Human-like opponents spur gamer aggression, study says

The debate around video game violence and whether it leads to actual violence has once again come to the fore this year since the Obama administration asked for funding to study the matter. A study by researchers at the University of Connecticut isn't trying to answer that particular thorny question, but it has uncovered a noteworthy component to the level of aggression gamers display when playing.

The study monitored 148 participants as they played Quake 3 Revolution on PlayStation 2. They battled opponents that either looked closely human or characters that looked like inhuman monsters. The gamers were surveyed afterward. The study found that fighting human targets increased both verbal aggression and aggressive thoughts. The research was just published in the journal Mass Communication and Society.… Read more

Japan building new power suit, rescue robots

Japan is preparing to spend about 1.1 billion yen ($14 million) on a five-year project to develop rescue robots that can be used in disasters like the quake and tsunamis that slammed the country in March.

The machines will come in three types: exoskeleton suits to boost human strength, robots that can rescue people from rubble, and robots that can search for people in water, according to a Nikkei Business Daily article.

Although similar devices have been developed in Japan, such as Tmsuk's two-armed Enryu debris mover, few have made it past the prototype stage and to see real use outside of robot exhibitions. … Read more

Engaged with Rage

If there's anyone who should know how to make legendary video games, it's got to be Id Software co-founder John Carmack. Largely responsible for classics such as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake (basically the games that invented the first-person action shooter), there's no game maker, save for Nintendo's Miyamoto, who comes close in terms of influence or reputation. (See our E3 2011 interview with Carmack here.)

It's no surprise that Rage has received its fair share of hype. Now that we've had our hands on the final product, here's what we think:

Jeff:It's impossible to play Rage and not immediately think of games like Borderlands and Fallout 3. The game draws so many similarities to the former that veteran players may find things a bit redundant in not just atmosphere but gameplay as well. Both games are a looter's dream, but Rage succeeds at delivering a much more polished and complete package.

Rage places the player in the role of Ark member, a project designed to continue the human race in anticipation of a meteorite impact that will destroy most of if not all life on Earth. The game begins with the Ark member awakening some time after the collision. Of course the world is now a shell of its former self and, surprise, surprise, you're not exactly welcome in it.

Narratively speaking, Rage starts off with an impressive sequence, but never really is able to achieve the same sort of cinematic awe. Voice performances are strong and likable, highlighted by the instantly recognizable John Goodman.… Read more

Minecraft maker offers to settle suit with trial by virtual combat

Minecraft maker Markus "Notch" Persson wrote on his personal blog August 5 that Bethesda, makers of the Elder Scrolls game series, is suing his company, Mojang, over the similarities between the name of its role playing games and Mojang's forthcoming Scrolls card game. Today, Persson updated his blog with the novel offer to settle the dispute with Bethesda through combat, specifically via multiplayer deathmatch in id Software's first person shooter, Quake III.

Three of our best warriors against three of your best warriors. We select one level, you select the other, we randomize the order. 20 minute matches, highest total frag count per team across both levels wins. If we win, you drop the lawsuit. If you win, we will change the name of Scrolls to something you're fine with.

We've contacted Bethesda for comment, and will update upon its response.… Read more

Assembling the IT emergency kit

Much of the world is consumed watching the coverage of the enormous disaster that recently struck Japan. As if a massive earthquake and subsequent major tsunami didn't cause enough death and destruction, they unleashed a cascade of failures that led to serious nuclear power plant accidents that have yet to be contained, and that threaten lives and indeed the inhabitability of an entire area of Japan. It's simply horrific.

We humans think that we're in control of, well, everything. We have plans and lists and goals and policies and fallback positions. Then something like this comes along … Read more

Japan struggles in quake's aftermath (week in review)

It's been a week since Japan's devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami. Amid the disaster cleanup and relief efforts, new problems continue to evolve, such as the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Anxiety over the damaged facility increased Wednesday as the United States' top nuclear regulator told Congress the situation was worse than reported by the Japanese government and that "extremely high" radiation levels could hamper containment efforts. On Friday, Japan's nuclear safety agency raised the severity of the crisis to level 5, up from 4, on a scale going up to … Read more

Japan radiation fears grow

Anxiety over Japan's damaged nuclear plant increased today as the United States' top nuclear regulator told Congress the situation was worse than reported by the Japanese government and that "extremely high" radiation levels could hamper containment efforts.

The American Embassy in Tokyo, meanwhile, recommended evacuation to U.S. citizens within 50 miles of the plant--an area much larger than the approximately 12-mile radius established by the Japanese. Still, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission maintained that there was little cause for worry about radioactive drift on the part of residents of Hawaii or the West Coast of … Read more

U.S. military blocks sites to free space for quake relief

The U.S. military has blocked from its computer network several Web sites popular with military personnel, as it looks to reserve bandwidth for use in earthquake recovery efforts in Japan, according to a report.

CNN said U.S. Strategic Command had confirmed that a block had been put into place Monday on the Department of Defense's .mil computer system and that the measure pinpointed 13 Web sites because of how frequently they're accessed.

The sites are: Amazon.com, Doubleclick, eBay, Eyewonder.com, ESPN.com, Googlevideo.com, Ifilm.com, Metacafe, MTV.com, MySpace, Pandora, Streamtheworld.com, and YouTube. … Read more

Despite quake, Japan's Net connections strong


While the damage and casualties in Japan are still being assessed, one bit of good news concerning the events in that country is that one key piece of infrastructure has managed to stay up and running despite the massive earthquake and tsunami waves: The Internet.

The folks at Internet research firm Renesys, who first gained attention for tracking Egypt's disconnection from the Internet, and then similar events in Libya, say they're surprised by how little the quakes have affected the undersea Internet cables that keep Japan connected to the rest of the world. Only a small fraction of … Read more

Major quakes hit Japan; tsunami warning for U.S.

Update: This story was originally published at 11:54 p.m. PT March 10. CNET is continually adding to it, with the most recent update posted at 8:33 a.m. PT March 11.

An 8.9-magnitude earthquake and series of major tsunamis struck Japan on Friday, causing massive damage, triggering evacuations in several countries, and leading to tsunami warnings for Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States.

The quake struck Friday at 2:46 p.m. local time about 230 miles northeast of Tokyo. Aftershocks registered 7.1, 6.2, and 5.9, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's report. … Read more