Smash Bros for Wii U was released this past week.  It’s really great to see this video game franchise continue to go strong. This is one of those games that is just plain fun to play.

Anthony Beyer Super Smash BrosThere are several things that are great about Super Smash Bros. First, it is a family friendly game. Sure, it is a fighting game, but unlike games like Mortal Combat and even Street Fighter, it is much more cartoonish and playful. Therefore parents can feel comfortable allowing their children to play it. It is out just in time for the Holiday Season, and so I’m sure it will be a popular gift this year.

Another great thing about Super Smash Bros is that it is not one of those Role Playing Games that consumes your entire life like Halo and other similar games. It is one that you can pick up and put down, and revisit whenever. I’m not tying to say that Role Playing Games aren’t great. They are. But sometimes a less involved video game is what players are looking for. For years Super Smash Bros has been a great game of this type.

Anthony Beyer Nintendo CharactersBeing from Nintendo, this game features all of the classic and beloved characters that fans of this company have come to appreciate over the years. The great thing that Nintendo has done is to create a lot of crossover appeal between the games. And a game like Super Smash Bros in which so many of the Nintendo characters are featured can generate interest in games specifically featuring one of the characters, too. Not only is this a fun game, but also a good marketing strategy.

Anthony Beyer Super Smash Logo

Images of 5 Cool Phone Games

Take a look at some images of some great games to play on your phone:

Magic Gem Lite

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Pocket Empires Online

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Abduction!

Anthony Beyer Abduction!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doodle Jump

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Two Player Reactor

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Marriott International Eyes Up Africa

Anthony-Beyer-MarriottMarriott International is looking to expand its establishments in Africa, according to an article recently completed by USA Today. This decision was announced at the recently held US—Africa Business Forum. In detail, Marriott disclosed at the event that they would invest two hundred million dollars in Africa between now and 2020. This money would work towards building and opening thirty-six new hotels and hiring ten thousand new employees.

This announcement is somewhat unsurprising, as Marriott is already the largest hotel operator in Africa, a title it earned after it acquired one hundred and sixteen properties from Protea Hotel Group last April. With already such a large presence in Africa, many at the Forum wondered what led to the decision to continue to expand.

Arne Sorenson, Marriott International’s Chief Executive Officer, commented on the decision and what the corporation’s next steps were to be. Africa has become a priority for Marriott, due largely to the exciting growth the company has shown. The gross domestic product has grown quickly. In addition, the middle class in Africa is developing, now encompassing one billion people. This increase in the financially stable indicates to Marriot that there will be an increase in travel in the continent, both domestically and internationally.

Armed with this information, Sorenson says their priority at the moment will be to focus on local travel—domestic adventurers. Regardless of short or long distance travel, Marriott believes the general increase in stability in the country will lead to a need for more established hotels. Sorenson believes there is a misconception in the United States about Africa—that it is ungoverned and ungovernable, that the economy is failing and unstable. This is no longer true, from what Marriott’s executives have seen. The economy is growing and will continue to do so in the coming years. Sorenson does not believe Africa is likely to be in one of the top five economies of the world in the immediate future, but he thinks it has that ability to come in time. Therefore, it only makes sense to him and the rest of the executives at Marriott to invest now.

Trade-ins for iPhone 6 May Break Records

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It has been rumored that Apple will debut the iPhone 6 on September 9th at a media event in San Francisco. This makes it the perfect time to trade in your old iPhone. To help you with this process a lot of smaller online names are rushing to offer the best deal for taking your old iPhone in. Here are some online retailers offering deals to trade in your old Apple mobile device

Ebay

Sources say that Ebay will be offering a $100 coupon to US sellers who are unable to sell their old iPhones between Sept 1and Oct 24th.

Nextworth

Next worth has teamed up with major retail company that allows people to trade in their old iPhones in exchange for a Target gift card. You currently can trade in an old iPhone 5s in exchange for up to $259 as long as it’s free from malfunctions and without a cracked screen

Gylde.com

On Glyde.com iPhone-related traffic has more than double from last year’s lead-up to the iPhone 5s and 5c launch.If you’re hoping to get the most for your old iPhone, this is the best time to cash out; especially this year with so many other used iPhones hitting the market. Glyde currently suggests a sales price of $413 for a used Verizon 64GB iPhone 5s, and that is down from a price of $487 the site was suggesting just a week ago.

The Top 5 iPhone 6 Rumors

We all know by know that the iPhone 6 is coming soon, but the question is when and how will it look? With speculation running high, Apple and tech addicts have been waiting anxiously to see when Apple will make it’s next big announcement to the world. Here are the top rumors circulating about the iPhone 6 release.

1. The standard 4inch model iPhone is expected to see an increase in size to a 4.7-inch size.

2. Rumors of a 5.5-inch model have also circulated in the tech sphere suggesting that Apple is trying to keep up with the evolving Android world. A Phablet in the works maybe?

3.  A slimmer design and possible curved screens.

4. Touch ID: A finger print sensor currently featured on the iPhone 5.

5. Sapphire Screen: A scratch resistant screen currently featured on the iPhone 5s and iOS