Mooove Over, Darwin

Creating cows in labs, and couching creationism in lessons

Also in today's links: crocodile deaths, sugar highs, and the pleasures of video games.

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Peripheral Visions

CES 2009 was a wonderland of wacky gaming gadgets

Ah, irony. When we predicted that 2009 would be a year of innovation for the video game business, who knew it would start by pushing the boundaries of silliness? As a visit to the Gaming Showcase pavilion at last week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) proved though, chuckles were in no short supply.

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Video Games to Fights AIDS

A new digital project helps Kenyan teens learn healthy behaviors

At CES, where Resident Evil 5 will soon be projected onto the side of Planet Hollywood, video games are everywhere. But some go beyond mere entertainment. During his keynote speech today, Intel chairman Craig Barrett talked about how technology can help people in the developing world. One of the most interesting efforts he mentioned: Warner Brothers Interactive recently created a PC game that uses an engaging story to teach Kenyan teens about HIV prevention.

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Boot Camp for Gaming Addicts, Gaming Addicts for Boot Camp

Chinese army discipline reverses video game addiction; meanwhile the U.S. Army leverages it for recruitment

There's playing online games, and then there's collecting 68 virtual "husbands" in a game. That's when Chinese parents intervene and send their wayward offspring to a boot camp staffed by soldiers of the People's Liberation Army.

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The Future of Gaming

The year may have barely began, but it's already offering a sneak peek at what interactive entertainment will mean tomorrow

Welcome to 2009. We have seen the future of gaming, and it looks a lot like its for your mother, grandfather and ADD-afflicted pals. Cheerfully, there's still hope for hardcore PC and console enthusiasts. It just doesn’t come in a shiny, shrink-wrapped retail box.

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Free Play

Enjoy thousands of online games without spending a cent

Tick, tick, tick... No matter how often you glance up from that quarterly sales forecast, it still seems like an eternity until 5 o'clock. But with today's increasingly sophisticated free online games, it's easy to kill time and torpedo productivity faster than you can say "TPS report." Recent highlights include the addition of 3D graphics, head-to-head cooperative or competitive multiplayer options and even digitized speech--boosting titles' addictiveness and geek cred alike. Just fire up your favorite Web browser and surf to the following five sites for instant mouse-waggling thrills.

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Lights, Camera, Reaction

Microsoft's You're in the Movies makes you a Hollywood star

Meet today's hottest new star. He's short and balding, but has an infectious wit and smile that can light up any red carpet. Come to think of it, he looks a lot like me. My rapid rise to celebrity came courtesy of You're in the Movies (Xbox 360), which inserts video from a USB camera into faux film trailers.

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Sex, Thighs and Video Games

A surprising gift that will get the video game-obsessed 20-something man in your life away from the TV.

The first gamers were not the trendy young teens of today. Bad skin and thick rimmed glasses were practically mandatory for anyone intent on owning an Atari 2600. Perhaps it was the lack of real women in their lives, or maybe the rise of porn videos and lad mags in an increasingly hypersexualized media landscape, that led early programmers to quickly create female video game characters as roughly pixelated, highly sensualized sex objects. Whatever it was, that was only the beginning...

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Instant Gratification

Online exclusives, free trials, and instant access make game downloads the smart way to play

Ah, irony. A couple months ago we were celebrating breakthroughs in hyper-realistic video games. Now paying $60 seems extravagant for a single blockbuster title. But what about enjoying 10 downloadable alternatives for the same price? Faster connections, increasingly intuitive interfaces and ballooning value-priced software catalogues haven't just made digital game purchasing fiscally wise. They've also rendered it addictively simple.

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Holiday Video Game Guide

Just in time for Black Friday: Our favorite new ways to play

For sentimental types—or just those needing a break from the corporate treadmill—Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Diwali are reason enough to cheer. But for gamers overwhelmed by the year-end tsunami of new titles, we’re declaring a new national holiday: December. Even 31 days isn’t enough to work your way through all the new releases. So to make the most of your month (or however much time you can get free) we recommend starting with these five games that blend the high tech with high adrenaline.

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View to a Thrill

Mirror's Edge offers fresh perspective on high-flying acrobatics

Shots ring out. Sirens split the air. Sunlight streaming on the city's rooftops, you race towards freedom, breath exploding in your lungs, footsteps pounding on the concrete. Suddenly, you've nowhere left to run. Without thinking, you leap. And for the first time ever, in 3D adventure Mirror's Edge (PC/PS3/Xbox 360), you'll discover how the gymnastic maneuver pans out directly through its heroine's eyes.

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A Guide to Retro Gaming

Classic gaming titles enjoy new life thanks to Good Old Games downloads

Like most savvy sci-fi gaming fans, I spent the past weekend channeling my inner Mad Max with a new copy of Fallout, clearing its stunning post-apocalyptic wastelands of ravenous mutant and bloodthirsty raider alike. I’m not talking about the newly released third series installment for computers and next-gen consoles. Rather, thanks to new online distribution service Good Old Games, I’ve been revisiting the original desktop legend instead.

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The Most Realistic Video Games Yet

Console videogames move beyond mere fancy graphics to lifelike physics, characters and controls

Games are beginning to exploit the computational muscle of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 to generate characters and environments that follow the rules of reality, not just preset sequences.

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Gamers in Space

Millionaire video game designer and astronaut progeny Richard Garriott becomes the first second-generation space traveler

Bow, nerds, and greet your king. Before this week, Richard Garriott was already geek royalty. The son of an astronaut, Garriott grew up in a NASA village, started writing best-selling videogames in high school, and has voyaged to the bottom of the ocean. Now Garriott has achieved the crown jewel of nerdom: he's in space.

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Video Game Déjà Vu

Where have all the creatives gone? The Grouse explores his (lack of) options in this week's column

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but they neglected to mention that it’s also a crushing chokehold on the windpipe of creativity. Nowhere is this fact of life more apparent than in this fall’s lineup of upcoming and recently released video games. Look a little closer and you’ll realize—with a few exceptions—that it’s not just this season’s selection of pixelly diversions that suffer from a general lack of originality; it’s a long-running ailment endemic to the entire video game industry.

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