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The 10 Best Games on Oculus Rift Right Now

2014 has seen virtual reality go from laughing stock of the ‘90s to the most exciting thing to happen to gaming in ages. Over the past month Facebook has bought Oculus VR for $2bn and Sony has revealed its first ever virtual reality (VR) headset. While journalists have been speculating on what this means for the future of virtual reality we’ve been more concerned by the present and created WearVR.com – a site that aggregates all the available VR games and organises them into convenient categories.

With over 100 games on the site already we’re profiling those we find the most interesting and fun. To check out the full list head over to the  WeArVR website.

Floculus Bird
Floculus Bird

It had to happen and it has – Flappy Bird (or in this case a clone) has come to virtual reality. If the original game wasn’t impossible enough playing it through an Oculus Rift headset is an even greater challenge – although it doesn’t stop it being fun.

 

VR Cinema
VR CinemaWhile we’re excited about the gaming opportunities for VR, film has been one of the most talked applications for new wave of headsets, and this VR cinema shows why. It’s quite bizarre watching a film from the comfort of your own home and looking around to find yourself in an empty cinema. This is also a great response to the criticism that VR headsets will struggle because they’re isolating – in this situation isolation is a selling point. It also means you can watch you Fast and Furious boxset and nobody will know!

 

Team Fortress 2
team fortressIt probably gets more playtime than any game in the Dubit office so we’re going to love it on the Oculus Rift. Team Fortress 2 on VR shows how the technology could enhance already great games.

 

 

Spirited Away: The Boiler Room
spirited awayMany early VR ‘games’ are nothing more than virtual rooms, but when those rooms are modelled on classic Studio Ghibli films we’re not so bothered. Many of us in the Dubit office have been fantasying about using VR to re-experience our favourite game worlds, whether it’s the beauty of Skyrim or the Grit of Liberty City, but what the Spirited Away room shows is how great it would be to experience fantasy environments that have never been games. Fancy walking around Springfield and going to Moe’s? Of course you do.

Windlands
WindlandsAs with mobile gaming a new gaming device or peripheral allows us to create new ways to play games. In the case of Windlands it’s less about the dynamic of the game and its puzzles but the way it’s experienced. It’s already got us excited for Portal on Oculus Rift.

 

 

Minecrift
MinecriftMinutes after it was confirmed that Facebook had bought Oculus VR, Notch, the creator of Minecraft, announced that he was no longer considering bringing the game to Oculus Rift. While it’s not a system seller Minecraft is currently the biggest thing in kids’ gaming. Fortunately there are plenty of developers ready to ‘pay tribute’ to Minecraft and bring a similar experience to Oculus owners, such as Minecrift from Mabrowning.

Don’t look Back
dont look backFor a long time first-person horror games have been a great way to combine a fun game with nightmares and expensive counselling, and if Don’t look Back is anything to go by VR seems set to dial the fright factor up to eleven. Just have a look at the video below and imagine playing it with no view of the outside world.

 

VR Lemmings
VR LemmingsVR Lemmings came out of a game jam so we’re going to ignore the graphics and the fact that the lemmings don’t look like lemmings and focus on the original methods of helping the suicidal creatures. We’re all used to clicking on the screen and building bridges for lemmings but a combination of VR and a motion tracking controller now allows you to reach out and build bridges in a 3D space. Here a simple project has shown how a game which has stuck to the same formula and control method for decades is changed by virtual reality and motion control.

Spiculus
SpiculusThe most enjoyable element to virtual reality is experience environments from new viewpoints – which is why we love swinging from webs like a virtual Spiderman in Spiculus. The puzzle element is fun but this makes the list for letting us feel like Spiderman and that fact alone.

 

 

Roller Coasters
CoasterWe’re ending with a genre as opposed to a game. The majority of the coasters and rides in this category are based on actual rides, such as Tornado Coaster (based on a Dutch ride) and Twist and Shout which is the last standing coaster made by Anton Schwarzkopf and currently sitting idle in an abandoned theme park. Coasters are a great showcase for virtual reality but in these cases they also allow users to experience rides and places that they might never get to witness in real life, especially in the case of Twist and Shout.

 

 

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Answering the big Questions Around Kids Digital Entertainment

At the end of March Dubit chaired a panel at Apple’s flagship store on Regent Street. We were there to explore the good, the bad and the unknown of digital entertainment for kids. The panel covered many of the biggest issues, answering questions like ‘what makes a good app or TV show?’ ‘How can you find good apps?’ And ‘how much screen time is too much?’

The panel included Hopster CEO Nicholas Walters, tech fan and ‘mummy-blogger’ Alison Perry, and children’s learning academic John Potter. The event is available to download from Apple’s iTunes store both in video and audio formats. It’s well worth a listen (or a watch).
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‘You Have Died of Dysentery’: How to Make Great Educational Games

This is a guest post by John Krajewski, studio head and creative director at Strange Loop Games.

What do you know about the Oregon Trail?  I’m willing to be that your knowledge on the subject is gained almost entirely from the thusly-named game, where your typical quest across the country saw your resources dwindle, your family members drop one by one from accidents and disease, ending all too often with words ‘You have died of dysentery’.

What a terrible, depressing experience that sounds like, and yet it remains one of the most widely played and remembered educational games of all times.  Its creators knew a fundamental truth about the medium of video games that is often forgotten in today’s educational games: the experience you can grant a player is extremely powerful.  The game didn’t force you to memorize facts, it didn’t drill you on trivia.  It was completely about the experience, conveying a not-insignificant understanding of the hardship faced by those who travelled the actual Oregon Trail through the simple, direct act of putting the player in that role.

And why should it do anything else?  Empathy and understanding of the individual hardship of this historic event I would argue is the most important thing you can take from it at that level of study, much more so than a collection of facts, and games have a huge advantage in delivering experiences that give this to the player well beyond other mediums.  With this intrinsic power, largely untapped by most educational software, games hold the potential to be at the centre of a revolution in education, evoking in players the wonder and fascination with a subject that must form the foundation of any meaningful learning.
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The Ten Best Casual Gaming Articles of 2013 – Part 2

Every week we publish a newsletter linking to the best articles on casual gaming found on the web, and twice a year we review the past six months and publish a list of the articles clicked on the most by our 1,100 subscribers. Looking back over the past 24 issues it’s clear that the freemium gaming model dominated 2013, so much that out of the ten most read stories more than half focused on game changing business model.

Other topics that got our readers excited in the final half of the year included King’s sweetie smashing phenomenon Candy Crush Saga, the psychology behind virtual goods, and an interesting piece on six of the most unusual games genres – anyone fancy playing some real-time poetry?

If you haven’t signed-up for TWICG yet, click here and get the week’s most insightful casual game articles sent to your inbox in one handy weekly email.

For now, here are the ten stories that our readers have clicked on more than any other over the past six months

Tripling Revenue with One Button

In this post by Michael Sacca, founder of Tiny Factory, he describes how adding one button and a slight change to the company’s pricing structure helped his story-book app treble its revenue! Sometimes the smallest change can make the biggest difference and we can underestimate how much our users want to spend.
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How Moshi Monsters Used Games as a Launch Pad to Dominate Kid’s Entertainment

Earlier this year Mind Candy founder Michael Acton Smith declared: “Everything we do will be about family entertainment and will always start on tablet. If it’s successful on tablets, then we will make the bigger bounce into toys, cartoons, films and everything else. [Tablets and smartphones] are where children are spending time, so that’s where we’ve got to go.”

Mind Candy is synonymous with kids online games as well as toys, with Moshi Monsters being the number one toy property by value (according to 2013 NPD data). But, as Acton Smith has stated, despite their success with toys, any new IP will start life as a game – allowing them to test the brand, make quick changes figure out what works before expanding the brand on other platforms, whether that’s toys, books or movies. Much is written about how metrics can help improve a game, but in Mind Candy’s case they can inform way beyond that.

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Children’s In-App Spending is Under Control

Earlier this month we published new research on children’s in-app purchasing habits. Despite fears that children are prone to excessive spending in mobile games our work has shown that parents have a greater hold on the virtual purse strings than many would believe.

The research shows that only 2% of kids have ever spent without their parent’s permission, and not one of the 500 kids surveyed had ever spent more than £10 on a single purchase. Furthermore, only 17% of children are ever allowed by parents to spend money in-game, and they rarely spend more than £2 in one go.
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Trends in Children’s Ownership of Gaming Devices

Children have been playing video games at home since the launch of the first games consoles in the 1970s, but with kids now having access to tablets, phones, PCs and consoles it’s never been easier for children to sit down and play a game.

But what does the future hold? As we can see in this report, produced in Q1 of this year, while children’s access to iPads has more than doubled, their access to traditional games consoles dropped by more than 20%. Access to PCs and laptops has also declined over the past two years but at a less alarming rate.
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Children’s Favourite Gaming Brands

Watch out Mario, the Angry Birds are after you! Or that’s what we would say if we could talk to portly plumber, as when we asked 500 children in the UK and America what their favourite video games were Mario only narrowly beat Angry Birds – if we only look at the stats for American children Mario actually comes second, if only by 1%.

Other titles that are chomping at the heels of Mario and Angry Birds include breakout success Minecraft and, rather worryingly, the violent (18 rated) war simulator Call of Duty. The reason we asked children what their favourite video games are (they could pick three) was because while it’s interesting to know sales figures it’s something special when kids say you’re their favourite – it’s these games that are ripe for licensing!

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Taking Heritage Brands Online

Over the course of the year we’ve been travelling across the UK and America presenting our work on how brand owners can take heritage IPs online and leverage the characters and stories they already own.

Since we took our work to the iKids conference in New York we’ve fine tuned the presentation and added more learnings and improved upon our adaptation model. We’ve now presented this work at the Children’s Media Conference in the UK and Digital Kids in San Francisco.

The focus of the presentation is our adaptation models and processes for evaluation the IPs and how they’re translated digitally. Our work also looks at children are consuming media and the brands they and their parents want brought back.

Our latest slides are available below and include extra insight from Brad Jashinksy, director of digital media t Summertime Entertainment – the team behind the forthcoming feature film Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return. The virtual world of the film is being developed by our in-house development studio.

If you’d like to know more about the data behind the presentation, or would like help bringing your brand to life online, then get in touch!

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A New Model for Free-to-Play Games Design

Our friends over at GamesBrief have been working on hard on creating a graphic to represent a new model for creating great free-to-play games. As free-to-play has turned games design on its head it’s no wonder that GamesBrief has opted to use a funnel to represent the business of free-to-play and a pyramid to represent the game.

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