Russian Officials Brand The Sims 4 as ‘Harmful to Children’

Russia has come under fire from both gamers and the global LGTB community for its decision to restrict sales of Electronic Arts game ‘The Sims 4’ to 18+ gamers.

EA have claimed that this 18+ rating is due to the game’s depiction of same-sex relationships, images of which are deemed by Russian law as being “harmful to children”.

The Sims, in any incarnation, centres on the lives of a group of virtual characters. Players must ensure that the characters are fed, enjoy gainful employment, have somewhere to live (preferably with adequate toilet facilities) and are generally happy in their lives.

sims 4 2014There are very few mission-based objectives within The Sims. In fact, it is intended as a virtual depiction (some may say satire) of modern life. To this end, relationships play a part in the game, although characters are neither explicitly heterosexual nor homosexual, these are largely choices made on the part of the player. Relationships can either be brief flirtations, casual flings or monogamous, steady partnerships; it is entirely up to the gamer.

Depictions of sex (called ‘woohoo’) within the game take place under sheets, or in other private places. Players can tell that something is going on, but one would be hard pushed to guess that it was sex without some prior erm…Woohoo experience.

In 2010, Russia passed a law known as 436-FZ, which was created, ostensibly, to protect children from harmful content. The law gives Russian officials the right to censor anything that may elicit “fear, horror, or panic in young children”. It sounds fair enough, except when you try to envision any child, no matter how sensitive, being rendered ‘fearful, horrified or panicky’ at the sight of two, essentially genderless, computer sprites exchanging, essentially nothing, under a duvet.

For the record, Sims cannot take illegal drugs or self harm in any way (with the possible exception of being up all night woohoo-ing and then falling asleep at work and being fired, which I don’t think qualifies), so it is hard to imagine why else the game could have garnered such a severe age restriction.

Oh wait; I forgot to mention that in 2013, Russian authorities amended 436-FZ so that it prohibits the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships”. Now there’s an ill-fitting definition if ever there was one.

Many studies/groups (such as America’s TREVOR project) maintain that media-enforced pressure to conform to heterosexual norms can cause depression, anxiety and even suicide among LGBT youths, essentially proving that only showing one type of romantic relationship can actually be harmful to young viewers. On the flipside, as far as I know, there is no evidence to suggest that seeing a same-sex partnership in a video game will cause an otherwise heterosexual gamer to become a homosexual and even if there was, how exactly would they be being harmed by this unlikely metamorphosis?

Critics maintain that this move reflects little more than personal prejudice in the guise of child protection. Who’s ‘fear, horror and/or panic’ are Russia really preventing here?

In the rest of the world, The Sims series has either been rated at 10+ or 13+ (mainly because of all the woohoo, I suppose). Electronic Arts was voted as being one of the best places to work for LGBT individuals by the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) in 2012, it got a score of 100%.

One has to wonder what score the Russian government would get.

SOURCE

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27374539

Advertisements

Jawbone ERA Bluetooth Headset

You’ve probably stumbled upon this looking for information about headset’s, hopefully this will help you answer some of those questions, if not please click on one of the relevant links within the article

Jawbone may now be best known for its UP wireless activity trackers and its Jambox speakers, but before anything else the San Francisco company was a force in the world of Bluetooth headsets. The new ERA is Jawbone’s (mostly) triumphant return to the ears of busy businessmen worldwide.

 

What Is It?

The Jawbone ERA is a small, powerful Bluetooth headset. It’s only 47mm long, 22mm wide and 13mm deep, and weighs only 6g. It has an internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery good for 4 hours of talk time or music playback, and a high quality noise cancelling microphone that promises clear and accurate voice calls even in loud environments.

For such a small device, the ERA is well-built. There’s no creaking plastic or microphonics when you’re wearing the wireless headset, and even at maximum volume on a bassy music track there’s no undue vibration or distortion from the ERA’s earpiece.

There are five main elements involved in the care and usage of the ERA. The first is the headset’s single visible switch — it’s on the inner face of the ERA, toggling from power off to hpower on — when you can see the blue half of the switch, the Bluetooth headset is turned on. Forwards from the power switch is a small, rubberised, cylindrical mole — this is a skin sensor that knows when you’re wearing the ERA and when you’re speaking, aiding the earpiece’s active noise cancellation.

Hidden away on the back of the Jawbone ERA is the headset’s sole multi-purpose button. The process for using said button is a little arcane — there’s a guide in the box, of course, but remembering just how many short or long presses to tap on the back of the ERA can sometimes be a little difficult.

To adjust the ERA’s audio output volume, for example, you press and hold the multi-purpose button as the headset cycles through various volume levels from minimum to maximum to minimum and so on; to answer or end a call is a single press, to skip audio tracks is a double press — it’s easy enough with practice, but slightly complex to initially learn.

At the end of the protuberance of the Jawbone ERA — the best word to describe the piece of the headset that juts forwards from its resting place in your ear — is its internal microphone. The microphone is hooked up to the rest of the ERA’s electronics package, and does an incredibly good job of clearly transmitting your voice to anyone you’re talking to.

The segment of the ERA that you’ll have the most interaction with, though, is its earpiece. It’s the misshapen lump protruding from the otherwise sleek body of the ERA, with a wide-band audio driver surrounded by a removable silicon eartip. Jawbone includes four different silicon eartip sizes in the ERA’s retail packaging — suitable for a small right ear, medium right ear, medium left, and large right. In practice we found both the small and medium right eartips to offer the best fit

The ERA is not a cheap headset. If you buy it without the charging case, you’re up for a full $149, while adding the charging case tacks another $30 onto the price tag. I genuinely think the charging case is a mandatory accessory — it does a great job of providing extra power to a headset that definitely needs it — but as an overall package the ERA is very expensive.

What Is It Good At?

Just using the Jawbone ERA is an enjoyable exercise straight out of the box. There’s that ever-present secret agent feel to pressing a button on your secret in-ear headset, and after you’ve learned the ropes, taking calls, playing and selecting music tracks is simple.

The active noise cancellation of Jawbone’s microphone — the company calls the entire package NoiseAssassin, now at version 3.0 in the new ERA — is excellent. For making voice calls, or talking to Siri or Google Now, it’s definitely the most capable Bluetooth microphone I’ve used, and is possibly the best headset microphone I’ve used full stop. Especially in noisy environments, the novel noise cancelling built into the body of the ERA works very well.

For the first few days of trialing the headset, everyone I talked to with the ERA noticed the difference in the clarity and quality of voice calls. When you’re talking, the ERA clearly transmits audio, and when you’re not, it doesn’t — simple as that. With the help of the skin sensor, the ERA’s noise cancellation removes one of the most annoying impediments to workday phone conversations in existence. If you and a friend both had Jawbone ERAs and smartphones hooked up to a mobile carrier that supported HD Voice, you’d be able to chat away in the middle of a hurricane.

Beyond transmitting voice and audio, the Jawbone ERA is equally good at playing it back. I haven’t heard previous Jawbone Bluetooth headsets to compare the ERA too, but Jawbone says its earphone driver is much improved, and I’m inclined to believe them — this is a tiny Bluetooth headset, but at maximum power it’s actually capable of outputting a decent amount of audio oopmh. Compare it to a good pair of earbuds or in-ear monitors (I sabotaged the ERA by trying it out against Logitech’s excellent UE 900 IEMs), and it isn’t great, but it beats out Apple’s iPhone earbuds any day.

There isn’t a great deal of bass extension from the Jawbone ERA’s earphone speaker driver, but both treble and mid-range detail is excellent — significantly better than I was expecting. Maximum volume isn’t exactly ear-splittingly loud, but it is good enough to hear the ERA in an otherwise noisy environment. Jawbone’s various audio cues — a sort of aural guide to the ERA’s various features as you select them — are presented in a pleasantly soothing female voice, although you can customise them usng Jawbone’s companion mobile app, which also adds some useful features to the ERA’s repertoire.

Jawbone’s ERA works well as part of the entire family of Jawbone products. The accompanying Jawbone app for both Android and iOS devices (tablets and smartphones alike, although you’re likely only using the ERA with a phone) will be updated in the near future to link various products together, although Jawbone isn’t sharing specifics just yet. You should be able to get updates on your UP24′s daily activity or sleep progress in your ERA headset, for example. It’s a minor software trigger, but one that adds value to the entire Jawbone ecosystem.

If you’ve bought the charging case for the ERA, you’re in for a treat — it’s both a convenient and sturdy place to store the headset when you’re not using it, and a portable recharging station. The ERA headset sits in the case with its rear microUSB port holding it securely, while the dock has its own microUSB port for recharging. There’s a small indicator on the side of the charging case that tells you how much charge it has remaining, and the flip-up connector makes getting the ERA out easy when you need it. It’s the smartest way to store the ERA, and it has a thin leather strap for attaching it to a keyring.

I kept the ERA on my keyring for a fortnight, and the charging case didn’t get more than a couple of scratches — it’s just as sturdy as the ERA itself. It holds a total of 10 hours worth of charge for the headset, it charges quickly, and it’s convenient storage. I did have one instance where the ERA’s silicone earpiece fell off while the headset was stored away in its case, but for the most part the eartips stay on securely.

What Is It Not Good At?

It’s not possible to talk aout Bluetooth headsets without talking about the cringe factor inherent in using one. Don’t get me wrong — the Jawbone ERA is a very cool Bluetooth headset, but at the end of the day, it isstill a Bluetooth headset. If you want one, this is the one to get, but you better really want to wear it.

What that means is that it’s a slightly dorky dongle hanging out of your left or right ear, and even as unobtrusive as it is it is noticeable, and if you wear it out in public you’ll get the odd sideways glance or cautious glare. I made the mistake of wearing the ERA between my morning train and the Gizmodo office, and ordered a coffee at a cafe on the way — only afterwards did I realise how much of an idiot I probably looked like to the barista.

Of course, there is absolutely a time and place where the ERA truly belongs. It’s invaluable on long car trips, where the one-touch button means you can answer a call and have a discussion almost entirely hands-free, without distracting yourself from the road. If you’re hard at work and don’t want too much of a distraction, it’s possible to talk on the phone without disrupting your flow.

Without its charging case, the Jawbone ERA will run out of power within 4 hours at moderate listening volume, if you’re listening to music or constantly making and receiving voice calls. This is not enough for an entire workday of listening to music on the ERA, for example, and if you have a particularly busy string of phone meetings you might quickly run the ERA to the end of its battery life.

It’s possible to eke a day’s power out of the ERA with light usage, but as a general rule, it won’t last a full eight hour stretch — and it’s this that makes the extra cost of the battery charging case worthwhile. You’ll have to shell out a few more dollars, though, and this factors into our overall view of the ERA as a particularly expensive Bluetooth headset.

Should You Buy It?

Jawbone’s ERA is, as Bluetooth headsets go, very fashionable. You can buy the ERA in any one of four colours, and all four will be available in Australia. As it stands, the ERA is being sold exclusively in Apple Stores around the country, so if you want one to complement your Android phone you’ll have to step into the heart of darkness for at least a few minutes.

The ERA is a great headset, there’s no denying that. It sounds great, has the added features offered by Jawbone’s bespoke app, and it’s both attractive and versatile. All this brilliance does come at a price, though. The high asking price does restrict the appeal of the Jawbone ERA significantly; it’s likely to only appear on the ears of well-heeled businessmen and ultra-fashionable advertising and marketing and PR types.

If you want the best Bluetooth headset at any price, our money goes towards the Jawbone ERA. Before you buy it, though, I’d suggest you give careful consideration to its utility and how often you’ll be using it — an alternative might be more appropriate. Anyone deciding that the $179 ERA is right for them won’t be disappointed with how it performs. It’s on sale around Australia from the end of this month.

What will make you purchase a kinect, how about because it’s wonderful

Want to Buy kinect? You start here. This website has everything you’re looking for and much, much more.

 

Ah January. That month where the wheel of the year turns anew, where everything starts again (usually with dried chunder and a mountain of carpet cleaner), where you make all those unfeasible promises to yourself. I never get very far with resolutions. The other thing January is good for is getting out and spending someone else’s money.

 

I’m talking about Christmas money – its money you can justify wasting. Auntie Gladys sent you £20, great! But who the hell is Auntie Gladys?. You got £50 from Auntie Beryl and Uncle Joseph. You promise to say ‘thank you’ but you never get round to it, its not like Auntie Gladys has Facebook.

 

So, its time to hit those January sales. You’ve scraped twelve pints of snake-eye and half a döner kebab with extra chillies off the bathroom wall and you wrap up warm in your new coat (because Uncle Bertram is a practical man who felt he should buy you something useful, even if it is about 12 sizes too sodding small!) and head out to any one of the million computer entertainment megastores currently clogging the arteries of town centres like those huge toxic puke deposits that you get for smoking cigarettes (I know, I know, this is the year you’re gonna quit blah blah blah) You clean the house and head on out in your new coat.  Except, when you get there, you find that it’s all a scam! The prices aren’t actually that cheap at all!. In fact, the game you want has sold out.

 

So you come home, muttering under your breath and wondering where the best place is to Buy kinect, you put those exact terms into Google and now here we are having a nice chat, like old friends. Let me assure you once again that you’ve come to the right place, for the best bargains, best advice and best offers, look no further than this very site. So get ordering and put your feet up.

 

Oh, you missed a bit of chunder. Over there, to your left

How have cooking games turned out to be trendy?

Nigella Lawson, Jaimie Oliver and Ainsley Harriott might not be your image of video game heroes or heroines, but nonetheless cooking games are a steadily rising trend. Enduring the current appeal with games based on real-life (The Sims, Tennis, Bowling etc) all baking games are about is, well, cooking.

That could appear pointless, given that real-life equivalent of cooking games (actually baking) are a few things you virtually ought to do every day or else starve, consider how much enjoyment you would get with cooking games. These games can teach formulas, quantities, strategies and also some subtleties that professional cooks have to understand the hard way.

The Cooking Mama series is one of the biggest cooking games about the marketplace. Slightly sexist name aside; the franchise has created titles for the Nintendo DS and Wii, (the console that’s best for baking games.) Handheld devices were originally the format of choice for launching the first cooking games, with Sweet Ange being released all the way back in the time of Game Boy Colour.

Admired in Japan and increasingly catching on in the West, cooking games look set to become another huge thing. With cooking games, you’ll be taught baking skills without wasting cash or making yourself ill. You will learn serenity as some cooking games allow you to produce your gaming gourmet goodness in real time!

Obviously, cooking games hold a component of danger (and not only digital nut traces). Don’t forget to put the feast on when playing your cooking games, then go virtual bowling or fishing and go back to find your dinner ruined. Though cooking games can be tempting as a cheaper option, you will also discover a cooking games dinner to be far less nutritious than a TV dinner.

Say “CHEESE!” Digital Camera and etc…

One of the first things of any practical application I learned as a child was how to put film in a camera. This is hardly unusual for somebody of my generation (I’m 25 now) but it is highly unusual for anyone of the current crop of whipper-snappers about to come into their own.

The digital camera has replaced the film camera. No more needs to be said on that count. This does not mean, however, that film is dead. Far from it, it has its proponents, just like everything else. CD replaced vinyl in mainstream music consumption, yet music fans continue to listen to vinyl (Many people I know I have both) indeed, where would Hip Hop be without it? We have digital films, yet there are still artists that specialize in Super-8 and swear by it.

The thing is, until you can replicate exactly the tiniest specifics of an older technology, you can’t replace it. Not unless you can totally beat its predecessor, performance-wise. When you work with something long enough, you grow to utilize all elements of its performance, even the less desirable ones. Certain tech will become symbolic of a certain time, and periodic waves of nostalgia and trends in fashion will bring it back again. DVD’s are easier to manage/store and superior in quality to VHS, but the former only started to surpass the latter after it became affordable. For a while that was VHS’s biggest selling point over the emergent DVD format. Cassette tape never really did replace vinyl (despite being cheaper) because, though it was more convenient, the performance wasn’t as good. See?

So film cameras produce higher quality images, you can get better models for cheaper than you can their digital counterparts. This has facilitated not the predicted demise of film amongst photographers, but rather a renaissance and promotion of the format to a sort of ‘elder statesman’ status. The same plateau occupied by vinyl records, a format never to die, but one that’s appeal has certainly become more selective.

The new kids are, however, much more convenient. In the old days, you’d take a photo and then have to wait a couple weeks to get it back to find out it was blurry or overexposed. Most digital models allow you to see the image you’ve just taken immediately afterward. That is a lifesaver. A digital camera on your phone is a useful thing, allowing whippet-quick and snappable pictures that can be shared with the world immediately. In short, digital will serve the amateur better. The ability to alter the pictures with relative ease (I am myself fond of creating arty black and white shots) and the ease of use in general has won over the average Joe. Film, however, is far from a dead technology. It remains the domain of the professional and the gifted amateur and is far from lost. In many ways, quality-wise, it is still superior.

Big Screen Scenes!

Ever watched any of MTV Cribs? We did. And we have been always most jealous of those quasi-celebrity homes that comes built using a little motion picture theatre. Well, now that technology has come down in price notably enough to present us mere mortals a go, and wow, are we excited about this!

 

Large screen adventure is just a click away, so let’s be your guides. Buying an high definition projector has never been faster, easier, cheaper or more worth it.  Continue reading

TECH NEWS: Tycoon Unveils ‘Hyperloop’ Transport Project

American entrepreneur Elon Musk, founder of website Paypal.com (as well as many other companies/ventures), has this month unveiled a potentially revolutionary form of travel.

The ‘Hyperloop’ would hypothetically connect the US cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco by transporting commuters at near supersonic speeds. By using a system of magnets and fans, the Hyperloop would be able to travel between the sprawling cities in about 30 minutes. Continue reading