Getting Some Play: Nerdy gaming news is all the rage

 
 

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.

Its not exactly unheard of, but it seems the most interesting gaming news lately is, well, a bit on the nerdy side. Take this recent Gamasutra post about NASA making educational games, for example. That’s right – and I know every last one of you who dreamt of becoming an astronaut while you whiled away your youth playing NES games just got excited.

The post quotes NASA head of communications and education in Aeronautics Tony Springer:

Ever since it was formed, NASA has had an obligation, under the laws that created us, to inform the public to the greatest extent practical about what we do, and we’re always looking for new ways to do that and keep up with how people want to get their information. The explosion of social media apps is just one more way we’re trying to reach out across the agency, and games are part of that.

He also goes on to discuss one of my favorite concepts in all of education (and “games for change”) — learning by accident:

The nice thing is, you can sneak some real information into games. To take our new Facebook game [Space Race Blastoff] as an example, no one — especially kids these days — wants to sit down to read a bunch of trivia. But when you put it in a game, with a competitive and a social element around it, you’ll find that people will be more interested.

Consider it a totally acceptable (you’re learning!) guilty pleasure. This is self improvement at its finest.

Also on the dorky side (of an entirely different sort), is the news that cult-favorite developer Double Fine Productions held a Kickstarter campaign to finance the development of an old-school adventure game – and it was a wild success. I mentioned it in my other column, but just in case you’re not a Weekly Geek reader, you can check out a nice summation here on IGN. Suffice it to say, this is a huge win for lovers of quirky, funny games – and nerdy, underdog projects in general.

Incoming

Remember Twisted Metal, the crazy PlayStation era series that saw players take on the roles of psychopathic, armed drivers hell bent on killing one another? Well, the franchise is back on the PS3 today – appropriate, for Valentine’s Day.  Like the presumably back-to-basics mechanics, it’s simply named Twisted Metal, and outspoken game designer David Jaffe was behind the production, so expect good things if you pick this up.

It’s not the only reboot of a long-dormant franchise on the horizon – February 21 will see the return of Syndicate for the PC, 360 and PS3. Similarly, extreme racing/snowboarding franchise SSX is getting its big reboot on the 28th. Expect powder, big air and nutty tricks on the 360 and PS3.

The consoles and PC aren’t the only movers and shakers this month, as the launch lineup of the PlayStation Vita arrives, with potential gems like WipEout 2048 and Uncharted: Golden Abyss (both due on February 22) headlining a varied list.

Nintendo 3DS players will finally be able to get their 3D Snake on once Metal Gear Solid 3D Snake Eater arrives on the handheld on the 21st.

Cyberpunk squad shooter Binary Domain is slated to land on the PS3 and 360 on the 28th, and it’s sure to slake your cravings for robot-blasting action.

Finally, the weirdest and perhaps the least-hyped game on this list will be the theatrical platformer/beat-em-up Black Knight Sword, set to hit XBLA and PSN on the same day. This one pretty much needs to be seen to be believed, so if you are a fan of quirky design, don’t pass it up.

Those are the highlights for February. Be sure to start saving your pennies though, as we’re getting some serious heavy hitters in March, primarily Mass Effect 3 on the sixth, and Diablo 3 on the 31st. Until next time!

 
 

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