Niantic, the creators of the successful mobile game Pokemon Go, has finally put out a game based in the universe of Harry Potter, called Wizards Unite. You play a wizard, using your wand to battle other wizards and catch fantastic beasts. All in Augmented Reality. Leo says that it was originally launched in Australia, and people went wild about it. Now it's been launched in the US and around the world, so MORE people are going wild.
Dick says there's a new Five Below store in New York and they have a great gadget section, where everything is $5 and below. There he found this cool thing called the Mirrored Wall LED Fountain. Here's what Five Below says about this fun gadget! “Promote relaxation with a tabletop water fountain. The mirrored wall LED fountain lights up & reflects the running water for double the ambience! The perfect chill decor for your desk or tabletop, this small fountain runs on batteries or it can be plugged in! (It's small, roughly 4” X 5” X 7”). Includes natural river rocks.
Calling Minecraft the "Lego" of the 21st century, Leo says that Microsoft has created an education edition of the game for computer programming, chemistry, and a host of other teaching tools within the game itself. It's also available on the iPad. Leo says it's a very cool idea and a great way to learn science, technology and math (STEM).
Ed's wife bought an Amazon Fire tablet for about $150, but it won't play any of the games that she likes. Leo says that's because the games that she uses require Flash, and Flash is dying as a format. It will work on a Surface tablet because that's a full Windows computer. Adobe doesn't even support Flash anymore. Leo advises looking for something similar as an app instead.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is coming to Xbox at the end of December and has been very popular on the PC with Steam for a while now. This is a "Battle Royal" game, which is kind of like Hunger Games. You're dropped into a very realistic, large and vivid world with 99 other people. The goal is to get as many weapons as you can, kill as many other people as you can, and be the last player standing. This is interesting because this is an independent game, not from a big game company, and it's hugely successful.
Leo spent a couple of hours playing with Zelda on the Nintendo Switch and he was lefty pretty impressed. However, for adult hands, he found the controllers to be a bit small and uncomfortable. Battery life is pretty good at about 3-4 hours of steady play. The big problem right now is that the Switch doesn't have a lot of games at the moment, and of what it does have, most are dumb like Milking Cows. But it was launched with Zelda and Mario is coming. So there's plenty of people to play with until games get ported over.
This week's gadgets are games. Christmas is a fun time to play board games and this one is called SPEAK OUT by Hasbro. What's odd about it is that you have to put this plastic device in your mouth and then try and speak words for people to guess. Here's how it's played. Players are divided into two teams and the first person up must put a mouthpiece in, draw a card and try to speak the phrase without getting completely tongue-tied. Once the team guesses the phrase correctly, draw another card and keep going until the timer runs out to earn as many cards as possible.
Ed is blind and he's sad that Pokémon Go isn't accessible to the blind. He thinks that if Pokémon put in an audio tone targeting system, then those who can't see would be able to play. Leo says that's a great idea. Accessibility is very important and smartphones have gotten very good at being accessible, so there's no reason why a game like Pokémon shouldn't be.
Similar to IBM's Deep Blue that beat the world champion of Chess a couple decades ago, Google's AI computer Alpha Go has won a match against world champion Go player Lee Se-dol 3-0.
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The Exploding Kittens card game was created by Matthew Inman, the mind behind The Oatmeal, Elan Lee of Microsoft's Xbox team, and Shane Small, Xbox and Marvel game designer. The Kickstarter campaign started January 19 with an initial funding goal of $10,000. They reached that goal within 20 minutes, and reached $100,000 within an hour. It attracted 120,000 backers who have now in total contributed more than $5 million. The game has been described as a "kitten powered version of Russian Roulette."