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In the Age of the Internet, Why Has Interest in Chess Remained So Robust, and Even Risen Sharply?November 25 @ 3 AM source

How and why a 1,500-year-old game has conquered the internet. From a report: Two years ago, the world chess championship match drew about 10 million online viewers, while this year's competition between Magnus Carlsen and Fabio Caruana, currently underway in London, is expected to draw more attention yet. Worldwide, chess claims about 600 million fans, which makes it one of the most popular games or sports.

It is noteworthy that China, one of the two most important countries in the world, has decided to invest heavily in chess. This year Chinese teams won both the men's and women's divisions at the Chess Olympiad, a first. That would not have happened without the active support of the Chinese Communist Party. The U.S. is stepping up too, with the aid of chess patron Rex Sinquefield. In recent times America has placed three players in the world's top 10, including Caruana, currently No. 2.

It turns out that chess is oddly well-suited for a high-tech world. Chess does not make for gripping television, but the option of live viewing online, supplemented by computer analysis or personal commentary, has driven a renaissance of the game. For one thing, computer evaluations have made watching more intelligible. Even if you barely understand chess, you can quickly get a sense of the state of play with the frequently changing numerical evaluations ("+ 2.00," for instance, means white has a decisive advantage, whereas "0.00" signals an even position). You also can see, with each move, whether the player will choose what the computer finds best.

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Inside the Messy, Dark Side of Nintendo Switch PiracyNovember 13 @ 5 PM source

Doxing rivals, stealing each other's files, and poking around Nintendo's servers are all a normal part of the ballooning Nintendo Switch hacking and piracy scenes. Joseph Cox, reports for Motherboard: The Switch piracy community -- much of which operates on the gamer-focused chat app Discord -- is full of ingenuity, technical breakthroughs, and evolving cat-and-mouse games between the multi-billion dollar Nintendo and the passionate hackers who love the company but nonetheless illegally steal its games. Pirates deploy malware to steal each other's files so they can download more games themselves. Groups deliberately plant code into others' Switches so they no longer work. And some people in the scene have been doxed, meaning they've had their personal information published online.

Pirating games for the Switch is not technically straightforward. Instead, there's a complex supply chain constantly grinding away that helps people source and play unreleased games. There are reverse engineers who figure out how Nintendo's own tools work, so hackers can then use them for their own advantage. There are coders who make programs to streamline the process of downloading or running games. Reviewers, developers, or YouTubers with access to games before general Switch users often leak unlock codes or other information to small groups, which then may trickle out to the wider community.

[...] To release a game, pirates may dump a copy from the physical cartridge; they can do this before the game releases in the United States by sourcing the cartridge from an Australian store, which releases earlier because of the time difference. But this only gets a game out one or two days before official release. For the more sought-after and early dumps, pirates often manage to grab a copy from Nintendo's eShop, the company's digital download game store that is built into the Switch. Here, pirates will likely use a piece of hacker-made software on their computers to talk to Nintendo's servers, one pirate who uploads large archives of games explained to Motherboard in an online chat. The files can sometimes be downloaded early by anyone (by design), and are encrypted and need a so-called "titlekey" to unlock them and make the game playable. Further reading: Nintendo 'Wins' $12 Million From Pirate ROM Site Operators.

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Strategy Guide Company Prima Games Is Shutting DownNovember 10 @ 2 AM source

Prima Games, the publishing company that has printed video game strategy games since it was founded in 1990, is shutting down. "The label will no longer publish new guides starting now, and it will officially shutter in the spring," reports Kotaku. From the report: Thanks to the rise of sites like GameFAQs -- and major gaming publications like IGN commissioning their own online guides, which bring in monstrous amounts of traffic -- print strategy guides have struggled for years now. In 2015, Prima purchased and swallowed its biggest competitor, BradyGames, and has been consistently churning out guides for both print and the web, but it wasn't enough to survive what the company called "a significant decline" in the world of print video game guides.

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As PUBG For PS4 Looms, Xbox Unofficially Responds: Have the Game For FreeNovember 7 @ 6 PM source

Unannounced, unadvertised freebie lands ahead of Microsoft's X018 conference. PUBG, the game that kicked off an international "battle royale" gaming sensation, is currently free for all Xbox One owners. From a report: Even if you do not have a paid Xbox Live Gold subscription, you can head to this link and claim what appears to be a permanent copy of the game for your Microsoft Account. Timed trials of Xbox One games tend to be exclusive treats for XBLG subscribers. Bizarrely, the Konami soccer game PES 2019, which launched at a standard $60 retail price point in August, is also free to claim as of today. (Here's that link.) Of course, there is the caveat that these games' giveaways could be yanked from accounts by Microsoft at any moment. In the meantime, we suggest clicking first, asking questions later.

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Copyright Law Just Got Better for Video Game HistoryOctober 29 @ 3 PM source

In a series of rulings, the Library of Congress has carved out a number of exemptions that will help the movement to archive and preserve video games. From a report: In an 85-page ruling [PDF] that covered everything from electronic aircraft controls to farm equipment diagnostic software, the Librarian of Congress carved out fair use exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for video games and software in general. These exemptions will make it easier for archivists to save historic video games and for museums to share that cultural history with the public. "The Acting Register found that the record supported granting an expansion in the relatively discrete circumstances where a preservation institution legally possesses a copy of a video game's server code and the game's local code," the Librarian of Congress said. "In such circumstances, the preservation activities described by proponents are likely to be fair uses." These rules are definitely good news for single-player games. "The big change for single-player games happened during the last DMCA review process in 2015, when the Copyright Office decided that museums and archives could break the online authentication for single-player titles that were just phoning home to a server for copy protection reasons," Phil Salvador -- a Washington, DC-area librarian and archivist who runs The Obscuritory, a site that focuses on discussing and preserving obscure, old game -- told Motherboard. That 2015 ruling was due to expire this year, but thanks to pressure from activists it was renewed today instead.

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'We Expected VR To Be Two To Three Times as Big', Says CCP Games CEOOctober 24 @ 3 PM source

CCP Games, the Icelandic studio known for their long-running MMO Eve: Online (2003), shuttered their VR production studios in a surprise move last year, selling off their Newcastle-based branch behind their multiplayer space dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie (2016), and completely shutting down their Atlanta studio behind sports game Sparc (2017). Now, CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson speaks out in an interview with Destructoid about the studio's return to traditional desktop gaming, and his thoughts about the VR landscape. From a report: In short, he thought VR would be bigger by now, and more capable of supporting a healthy multiplayer userbase. EVE: Valkyrie, the company's flagship VR game, was the result of over three years of development before becoming a day-one launch title on Oculus Rift and PSVR, arriving shortly afterwards on HTC Vive via Steam in 2016 -- a seemingly best-case scenario for any multiplayer-only game. Under CCP direction, EVE: Valkyrie saw a number of updates designed to entice players back, including new ships, maps, and weekly events; CCP even pushed a major update to the game last year that brought support for desktop and console players, a move to help boost sales and revive the ailing VR-only playerbase. Still, the multiplayer game just didn't perform as CCP ultimately expected, and the company officially stepped back from VR shortly thereafter. "We expected VR to be two to three times as big as it was, period," Petursson tells Destructoid. "You can't build a business on that."

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16-Year-Old Dethrones Tetris World Champion With Difficult Hyper-Tap TechniqueOctober 22 @ 11 PM source

Over the weekend, seven-time winner Jonas Neubauer showed up at the Classic Tetris World Championship in Portland, Oregon like he has every year since it moved there in 2011. Instead of adding another championship to his name, he finished in second place this time, bested by 16-year-old Joseph Saelee who went on an amazing three-game tear. From a report: "The kid played with pure heart, the most clutch Tetris that we've seen from anyone," Neubauer said after the dust had settled. "He just really had the ability, had the natural ability, and let it shine as bright as he could in his first tournament. [It's] truly an honor to pass the torch to the new generation of Tetris players." The veteran stood on stage holding a silver trophy, his first since losing to Harry Hong in 2014, and the unlikely Saelee, tears still in his eyes, hoisted the gold to applause from the crowd at Sunday's Retro Game Expo crowd. Though Tetris came out on the NES in 1989, the Classic World Championship tournament as it exists today didn't get started until 2010 after the game's competitive scene spent most of the aughts trading strategies, high scores, and footage evidence throughout a scattered network of forums and websites. Now, top players from around the world compete annually at the Expo using the original game and controllers played on old CRTs to see who can get the highest score in individual head-to-head matchups.

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Popular Mechanics Defends Elon Musk -- While He Tweets About FortniteOctober 20 @ 11 PM source

The November issue of Popular Mechanics includes a message from its editors that Elon Musk is "under attack," arguing that while some criticisms have merit, "much of it is myopic and small-brained, from sideline observers gleefully salivating at the opportunity to take him down a peg."
But what have these stock analysts and pontificators done for humanity? Elon Musk is an engineer at heart, a tinkerer, a problem-solver -- the kind of person Popular Mechanics has always championed -- and the problems he's trying to solve are hard. Really hard. He could find better ways to spend his money, that's for sure. And yet there he is, trying to build gasless cars and build reusable rockets and build tunnels that make traffic go away. For all his faults and unpredictability, we need him out there doing that. We need people who have ideas. We need people who take risks. We need people who try.
The magazine includes statements from 12 high-profile supporters, including investor Mark Cuban, who writes "When you invest in a company run by an entrepreneur like Elon, you are investing in the mindset and approach that an entrepreneur brings to the table as much as you are valuing the net present value of future cash flows. That is not typical for public companies that are overwhelmingly run by hired CEOs. My advice for Elon is simple: Be yourself. Be true to your mission. Respect your investors. Ignore your critics."

Meanwhile, in a Friday post on Twitter, Musk jokingly claimed that he'd purchased and then deleted the game of Fortnite, posting a doctored Marketwatch article quoting him as saying "I had to save these kids from eternal virginity."
"Had to been done," tweeted Musk, adding "ur welcome".

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'Why I Bid $700 For a Stolen PSN Account'October 10 @ 4 AM source

Patrick Klepek tells the story of a PlayStation Network user who had their 13-year-old account stolen via what appears to be a social engineering scheme against Sony. Klepek managed to track it down and start negotiating for its release. An anonymous Slashdot reader shares an excerpt from the report: 1,200. That's how much someone is asking for a PlayStation Network account I've been investigating for the past few weeks. "Secure," the person calls it, claiming the account will "never be touched" by the original owner again. "He won't be getting it back," they claim. More than a thousand dollars? That's a little rich for my blood, and so I counteroffer: $700. "Btc?" they respond, accepting my bid. (BTC refers to bitcoin. The majority of transactions like this take place using cryptocurrency; it's generally harder, but not impossible, to trace.) I didn't purchase the account, of course. But I could -- anyone could, if they only knew where to look. This account wasn't on a shady market because someone was clumsy with their digital security. They had a strong password and two-factor authentication. When they were notified about problems with their account, they called Sony and asked for help. Despite all this, despite proving their identity over and over, they lost access to their PSN account, including any trophies earned or any games purchased. It was gone...well, sort of. The original owner no longer had access, but this person -- the individual asking for $1,200 but who quickly and without hesitation dropped to $700 -- did.[...]More than likely, Sony itself is a victim of a clever social engineering scheme, in which a user, or series of users, repeatedly spammed their representatives, until it found someone willing to accept the limited information they did have, and calculated the system would eventually lock the account in their favor. Even a "failed" social engineering attempt can be a success, if the person calling comes away with new information about the account. Every company in the world can fall victim to social engineering, as there are no true fail safes. But Sony's setup seems especially ripe for it. Why didn't the system get flagged as "sensitive" sooner? Why can a user flip off two-factor authentication over the phone? How can an account get abandoned, when it's still active? There are ways Sony could have prevented this from happening. In the end, the original account owner was magically handed the account. "Sony promised that they were going to set it up so no reps could make any changes," the account owner said, "but they are still investigating how this happened."

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Microsoft Announces Project Xcloud For Streaming Games To PCs, Consoles, and Mobile DevicesOctober 9 @ 12 AM source

Microsoft has unveiled "Project xCloud," its new game streaming service designed to work across consoles, PCs, and mobile devices. "Scaling and building out Project xCloud is a multi-year journey for us," explains Microsoft's cloud gaming chief Kareem Choudhry in a blog post. "We'll begin public trials in 2019 so we can learn and scale with different volumes and locations." The Verge reports: Microsoft has built custom hardware for its datacenters, as The Verge previously exclusively reported, so that existing and future Xbox games will be compatible with the services. Games will be streamed to devices, and Microsoft has been testing the xCloud service with Xbox wireless controllers connected to consoles, mobile devices, and PCs. Microsoft says its research teams are "creating ways to combat latency" via advanced network techniques combined with video encoding and decoding. This should make game streaming viable on 4G networks, too.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.