Madden Bracketology - The Bears' Peppers One of 32 NFL Players Who Could Win Cover Athlete Tourney

madden12-1_1300723223.jpgJulius Peppers and co. fell short of a Super Bowl berth, but there's still one honor the Bears' star defensive end could qualify for this year - the cover of Madden '12. 

Peppers is among one of 32 contenders in the running to become the cover athlete for EA SPORTS Madden NFL 12.
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Review: Halo Reach Defiant Pack - Worth It If You're A Regular

Halo-Reach-Defiant-Map-Pack-Highlands.jpgProviding gamers with DLC is one way that developers and publishers make sure that their game stays relevant; map packs help ensure that FPS communities continue to thrive.  Earlier this week, Bungie released the Defiant Map Pack for Halo: Reach.  Defiant is Reach's second map pack since the game's release about six months ago.

Is this add-on enough to bring strays back to Matchmaking?
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Battlefield 3, Other Gaming Fun at Chicago's C2E2 This Weekend

Chicago's C2E2 might be primarily be a comic book convention, but gamers will have plenty to do at this weekend's convention at the McCormick Center. In fact, for $10, gamers can purchase a Gaming Badge at C2E2 that will get you into all the gaming action within. Here are a few of the biggest highlights:
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Nintendo Gives Chicago a 3DS Sneak Peek In The Loop

000_0009.JPGChicagoans anxious to get their hands on Nintendo's new 3DS portable 3D gaming system a bit early can head downtown and try a demo unit.

Though the 3DS isn't scheduled for release until March 27, Nintendo is offering a Demo Pod area for people to play the 3DS at the Citigroup Center (500 W. Madison St.)
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GameSmith Contest: Win A Halo: Reach Map Pack Code

Halo Reach mappack.jpgWanna win a code for a free Halo: Reach "Defiant" Map Pack? Enter GameSmith's easy-to-enter contest.

The map pack, available on Xbox Live for 800 Microsoft Points introduces three new battlefields for multiplayer and firefight and includes all-new Achievements worth a total of 150 Gamerscore. 

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Chicago's Iron Galaxy Studios Develops Solid-State Drives for Gaming

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When the future of gaming finally arrives, Chicago's Iron Galaxy Studios won't be surprised. They know the technology has been around for sixty years.

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Review: Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Pulls Off The Right Combo

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Anyone who enjoys fighting games has probably heard about the Marvel vs. Capcom series. It's an arcade classic, and it's been hanging around as a cult hit for years, spawning more tournaments than just about any other fighting game out there. Its team fighting style is unique, and the absurd combos a player can pull off are both visually spectacular and mentally satisfying. It should be no surprise, then, that its most recent iteration only improves on its age-old formula.   

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Interview with a PlayDate - A Chat with GameCrush's Vodka Clarity

2011-01-12 18-33-28.158.jpgAs one of the most popular PlayDates on, Ieva Vashkus is used to getting judged for her looks ("'Hey, nice boobies,' is how a lot of guys start, she said) but she'd rather get attention for her gaming skills. Vashkus, a 24-year old college student from Seattle, is also studying microbiology at the University of Washington, is a hardcore PC-gamer who uses GameCrush has a way to make a little extra money. Vashkus, who goes by the alias "Vodka Clarity" on GameCrush played Call of Duty: Black Ops and spoke with GameSmith about her experience on the site.

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Pay For Play? GameSmith Takes on GameCrush

GameCrush "PlayDate" Nerdress

Since it was first announced last year, the website GameCrush has garnered plenty of controversy. That's because it's a site where you pay people (more precisely - attractive women) to play video games with you. Sometimes it's more than that - some of the PlayDates have a reputation for showing skin.

For some critics, means gamers look like a bunch of desperate, virginal losers.  Others say GameCrush is harmless fun. I talked to Game Crush co-founder Eric Strasser and he said that the concept of paid social interaction is everywhere.

"People are interested in social interactions, they've been doing stuff like this since the 1-900-numbers," said Strasser. "We're just applying something that's been around - we just facilitate that interaction."

I was working on my Gamer Girl story for RedEye last month and so I decided to check it out GameCrush for myself.
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Chicago Company Creates Facebook App for Parents

A Chicago-based company has seen parents worry about their children's online activities, and they think they have a way of helping out.  Now that kids are spending more and more of their time with Facebook, Facebook games, and other virtual realms, it was only a matter of time before a company stepped up with a program to provide parents with the information they wanted.

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Interview: Chicago's Rachael Kirtley On Life As a Female Gamer

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Chicagoan Rachael Kirtley (FXYMXY) knows games well. She's gamed competitively for a decade, starting with Aliens vs. Predator and Quake on the PC. She also gamed professionally for a year for vVv gaming - a Chicago-based gaming community. Now she has lent her gaming expertise to a Sony Playstation podcast as the co-host of "Replay With Doc." Kirtley talked to GameSmith about her extensive gaming knowledge and what it's like playing online as a female.

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A Conversation With IGN's Jessica Chobot: Girls, Games, and Who She's Sleeping With (In Bioware Games)

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Most subjects of internet memes come and go, but Jessica Chobot - who became famous on the internet for a photo in which she licked a Sony PSP - is in the middle of Year Five of her 15-minutes of fame. Chobot is now an on-camera host and staff writer for video game website She has also made appearances on various TV shows, wrote a column for Maxim magazine, and was once named one of AskMen's 100 Most Desirable Women. Chobot spoke with GameSmith recently about girls, games, and how she's bad at relationships in games.

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The Girl Behind The Game: Interview With Chicago Indie Developer Erin Robinson

PAX10.jpgThere are few fields as male dominated as video game production, but Erin Robinson is trying to help change that by crafting her own route in the industry. Robinson is an independent game designer whose newest PC game, Puzzle Bots, was awarded as one of "PAX 10" (the Penny Arcade Expo). Robinsom, 24, also teaches a video game design course at Columbia College called "The Indie Game Sprint." She spoke with GameSmith about her company "Ivy Games" and about females and gaming. 
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Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Tournament to Be Held at Chicago Hotel

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The latest entry in the exciting Marvel vs. Capcom series is almost upon us, and a couple of enthusiastic Chicagoans intend to welcome it's arrival tournament-style.
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Interview: Super Mario Burlesque Director Talks "Boobs and Goombas"

The colorful cast of Boobs and Goombas: A Super Mario Burlesque (Photo by K Leo)Two things you probably never imagined in the same sentence together in your wildest dreams (and I do mean wild) - Super Mario Brothers and burlesque dancing - is a reality. That's thanks to MsPixy, a gamer and geek girl, who wrote and is directing  "Boobs and Goombas: A Super Mario Burlesque" - a show that's just been extended through March at Bucktown's Gorilla Tango Theatre.

MsPixy, who asked that her real name not be used, is a founding member of the Belmont Burlesque Review in Chicago, holds a degree in directing, a minor in dance, and is an improvisor and sketchwriter with training from Second City and ComedySportz. She spoke to GameSmith about gamer girls and how she sexed up a game about two mustachioed Italian plumbers who battle killer plants and anthropomorphic bullets.

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Interview: The Frag Dolls Take Aim At Gender and Games

FragDollsGroup.jpgAs their name implies, the Frag Dolls are equal parts hotties and hardcore gamers. The nine-member girl gamer clan is sponsored by Ubisoft and much of their work is marketing and promotions for the game developer.  But they're also still a female "All-Star" team that compete at all sort of online games. GameSmith spoke to Rhoulette (Morgan Romine), one of the three original Frag Dolls and newcomer Spectra  (Anne-Marie Wilson) about life as professional gamers.

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February is Gamer Girl Month at GameSmith

Hardcore gamer (Vodka Clarity) Ieva Vashkus shows off her hardware of choice

For decades, video gaming has remained primarily a boys' club where female game characters like the impossibly proportioned Lara Croft from Tomb Raider or paid models at conventions dubbed "booth babes" are used to hold the attention of the distinctly dude demographic.
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Review: Dead Space 2 Proves Just As Terrifying as the Original

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Everyone knows by now that it isn't hard to ruin a series. There have been countless recent examples of developers who tried a little too hard the second time around, misinterpreted what made the first game so great, or simply tried to cash in on a surprise hit. And with all of the greatness that Dead Space 2 has to live up to, it isn't hard to imagine a world where the return of Isaac Clark isn't so universally acclaimed. Luckily, though, Dead Space 2 manages to survive its critics with most of its limbs still attached.
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Interview: Chicago's Jellyvision Speaks With GameSmith About New "You Don't Know Jack" Game

Part of Jellyvision's "You Don't Know Jack" team. From L-R Mike Bilder - General Manager, Evan Jacover - Senior Programmer, Arnie Niekamp - Lead Writer, Harry Gottlieb - Founder / CEO, Allard Laban - VP Creative / Art Director

The Jack is Back. After a long layoff from their signature trivia video games, Chicago-based company Jellyvision released a new version of "You Don't Know Jack" for Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii and DS. The company held a release party for the game on Tuesday at the Mad River Bar and Grille in Lakeview and GameSmith was there to speak to some of the game's creators.

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Oregon Trail and Carmen Sandiego Revived for Facebook

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If you want to connect with long-lost companions, you go to Facebook. But now it appears you can do the same for a pair of classic games as well: Blue Fang lead designer Darius Kazemi has announced the company will be releasing updates of classics The Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?  

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Steve Wiebe Attempts to Break Donkey Kong Record at Chicago's Logan Hardware

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Records are meant to be broken, and when Chicago's newly reopened Logan Hardware set its sights on gaming's most coveted high score, they knew who to contact: Steve Wiebe. The store hired Wiebe, who has twice himself held the Donkey Kong world record, to make three more attempts at the record on January 15.

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Casting Begins For Geek Burlesque Show In Chicago; Boobs and Goombas Extended


Hazel Hellbender in BOOBS AND GOOMBAS: A SUPER MARIO BURLESQUE. Photo by Caitlyn Muncy

Gamers, geeks and burlesque enthusiasts rejoice. Chicago's Gorilla Tango Theatre is not only extending the run of it's Super Mario burlesque show, but it will soon be casting for a new geek-friendly show - "Fellowship of the Boobs: An LOTR, WoW, D&D, RPG Burlesque." (That's Lord of the Rings, World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons, and Role-Playing Game for all the non-geeks out there.)

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Northwestern University Professor Used as a Consultant on Tron: Evolution


To help ensure they got the science of "Tron: Legacy" right, the moviemakers behind the Tron sequel used a Northwestern University professor as a consultant.

Malcolm MacIver, an assistant professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering at NU, was one of five scientists brought in through the National Academy of Sciences to work on the movie, according to a story by the Chicago Sun-Times.

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Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Sharp and Brian Campbell Team Up For PSA on Video Game Ratings

Chicago Blackhawks teammates Patrick Sharp and Brian Campbell have teamed up off the ice to make a public service announcement commercial explaining video game ratings provided by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to parents of gamers.

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Chicago Loot Drop's Rock Band Tournament Hits Lincoln Hall Dec. 15


Hey Chicago music gamers, wanna rock for a worthy charity?

The Chicago Loot Drop is sponsoring an upcoming Rock Band 3 tournament at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. As a fundraiser for Child's Play - a charity that gives toys, books, and games for sick kids in participating hospitals during the holiday season.

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GameSmith's Holiday Video Game Gift Guide 2010

Video game buying used to be a bit more simple. Everything usually boiled down to a couple of different choices - NES or Sega game, PlayStation or Nintendo 64. But with the recent additions of Sony's Move and Microsoft's Kinect add-ons, as well as downloadable games and extra online content, holiday game shopping can be more difficult than figuring out your taxes. To make things simple, here are some of GameSmith's favorite buys:

Gallery sneak peek (17 images):

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Take a Peek At The GameSmith Nintendo Gingerbread House


The GameSmith Nintendo gingerbread house! All it needs now is Katy Perry and her cupcake bra.

As far as creative swag goes, no video game company does it quite like Nintendo.
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Take That, Tony! Parker Gets Major Downgrade in "Loyalty Rating" in NBA 2K11

It looks like 2K Sports also has Eva Longoria's back.

In the most recent update for NBA2K11 for PS3 and Xbox 360, the boys at 2K dropped San Antonio star point guard Tony Parker's loyalty rating from 87 to 0. A 2K Sports community manager tweeted about it and Kotaku ran a story about it. 
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GameSmith Giveaway- You Can Win A PS3 or Xbox 360 Copy of "Tony Hawk: Shred"

Chaz Ortiz is shredding up Chicago this weekend to show off the new skateboarding game "Tony Hawk: SHRED" and GameSmith readers have a chance to join in on the fun.

Two GameSmith readers have a chance at winning a free Xbox 360 or PS3 version of "Tony Hawk: SHRED."

Entering is easy. Follow GameSmith on Twitter (@DRSmith77) and tweet me telling me whether you're interested in a PS3 or Xbox 360 version of the game. By the end of the weekend, I'll randomly choose two winners.

Wanna "SHRED" it up for yourself? Enter now!

Local Teen Skating Pro Chaz Ortiz To Demo "Tony Hawk: Shred" In Chicago This Weekend


16-year-old Chicagoan and pro skater Chaz Ortiz is an in-game character in "Shred."

Chaz Ortiz may only be 16, but he's already a vet of the pro skating circuit. Ortiz, a Chicago-area native who turned pro at age 13, won the Dew Tour Championships and 2010 Dew Cup in "skate park."

This weekend he's taking a break from the tour to come to the Orland Square Mall to sign autographs and demo "Tony Hawk: SHRED" a new skateboarding game made by Chicago game developer Robomodo in which he appears as an in-game character. Ortiz answered a few questions for GameSmith via email:

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