Factor Magazine: The Gaming Issue – out now

We’re sure you’ve realised the world is a crazy place right now, so perhaps, like us, you’ve considered just drawing the curtains, firing up your gaming machine of choice and getting down to a good old fashioned bit of interactive entertainment. Because there’s nothing like an immersive fantasy world to distract you from reality.

This issue, as you’ve probably guessed, is all about the future of gaming. And with Nintendo’s bizarre yet possibly game-changing console out on the 3rd March, there’s a lot to get excited about on the video games horizon.

We look at how the Nintendo Switch is switching up (ba dum tsss) the way we’ll be playing in the future, by bringing ubiquitous gaming to the triple-A titles. Plus, we also consider the growing signs that the hybrid device could offer virtual reality capabilities in the future, and offer some predictions about when this might be.

Further afield, brain-computer interfaces promise to be the emerging gaming tech of the future. We speak to people already working with the technology to discover where it’s at now and how it could impact gaming in the world of tomorrow.

Right now the games industry is undergoing something of a transformation, as it slowly reacts to the changing nature of what it means to be a gamer. We ask if diversity is set to increase in video games, and consider what role technological limitations have had in limiting the spectrum of playable characters so far.

While some areas of the industry are seeing improvement, the world of fan-made games seems to be faced with ever-increasing restrictions as companies – particularly Nintendo – seek to protect their IPs. We ask what the future is for fan-made sequels to major gaming franchises, and consider the demise of Pokemon Prism.

By contrast, indie games are enjoying their heyday. It’s arguably the best time in history to make an independent game, and is certainly far easier than in previous eras. But it hasn’t been a steady rise for indie creators – far from it – so we consider the erratic growth of indie gaming.

Plus we check out some of the exciting new tech for VR – from wireless headsets to wingsuit simulators, as well as some rather odd but awesome VR Jesus sandals – as well as the latest tech for the PC gaming hardcore.

We’ll also be looking at the totally insane CIA research into remote mind-reading, and hear how Moon Express’ Naveen Jain has big plans to transform lunar opportunities.

And as well as this there’s all the latest news, our suggestions for video game adaptations that need to happen and we’ll consider how the Digital Economy Bill went from a tool to speed up broadband to one of the biggest threats to free speech online.

All this in issue 33 of Factor magazine – out now on iPad and online.

Mobile app will be used to create communities in controversial new Indian city

A mobile app that explores what effect sustainable design, mobility and access to nature have on living standards is being used in the planning of a new city currently being constructed in India.

The city of Lavasa is a private sector-led urban development in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is approximately 130 miles from Mumbai and will eventually be home to some 300,000 people.

Two researchers from the University of Birmingham, Dr. Sophie Hadfield-Hill and Dr. Cristiana Zara, spent a year living in Lavasa; gathering data on children, young people (aged 5-23) and their families experiences of everyday life to find out how to make the city citizen-friendly and sustainable.

“Children and families are hugely affected by urban change and have much to offer in terms of their vision for urban living,” said Hadfield-Hill, lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Birmingham.

“This research has provided space for detailed ethnographic insights into the everyday experiences of urban transformation. With the Indian government putting plans in motion for a portfolio of smart city initiatives, the recommendations proposed by the project are timely.”

Image courtesy of Arjun Singh Kulkarni. Featured image courtesy of Yoursamrut

Thanks to the research, which was conducted as part of the New Urbanisms in India: Urban Living, Sustainability and Everyday Life project, a series of core themes emerged about what a modern city needs.

The study concluded schools should be placed at the heart of urban planning, all areas should be accessible by road and footpath and shared spaces should be included so people can meet, eat, walk and play together.

These findings were used by the researchers and city planners, with the help of of 130 young people, to build a model of the new city that reflected the study’s findings and will influence the future development of Lavasa.

Image courtesy of Ankur P

Previously, Lavasa has been known for controversy. Construction was halted in 2013 because the project violated environmental laws, and even residents were unclear how organic communities would develop.

“I wouldn’t live here if I wasn’t working here,” said Lavasa resident Sakrita Koshti in an interview with the Guardian. “The main reason is there are no schools out here. If I get married and have children, they cannot get settled here in Lavasa.”

The mobile app that was used during the research – called Map my Community – will now be used in used in Delhi to map informal settlements and advocate for improved living conditions for children and their families.

The original study is available here.