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Video games

Japan Chooses Pikachu to be Mascot of 2014 World Cup

Pikachu Named Mascot of the 2014 World Cup - IGNPlease, please tell us that when this decision was made, someone stood up and cried out with epic emotion, “Pikachu, I choose you!”

The Japan National Football team (or the “Samurai Blue”) will have some serious power in its pocket come the 2014 World Cup; Adidas, which designs the team’s uniforms, announced a partnership agreement with Nintendo that will make the adorably electric Pikachu the official face of this year’s team. Along with some of his fellow Pokemon like Charmander, Squirtle and others that appear in the recently released games Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, the globally-recognizable Pikachu will be tasked with sharing his “electrifying boost” with Japan’s best soccer players.

To make this branding partnership and cross-promotion complete, the team should totally take the field to this song, no?

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EA Games Earns Human Rights Campaign’s Stamp of Approval for LGBT Equality

CEI_2014_ReleaseWhen video games are discussed in the context of PR, it’s often because certain popular games have stirred controversy over issues like the portrayal of women, the glorification of violence, or super-macho plot lines, so we thoroughly enjoy being able to bring you a positive PR story related to the gaming industry.

EA Games, maker of popular franchises like the FIFA and Madden game series, has scored a perfect 100% on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) “Best Places to Work 2014” Corporate Equality Index, which, according to the HRC website, is the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

“We are extremely proud of this achievement that recognizes corporate policies and practices that demonstrate a commitment to LGBT equality and inclusion,” wrote EA on its website. “In addition to this exciting achievement, EA was busy around the world throughout the year supporting local Pride Parades where our employees live and work. From San Fransisco to Los Angeles, Seattle to Stockholm, Vancouver to Austin and finally in Orlando, everyone who came out to join EA and show their support and pride had an amazing time.”

Read more

Lindsay Lohan Sues Grand Theft Auto V

Art imitating life -- if ever there was an example.

Art imitating life — if ever there was an example.

In what has to be a dire attempt to get back in the spotlight comes teen-star turned crack-ho trollop Lindsay Lohan. She has nothing better to do these days than … well, lines … so I’m sure she and her near-out-of-work publicist are taking in a few video games to pass the time.

And that’s when the epiphany struck and a PR story was born.

Broken by trash diggers and snoop shooters TMZ.com, “LiLo” (as the kids in rehab call her) insists that’s her on the game and no one asked her permission to use her image. There’s even part of a game that “features a mission where a Lindsay Lohan look-alike asks the player to take her home and escape the paparazzi.” So, naturally, the report is the former ‘Mean Girl’ wants to sue Rockstar Games for a truckload of cash.

Rumor is Lohan also noticed GTAV also features a mission at a hotel resembling Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood — a place where Lohan visits often and lived for a period of time. No word on if this mysterious character goes on a cocaine binge in the game, but reporters are digging.

Hey, Massachusetts: Ylvis’ Follow-Up to ‘The Fox’ Should be Your Next Tourism Campaign

ma93As a lifelong Massachusetts resident, I’ve lived with the perpetual mix of embarrassment/pride associated with the MA tourism campaign from the 80′s that just won’t die; it’s been a long-running joke among MA residents (and other New Englanders) for decades, and lest we forget the maddeningly catchy and sickeningly sweet “The Spirit of Massachusetts is The Spirit of America” song that accompanied the commercial, we need only drive down the street to see the phrase “The Spirit of America” plastered on virtually every license plate in the state. And suddenly, we’re humming the song all over again in a sick, sad, hyper-patriotic deja vu.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about and want to subject yourself to the flag-waving wonder that was this campaign, here’s a video of the retro commercial:

What could possibly ever top that? Well, nothing (in my humble opinion) ever has, but I think I have finally stumbled across a song and video rabid enough in their (rather erotic) love of the Bay State to finally give this classic campaign the fitting follow-up it so deserves. The song is called, simply, “Massachusetts”, and is performed by the Norwegian band Ylvis, the geniuses who had you singing the question “What does the fox say?” in maniacal repetition only a few short weeks ago. Read more

Rockstar Apologizes for ‘GTA Online’ Glitches with Lots of Free (Fake) Money

actual_1381450954v2Today in Virtual Damage Control news: one of the biggest rollout campaigns of the year inspired so much web traffic that tech snafus prevented people from seeing whether the product at hand really works or not. The responsible company’s solution: wiring millions of digital dollars to nerds around the world.

What, you thought we were talking about ObamaCare?

Rockstar Games attempted to minimize the collective groan that followed Grand Theft Auto V Online’s glitchy debut by giving each affected user half a million virtual bucks to buy all the new outfits, haircuts and rocket launchers he could ever want. And they sent out a press release too:

“we are planning to provide a special stimulus package…dropping a cool half a million GTA$ in the GTA Online bank accounts of all players…we hope this GTA$ helps to facilitate a fresh start or makes your continued life in Los Santos and Blaine County extra sweet.”

Just remember: “Don’t Spend It All in One Place!

Some remain unimpressed and insist that Rockstar should just fix the game rather than pulling stunts like this one, but the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, and it’s earned a bit of media coverage. We might recommend that the government take Rockstar’s model to heart and respond to tech problems in its virtual insurance marketplaces by giving free coverage to those who want it, but that would involve real money.

*Image via Rockstar Games

‘Assassin’s Creed’ Painting Featuring Fans’ Faces now Complete and on Display

Back in July, we told you that Ubisoft, maker of the historical action-adventure video game franchise Assassin’s Creed, had created a decidedly artistic and original campaign, titled “Defy History“, to promote the next installment of its popular series — Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag.

Playing off the game’s historical setting and furthering the concept of video games as art, the promo urged fans to “become part of a masterpiece” by digitally placing their own faces in an Age of Piracy-themed painting crafted by artists from L’Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris.

Hundreds of gamers contributed their likenesses to the project, and after an online vote, the winning faces were added to the swashbuckling masterpiece, which is now complete and on digital display. The painting is set to be hung in Le Musee de la Marine this November, just after the game’s October PS3 release, and just in time for its release on other systems, also scheduled for November.

In the meantime, visitors to the video game’s website are encouraged to explore the painting, look for hidden videos, and check out the list of winners who will be immortalized forever in video game (and Parisian art) history.

Sony Apologizes Twice in One Week for Major ‘Grand Theft Auto’ Mistakes

Sony just can’t get it right this week.

The company had to apologize earlier in the week after it allowed assets from the highly anticipated game “Grand Theft Auto V” to be leaked, resulting in major spoilers being published online.

“Regrettably, some people who downloaded the digital pre-order of Grand Theft Auto V through the PlayStation Store in Europe were able to access certain GTA V assets,” read a statement published on the PlayStation Blog. “These assets were posted online. We have since removed the digital pre-order file from the PlayStation Store in Europe. We sincerely apologize to Rockstar and GTA fans across the world who were exposed to the spoiler content.”

This did little to appease angry gamers and game maker Rockstar.

“As you can imagine, we are deeply disappointed by leaks and spoilers being spread in advance of the game’s launch. GTA V represents years of hard work by many people across the world, and we all couldn’t be more excited to finally share it with you properly this September 17th,” read a statement on Rockstar Newswire.

Then, right on the heels of all this, Sony dug itself deeper by tweeting that the game would be available on PlayStation 4, when, in fact, it will only be available on PS3 and Xbox 360. Read more

‘Assassin’s Creed’ Promo Invites Fans to Become Immortalized in Parisian Painting

Ubisoft, makers of the historical action-adventure video game franchise Assassin’s Creed, have created a decidedly artistic and original campaign, titled “Defy History“, to promote the next installment of its popular series — Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag.

Playing off the game’s historical setting and furthering the concept of video games as art, the promo urges fans to “become part of a masterpiece” by digitally placing their own faces in a painting crafted by artists from L’Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris.

The website associated with the campaign states that users can “get a chance to have your face in an epic painting crafted by one of Europe’s finest cultural institutions.” The painting, which can be seen on the site, features a battle scene from the “Age of Piracy,” the time period during which the game is set. Using a webcam, fans can put their own faces on characters from the painting, and the most popular faces will be immortalized on the canvas. The final work of art, complete with fans’ faces, will be displayed in Le Musee de la Marine this November, just after the October release of the game. Read more

Google Honors Atari Breakout with Easter Egg

Happy 37th birthday, Breakout. You’ve come a long way. You helped develop the first generation of kids with the best hand-eye coordination the world had seen (up until that point). You were the biggest deal in childhood until Star Wars was released a year later and changed the world forever. You were the son of Pong, the father of Pac-Man and the future DNA of Halo. You were technology at its most innocent, before it became associated with porn and violence. You, Breakout, helped millions of children break out of their realities at a time when divorce was skyrocketing and our parents began cooking our meals in microwaves.

Once again, Google makes an excellent PR move by celebrating a milestone in our culture that everyone else would have overlooked. And to recognize Atari Breakout’s birthday with a coveted Google Easter Egg is just perfect considering it’s a gesture from one storied technology entity to another. (To see it yourself visit Google Images and type in “Atari Breakout.”)

Happy Birthday Breakout!

New App Allows Gamers to Order Pizza Via Xbox

Rejoice, ye college kids (and grown-ups who still spend their weekends in an ever-expanding pile of beer cans and pizza boxes while playing Halo)! You no longer need to suffer through the painstaking effort of pausing your game, dropping the controller, and picking up the phone to order dinner – Pizza Hut and Xbox Live have heard your cries of desperation and are here to help.

In what can only be called the most diabolical dietary partnership since Eric Cartman’s pairing of Hot Pockets and World of Warcraft, Pizza Hut has made their full menu—including customizable pizzas—available through a new Xbox Live app, which allows Xbox 360 owners to place orders using the controller, voice commands, or the Kinect sensor. In order to streamline the pizza’s progress from delectable idea to tangible belt-loosening poundage, users can even connect their PizzaHut.com and Xbox accounts to simplify the ordering process.

Larry Hyrb, Microsoft’s Director of Programming for Xbox Live, said of the pairing:

“We’re always looking at ways to give our audience more of what they’re interested in. If you look at our audience, they love pizza. I mean, who doesn’t? It has international appeal, and Pizza Hut is a recognized brand that matches up well with the Xbox brand.”

Now there’s a man who knows his audience.

So now, if you can just program your robot vacuum to answer the door for you, you may never need to leave your living room again!

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