8 must-see indie Xbox and PC games you may have missed at E3 2017
More than 80 chess puzzles will challenge players' mettle, including historic matches that can play out identically or differently to their real-life counterparts. Need to brush up on your chess skills? A vast array of tutorials will get you back onto …
When you think of the Baltimore Ravens , the first thing that comes to mind is defense. Never mind that Ray Lewis, the future Hall of Famer and the second draft pick in team history, retired in 2012, and that the team has been the model of mediocrity in the four seasons since (they’re 31-33 over that time, to be precise).
What you don’t think about is the offense, and for good reason: Since the team drafted Joe Flacco in 2008, here’s where the offense has ranked, according to Football Outsiders’ metrics:
The general takeaway: For the last decade this has been an average unit that struggles more through the air than on the ground. Twenty years ago, a team could work around that. Look no further than … the Ravens, who won the 2000 Super Bowl with one of the best defenses of the modern era in an offense that “featured” Tony Banks and Trent Dilfer under center but relied on running backs Jamal Lewis and Priest Holmes. The leading receiver on that team? Tight end Shannon Sharpe, who had 810 receiving yards. Behind him: Qadry Ismail and his 655 receiving yards. By comparison, the New York Jets had the worst offense in 2016 and their two leading receivers were Quincy Enunwa (857 yards) and Brandon Marshall (788 yards).
But it’s not as if the Ravens haven’t tried to adjust to a league that has become more reliant on the forward pass; the team wanted Byron Leftwich in 2003 and when the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted him first, they settled on strong-armed Kyle Boller. That obviously didn’t work out, and five years later, they used a first-round pick on Flacco, who has started all but six games in his NFL career and led the team to five straight postseason appearances to begin his career, including a Super Bowl title in February 2013.
The club has also tried to surround Flacco with playmakers; through the draft there have been Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta in 2010, Torrey Smith in 2011, Crocket Gillmore in 2014, and Breshad Perriman and Maxx Williams in 2015. In free agency, there have been Anquan Bolden and Dont Stallworth in 2010, Lee Evans in 2011, Jacoby Jones in 2012, Steve Smith and Owen Daniels in 2014, Mike Wallace in 2016, and most recently: Jeremy Maclin , who was signed with the Ravens just last week.
This is where we point out that since Flacco arrived in Baltimore, the Ravens have never had two 1,000-yard receivers in a season. Will Maclin’s addition change that?
That’s the two-year, $11 million question. On the surface, it certainly seems plausible. The expectation is that Wallace and Perriman will man the outside while Maclin will work the slot, much in the same vein as his predecessor, Steve Smith. But last season, only Wallace cracked 1,000 yards. Smith finished with 799 yards in 14 games while Perriman was limited to just 499 yards on 33 catches. Interestingly, Smith has a higher yards-per-catch career average than Maclin (14.3 YPC vs. 13.5 YPC). Team’s don’t get extra credit for having multiple 1,000-yard receivers, but it does indicate a balanced offense that isn’t reliant on just one or two players, and that makes a defense’s job all the more difficult.
So what can we expect from Maclin?
A year ago, Flacco was most effective in passes thrown 10-19 yards downfield, either in the middle of the field or to his right. In fact, these were the only two locations where Flacco graded positively, according to Pro Football Focus’ grades. Some of that success was because of Pitta, who had 86 receptions for 729 yards last season. But he was released earlier this month after a career-threatening hip injury. The good news is that the Ravens are stocked at tight end; Gillmore, Williams, Nick Boyle and Benjamin Watson are all capable. The even-better news is that Flacco also leaned heavily on his slot receiver, of which Maclin is now one.
Last season, Maclin ranked 50th among all wideouts in working from the slot but there’s an important caveat: He missed a month with a groin injury and it hampered his productivity. But in 2015, when he started 15 games and had 87 catches for 1,088 yards and 8 touchdowns, Maclin was much more efficient in the slot: He ranked sixth in catch rate — behind the likes of Tyler Lockett , Doug Baldwin , Larry Fitzgerald and Danny Amendola — hauling in 79 percent of the passes thrown in his direction. Added bonus: Six of his eight scores came when he was in the slot.
The hope is that Maclin, who is now healthy, can replicate his 2015 success. Smith, for what it’s worth, ranked 22nd among slot receivers last season.
Wallace, who was high on the Ravens’ receivers before Maclin arrived, feels really good about this group now.
“I was totally confident like I told you when I first got here in the spring. I was excited about our guys then,” Wallace said last week, via ESPN.com. “Any time you can add a guy like [Maclin], I say even better. I think we’re going to have a great receiving corps. You add a guy who has had some 1,000-yard seasons, Pro Bowl, you can’t ask for much more than that.”
Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg agreed.
“First of all, he’s gifted,” Mornhinweg said. “He’s talented. He’s smart. He’s natural. He’s smooth. He has outstanding hands. He’s tough, so he’s got a lot of great, great qualities. The one that popped into my mind first was consistency. He plays at a high level on a consistent basis. He plays like a Raven. That’s the way we want to play.”
Mornhinweg isn’t blowing smoke; in 2015, Maclin had one drop in 120 targets, which was tops — by a large margin — among wideouts. He also makes those around him better; that same season, quarterbacks had a 115.6 rating when throwing in his direction, which ranked 10th among all wideouts. Oh, and Maclin’s not just a middle-of-the-field target; he’s a deep threat too. He ranked 15th in ’15 in deep passing — ahead of Torrey Smith, Stefon Diggs and Antonio Brown — going 8 for 8 on balls thrown more than 20 yards downfield.
Put another way: Maclin made too much sense for the Ravens not to sign him. And the feeling was mutual.
“When I got a chance to come here and meet all the guys and meet all the coaches, it just felt right,” Maclin said last week after his first practice with the team. … “With me coming here and what was already here, I felt like this was a team that could definitely win and definitely build something special. From a football standpoint, it made the most sense.”
If Wallace continues to produce and 2015 first-rounder Perriman can finally live up to his potential, the Ravens’ offense could be formidable. And Wallace, who is entering his second year in Baltimore, sees big things for Perriman in 2017.
“He’s going to surprise a lot of people,” Wallace said last month. “He’s going to be one of the top receivers in the league this year. … You can tell it’s night and day with the confidence level. I know exactly how he’s going to play. I’m the most confident person in him in the whole world.”
Flacco and Mornhinweg will settle for one of the top receivers on the team. Because if Perriman, Wallace and Maclin are all playing well, that means the offense can be two-dimensional, something the team hasn’t been able to say in years.
Released last week, FRAMED 2 is part animated comic book, part puzzle game: re-arrange the panels to change the outcome of the story.
I’ve waited over a year for FRAMED 2, the sequel to one of my favorite iPhone games of all time. Like its predecessor, FRAMED 2 strikes the perfect balance between simple gameplay and challenging puzzles that are just frustrating enough to keep you coming back for more.
Download FRAMED 2 for $4.99, or try the original for free.
Old Man’s Journey
I’m a sucker for story-driven games, and Old Man’s Journey encompasses everything I love about the genre. Take in mesmerizing, hand-drawn scenes as you solve puzzles that propel the Old Man forward in the game’s narrative.
Download Old Man’s Journey for $4.99.
To the Moon
This game follows two scientists who help people fulfill their dying wishes in their patients’ heads, at least. In To The Moon, you get to journey through an elderly man’s memories, piece together his life story, and find out why his dying wish is to go to the moon.
I teared up on public transportation playing this game, and it was 100% worth it.
Download To the Moon for $4.99.
Brain games such as puzzles, teasers, riddles, crosswords, and quizzes are marketed as easy and effective ways to expand your mind and increase intelligence.
Many of us play these games in the hopes that they will sharpen our memory and improve our brain function.
Unfortunately, brain games do not make us smarter.
According to Dr Kin-Lun Tsang, a specialist in neurology at Hong Kongs Matilda International Hospital on The Peak, at best they provide mental stimulation.
There is little evidence that playing brain games improves [ones] underlying broad cognitive abilities or that it enables one to better navigate [the] complex realm of everyday life, Dr Tsang says.
Its a controversial subject, says Lydia Yee, assistant professor at the department of psychology at the Education University of Hong Kong. The brain is made up of cells called neurons, she says.
Your cognitive abilities are getting a major boost from playing mind puzzles.
Neurons are not physically connected to each other. Instead, there is a gap, known as the synapse, between them. When neurons communicate with each other, they release chemicals called neurotransmitters that cross the synapse to transmit signals from one neuron to the next.
During learning, a couple of processes could occur, she says.
First, neurons might undergo a process called long-term potentiation. When this happens, existing connections between neurons are strengthened, meaning that neurons now react to incoming signals with a larger or quicker response.
Secondly, neurons might also form new connections with each other via what is called dendritic spine growth. The receiving end of neurons is made up of a number of antenna-like structures called dendrites.
When these dendrites grow spines they increase the surface area of the dendrites, meaning that there are functionally more antennae (or a greater antenna surface) that allows more neurons to connect to this neuron.
Whenever learning occurs as a result of playing brain games, learning a new language or a new musical instrument, for instance, neural connections in the brain network that are responsible for that task will be strengthened.
While studies show that training improves performance at a particular task, Yee says that the amount of training, the duration of training and the duration of the effects, all vary between studies.
Another question is whether training for a certain task can be beneficial in similar tasks that presumably require similar cognitive processes, she adds.
Its been found that the benefit is restricted to the particular task that is trained for. For example, you may become better at solving this particular kind of puzzle, but evidence does not support the idea that you can become better at solving puzzles in general, never mind the even bolder claims about boosting general cognitive ability that we sometimes read about.
Yee says that puzzles are far removed from real-world tasks, and studies have found limited evidence that a meaningful amount of transfer can occur from lab-designed games to real-world situations. South China Morning Post/Sasha Gonzales
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The nature of jobs is changing, and what we should be looking for is changing, said Barbara Marder, senior partner at Mercer, a consultancy that specializes in human resources and has a stake in Pymetrics, a company that makes games for recruitment purposes.
Ms. Marder said such games had not been in use long enough to provide ample data on their effectiveness. Still, she said, they could be more useful than traditional tests and interviews.
Games offer additional benefits, she said, explaining: Theyre very attractive in attracting candidates and keeping the short attention span of millennials. Thats not an insignificant challenge.
In the case of Jaguar Land Rover, applicants are invited to explore a garage belonging to the band Gorillaz and assemble a Jaguar sports car. Once they complete that stage, they are confronted with a series of code-breaking puzzles.
Other organizations have used games that similarly offered candidates an opportunity to experiment with skills they would actually use on the job and to show off their abilities in a way they perhaps could not in a more traditional test-and-interview recruitment process.
In 2011, Marriott Hotels asked applicants to manage a virtual hotel, serving guests, managing a budget and training employees, all to see if they had what it took to run one of the companys hotels. Marriott said it hoped the game would help people see how rewarding a career in hospitality could be.
The same year, the Government Communications Headquarters, Britains main signals intelligence agency, tested potential recruits with a public challenge that required they crack a digital code.
Some companies have started using other kinds of tools in their searches for specific traits and attributes.
Axa Group and Daimler Trucks have teamed up with Knack, which says its games measure traits and abilities like social intelligence and spatial reasoning. One of its games, Dashi Dash, involves playing as a restaurant waiter and serving patrons based on their happy, sad or angry facial expressions.
Arctic Shores, a games-based assessment company, boasts Deloitte, Xerox and the BBC among its clients. Its games include Yellow Hook Reef, in which participants have to deal with issues like storing fresh food on a ship, which the company says test an individuals ability to communicate clearly and learn skills.
Follow Amie Tsang on Twitter @amietsang.
A version of this article appears in print on June 20, 2017, on Page B5 of the New York edition with the headline: To Solve Puzzle of Hiring, Jaguar Uses Brainteasers.
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Want to Work for Jaguar Land Rover? Start Playing Phone Games – New York Times
As expected Valve did not make an appearance at E3 2017 and the world is left wondering where their killer app is and what those three made-for-VR games could be. But alas, uncovering those secrets was not meant to be, at least not yet. Instead, this years E3 was a bit light for Valve, HTC, and the Vive in general. Virtually all of the Vive games we saw were just demos that happened to be running on Vives and werent really specifically targeted or marketed as Vive titles.
But nevertheless we played a lot of Vive stuff so weve made a list of the three best VR games we tried on the HTC Vive at E3 2017.
VR is a great medium for slow-paced cerebral puzzle games and there are few that have garnered as much modern popularity as The Talos Principle. Croteam teased VR support back in February when they also announced both Serious Sam 3 and The Second Encounter would be getting VR versions as well. During E3 2017 at the Devolver Digital lot the game was being shown again behind closed doors for private press demos and after trying it ourselves, the translation feels entirely natural. The demo was limited, but it does have new and reworked content that will absolutely help it become one of the top VR puzzle games to watch.
For more on what we thought of The Talos Principle VR, check back later this week.
Heading into E3 2017 this was easily the most anticipated VR game on most peoples horizons. There are tons of places we cant wait to explore and all of the new mechanics shown during the trailer above and at our hands-on demo prove that this is truly bringing the entirety of Fallout 4 into the immersive realms of VR. Re-exploring the wasteland again will be wonderful. The demo we tried was a significant improvement over last years barely functional version so all signs are pointing towards Fallout 4 VR being one of the best and most exciting releases to look forward to.
Make sure you also check out more on what we thought of playing Fallout 4 VR with full locomotion at E3 2017.
Honestly if you told me that UploadVRs favoriteHTC Vive game at E3 2017 was from Bethesda but wasnt Fallout 4 VR Id have called you crazy and told you to go get yourself checked out for rad exposure. But alas, here we are, youre not crazy, and were eagerly awaiting more details on DOOM VFR. The game was revealed during Bethesdas press conference last week and we got the chance to go hands-on with the gameand all of its bombastic blood, guts, and gore. While this isnt the entire DOOM 2016 game in VR, it does feature a unique experience with some new content and plenty of guns and bullets to keep the adrenaline pumping. The whole thing works better than youd think it would and it was easily one of the highlights of the show. It was a close call, but DOOM VFR is our favorite HTC Vive game from E3 2017.
Make sure you also check out our hands-on impressions for more details about why we loved DOOM VFR so much.
Which HTC Vive games are you most excited about from E3 2017? Let us know in the comments below!And be sure to check our lists for the best PSVRgames at E3 and best Oculus Riftgames at E3 from this year.
Tagged with: doom, e3, E3 2017, fallout, The Talos Principle
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Best HTC Vive Games of E3 2017 – UploadVR
Long time readers may recognize this previously posted problem as will people who have read my book Math Puzzles Volume 1.
Alice and Bob are on a game show. Each is secretly told a whole, positive number. They are told the two numbers are consecutive, but neither knows the other person’s number. For example, if Alice is told 20, she does not know if Bob was told 19 or 21. And if Bob is told 21, he does not know if Alice was told 20 or 22. The point of the game is to guess the other person’s number. The game works as follows.
–Alice and Bob cannot communicate with each other, and they are not allowed to plan their strategy either.
–The two are in a room where a clock rings every minute.
–After the clock rings, either player can call out a guess of the other player’s number, or they can stay silent.
–The game continues until Alice or Bob makes a guess. After the first guess is made, the game ends.
–Alice and Bob win $1 million each if the guess is correct, and they lose and get nothing if the guess is incorrect.
How should Alice and Bob play this game to have the best chance of winning? Each knows the other person is perfect at logical reasoning.
Watch the video for a solution.
Or keep reading.
Solution To Seemingly Impossible Guess The Number Logic Puzzle
At first it seems like Alice and Bob can do no better than random chance. If Alice is told 20, for instance, there is no way to know if Bob has 19 or 21. But since Alice can limit Bob’s number to 2 possibilities, she can at least have a 50% chance of guessing correctly.
Bob has the same issue. If he is told a number N, then he cannot be sure if Alice was told N – 1 or N + 1. If Bob guesses between the 2 possibilities, then he also has a 50% chance of guessing correctly.
It would seem Alice and Bob are stuck. Neither person has can do better than random chance, so regardless of who guesses, it would seem they are limited to a 50% chance of winning.
But remarkably they can do much better than random chance! They can actually increase their odds of winning to 100%. That is, they can win the game for sure! The trick is that they can use logic and the ringing clock to coordinate which player guesses.
The answer lies in the subtle rule that the clock rings every minute. The clock essentially serves as a signal between Alice and Bob that allows each person to reason inductively.
One key detail is the two are given positive consecutive numbers. When Alice gets a number N, she usually has to consider Bob has N – 1 or N + 1. But this is not always true. Suppose that Alice gets the number 1. She would have to consider that Bob got 0 or 2. But since 0 is not positive, she knows that Bob must have gotten 2.
So if Alice gets 1, then she would know Bob has 2 for sure, and she would answer on the first ring of the clock. Similarly, if Bob got the number 1, he would know Alice must have 2, and he would answer after the first ring of the clock.
Now consider instead that Alice was given 2 and Bob was given 3. Alice would be wondering if Bob has 1 or 3. But Alice would think, “If Bob has 1, he surely will answer after the first ring of the clock. Therefore, if the clock rings and he does not answer, he must surely have 3 instead.” So the clock will ring once, and then after it rings a second time Alice will answer and guess Bob has 3. (If instead Bob was given 2 and Alice was given 3, then Bob would answer after the second ring and guess Alice has 3.)
This reasoning can be extended inductively. If Alice and Bob are assigned N and N + 1, then the player with the lower number will answer in exactly N rings of the clock and correctly answer the other person has N + 1.
They win every single time!
The connection with common knowledge
The puzzle illustrates the game theory concept of common knowledge which is distinguished from mutual knowledge.
An event is mutual knowledge if each player knows the event. An event is instead common knowledge if all players know the event, all players know that all players know it, and so on ad infinitum.
Here is how the two concepts work in the game. When Alice is given the number 20 (and Bob could have 19 or 21), it is mutual knowledge that neither player has the number 1, neither player has the number 2, or so on, up to neither player has the number 18. But that deduction is not good enough to solve the game.
That is where the clock ringing provides a helping hand. When the clock rings the first time, and no one answers, the fact that neither player has 1 transforms from mutual knowledge into common knowledge. This seems like a trivial distinction, but it is an important one that allows for the building up of logical deductions. Each time the clock rings, the set of excluded numbers becomes common knowledge to both players, which eventually allows the players to win for sure.
Source of puzzle
Impossible?: Surprising Solutions to Counterintuitive Conundrums by Julian Havil. The puzzle is called “consecutive integers.”
Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/2rLqjNu
(I may get a small percentage of a sale)
Susanne Mitschke looks much younger than 27 but when she starts talking about MindMate, a free app designed and developed in Glasgow to help people affected by dementia live more independent lives, she exudes a maturity beyond her years. Dementia is a serious subject and one the award-winning entrepreneur wants to see more widely discussed.
Mitschke, MindMates German-born chief executive, and her co-founders Rogelio Arellano, 29, from Mexico and Patrick Renner, 27, also from Germany all graduates from the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde are quietly focused and ambitious.
The fact the app already has more than 150,000 monthly active users and is ranked in 17 countries as the number one health app in Apples store is remarkable given it was only launched last September. It has also claimed a clutch of prestigious awards.
Mindmate won last years much-lauded Converge Challenge, the business creation competition open to staff, students and recent graduates from Scotlands universities and research institutions. The fledgling company won 30,000 in cash and 14,000 in business support, sharing the top prize with Edinburgh-based MicroSense Technologies, a company that has developed a sensor system aimed at reducing waste in the food and drink industry.
Last summer, Mitschke and her co-founders won a place on Techstars, billed as the worlds top tech accelerator programme, in New York. MindMate was one of only 15 early-stage companies selected for the renowned scheme, which saw the team spend three months receiving mentoring from some of the tech worlds leading entrepreneurs.
According to Techstars, more than 90% of firms accepted onto the programme go on to receive more than US$2m in follow-on funding. Techstars really opened our eyes to what is possible, says Mitschke. We are building a global brand and an international product so exposure to the great contacts we made during our time on the programme was invaluable and has helped us fast-track our entry in the United States market.
With 850,000 people in the UK suffering from dementia and numbers set to increase to more than one million by 2025, its certainly time to talk about the disease for which there is currently no cure. According to the Alzheimers Society, one in six people over the age of 80 have dementia and there are more than 40,000 people under 65 with dementia in the UK. Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting 62% of those diagnosed.
The facts and the figures are stark, says Mitschke, who studied business and economics in Vienna before completing a masters degree in international management and leadership at the University of Glasgow. In the US, there are more than five million people suffering from dementia. Its a very cruel disease that affects families and carers too and it was our own different experiences of cognitive decline that led us to develop MindMate.
While Renner, the companys chief operations officer, had experience of working in the care system in Germany and Mitschke developed expertise in both digital health and Alzheimers, Arellanos association with the disease is particularly close to home his grandfather had the condition and he helped care for him for seven years, witnessing first-hand the everyday struggles not just of his grandfather but his family.
We had a whiteboard on the wall with family pictures on it to help my grandfather remember who everyone was, explains MindMates chief technical officer. He would sometimes forget who I was, or confuse me with my father. It was very difficult for all of us. He would see that board every time he went into the kitchen and there would be sticky notes reminding him to take pills or eat breakfast that type of thing.
So, we thought if we could put all these prompts into an app and make it interactive with games, reminders things like that it could be such a valuable tool in stimulating peoples minds and helping them stay active. We didnt have anything like that to help my grandfather.
The trio, which founded the company and started developing its app two years ago, carried out market research and found that, while there were several apps designed to help people with memory loss, there wasnt one that provided a one-stop shop solution in a user-friendly way that was also intuitive and medically backed. Thats our point of difference, Mitschke points out. But, in particular, we were determined it had to be easy to use.
MindMate has several features, including interactive games to stimulate a users cognitive abilities, as well as chat and video functions to help family and carers keep in touch with dementia sufferers. People suffering from dementia can be very lonely and confused, says Mitschke, and this leads to isolation.
We describe MindMate as a guardian angel, a friend who is always there to help you by giving you everything you need at your fingertips. Other apps provide brain games or advice on nutrition and exercise but if you are struggling with memory loss and are using several apps for different things and maybe Spotify for music then it can be overwhelming.
With MindMate, you dont have to use different apps for music, games, photographs and so on because you can access it all on our interface. Its an empowering tool because it helps people manage their lives without having to rely on family, friends or carers all the time it increases their quality of life and that of the people around them.
One of its many features is a My Story area that allows users to store happy memories photographs of family, friends and pets, for example. Click on the music button and theres a host of great tunes going back to the 1930s. There are also healthy recipes, games designed to improve your brain health and exercise workouts. Reminders to help manage hospital appointments, to-do lists and a notes section are also invaluable tools for people with early-stage memory loss.
While MindMate is targeted predominately at the baby-boomer generation who like the convenience of having everything they need in the one app, it has wider appeal because everyones brain health can be boosted by keeping the mind active. Its benefits have also been recognised by the National Health Service, which became its first paying customer after NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde bought the care home version of the app to run on iPads following a two-month trial with a post-diagnosis dementia support group.
MindMate is currently based at the University of Glasgows Thomson Building in the citys leafy West End, but would Mitschke be tempted to relocate from Scotland and the UK in light of Brexit and the wider political uncertainty? Absolutely not, she states emphatically. Scotland is the best place to start a business, she believes, pointing to the early support from Enterprise Campus West, linked to the University of Strathclyde. In Germany, for example, it is very difficult if you dont have loads of cash but theres excellent support in Scotland for start-ups and its also easy to recruit because of all the talent coming out the universities, and cheaper.
Scotlands very innovative when it comes to encouraging start-ups the University of Glasgow has supported us with premises for two years, which has allowed us to get on with developing the business, she adds. There are very high levels of collaboration and that encourages you to think beyond your own ideas and consider going in directions you hadnt previously thought of.
Mitschke also points to the many inspiring people here who have started from very small beginnings and now run global organisations. Many Scottish businesses are very well respected around the world and that opens doors, she says. The trios time spent in the US, meanwhile, taught them to be more confident about scaling up. Theres such a can-do attitude there, says Mitschke. The people are so enthusiastic and that helps you believe in yourself and your capabilities. After Techstars we felt that anything was possible.
Having already raised funding of 1m, Mitschke, Arellano and Renner make no apology for their lofty ambitions. Were a high-growth business and we want to see a MindMate app on the iPhone or iPad of every 60-plus person in the world, says Mitschke. Were collecting a massive amount of data on people who have dementia and Alzheimers and the number of sufferers is going to double until 2050.
People are getting older and living longer so we shouldnt be surprised, she says. Its not just dementia sufferers our apps can help older people also need help to live independently and there are people who have been ill and still want to live at home but need help. Thats where we see MindMate developing in the future.
The rest is here:
Brain Power – BQ Live
In 2014, Melbourne-based Loveshack released Framed, a comic book-style puzzle game that requires manipulation of panels to guide the main character through a noir spy story. The game struck a chord for its novel combination of puzzles, narrative, and hip, silhouetted spy style. This week, Loveshack released Framed 2, an excellent prequel to Framed that delivers more of what made the original version a hit, but as part of a deeper and more refined experience.
Framed 2 jumps into hard puzzles quickly, seemingly assuming familiarity with the first game. Therefore, if you havent tried Framed or dont play a lot of puzzle games, you may want to start with the original game first. I enjoyed getting into more challenging puzzles early, but its an approach that could be frustrating to beginners.
The mechanics are still simple, though. The narrative plays out across comic book-style panels with the black silhouetted characters animating from panel to panel as they move through the story. Your job is to reorder, rotate, and reuse panels so the characters can make it through the scene to the next set of panels. The obstacles you face along the way vary from holes in a boardwalk to police officers on the beat.
One way Framed 2 adds complexity to its puzzles this time around is by occasionally requiring you to get multiple characters through the scene. The game also has more puzzles that require the reuse of panels, which is something that wasnt used as often in the original game. Combined with rotating panels, Framed 2 makes you consider the timeline of the story as it plays out as well as the spatial relationships among the characters, which adds to the challenge. This version also adds collectible Polaroid-style photos, which provides an incentive to go back and play levels again.
The action pauses as you move panels. After you’re finished dragging panels around, sit back and watch the story unfold to see if your setup works. There is no penalty for failing a puzzle other than having to start the scene over, which is not a big deal because the scenes are short. Its a trial and error process thats focused on the narrative and puzzles, not a scoring system.
The games visuals have been kicked up a notch from the original game too. The settings are more varied, and the art is more refined overall. As with Framed, the prequel includes a great 60s-style jazz soundtrack that complements the artwork perfectly and adds atmosphere.
Framed 2 wont be the same delightful experience that the first game was for anyone who played it simply because the prequel wont feel as surprising and new. However, Loveshack has taken what worked in that original game and extended it by adding more of what worked the first time, along with new layers of complexity. The result works to make Framed 2 feel simultaneously familiar and fresh in a way that should appeal equally to existing fans and newcomers.
Framed 2 is available on the App Store.
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Game Day: Framed 2 – MacStories
Its a myth that humans only use 10% of their brains. That idea is not only inaccurate, it doesnt make any sense, says Earl Miller, a professor of neuroscience at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Even the simplest behaviors engage much of our brain.”
But while that old 10% dictum is bogus, its true that many of us have some untapped reserves of mental acuity that, if harnessed, could sharpen our powers of insight and analysis. The key to accessing those reserves, Miller says, is to stay focused. The main thing that impedes our cognition is distraction.”
Distractions are powerful drains on the brain’s ability to focus, and one of the best ways to get more from your mind is to give yourself the gift of uninterrupted stretches of time.
Think of your mind as a muscle that can be strengthened with exercise. But the latest science suggests that “exercise” doesn’t mean app-based brain games or activities like Sudoku, but bouts of prolonged, uninterrupted concentration, Miller says. Put simply, a distracted brain is a dumb brain. Unfortunately, our brains are curious and are always interested in whats going on around us, so its very hard to ignore all that and to stay focused.”
Distractions are ubiquitous, popping up as email alerts, text messages and social network updates. People think that they can multitask and check these things without losing their focus, but we have lots of studies showing that task-switching leads to mistakes and back-tracking, and that it wastes a lot of time, Miller says. And all of these interruptions seem to be getting in the way of more creative, profound insights. When your brain is bombarded by distraction, your thoughts are more superficial, and youre not getting as far down that path to where new ideas emerge.”
Other experts agree. Switching between tasks can result in a phenomenon called attention residue, according to the work of Sophie Leroy, assistant professor of business at the University of Washington. When you ask your brain to quickly shift from one task to another, it struggles to cleanly discard the first and move on to the next. Lets say I work on a project right up until I have a meeting, she says. I may be at the meeting, but my brain is still trying to find closure on that project I was working on, so questions and ruminations about that project are interfering with my ability to concentrate.
The more tasks you ask your brain to perform in a short period of time, the more that cognitive clutter accumulates, and the more your performance declines. Calvin Newport, associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University and author of the book Deep Work, puts that performance decline in real-world terms. Anecdotally, it seems like most people experience a 50% drop in productivity and cognitive capacity when in a state of distraction, he says. And even though a quick peek at your inbox or social feed only takes a second, “the duration of those checks does not correlate to the magnitude of the distraction, Newport says.
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Newport realized just how much those quick checks were tanking his brains performance when he wrote his last book. In an effort to be more productive, he started scheduling blocks of time to check his phone or email, while committing the rest of his day solely to his book or his research duties as an academic. I should have had less time for my usual work because I was also researching and writing this book, he says. But the number of peer-reviewed papers I published that year went up by a factor of two.
One of the best ways to sharpen your focusand therefore enhance your brainpoweris to schedule this sort of uninterrupted time to focus on the cognitive tasks that matter to you. Its not uncommon for people who do this to talk about their productivity increasing, Newport says. Research suggests that meditation may be another way to strengthen your brains ability to concentrate.
It’s also important to complete one mental task before moving on to another. If you have a meeting at 11, most of us will work until 10:59 and then rush to the meeting, Leroy says. That doesnt give the brain time to figure out what its accomplished or what else needs to be done, and so theres no closure. Your brain needs that closure, she says, in order to transition effectively to its next chore.
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She recommends taking some time between mental taskseven a minute or twoto consider the work your brain just performed. “Write down where you are and what you want to do when you return to the task, she says. In one of her experiments, people who followed this protocol improved their performance on a decision-making test by 79%, compared to people who hadnt taken any time to collect their thoughts between tasks.
Another simple-soundingyet challengingrecommendation is to inject more boredom into your life. Dont pull out the phone when standing in line, and if youre sitting alone somewhere, try it without looking at a screen, Newport says. Most of us need these breaks if we hope to stay focused on anything for longer than a few minutes. The brain has to be comfortable not getting some shiny new stimuli from a device every few seconds,” he says.
Indeed, a little digital break goes a long way. I think being connected all the time is a lot like sugar: its easy for us to get accustomed to it and to want more, Leroy says. If youve been spending a lot of time multitasking, its going to take time to teach your brain to maintain focused attention.”