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The 100 Games Cupcakes… Game!

This is just a little piece of internet wonderfulness that was emailed to me by a friend.  The web page begins:

Every year, we throw a big, game party to ring in the new year. This year (2010) is our house’s 100-year birthday, so we celebrated with cupcakes…
…and the cupcakes were a game.

Here they are in random order – see how many you can guess!

Indeed, it is 100 cupcakes, each themed after a popular [board | video] game.  Most anyone who will read this blog will recognize quite a few of these.  I did well except for a couple of video games and board games from the last decade.  I guess I need to catch up to the present.

Enjoy.

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HRSFAN achievement: Rush or Relax?

Jessica Hammer ’99 and her research team recently won a grant to design iPhone games that will help people stop smoking.  The grant speaks for itself:

The game is intended to be an alternative to smoking with the goal of reducing or eliminating tobacco use in players’ lives. The game involves breathing into a microphone to control gameplay, and is coupled with sound, color, images, challenges and feedback to mimic the stimulant and relaxant effects of smoking. The design elements within the game result in two modes of play (“Rush” and “Relax”). These will be tested for their stimulant and relaxation effects through emotional response and physiological (EEG, heart rate, galvanic skin response) measures, and compared to subjects after smoking or who play the game in lieu of smoking. If successful, the game will emulate the effects of smoking as a replacement therapy for smokers who want to quit. It will do so by allowing smokers who crave the physiological effects of smoking to reach for this five-minute game rather than for a cigarette.

I think it’s a great idea.  Although I also thought about this, and it creeped me out.  (Spoiler alert for that link, if you read beyond the first page or so.)

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Settlers to overtake Monopoly? Not yet…

Wired has a story on Settlers of Catan, “Monopoly Killer“. It’s a nice mix of discussion of the game’s mechanics, the story of its creation and its inventor, and the status of German games in general, among other things. But what really piqued my interest was this graph:

The article says that Catan has started to really sell better over the last few years in the US, and speculates on it (and German-type games generally) overtaking more traditional games like Monopoly. I remember when I was HRSFA’s External, talking with Rob Daviau at Hasbro–he said something I found very interesting at the time, though it seems obvious in retrospect. He said that because of its brand recognition, Monopoly was Hasbro’s big board game, and that most of its money came from various licensed versions of it; that the more special-interest board games were a much, much smaller sliver of the pie.

Maybe this will start to change that, and push smarter board games more into the popular culture in the US. I’d certainly be excited to see more of that. But from the graph (which you’ll note is cumulative sales), the growth is relatively stable. Although it does appear to have increased recently, the per-year increase doesn’t look tremendously large–about 100,000 sold up to 2004, then 100,000 in 2004 and 2005; 150,000 sold in 2006 and 2007. 600,000 copies sounds pretty good for a single board game–but remember that with approximately 100 million households in the US, that’s still under 1% penetration. Hasbro is reticent to let out detailed data on Monopoly sales or estimated number of copies in the US (as was Mayfair, the source of the data in the article), but a New York Times article reported that they sell “several million copies” in the US each year, and they claim to have sold over 250 million copies total worldwide. So while Catan has an undeniably growing public awareness and acceptance, it would have to multiply its sales fiftyfold before it reaches Monopoly.

Finally, a couple of other interesting links:

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Fantastic Contraption

Fantastic Contraption

This is a most amazingly addictive game. You build machines. Machines! Simple machines that do things. Amazing things. All in service of getting an object to a target area. Once you’ve struggled your own way through the various levels (fun and frustrating at times), you can see some of the incredible things that others have created with simple tools. Eventually, you will realize that it is 4 in the morning and you should have gone to bed a long, long time ago.

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Dolphin Olympics 2

So I’ve been instructed to post here with random cool things I’ve found on the Internets.

Random cool thing from the Internets:

http://www.rawkins.com/games/do2/

It’s a very, very simple browser game.  Also very, very pretty, and very, very addictive.  I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who feels like he isn’t wasting enough time.  Also anyone who likes dolphins.

Gameplay hint (that it took me far too long to figure out): You can chain jumps together.  So long as you get a “Nice Entry” (and you get out of the water again in a reasonable amount of time), your next jump counts as part of your last jump, and you retain all the speed you’ve gathered.  Do this a few times and you can jump *high*.

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