911 Operator.

In PlayWay‘s job simulator 911 Operator you answer phone calls. How can that possibly be entertaining?

You might remember the adventure game slash job simulator This is the Police by Belarusian developer Weappy Studio. I reviewed the game late last year, and while it was interesting for a while, it started to feel like a chore after a few hours. This is the Police had two major gameplay elements. You managed resources as a police dispatcher by day, and growing your retirement slush fund by night. Now Polish developer PlayWay has taken police dispatcher element of This is the Police, and turned it into a game of its own; 911 Operator.

911 Operator builds further upon the basic features of This is the Police’ basic dispatcher mini-game. You’re managing all three branches of the emergency services: The police, the fire department, and the ambulance service. You also have to handle vehicles, staff and equipment, assign teams, and make sure the teams have the equipment they need to deal with every situation effectively. Through your 12 hour work shift, you have to use your available units as effectively as possible, while juggling both reported incidents and incoming 911 calls.

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“Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline.

The year is 2044. The world has gone to shit. Unemployment. Civil unrest. Famine. Pollution. Overpopulation. War. People’s only escape is OASIS, a digital utopia where you can forget all about the real world.

OASIS is a digital virtual reality simulation, accessible to players by using a visor, and haptic technology. The few rules that apply inside the simulation were defined by its creators James Halliday and Ogden Morrow1. Concerned people were using OASIS to escape the real world, Morrow leaves its parent company, Gregarious Simulation Systems. Halliday remains the sole owner of GSS and OASIS.

Upon his death, Halliday announces a competition: Whoever manages to find an Easter egg his has hidden inside OASIS will inherit GSS, OASIS, and Halliday’s entire fortune. To find the it, the egg hunters, quickly nicknamed gunters, first have to locate three keys that open three different gates. Soon, everyone and their grandmother are searching for the egg. It become apparent that Halliday’s affection with the 1970s and 80s of his childhood is the right path to find the egg. With enough knowledge of 70s and 80s pop culture and nerd trivia, and the ability to connect the dots, a player should be able to find the keys, the gates, and thus the Easter egg, and Halliday’s big pile of dough.

But the first key proves to be hard to find, and years go by without any progress, until suddenly, one day, a name appears on the top of the Scoreboard: Parzival.

Parzival is the avatar of young Wade Watts. An orphan living with his doper aunt in the stacks surrounding Oklahoma City, Watts uses the OASIS to attend high school. It’s also his escape from the real world. For Wade, and most people of his generation, OASIS is in many ways more real than reality itself. His mother used OASIS to raise him, and OASIS is where he spends most of his time. And for Watts, Halliday’s Easter egg becomes an all-consuming obsession.

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INSIDE.

“I love my job” is what I would have written if reviewing video games was something I did for a living, and INSIDE was my current assignment.

Danish developer Playdead entered the indie scene with their puzzle-based side scroller LIMBO on Xbox Live Arcade in 2010. I reviewed it the year after, giving it my very exclusive two thumbs up. Since the release of LIMBO, Playdead has porting the game to no less than 9 other platforms, firmly squeezing every last potential out of that poor kid.

Last year, the company returned with a brand new game: INSIDE. Not only does the game confirm Playdead’s love for ALL CAPS titles, and young, male protagonists. It also shows that they are still very, very good at making puzzle-based games.

INSIDE somehow managed to fly completely below my radar. It wasn’t until Steam’s algorithms decided that it was time for me to buy something new that I realized it existed. And for once, Steam hit a home run with their recommendation.

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Death by Energy Drink!

There’s a killer in your grocery store. It’s colorful, tempting, and refreshing. But if you let your guard down, it’ll strangle you with its sweet, sweet fists. It’s death by energy drink!

Lanna Hamann was an apparently healthy 16-year-old. In 2014, she went to Rocky Point, Mexico, with her friends. There, she tragically died of a heart attack. After a day of drinking energy drinks at the beach, Lanna complained that she was not feeling well. Shortly after, she went into cardiac arrest, and died. According to her friends, Lanna was not drinking any water. In a well-organized social media campaign launched after Lanna’s death, her friends and family blamed Red Bull as a contributing factor to her heart attack.

Every now and then, this and similar news stories will surface, most notably as click-bait (in Norwegian) in your Facebook feed. As a warning to young irresponsible people with no concept of actions and their possible consequences, they serve a purpose. But every time one of these “guy drinks 10 cans of caffeine and mysteriously croaks”-stories is published, the someone-think-of-the-children-mob appears with their torches and pitchforks.

Why isn’t there any click-bait articles being written about the deaths from alcohol consumption? According to the CDC, excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths each year in the United States from 2006 to 2010. If there’s something in your grocery store you should start a crusade against, then perhaps alcohol is a better choice than energy drinks?

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