Loot Crate Brings Subscription Boxes to Geeks and Gamers Alike

Loot Crate Brings Subscription Boxes to Geeks and Gamers AlikeHave you heard of Loot Crate, yet? Are you too busy to go to conventions and to play dress-up as your favorite Doctor, Star Trek officer, or Stormtrooper? We all are. Trust me, there are times where I’ve wished I could just shut down my laptop, suit up as Steampunk Jabba the Hutt with Klingon ears and a Hobbit cloak, but I can’t. Too damned difficult… what with work, having a kid, and the whole “lifestyle” that comes with being a grown-up sometimes. You know?

It’s cool though, kids. Loot Crate is a subscription service that, for a fee, will send you themed surprise crates once a month filled with goodies of all kinds. Want some candy? Have some. Want some nerdy statuettes and stickers? Cool. Want some really great exclusive items that only the Loot Crate crew can get its hands on for you? It’s got that, too. The folks at Loot Crate are working hard to make sure this isn’t just a grab-bag of cheap items that you could get anywhere; they specially craft each box with a theme. This past month, we were lovingly given the coolest Deadpool shirts you could’ve imagined with stickers that mashed up Mario Bros with Ninja Turtles. Just saying, guys, they want you to have some fun.

Uncrating the Loot Crate

Every month, you receive a box that, upon opening it, gives you a card that will detail everything you have there in your “Crate.” Some folks like to run in blind and just tear through without reading that card. You totally can, but if you want to understand what that little black rubber ninja is, maybe you should check your card, yeah?

Some months, you may get a t-shirt and that means you’ll get lighter, smaller things in there. Let’s be honest: you can only cram so much in those boxes without damaging things — it makes sense. My first month was just a box full of fun toys like ninjas, bowties, and apparently randomized DC Heroes & Villains toys! Nuts, right? Did I mention the candy? Yes, nerdy candy and stuff from your youth all make appearances.

Watch as this bro and this blonde give you a rundown of their own uncrating of the most current “Mashup” crate in June.

Something I can truly appreciate about the Loot Crate is that the company knows its audience. Be that as it may, there may be a month where you get a box full of some kind of nerdy thing you don’t love as much as someone else. Cool! Gift it out! Since the Crates are surprises, there’s always going to be a little something you love more than others — but that’s kind of the fun in it. It’s like getting a surprise Christmas present for the genre you appreciate every single month. April’s Crate was “token,” where you were loaded up with tons of arcade and Street Fighter goodies, and if you’re not big into that, it just means you’ve got some kickass stuff to gift to a friend who is. Trust me: if you’re into Loot Crate, you’ve got friends who would dig the stuff you don’t. It’s never a waste.

Is Loot Crate Worth the Cost?

A monthly Crate will run you a little under 20 dollars if you include shipping and handling. You’re charged $13.37 plus $6 for shipping and handling fees — which isn’t horrible. For a year, you can subscribe and it will run you a little over $100, but that also takes care of the subscription for a year plus puts you in the running for Mega Crates, which are huge, overwhelming bundles instead of the normal subscription Crate.

junecrateIf you calculate the cost of what you’re getting in each Crate, plus the value of each item, it’s well worth it. Just this last month, the Deadpool-Aid shirt alone, on most sites, is running $30 plus shipping and handling. Include the 8-bit sunglasses, stylus pen, stickers, the discounts to Stan Lee’s Comikaze, and candies and it’s well worth the amount you paid for the Crate. Even if the items aren’t for you, the team is still making sure that you get the value that you’re putting in and more.

I have watched this company come up and rise from humble beginnings and have personally seen the hard work put out by all the folks digging deep to bring this kind of fun to the masses. While not international yet, the team is working hard to figure out ways to bring it to everyone. From what I hear, the cast of Video Game High School and its creators are “curating” the next crate. If you’re a fan of this flick and series, you might want to get in on it now! You’ve got eight days left!

In fact…

Anyone using this code at Loot Crate will get $3 off!: LOCKERGNOME

So, yes: I believe you should all take a look at it and if you’re a fan of everything nerdy, geeky, gamer related, and possibly all of the above — get your hands on a Crate. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Images provided by Loot Crate

Video Gaming Prepares Brain For Bigger Tasks

There should be an image here!Playing video games for hours on end may prepare your child to become a laparoscopic surgeon one day, a new study has shown. Reorganisation of the brain’s cortical network in young men with significant experience playing video games gives them an advantage not only in playing the games but also in performing other tasks requiring visuomotor skills. The findings are published in the October 2010 issue of Elsevier’s Cortex.

Researchers from the Centre for Vision Research at York University in Canada compared a group of 13 young men in their twenties, who had played video games at least four hours a week for the previous three years, to a group of 13 young men without that experience. The subjects were placed in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine and asked to complete a series of increasingly difficult visuomotor tasks, such as using a joystick or looking one way while reaching another way.

“By using high resolution brain imaging (fMRI), we were able to actually measure which brain areas were activated at a given time during the experiment,” said Lauren Sergio, associate professor in the Faculty of Health at York University. “We tested how the skills learned from video game experience can transfer over to new tasks, rather than just looking at brain activity while the subject plays a video game.”

The study found that during the tasks the less experienced gamers were relying most on the parietal cortex (the brain area typically involved in hand-eye coordination), whereas the experienced gamers showed increased activity in the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain.

The finding that using visuomotor skills can reorganize how the brain works offers hope for future research into the problems experienced by Alzheimer’s patients, who struggle to complete the simplest visuomotor tasks.

Lead author Joshua Granek added that, in future, it would be interesting to study if the brain pattern changes are affected by the type of video games a player has used and the actual total number or hours he has played, and to study female video gamers, whose brain patterns in earlier studies were different than those of males.

[Photo above by Rad Jose / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Laura Farbi @ Elsevier

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How To Pick The Best (And Worst!) Christmas Gifts For Gamers

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These are some excellent tips for buying gifts for console gamers. Not only did he send in the top five things to buy them, we also get the top five things not to buy!

Top Five Best Gift Ideas for Console Gamers

  • Games. I realize that games are expensive, but chances are you can’t get one of the good ones this close to Christmas ’cause they tend to be sold out. How about two or three of the platinum hits? They’re about the same price total — from $19.99 to $29.99 — and you really feel like, “hey, it’s a great gift,” and he/she will think, “wow, that’s a lot of games” or “I always wanted to play that.”
  • Accessories. This is a hit or miss. Something like a second controller, an extra battery pack, or a charging station — these are gifts that most any gamer can use. I’d recommend against the cameras, as they lead to other issues.
  • Gift cards for purchasing games and customization features. MS points or even PS3 will soon have their cards for sale, Wii I believe also has its own points cards. You can also make these part of a nice gift box. A 12 month Live membership for Xbox 360 users isn’t too shabby, either.
  • Okay, now those are a bit obvious. Let’s try something you might not think of. Have you got a nephew who has been playing online but can only do so by disconnecting the main computer? Why not give him a router? This is a major tool for most any gamer — console or PC. How bout Wi-Fi? Not very recommendable for gaming, but it is an option.
  • This is the last item, so I’ll try and make it a good one. An A/V selector… the television is often disregarded. It’s fine if you have to disconnect a cable here and there, but if it’s the TV in the family room and you’re out of connections, you will have to share one with another device. How about hooking it up to the A/V device and allowing room for even more growth? This is especially a great idea for those with multiple consoles.

Top Five Worst Gift Ideas for a Console Gamer

  • CD wallets and cleaning kits. If I want to clean my console, all I need to do is go get a soft towel, dampen it a little, and I’m good to go. I don’t need soft wipes for my plastic and metal case. Most gamers aren’t displaying their consoles in a special case so you don’t really care bout fingerprints and such. With CD cases, we all know what happens. You’ve been into most people’s cars. They have the wallets with games here and there, out of order. Most don’t realize, as you slide a disk in and out, the teeth for the zipper can start to scratch it once the wallet starts to get full.
  • Cheap A/V cables. Okay, now I don’t really know why you would be buying some for someone as a gift, so just don’t. If you can’t get them expensive Monster cables, don’t bother. The gift will not be appreciated and at best, it’ll end up tangled and never used. The original cables that ship with a console will always outperform anything from Mad Catz and the like.
  • Cheap bargain bin games. This one is a no brainer. In the bargain bin you will find games such as Battle Tech, Bionicle Heroes, and Happy Feet. Yes, they made a game. Now, while you may find some good titles, chances are you will crash and burn. Avoid this at all costs. You may be able to get by if it’s for a seven-year-old, but you try this on a teenager and, well, you get the idea.
  • Strategy guides: Who uses these? Chances are if they’re stuck, they’ll either hit up the message boards online for help or ask a friend. You don’t buy a book that is in essence equal to being led by the hand through a haunted house. If they can’t figure it out, and they need a guide, they have no business playing the game.
  • If you want to buy a console game for someone (say, the Wii), and it’s sold out, do NOT get a rain check. You pay for the console that may not come in for many weeks, and they give you an empty box to wrap. Poor Johnny opens it, and is tormented knowing that it’s empty, and there’s no game. Spend the money on something else, and get the game later.


Whether you’re a true gamer or not, most of us have wanted to create video games or at least feature ourselves and our friends in these games at some point in time. I don’t really play any console or desktop games anymore, but as you know, there are plenty of distracting online games to spend some time with, and they can be quite fun. Having the ability to add pictures of yourself and others to these games makes them even more enjoyable, and as limited as the experience may be, you can actually feel like you’re creating something. Mygame.com is not only about playing games, but it’s about making them, too.

There are five prebuilt games that you can start altering, and the process of adding personalized characters is much easier than it sounds. In fact, it can be done in just a minute or two. Just upload the pictures that you want to use, make some simple and minor adjustments, play your created game, and then share it with others. Real online game developers can even upload their games to Mygame.com for the community to play with, and in turn, earn some extra money from them.

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Halo 3 Slayer

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I received an advance copy of Halo 3 hanks to my friends at Edelman PR. I’ve already done a review on the game, and played Oddball.

I asked GamerAndy if he’s tried Forge yet; he indicated he hadn’t, but thought it would be boring. Dude! Hardly! How cool is it when you blow things up, record it, play it back and freeze frame it… then take screenshots?

Again in Slayer, just like with everything else on Halo 3 thus far, the graphics are just WOW. I keep using the word “astounding” over and over, but it truly is.

At least with Slayer, I died in vibrant color and detail! Who says I can’t be a true gamer? For those of you asking if you should get a PS3 or an Xbox 360… just watch these videos and decide for yourself.

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Electronic Entertainment Expo Experience

I’ve never been to E3 before. The Electronic Entertainment Expo has largely been known for gaming – all the big guns are there. Microsoft made a few Xbox 360 announcements today, Sony made some PS3 announcements yesterday, and Nintendo is getting ready to announce the name for the next GameBoy: the Wee-Wii. The gaming industry is gigantic, towering over the television and movie industry with its addictive and progressive releases. It just so happens to be taking place in Hollywood’s back yard, too – at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The last time I was here was for a not-dead-yet Internet World back in the late ’90s. Not being a hardcore gamer, though, makes coming to these events much more interesting. I’m not wowed by the latest video card or the newest titles, but I’m drawn to the overall experience and culture of gaming. There’s big money in gaming for everybody, and that world is only going to get bigger, better, badder, and bolder. The solitaire crowd won’t be left out either. “Game Over” was just the beginning. This is the future of entertainment.
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Xbox 360 Problems

I never thought I’d have a problem having more than one Xbox 360 in the house. Turns out, however, that it’s not as simple to manage a single Xbox Live account as previously believed. It can be done, but you can’t have the same account living in more than one place – and that one place (as it turns out) is on the Xbox Memory Card. Ample, but a bit awkward. I wasn’t sure if I was doing it properly, but Andru told me I was on the right track:

You need to MOVE your profile from the hard drive to a memory card. Then, plug that memory card into the other Xbox. You can now play the fulle version of any of the games you have downloaded and paid for. Arcade games are tied to both the Live account that purchases them, and the Xbox they are purchased on. This is why Ponzi can play a game you bought on your Live account. BUT, move those games to the OTHER 360, and only YOUR Live account can play those games. Freaking stupid. I can go into the whole mess this stupid move by MS got me into when I sent in my 360 for repair, which resulted in them sending me a new one – and thusly locking any of the four other accounts from playing the games I purchased – but I won’t.

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My Microsoft Xbox 360 Review

In a single word: evolutionary. I haven’t spent much time with my brand new Xbox 360, but I can tell you that it’s a welcome addition to my existing array of home entertainment devices. Yes, this is much more than a simple gaming machine – a far cry from the Adventure cartridge for your Atari of yesteryear. I outlined our initial Xbox 360 adventure earlier this evening, but feel the need to expand on a few specific aspects of Microsoft’s latest creation. The Xbox 360 is a cash cow in ways that Windows has never been. Gaming is a billion-dollar industry, and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has been released at the right time. You need one more reason to get a PVR? The Xbox 360 is it. Need an excuse to get an HDTV? Xbox 360. Want a Media Center Edition? Xbox 360. This is the future of your living room, and Microsoft is going to be the one to deliver it to you. If $299 sounds like too much to you, then you might as well argue that “black and white television is good enough for anybody.” The Xbox 360 is an amazing machine – not perfect, but perfectly acceptable. Moreover, it’s a marketing coup for Microsoft.
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Are You Ready To Become The Next Gaming Legend?

It’s that time of year. Yes, time to find something to take one’s mind off of the day’s repetitive tasks so they/we can kick back and relax. Normally, this means heading out somewhere, watching some TV, or even playing a good game.

Well, I have a variety of games that I play, but figured it might be fun to find one that both myself and my nephew could enjoy – each from our homes across town. After some searching it turns out that a game called ThinkTanks was just what I was looking for. Definitely OK for a 9 year old to enjoy, this game has provided me with hours of fun and managed to keep my attention for a lengthy period of time. While some adults might very well grow weary of the repetitiveness of it, I felt that it was just enough going on to keep a kid entertained while not being overly complicated.
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