Are you Superman or Voldemort? Avatars may affect the real you

Video games have long provided a safe way for players to try out different personalities. In the land of pixels and pretend, we can try out the role of lithe, attractive do-gooder elf or become a hideous orc who leaves a trail of havoc (and dead elves) in our wake.

Most of us probably assume that after the game is over, we return to being simple boyfriends, moms, teachers, or accountants operating according to our own moral principles, regardless of the virtual personas we took on. New research, however, indicates that this just might not be the case. … Read more

Dragon Age: Inquisition character kits help with cosplay

Cosplayers, it can't be denied, put in a lot of work dressing as their favorite characters (to varying degrees of success, to be sure, but even throwing together the right elements can take quite some time to source). In many cases, they have to scour the Web for reference materials to make sure they're getting everything just right.

To help fans -- not just cosplayers, but fan artists, illustrators, and writers -- BioWare has announced that it will be releasing kits detailing characters and their costumes from the role-playing game Dragon Age: Inquisition, due out in the third quarter of this year. For a long time, the team at BioWare has delighted over fan creations, even going so far as to start designing costumes with more pockets so cosplayers can hide their phones and wallets, Bioware community manager Jessica Merizan wrote. … Read more

Eve Online to honor players with monument in Iceland

Last month, Eve Online saw the most epic battle in its 11-year history, the Bloodbath of B-R5RB, which caused an estimated real-word cost in damages of $300,000. Not two weeks later, the games developer has announced that it would like to honor all players with a monument on Reykjavik Harbour.

Every player who has an active game subscription on March 1 -- even new players -- will have the name of their main character etched upon the monument, which will stand 16 feet tall. Players who have passed away will also have their characters' names etched on the monument. … Read more

Activision CEO: Destiny will be bestselling new franchise ever

Bungie, the development house behind the Halo franchise, might have a hugely successful follow-up ready to go this year, said Activision CEO Bobby Kotick.

Speaking to investors in an earnings call on Thursday, Kotick said that he believes Destiny, Bungie's new franchise, could be his company's "next billion dollar franchise." The high expectations continued, as Kotick said that he believes "Destiny will become the bestselling new video game [franchise] in history" when it hits store shelves later this year.

Bungie has had an odd history. The company created the Halo franchise and was quickly … Read more

What gaming drought? 7 great games you should be playing right now

I've been hearing it since the new year: "There are no games to play!"

Sure, we seem to have found ourselves in a bit of a lull when it comes to the big blockbuster video game. When I posted what I felt were 2014's most anticipated titles, I may have overlooked the fact that the beginning of 2014 was a bit on the light side for games.

Wrought with guilt that I may have in someway performed a disservice to you fine people, I felt compelled to compile a short list of interactive software worthy of your hard-earned income. The best part? Most of these titles are significantly cheaper than the $60 you're probably used to paying for a shiny new game.… Read more

Amazon acquires game studio Double Helix Games

Amazon has acquired independent game studio Double Helix Games, adding to speculation that the Internet retailer is preparing to enter game console space sometime this year.

Representatives for Amazon and Double Helix Games confirmed the acquisition for CNET after an initial report by TechCrunch. Terms of the deal were not revealed.

"Amazon has acquired Double Helix as part of our ongoing commitment to build innovative games for customers," Amazon said in a statement.

Founded in 2007 through the merger of two Foundation 9 studios -- The Collective and Shiny Entertainment.-- the Irvine, Calif.-based company has about … Read more

What can a red balloon tell us about self-control?

As video games go, Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) is probably one of the least compelling ever created. There are no zombies, no deserted hospitals, no slick race cars. All it has is a red balloon on a white background that users pump up by clicking a button that looks like it was developed for (and maybe with?) the original Windows operating system.

Still, BART may have some interesting things to tell us about how the brain works, specifically in terms of risk-taking behavior.

You see, the game works by having you click that boring button to shoot a burst of air into the balloon. For every click that inflates the balloon without it popping, you "win" 5 cents (I still haven't figured out how to collect my stash from the developers). Pump up the balloon too much though, and you lose the cash you've accrued in that round.

So how does this provide information about our gray matter? … Read more

Xbox One updates to improve Kinect, multiplayer features

Xbox One users can expect two major updates to hit their consoles over the coming weeks.

Revealed by Xbox Corporate Vice President Marc Whitten in a blog on Wednesday, the first update will launch on February 11 with several fixes and features. Whitten promises improvements to the Kinect's voice recognition so it can better respond to your commands. Unspecified stability and product updates are also part of the package, as are behind-the-scenes enhancements for developers.

More specifically, Xbox One users will be able to view and manage their storage space, choose the order in which certain content loads, and … Read more

Bitcoin-operated arcade machine is a game changer

There's something satisfying about the sound of a quarter rolling into an arcade game and plinking down with its brethren somewhere out of view. You won't get that noise if you try out Liberty Games' rigged-up Bitcoin arcade machine, but you will get to play your choice of Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, or any of dozens of other classic games.

Liberty Games took a Cosmic II full-size arcade multigame cabinet and modified it to accept Bitcoin payments. You scan a QR code on the machine with your smartphone and then pay up in exchange for game credits. Once paid, you're free to blast away at the old-school video-game baddies.… Read more