Google Search: What Can it Do Today

From the Google Blog Search is a Jack of all trades, wait, you can play a friend on Tic-Tac-Toe?  From Search?  Guess what I am thinking.

Today we’re dealing two new hands from the Google Search deck: solitaire and tic-tac-toe. Now you can play two of the oldest and most popular games for all ages, on desktop and in the Google app.
It’s been said solitaire’s roots are in fortune telling. If that’s true, today your fate rests on your quick wit and the luck of the draw. When you search for “solitaire” on Google, the familiar patience game may test yours!

If you’re looking for something a bit simpler, tic-tac-toe is your best bet. In this game of naughts and crosses, you can select your level of difficulty or even go head to head against a friend. Xs and Os to the winner (hugs and kisses, that is!).

For some other fun tips, try asking Google, “what sound does a pig make?” Or if you’re looking to settle a bet and feeling lucky, “flip a coin” may come in handy.
These are just a sample of the delightful surprises that await you on Google. After all, Search is for so much more than research and practical matters — it’s for fun, too!

Niantic’s Ingress Game is Poised to Grow After Google

The Pokemon Go Plus.

Niantic, a maker of games people play by trekking around their neighborhoods and cities, is bringing in two new investors, the Pokémon Company and Nintendo, after completing its spinoff from Google.

Niantic, based in San Francisco, said it raised $20 million from Pokémon, Nintendo and Google, and could receive an additional $10 million if it reaches certain undisclosed goals related to a new game. That game, announced last month, is Pokémon Go, which people will play by roaming around in public using a mobile app based on the popular Pokémon children’s entertainment brand.

It was always a little puzzling that a game project formed inside Google, but Niantic did not make an ordinary game. Its first effort, Ingress, was a game designed to be played in the real world using a couple of technologies that Google had a huge interest in, smartphones and online maps. It was no coincidence that the founder of Niantic, John Hanke, used to run the Google Geo team, which includes maps, after the company acquired his previous start-up, Keyhole.

In the science-fiction story line around Ingress, players must go out into the real world and locate and capture “portals” for their teams. The portals are visible to players through the Ingress app on their smartphones and can be located in parks, sculptures, murals and other public locations.

Here’s a video showing how Ingress is played:

Ingress Explainer Video

The Ingress app has been downloaded more than 13 million times and is played in hundreds of countries (the top three are the United States, Japan and Germany). On occasions, thousands of Ingress players have met to play the game together.

The concept behind Ingress is still alien to a lot of people. In a phone interview, Mr. Hanke said the deal with Pokémon, which has a fan base of millions, could greatly help raise awareness of the types of games Niantic makes.

“What we’re looking to do is grow the whole category of real-world games,” he said. “A lot of the challenge of Ingress is simply explaining to people what it is.”

Pokémon Go, which will be available next year, can also be played with the aid of a wearable bracelet that connects wirelessly to smartphones. With a pin-shaped centerpiece that resembles the pins on Google Maps, the bracelet will alert players when there are Pokémon characters lurking in locations nearby so that they can catch them.

Nintendo’s investment in Niantic is another sign that the company is gradually investing more in mobile games. Nintendo, which also owns a stake in the Pokémon Company, refused for years to bring its game franchises to smartphones. In March, the company finally gave in, and announced a partnership with DeNA, a Japanese mobile games publisher, to bring Nintendo brands to mobile devices.

The spinout of Niantic is a more extreme version of the structural changes that Google announced in August, when it said it was forming a new holding company, Alphabet, to oversee a broad array of businesses, of which Google search is the most mature and profitable.

Just days, after the announcement of Alphabet, Niantic said in a post that it would go even further, spinning off from Google completely.

“That’s kind of a theme at Google, to take businesses that are not search and give them more independence,” Mr. Hanke said. “We’re kind of at the vanguard of that.”

How to Make Money with Minecraft

Read the article on NYTimes.com titled “Minecraft Stars on YouTube Share Secrets to Their Celebrity”

Videos by Mitchell Hughes, a top Minecraft YouTuber, often consist of him and his friends exchanging jokes as they play survival games with other online players. CreditEve Edelheit for The New York Times

Continue reading the main story

Excerpts of the article

YouTube videos about Minecraft are giant hits, even though the game’s blocky graphics don’t seem to scream excitement. Millions of people watch players narrate while they fly, hike and excavate Minecraft’s virtual world, which is akin to an open world digital Lego set. The Minecraft narrators – often men in their early 20s with effervescent personalities – act as solo tour guides as they build skyscrapers, ships and other structures or engage in battles of survival.

….

YouTube, which is owned by Google, says Minecraft is the most popular game of all time on the site, ahead of Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, two major video game franchises. Last year, “Minecraft” was the second most searched term on YouTube, after “Frozen.” The popularity of the game explains why Microsoft paid $2.5 billion last year to acquire Mojang, the Swedish company that created Minecraft in 2009.

“The amazing thing about using this software is you can produce an amazing video every day with big production values,” said Joseph Garrett, a master of the Minecraft YouTube genre who uses the handle Stampy. “If you were doing live action shows that could be done, but it wouldn’t be as easy.”

Based on publicly available audience numbers and typical advertising rates, Peter Warman, an analyst with the market research firm Newzoo, estimates there are eight to 10 Minecraft YouTubers who earn over $1 million a year.

To get a better grasp on what it takes to be a successful Minecraft YouTuber — and, by extension, better understand what makes the videos so popular….

Read the full article

Play Old MS-DOS Games

Play retro DOS games in a couple of clicks, thanks to The Internet Archive. The site, in an effort to help preserve the fading games of yesterday, is offering over 2,300 classic DOS titles, without the need to download anything. You’ll be playing in two clicks.

Head to the collection right now! Version 2 of the Archive’s interface gives you a quick way to browse and search games.

There is also the MS-DOS Showcase, a collection of selected interesting or historical programs.

In E-Sports, Video Gamers Draw Real Crowds and Big Money

Next week we are going to read this article from the NYTimes for class

A1-ESPORTS-1-master1050

SEATTLE — A bewitching creature — half woman, half deer — battles a shaman and a sentient tree. Lightning bolts strike. Weapons explode. Nasty spells are cast.

The video game Dota 2, like so many across the Internet, transports teams of players from their bedrooms to a verdant virtual world where they smite each other through keyboard and mouse clicks. Except on this sunny day in July, every attack and counterattack by a five-person team set off an eruption of cheers — from the more than 11,000 spectators crammed into this city’s basketball arena.

The contestants were gunning for a big piece of the $11 million in total prize money, the most ever at a games tournament. And the game’s developer, the Valve Corporation, moved another step closer to securing gaming’s legitimacy as a major-league spectator sport.

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Continue reading “In E-Sports, Video Gamers Draw Real Crowds and Big Money” »