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Today's look at the emerging trend of games with minimal or nonexistent heads-up displays (HUDs) got us thinking about how games have traditionally laid out critical information about the player's status. We've come practically full circle from the days of the earliest video games, which were unable to display any status information or even keep track of basic statistics. In between, we've seen HUDs ranging from the realistic (Ace Combat 2) to the ridiculous (World of Warcraft) with everything in between. Recall for yourself by clicking through our gallery.

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Every day, a group of men and women around the world digitally congregate at a Reddit board called NoFap to specifically discuss not masturbating. Yes, just like the famous Seinfeld episode, "The Contest" – Jerry and the gang bet $100 to see who can remain "master of their domain" the longest. It's a community called NoFap, and it has its own theories, ideology, and mutual support.

"Fap" is a bit of Internet vernacular for the act of self-love. It first appeared in a 1999 web comic called Sexy Losers to denote the sound of a character pleasuring himself. On UrbanDictionary, it's the "onomatopoeic representation of masturbation." So "NoFap" is exactly what it sounds like.

There are currently more than 81,000 members of this community. They call themselves "fapstronauts," and attribute a number of major life changes to the practice, such as increased confidence, concentration, motivation, libido, and even penis size. For some it's a means of addressing concerns with their porn consumption, while others see it as a means to healthier relationships.

Still others engage in it as nothing more than a heavy-duty test in self-control.

How it started

"I've been able to do things I never thought I would be able to do. Asking a girl to prom, starting and holding conversations with strangers, being able to achieve when most people just throw in the towel at the first sign of adversity." -cjclear789

A June 2011 post on Reddit linked to a study from the National Institute of Health. The takeaway from that study is a simple one: when men don’t masturbate for seven days, their testosterone levels increase by 45.7%. This inspired a weeklong challenge among Redditors, one of whom eventually posited that "fapstinence" could be a powerful motivational tool.

Things snowballed from there. The official NoFap subreddit was established and a standalone site appeared a year later at NoFap.org. Users now had a place to gather and discuss their various approaches to systematically not masturbating, as well as document any changes that they credit to NoFap.

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Original author: 
Kyle Orland

Sure, every game has an ending of sorts. For a certain class of classic game, though, that ending was always of the "You Are Dead Ha Ha Ha!" variety. From Robotron 2084's ever-increasing robot hordes to Missile Command's memorable "THE END" explosion, you went into these games knowing that failure was not just an option, but really the only option.

Then there are the games that seem like they should go on forever but, for one reason or another, just don't. Whether it's because of a coding error leading to an unintentional "kill screen" or a simple design choice stopping an otherwise never-ending series of loops, a lot of games that seem unbeatable at first glance can actually be conquered in one way or another.

To be clear, these aren't just games that are hard to beat (though most of them are incredibly difficult). These are games that, by all rights, shouldn't have a victory condition yet eventually reach a point where it's technically impossible to keep playing even if you don't fail in any way. Enjoy.

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Original author: 
Kyle Orland

(video link)

It's easy to write about games that can be compared to other games. "It's like Call of Duty, but in space," or "It's like Gran Turismo, but all the cars feel like they're made of styrofoam" or "It's like the tabletop game Labyrinth, but you're controlling a monkey in a plastic ball." The games that are the most fun to write about, though, are the ones where you struggle to come up with any suitable comparisons.

Sure, you can draw some links between Antichamber and games like Portal. Both games involve wandering through a sterile laboratory and trying to find your way out. Both involve using a gun that doesn't shoot bullets, but does help you find an exit indirectly. And both take place from a first-person perspective. But Antichamber's similarities to Portal—and to most other games—end there.

Understanding Antichamber means forgetting your understanding of pretty much everything you know about how the physical world works. First to go is the idea of object permanence that you developed as a baby. Turn around in Antichamber, and the hallway that was there a second ago can easily be a totally different room. Then the game starts to mess with your ideas of depth perception—you can fall for miles, only to end up just a few feet below where you started.

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The debate about whether games are a legitimate art form is a never-ending back-and-forth that's actually getting a bit tiresome at this point. At the very least, though, outside bodies are beginning to recognize that games at least contain artistic elements that are worthy of consideration in their own right. Thus, we have thatgamecompany's hauntingly beautiful, cello-heavy Journey soundtrack being nominated for a Grammy this year in the Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media category.

The Austin Wintory-composed soundtrack (which you can listen to in its entirety here) will compete directly with works by well-known film composers such as John Williams (The Adventure of Tintin), Howard Shore (Hugo), and Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight Rises). Wintory tweeted his speechless reaction to the nomination announcement and the outpouring of support he received following it. "I don't think I've ever felt genuinely overwhelmed before until last night, reading everyone's messages," he wrote. "You are all SO wonderful."

The soundtrack debuted at No. 8 on Billboard's "Soundtrack" charts (and No. 114 on the overall chart) by selling 4,000 copies in a week, putting it behind Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock as the second-best-selling video game soundtrack ever. The game itself became the fastest-selling downloadable game ever on the PlayStation Network after its release earlier this year.

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Tommo Inc.

When Tommo Inc. first announced a new portable version of the classic Neo Geo hardware last month, we balked a bit at the $200 asking price for what is a more than two-decades-old system. Now, the company has announced a bare-bones version of the portable for the somewhat more reasonable price of $130 when it is released December 6.

The cheaper edition of the system, as described on the official website, doesn't include the cool docking station and replica arcade-style joystick of the $200 bundle (now being called the "Neo Geo X Gold"), but does come loaded with the same 20 classic Neo Geo games that were previously announced. It appears that the docking station will be necessary to play games on your TV through an HDMI output, though. It will also be required to play two-player games using a joystick that can be purchased separately (Tommo has yet to announce a price for additional joysticks).

We also have some more details on the upcoming portable's hardware specs, thanks to a report from Japanese site Inside Games. The report suggests the system is running a Linux OS and sports a 3.7V/2200mAh battery that is capable of playing games for about six hours after charging for three hours. The system's 4.3", 16:9 display runs at 480x272 resolution, the same size and resolution as the original Playstation Portable.

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Just another day in the pixel mines.

Queasy Games

Music games can generally be divided into two broad categories: games that ask you to take part in making the music, and games where the music drives the gameplay. Sound Shapes straddles the line between those two types of games while layering an incredibly satisfying, abstract take on 2D platform games on top as well.

As you know if you've read our previous coverage, Sound Shapes turns you into nothing more than a small, sticky circle, caught in a world full of simple, abstract shapes rendered primarily in stark, solid colors. The goal is to roll and hop around to collect floating coins dotted around the game's rooms while avoiding enemies and their attacks, which are helpfully highlighted in a deadly red.

It sounds simple, and it is, as far as the gameplay is concerned (though the designers do a good job of stretching the simple concept as far as it can go, with levels that force you to make smart use of the jumping and sticking mechanics). But what makes the game really stand out is the way that each coin you collect activates a note that gets layered into a constantly evolving, mesmerizing backbeat that follows you from room to room.

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