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Last Minute Tech Gift Ideas

With one more weekend left before the Christmas holiday, retailers and consumers are knuckling down for the final sprint toward the seasonal-shopping finish line. And if you’re like us, you’re more than happy to have an extra shopping weekend (since you’ve still got presents to buy).

Don’t worry, shoppers! We’ve got the gizmos that will keep the technology nerd on your list thinking you spent all year looking for the perfect gift.

Canon PowerShot SX260 Digital Camera
Canon-SX260HS
Take travel photography to the next level; use the SX260 HS GPS image tagging to track your journey on Google Maps. 

Retail Price: $199
Who’s It For? The photo blogger who likes to travel
Why Should I Buy It: Exceptional image performance

Canon’s PowerShot SX260 HS offers 12.1 megapixel quality via a high-sensitivity CMOS sensor. It also has a powerful 20x Optical Zoom. Add a 25mm Wide-Angle lens, PhotoStitch (which takes photos and turn them into a panoramic image) and GPS image tracking and you’ve got a powerful compact camera. Canons’ optical image stabilizer helps make every shot a winner.

Kindle Fire HD Tablet
kindle-fire-hd-8.9-inch
With a 1.5-Ghz processor and Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics chip, the Kindle Fire HD is able to go toe to toe with the iPad. The $499 Kindle also gives you 16 GB more storage than the iPad, at the same price.

Retail Price: $499
Who’s It For? The Amazon Prime member who hates Apple
Why Should I Buy It: As iPad alternatives go, it’s the best of the bunch.

Want to serve up movies and games beautifully and lightning quick? Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD sports a 8.9-inch display and 4G LTE Wireless. In nerd speak, that’s a dual-band, dual Wi-Fi antenna and a screen that boasts a stunning 1920×1200 HD display. For ebook readers, the tablet has a polarizing filter and anti-glare technology. All this plus free unlimited cloud storage for all your Amazon content, and access to the Kindle library—with more than 22 million pieces of content (only Apple has more)—makes the Kindle Fire perfect for anything.

iPhone 5

The fastest iPhone yet…at least until the iPhone 5S. 

Retail Price: $199
Who’s It For? Anyone who still has a iPhone 3
Why Should I Buy It: Aside from a tablet, it’s the most sought-after electronic gadget going this holiday season.

This is the smartphone that changed the game and now steps it up with 4G LTE. The iPhone 5 features a thinner and sleeker design, plus a new 4-inch screen. Returning from the previous version are the Retina display and Siri. But these are just a few of the things that make this iPhone the greatest one yet. It’s backed by the Apple app store, which recently celebrated serving up its 1 millionth app .

Wii U

Nintendo’s latest video-game console combines a variety of technologies into one amazing interactive experience.

Retail Price: $349
Who’s It For? Your kids
Why Should I Buy It: For the under-14 set, it’s the third-hottest tech gift this holiday season.

Wii U takes Nintendo’s Wii to the next level; what the Wii did for motion controllers, this machine does for gaming options. Play with a big-screen TV or game on the Wii U GamePad’s 6.2-inch, 16:9 LCD touchscreen. The Wii U GamePad has motion control, front-facing camera, rumble feature, microphone and stereo speakers! In fact, there are so many bells and whistles on this thing that even Nintendo hasn’t figured out what they’re all for.

Technology Camp
digital-media-academy-technology-camp-at-stanford
Kids learn how to create the future while using the latest technology. 

Retail Price: $695
Who’s It For? Your 10-year-old Steve Jobs
Why Should I Buy It: To give your kid get a head start on creating the future

This Christmas you can give your child the hottest electronic device and hope that they don’t grow out of it. Or you can really put the technology hook into them with a week or more at a technology camp like Digital Media Academy. Think of it—you’re kids aren’t just playing games, they’re making them, and even getting paid to do it. From learning App Development to Programming and more, a week at tech camp could be a life-enriching experience for your kid. And make you the best Santa ever.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments

E3 2012: Console Updates, New Features for Wii U, Xbox

Welcome to Day 3 of E3 2012, the biggest tradeshow dedicated to the art and business of video games. In yesterday’s Day 2 report we showcased ten of the most anticipated video games of 2012 being shown this week at the L.A. Convention Center. Today let’s look at the console side of things—particularly newly announced features for two game platforms: Nintendo’s Wii U and Microsoft’s Xbox.


For Nintendo, this year’s E3 show was all about the Wii U.

Wii U: Still Connecting the Dots
For Nintendo, this E3 has been all about the Wii U, the game giant’s next-generation handheld game console. The device is built around a touchscreen controller (as with the Nintendo DS) and it supports the same motion-sensitive gaming that Nintendo’s Wii remote used to transform family dens everywhere into arm-waving, foot-pounding game salons. In addition, Wii U will enable streaming media from content providers like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and Amazon Video. And in a nod to the social-media revolution, Nintendo has pledged that Wii U will deliver features that enhance the experience of connected gaming.

There have been changes to the Wii U controller GamePad that was shown at last year’s E3, although most of the alterations involve tweaks to make the unit more ergonomic and functional (a pro gamer controller—which looks more like an Xbox controller that was also announced). The big selling point for Wii U is the console’s second screen, which can be used to activate different game controls, trigger alternate camera views and switch perspectives. For example, during certain games, players will be able to hold the controller pad up to their television screen and scan for enemies. Similarly, a new karaoke game will utilize the second screen as a teleprompter for displaying song lyrics.


The Wii U will ship with “NintendoLand,” a mini-game sampler with a theme-park feel. 

Despite not delivering more information about the Wii U (such as its price point and its exact release date, although Nintendo assured attendees that the device will be released in time for holiday shopping), Nintendo was able to point to an initial batch of Wii U games—nearly two dozen of them—that will be ready to instantly support the new machine. Nintendo also unveiled a mini-game sampler called “NintendoLand,” which will ship with the Wii U.

Xbox: Ruling the Roost
E3 attendees hoping to get an early look at Microsoft’s much-rumored Xbox 720 (which sources say will arrive sometime during 2013) were disappointed by this year’s show, but Microsoft had plenty of news to keep gamers satisfied. Besides, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is still currently winning the “console wars.” And that’s for a couple of reasons—one is the games, the other is Xbox Live being a superior online service. To that extent, a large majority of Microsoft’s announcements were focused around updates to the Xbox Live services:


Microsoft brought famed 49ers quarterback Joe Montana out of retirement. He was on hand to promote “Madden 13″ —while R&B star Usher opened the Microsoft press event showing off “Dance Central 3.”

  • Microsoft announced that the Xbox’s streaming media capabilities will be enhanced by the addition of new broadcast networks, such as ESPN and all of the major pro sports leagues in the U.S. Likewise, new media apps from entertainment providers (like Paramount Movies, Nickelodeon and Univision) will find a home on the console.
  • Featuring a reported 30 million tracks, Microsoft’s retooled music service will simply be called “Music” (as opposed to “Zune,” its former title). In addition to Windows 8, Music will be brought to the Xbox.
  • Possibly in response to the intense popularity of rival Nintendo’s “Wii Fit” exercise program, Microsoft announced a partnership with Nike to bring the sports company’s Nike+ training platform to Xbox Kinect. With it, users will be put through their exercise paces by a virtual trainer and will be able to receive helpful fitness reminders directly on their smartphones.
  • Microsoft also unveiled its plans for Xbox SmartGlass, a new application that will let users bridge their different electronic devices (e.g., Xbox, smartphone, tablets and TVs) and enjoy the same content across all of them. For example, via SmartGlass a user could start out watching a movie on their tablet computer, then pick up where they left off by resuming watching on their phone or Xbox.


Microsoft wowed the crowds with the eagerly awaited “Halo 4.”

See Ya Next Time!
E3 2012 will be wrapping up soon, but the news coming out of the show will be rocking gamers for months (and years) to come. Whether you’re a gamer or someone interested in learning how to design video games, check back here for more video games news.

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posted by Phill Powell in Featured and have No Comments

E3 2012 Announcements & Surprises

This week, the 18th annual E3 is taking place in Los Angeles. Started in 1995 (because video game companies felt lost among the massive Consumer Electronics Show, or CES) E3 has developed into a showcase for gamers and game developers alike.


Video game journalists and fans from across the globe descend on the halls of the LA Convention Center.

This week we’re covering the announcements and surprises that come out of the show – and the games you’ll be playing in the months ahead. Let’s start our coverage with a look at what trends we’re seeing coming out of the show at the end of Day One:

Trend: The Death of the Handheld
Why You Should Care: Gaming on the go will never be the same.

This E3 could be known as the “last roundup” for handheld game devices, although Nintendo will likely remain in the arena it helped build (with its Game Boy). Still, Nintendo hasn’t been able to find much support for its Nintendo DS device, just as Sony has struggled to find an audience for its PS Vita handheld. So what’s responsible for the rapid decline of this game niche? That’s right—the massive success of smartphones and tablet devices, which are now leading mobile gaming.

Trend: Xbox Becomes More Integrated with Your TV
Why You Should Care: Microsoft is light years ahead of Apple and Sony and on a track to be a full-service media provider.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is dominating Day One and Microsoft wants to go a step further – and dominate your living room. To that end, Microsoft is continuing to use the Xbox as a type of “Trojan horse” to gain more access to your living room. This includes new music and video services being served up by – you guessed it – the Xbox.


“Star Wars 1313″ was one of the major titles announced at E3 2012. 

Trend: Reviving and Reconnecting “Star Wars” Fans with “Star Wars 1313”
Why You Should Care: It’s the first serious gamers “Star Wars” game in years.

While fans are still taking in the recent announcement that George Lucas is retiring from filmmaking (at least from big-budget movies), the game company he inspired is gearing up for a comeback. LucasArts hasn’t introduced a new title in almost two years, so expectations are already running high for “Star Wars 1313,” in which a bounty hunter makes his way through “a ruthless criminal underground.” (Think “Mass Effect” meets “L.A. Noire.”) The big difference around this time is the targeted audience; whereas most “Star Wars” games are marketed to younger gamers, “Star Wars 1313” will aim to strike a chord with older players; the game is already touting an “M” rating.

Trend: Blockbuster Sequels/Kinect
Why You Should Care: Motion games and sequels continue to drive the industry — and that’s not necessarily a good thing…

The Kinect system keeps charging ahead, and so do new titles that support it. Games announced at E3 that support Kinect include “Madden NFL 13” and “FIFA 13.”  “Halo,” “Gears of War” and “Forza”—each of which has been a certified Xbox smash—all have sequels announced at this E3. It means more mass-market games and less indie titles, although we must confess, we’re drooling over “Halo 4,” which is slated for a November release.

Trend: Saving Sony
Why You Should Care: Gamers are a passionate bunch who don’t easily forget.

At this year’s event, Sony will be trying to soothe the tempers of gamers still fuming over network hacks and botched system launches…cough, PS Vita. Sure there are some stellar titles on PS3, but gamers haven’t been bowled over by Sony’s corporate missteps and the company needs to work hard to mend relationships with its audience.

Stay Tuned!
As industry events go, E3 has something for everybody, from those who play games to those want to learn how to make video games. Check back in with us this week, as we present special editorial coverage of E3 2012.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog,Video Game Design and have No Comments

E3 2011: Day 1, The Latest Battle in the Console Wars

Tuesday marked the first day of E3 2011 in Los Angeles, one of the largest consumer electronics shows around and an annual showcase for new and impressive digital technology.

Nintendo Takes a Big Tablet
In terms of publicity impact, yesterday belonged to Nintendo, which unveiled its new Wii U controller Monday night. The controller is a fairly hefty accessory, which makes sense, because the middle of the device contains a 6.2-inch-diagonal touch-screen display.


Nintendo was a bit light on certain specifics (such as price and release date), but its new Wii U controller – with a 6.2-inch touch-screen controller screen integrated into its controller – wowed the crowds and silenced critics.

The Wii U controller is also tricked-out with a front-facing camera, microphone, gyroscope and accelerometer. While gaming, the player can play a game either through the handheld device or play the game on the TV that’s hooked up to the console. In terms of size, the Wii U controller resembles a tablet PC, but doesn’t offer (yet) the same type of options as an iPad or other tablets.

Sony: Picking Up the Paces


Sony is still reeling from recent attacks by hackers that took down the PlayStation Network for a month. One of the more impressive announcements the company made: how two PlayStation Vita players could use 3D technology to play games on a single screen, with each seeing a different image.

Sony continues to battle through an extremely difficult year – a year that has included natural, nuclear and economic disasters in its home country of Japan. Nonetheless, Sony always comes ready to play, and this year’s E3 was no exception. During a 5-hour press event, the electronics giant showcased its new PlayStation Vita. During the five-hour pre-show event on Monday, Sony showed off the new handheld – which follows the original PlayStation Portable (PSP) video game system. As with the Wii U controller, the PlayStation Vita has a large-screen (5”) display in the center of the unit, with control buttons on both sides of the screen. The Vita also features an interface similar to the iPhone. No surprise then that the Vita system is also 3G supported and will have service provided by AT&T.

Microsoft Wants You to Kinect


Microsoft is hoping gamers will want to “kinect” with its new interactive system, which adds motion to the mix.

Microsoft’s Kinect system has been doing gangbuster business in retail stores for a while now, yet Microsoft brought it to the front and center of the Xbox gaming experience. The Kinect system projects an infrared pattern around your game room and uses that information to give the CPU a spatial reference for gamers position and movements. Your real-life body and voice are tracked and used to control games. Microsoft’s message? Get “kinected” as they forced everything from a Kinect soccer game to a Kinect game called “Kinect Disneyland Adventures” down gamers’ throats. (We prefer the old-school method of playing games from the comfort of our couches, and we think most hardcore gamers do, too.) The strategy comes from Microsoft’s urge to copy Wii’s success, but only time will tell if that strategy works.

Apple’s Head in the Clouds


Apple doesn’t even have to be in attendance at E3 to make news, as gamers and industry insiders alike were still buzzing from Apple’s announcement about iCloud.

You know Apple has some serious industry clout when it doesn’t even bother to show up at the world’s greatest electronic entertainment show. Opposite of the announcements that came out of Los Angeles on Monday, Apple’s Steve Jobs introduced iCloud in San Francisco. Apple’s latest venture, iCloud is a storage service, much like Amazon’s Cloud drive or Dropbox. How does it work? For a $25 annual subscription fee, you can copy any music from a computer-held music collection and store that music in the iCloud. Once your media is on the cloud, you can access it from any number of iDevices. The whole thing, according to Apple is quick and relatively painless to use, and much easier to navigate than services offered by Google’s Music Beta and Amazon’s Cloud. With those services, users have to slowly load their songs from their computers to cloud servers.

At the end of the day, E3 belonged to Nintendo, who won hands-down…or was it Apple, since it’s interesting to note the Wii U controller was strikingly similar to an Apple device called the iPad. Sony’s Vita wants so bad to be an iPhone, and many attendees snickered at Sony’s attempt to catch up with Apple.

Catching Up with Technological Trends
Keeping up with today’s top technological trends and tomorrow’s game industry reality is just one of the many ways that Digital Media Academy computer & digital arts summer camps is able to offer the ultimate summer camp experience. Our instructors are industry innovators who have worked for some of the biggest players in the game industry, and they are often tuned to coming trends that our students have yet to even imagine.

This summer, DMA will offer a range of courses related to 3D Game Design for various popular game platforms. From an Introduction to 3D Art, Modeling and Animation for Game Design…to 3D Game Development classes (for developing games for Google Android devices, for the Internet and for iPhones)…to 3D Game Creation classes in Level Design and Character Design. No matter where your video-game interests lay, DMA has a computer summer camp for you. To learn from the industry’s best, this summer turn to DMA.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments