Student-driven film spotlights young gamblers, online betting

With sports betting at his fingertips and a poker table a mouse click away, it was all too easy for Max Shona to spend hours gambling on the internet. But as hours turned into days and the urge to win bigger began to consume him, the 22-year-old realized he had a problem, reports the Canadian Press. “It was an addiction. I can admit to saying it,” says Shona. “It still haunts me.” The Toronto native is now sharing his experiences in a youth-driven documentary that takes a hard look at the impact and experiences of gambling on his generation—and online betting is an element that features significantly. “Deal Me In” was produced by a group of students out of the Youth Voices Gambling Project at the University of Toronto. Put together last year, the film is rapidly gaining an attentive audience as it appears at film festivals and gambling awareness workshops around the country. While Shona’s gambling began when he was still in high school betting on $5 poker games, the move to cyberspace saw what had begun as a pastime spiral out of control. “I went to online gambling, which is the devil. It’s probably the worst thing in the world,” he says. “It’s so accessible … and you just don’t cash out.” Shona is among a handful of youth who have spoken out on camera as “Deal Me In” tries to bring the story of young gamblers to their peers…

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How video games have trained a generation of athletes

For more than 30 years, sports video games have been focused on simulating real-life athletics more and more perfectly. But over the past decade, games have moved beyond just imitating the action on the field, Wired reports: Now they’re changing it. “These games nowadays are just so technically sound that they’re a learning tool,” says Tim Grunhard, an All-Pro center for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1990s who now coaches high school football in the Kansas City area, where he encourages his players to use Madden NFL to improve their knowledge of football strategy and tactics. These days, Grunhard says, high school players have a much deeper understanding of offensive formations and defensive coverages, a development he attributes to their long hours on video game consoles. At the Pop Warner Super Bowl in 2006, the winning team had 30 offensive plays, which it had learned through Madden. (“I programmed our offense into Madden to help me memorize our plays,” one 11-year-old told Sports Illustrated. “It was easier than homework.”) Dezmon Briscoe, an all-conference wide receiver for the University of Kansas, credited Madden 2009 with teaching him how to read when defenses “roll their coverages”—move their defensive backs to disguise their strategy. Chuck Kyle, a high school coach who has won 10 state championships in football-mad Ohio, has programmed his team USA playbook into Madden and uses it to teach players their assignments. So have coaches at Colorado State, Penn State, and the University of Missouri, among other schools. An offensive lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used the video game as a preparation tool for an entire season, scouting his opponents digitally. While even-more-sophisticated software is available for virtual sports training, coaches and players at all levels of football say that Madden’s off-the-shelf simulation is good enough…

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Warner Brothers to produce ‘Sesame Street’ video games

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has signed a deal with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization that produces “Sesame Street” in more than 140 countries, to create and publish a series of interactive games for various platforms based on the 40-year-old children’s series, reports the Associated Press. The partnership comes three months after Sesame Workshop and Warner Bros. announced Warner Home Video would distribute “Sesame Street” home videos. The companies said they see the latest partnership as an opportunity to create entertaining and educational interactive content for preschool-age children, an audience they said is underserved by game publishers. “There’s a big open hole in the market,” said Russell Arons, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment senior vice president of marketing. “This is the first generation of parents who grew up as gamers. Unlike prior generations where people weren’t sure of the value of video games, these are people who know there’s value and fun for the whole family.” Arons said the publisher hopes to utilize video and motion controller technologies, which will be available for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 later this year, for the new “Sesame Street” games, making the games easier and developmentally appropriate for preschoolers…

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