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Vestron Video
Vestron Video

How to Beat Home Video Games (in 1982)

Vestron Video
Vestron Video
In 1982, Vestron Video released a series of "professional lessons in mastering home video games" on VHS. How to Beat Home Video Games is an 80s-tastic guide to just what it sounds like; released in three volumes, each tape covered an hour's worth of detailed hints and tricks about the biggest hits of the day. It's wildly retro, and actually quite useful -- if you're hoping to master Atari 2600, Vectrex, or Colecovision games. And how's this for irony: many of these games are actually unbeatable (they end with the player dying, always), so the title of the series is inaccurate at best. But still, dive in. Oh, and while we normally bring you five movies each night, I figured three one-hour movies was good enough for one gloriously wasted evening.

Volume I: The Best Games

Atari 2600 all the way, dudes. Includes: Space Invaders, Demon Attack, Space Cavern, Missile Command, Atlantis, Cosmic Ark, Asteroids, Yar's Revenge, Defender, Chopper Command, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Stampede, Barnstorming, Kaboom!, Breakout, Warlords, Circus Atari, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man. Okay, Atari 2600 fans. Did you know the "double-shot" bug in Space Invaders, invoked by holding down the Reset button on launch?

Volume II: The Hot New Games

Featuring yet more Atari 2600 titles. Includes: E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Megamania, Astroblast, Encounter at L-5, Star Master, Space Attack, Planet Patrol, Nexar, Berzerk, Dark Cavern, Venture, Pitfall, Riddle of the Sphynx, Shark Attack, Mouse Trap, Lock N Chase, Tapeworm, Lost Luggage, Super Breakout, Demons to Diamonds, Gangster Alley. "Most of these games are so new that strategies for beating them haven't been published before now!" -Spoken just before we see shots of E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Volume III: Arcade Quality For The Home

This one finally has Atari 5200, Vectrex, and Colecovision titles (the Vectrex stuff is totally awesome). Featuring: Mine Storm, Hyperchase, Clean Sweep, Rip-Off, Berzerk, Cosmic Chasm, Scramble, Venture, Cosmic Avenger, Donkey Kong, Zaxxon, Lady Bug, Smurf, Pac-Man, Centipede, Defender, Galaxian, Super Breakout, Star Raiders, Space Invaders.
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UsTwo
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This Augmented-Reality App Makes the Hospital Experience Less Scary for Kids
UsTwo
UsTwo

Staying in a hospital can be a scary experience for kids, but a little distraction can make it less stressful. According to studies conducted by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, UK, distracted patients have an easier time with their appointments and require less pain medication. Now, Co.Design reports that the hospital is releasing its own app designed to keep children entertained—and calm—from the moment they check in.

The Android and iOS app, called Alder Play, was designed by ustwo, the makers of the wildly popular smartphone game Monument Valley and the stress relief tool Pause. Patients can download the app before they arrive at the hospital, choosing a virtual animal buddy to guide them through their stay. Then, once they check into the hospital, their furry companion shows them around the facility using augmented-reality technology.

The app features plenty of fun scavenger hunts and other games for kids to play during their downtime, but its most important features are designed to coach young patients through treatments. Short videos walk them through procedures like blood tests so that when the time comes, the situation will feel less intimidating. And for each step in the hospitalization process, from body scans to gown changes, doctors can give kids virtual stickers to reward them for following directions or just being brave. There’s also an AI chatbot (powered by IBM’s Watson) available to answer any questions kids or their parents might have about the hospital.

The app is very new, and Alder Hey is still assessing whether or not it's changing their young hospital guests’ experiences for the better. If the game is successful, children's hospitals around the world may consider developing exclusive apps of their own.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Cell Free Technology
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This Pixel Kit Will Let You Play Tetris With Jellyfish DNA
Cell Free Technology
Cell Free Technology

Forget playing Tetris on your phone. Now you can play it with jellyfish DNA. Bixels is a DIY game kit that lets you code your own games using synthetic biology, lighting up a digital display with the help of DNA.

Its 8-by-8 pixel grid is programmed to turn on with the help of the same protein that makes jellyfish glow, called green fluorescent protein (GFP). But you can program it to do more than just passively shine. You can use your phone and the associated app to excite Bixels' fluorescent proteins and make them glow at different frequencies, producing red, blue, and green colors. Essentially, you can program it like you would any computer, but instead of electronics powering the system, it's DNA.

Two blue boxes hold Bixel pixel grids.

Researchers use green fluorescent protein all the time in lab experiments as an imaging agent to illuminate biological processes for study. With Bixels, all you need is a little programming to turn the colorful lights (tubes filled with GFP) into custom images or interactive games like Tetris or Snake. You can also use it to develop your own scientific experiments. (For experiment ideas, Bixels' creator, the Irish company Cell-Free Technology, suggests the curricula from BioBuilder.)

A screenshot shows a user assembling a Bixel kit on video.

A pixel kit is housed in a cardboard box that looks like a Game Boy.

Bixels is designed to be used by people with all levels of scientific knowledge, helping make the world of biotechnology more accessible to the public. Eventually, Cell-Free Technology wants to create a bio-computer even more advanced than Bixels. "Our ultimate goal is to build a personal bio-computer which, unlike current wearable devices, truly interacts with our bodies," co-founder Helene Steiner said in a press release.

Bixels - Play tetris with DNA from Cell-Free Technology on Vimeo.

You can buy your own Bixel kit on Kickstarter for roughly $118. It's expected to ship in May 2018.

All images courtesy Cell-Free Technology

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