Kansas Offers Citizens Game-like Tool for Budget Play

January 23, 2009 -

The Kansas Department of Transportation is offering citizens the opportunity to try their hand at balancing its budget - or not - via an innovative web-based tool.

Writing for the New York Times' Freakonomics blog, UCLA transportation researcher Eric Morris praises T-Link:

I can’t help but wonder how many urban planners were inspired to enter the profession by computer games like SimCity or Railroad Tycoon... these programs convey information about arcane topics like utility maintenance costs and right-of-way clearance in a fun and accessible manner...

 

Now the Kansas Department of Transportation has come up with a neat way to both educate the public about its services and get valuable feedback about customer preferences, using a game-like format. The T-Link Calculator allows you to set transportation policy in Kansas and see the fiscal results of your choices...

 

By presenting the information this way, [KDOT] reaches out to voters (particularly younger ones) who are accustomed to interactivity and immediate feedback from their information sources. I have a feeling that many people who would never think of sitting down and reading the state budget will warm to playing “transportation god” on this site.

Moreover, the site makes it clear that we can’t ask for everything from our government; tough budgetary choices have to be made...

1 comment

Texas Legislator's Office Features Retro Mario Bros. Game

January 23, 2009 -

In most legislative offices, the most exciting thing you'll find are brochures.

In Rep. Joe Pickett's office, however, you can try your hand at classic Mario Bros.

As reported by the Austin American-Statesman, Mario isn't the only thing that's different about the Texas Democrat's office in the Capitol Building in Austin.

At his own expense, Pickett has remodeled his digs to look like a 1950s-era burger joint, complete with juke box. Visitors are offered free gumballs, soda and ice cream. As for Mario, the game helps keep state politics from getting too tense: 

[Pickett's] chief of staff, says the old "Mario Bros. " video game is a mood elevator. One day a guy who wanted to argue some issue or other marched in with a fierce face, ready to rumble.

 

"He walked in and saw the old Mario Bros. video game," Chambers recalled. "He looks and says, `Awwwwwwww, I love that game.' It even destressed him."

13 comments

Awesome LEGO Santa Crab

December 24, 2008 -

By way of Gizmodo comes this excellent killer Santa crab, rendered in LEGO.

Andrew Colunga is the builer and he has more cool LEGO designs on his Flickr page.

18 comments

8-bit Jesus: Christmas Carols Performed in Retro Game Style

December 22, 2008 -

Here's some holiday gaming awesomeness, just in time for December 25th.

GameCyte reports that Doctor Octoroc is offering 18 classic Christmas carols, arranged in 8-bit game style.

The mp3 files are free to download and a physical CD, complete with appropriately retro cover, is available for a mere $15.

Here's the track list. Note the fun that the good doctor had with the titles:

  • We Three Konami
  • 8 Days of Master Robots
  • Ryu, The Red Nosed Ninja
  • We Wish You A Merry Faxanadu
  • Silent Knight Man
  • Carol Of The Belmonts
  • Contraland
  • Little Drummer Nemo
  • Joy To Commando
  • Super Jingle Bros.
  • Bubbles We Have Heard On Bobble
  • What Guardian Is Legend?
  • Deck The Kremlin
  • Icarus! The Angels Sing
  • The Legend Of Noel
  • O Come, All Ye Vampires
  • Kraid, Rest Ye Merry Mother Brain
  • Have Yourself A Final Little Fantasy
7 comments

Georgia City Wants to Develop a Virtual World Interface

December 18, 2008 -

Uh, I'd like to pay my property tax, sign up for trash collection and could the police department do something about that Orc who lives around the corner?

Well, it's not quite like that, but the City of Decatur, Georgia is evaluating the use of a virtual world interface to "encourage community networking, improve civic engagement, and promote economic development."

The project even has a name: Virtual Decatur.

A website devoted to Virtual Decatur references Second Life and World of Warcraft, although not necessarily as models. From the site:

Virtual Decatur will provide an environment in which residents, businesses, institutions and visitors can interact and connect...  it is it is imperative that the project go beyond the features of traditional virtual environments.  The overarching purpose of this project is to allow users to interact with the City in new and innovative ways that are not possible in the real world.

Possible features of the proposed Virtual Decatur might include:

    • Opportunities to gather citizen input on policies, topics of interest, city services, and happenings
    • A Virtual City Hall Tour with multimedia capabilities.
    • Opportunities to earn coupons for use in real stores/retail establishments.
    • Streaming video of public meetings, ideally with a chat room feature that allows viewers to comment.
    • Access to visitors information (store hours, directions, weather, etc.)

A Request for Information (RFI) is available for download, with proposals due by February 13th. Among other requirements, the city expects Virtual Decatur to be "avatar-based" as well as "fun and intuitive."

10 comments

Clever 8-bit Holiday Card from Minus World

December 18, 2008 -

This very cool holiday card arrived via e-mail yesterday from the nice folks at video game comedy site The -Minus World...

10 comments

Student Uses Wireless Controller to Track Down Stolen Xbox 360

December 16, 2008 -

We love it when the good guys win.

A clever student at Missouri State University used the Xbox 360 controller's wireless capabilities to track down his stolen console, reports school newspaper the Standard.

It seems that someone swiped Ryan Ketsenburg's 360 from his dorm room after the sophomore forgot to lock his door. He managed to recover his system, however, with a tidy piece of detective work:

Ketsenburg... turned on his wireless Xbox controller and found that it was still connecting to his Xbox. Based on this discovery, Ketsenburg said he realized that his Xbox must be nearby...

The controller connected to the Xbox on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors of Hutchens but not on the third floor and seventh floor, so through process of elimination, Ketsenburg said he figured out that the stolen Xbox must be on the fifth floor.

Following the controller's signal, Ketsenburg said he was able to pinpoint the room where his Xbox was stolen... The 5th floor resident assistant checked the alleged room where the stolen Xbox was and was able to find the Xbox, Ketsenburg said.

The controller was able to prove that the Xbox belonged to Ketsenburg, because the controller was able to turn on the console unit, he said.

30 comments

Penny Arcade's Child's Play Charity Auction Brings in $200K

December 12, 2008 -

This week's Child's Play Charity Auction Dinner raised more than $200,000 for worthy causes, reports Gabe of Penny Arcade.

Among the items auctioned off was the rather impressive statue at left depicting an Orc from World of Warcraft on his mount.

Simply awesome - both the event and the statue...

15 comments

Lord British Returns to Earth

October 24, 2008 -

The Associated Press reports that Ultima series creator Richard Garriott aka Lord British has returned from 10 days aboard Russia's Soyuz TMA-12 capsule.

Garriott touched down at 9:37 a.m. local time today in Kazakhstan. After being picked up, Garriott said:

What a great ride that was... This is obviously a pinnacle experience... I'm looking forward to some fresh food and to calling my loved ones. I've got my father here, but I've got other family back home I want to get a hold of.

GP: Well played, Richard! Welcome back.

 

3 comments

 
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Is King right? Should all games adopt the free-to-play model?:

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Sora-ChanI realize that they have ways getting around it, but one reason might be due to earthquakes.04/17/2014 - 4:42am
Matthew WilsonSF is a tech/ economic/ trade center it should be mostly tail building. this whole problem is because of the lack of tail buildings. How would having tail apartment buildings destroy SF? having tail buildings has not runed other cities around the US/world04/16/2014 - 10:51pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the issue is you can not build upwards anywhere in SF at the moment, and no you would not. You would bring prices to where they should have been before the market distortion. those prices are not economic or socially healthy.04/16/2014 - 10:46pm
ZippyDSMleeYou still wind up pushing people out of the non high rise aeras but tis least damage you can do all things considered.04/16/2014 - 10:26pm
ZippyDSMleeANd by mindlessly building upward you make it like every place else hurting property prices,ect,ect. You'll have to slowly segment the region into aeras where you will never build upward then alow some aeras to build upward.04/16/2014 - 10:25pm
Matthew WilsonSF have to build upwards they have natural growth limits. they can not grow outwards. ps growing outwards is terable just look at Orlando or Austin for that.04/16/2014 - 4:15pm
ZippyDSMleeIf they built upward then it would becoem like every other place making it worthless, if they don't build upward they will price people out making it worthless, what they need to do is a mix of things not just one exstreme or another.04/16/2014 - 4:00pm
Matthew Wilsonyou know the problem in SF was not the free market going wrong right? it was government distortion. by not allowing tall buildings to be build they limited supply. that is not free market.04/16/2014 - 3:48pm
ZippyDSMleeOh gaaa the free market is a lie as its currently leading them to no one living there becuse they can not afford it makign it worthless.04/16/2014 - 3:24pm
Matthew WilsonIf you have not read http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/04/introducing-steam-gauge-ars-reveals-steams-most-popular-games/ you should. It is a bit stats heavy, but worth the read.04/16/2014 - 2:04pm
Matthew Wilsonthe issue is when is doesn't work it can screw over millions in new york city's case. more often than not it is better to let the free market run its course without market distortion.04/16/2014 - 9:36am
NeenekoTrue, and overdone stagnation is a problem. It is a tricky balance. It does not help that when it does work, no one notices. Most people here have benifited from rent controls and not even realized it.04/16/2014 - 9:23am
ZippyDSMleehttp://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2014/04/15/riaa_files_civil_suit_against_megaupload04/16/2014 - 8:48am
ZippyDSMleeEither way you get stagnation as people can not afford the prices they set.04/16/2014 - 8:47am
Neenekowell, specifically it helps people already living there and hurts people who want to live there instead. As for 'way more hurt', majorities generally need less legal protection. yes it hurt more people then it helped, it was written for a minority04/16/2014 - 8:30am
MaskedPixelantehttp://torrentfreak.com/square-enix-drm-boosts-profits-and-its-here-to-stay-140415/ Square proves how incredibly out of touch they are by saying that DRM is the way of the future, and is here to stay.04/16/2014 - 8:29am
james_fudgeUnwinnable Weekly Telethon playing Metal Gear http://www.twitch.tv/rainydayletsplay04/16/2014 - 8:06am
ConsterTo be fair, there's so little left of the middle class that those numbers are skewing.04/16/2014 - 7:42am
Matthew Wilsonyes it help a sub section of the poor, but hurt both the middle and upper class. in the end way more people were hurt than helped. also, it hurt most poor people as well.04/16/2014 - 12:13am
SeanBJust goes to show what I have said for years. Your ability to have sex does not qualify you for parenthood.04/15/2014 - 9:21pm
 

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