It’s Friday! Or is it? Time is a social construct, so I could tell you it’s Wednesday today, and how could you prove me wrong? It’s Friday because it’s the fifth day this week, but when did this week start? Can’t prove that either, I’m afraid. Well, the calendar in the bottom right corner of the monitor says it’s Friday. Who told the computer that it’s Friday? Anyone could change that display in the settings. What I can say, for certain, is that events occurred and news transpired in this indefinable time period, and it’s been turned into bite-size chunks, here in the round-up…

It’s warm. Or, it’s been warm lately in the United Kingdom. It’s been a cloying, unpleasant, humid heat that is practically inescapable. Lots of buildings here don’t have air conditioning units, and a lot of houses were built to retain warmth in the winter months. The issue with this is that houses don’t know what month it is, so they keep the heat in, regardless of how long the days are. If people weren’t maintaining a distance of two metres from one another, they certainly were this week. Any and every motion felt like dragging your limbs through treacle. Though, this is definitely not nearly as bad as the conditions of the men’s marathon at the 1904 Summer Olympics. That was an absolute shambles, so sit yourself comfortably before we get stuck in. 

Held in St. Louis, Missouri, thirty-two athletes representing four nations competed, but less than half of the runners actually completed the race. It was a unique event. Firstly, organizers started the marathon in the afternoon, when the summer heat had set in, instead of the much cooler morning. Secondly, the course started and ended in the stadium, but the majority of the race was run on dusty country roads, with race officials riding in vehicles ahead of and behind the runners. Thirdly, this generated persistent clouds of dust all the way round, which almost led to the death of a competitor, who was found collapsed in the road with internal injuries from inhaling the dust. Fourthly, there was one water station on the entire 40 kilometer course, in order to investigate the effects of “purposeful dehydration,” even though extreme dehydration definitely kills people.

Fifthly, the two Tswana tribesmen who competed in the marathon would have likely placed higher in the race had they not been chased by feral dogs who had somehow ended up on the course. Sixthly, the winner of the race, Thomas Hicks of the United States, also brushed with death. Seventhly, this was due to his trainers supplying him with brandy and rat poison in order to stimulate his nervous system to continue running, even though he was trying to stop. Eighthly, Hicks dragged himself onwards, hallucinating and barely able to walk, let alone run, and crossed the finish line helped by his team. Ninthly, his ordeal caused him to lose eight pounds over the course of the event, and doctors were fortunately able to revive him, while his feet shuffled like he was still running. Here’s the news. 

Half-Life: Alyx helped teachers teach maths, science, and languages lessons in the pandemic

Collaborating with local media company OFFshot, the teachers of Szkoła 33 use the pens and blackboards dotted around the game’s setting, City 17, to draw diagrams and spell vocabulary. The hope is that this will become a regular fixture of the curriculum, even after the pandemic.

“We hope to be back at school in September, and if it all works out, we plan to have regular classes, at school, using the VR technology,” continued Sut. “Preferably, all kids will be able to take such a class at least once a week, but that depends on the situation around us, too.”

The possibilities of using virtual reality technology in education are dizzying. “We can use VR to take them on virtual tours to another country, to another planet—the sky is the limit here,” enthused Sut. “The cognitive process becomes more natural, as opposed to just reading about things in books. VR looks very promising. We are very optimistic about it right now.”

Xbox Series S console seemingly confirmed in leaked controller packaging

The report from The Verge claims that Microsoft is yet to announce another console in its next generation of hardware. This Xbox Series S is speculated to be the Xbox Series X’s little brother: less powerful, but more affordable. It would allegedly possess 7.5GB of usable RAM, approximately four teraflops of GPU performance, and come with the same CPU found on the Xbox Series X. And, the second console would also be available through the Xbox All Access program, which lets customers trade in their Xbox One for an Xbox Series X after 18 months.

Sniper Elite is getting an asymmetrical board game adaptation

One player is Allied sniper Karl Fairburne, sneaking up on a top secret WWII U-boat launch facility. They’ll use their gadgets and gear to misdirect and eliminate their enemies, which are the other players who have control over squads of German soldiers on the base. These players must outmanoeuvre the lone player, while defending the base from his attacks. With artwork from the games’ concept art books and “unique, beautifully produced” miniatures, this is quite the addition to the series, and to any tabletop players’ shelf. “It’s a privilege to bring the hugely popular Sniper Elite video game series to the tabletop, with brilliant designers, beautiful art and lovingly crafted miniatures,” said head of Rebellion Unplugged, Duncan Molloy. “Sniper Elite the Board Game delivers all the tension and excitement about the video games. We can’t wait for players to get their hands on it!”

Red Dead Online glitches have caused a lone, mysterious bald man to appear to players

As well as boomerang lassos, ghostly trains and carts, raining alligators, and shambling corpses, the players of the very broken Red Dead Online have been visited by a mysterious man. Sometimes this man is the only other living being in the area, and he’ll either work like an NPC should, or stand inert with a thousand-yard stare. Bearing a striking resemblance to Rockstar Games’ co-founder Dan Houser, the man is causing quite the stir in the community. “We are currently developing fixes to address these and will share more information as it is available,” said the company in an announcement.

Halo Infinite delayed due to “multiple factors,” will launch in 2021

One of these factors is the pandemic, which has caused considerable damage to a number of industries. “We have made the difficult decision to shift our release to 2021 to ensure the team has adequate time to deliver a Halo game experience that meets our vision,” said Chris Lee, studio head at 343 Industries. Although this leaves a rather large hole in the Xbox Series X lineup, pushing the game to its intended holiday launch would not have been “sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game.”

The Sims 4 producer recognises “there is much more for us to do” regarding inclusivity

The game’s own dark skintones have been constantly criticised for a lack of range and lifelessness, with some players describing these skintones as “dusty” and “ashy.” As a result, players download mods and custom content which lets them create Sims that look like themselves. Executive producer and general manager of The Sims Lyndsay Pearson expressed that, though the team is astonished by the community’s creativity, it shouldn’t fall to them to improve the game. “We are making it a priority to release more options this year, as well as to address the visual issues with current skin-tones specifically, to improve the blotchy artifacts and ashy tones,” she explained in a video published to Twitter. “We’ve iterated on these before, but we are doing a deep dive into our full pipeline to trace our assets through every step and compare the before and afters to assess any loss in quality.”

Survival game This War of Mine added to academic reading lists in Poland

“Of course, games are already being used in education for teaching maths, chemistry, and developing cognitive abilities,” said Grzegorz Miechowski, studio head at 11 bit Studios. “But I don’t think we’ve ever encountered a game being officially included in the educational system on a national level as school reading. I’m proud to say 11 bit Studios’ work can add to the development of education and culture in our country.” This War of Mine is a survival game which focuses on civilians caught in a conflict that is reminiscent of the Siege of Sarajevo. The player must carefully manage resources for their small group, and decide whether they will help or hinder other survivors that they encounter. 

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater remakes renames the “Mute” grab to respect original skater’s legacy

In the early 1980s, amateur skater Chris Weddle was carving out the competition. The “Indy air”—a move where the skater grabs the toeside of their board with the back hand—had just been created, and so it needed a name. Weddle was the first skater to practice it, and so it would be named after him. However, Tony Hawk relayed the story of its name, and admonished his own “naive” younger self for not challenging it. “They referred to him as the 'quiet, mute guy,'” explained Hawk. “So it became known as the mute air, and we all went along with it.” Recently, Hawk reached out to Weddle, who is still skating, about the name of the trick. “His exact quote to me was, ‘I am deaf, not mute,’” said Hawk, and now the move will be titled the Weddle Grab, Weddle Backflip, and Reacharound Invert in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
 

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