How 'Fortnite' is having fun promoting its fifth season - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY GAMING

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season

Marketing video games in today’s society is much different than most other products. Traditional advertising might work well for a film or a fast food chain, but old methods just don’t seem to grab gamers’ attention. So, many developers (and their publishers) have embraced the power of viral marketing.

Epic Games, the developers of insanely popular Fortnite, have set up an elaborate Alternate Reality Game (ARG) in which fans can find subtle clues in the real world and slowly unveil what’s in store for players of the game. This tactic is nothing new for the gaming community, but given how silly Fortnite is, fans can now look forward to finding some true wackiness out in the wild.


How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season

New objects from seemingly all over the timeline are appearing in place of missing items.

(Epic Games)

Previous seasons have played on medieval, space, and superhero themes (for seasons two, three, and four respectively). Each of those seasons coincided with a special in-game offer, giving more cosmetic options to dedicated players. So, naturally, fans have been speculating about what’s to come when Fortnite’s fourth season comes to a close — and hints are beginning to surface.

The first clue came a few days ago when an in-game space shuttle launched. To watch the event, players (mostly) stopped fighting to sit and watch. Since then, in-game models have been disappearing and giant rifts have been forming in the skies above the map. But now it seems the oddities aren’t limited to strictly in-game events.

The real strangeness began when a giant Durr Burger, the icon of an in-game burger chain, was randomly found a few days ago outside of Palmdale, California. The burger was found by a photographer who had little understanding of the game — he just thought it was a weird burger placed next to an abandoned, retro police car (similar to the ones in the game). Next to the burger was a sign that reads, “this site is unstable. Beware of possible effects.”

Not too far from there is a camo-patterned, netted tent and another sign that reads, “if you can read this, you’re in range of the anomaly.”

When gamers went out to the California desert to investigate, they were greeted by a man who gave them a card with “Agent #3678” on one side and a phone number on the other. If you call the number, you’ll just hear a bunch of strange noises that sound like the in-game effect of someone being sucked into a rift.

Coincidentally, that number is (712) 380-4091. The area code is the day season 5 begins (July 12) and the rest can be turned upside-down to roughly read “I Go Home.”

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season

My biggest question is: Has anyone tried breaking it open yet? If not, why?

(Image by Reddit user /u/cerisedeguerre)

Meanwhile, European fans of the game have been finding llama pinatas in major cities. The first one was found just hanging out in a phone booth in London. A few hours later, another was found in Cologne, Germany and a third in Barcelona, Spain. Fans speculated that the next would appear in Paris, France (the llamas were facing in that direction), but then they found another in Warsaw and Cannes.

Gamers make for incredible sleuths. A dedicated few decoded the weird sounds heard when calling the mysterious telephone number with a spectogram (a program that turns audio messages into visual codes) to get an image. Sure enough, the weird sounds have been changing with each found llama — the image created from the sounds are coordinates.

Most of the llamas have been found by pure luck, but it seems they needed the coordinates to discover the llama in Paris.

By piecing clues together (and with the help of some hackers who prefer a more direct route instead of playing games) to find out what happens next, it’s looking like the fifth season of Fortnite will be filled with time-travel-related stuff. Fans of the game can look forward to an entire history’s worth of cosmetic gear and in-game tomfoolery, ranging from vikings and pirates to cowboys, ninjas, and dinosaurs.

MIGHTY GAMING

Breaking down where in nerdom the TALOS exo-suit belongs

Toiling away deep in the U.S. Army’s research and development arm of the Special Operations Command are the scientists crafting the Tactical Assault Light Operations Suit. It looks slick. It looks awesome. It looks like it’s going to change the battlefield in a big way.

The only problem with it is that when military journalists cover it, they see how it looks and immediately attribute it to some sci-fi universe by saying something like, “it’s a real-life Iron Man suit!” So, let’s take a closer look and determine where, exactly, within the broad horizon of nerdom this high-tech exo-suit belongs.


We weren’t exaggerating: Right off the bat, a comparison to Iron Man’s suit is invariably struck by nearly every single news outlet. To a degree, we can see why. The suit, officials have said, will be considered complete when it’s functional, bullet-proof, and weaponized.

Even Jim Geurtz of SOCOM jokingly told NPR that it’s “not at the Iron Man-flying-suit, you know, flying-at-50,000-feet level.” Since he’s developing the suit, he gets a pass on calling it an Iron Man suit — but a more apt comparison is a War Machine suit. Since the suit is not going to be powered by a nuclear fission reactor and fire lasers, it’s a better match with War Machine’s kinetic arsenal.

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season
If you give it to the Marines, they’ll probably spray paint a Punisher skull on it. Just watch.
(Punisher Vol 1. #218)

Though there’s no proof, we’re pretty sure the name TALOS is a backronym designed to share a name with the ancient Greek legend. In mythology, Talos is a bronze automaton said to have protected Crete from pirates and scoundrels (and is the God of Man in the Elder Scrolls universe, but that’s fantasy and not sci-fi). Coincidentally, Talos’ mythological job would fit it perfectly within the Boba Fett-inspired H&K AR500 suit. Looking at their helmet design, it’s obvious that they know full-well who they want it to look like.

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season
Even the NVGs flip down like Fett’s visor thingy. Fun Fact: That’s actually not an antennae on Boba Fett’s helmet.
(Lucasfilms Ltd.)

A comparison that the TALOS suit doesn’t get often enough is to the armor of Halo’s Space Marines. The design is strikingly similar to the armor worn by non-player characters in the series.

The suit was also once projected to be able to relay vital information to the wearer via a heads-up display. Command information could also be relayed to the user through their fancy set of glasses. The early designs weren’t too far off from the in-game version, but that was also back when they thought Google Glass was going to change the battlefield…

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season
The guy in the prototype suit is showcasing it to au00a0dude drinking Mountain Dewu00a0u2014 seems fitting for some reason.
(Bungie Studios)

MIGHTY GAMING

Halo: Reach was one of the best video games about war

Despite the fan base not being filled to the brim with lovers of the game, Halo: Reach remains in the hearts of many of us gamers who dumped a considerable amount of time into the game itself. One thing that might stand out, especially for those of us in the veteran community, is how the game itself depicts war.

Halo: Reach was released nearly a decade this upcoming September, and this campaign still gets a lot of us excited. It had some good characters, each with unique qualities, and the story was amazing. The gameplay is another story, but what we’re focusing on here is the biggest thing that stood out: this game is about war.

Here’s why Halo: Reach was one of the best:


How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season

You were also, for the first time, surrounded by other Spartans.

(Bungie)

Nerfed Spartan strength

Throughout the original Halo trilogy, you fight as Master Chief, the only Spartan in sight, which makes you an absolute force of nature on the battlefield. You’re essentially unstoppable, with your only purpose being to bring judgment down upon the Covenant that stands before you.

Reach took that and essentially made you just slightly weaker, but it was noticeable. Stronger than the average UNSC Marine but just on the same level as the best the Covenant has to offer. This made you feel more like you couldn’t just steamroll into battles, bringing death on a silver platter to the Covenant.

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season

There are plenty of shots in the game that show the planet’s destruction.

(Bungie)

Depicted a losing fight

Most of us who knew the lore of Reach before the game’s release knew it was a doomed mission. You were fighting a losing battle because the Covenant hits the planet’s under-manned military defenses with an all-out attack force with the intent to reap every last soul upon its surface. That didn’t stop you, though.

It really showed the tenacity that troops bring to the battlefield. Knowing you could lose doesn’t matter, you’ll fight to the death anyway and make the enemy work for every life they have to take – and suffer the consequences of taking it to begin with.

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season

Prime example: Jorge.

(Bungie)

Showed the tremendous sacrifices that were made

One thing that the original trilogy doesn’t take much time to do is to show the sacrifices of individual soldiers. Reach absolutely does that. With Noble Team, you see each of the team members die in some way or another, a couple of them choosing to die so that others may live.

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season

Seeing mega cities like this getting torn apart was devastating.

(Bungie)

The devastation

Reach takes a lot of time to show us how destructive the Covenant is and the devastation of that destruction in context with what they do to the planet. Most of the other games you don’t get that sense, with Halo 3 being the obvious exception since part of it takes place on Earth.

But what we got in Reach was an entire game of trying to save a planet only to fail.

Articles

How the military uses video games to get better at killing

Troops go through seemingly endless amounts of training that can be expensive, boring, and even dangerous. In an effort to make training cheaper, safer, and more effective, the service branches have turned increasingly to video games and simulators.


Possibly the most immersive system in use today, the VIRTSIM system from Raytheon allows users to operate in an open area the size of a basketball court. Trainees wear a set of sensors and feedback gear that records their every action and feeds it into the simulator. Virtual reality goggles show them a simulated world that they move through as a team.

The system doesn’t use wires or tethers to power the suits or transmit data, so participants can move like they would in the real world.

Similarly, the Army’s Dismounted Soldier Training System allows troops to train as a squad in virtual reality. The system allows for customizable missions and incorporates all of a trainee’s movements except for actually walking. Because of the high cost of treadmills, each soldier stands on a rubber pad and moves through the environment with a controller mounted on their weapon, meaning they can’t train the muscle memory of leaping to cover or learn as well to operate with muscle fatigue.

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season
The Dismounted Solder Training System allows soldiers to train as a squad. Photo: US Army Maj. Penny Zamora

Still, the DSTS provides the chance for soldiers to respond to a mortar attack, react to a near ambush, or any number of dangerous situations that are impossible to train on in the real world.

One of the older simulators, the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000, has even more limitations. Troops are confined to a room and can’t move their character through the simulation at all. Instead of looking through goggles to see the virtual world, a projection of the simulated battle is displayed on one or more walls and trainees engage targets in it.

The EST 2000 does have weapons that closely simulate actual M4s, M9s, and other commons systems. The weapons keep track of how the soldier aims and fires, catching even small actions like trigger squeeze. This allows marksmanship trainers to collect detailed information about what a service member is doing right or wrong.

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season
Soldiers train in the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 April 6, 2015 in before heading to live-fire training at Saber Junction 15. Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Caleb Barrieau

The military branches use simulators similar to the ESTS 2000 to train pilots and vehicle crew members. While not being able to walk limits training opportunities for ground troops, people in vehicles don’t have to worry about that. Warrior Hall at Fort Rucker allows new Army pilots to train on different helicopter airframes. The Navy and Air Force have similar programs for jet pilots.

While the simulators are great, the goal isn’t to replace the standard training but to augment. Troops can use the simulator to practice rifle fundamentals before heading to the range, experience hitting a building with their squad before their first visit to a shoot house.

And the military still has even more ambitious plans for simulations. The Future Holistic Training Environment Live Synthetic program would tie together different simulations and allow players to participate in massive exercises. Pilots training in New Mexico could fly support for infantrymen training in California while battle staff commanded from North Carolina.

Until then, there’s always video games.

MIGHTY GAMING

Army turns to virtual battlefield to train squads

A four-man team of soldiers sits in a nondescript building on Fort Belvoir, Va., each at his own desk, surrounded by three monitors that provide them individual, 3D views of an abandoned city.

On screen, they gather at the corner of a crumbling building to meet another team — represented by avatars — who are actually on the ground in a live-training area, a mock-up of the abandoned city. They’re all training together, in real time, to prepare for battles in dense urban terrain.


That’s the central goal of the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) — immersive, integrated virtual training — presented during a Warriors Corner session at the 2018 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington. The Army has been working toward this kind of fully immersive training experience for decades, and leadership hopes to have it operational as early as 2025.

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season

In May 1993, Army RDA Bulletin dedicated several articles to the concept and execution of distributed interactive simulation (DIS), “a time and space coherent representation of a virtual battlefield environment” that allowed warfighters across the globe to interact with one other as well as computer-generated forces, according to John S. Yuhas, author of the article “Distributed Interactive Simulation.”

Better, faster, stronger

While the name of the program seems to emphasize individual simulation units, its overarching purpose was to bring together thousands of individuals and teams virtually in real time. Central to DIS was the idea of interoperable standards and protocol, allowing each community — “trainer, tester, developer, and acquisitioner” — to use the others’ concepts and products, Maj. David W. Vaden wrote in “Vision for the Next Decade.”

The article explained that “distributed” referred to geographically separated simulations networked together to create a synthetic environment; “interactive” to different simulations linked electronically to act together and upon each other; and “simulation” to three categories — live, virtual and constructive. Live simulations involved real people and equipment; virtual referred to manned simulators; and constructive referred to war games and models, with or without human interaction.

Sound familiar?

DIS has much in common with STE. Both provide training and mission rehearsal capability to the operational and institutional sides of the Army (i.e., soldiers and civilians). They even share the same training philosophy: to reduce support requirements, increase realism and help deliver capabilities to the warfighter faster.

Users of STE will train with live participants and computer simulations, with some units training remotely. However, STE takes virtual reality training to a new level altogether by incorporating advances in artificial intelligence, big data analysis and three-dimensional terrain representation.

Current training simulations are based on technologies from the 1980s and ’90s that can’t replicate the complex operational environment soldiers will fight in. They operate on closed, restrictive networks, are facilities-based and have high overhead costs for personnel, Maj. Gen.

Maria R. Gervais, commanding general for the U.S. Army Combined Arms Training Center and director of the STE Cross-Functional Team, said in an August 2018 article, “The Synthetic Training Environment Revolutionizes Sustainment Training.”

The Synthetic Training Environment

www.youtube.com

Those older technologies also can’t support electronic warfare, cyberspace, and megacities, the article explained. For example, soldiers in the 1990s could conduct training using computers and physical simulators — like the ones showcased in Charles Burdick, Jorge Cadiz and Gordon Sayre’s 1993 “Industry Applications of Distributed Interactive Simulation” article in the Army RDA Bulletin-but the training was limited to a single facility and only a few networked groups; the technology wasn’t yet able to support worldwide training with multiple groups of users in real time, like the Army proposes to do with the STE.

Gervais presented a promotional video during “Warriors Corner #13: Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team Update,” which said the STE will provide intuitive and immersive capabilities to keep pace with the changing operational environment. The STE is a soldier lethality modernization priority of the U.S. Army Futures Command.

“With the STE, commanders will conduct tough, realistic training at home stations, the combat training centers and at deployed locations. The STE will increase readiness through repetition, multi-echelon, multidomain, combined arms maneuver and mission command training. And most importantly, the STE will train soldiers for where they will fight,” said Gen. Robert B. Abrams, then-commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, in the same video. Abrams is now commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea.

Today, simulations in the integrated training environment do not provide the realism, interoperability, affordability and availability necessary for the breadth of training that the Army envisions for the future. The STE will be able to do all that — it will be flexible, affordable and available at the point of need.

“This video helps us get to shared understanding, and also awareness of what we’re trying to achieve with the synthetic training environment,” Gervais said during the AUSA presentation. “But it also allows us to understand the challenges that we’re going to face as we try to deliver this.”

Challenges ahead

“We don’t have the right training capability to set the exercises up,” said Mike Enloe, chief engineer for the STE Cross-Functional Team, during the presentation. “What I mean by that is that it takes more time to set up the systems that are disparate to talk to each other, to get the terrains together, than it does to actually have the exercise go.”

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season

The Synthetic Training Environment will assess Soldiers in enhancing decision-making skills through an immersive environment.

(US Army photo)

The Army’s One World Terrain, a 3D database launched in 2013 that collects, processes, stores and executes global terrain simulations, has been the “Achilles’ heel” of STE from the start, Enloe said. The Army lacks well-formed 3D terrain data and therefore the ability to run different echelons of training to respond to the threat. The database is still being developed as part of the STE, and what the Army needs most “right now from industry is content … we need a lot of 3D content and rapid ways to get them built,” Enloe said. That means the capability to process terrain on 3D engines so that it can move across platforms, he said, and steering clear of proprietary technologies. The STE is based on modules that can be changed to keep up with emerging technologies.

The Army also needs the ability to write the code to develop the artificial intelligence that will meet STE’s needs — that can, to some extent, learn and challenge the weaknesses of participants, he said.

Retired Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, 32nd vice chief of staff of the Army, emphasized during the presentation that the Army needs to move away from the materiel development of the STE and focus on training as a service. “I believe that a training environment should have two critical aspects to it,” he said: It should be a maneuver trainer, and it should be a gunnery trainer.

Changing the culture

Brig. Gen. Michael E. Sloane, program executive officer for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), said the leadership philosophy of STE’s development is about fostering culture change and getting soldiers capabilities faster. “We have to be proactive; the [cross-functional teams] have to work together with the PEOs, and we’re doing that,” he said. “Collectively, we’re going to deliver real value to the soldier, I think, in doing this under the cross-functional teams and the leadership of the Army Futures Command.”

Many organizations are involved with STE’s development. The U.S. Army Combined Arms Center-Training and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command capability managers are working requirements and represent users. PEO STRI is the materiel developer. The U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence is responsible for the infantry, armor and combined arms requirement. And finally, the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology (ASA(ALT)) serves as the approval authority for long-range investing and requirements.

With the Futures Command and ASA(ALT) collaborating throughout the development of STE, Sloane believes the Army will be able to reduce and streamline acquisition documentation, leverage rapid prototyping, deliver capabilities and get it all right the first time.

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season

Soldiers prepare to operate training technologies during the STE User Assessment in Orlando, Fla., in March 2018.

(Photo by Bob Potter)

Gervais reminded the AUSA audience in October that she had spoken about STE at the annual meeting two years ago, explaining that the Army intends to use the commercial gaming industry to accelerate the development of STE. “I did not believe that it couldn’t be delivered until 2030. I absolutely refused to believe that,” she said. In 2017, the chief of staff designated STE as one of the eight cross-functional teams for Army modernization, aligning it with soldier lethality.

Since then, STE has made quite a bit of progress, Gervais said. The initial capability document for the Army collective training environment, which lays the foundation for STE, was approved in 2018. The Army increased its industry engagement to accelerate the development of STE, according to Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley’s direction, which led to the awarding of seven other transaction authority agreements for One World Terrain, followed by a user assessment in March 2018. In June, Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper and Milley codified STE in their vision statement. “We’re postured to execute quickly,” Gervais said.

In the meantime, she said, there has been a focused effort to increase lethality with a squad marksmanship trainer in the field to allow close combat soldiers to train immediately. The Army also developed a squad immersive virtual trainer. “We believe we can deliver that [squad immersive trainer] much quicker than the 2025 timeframe,” she said.

Conclusion

STE is focused on establishing common data, standards and terrain to maximize interoperability, ease of integration and cost savings, Gervais said. With the right team effort and coordination, she believes STE can be delivered quickly. Perhaps in a few short years, STE can achieve the lofty goal that DIS had for itself, according to Yuhas: Revolutionize the training and acquisition process for new weapon systems.

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

Why the WHO’s classification of ‘gaming disorder’ is flawed

The World Health Organization is a powerful, specialized agency within the United Nations that raises concerns over global health issues. Throughout their history, they’ve eradicated small pox, lead the effort in developing HIV/AIDS treatments, and reduced infant mortality rates to the lowest mankind has ever seen.

Now they’ve set their sights on the next devastating health risk that is plaguing our world: people who play video games too much.

The 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases, an official document that classifies and categorizes diseases, disorders, and injuries, includes what they’re calling a “gaming disorder” — a disorder that exhibits addictive behaviors. According to the document, it may even be linked to hazardous gaming, which is when someone neglects the real world in favor of playing video games to the point that they risk physical or mental harm.


This has been getting headlines from readers who assume their hobby is under fire — it’s not. It’s referring to extreme cases.

We’re talking about cases of addiction where someone dies after playing video games for three-days straight — and the people playing games next to his corpse don’t notice for ten hours. Or the case in which a couple that let their real-life child die because they were too busy playing video games (ironically enough, the game they were playing was a family-life simulator in which they had a virtual kid together).

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season
Unless you’re close to the cases described above, it’s safe to say they’re not coming after your habit.
(Photo by Irais Esparza)

These are all very isolated and very extreme incidents. Still, a “gaming disorder” is listed under a section entitled “disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviors.” Included under this same category are addictions to hard drugs, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and gambling.

However, there’s a very important factors missing from the classification — root cause. Video games by themselves are fun and that little shot of dopamine that your brain gives you for achieving something (in game or in any other aspect of life) can cause people to form a gaming habit.

The problem is that the WHO’s classifications of gaming disorders and hazardous gaming are independent from nearly every other mental disorder.

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season
If you’re a slob u2014 that’s a problem. A problem that might notu00a0be related tou00a0gaming addiction.
(South Park Studios)

According to the WHO, gaming addictions are linked to Bipolar type I and Bipolar type II. This link is established on the assumption that addicted gamers feel euphoria in the virtual world and depression in the real one.

This much is true: Gaming offers emotional security to the players. A player may be feel like a failure in the real world, but as soon as they get online, they’re a mighty paladin. There could be nothing going right in someone’s life, but they’re always able to save the princess in a video game. The village elder is just happy to see the hero who saved the day — he’s not pressing you on due dates or responsibilities.

Anyone can pick up a controller for a few hours and enjoy disconnecting for a time. Someone who feels compelled to escape the challenges of the real world entirely is a disorder.

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season
This neglects the benefits of video games. All of that is a benefit for people trying to cope. It’s like claiming someone can be addicted to band-aids because they bleeding.
(Photo by Katherine Belcher)

Gaming can be a problem for some people — but it isn’t addictive by itself. There are no physical withdrawals. If you want to treat it as a health concern, look into what’s causing someone to reject the world in favor of a game.

Gaming addiction is a symptom or a coping mechanism — not an affliction.

MIGHTY GAMING

A Navy veteran just got a special Xbox delivered via skydiver

To celebrate the release of Battlefield V, Microsoft and Electronic Arts partnered to give a Florida veteran a limited-edition Xbox One X bundle, delivered via an outrageous skydiving stunt.

Motorsport driver and stunt performer Travis Pastrana of Nitro Circus dove from a height of 13,000 feet to deliver the first Xbox One X Gold Rush Special Edition Battlefield V bundle to retired Navy Corpsman Jeff Bartrom, who lives in Paisley, Florida. Pastrana hit a peak speed of 140 mph during the dive, and the jump took less than 55 seconds.


Travis Pastrana Aerial Drop With Xbox One Gold Rush Battlefield Bundle

www.youtube.com

The giveaway was meant to thank Bartrom for his service, and it coincides with Microsoft’s #GiveWithXbox initiative. The company pledged to donate worth of Xbox products for every picture shared to social media with the hashtag showing the importance of gaming. Microsoft will donate up to id=”listicle-2621537520″ million to be split between four charities, Child’s Play, Gamers Outreach, SpecialEffect, and Operation Supply Drop. The social-media campaign is running through December 9th.

World War II shooter Battlefield V officially launched on Nov. 20, 2018, and is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. The Xbox One X version of Battlefield V also features enhanced visuals. EA Access members can play a free 10-hour trial of the game on their platform of choice as well.

Get the latest Microsoft stock price here.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

This controller gives gaming back to wounded veterans

One of the struggles that many returning, wounded veterans face is trying to find a new normal after a horrific incident. What was once a simple pastime, like playing a quick round of your favorite video game to relieve stress, is taken away from someone who has lost the ability to hold and operate a controller as they once did.

This is what Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller is designed to alleviate. And any little thing that can help give our wounded brothers and sisters a better chance at living a comfortable, normal life should definitely be counted as a win for the veteran community as a whole.


How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season

AbleGamers has founded many Accessibility Arcades to give gamers with disabilities a space with a wide variety of modified controllers.

(USDA photo by Bob Nichols)

The disabled gaming community has had to find ways to compensate for many years, going to either extremely costly or very frustrating lengths to do so. If a gamer with disabilities isn’t able to successfully adjust the way they play to fit their condition, they have to abandon the game, wasting cash and taking a hit to morale as they have to say goodbye to their favorite titles.

And then came the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, which requires tech companies to outfit all forms of communication, including laptops, smartphones, and video game consoles, with accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Since the CCVAA’s passing, nearly all tech giants have taken steps in the right direction, introducing many text-to-speech features for the visually impaired and other accessibility options, like color-blind support settings in most major game titles. Then, Microsoft moved leaps and bounds ahead of the wave when they announced a partnership with AbleGamers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving accessibility in the video game space.

The engineers at Microsoft began working on a versatile prototype controller that can interface with all types of external input devices, allowing for an adaptive remapping of inputs. There are 19 ports on the back of the controller that can be connected to joysticks, standard controllers, buttons, switches, or whatever other type of device is most accessible to the gamer. If need be, any Xbox game can be played with one hand and a foot, one hand and a shoulder, one shoulder and a foot — whatever allows the gamer to play most comfortably.

The controller has been released to the public — and at a reasonable price. Our friends at Operation Supply Drop were given many adaptive controllers to be deployed to military hospitals around the world. The chief medical officer of OSD, Maj. Erik Johnson, has long been a supporter of using video games as a therapeutic tool for wounded troops.

With these controllers, many more wounded veterans will be able to bring gaming back into their lives.

MIGHTY GAMING

What the science says about that moment in ‘The Last Jedi’

It’s been well over six months since Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out and audiences have gone through the full cycle of liking it on opening night and disliking it the longer they spend thinking about it. Now, it’s been released for viewing in homes across America and leaking potential spoilers is no longer a crime punishable by death.

That being said, this is your official spoiler alert. We are going to talk about Star Wars: The Last Jedi ahead.


How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season

And my personal question: If that was such an effective tactic, why not just attach hyperspace drives onto asteroids and use them to bombard enemies?

(Lucasfilms)

Still with us? Okay, here we go.

In the second act of the film, the First Order has the Resistance cornered. Vice Admiral Haldo orders her people to board the transport ships and evacuate to the nearby planet, Crait. She then pilots the Raddus and aims it right at the First Order fleet and their flagship, the Supremacy.

She floors the Raddus into near hyperspeed and smacks right into the bad guys in what was one of the coolest moments of the film. Pieces of the shattered Supremacy then domino-effect outward, into the other ships, destroying them as well.

As awesome as this moment was, it opens up many questions for the fans that could be better understood with some science. Like, is that even possible? What kind of force (not that kind) would be required to pull that off?

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season

Everything always comes back to science.

The filmmakers behind the Star Wars universe have taken many creative liberties with the franchise, telling elaborate storiesat the expense of scientific reasoning— and that’s fine.The series is literally about magical space samurai that befriend countless alien species without translators and everyone seems to be just fine walking on random planets without wearing space suits.

In this one particular instance — the hyperspace Kamikaze move — everything seems to be perfectly in order. This all comes down to Albert Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalency formula, otherwise known as E = mc2.

Even though many people see that formula and think it’s just some smart guy’s way of proving he’s smart, it’s actually the fundamentals of energy. It means, in basic terms, that energy and mass are interchangeable.

How ‘Fortnite’ is having fun promoting its fifth season

Cut the movie some slack. It’s far more interesting than reading science textbooks.

(Lucasfilms)

With a little algebra, however, this same formula can be rearranged to explain that achieving the speed of light would be nearly impossible because everything within the universe with mass would require a incalculable amount of energy to achieve such a speed. It’s challenging to send even a single atom at a fraction of light speed, let alone a massive frigate.

In the real world, achieving hyperspeed is near impossible for anything other than massless photons. But this is the universe with tiny green muppets teaching farmboys how to move rocks with their minds. Let’s pretend that the hyper-drives hand wave that all away and moving faster than the speed of light is possible and it can be achieved by things with mass.

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It’s basically the idea behind the “Rod from God” that never happened.

Thankfully for the audience, the next scientific laws that apply to this scene are also very well-known: Newton’s First and Second Laws of Motion. The first says that every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. The second states that the rate of change of momentum of a body is directly proportional to the force applied, and this change in momentum takes place in the direction of the applied force.

In normal-people words, this means that since the Raddus was extremely massive and was working up to light speed (which meant that it still had mass at that point), it had an unfathomable amount of energy behind it’s punch that could, theoretically, shred through anything with ease.

This is a magnified version of a rail gun on planet Earth. You take something heavy, use magnets to send it extremely high speeds, and crash it into something. Boom. No more enemy.

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Then again, this could also explain why two missiles could destroy a Death Star and a couple of laser blasts destroy the second one.

(Lucasfilms)

The real question is why don’t they use it more often in the Star Wars universe? We’ve accepted that, for the sake of storytelling, that hyper-drives really work, but this Kamikaze strategy hinges on how the fictional hyper-drive works. If achieves immense speeds by reducing a spacecraft’s mass to zero — similar to that of a photon — then the spacecraft couldn’t destroy something unless it was in the process of picking up speed. This version is more in line with the destruction we saw in the film.

The problem with this option is that if the ship doesn’t have enough speed, it’ll simply bump off the target’s shields. If it has too little mass, it’ll simply squash like a fly on a windshield. The conditions would have to be near perfect to make a serious impact.

The other way a hyper-drive could work is if it creates the insane amount of energy required to bring an object past light speed. If that’s the case, then the hyper-drive would be destroyed with the collision. For scale, the energy needed to send a Ford Mustang into hyper-speed would be more than a star going supernova. When a spacecraft containing an entire military crashes and the hyper-drive that powers it blows it, it’d let off enough energy to snuff out the entire galaxy in an instant. So, it probably wasn’t that.

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Claims that North Korea can destroy the US could be based on a science fiction book

Tensions over a potential war between North Korea and the United States are mounting every day.


The “hermit kingdom” is boasting through its state propaganda that it could destroy America. Any claim by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho to “create a balance of power with the U.S.” is considered laughable.

All of this chest thumping holds as much weight as the unicorn lair in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-il’s first time golf record, his “totally original” invention in 2000 of the hamburger, and the CGI effects used in the their latest propaganda video.

But in an astounding claim, Pyongyang’s version of Pravda (fun fact: pravda means “truth” in Russian) says it can destroy the US in many different ways, but most notably with an electromagnetic pulse weapon.

Whether or not this claim is true, here’s a breakdown of what their military actually looks like. They have around a million active duty personnel using cheaper versions of an AK-47 (Type 88), 67 year old fighter aircraft, and dwindling allies.

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This is the NK Type 88. Sh*t folding stock, automatic, and a helical magazine. Yep. Seems efficient.

An impressive claim, by 2017 military standards, is its two satellites in orbit. It’s debatable if they actually have an EMP device on them, but it is known that nuclear weapons also give off an an EMP blast on detonation.

The concerns of their nuclear capabilities, non-state allies, artillery and rocket launchers are real. Even if their nuclear warheads could theoretically reach the US, the devastation it would cause to our allies is the only reason they haven’t been obliterated and South Korea hasn’t become a island yet.

Former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) said during hearings before the 2008 Congressional EMP Commision that he believes that a electromagnetic pulse weapon detonated in Nebraska could kill 9 out of 10 people in the aftermath and ensuing chaos.

This lead former CIA director R. James Woolsey to say in an op-ed piece for The Hill that one of two North Korean satellites could deliver such a blast.

Problem with this is that Bartlett was directly quoting an early release of William R. Forstchen’s “One Second After” — a science fiction novel about the collapse of society. But as we all know, emotions beat facts in fear mongering.

Let’s hope for the diplomatic solution. But if not, well, it only took us five weeks to take on one of the largest, strongest, and most funded militaries in 1991.

MIGHTY GAMING

This is what class an infantry rifleman would be in a tabletop RPG

A Marine Rifleman is a jack of all trades. While our job is to focus on closing with and destroying the enemy, it doesn’t stop us from learning the basics of other jobs. Some times, sure, it’s to fill up training time slots but, why not learn how to use machine guns or mortars? Learning a little bit of everything is exactly why the infantry rifleman would fall under the class of “fighter” when it comes to table-top RPGs.

“Fighters learn the basics of all combat styles…” Is a sentence you’ll find if you look at the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook if you look under the class of “Fighter.” The writers of the handbook may not have intended for this sentence to also describe the Marine Corps’ main attack force but, it does a nice job of summing it up. But we’re not going to stop there.

Here’s why the infantry rifleman would be a fighter:


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Notice how one Marine has a SAW and the other has a standard M16.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brian M. Henner)

Weapon versatility

Riflemen are taught to be able to use every weapon on the battlefield. This means we’re meant to be able to pick up anything and know how to use it. Similarly, a Fighter is capable of using most weapons; whatever works.

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Even prepared in the case of getting grappled.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Carlos Cruz Jr.)

Diverse training

Fighters can be used in a number of any kind of situations. Some can be defenders of a city or sent to combat in a distant land. Whatever the case is, a fighter is trained for it. Infantry riflemen are the same, there are very few situations that we are not trained for.

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Any clime and place, right?

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Charles Santamaria)

A thirst for adventure

Whether it is trekking through a jungle with thick vegetation or across knee-deep snow on a mountain, you bet an infantry rifleman will find their enemy where they live and break everything they own. There is a slight difference here since, in reality, we have rules where players of a table-top don’t necessarily have that.

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Look how they’re just charging in, ready for anything.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Dengrier M. Baez)

Fearing no enemy

Fighters are capable of facing down dragons and all sorts of beasts fearlessly, depending on how you’re playing. Dragons, in the sense of a table-top RPG, may not exist (for all we know) in our world. But that doesn’t mean an infantry rifleman couldn’t fight one if they did. Hell, there was even a recruiting ad that depicted Marines slaying a volcano monster… You know the one.

MIGHTY GAMING

5 of the best Call of Duty games from the past decade

Call of Duty has become a staple of military gamers. Both casual and hardcore gamers can enjoy picking up a controller and going a few rounds with their buddies in the barracks while waiting for their command to tell them it’s time to clean weapons at the armory or reorganize that connex container. While it’s a great pastime, there are plenty of titles to choose from, and not all of them are as good as the others.

Since the first release in 2003, Call of Duty has been the title of around 15 video games with the most recent being Black Ops 4, and there is another one on the way later this year. While a lot of people enjoy the multiplayer in the game, the franchise has also done a great job with storytelling in several of its installments.

It’s tough to choose from the 15 title roster, so we’re going to look at titles from the past decade that gave us a great story to play:


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That last mission is one of the best.

(Activision)

World at War

Okay, okay, this one was released in November of 2008 so not technically from the last decade, but it’s January 2019 so deal with it. This game needs to be on this list. The reason for this is that World at War featured some more mature thematic elements, showing World War II as a tragic and horrific event and showing that there’s a lot of moral gray areas.

The game also gave you control of a Russian character to see their side of the war, as well as giving birth to the Black Ops series.

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You fight off a Russian invasion of the United States.

(Activision)

Modern Warfare 2

While the first Modern Warfare installment was great, its sequel built on the strengths of its predecessor and made an even better game. This game’s story felt more like a military-action thriller, giving you a mystery to uncover, while still bringing realistic, war-related thematic elements and even serving up some controversy as a side dish.

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Sgt. Woods is one of the best characters in the entire series.

(Activision)

Black Ops

The first game in the series to start in Vietnam, going into the Cold War, this game seriously delivered on some awesome story. This game also featured some of the best three-dimensional characters in the franchise and gave us a taste of Vietnam, something we want more of.

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This series is a lot of fun.

(Activision)

Black Ops II

The third installment of the series and definitely worth mentioning, Black Ops II was the first in the line-up of futuristic warfare games. Building off the story of the previous installments of the Black Ops series, this story gave you some insight into the ripple effect of one’s actions, showing how the previous two story-lines bled into the future.

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This also led to the creation of the best fictional unit for stolen valor.

(Activision)

Ghosts

Not loved by many but there are some of us who loved the story and the concept. This game really focuses on what brotherhood means as it follows two literal brothers as they fight to stop an organization known as the “Federation of the Americas” and their father’s former teammate.

MIGHTY GAMING

How ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ is intelligently predicting future tech

Creating science fiction comes with the unique challenge of dreaming up some kind of awesome, future technology and making it the norm for people native to the fictional society. Sometimes, creators get it right, like the video-call system in 2001: A Space Odyssey that later became reality with Skype and FaceTime. Others, like Back to the Future, left us waiting for pink hoverboards that were supposed to be available by 2015.

Thanks for nothing, Mattel.

CD Projekt Red faces this same conundrum in coming up with the dystopian future setting of their upcoming title, Cyberpunk 2077. Set 59 years in the future, you play a mercenary in a world almost completely overtaken by technology. People get cybernetic enhancements to make themselves look better and advertisements fill up every inch of the city. It’s up to you to carve out a little hole in this world.


Before we dive in, we have to say the game looks incredible. Check out this recently released footage.

From the looks of things, the developers appear to be very grounded in their approach to portraying technological advancements, keeping in accordance with Marshall McLuhan and his Tetrad of Media Effects theory.

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The man himself, Marshall McLuhan.

Marshall McLuhan was fairly advanced for his time and was regarded as one of the fathers of media psychology. He’s was well regarded (posthumously, of course, as is the case with most scientists that’re ahead of their time) for laying the groundwork for achieving an understanding of how people perceive and take in all forms of media — meaning art, technology, and speech.

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Today, we call it the internet. We use it to pretend to do work, watch videos of funny cats, and occasionally engage in fruitless arguments that will never change either party’s mind.

McLuhan’s Tetrad of Media Effects states that all technological advancements must serve four purposes to make a lasting impact on society. It must enhance something, make something obsolete, call back to something familiar, and have the potential to become something new when pushed to its limits.

His famous example was the FM radio, which meets all four criteria:

  1. It amplifies news and music through sound,
  2. It reduces the need for print media,
  3. It brings spoken word back to the forefront in how people transfer stories, and,
  4. Eventually, it could be enhanced with a visual component (aka television).

By following these rules, you can make educated guesses at where new technologies might emerge and which need they may grow to fill. In fact, he famously hypothesized that all forms of media would one day grow to an extreme, at which point, this new medium would be so fast and so large that everyone in the world could instantaneously communicate with one another. This single, new media form would encompass most other forms of communication. He called it “the global village” and was ostracized from the scientific community for his crackpot speculations.

Sound familiar?

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But that would never… oh…

With McLuhan’s theory in mind, we can see how the developers at CD Projekt Red are applying it perfectly to the world of Cyberpunk. Not everything is crazy and outrageous, but rather plays on something that currently exists and amplifies it to a realistic degree.

Cybernetic enhancements are now a thing because they replace the previously squishy and less desirable parts of being human. Taxi cabs still exist because people still need to get from one place to another. And, of course, billboards cover everything when there are no rules about not plastered flashy ads across the sides of buildings.

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