More PS3 Launch Info; Scientists Promote Gaming

There are still a lot of questions surrounding the Nov. 17 launch of the PlayStation 3 — in particular, just how many people will be able to buy one. But Sony’s PR engine is proceeding as though the PS3’s production issues are nonexistent, and the company hosted a "Gamers’ Day" in San Francisco to build the hype. Sony emphasized the PS3’s online PlayStation Store, which will allow users to download arcade games, demos and bonus content for store-bought titles — stuff that’s been available on Microsoft’s Xbox Live for a while now. Sony also demonstrated its motion-detecting Sixaxis controller, showing how you would tilt and jerk the device to control a dragon in the forthcoming medieval fantasy "Lair." And it was announced that the first 500,000 PS3 buyers will get a free Blu-ray DVD of "Talladega Nights" — reason enough to consider buying the Nintendo Wii instead.

RESISTANCE NOT FUTILE: Still, the list of PS3 games scheduled for the holidays isn’t bad, especially if you’re just looking for higher-definition versions of familiar franchises. The usual suspects include "Madden NFL 07," "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07," "Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas," "Ridge Racer 7" and "Tony Hawk’s Project 8." The real standouts among the 21 launch titles — the games you’ll have to get a PS3 to play — are "Resistance: Fall of Man," a sci-fi war game from "Ratchet & Clank" developer Insomniac Games, and "Genji: Days of the Blade," an adventure set in feudal China. Perhaps more intriguing is one of Sony’s downloadable titles, a goofy car-chase party game called "Criminal Crackdown" from "God of War" creator (and "Twisted Metal" vet) David Jaffe.

— SCIENCE FAIR: A good game — say, "Okami" or "Xenosaga III" — requires all sorts of mental gymnastics, from strategic thinking to adaptation to rapid change. At least that’s how the Federation of American Scientists, which normally deals with such weighty topics as nuclear proliferation, sees it. The group called on the federal government to look for ways to create games that can be used as learning tools. Federation president Henry Kelly urged the Labor and Education departments to work with the National Science Foundation to determine which video-game skills are most important to learning, and then work to develop software that improves those skills. "This is the kind of thing where the federal government has always acted in the past," Kelly said.

RATINGS BOOK: Nielsen Media Research, the company that compiles TV ratings, knows why fewer young people are watching prime- time programming: We’re too busy playing video games. So the company has announced it’s going to start tracking the amount of time we spend with joysticks in our hands. The new data should lead the way to more advertising in games; if a company finds out you’re playing "Madden NFL" for 20 hours a week, it will want to spend money to put an ad there. "The value of an entertainment medium is directly proportional to how well it is measured," said Nielsen vice president Jeff Herrmann. Funny, all this time we thought the value of an entertainment medium was in how entertaining it was.

ACTION JACKSON: Peter Jackson, who defied all Hollywood expectations by bringing "The Lord of the Rings" to the silver screen, may have a tougher challenge on his hands: delivering the first blockbuster video-game movie. When Jackson signed on to produce the film version of "Halo," the project looked unstoppable – – until co-financers Universal and Fox abruptly backed out. Variety reported rumors of an out-of-control budget, but a representative for Jackson and his partner, Fran Walsh, told the Hollywood trade paper that the studios had demanded a pay cut for the filmmakers at the last minute. Microsoft issued a statement saying, "We are disappointed that Universal and Fox wanted to significantly renegotiate the financial points of the deal," but added that Jackson, Walsh and "the rest of the creative team are dedicated to ensuring the Halo movie becomes a reality."

(c) 2006 Deseret News (Salt Lake City). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.