Bizarre days for video games

What do blow-up horse saddles, Doritos, pornography and Tetris have in common? They’re all current topics in game news. From the bizarre to the mundane, here is everything of interest in the past two weeks of gaming.

With price cuts popping up everywhere for iterations of the PS3 and Xbox 360, Nintendo has been hard at work maintaining its dominance. This has only gotten harder, as both Sony and Microsoft intend to release motion-sensitive control systems in competition with the Wii.

Jesse Divnich, analyst for Electronic Entertainment Design and Research, has expressed a sincere need for Nintendo to up its game if it’s going to remain competitive, calling for a similiar price cut for the Wii. The Wii would need to be dropped to $199 — $100 cheaper than the Xbox Elite and PS3 Slim.

Fear not though, Nintendo fans, even though Nintendo has made no motion to remain competitively priced, they are not without trump cards. This is where the blow-up saddle comes into play. A patent filed in January by Nintendo expresses a new game peripheral (a device or unit that operates separately, but is connected to it) that is described as “an inflatable air cushion or other type seat.”

“Included diagrams feature a strange, grumpy-looking child with a claw-like hand wielding this new peripheral as if it were reins. Although the initial diagram displays a horse, really this could turn into a number of different gaming situations.

The patent also describes potential force feedback to “inexpensively … simulate, in the home, riding on a horseback or other animals.” Past experience with force feedback dictates that in practice, this will end up with the device just shaking excessively.

On a more respectable note, two months later Nintendo filed a patent for a peripheral shaped like a football into which a Wii remote can be inserted. This seems more likely to manifest, considering all the hype for the Madden Wii game. The peripheral would allow players to control the game through simulated football playing.

The example in the diagram released shows a man clutching a Wii football attemping to either juke an angry man or rehearse for a local showing of “West Side Story.” The materials don’t indicate which one.

If you’re fearing that the gaming world has lost its mind you’ll be happy to know that a recent study from the Mind Research Network claims that one video game actually increases cognitive functions. The Network tracked the brain patterns of adolescent girls playing Tetris over a three month span. In this time the girls exhibited greater cognitive functions and a “thicker cortex.”

Doritos, on the other hand, always increase matter in areas we expect. This year Frito-Lay is teaming up with Microsoft to offer a competition where users submit their game idea for a chance to not only have it produced and win $50,000, but receive a “sweet gig working as a Doritos gaming consultant,” according to their website.

They explain that the pitch doesn’t actually have to have Doritos in it; it just has to take “the essence and intensity that is Doritos and bring that out in your break-through game concept.” The pitches need to be shared via video. The winning game will be marketed on Xbox Live Arcade. Readers interested in learning more or competing should head over to to check it out.

Gaming news isn’t just for adolescents and people who still eat Doritos. Siliconera recently reported on a company called Silicon Xtal, long associated with creating integrated circuits and Xbox 360 hardware.

The San Jose based manufacturer recently registered the name SexBox, in order to create a “video gaming console comprised of hardware with unique controls which plays Adult Only Rated video game software titles.”

Well. At least they’re upfront about it. The registration document goes at length to describe how the hardware might also be used as a gateway for things like adult multiplayer games. Yes, you read that correctly.

Entrepreneurs reading this article may be wise to get on the shaggin’ wagon and register the name “World of Sexcraft,” considering this console could disappear into obscurity or strike it big. That is, of course, if Microsoft doesn’t try to claim infringement over the name SexBox.

On the local front, gamers looking for their fix (mixed with a dash of sociability) should look into OU’s Gaming Guild. Contact Mike Conn, [email protected].

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