Games and gear

The 404 1,412: Where we game the system (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- How a math genius hacked OKCupid to find true love.

- Did the mathematician who hacked OKCupid violate federal computer laws?

- This is the most awkward feature on the Internet -- so why is it still around?

Episode 1,412

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GTA players turn virtual photographers to shoot in-game combat

My neighbors have been meeting regularly to discuss ways we can report and prevent crime in our area. I have a new idea -- get Grand Theft Auto V gamers on the case. They're doing a mighty thorough job documenting crime in Los Santos.

It's all thanks to photographer and filmmaker Christopher Murrie, who a few days back let Reddit know he's been playing GTA Online in passive mode as a "war correspondent" dressed in a helmet, camo pants, and a black jacket with "MEDIA" printed across the back. Passive mode makes it impossible to attack other players while you're on foot, and makes you impervious to attacks yourself. … Read more

Step into another skin with Everyday Racism app

Not all discrimination is blatant. Sometimes it's an accumulation of smaller, subtler interactions that can make you feel as though you're fighting a losing battle. These are known as microaggressions and, although they may not seem like much to the people who deal them out, they continue to perpetuate harmful attitudes that marginalize minorities.

Microaggressions are the focus of a new mobile "game" developed by All Together Now, a collaboration between the University of Western Sydney, Deakin University, and Melbourne University. It's called Everyday Racism, and it lets you experience just a small fraction of life as a racial minority in Australia. … Read more

Crave giveaway: CES swag bundle, part 1

The CNET crew's back from CES 2014, and bearing swag aplenty. What will we be doing with all the stuff we collected on the show floor? Sharing it with readers, of course. This week's giveaway winner scores a big giant stash.

Inside your CES backpack you'll find a 40-watt-equivalent energy-saving Samsung LED light bulb; a 16GB PhotoFlash i-FlashDrive cross-platform storage device for Android and iOS; and an Impulse Controller, a portable Bluetooth controller for mobile devices that's also a key finder. (When you find your keys, you can put them on the TiVo keychain we're tossing in). … Read more

The 404 1,410: Where we tour the Crystal Cove with Scott Stein (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Virtual reality 2.0: Taking a ride in the Oculus Rift Crystal Cove Prototype.

- NASA JPL takes a VR tour of Mars with Oculus Rift and Virtuix Omni (video).

- Hands-on with PlayStation Now: Everything we know so far.

- Sony at CES: PlayStation Now, "Breaking Bad," and the "wow" factor.

- PlayStation Now will need DualShock for all devices.… Read more

Minecrafter builds 'Spirited Away' in stunning detail

Alan Becker has a bit of an obsession with both Minecraft and famed Japanese animator and director Hayao Miyazaki's 2001 film "Spirited Away." So he decided to do what any reasonable person would do: spend several years building the locations from the movie in Minecraft. The results are gorgeous.

Becker has the kind of attention to detail that really makes the sets and landscape pop. Lights in the ghost town glow at night, flowers bloom in all the right places, and the world is constantly under revision to more accurately represent the movie.… Read more

Google's Niantic follows Ingress with Endgame

Not quite strong enough to stand on their own, the future of augmented reality games lies in ties to other media. At least, that's the plan that Niantic Labs appears to be pursuing.

As development continues on Ingress, Niantic's first offering which recently left beta, the quasi-independent startup within Google on Wednesday announced its next game: Endgame, a partnership with author James Frey's Full Fathom Five production company and publisher HarperCollins. Author Nils Johnson-Shelton is co-writing the books with Frey.

Details are light so far, but the game will tie into the young adult trilogy of novels … Read more

Channel your inner feline mischief with Catlateral Damage

As someone who shares a house with a cat, I have observed, firsthand, the phenomenon whereby a feline, with an innocent, nonchalant expression, will with a single paw clear a flat surface of objects. There seems to be no rhyme or reason. There is an object. There is a cat. Only one can survive.

"Why?" you ask your pet, which will not answer, because it is a cat and can't speak. But you ask anyway, because you really want to know.

We think Chris Chung has found the answer with his game Catlateral Damage, which is kind of really fun.… Read more