The Amazing Growth of Online Skill Games Life used to be so simple, didn't it? If you wanted to speak to someone, you'd pick up the phone (or even go visit them); if you wanted shopping, you'd wander downtown and make your purchase' and if you wanted to play poker or roulette, you'd go down to your local casino. How things change.Although still simple, instead of the phone you have online instant messaging with Yahoo, or AOL; instead of going to the supermarket, you do your shopping online and the supermarket comes to you; and instead of going to the casino, you play poker, roulette and many other skill games online.And it's this growth in online "skill game" s, where money exchanges hands just like it would in "real life", that many experts believe is only just reaching the tip of its proverbial iceberg.What Is An Online Skill Game? In its simplest terms, an online skill game is anything where you pit your wits against either another human user, or a sophisticated software program that takes the place of human opponents. Although there are skill games that are free, the ones that have seen the biggest explosion in popularity are the paying ones.Popular online skill games include poker, roulette, virtual slot machines and similar, although there are other types. For instance, video gaming is now becoming just as popular as the more "traditional" online skill games, and there are even worldwide competitions where PC and console gamers can come together to battle each other at a number of pre-chosen games for cash prizes, which can be as much as $250,000!Why Is It So Popular? Apart from the usual enjoyment that you'll get from playing a game you enjoy playing with your buddies on the occasional weekend, online poker is so huge for one simple reason - the amount of money it creates. Online skill games are growing four times faster than any other online subject The market is due to grow from being worth $5.2 billion today, to $13 billion by the year 2011 (or the equivalent of $412 per SECOND!).With no signs of slowing down, and new companies joining in the fun for a slice of the extremely profitable pie that online skill games offers, you can see why the prizes are so enticing to get you on board in the first place.Now where's my credit card?
Computer games has always been popular. More and more people play games all over the world. A new kind of games, such as casual games, has become widespread besides console and large games, distributed on CD/DVD. The difference is in the fact that a user can download them freely from the Internet due to their small size and start playing. A small size doesn't mean that these games are not of of good quality as, for example, games for play stations. They excite gamers. The difference is only in gamers audience. Classic games are intended for so-called hard-core gamers, who are ready to spend long hours playing and perfecting their game-playing skills. They are usually teenagers; however they can be adults as well and vice versa, casual games is intended for people who can play during lunch, a break, after school or work and in their spare time. An increasing amount of adult people enjoy playing these games.A number of companies producing casual games is increasing constantly. As a rule, it is small companies with small budgets who makes casual games in comparison with companies, producing large games. But in spite of their budgets, they produce high quality casual games, and new interesting ideas can be seen in them. In short, it is simply another market/trend with a life of it's own.The Internet is the principal way of distributing casual games. Having downloaded a game and installed it, you can start playing immediately. It's the shareware principle, or try before buy. You can check it out before buying and decide if you want it or not. It's an advantage in comparison with classic games, when one buys a game on a basis of indirect information about it. Purchasing of casual games is simple as well and could be done on-line. After that the user receives fully functional game without any restrictions.As a rule, dedicated game portals deal with game distribution in the Internet. Developers themselves can distribute their products, but it takes a lot of time and efforts. The smartest way is to entrust it to professionals.Our company Fenomen Games is dealing with distribution of casual games, thoroughly chosen all over the Internet, and is a striking example of a game portal. Our collection has been sorted and games put into genres, so that you can find what you want in an easy way. We follow new ideas in casual games industry, and try to provide users with the newest and interesting games.We invite you to have a look around our site as we feel confident that we have many games that will interest you and worth your time. At least you will get some idea about what Casual Games are.Find Out More: http://www.fenomen-games.com/
Buying multimedia these days is a confusing process. When you want a sight-and-sound program to tout your company in person or on the web, what do you ask for? Probably a Flash or a PowerPoint. Problem is, thats putting the cart before the horse.Todays audiovisual world is filled with possibilitiessome are found in the way shows are shown; others in the way they are created. One thing should be sure-- video will be a part of your presentationat least if you want to make a real splash.This article looks at the multimedia/video/presentation buying process and offers ten considerations you need to make to successfully commissionor produceyour next major audiovisual communication. I hope you will adopt them.1. Flash? PowerPoint? Video? Dont Rush to Conclusions.When youve got a story to tell and it requires sight and sound, be careful not to prescribe the solution too quickly. One mans PowerPoint these days is another womans video. When people need something to run off of their computer, theyre quick to ask for a PowerPoint show or one of those FLASH things.Right idea, but not necessarily the right spec.Flash is considered hip, and PowerPoint is considered a must. But PowerPoint and Flash often are just containers for VIDEO, just as a VHS tape and a DVD are containers for video.SO, just because you want your project on the web or on computer CD-ROM, doesnt mean it shouldnt incorporateor bevideo. Video is what the big boys useoften, even in major documentaries and motion pictures.Dont choose the production method solely on the distribution method.2. Sound Is the Secret Weapon.Whats the first thing you remember about Star Wars? Dah-dah, da-da-da dahhhh-dahhh!Yup, the music. And the sound effectsthe hum of the light sabers, the drone of the Death Star. Can you imagine Star Wars without music?Even in corporate videos, music plays an extremely important part. But youd be surprised how few producers actually realize that. Theyll let a narrator blab on and on, and, to add insult to injury, youll hear the same piece of music looping for the entire length of the show! (Flash presentations are notorious for this.)Sound tells your audience how to feel; how to distinguish whats important; when to react and how.A picture is worth a thousand words? Music is worth a thousand emotionslike loyalty, belief, trust, enthusiasmall potent predictors of productivity.3. Create for the Environment.Ever see an IMAX film on home video? Is it the same as in the IMAX theater? Ever see your favorite movie on a 4-inch LCD? Was it the same as in your home theater?No, of course not. IMAX movies and major motion pictures (especially science fiction and thrillers) are created for LARGE screens, in rooms where people are quiet and the sound has impact.Commercials played in sports arenas on those big jumbotrons generally feature very little dialog. Whod hear it? You can barely hear the music.When a video communications project is strategized, the environment in which it will be played is an important part of deciding the style and intensity of production. If your CD-ROM is never going to make it past a laptop, running out and shooting sweeping panoramas of the countryside may not be necessarybut plenty of close ups will be.Play to the room.4. How Long Should It Be?Attention spans are short! Shouldnt all videos be short? Well, theres short, and short. Theres real time, and perceived time.A boring video goes on forever. An exciting video ALWAYS seems shorter than it is, and often bears seeing a second time!Audiences arent stupid. They dont have short attention spans; they just dont like to be bored. A good story will transcend time. It will seem shorter but last longer in their minds. 5. $1,000 a Minute? $200 per Slide? $3.99 a Pound?Pricing is always liable to a lot of subjectivity, and so over the years people have tried to quantify the production of multimedia materials. A thousand dollars a minute has been quoted since the late 1960sfor film!But lets shatter some illusions. Video production (in fact, many creative activities) can not be judged entirely on the running time. It takes $2 million and 9 months to produce a single 24-minute episode of the Simpsons. Ive seen industrial training tapes that ran 90 minutes and grossed the producer $2,000.Shouldnt he have gotten $90,000? Not for pointing a camera at a podium and hitting record, and editing out awkward pauses!It is MUCH tougher to produce a great five-minute video that will rouse an audience and get specified results. To keep up a broadcast-quality pace, to have the right music, to shoot in various locales, to create high-quality 3-D and other animations... well, itll cost more than $5,000, I guarantee that. Sometimes, not much more, but other times, 10 times that amount. Your producer should be willing to write a proposal, tell you what she plans to do, and give you a specific quotation for that exact effort.6. What Style Should It Be?On the surface, communications styles change often. After all, audiences like what is current and hipto them. But different audiences come from different age groups, economic backgrounds, regions; so what is hip to a 22-year-old web designer in Atlanta might not be hip to the 45-year-old engineer in Dallas.Your producer needs to think like a chameleon. Yes, we all have our own strengths and styles, but we are working for you. And you have a corporate style and a defined audience. Too slow a pace, not enough hip animation, and maybe the twenty-somethings will snooze. Too kinetic, too flashy, too loud, and maybe the chairman of the board will have your head.Maybe youve never seen American Idol, but that doesnt make it unpopular with a large part of the population. If youre not hip on the likes of an audience, trust someone who isyour producer, or that DJ-wannabe who can name everything ever produced byJay-Z.Uh, who?7. Can I Have That Tuesday?If its your dry cleaning, yes.If its the multimedia project or video that is going to convince 5,000 that downsizing is good for them, well, no.Good video takes time.How much time? A well-designed, strategized, outlined, planned, written, and produced project (already it sounds long) takes time. Heres a planning guide for a typical 10-minute video:Write proposal--1 weekScript--2-3 weeksProduction planning--2 weeksShooting--2 weeksLogging and digitizing tapes--1 weekMusic selection, voice tracking--1 weekRough cut--1-2 weeksReview time (script, rough cut)--1 week (its up to you)Final edit and effects--1.5 weeksDuplication--2 weeksWith overlap, overtime, and some real sweet talking from you and me to the hard-working staff, maybe we can cut that down or work some things in parallel. But dont kill the messenger. Allowing sufficient time for the project will get you one hell of a program In the long run, when you do it right, it shows. And the spin-off benefits are enormous.8. Use Interviews for BelievabilityInterviewswith your customers, employees, suppliers, even youcan have a dramatic impact on the credibility engendered by your video.This is especially true for softer subjects, such as fundraising, public opinion, HRD company introductions, tributes, etc.Interviews are not what they seem. They appear candid (and are); they seem unscripted (and are); they seem easy to do and a way to skip scriptwriting (they ARE NOT).Interviews require researchwho has the best stories, attitude, presence. Interviews require testinga pre-interview. And they require scripting, if only as a target goal to help the interviewer frame the right questions.Never let your producer put words into peoples mouthsa pet phrase, an endorsement, a rah-rah statementunless the interviewee came up with it candidly. Theres no faster way for all of you to look boneheaded.And I dont think THAT was the purpose of the video.9. Videos Hidden ValueMany big videos and presentations are created for meetings. They unveil the theme, set the stage, introduce a new product, whatever.But when management realizes they will be used only once, they often become unnecessary. Staging, projectors, production coststhats a lot of cabbage for 500 sales people. Couldnt we add a second entre at the awards dinner?Fact is, I agree with your bossto the extent that everything should have a repurposing value. And todays video does. Plan it right, write it right, and in no time your videoor at least scenes from itcan be used on the web, on CDs and DVDs, and in your salespeoples PowerPoint presentations.Now you can justify the purchase and sleep a bit easier.By the way, even WITHOUT a reuse value, there is nothing like a rousing video opener at a big meeting to set the tone, redefine a company, begin the change process, and build a roaring fire under your sales teams butts. The difference is seen in sales; they have the energyAND new video tools to take with them. The increased revenue more than pays for the cost of the video.10. A Good Video Producer Knows SalesAnd not just because he sold you a project.Video done right is a form of persuasion. It follows all the good rules of sales (with some exceptions).First of all, videos must get audiences saying yes. We have to start with common ground and then build our case.Video incorporates logic. If, then, and after that, thenAnd video promotes emotional connection. Add the emotional punch, and now youve got a sale.If a video producer doesnt know this, then hes not a producerhes a craftsman working at some aspect of our trade. And that is fine.But those who can sell audiencesthey are few and far between.The care and consideration that goes into producing your companys video overview, sales presentation, or funding solicitation is no less important than the wording of a direct mail piece, the design of your ad campaign, or the development of a corporate identity. For, indeed, a video presentation becomes your corporate identity.Use these ten tips and youre on your way to perhaps the most successful communications project youve ever undertaken. That just might mean a raise, a corner office, or at least a slap on the back. And thats all good.
Even though the video game consoles of today have taken over all the old systems the PC games of today are still some of the number one rated games on any system. The way the computer works is different then what kind of graphics that you will have in your Xbox or Playstation. You will have a motherboard with either single or double graphics card ability. If you have an SLI ready motherboard then that means that you have the best motherboard that money can buy and you also have the best graphics as well. You will be using two graphics cards over the power of one which will make your computer not only not lag but will make the image clearer then purified water.The big thing about computers and playing video games on them is you can keep upgraded your computer without having to buy a whole new system. You can however upgrade your other video game systems but then it becomes illegal to play your upgraded systems online like you like to play. That is because they sell the systems how they want them to be played if they had wanted everyone to be aim botting then they would have given you that privilege but you cannot and therefore you just need to spend your upgrading money on your computer unless you are "modding" out your Xbox and you plan on just playing on other servers and not the main Xbox live feed.PC gamers are always looking for the next best piece of technology to help them get an edge in their online games. Heck, they'll take a minor boost in a games frame rate if it means shoveling out a few hundred bucks for a new video card or processor; but, with so many hardware configurations and different applications, what exactly is a high performance gaming computer?There is no single computer that is going to outperform every other computer on the market. Sure, one computer might be optimized for high a high frame rate, but that might come at the cost of being ale to multi task, while another computer may place emphasis on multitasking and being able to play a game at a lower frame rate while still being able to use a web browser.A truly "high performance "gaming computer" " is one that has been optimized to perform as specific task, whether it's playing one game (like Counterstrike), or playing a game and using several applications (like World of Warcraft and a browser). These machines have been optimized to the point that doing something else - such as multitasking - is discouraged.If you want to really play games on your computer flawlessly then you are going to have to spend some money to make the computer that you want. You are going to need at least 2 gigs of RAM. A good graphics card as well. You just need to go to online and you will be able to get a good gaming computer for under $1200. I mean everything that you want and top of the line for that price.
If I asked you this, would you believe me? Try doing so, because its the truth. And also, in this strange and perverse world, young people are busy killing each other at an alarming rate. Do we really need something like a pseudo Mafia causing the same sorts of problems? Gangsterism, in other words, on our childrens beloved video games?According to Wikipedia, the Webs foremost online encyclopedia, ever since 9/11 the FBI hasnt had much in time or resources to handle organized crime, and there has been a sudden resurgence in its activities.Right now, the online game The Sims Online-- which is labeled a T for Teens game -- has been overrun by several obviously Mafia named families. These people dont seem to have enough imagination to be Mexican Mafia, Chinese Mafia or Japanese Mafia (yet), which also exist in real life. They are very aggressive and very obvious.Whether or not they are the real Mafia is a question which I cannot answer. They may be a bunch of errant teenage boys and girls but ones with some very eclectic adult tastes and also many violent and weird high tech tendencies. You should see the Playboy style icons they paste on top of their houses from certain views of the TSO video game.And one thing these kids, if they are kids, really do, even though it is to virtual and not real houses: they trash peoples paid-for beautiful properties. The kind of properties that people would like to build, taking a lifetime to achieve. Beautiful, sprawling mansions you cant own in real life, the kind that are totally out of reach for the vast majority of people. And no one could tell if it was part of the game, or something far worse.I am so tired, I dont know. Values are very hard to gauge in life, anyway.To green up on The Sims Online at all, or to keep your simulated character going, you must do interactions that are similar to having sex with animals (wrestle with your dog, but you should see what it looks like if you really see it) and thats bad enough, but rather bearable. Sigmund Freud would have told us that such behavior is relatively normal, that having an orgy session involving heavy petting with your own puppy where it loves you and licks your face and you are all over each other, is fun. Also, there is sexy dancing, heavy kissing and hugging, and so forth, which works for most people -- including twelve year old kids. This is done with your fellow characters, real life people in the game whom you can become acquainted with, work with, and even marry. The marriages are not legal of course, and tend to dissolve fairly quickly.Meanwhile, your town is crawling with De Corleoni Territori, the Italian Mafia Empire, The Vito Family Territory and so forth. I am not talking Anti-Italian Defamation. I had several Italian friends on the game, whom I am now stuck missing in my daily life. I am talking about a bunch of people either acting like the Mafia, or worse yet, actually being connected with them somehow and taking over a childrens video game. Possibly, several childrens video games. Or were they involved in the first place, and is Maxis a Mafia held game company? Look at the names.Maxis, Mafia. Why doesnt Entertainment Arts do something about the house trashing problem, for example, even though people have repeatedly complained about it? What is it exactly that they are trying to hide? Apparently not much; you can easily find the Mob everywhere on that game. And their version of the cops does absolutely nothing at all. Meanwhile, I have talked to Maxis, and they have repeatedly claimed we are taking care of the problem.The game is labeled T for Teens and is connected with what looks like some harmless fake gambling. The money being exchanged seems to be Simoleans at first. Fake money, which you get by working at odd jobs on the game, and you may also acquire skills so you can make more of the fake money. But there are payoffs, and you can also buy blocks of the money on EBay, roughly $15-25 for 1 million Simoleans. I heard of one lady who blew thousands of real life dollars on this. Its possible that the teenagers who are playing it are making money from performing vaguely illicit sexual acts on this game for real money.Is this what you want your teenager to be doing? For 6-10 hours a day, five-seven days a week? Eventually, obviously, after I spent about a month on the game, it was so that the money was swiftly turning real.Okay, video addiction is bad enough, but were talking about Organized Crime here as well. Remember a little place called Columbine High School? What if theres some sort of eerie connection to that sort of business? I had to join this game to find out, kind of as a lark, but I did some real exploring too.And the Mafia is in and roughly controlling every town that Ive visited on The Sims Online, and Ive reasonably checked them all over. Dans Grove, Jolly Pines, Blazing Falls, Alphaville. The Mafia iseverywhere.I have talked to these Mafia gentlemen and ladies, and visited their houses. They dont have very much to do at them but the usual Sims stuff. Im afraid they have discovered game cheats and, being bored, are using them to destroy other game players properties. And yes, I have evidence, not hard unfortunately, that they have watched people play the game from a distance. One of them knew about something he shouldnt have known. And another friend of mine who regularly plays video games has noticed these tendencies toward having strange game powers that other players dont have in yet other video games. He says its pretty common. Hackers, he calls it, but in the TSO case, its hitting a little too close to home.For example, a gay bashing was set up right in front of me. I rode it out, but I had to comfort the gay being bashed. Of course, it was his simulated character, not he who was hurt. TSO is real people playing games. Im not gay, but it was getting a little peculiar that such stuff is allowable on a T for Teens video game. I was more than a little confused.A lady in fun fired a game Civil War cannon at me, in private, and this Mafia guy named Riccardo knew that it had happened. I dont think she told him about it. How did he know? She did it just for laughs, and it was a harmless game event (I peed my pants as the game character, and it seemed okay), but its not very funny that he knew about it. I didnt exactly care, and it was sort of humorous. He couldnt have known about it unless hed seen it happen, in all probability. And he wasnt anywhere on the property or onscreen at the time. He had a private view of it going on.The same Mafia dude, who kept denying he was Mafia -- while dressed in an obvious game-style Mafia suit and with the name Riccardo -- also told me you cant trash houses unless youre a roommate or the home owner. This should indeed be the case; it involves building permissions. But one of the house trashing victims had no roommates whatsoever. And she wasnt motivated to trash her houseno insurance money is involved.Game players on this game can be quite friendly. I made a lot of good friends doing things like making pizzas, opening up my own skills house business, doing minor gambling (legal for adults and Im over 40) and in general -- partying. You can play high tech, beautiful looking musical instruments and feel like youre there. Its a great game. You should see some of the wild and crazy characters on this game! Or should you?Except that I cant play it anymore. I quit the game solely because of theextremely heavy Mafia presence that was starting to visit my house and breathe hotly down my neck. That, and the game was cutting into my work routine as a full-time writer quite a little bit, too.First, Riccardo showed up. Out of nowhere, after I had used the Maxis device to screen all apparent Mafia members out of my house. He showed up at my house. The same day my friends house was trashed. It was the second such trashing since I had started playing there. Obvious Mafia guy, obviously scouting me. Denied everything completely. This was after two of my friends houses had been trashed.Want to know anything about terrorism? Now I know what it is. A little too thoroughly for my tastes. The Mob was making it obvious that I could be next. Why is that exactly? And what sort of next would it bereal, or simulated game activity? These people looked capable of tracking down my actual computers IP address, my ISP -- and finally, my real life house.And all I could do was flee. I quit playing the game for good. I dont feel much like a serious game player after that. I feel rather like an inebriated cipher.Yeah, theyre just a bunch of teenagers who like to trash houses Theyre not the real Mafia, theyre just kids. I heard a lot of that from people both on and off the game, even my fellow writers. Harmless kids.Like the ones at Columbine? That bunch even called themselves The Trench Coat Mafia. Whats with this strange fascination of teenage kids with the Mob? Does gangsta rap, or something even worse, have anything to do with it?The Sims Online is conceivably the haven for a slinking beast with no better name than the Neo Mafia: My New Family. And for the last time, if youre Italian, I am not picking on you. Im worried about you instead. And do you need to be affiliated with these mysterious strangers, who maybe think all organized crime is still from Italy? Are you, like me, a parent? Ma fia? Neo ma fiaYes, parents, that is what it means in Italian-American. My new family. Still feel comfortable with the concept?Trust me. Im only Italian. Im not a Mafia member. You must be a bigot. Its because my skin is brown. Yadayadayaday. You can be whatever skin color you want to be on TSO, and either sex for that matter. Everybody kept going, Its only kids, calm down, and its only kids. Yeah, pretty old kids.Maybe I was a fool for ever playing that game. I assumed it was just a game, and someone was being silly about the Mafia on it. Later, I found a very professional looking website dedicated to The Sims Mafia. Dont enter here if youre under thirteen is a quote from it. Maxis is doing nothing whatsoever to stop these people, which is getting to be sickeningly obvious.Im sure that if this story is ever widely promoted, people will join The Sims Online (TSO) after having read it. Its an extremely download, a free two week trial, $10 per month and bam, youre in it. News items like the War belittle this pretty much. But thats somebody elses problem. The Federal Bureau of Investigation should be looking into at least our nations video games. You can buy money on EBay to sell on that TSO game, kids are on that game, and they are being threatened into being recruited into the, I would assume, mostly swarthy white people Mafiaright nowsince they keep mentioning the Italian one so muchthe real one or the virtual one?Who knows?