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Playing Nice

(category: Computer-Games-Systems, Word count: 573)
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A Few Suggestions for Gaming Etiquette

No, it isn't Ms. Manners to the rescue, nor is it Polite Polly knocking at your noggin. We just know how easy it is to get frustrated or even angry while playing a difficult game, but if we're not careful, that anger and frustration could lead to some butt-ugly moments during a time that's supposed to be amusing. The following is offered in an effort to keep everything fun and entertaining during a session of group play.

1. Encourage each other. Even if you're competing with each other in a boxing match or car race, take time out to congratulate another player for making a smooth or cunning move. There's no need to be a kiss-up, but when tensions are high, and the desire to impress is high, you can help relax any stress just by throwing out a few compliments here and there.

2. Be patient. Your gaming comrades may not be as fast, as coordinated, or as smart as you. So when you notice your regular game pace slowing down, don't criticize. You could quietly plan your next move or you could offer to help if you notice that your buddies seem lost. This will encourage cooperation and relive some of the stress involved with playing a difficult game.

3. Take some breaks. Permitting that your group finds appropriate places in a game to pause, take advantage and get up to stretch, snack, use the john, talk about school, or catch a few silly commercials on television. A long stretch of game play is tiring and stressful at the same time.

4. Play an inclusive game. By that we mean to make efforts to ensure everyone in the group contributes to the game's completion. You never want to make another person feel left out or just hanging around to fill the space. Create opportunities for everyone involved to participate and help play.

5. Listen to others. You may think that you know all the answers about a game or game system, but listen to what others in the group have to say. You just might learn something new.

6. Invite the "weird guy." This bit of advice of course comes after the horrid Virginia Tech massacre. Tales circulating this news event indicate that the young man responsible was a loner and the victim of bullying during his teenage years as well. Sometimes, all it takes to prevent things like this is a simple effort to reach out to someone. We're not suggesting that an invitation to a gaming party would have saved the lives of 33+ college students, but we are suggesting that making an effort to make others feel welcome and wanted is a huge step towards eliminating the isolation known to cause these kinds of senseless acts.

7. Vow to keep the voice level and cursing to a minimum. That almost goes without saying, but to prevent arguments, agree beforehand to not cross the line when it comes to debating about a particular strategy or selecting a game to play. Some of the most serious fights stem from the silliest arguments. But you can prevent a flare up within your group just by maintaining a cool composure during the entire session.

Now see? That's not too bad a list. All the things that we suggested are certainly "do-able" and they really do work to create a calm and enjoyable environment.

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What S Up With Nintendods

(category: Computer-Games-Systems, Word count: 574)
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A Guide of What's Available for the NintendoDS System

If you're looking for a game system that comes with a butt-load of inexpensive games, you come to the right place. No other gaming system on the market today hosts as many games at such low prices as the handheld NintendoDS System. Nor does any other gaming system on the market cater to such a young audience.

More appropriate for young gamers than teens or adults, NintendoDS games bring back the SuperMario flavor that we've all come to love. Pokemon is still as strong as ever with this system as well, however we've noticed a few new games (and types of games) thrown into the mix too.

This article describes some of the accessories and games available for this particular sytem that everyone can enjoy.

The NintendoDS System. This isn't your regular GameBoy system of yesteryear. The new NintendoDS System has a high-powered flat, folding handheld gaming device complete with bright color touch screen technology - all available for only $129.99.

NintendoDS Accessories. Like the games that this system plays, its accessories are just as plentiful - fully appreciated by the serious gamer on the go. You can get a $14.99 headset for those quiet moments, and sport your system in a small $9.99 Duo game case, $9.99 ultimate leather case, or $17.99 G-Pak for quick trips or for storage. For $29.99, you can stock up on a multitude of accessories encased in a convenient player pack or settle for quick emergency fixes with the $14.99 value kit. Recharging is a breeze on a $9.99 glow deck.

NintendoDS Games. Looking for games? We've separated this part of our guide into two sections: one for children and one for adults. Use caution when purchasing NintendoDS games for players under 18 years of age.

FOR CHILDREN:

Pokemon: Perls $34.99

Pokemon: Diamond $34.99

Pokemon: leaf Green $19.99

Pokemon: Fire Red: $19.99

Pokemon: Emerald: $34.99

Pokemon Ranger $34.99

Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon Blue $34.99

Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon Red $34.99

Yoshie's Island DS $34.99

Wario: master of Disguise $34.99

Big Brain Academy $19.99

Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day $19.99

Nintendogs: Dalmatian & Friends $34.99

Custom Robo Arena $34.99

Diddy Kong Racing DS $ 34.99

Kirby Squeak Squad $4.99

Mario Hoops 3 on 3 $34.99

Mario Kart DS $34.99

Mario Vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis $34.99

New Super Mario Bros. $34.99

Cats $29.99

Horsez $29.99

Dogz $29.99

Settlers II $29.99

Lost in Blue 2 $29.99

Spectrobes $ 29.99

SNK vs. Capcon Card Fighters $29.99

Purr Pals $29.99

Cooking Mama $19.99

COMING SOON:

Diner Dash

Pony Friends

Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru

Super Collapse 3

NOTE: Harukanaru's fighting style in the new version of Dragon Ball Z for NintendoDS differs from the style in its 2005 predecessor. In Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru, players battle using the turn-base action formula.

FOR ADULTS:

COMING SOON:

Touch the Dead

NOTE: Touch of the Dead is rated M for Mature Audiences, and exhibits the arcade shooter style. Please remember to follow the guidelines set by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) when buying games for children under the age of 18. Here's a handy reference to what the ratings mean:

C = Appropriate for Early childhood

E = Appropriate for Everyone

E 10+ = Appropriate for Everyone aged 10 and older

T = Appropriate for Teens

M = Appropriate for Mature Adults

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What Makes A Great Game

(category: Computer-Games-Systems, Word count: 606)
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A Gentle Reminder for Programmers

It's easy to get lost in all the details of building a great video or computer game - so easy in fact, that we can forget the parts of a game that make them fun to play. The following serves as a gentle reminder of what prompts players to play games in the first place. Refer to this reminder in the event that you get bogged down or distracted with confusing C++ syntax, or lines and lines of Visual Basic statements and DLL structures.

1. Remember the player is the main character. Here's a secret between you and me: People play games to gain a sense of control. If you can manage to program your game in a way that puts the player in control, then you've already won half the battle. This doesn't mean to suggest that the game should be easy. It simply means that when a gamer runs home from school or drives home from work to play a video game, she wants to feel the control that she didn't have during the hours between nine and five. The outcome of a game - whether it's a win or a loss - should never be random, but the result of a good, controlled game play instead.

2. KISS. Remember that acronym? It stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. We all know that programming a game is hard business, but believe us when we say we don't want to be reminded of it. The difficulty of programming a game should never be part of the game play so when possible, make the game easy to start, easy to navigate, and of course, easy to play. We're not asking for pre-school strategy here, but on the other hand, we don't want to feel as dumb as a pre-schooler either. Forget the hundred page manual. Nobody except the truly obsessed is going to read it anyway. Build your game for the average Joe and everyone will be your fan.

3. Add plenty of action. And add lots of it too. The more action you add to your game, the more attention players will pay attention to it. And the more that players pay attention to your game, the more addictive your game gets. For every action that a player's character makes, have the game react and then prompt the player for more.

4. Make the story a good one. Nothing is worse than playing a game only to wonder what you're doing and why. Purpose is and always has been a human obsession. But without it, we're left wandering... in the darkness... wondering bizarre things like how the house would look in a coat of bright pink paint. Don't give your players the opportunity to waste time like that. Give them a mission and make sure your game reminds them what the mission is at opportune times and why they must complete it.

5. Give us eye candy. But make it relevant. The graphics in a game shouldn't be distracting, they should make our eyeballs glaze over with satisfaction upon seeing them, and then salivate for more. Graphics should contain clues and entice us further and further into the game until we've beaten the thing.

6. Make it real. Fantasy games are okay, but what makes them cool is the fact that they're realistic. It's hard to get into something that isn't familiar or that there's no way we could ever experience. But if you can implement some reality into your games, players will appreciate it and relate to it on a whole new respectable level.

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What S Up With Wii

(category: Computer-Games-Systems, Word count: 557)
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A Guide of What's Available for Nintendo's Wii System

If you haven't heard of Nintendo's Wii system, we have just one question for you. Where have you been?! This hot new gaming system made its debut right at the time when Microsoft's new Xbox hit the market. But what makes this system so popular is that it's the first system that incorporates virtual reality in the living room. That, in addition to Nintendo's dedication to producing gaming material for that entire family as opposed to the complex games that we have on the market (for other systems) today.

This article describes some of the accessories and games available that everyone can enjoy.

The Wii System. Welcome back to family fun with this console. For only $249, the entire family can enjoy time's treasured games and physically interact with them using Nintendo's unique wrist-strapped controller. Anyone at any skill level can get in on the fun with this new machine and it comes with a free Wii Sports game cartridge.

Wii Accessories. If you're still "old school" and you prefer to use the classic Nintendo style controller, no need to fret. They're still available and they cost no more than $19.99. But if you can't wait to try out the Wii Remote, get one or two or three at only $40 each. The Wii Nunchuck Controller will run you about $19.99, however both the Nunchuck and Remote controller will give you hours of fun as you swing your way through your favorite games.

Of course, all that gaming could warrant the purchase of the Wii Air cooler ($14.99) or the Wii Charge Station ($29.99). And you certainly don't want to quit a game without saving your place! You can buy a 1GB SD Memory card ($39.99) or 2 GB SD memory card ($59.99) made by SanDisk, and pick up the fun where you left off at a later time.

To make sure your Wii console fits snuggly into the back of your television, you can buy a pack of Wii Component cables for $29.99.

Wii Games. Looking for games? We've separated this part of our guide into two sections: one for children and one for adults. Use caution when purchasing Wii games for players under 18 years of age.

FOR CHILDREN:

Excite Truck.................................................$49.99

Wario Ware: Smooth Moves........................$49.99

Super Paper Mario.......................................$19.99

Bionicle........................................................$49.99

Sonic and the Secret Rings.........................$49.99

Cooking Mama: Cook Off............................$49.99

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07.......................... $49.99

NOTE: Bionicle may not look children friendly at first, but it really is a fun and innocent game that battles and controls a line of toy action figures. It's based on Lego's Bionicle universe. Cooking Mama is rather new to the Nintendo game suite and it challenges young players to prepare more than 300 real recipes from 10 different countries.

FOR ADULTS:

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess......$49.99

Medal of Honor Vangaurd...........................$49.99

The Godfather: Blackhand Edition..............$49.99

COMING SOON:

Mario Party 8

Legend of the Dragon

Mortal Combat Armageddon

Scarface: The World is Yours

NOTE: Legend of the Dragon and Zelda is rated T for Teen. The Godfather, Scarface, and Mortal Combat is rated M for Mature. Both The Godfather and Scarface emulate scenes from their movies and the violence follows with them.. Mortal Combat was designed to appeal to an audience that's, "eager for violence."

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What S Up With Xbox 360

(category: Computer-Games-Systems, Word count: 570)
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A Guide of What's Available for Microsoft's XBox 360 System

The XBox 360 System. The new Xbox 360 console ($399.99) brings Microsoft technology to the gaming industry like never before. This new toy sports new Internet connections to social communities and puts the gamer in ultimate control with goo-gobs of fun accessories.

This article describes some of those accessories and the games available that (almost) everyone can enjoy.

XBox 360 Accessories. For such a powerful system, it should be no surprise that this system takes full advantage of accessorizing. We can start by saving games on the $19.99 512MB memory unit or with the $29.99 64MB memory unit. To keep the power going, we can look at the $29.99 Quick Charge Kit or the smaller $19.99 Play & Charge Kit. On the go, you can carry and use the $11.99 Rechargeable Batter Pack while re-powering you controller with the $29.99 charge Station.

Increase connectivity with the $99.99 Wireless Network Adapter and keep your system "kewl" with the $19.99 Intercooler. But that's enough about maintenance. Let's look at the fun.

Get a $39.99 Wired controller or $49.99 Wireless Controller to play your games. Unless you want feel like getting behind the wheel. In that case, you can try on the $149.99 Wireless Racing Wheel for size.

Want a little multimedia action? Get a $199.99 HD-DVD player (don't forget the $19.99 remote) - a $39.99 Live Vision Camera or a $59.99 Wireless Headset (wired headset available for $19.99). Then jam your way onto the $89.99 Guitar Hero II.

Of course if you want to get down with your PC, check out Xbox's $19.99 Wireless Gaming Receiver and user your Xbox 360 controller on the computer!

XBox 360 Games. Looking for games? We've separated this part of our guide into two sections: one for children and one for adults. Use caution when purchasing XBox 360 games for players under 18 years of age.

FOR CHILDREN:

Xbox's UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 $59.99

Xbox's Viva Pinata $29.99

Xbox's Fuzion Frenzy 2 $29.99

Meet the Robinsons $49.99 (by Disney Interactive Studios)

Xbox's Star Trek Legacy $39.99

Konami's Dance Dance Revolution Universe $49.99

COMING SOON:

Forza MotorSport 2

FOR ADULTS:

Xbox's Halo 2 $29.99 (rated 10 by GameInformer)

Xbox's Gears of War $59.99 (rated 9.5 by GameInformer)

Xbox's Crackdown $59.99 (rated 8.5 by GameInformer)

Capcom's Lost Planet: Extreme Condition $59.99

Bethesda Softworks' Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion $59.99

Xbox's Rainbow Six: Vegas $59.99 (rated 9.5 by GameInformer)

D3 Publishers' Earth Defense Force 2017 $39.99

Activision's Cabela's African Safari $29.99

Activision's Marvel: Ultimate Alliance $59.99 (rated 9.25 by GameInformer)

Activision's History Channel: Civil War $39.99

Ubisoft's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 $59.99 (rated 8.75 by GameInformer)

Sega's Armored Core 4 $59.99

NOTE: A lot of Xbox 360 games exhibit the RP warning. Please remember to follow the guidelines set by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) when buying games for children under the age of 18. Here's a handy reference to what the ratings mean:

C = Appropriate for Early childhood

E = Appropriate for Everyone

E 10+ = Appropriate for Everyone aged 10 and older

T = Appropriate for Teens

M = Appropriate for Mature Adults

RP = Rating Pending (NOT appropriate for children)

The following games sport ESRB's RP rating:

Mass Effect

Shadowrun

Blue Dragon

Tenchu Z

The Drakness

Bioshock

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Hour of Victory

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Becoming A Video Game Expert

(category: Computer-Games-Systems, Word count: 570)
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You've Got The Skills, So Why Not?

If you find yourself playing video games day-in and day-out, you might be a prime candidate for establishing yourself as a gaming expert. All you need is a good knowledge of a wide range of games and gaming systems, and of course, a lot of patience. The rewards are phenomenal and in the end, you'll be a better person for it.

So what is an expert anyway? Just what is it that qualifies anyone to be an expert on anything? Since there aren't any colleges that offer degrees in this genre, we can qualify any gamer as an expert who has the qualities described above. So if you have the knowledge or ability to play a game skillfully - and you enjoy solving problems, you could probably claim the rights to an expert status.

Just be sure that you ensure your own growth in the gaming industry. Part of being an expert is admitting that there's always more to learn and in the gaming industry, this should never be a hard thing to pull off. By exposing yourself to new games and new game systems, you can turn every opportunity to play with one into an opportunity to learn more than what you already know. In doing so, you'll learn tons of new strategies and widen your resourcefulness as a point of help to others.

You could also make multiple efforts to collaborate with others involved with video games. Get off the game and get out into the public so that you can network and discuss your discoveries with others. Networking gives you the wonderful opportunities to share or swap secrets, teach others, and learn a little something new at the same time. And the relationships that you build as a result are simply invaluable. There's probably no other way you could gain access to little known gaming secrets than to network among the best gamers around.

If you're completely dedicated toward becoming a gaming expert, consider taking some classes in game programming. Seek out and apprenticeship and find training programs that are offered in both your local area and the gaming industry as a whole. This is an excellent way to learn everything anyone would ever want to know about gaming, and its a good entrance into the gaming industry if you aren't too crazy about making a commitment to a full time gaming career.

You could also subscribe to gaming magazines, participate in online discussion boards, or sign up for book clubs that focus on gaming material.

Take note that your status as a gaming expert may not always be appreciated. Strong criticisms - whether right or wrong - come with the glory of being perceived as the "answer to everything." As an example, you may be rejected for an opportunity that you feel you're perfect for, or you may experience the spew of a less-than-experienced heckler. The first rule of thumb is to not take rejection or spew personally. People may be jealous of your position, or they may want to test you just to see how much you really do (or don't) know. The reasons behind these reactions to your assistance don't really matter as long as you're confident about the quality and value behind your help. A true expert looks past these things and they constantly look for ways to improve themselves.

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Getting New Ideas For Video Games Part 4

(category: Computer-Games-Systems, Word count: 581)
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A Springboard for Video Game Developers

Creating video games is an art, no doubt. The problem is that it isn't easy to come up with ideas for video games. And even when we do get an idea, it doesn't seem as fresh or exciting as we want it to be. The following offers a few ways you can generate some creative ideas to keep your video game as fun to play from beginning to end.

18. Don't finish developing the game. Wouldn't that be a hoot! Instead of developing a video game that has a beginning and an end, design a game that continuously loops with challenges (levels) that increase with difficulty on every round. Winning a game like this would be a matter of racking up points and to satisfy game play, you could have the game post the name of the player with the highest points to a community website. (Hey, it's a thought!)

19. Exaggerate, Exaggerate, Exaggerate. One way to generate ideas for a video game is to exaggerate the characters, scenes, plots, and strategies that you already have down. This is how 'nice" turns into 'cool' and how 'cool' turns into 'awesome.' The trick is to know when you're crossing the line and going from "possible" to "impossible." You always want to keep a sense of possible reality in a game, however on the same token, you don't want to make the game so possible that it's predictable. There's a delicate balance and as a game developer who wants to stand out from the crowd, you've got to know how far you can stretch this balance without being offensive, silly, or stupid.

The basic point that we want to stress throughout this guide is that your game development doesn't have to follow the status quo. If you stick to what's been done before or what's been played before, you'll find that your games will collect dust on the shelves and that all your time and efforts will have been for naught.

Break established customs or doctrines and you'll get noticed. Get noticed and you'll gain a reputation for developing the most outstanding games around. Being able to get good ideas for your video games ideas is a gift - especially since good ideas can be hard to come by. But stop and think about what you have so far. Is it the best? Could it be better? Would a different approach help you obtain the fame that you crave?

Take a look at each strategy we've introduced in this article and see if you can't implement just one or two of them. Implementing ALL of them would certainly be a challenge, but so would the end result: your game.

Today's gamer craves the unknown, he craves something new, different, and original. If you're suffering from the "blank page syndrome," just pull up our article and consider each strategy as the answer. Expand your current ideas to the point where they excite even you - the developer.

And always remember that your video game is an extension of you. It deals with self-expression, creativity and communication. Don't underestimate yourself or your capabilities to do the unthinkable. And whatever you do - don't underestimate your players. The advantages of following our suggestions far outweigh any doubts you may have because once you step out of the realm of expectations, you make a wonderful contribution to the world.

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Buying Video Games For A Gaming Tot

(category: Computer-Games-Systems, Word count: 665)
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A Quick How To

Visit any video game outlet and you're bound to get overwhelmed by the hundreds of choices available - especially if you're new to gaming. Interestingly, children and teens seem to know their way around these places as if they were their second home. But for the adult, the typical video store looks like some sort of color paint explosion and sooner or later, all the games start to look the same. This guide is for the adult who's buying a game for a younger person perhaps as a birthday gift or as a bribe. Whatever the reason, you're going to appreciate the following tips.

1. Research this strange phenomenon before setting foot inside a video store. There's plenty of information available about video games online, so to reduce frustration offline, fire up your web browser and do a little homework. Visit the website of the gaming outlet nearest you and then look for a link to the games section of the system that your youngster plays. Here's a helpful chart to explain what all those strange letters mean.

Wii = Nintendo's Wii System

EA Sports = Entertainment Arts System

PS3 = Playstation 3 System

XBOX 360 = Microsoft's XBOX 360 System

PC = Personal Computer

PS2 = Playstation 2 System

PSP = Playstation Portable System

DS = Nintendo's DS System

The key is to locate the system on the store's website first. The system, it's accessories, and all of the games that work on that system will follow. If not, you may need to use the website's internal search engine.

2. After locating the appropriate games section for your youngster's machine, check out the ratings of each game and create a temporary shopping list of age appropriate material. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) gives each game a rating in an effort to inform parents what their children are playing. Here's a handy reference to what the ratings mean:

C = Appropriate for Early childhood

E = Appropriate for Everyone

E 10+ = Appropriate for Everyone aged 10 and older

T = Appropriate for Teens

M = Appropriate for Mature Adults

3. Within your temporary shopping list, try find a game that's built from the latest movie release. Little people love the new animated movies put out by Disney and Pixar, and they really enjoy re-living precious moments in the movie in a video game. That's why when these movies come out on DVD, their producers put a few games in the "Special Features section" of the CDs.

4. If you can't find a game that's built from a movie that the child likes, try to find a game that centers around a popular cartoon character or one that attempts to educate.

5. If you still can't find one that resembles something that you've heard this particular person rambling on about, first give yourself a slight slap on the hand. You should pay better attention. Then point your browser to the nearest Blockbuster or Hollywood Video website. Follow the same procedure outlined in steps 1 - 3 only this time, elect to rent 5 or 6 games that look appealing. This will give your tot a chance to play some games and select one to keep forever while you return the others.

6. If on the other hand, you did find a game in step 3 or 4, you can either check out online, or drive up to the store and buy it there.

They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but the illustrations on the both video and pc game cases do a pretty good job of representing the game's content. So if you see an illustration of fighting warriors, chances are the game will be more violent than you prefer. If on the other hand, you see an illustration that resembles what you'd see on the cover of an interesting children's book, the game should be age appropriate.

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Getting New Ideas For Video Games Part 3

(category: Computer-Games-Systems, Word count: 558)
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A Springboard for Video Game Developers

Creating video games is an art, no doubt. The problem is that it isn't easy to come up with ideas for video games. And even when we do get an idea, it doesn't seem as fresh or exciting as we want it to be. The following offers a few ways you can generate some creative ideas to keep your video game as fun to play from beginning to end.

13. Do the unexpected. This is probably one of the hardest things for linear programmers to do because as software developers, programmers are trained to keep everything working in some sort of straight, logical order. To make this work, game programmers are going to have to give themselves permission to go nuts - to do the unexpected and not obsess over the consequences. As good training for all of us, doing the unexpected is a freeing experience that opens our minds to workable possibilities we probably wouldn't consider otherwise. These are possibilities that could make your video stand out from the crowd of copy-cats.

14. Design the video game for a specific audience. Choose a unique audience to design your game for and make sure that every character, scene, subplot, and strategy caters to the interest of this audience. But don't pick a typical audience - go crazy. Design your game as if a dog were the player, a computer mouse, or even a stack of pancakes. Let your imagination go wild and you'll see a new world unfold before you.

15. Imagine that you're the video game. If you were the video game that you're designing, how would you want to be played? Attempting to answer this question should set you off on quite a creative spree of new and original ideas (if not one hell of a giggling session). Don't just throw the goofy ideas that you get from this exercise into the trash bin. Seriously think of how to implement them into your video game. This strategy is sure to put you on the gaming map.

16. Substitute. Using one object in the place of another is another sure way of coming up with cool ideas for video game, and in certain situations, it's the only way to dream up something fresh and new. When it seems that you just can't come up with a new slant, you're best bet is to replace a typical, predictable character with a lively, cute and helpful soda can. Or replace a typical, predictable plot with some bizarre scene out of a dream. Remember: nothing is irreplaceable.

17. Introduce a little randomness into the mix. There's a lot to be said about random events. They always bring us the element of surprise and you can use it to keep your video game exciting. The key to making randomness work in a video game is to introduce a set number of possibilities into several sections of the game and then have each of those possibilities lead to a different outcome. Sure, this could drive a player crazy, but you've got to admit, it will send them scrambling for a solution and talking about your game for days.

In the last section of this four-part article, we bring you two more ideas before coming to a close.

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