Getting Some Play: Gaming and giving back

Welcome to Getting Some Play — the spiritual successor to Sarah Warn’s excellent Good Game column — where we’ll take a look at the latest releases, news and developments in the world of video games.

Season’s Greetings

It’s hard to be a gamer these days; at least it is without a massively overstocked wallet. There are simply too many games coming out in the next two weeks – combine that with all of the recently released goodness (like Batman: Arkham City, Dance Central 2, and Skyrim, not to mention the glut of excellent downloadable and mobile titles). However, if you can tear yourself away from the holiday rush for a few minutes, I wanted to point towards the softer side of holiday gaming – charity!

Even though gamers get a bad rap in the media, and the stereotype tends to paint us as unattractive, socially awkward straight adolescent males (ha!), we actually have a tendency to give back. Take a look at Child’s Play, one of the biggest and best-known game-related charities out there. Put on by the folks at Penny Arcade, the goal is to raise money to purchase games for sick children in hospitals across the world. They’re aiming for $2 million this time around. If you’re interested, you can send donations of toys/games, money (via paypal), or you can even take the official “easiest/fastest way to give” route:

Text “GAMERS” to 50555 to donate $5 directly to Child’s Play! Charges will appear on your bill, or be deducted from your prepaid balance.

There are also plenty of charities that will accept used games, so if you have a few titles lying around that you know you won’t be playing again, consider sending them off to one of the following:

GameSchool (www.stargameschool.org/)
Contact: Jarrod Wolkowitz (gameschool@starinc.org)

DonateGames (www.donategames.org)
Contact: support@DonateGames.org

Hey, you may need to clear that clutter for the new stuff coming in!

Games, games, games

There’s too much to play! Whether you’re a beleaguered gamer trying to keep up, a multitasking guru in nirvana, or simply someone who is salivating while putting together a seasonal “wish list”, one thing is for certain: holiday 2011 is absolutely teeming with choices.

We’ll start with a title that actually came out yesterday (November 13), but it’s worth mentioning for all 3DS owners: Super Mario 3D Land. A 3D platformer that mashes up Mario’s 2D roots with Super Mario Galaxy-style crazy platforming, it’s been looking fantastic ever since Nintendo started seriously showing it off at E3 this year. If you have Ninty’s handheld, this is a must-buy.

November 15 is going to get crazy – several hotly anticipated titles are dropping on one day. They include racer Need For Speed: The Run (multiplatform), action-stealth in the form of Assassin’s Creed Revelations (360, PS3), Jurassic Park: The Game (for PC) for classic point-and-click adventure fans, gorgeous-looking cartoon platformer Rayman Origins (multiplatform), and the remastered Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary on the 360.

That’s not all. Oh no. Also on the November 15, Saints Row 3 – the follow up to the chaotic, hilarious, and gleefully insane Saints Row 2 – arrives on the PS3 and 360. I have played countless hours in the second game’s wacky urban playground (it’s an open-world game set in a very over-the-top satire of your average, corrupt American city), and a fellow game reviewer and Saints Row megafan has already indicated that the new game is pure magic. In what other game can you beat rival gang members with a giant purple “adult toy”?

Finally, November 15 will also be the day that ABBA fans can get their groove on in the digital world with ABBA: You Can Dance on the Wii. I don’t know if it’s any good, but hell, I know it will be catchy.

On the November 18, runaway-while-still-in-beta hit Minecraft (a game that has basically defined a new genre) officially launches on the PC. Expect in-game parties and other custom-built goodness.

Finally, one of my personally most anticipated titles of the year is set to launch on November 20, with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on the Wii. Early buzz points to greatness (with Edge magazine comparing playing the game with “Christmas Day” in its 10/10 review), so anyone with a Wii and a desire for deep, thrilling action-adventure should pay attention to this one.

That’s all for this week, gamers. What will you be playing (or asking your loved ones to buy for you) this November?

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