Games and gear

Bye-bye Flappy Bird -- popular game grounded by its creator

Flappy Bird was removed from app stores on Sunday, just hours after its creator warned that the popular game's demise was nigh.

The free smartphone game for iOS and Android took the mobile market by storm, reportedly earning $50,000 in ad revenue each day. Flappy Bird had been download upwards of 50 million times and earned 47,000 reviews on the App Store.

After Flappy Bird secured the No. 1 spot on the App Store and Google Play Store late last month, several media outlets attempted to explain our fascination with the ad-based tapping game, which sported a pixelated art style inspired by Super Mario Bros. However, all that attention proved too much for Dong Nguyen, the app's creator. … 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

Candy Crush, Outlook among top battery-sucking Android apps?

There are apps, just as there are lovers, that are high maintenance.

They constantly appeal for your attention, while at the same time sucking the very life blood from your being.

Well, in the apps' case, from your phone.

Some are simply more high maintenance than others. At least that's what a study performed by KS Mobile, makers of the Battery Doctor app, indicates.

KS Mobile decided to examine which Android apps trigger a warning to smartphone users about their own battery consumption levels with the highest frequency.

What an eclectic list emerged.… Read more

The 404 1422: Where we quit the pick-up tip (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- No more swipe and sign credit cards starting October 2015.

- Related: Bank of America mails credit card offer to "Lisa Is a Slut McIntire."

- Agree It app: now you can be a payday lender to Facebook friends!… 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

The 404 1,421: Where we would like to make it a true Daily Double (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Smartphone surprise success Flappy Bird earns $50K per day.

- Pay this no mind: DMX will fight George Zimmerman in a boxing match.

- Meet the man who's hacking "Jeopardy"!

- George Clooney says he'll NEVER be on Twitter.… 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

Game controller for quadriplegics responds to mouth movements

Gaming can be a great equalizer. A 13-year-old girl can take on a 72-year-old grandfather online and never know it because they're both just characters inside a game world. All they have to do is pick up a controller and play. Quadriplegics and people with limited use of their arms and hands, however, have a greater challenge. The QuadStick on Kickstarter hopes to be a gaming gateway for folks who need a different kind of controller.

The QuadStick was inspired by the work of Ken Yankelvitz, a pioneer in building mouth-controlled joysticks and other adaptive devices. Yankelvitz is currently not taking orders for new devices due to health reasons, leaving a gap in the market for gamers who can't use traditional controllers.… Read more

Virtual-reality Skyrim rocks treadmill, Oculus, Wiimote

Only the geekiest among us will remember the short-lived 1995 television series "VR.5," an ode to virtual reality that was part Max Headroom, part fever dream, and oh-so-awesome at the time. Nearly 20 years later, the promise of VR has yet to be realized, but at least we're getting closer, as evidenced by a demo video from gaming treadmill maker Cyberith.

The Cyberith Virtualizer is an omnidirectional treadmill that is a direct competitor to the Virtuix Omni. The demo video shows the Virtualizer used in conjunction with an Oculus Rift headset and a Wiimote.… Read more

The 404 1,420: Where we ring and run (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Discussing five movies about relationships per month could cut the three-year divorce rate in half.

- Beware the one-ring phone sex scam.

- Tech is cruelly ripping teens from their natural shopping mall habitats.

- Facebook celebrates 10 years with Look Back.

- Today's show and tell features this collectible Batman figure from Side Show Toy!… Read more