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Original author: 
John Walker

A real high-point of every GDC is the Game Design Challenge. Well, was. Sadly the tenth year of this annual treat was the last, with organiser Eric Zimmerman bringing proceedings to an end. And wow, did it go out in style. With the apposite topic, “Humanity’s Last Game”, some of the biggest names in the industry put forth their pitches for the last game we’d ever need. And one man entirely stole the show. For a second year, that man was Jason Rohrer.

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One year ago, the small town of Joplin, Missouri, was devastated by an EF5 Tornado. A mile-wide multiple-vortex tornado, with estimated winds peaking at 362 to 402 km/h (225 to 250 mph), tore through the area on May 22, destroying more than 7,000 houses, killing 161 people, and injuring hundreds more. The task of rebuilding is underway, but the scale is daunting -- a year later, Joplin still has an eight-mile scar running through its middle. Gathered here are images of the town on this somber anniversary. [See also, Tornado Ravages Joplin, Missouri, from last year.] [30 photos]

A tall steel cross is refracted in raindrops on a window in Joplin, Missouri, on May 7, 2012. The cross is all that was left standing of St. Mary's Catholic Church, which was destroyed by an EF-5 tornado that tore through a large swath of the city and killed 161 people nearly a year ago. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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WAITING PEACEFULLY
WAITING PEACEFULLY: Holocaust survivor Meir Friedman waited to give his personal testimony to Israeli border police officers during a ceremony marking the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day in Martyrs Forest near Jerusalem Thursday. (Oded Balilty/Associated Press)


WAGING WAR? Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, center, waved from the back of a truck as he visited North Kordofan, Sudan, Thursday. He has vowed to topple the government of South Sudan as fighting continued along the countries’ poorly defined, oil-rich border. (Abd Raouf/Associated Press)

SUSPENDED ANIMATION
SUSPENDED ANIMATION: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, left, ‘headed’ the ball during a match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge Stadium in London Wednesday. (Adrian Dennis/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

TRANSFER MISSION
TRANSFER MISSION: The space shuttle Discovery was suspended at Washington Dulles International Airport Thursday. NASA turned over the spacecraft to the Smithsonian Institution, making the shuttle the first in its orbiter fleet to be transferred to a U.S. museum. (Bill Ingalls/NASA/Reuters)

CAUTIOUS
CAUTIOUS: A police officer passed a metal detector across the coffin of Hussein Ahmed at a checkpoint as the body arrived for burial amid a sandstorm in Najaf, Iraq, Thursday. Mr. Ahmed was killed in Baghdad in a wave of morning bombings across several cities that left at least 30 people dead. (Alaa al-Marjani/Associated Press)

COURT COVER
COURT COVER: Attendants covered a court from rain during a match between France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Spain’s Fernando Verdasco at the Monte Carlo Masters tennis tournament in Monaco Thursday. Fourth-seeded Mr. Tsonga beat Mr. Verdasco 7-6 (7), 6-2. (Valery Hache/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

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In the year 2011, a total of 565 NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan were killed -- down from 711 in 2010 -- marking the largest decline in annual deaths during the decade-long conflict. The large number of NATO soldiers on the ground appears to have made a difference, a fact that worries Afghans as the U.S. and others accelerate their planned pullback. This year, 23,000 U.S. soldiers are scheduled to depart the country, heading toward a full withdrawal by 2014. For now, U.S. troops appear to be focusing on intensive training of Afghan forces and preparing for the logistical challenge of shipping home some $30 billion worth of military gear. Gathered here are images of the people and places involved in this conflict over the past month, as part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. [42 photos]

Cpl. James Hernandez, a combat engineer with Alpha Company, 9th Engineer Support Battalion, and a native of Goodyear, Arizona, uses an electric saw to dismantle a HESCO barrier at Firebase Saenz, in Helmand province, on December 13, 2011. FB Saenz is the first of several patrol bases being demilitarized by the Marines of 9th ESB throughout the month of December. (USMC/Cpl. Bryan Nygaard)

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The last day of our Reuters multimedia embed at COP Nolen.

0600 July 30th, 2010.

I woke up and watched as two squads of U.S. Army soldiers exited Combat Outpost Nolen, a small base in the heart of the volatile Arghandab Valley. One squad would try to demolish a wall that insurgents used as cover to fire AK-47’s and RPG’s at the base almost daily. The other squad carried concertina wire to surround a couple of nearby abandoned houses in an attempt to deny insurgents locations to plant Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s).

Moments later, the base was rocked by a huge explosion. A column of smoke and dust rose just 20 meters outside the walls and we heard the cries of a soldier in agony. Troops rushed into the base and called for a Medivac helicopter. I threw on my flak jacket and helmet and ran outside the gates to the scene of the blast.

A soldier with the US Army's 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division shouts instructions after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded just outside Combat Outpost Nolen in the Arghandab Valley north of Kandahar July 30, 2010.  One soldier lost his leg and another was hit by shrapnel after an IED blew up during a patrol near the base. REUTERS/Bob Strong

I rounded the corner into a courtyard and saw one soldier sitting on the ground being treated, his face pockmarked with shrapnel wounds. A sergeant yelled at soldiers to secure the landing zone for the Medivac helicopter.

A stretcher was brought to an area behind a nearby wall, and moments later a group of soldiers emerged into the courtyard, carrying a seriously wounded GI. As the litter passed I look into the eyes of the wounded soldier. His face was pale gray, covered in dust, and his eyes were wide open, watching as he was carried to the helicopter landing zone.

Soldiers with the US Army's 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division work to save a comrade after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded just outside Combat Outpost Nolen in the Arghandab Valley north of Kandahar July 30, 2010. One soldier lost a leg in the blast and another was wounded in the face by shrapnel.  REUTERS/Bob Strong

I followed at a distance. No more pictures. The stretcher was laid on the ground near where I was standing and for the first time I could see the extent of his horrific wounds. His left leg was missing below the knee and soldiers worked to dress the bloody stump. Bandages were being stuffed into the wound in an attempt to stem the bleeding. On his right leg was a tourniquet, up high near the hip, and there were multiple wounds down to his foot. Amazingly, the soldier was still lucid and I heard him ask someone to make sure he had his wallet.

Soldiers with the US Army's 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division shield themselves from the dust as a Medivac helicopter lands outside Combat Outpost Nolen in the Arghandab Valley north of Kandahar July 30, 2010. One soldier lost his leg and another was hit by shrapnel after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blew up during a patrol near the base. REUTERS/Bob Strong

A radioman called out that the Medivac helicopter was three minutes away, and someone popped a red smoke grenade to mark the landing zone. The medics continued to work on the wounded soldier, cutting away his clothing and wrapping his left leg in layers of bandages. The Medivac helicopter came in fast and low, the rotors kicking up a massive cloud of dust. The wounded soldiers were rushed aboard and it lifted off seconds later, en route to the main trauma hospital at Kandahar Air Field.

Soldiers with the U.S. Army's 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division shield themselves from the dust as a Medivac helicopter takes off outside Combat Outpost Nolen in the Arghandab Valley north of Kandahar July 30, 2010. One soldier lost his leg and another was hit by shrapnel after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blew up during a patrol near the base. REUTERS/Bob Strong

The dust settled and a silent numbness seemed to settle over the small outpost. One soldier walked to his room and slammed the door shut. Tragically, they have all seen this before. Since arriving in the Arghandab Valley one month ago, soldiers with the 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment have stepped on six IED’s resulting in the loss of one life and nine amputated limbs. One soldier was shot dead by a sniper while on guard duty and a one million dollar M-ATV armored vehicle was destroyed when it stuck a landmine on the main road less than 300 meters from the base. The paths and fields outside their base are rigged with so many buried landmines that the Colonel in charge labeled it a “No Man’s Land”.

A pair of bloody sunglasses lie on the ground after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded injuring two US Army soldiers just outside Combat Outpost Nolen in the Arghandab Valley north of Kandahar July 30, 2010.  REUTERS/Bob Strong

And yet, in spite of the dangers, the soldiers still go out on patrol. Carefully walking in the footsteps of the man in front of them, hoping that the military dog and metal detector will alert them to a pressure plate activated bomb hidden beneath the surface, and never knowing which step might be their last.

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