A Buzz Lightyear Halloween Costume – A Great Choice For Fun and Games This Halloween Season

This year, as in previous years, wearing a Buzz Lightyear Halloween costume is sure to be a hit, whether the costume is for a toddler, an older child or an adult. Not only is the character instantly recognizable, but it is also fun to roll play.

Children in particular have a fondness for this lovable space ranger. Though somewhat eccentric in his behavior and his single minded devotion to following the Space Ranger rules of conduct, he never the less has won the affection of boys of all ages. Why? Because he is a hero, in the best sense of the word.

As a brave, loyal and even romantic character who will go to any lengths to save his friends from danger, he has been a favorite character since the first Toy Story was introduced by Disney in 1995. No doubt the Buzz hero will be popular with kids (of all ages) for a long time to come.

So if you are trying to decide on a costume this year, whether for yourself or for one of your kids, you can’t go wrong with this perennial favorite.

Some of his famous quotes are: “To infinity and beyond” and “I am Buzz Lightyear. I come in peace.” You can have loads of fun with just those two quotes at an office party, Halloween party, or as you child goes trick or treating. You just can’t go wrong choosing a Buzz Lightyear costume.

There are numerous Lightyear costumes available for you to choose from. But whether the costume is for a toddler or an adult they all have a recognizable look to them.

Since Buzz Lightyear is a space ranger, his outfit is very high tech. The basic costume is a white jump suit trimmed in green. They also come with a hood, which is usually purple.

Across the chest is the control panel that Buzz can use to activate his jet pack, speak in foreign languages, contact Star Command and more. More elaborate costumes can come with glow sticks, boots, and gloves.

This Halloween can be a fantastic and fun filled holiday with this Toy Story costume favorite.

The War on Used Games

As we prepare for the coming wave of next generation systems, we should be anticipating improvements on all the good things we associate with the current crop of systems. Moving forward we expect: better graphics, faster processors, more engaging games, you get the idea. But not everything that we’re anticipating will be a progressive movement for gaming. At least, as far as Sony and Microsoft are concerned, you can wave goodbye to playing used games on their systems. Although these are just rumors at this point, it wouldn’t be surprising if they came to fruition. It’s very plausible, especially when taking into consideration that several game publishers have already fired shots at the used game market.

Most notable is Electronic Arts(EA), who became the first publisher to institute the practice of charging gamers, who bought used games, a fee to access codes that come with the game. To elaborate, Downloadable Content(DLC) codes are included with new copies of a particular game and only with those codes, can that content be accessed. EA expanded its project to include playing used games online. Gamers would now have to pay $10, in addition to the cost of the used game that they purchased, in order to have access to the online components of their game. Ubisoft has since followed suit, requiring an online pass for its games as well. You can identify the games which require an online pass as they bare the,”Uplay Passport”, logo on the box.

Ubisoft decided they’d take things a step further and implement Digital Rights Management, a practice more often associated with DVD or CD anti-piracy efforts. Assassins Creed 2 was the first game to be effected by this practice. In order to play the PC version of Assassins Creed 2, gamers are required to create an account with Ubisoft and remain logged into that account in order to play the game. This means that if you lose your internet connection, the game will automatically pause and try to reestablish the connection. However, if you’re unfortunate enough to be unable to reconnect to the internet you’ll have to continue from your last saved game; losing any progress you may have made since then. This will be the case for all of Ubisoft’s PC titles, regardless of one playing single-player or multi-player. While Digital Rights Management has been used to combat DVD and CD piracy for quite some time now, this will mark the first time it’s been used for a video game. In light of Ubisoft’s implementation of DRM, Matthew Humphries of Geek.com, cautions that it’s feasible that eventually even console games will require online registration in order to play them.

So what’s the reason for all of this? According to According to Denis Dyack, the head of Silicon Knights, the sale of used games is cannibalizing the profit of the primary game market. He also claims that the used game market is somehow causing the price of new games to rise. His proposed solution is to move away from physical disks and embrace digital distribution. Essentially he’d like to see services like Steam or EA’s Origin replace traditional hard copies. There are even rumors that the X-Box 720 will embrace the exclusive use of digital downloads and not use disks at all. Whether Microsoft will actually follow through with that plan remains to be seen.

One could argue that Sony has already laid the ground work for preventing used games from functioning on their future system. At the very least, they’ve already made quite an effort to make used games significantly less desirable. Kath Brice, of Gamesindustry.biz, reported that the latest SOCOM game for PSP, SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3, will require customers who purchase a used copy to pay an addition $20 dollars to receive a code for online play.

I’d like to see some quantifiable evidence to support the claim that used games are in fact hurting the sales of new games at all. Without some actual facts, it sounds to me like a whole lot to do about nothing. Case in point, within 24 hours Modern Warfare 3 sold 6.5 million copies, grossing $400 million dollars in sales. Correct me if I’m wrong but you haven’t heard Infinity Ward complaining about the used game market and it affecting their bottom line. That’s likely because they’re too busy counting their money earned by creating games that people actually want to play. Imagine that. Maybe the problem isn’t that used games have a negative impact on the sale of new games but, the problem is instead that game developers need to make better games that gamers are willing to pay full price for.

In my opinion, not every game is worth $60 simply because it’s the suggested retail price. Looking at things objectively, not every game is created equally, therefore not every game is worthy of costing $60. Whether it’s because that particular game failed to meet expectations and live up to the hype or because it lacks any sort of replay value. It’s ludicrous to argue that gamers should pay top dollar for every game especially when they all too often turn out to be horrible disappointments, like Ninja Gadian 3, or they’re riddled with glitches like Skyrim.

I suspect that the War on Used Games is nothing more than a money grab by developers, upset that they’re unable to cash in on a very lucrative market. To put it in dollars and cents, in 2009 GameStop reported nearly $2.5 million dollars in revenue from the sale of used consoles and used games. And not one red cent of that profit reaches the pockets of game publishers. Greed as the motivating factor for the declaration of War on Used Games is transparent. Especially when you consider that when GameStop began separating their revenue from new games and used games in their financial statements, EA thereafter instituted their $10 dollar fee for used games.

In the absence of empirical evidence, I’ll have to settle for anecdotal. I’ll use myself as an example. I’m planning to purchase a used copy of Ninja Gaidan 2. I’ve never been a huge fan of the series. I didn’t play the first one because I didn’t have an Xbox and at the time it was an Xbox exclusive. And I never played the original version. Needless to say, I was never clamoring to play Ninja Gaidan 2. However the innovation in the second incarnation of the game, which allows you to disembowel your enemies, is enough of a novelty that I’d like to play through it at some point. I can buy it now, used, for about 10 dollars. If it was only being sold at full price I would more than likely pass on playing it altogether or maybe rent it. My point is that game developers are not losing money because of used games; you can’t miss money you weren’t going to receive anyway. They’re simply not getting money they weren’t going to get to begin with.

Unless you have a significant amount of disposable income and a considerable amount of free time, you’re probably like me and you prioritize which games you plan to purchase and how much you’re willing to pay for them. You decide which games are must haves and which games you’d like to play but are willing to wait for a price drop before getting them. Then there are the games which you’re interested in, but they tend to fall through the cracks because they’re not all that high on your radar and you’ll maybe pick them up several months later, or even years after their release, if you ever pick them up at all.

I find it ironic that the looming death of the used game market could likely spell the demise of GameStop who, ironically, push their customers to pre-order new games and purchase them at full price. One would think that game publishers would be appreciative about this service and not detest GameStop and treat used games with such scorn. Pre-orders not only help promote their games but they function as a forecast of potential sales as well. Even Dave Thier, a contributor for Forbes Online, who describes GameStop as, “a parasitic bloodsucker that doesn’t do much besides mark up discs and sit in the mall”, recognizes the folly of passing the burden of the used game market onto the consumer.

I’ve only once pre-ordered a game myself. At the behest of J. Agamemnon, I pre-ordered Battlefield 3, which is ironically a property of EA. I paid full price for this game and was happy to do so. In large part because I was granted access to several weapons and maps that I would have had to wait to download had I not pre-ordered it. I propose that instead of punishing gamers for wanting to save their hard earned cash, the gaming industry needs to learn to incentivize gamers into wanting to pony up to that $60 dollar price tag.

I titled this article The War on Used Games in an effort to be tongue-in-cheek and poke fun at how whenever the government declares war on drugs or terror or whatever it may be, they only succeed in exacerbating the problem. It should come as no surprise seeing as how the government tends to take the most asinine approach possible trying to “solve” problems. The end result is always the same; precious time and resources are wasted, and the issue is that much worse than it was before they intervened. If the gaming industry does indeed go down this path; they’ll only hurt themselves in the long run, fail to share in the revenue they so greedily covet and worst of all, hurt their customers, who keep the gaming industry abreast with currency.

It’s very ironic and actually very fitting that it’s EA who are spearheading the effort to attack the used game market when they themselves are one of the largest beneficiaries of used games. Chipsworld MD Don McCabe, told GamesIndustry.biz that EA has what he referred to as a “franchise software house” in that they “upgrade their titles; FIFA, Madden; all of these are effectively the same title upgraded each year. And people trade in last year’s for this year’s.” He went onto say that those titles are the ones which are most often traded in. Shutting down the used games market effectively destroys a tried and true method in which fans of EA’s franchises keep up-to-date with each of EA’s annual releases. Aside from nostalgia, what would be the point of holding onto FIFA 11, when FIFA 12 is right around the corner?

Don McCabe, an executive at Chipsworld, explains that, “consumers won’t prosper under this new system, as copies of the game will lose their resale value”. He goes on to say that retailers will “just readjust [the price] bearing in mind you have to buy the voucher.” The CEO of SwapGame cautions that “customers who trade in for cash or credit do so to acquire new games they could otherwise not afford.” This means that ultimately it will be the publisher who ends up losing money because when retailers adjust their prices to reflect the increase in cost for used games, the resale value of the game will drop and new games are less likely to be purchased.

I’m a fan of several EA franchises, I enjoy Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed and I’m a die hard Sony PlayStation enthusiast. As their customer, I’m outraged and offended by their current practices. I fear for what future methods they may use to further stifle or even kill the used game market. That said, I’m hopeful that these companies will be receptive to the outcry of their customers and adhere to our wants. I implore them to discontinue punishing their customers in an effort to capture what they perceive as missed profits. They risk not only alienating their customers but they risk finding themselves with significantly fewer customers and substantially less profit. And at the end of the day, that’s really the bottom line.

Digital Games And Kids – A Different Perspective

The “Wikipedia problem” which means children turning to internet for readymade answers is the new age phenomenon baffling teachers and mentors globally. There are almost equal numbers of teachers who consider technology to be a solution as much as a problem. While a common belief is that technology is hindering the students’ capacity to think and analyze, there is also a strong opinion in favor of video games and digital gadgets’ ability to engage students and enhance learning by using more than one sensory stimulators. In spite of the growing concern about the students’ deteriorating attention spans, institutions are incorporating them in the process of classroom learning.

Children are inherently inquisitive creatures. They have a curiosity to discover new things and learn by way of discovering and experimenting even before they are subjected to methods of formal education such as reading or writing. Science is a discipline of experiments and discoveries. The National Science Education Standards emphasize that “science education needs to give students three kinds of scientific skills and understandings. Students need to learn the principles and concepts of science, acquire the reasoning and procedural skills of scientists, and understand the nature of science as a particular form of human endeavor. Students therefore need to be able to devise and carry out investigations that test their ideas, and they need to understand why such investigations are uniquely powerful. Studies show that students are much more likely to understand and retain the concepts that they have learned this way “. Hence, it becomes imperative to engage children in science education at an early stage.

Digital games are more capable to gain students’ interests and attention than other conventional means of imparting education in a classroom. However, some educationists also regard them as culprits of exponential decline in the attention span in children. The next sections in this article discuss the involvement of children in games in the tech age, types of games available in the market and the impact of digital gaming as learning aids in classrooms.

Gaming and the New Age Kids

Digital technology has expanded the horizons of video gaming in the modern world. Kids are subjected to far more complex and challenging technological environment than their counterparts were from over half a century back. Involvement of kids in digital gaming is a result of many significant changes in the lifestyle and culture of the modern society. Easy accessibility of technology, dispensable income due to dual income families and lack of infrastructure for outdoor activities in many cities are some major contributors in making screen games an important part of the children’s’ lives. A study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010) found that only 20 percent of the census blocks are within half a mile of a block boundary. Also, the effect of peer pressure cannot be undermined in these times of social networking.

The digital gaming market is one of the fastest growing segments of the global entertainment industry. US is witnessing unprecedented penetration of digital games amongst youngsters. In the US, 97% of the teens play some type of game on a regular basis. In India, the gaming market has grown manifold in the last few years. Hence, it is imperative that educationists are continuously contemplating the use of digital gaming as a learning tool in classrooms. Institutions are also employing innovative ways to leverage the digital advantage for enhancing the learning experience at schools.

What are Digital Games?

There is no concrete definition of games as it may vary with an individual’s preference and profession. Games can be defined as a “system in which players engage in artificial conflict, defined by rules, which result in a quantifiable outcome”. Technology and digitization add new dimensions to games where simulations, interactivity, augmented reality, alternative reality, collective intelligence and sensory stimulators such as sound and visual effects. Digital games are also characterized by their portability and limitless accessibility.

Role-playing games, simulation games and puzzles are some of the most popular digital games. In role-playing games, the player enacts the role of a particular character in a virtual world moving from one level to the other based on the outcome of the earlier level. RPGs can be single player such as the dungeons and dragons from earlier days of gaming or multi-player games such as Diablo III, Xenoblade, Final Fantasy XIII-2 or Mass Effect 3. MMORPG or the Massive Multiple Online Role-Playing Games are an extension of the RPGs where large number of players interacts in an online virtual world. Simulation games create realistic situations in virtual worlds. The outcome will depend on the player’s decision-making and responsiveness and will be closely similar to what may happen in a real world in the same situation. Widely used in training and analysis, simulation games are also popular due to their unpredictable and personalized outcomes. Flight Simulator X, Live for Speed (LFS) and Need for Speed have been extremely popular simulation games for a long time. Puzzles genre of digital games involves problem solving and analysis with varying degrees of difficulty depending on the nature of the game. Crosswords and treasure hunt games are basic forms of puzzle games in both physical and digital form.

All types of digital games involve a social involvement of players. Some need collaborative efforts to play while others may be discussed or analyzed socially. In spite of some games being accused of outright violent visual effects, a well-designed game can accelerate the thinking process by motivating, engaging, involving creativity and developing a meta-game i.e., social interactions inspired and enhanced inside or outside the game. Incorporating digital gaming in the basic education framework can lead to augmented competitiveness and multi-dimensional growth in children.

Digital Games in Science Education – Why and Why Not?

The 21st century requires the mentors and the students to integrate technology into the curriculum. Though the ultimate goal is to benefit the students in terms of learning and experience, unsupervised, unorganized or irrelevant application can lead to complete failure or have negative effects. Some of the negative impacts of digital games in general and in context with the education are listed below:

Digital games have been facing constant rebuke for allegedly enhancing aggression amongst kids and developing a violent streak at an early stage. In a study by Anderson and Bushman (2001), Children involved in violent video games are more likely to have increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and decreased prosocial helping. Use of weapons and being rewarded for being violent is a cause of widespread concern.

Digital games can be addictive for children and make them physically inactive. Digital games, other than social networking, are considered for reduced physical activity leading to obesity in kids and postural and skeletal disorders.

Addiction to games is also known to make kids socially secluded. Impulsive behavior, depression and increased anxiety levels are largely attributed to excessive gaming in children. Some studies also suggest that the children playing games are unable to concentrate for a long span and have reduced attention span.

Children are prone to absorbing socially unacceptable behavior through some digital games such as using profanities and ill-treating the fairer sex. Lack of adequate knowledge about screening the material available online is a growing concern amongst the parents.

Digital games are considered a hindrance to better performance in academics. Students are often found to skip homework to play games leading to deteriorated performance at school. However, despite their reputation as promoters of violence and mayhem, digital games have in fact been shown to help children learn skills, content, and vital “21st-century” skills. From digital games children can learn: content (from rich vocabulary to science to history), skills (from literacy to math to complex problem-solving), creation of artifacts (from videos to software code) and systems thinking (how changing one element affects relationships as a whole). Strong arguments in favor of using digital games as learning aids in secondary education are summarized below:

Digital games involve extreme hand-eye coordination and enhance motor and sensory skills. Sensory stimulation theory proposed by academician Laird (1985) validates that effective learning occurs when the senses are stimulated. While some studies show that digital gaming reduces attention span, there are strong evidences of improved concentration in short intervals of time. Digital games involve keeping an eye on every detail, follow the rules and respond proactively to the given situation. Complex digital games help is developing problem-solving and decision-making skills. Some games also involve logical analysis of the situation and pattern recognition and improve memorizing thus assisting in the cognitive process. Playing by the rules teaches children to accept and respect a certain level of discipline.

Multi-player digital games develop a sense of constructive competitive attitude. Collaborative games also improve team-building attitude. They develop time management skills in a team and train the players to cooperate for mutually desired goal. They teach the players to accept defeat as well as strive for better results. Digital games provide an avenue for hyperactive kids to direct the energy in a constructive system based game. They also provide an outlet to release aggression and frustration, thus helping in diffusing stress. Some games also involve physical activity such as Nintendo Wii boxing helping kids to engage mentally and physically with the kids. Complex digital games involve high level of multitasking thus improving brain’s natural learning process. Brain based learning theory proposes that multi-tasking is an inherent activity of the brain and learning is enhanced by challenges at various levels. Digital games develop efficient situational analysis and strategy making in children. Since games have certain objectives at every level and a final objective of the game, it teaches players to devise short term and long-term strategies such as scoring points, retaining energy and reaching the ultimate goal of the game. Simulation games and the role-playing digital games help players gain expertise or learn by experiencing in replicas of real world situations. Experiential learning and action learning theories are based on the premise that individuals learn faster when they by experiencing and actually participating in action.

“Games require the kind of thinking that we need in the 21st Century because they use actual learning as the basis for assessment. They test not only current knowledge and skills, but also preparation for future learning. They measure 21st century skills like collaboration, innovation, production, and design by tracking many different kinds of information about a student, over time. “