Renaissance Geek – Ernest Cline on Ready Player One, Oculus Rift, And Buckaroo Banzai

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Renaissance Geek – Ernest Cline on Ready Player One, Oculus Rift, And Buckaroo Banzai

In August 2011, Ernest Cline released his debut novel, Ready Player One, a dystopian sci-fi epic about a Willy Wonka-esque treasure hunt through a massive virtual-reality MMO. The novel burst at the seams with references to ‘80s pop culture and gaming, rocketing Cline into the public eye. More impressively, it heralded the coming era of virtual reality before the advent of devices like the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus. We talked with Cline about his impressions of the Oculus Rift headset, his unofficial sequel to Buckaroo Banzai, and how he new book Armada is just as game fueled as his last.

Electronic Sports Leage Cracking Down On Performance-Enhancing Drug Use

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The ESL released a press release today stating the company is taking new measures to reduce and hopefully eliminate the use of performance-enhancing drugs in its eSports events.

ESL partnership with Germany's NADA (Nationale Anti Doping Agentur) and Canada's WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) aims to help preserve the integrity of the young, increasingly popular realm of eSports.

These allied organizations will be creating a PEDs prevention program as part of the initiative, which aims to help players find ways to cope with the emotional and physical stress of high-level play without resorting to drugs. The ESL will also begin administering randomized PED skin tests to check if any players having been enhancing their game. ESL's One Cologne event next month is the first time these tests will be performed, and the ESL promises to implement them at every event under its purview from here on in.

Nintendo Is Partnering With Facebook To Promote The Launch Of Super Mario Maker

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Here’s a weird one: Nintendo announced via Twitter today that they will be partnering with Facebook to promote Super Mario Maker and to create new content at launch.

The two tweets have since been deleted, but the guys over at My Nintendo News managed to snag the original text before it vanished. Facebook employees will design levels which can then be downloaded by players. One Facebook-created level will be downloadable for free after launch. 

Super Mario Maker doesn't release for the WiiU until September 11, but you can read our E3 interview with the producer and director while you wait.

Build Up And Defend Your Own Base In Neverwinter's Free Strongholds Expansion

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The Dungeons & Dragons-flavored, free-to-play MMORPG, Neverwinter, is getting its seventh free expansion next month. Strongholds challenges players to build up their own bases and defend them against onslaughts from enemy players, complete with a new PvP mode.

Strongholds contains the biggest zone Neverwinter players will ever explore, and it's filled with crafting materials you'll need to build up your own hall. Players can level up their buildings by performing quests, which will then feed back into their characters to make them stronger. Strongholds also introduces a new MOBA mode, where players will attempt to take down bases with the genre's traditional three-lane gameplay. For more info, watch the trailer below and check out the screens in the gallery.

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LeBron James Partners With Warner Bros., Might Star In Space Jam 2

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LeBron James Partners With Warner Bros., Might Star In Space Jam 2

LeBron James is currently enjoying critical praise for his feature film debut in the Amy Schumer vehicle Trainwreck, and we could be seeing the superstar in more television and film projects soon. James entered into a partnership with Warner Bros. yesterday, including "an agreement covering projects in TV, film and original digital content" according to Variety.

On top of that, senior editor at Capital New York Alex Weprin tweeted an important reminder that could spell big news for both Warner Bros. and LeBron:

Warner Bros. filed new trademarks for "Space Jam" last month. Today announced deal with LeBron James. pic.twitter.com/WaZ33sXCsY

Rise Of The Tomb Raider Launches On PC Next Year

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Square Enix announced today that the sequel to Lara Croft's critically acclaimed reboot, Rise of the Tomb Raider, will be available on PCs next year.

Microsoft, publisher Square Enix, and developer Crystal Dynamics arranged a year of exclusivity for the game when it arrives on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One November 10. That means the PlayStation 4 version won't be available to Sony fans until holiday of next year. However, PC users are a bit luckier considering it hits Steam and Windows 10 in early 2016.

For more on Rise of the Tomb Raider, check out our cover story hub filled with a ton of exclusives stories and videos about the game.

Report: New NBA 2K16 Features Leaked

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A broad list of features for NBA 2K16 has reportedly leaked, potentially exposing several details about the game's My League, MyGM, MyTeam, new 2K Pro-Am mode, and more.

Operation Sports has screen grabs from the Microsoft's SmartGlass app (Microsoft has since removed the reported details) from Twitter user @Droppin_Daggers.

Some of the highlights of the potential info drop include three-team trades, team relocation, summer leagues, and a thankfully re-vamped draft for MyGM. The grabs also mention more customization options for MyTeam and online functionality for MyLeague. The new 2K Pro-Am mode is also mentioned, which features five-on-five matches of MyPlayers, with up to 40 players at the same time.

Blog Herding – The Best Blogs Of The Community (July 23, 2015)

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This week's selection of blogs was a bit lower than usual. I get it: Everyone is playing Rocket League. But what we do have is a fun mix containing a controller review, tragic deaths, and much more.

Community Blogs For July 16 – July 22:

Fighting Games Aren't A Sport But Should Be Respected As One Games featuring two avatars engaging in fisticuffs are insanely awesome, according to ShooterMan23. And they're also hard to get good at and should be respected for what they can accomplish.

$190 Destiny Action Figure On The Way From 3A

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$190 Destiny Action Figure On The Way From 3A

Popular toy manufacturer 3A has teamed up with Bungie and Activision to bring 1/6 scale Destiny action figures to market. The first figure in this line is of the game's Titan class character. Standing in at 12.6" in height and featuring 24 points of articulation, this figures comes with two sets of interchangeable hands and battle-worn armor covering a cloth under suit.

3A is releasing two versions of this figure. The first is exclusive to the Bambaland store and comes packaged with the Hawkmoon hand cannon (exotic primary weapon), the Shadow Prince auto rifle (primary weapon), Felwinter's Life shotgun (special weapon), and the Zombie Apocalypse WF47 (heavy weapon). This version sells for $190 and can be pre-ordered starting on July 27. The second version of this figure is a standard retail release. The only difference between this one and Bambaland's is it doesn't come with the Hawkmoon hand cannon. It too retails for $190, with pre-orders starting on July 31.

John Smedley Stepping Back From Daybreak Games

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John Smedley is stepping down as the president and CEO of Daybreak Games – formerly known as Sony Online Entertainment – for an undetermined role with the MMO company.

A statement from a spokesperson for Daybreak to GamesBeat reads: "I can confirm that John Smedley will be taking some time off from the company for the near-term and transitioning to a different role to be determined. Upon finalization of his plans, further communication will be provided."

Russell Shanks, the COO, will take over Smedley's position.