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Paper and Pencils Are Old School When You Have iPads in the Classroom

by Published: Jul 8, 2010

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. _ At Monte Vista Christian School, history textbooks could soon be a relic of the past. Ditto for tomes on biology and English literature. And spiral-bound notebooks and pens _ who needs them?

They’re so old school when you have a 16GB iPad, and Monte Vista has 60 of the latest must-have technology from Apple for use in classrooms. The iPads were introduced Thursday to advanced placement students who will participate in a pilot project. If all goes well, Headmaster Stephen Sharp anticipates replacing heavy and expensive textbooks with cheaper, interactive e-versions. (more…)

 
 

Eight Toys That Should Never, Under Any Circumstances, Be Turned Into Video Games

by Published: Aug 26, 2009

In the old days, big blockbuster movies would be turned into cheap collectible glasses that would come with your meal at McDonald’s. These glasses were fun to drink milk out of through Krazy Straws, but they eventually wound up being shattered in the dishwasher.

Then, as mankind evolved and we put a man on the moon and color on our televisions, movies got turned into terrible video games (see: every video game made before “Spider-Man 2”). Eventually, as time passed, movies got turned into somewhat decent video games (see: “Spider-Man 2”).

Then, as more time passed, we entered a Second Dark Age, when movies got turned into bad video games again (see: “Superman Returns”). Then something strange happened; in a bizarre role-reversal, video games actually began getting turned into terrible movies (see: “Doom,” “Silent Hill,” “Resident Evil”).

Still more time passed. Things got really odd when rides at amusement parks started getting turned into movies and then got turned into video games (see: “Pirates of the Caribbean”).

Now, almost a decade into the new millennium, it seems anything can become a movie or a video game or a TV show or a hit pop/rock song. Yes, it’s official: The world is completely out of ideas. And when the world is out of ideas, theturns nostalgic and begins to steal ideas from the past. That way, instead of inventing anything new (which is very, very, very hard), it can take some known property and pretend to give it some gravitas.
I am a full-time gamer, but I am also a part-time activist. I want to protect the past from being exploited. Thus, here’s a list of toys that I have declared totally off-limits, and shipped to an undisclosed location in New Jersey so that the world never has to endure their inevitable video game tie-ins.

7. Furby

Background: The fuzzy little faux-sentient gadget looked and acted like an inebriated Gremlin with a frontal lobotomy.
Famous for: Scaring owners by waking them up in the pre-dawn dark as the cursed piece of crude electronics began involuntarily began speaking in “Furbish.”

Why it should never be a game: The CGI intro movie alone –of Furbies speaking Furbish to one another in their cute Furby village — makes me double over and hold my stomach and cry hot tears of misery.

6. Slinky

Background: The little bedspring-that-could was invented by a naval engineer in the ‘40s.

Famous for: Walking downstairs, alone or in pairs; making a “slinkety” sound; getting tangled up so severely that it had to eventually make its slinkety sound in the nearest trash can.

Why it should never be a game: I can already imagine the pitch meeting: “Use the Wii Remote and Nunchuk attachment to ‘walk’ the Slinky through the game world.” I can also imagine, very clearly, the impending apocalypse. BOOOOOOM.

5. Rubik’s Cube

Background: Erno Rubik cursed the world in the ‘70s with this six-faced, evil-cube puzzle. Fun Fact That I Just Made Up: No matter where you are, there are at least two Rubik’s Cubes within a six-foot radius of you at all times.

Famous for: Aiding young children in their ability to invent new, creative ways to use expletives.

Why it should never be a game: Adding arms and legs to Pac-Man for his animated series and subsequent video games = terrible idea. Adding arms and legs to a Rubik’s Cube and giving it a lousy English accent = another terrible idea.

4. Lite-Brite

Background: Invented in the ‘60s, this toy was designed to help children who were just plain terrible at making original arts and/or crafts.

Famous for: Tiny multicolored pegs that would magically get lost until you only had about 100 greens left.

Why it should never be a game: No video game could ever match the aesthetic satisfaction of popping a tiny plastic peg through a black sheet of paper while a radioactive bulb bathes your face in cancer-making rays.

3. Etch A Sketch

Background: Invented in the ‘50s by a French electrician, the Etch A Sketch has been the toy of choice for anyone in the mood to draw a very square, very crude dog.

Famous for: With the dual knobs on the front of the unit, the Etch A Sketch bore a strong resemblance to a television set that only showed one program, called “Here Is Another Poorly Drawn Square Dog.”

Why it should never be a game: With IMs, texts, emoticons and $4.99 Hallmark cards being the preferred way to communicate with others nowadays, the ability to make terrible drawings has lost all social relevance.

2. Spirograph

Background: Like the Lite-Brite, the Spirograph was also created to assist children who preferred making cool, intricate designs instead of doing anything truly original or creative.

Famous for: Heavy marijuana users are the world’s biggest consumers of Spirograph artwork.

Why it should never be a game: Developers could try to turn this toy into a bona-fide video game, but our guess is that the results would look almost exactly like one of those “self-drawing lines” screen savers from the ‘90s.

1. Hugo: Man of a Thousand Faces

Background: This 1975 toy from Kenner featured a bald puppet who had the beautiful, misunderstood, longing eyes of an actor working in a Midwestern production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

Famous for: His collection of eyewear (monocle included), and beards in various states of bushiness. Everything was applied with a noxious, pearl-colored glue that bore a striking resemblance to Nutty Putty.

Why it should never be a game: Hugo is an enigma wrapped in a riddle housed in a cheap puppet. While it’s tempting to give Hugo his own game, we still very much prefer the mystery.