Earlier this year Zora Ball was your average 1st grader until she decided to create and develop a mobile video game app, making her the youngest person to ever do so. At just 7-years old Zora managed to learn a programming language called “Bootstrap” that is normally used to teach kids ages 12 through 16 the different concepts of Algebra by using video games. Her teachers and family were astonished by her accomplishment.She was invited to an expo at the University of Penn where she was put on the spot and asked to reconfigure the app in front of everyone to prove that it was her that developed the mobile app in the first place and not her older brother who is a scholar student. Zora successfully did so and got rid of any doubt that anyone had.Zora Ball is now referred to a young prodigy with an extremely bright future in technology and computer science. Young Zora is an example of Black Excellence not having an age requirement.Written By: @Champion_Us
MechWarrior Online Devs Raise Over $100,000 For Cancer Research
A couple of weeks ago, we shared with you the heartbreaking story of young Sarah Parries, who recently finished her fight with cancer. At age five, Sarah was one of the biggest fans of Piranha Games and Infinite Games Publishing’s MechWarrior Online. She and her father, Jon, played together often, and the Jenner mech was her favorite.
In her memory, the MechWarrior Online team designed a special Jenner, making it available to the community for $10. The net proceeds (processing fees amount to less than 4 percent of the purchase) are being donated to the Canadian Cancer Society in Sarah’s name.
"Sarah’s story touched us all and we are so grateful and amazed by the generous global outpouring of support in her name," says Ron Kuehl, Vice President of Revenue Development at the Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon Division. "It’s truly heartening that something positive is coming from such a tragic situation."
The gift in Sarah’s name was expected to be a modest token of love from a community that feels her loss so deeply. No one expected Sarah’s story and this campaign would have touched so many.
"When we first had the idea for Sarah’s Jenner we thought that ten thousand dollars would be a number we could all be proud of," said Bryan Ekman, creative director of Piranha Games. "The response from the MechWarrior community and from the games industry at large has been overwhelming. We can’t thank everyone enough for unifying in this effort to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society and cancer research."
Each MechWarrior Online account holder may only purchase a single Sarah’s Jenner. They cannot be gifted either. This means that over 10,000 of these mechs have been sold, with encouragement from Piranha and Infinite Games for fans to donate more directly to a cancer charity should they choose.
PPD Editor’s Note: Thanks for the tip, patron-saint-of-insanity!
Sorry Mario Bros is a 2D platformer made over the course of 2 weeks by Scott and Casey Goodrow.
The game spans three of Super Mario Bros’ original levels, this time from right to left, as the Princess jumps, stomps, floats, and warps her way from the dark castle dungeon up to the bright and wonderful Mushroom Kingdom, proving that female protagonists can be just as awesome as male protagonists.
For more information and to download a copy of the game visit: http://www.thewildeternal.com/2013/07/30/sorry-mario-bros
Video games are bad for our kids, they say? One little boy disagrees.
Take that, haters.
7-Year-Old Zora Ball Is the World’s Youngest Game Programmer
The youngest person to create a full version of a mobile application video game, a first grader at Philadelphia’s Harambee Institute of Science and Technology Charter School, she’s already more accomplished than everyone you know.
Ball built the app in the Bootstrap programming language, and unveiled her game at FATE’s “Bootstrap Expo” at the University of Pennsylvania.
Apparently some grumpy olds were suspicious that her older brother was really the mastermind behind the program, but Zora showed them. When asked to reconfigure the app on the spot, Ball showed naysayers what was up when she executed the request perfectly.
"We expect great things from Zora, as her older brother, Trace Ball, is a past STEM Scholar of the Year," said Harambee Science Teacher Tariq Al-Nasir. No pressure, baby geniuses, but there’s an entire world for you to save. Please hurry.
(Photo: Pizza Hut)
Long slave to the physical demands of picking up a phone, computer, smartphone, or tablet to place an order for food delivery, gamers can now create their own custom Pizza Hut pizzas — and order them — from their Xbox 360 console thanks to a unique partnership between Microsoft and the international chain.
(Photo: Heart Patch / WIGI)
As recent campaigns across social media have shown, the game industry has slowly begun to own up to its troublesome legacy of sexism — expanding roles for women in the business while updating representations of them in the games.
On March 27th JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments) published a new video article by Dr. Lotfi Merabet showing how researchers in the Department of Ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Harvard Medical School have developed a virtual gaming environment to help blind individuals improve navigation skills and develop a cognitive spatial map of unfamiliar buildings and public locations.
“For the blind, finding your way or navigating in a place that is unfamiliar presents a real challenge,” Dr. Merabet explains. “As people with sight, we can capture sensory information through our eyes about our surroundings. For the blind that is a real challenge… the blind will typically use auditory and tactile cues.”
The technique utilizes computer generated layouts of public buildings and spatial sensory feedback to synthesize a virtual world that mimics a real world navigation task. In the game, participants must find jewels and carry them out of the building, without being intercepted by roaming monsters that steal the jewels and hide them elsewhere. Participants interface with the virtual building by using a keyboard and wearing headphones that play auditory cues that help spatially orient them to the world around them. This interaction helps users generate an accurate mental layout of the mimicked building. Dr. Merabet and his colleagues are also exploring applications of this technology with other user interfaces, like a Wii Remote or joystick.
“We have developed software called ABES, the Audio Based Environment Simulator that represents the actual physical environment of the Carol Center for the Blind in Newton Massachusetts. The participants will use the game metaphor to get a sense of the whole building through open discovery, allowing people to learn room layouts more naturally than if they were just following directions.”
The technology will invariably be useful for the 285 million blind people world-wide, 6 million of which live in the United States. It will also have applications beyond the blind community for individuals with other visual impairments, cognitive deficits, or those recovering from brain injuries.
Dr. Merabet considers publication in JoVE’s video format especially helpful. “It is conceptually difficult for a sighted person to understand ‘a video game for blind people.’ What JoVE allows us to do is break down layouts of the game and strategy, show how the auditory cues can be used and how we quantify performance going from the virtual game to the physical world.”
The results are in! Over the past month, hundreds of thousands of Monopoly fans worldwide voted for which new token should replace one of the iconic ones being retired after countless journeys past Go. After a hard-fought campaign, representatives revealed the newest game piece Wednesday morning on TODAY.
Mental activities like reading and writing can preserve structural integrity in the brains of older people, according to a new study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
While previous research has shown an association between late-life cognitive activity and better mental acuity, the new study from Konstantinos Arfanakis, Ph.D., and colleagues from Rush University Medical Center and Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago studied what effect late-life cognitive activity might have on the brain’s white matter, which is composed of nerve fibers, or axons, that transmit information throughout the brain.
“Reading the newspaper, writing letters, visiting a library, attending a play or playing games, such as chess or checkers, are all simple activities that can contribute to a healthier brain,” Dr. Arfanakis said.
The researchers used a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) method known as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to generate data on diffusion anisotropy, a measure of how water molecules move through the brain. In white matter, diffusion anisotropy exploits the fact that water moves more easily in a direction parallel to the brain’s axons, and less easily perpendicular to the axons, because it is impeded by structures such as axonal membranes and myelin. “This difference in the diffusion rates along different directions increases diffusion anisotropy values,” Dr. Arfanakis said. “Diffusion anisotropy is higher when more diffusion is happening in one direction compared to others.”
The anisotropy values in white matter drop, however, with aging, injury and disease.
“In healthy white matter tissue, water can’t move as much in directions perpendicular to the nerve fibers,” Dr. Arfanakis said. “But if, for example, you have lower neuronal density or less myelin, then the water has more freedom to move perpendicular to the fibers, so you would have reduced diffusion anisotropy. Lower diffusion anisotropy values are consistent with aging.”
(Image credit: Flickr.com, Courtesy of Luis de Bethencourt)
When Mike Hoye set out to make the game Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker more gender-friendly for his 3-year-old daughter (she pronounces it gender “fwee”), he was doing it primarily out of parental love. But when the former system administrator released a crack for the game that reverses the genders of the characters—making Link the heroine and Zelda the guy she rescues—he struck a chord with gamers across the Internet.
Since Hoye wasn’t about to teach his daughter that she couldn’t be the hero in her own story unless she related to a man, he devised a special crack to reverse all the gender pronouns and other references to Link’s gender in the story. Once the crack was done—he told the Dot it took only “a few days of work, spread out over a couple of weeks”—he shared the results.
“As you might imagine I’m not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don’t get to be the hero and rescue their little brothers,” he blogged on Wednesday. Hoye also made sure that the references matched up tonally, too: When one commenter suggested Hoye replace “lad” with “gal,” he responded succinctly, “‘Gal’ is not something you call the resurrected Hero Of Time.”
Daily Dot: Based on the response from readers, would you consider turning this into a project for more than just games for your daughter? Obviously you’ve highlighted a huge and basic gender inequality issue at work.
I’d certainly consider it. The approach I’ve taken isn’t particularly user-friendly, though, and I don’t know how it could be made much more user-friendly without getting hung up on some of the sharp, rusty edges of modern copyright laws. If this turns into a thing that other people start doing, though, and if the “small patch to the dialog” route I’m taking seems to work for whatever community emerges, then I’d love to contribute to and support that effort.
DD: There’s so much tension right now in the gaming community over issues of sexism that it seems like such a project could be a really touchy subject.
It’s only a touchy subject with people who think the status quo is OK. And since those people are clearly, obviously wrong, I’m not all that worried about whether or not they’re comfortable with it.