PC Gaming Hardware Hits $30 Billion in 2016

The PC gaming hardware industry reached a $30 billion TAM (Total Available Market) for the first time in 2016.

Jon Peddie Research announced the record-breaking year in gaming PC hardware, which includes “pre and DIY built gaming computers, upgrades, and accessories such as input devices and audio/communication systems.” In 2016, more people than ever were building and beefing up rigs to get the most out of everything from Deus Ex: Mankind Dividedto Battlefield 1.

JPR credits the “Asia-Pacific” region for the most growth, with an $ 11.3 billion TAM fueled by an “entrenched PC gaming culture” within the population, which remains largely unimpressed by the current generation of consoles. But while the Asia-Pacific region experienced the largest overall growth, it was North America and Europe that led the high-end market.

According to the report, budget hardware made up about 22% of the overall market, and mid-range came in at 35%. Hardware manufacturers made most of their money on the cutting edge, with a whopping 43% of the TAM spent on the most powerful parts on the market.

To explain the steadily excellent growth, JPR credits the sheer wealth of options available to PC gamers. The “complete customization” available “from a functionally and aesthetic perspective” combine with a “[strong] appetite” among consumers for builds that can cost thousands of dollars. JPR also offered a more subjective reason, citing “superior control with mouse and keyboard control interfaces” that “[have] been validated with eSports overwhelmingly being played on PCs.”

Finally, Jon Peddie Research predicts a healthy 6% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) through 2019. And with the emerging influence of virtual reality on the market, there’s a very good chance that PC hardware will outstrip this conservative estimate.

Netherlands to Make eSports FIFA League Players Members of Actual Soccer Clubs

The premier Dutch soccer league is launching an eSports division that will recognize players as official members of their respective soccer teams.

Beginning on February 6, 2017, Eredivisie will pit eSports teams from each of the 18 clubs against one another in a race toward the “E-Divisie” championship in FIFA 17. While the league’s professional soccer players battle on the green, their quick-fingered counterparts will test their mental reflexes against other official team players on the screen.

Eredivisie calls the eSports league “a unique platform for the Eredivisie and Eredivisie clubs,” whose purpose is “to reach youngsters and increase the involvement of existing fans in their club.” Director Alex Tielbeke said that they have been working toward this official competition in the Netherlands “for some time,” and sees it as “an extension to the existing range of football we offer, in which we can focus even more on young people.”

More interesting is that each team’s chosen player will be considered a true member of their respective club. Along with that prestige, players in the E-Divisie will find themselves the center of a lot of attention. Matches will not only be streamed through Twitch.tv and YouTube, but broadcast on Fox Sports Netherlands as well.

It’s an excellent strategy for attracting young fans, and a very watchable diversion for when a favorite team isn’t actually on the field. It’s also a sign of things to come, with more and more organizations taking an interest in the booming world of virtual competition.

The MLB and Disney have grabbed the rights to stream official League of Legendscompetitive play, and now ESPN even has a dedicated eSports division. Late last year, the Philadelpha 76ers became the first North American professional sports team to own an eSports team.

It’s interesting to finally see people coming to understand the ways that traditional and digital sports can not merely coexist, but compliment one another to the benefit of both.

‘Minecraft: Education Edition’ Adds Features for Teachers to Use with Students

Minecraft: Education Edition has officially released a 1.0 edition. It introduces valuable tools for students and educators alike — both in and out of the game.

With more than 25 million sales on the PC/Mac platform alone, and over 100 million total copies sold as of June 2016, the blocky virtual world is more populated than most countries on Earth. It’s moved beyond “popular game” and into “major cultural influencer” for the next generation of creative young minds.

In the recent past, Minecraft: Education Edition added thousands more users, giving teachers the chance to tap into its boundless potential for engaging students in the classroom. With 1.0, the toolset is now feature complete and ready to move into even more schools.

Teachers can use pre-made Minecraft worlds for everything from learning about windmills or ecology, to the function of the human eye. If they’re uncertain how to begin, Microsoft and developer Mojang have them covered. 60 educators from 19 countries have been recruited for regular blog posts, lesson plans, and other supplemental help for those looking to implement Minecraft into their teaching strategy.

The 1.0 version also brings some mechanical and quality of life features. The game world can be built twice as high to accommodate complex projects, teachers can pause the game across their whole classroom, and the worlds in which the children work can be much more easily uploaded and shared.

Minecraft has a great track record as an educational asset, and it’s only getting better. In addition to the robust feature set already implemented, Minecraft is positioned to be a truly valuable tool in the hands of teachers looking to engage the most connected generation in history.

Lawsuits Blame Social Media in Terror Attacks

NEW YORK (AP) — The families of victims of terror attacks in Paris, Brussels and Israel are blaming social media companies including Facebook and Twitter for facilitating communications among terrorists.

Twitter says it has suspended hundreds of thousands of user accounts in the past 18 months for threatening or promoting acts of terrorism.

But that isn’t enough, say lawyers for the families of terror victims, including a brother and sister killed in last year’s bomb attacks in Brussels and an American college student slaughtered in Paris.

In a string of lawsuits filed in New York, they say they want Twitter and Facebook to pay damages for failing to stop violent extremists from using their platforms to recruit followers, intimidate enemies and raise money.

“If you or I tried to send money to Hamas, you wouldn’t get around the block,” said Robert Tolchin, a lawyer for the families of Brussels attack victims Alexander and Sascha Pinczowski and Paris massacre victim Nohemi Gonzalez. “Banks are required to check before they do any wire transfers. Why is it any different to provide a communications platform to Hamas, to ISIS?”

Relatives of those three victims filed a federal lawsuit against Twitter earlier this month, saying the San Francisco company violated the U.S. Anti-terrorism Act by providing material support to terrorists. It seeks unspecified damages.

Another lawsuit filed last year on behalf of five people killed or injured in terror attacks linked to Hamas blames Facebook Inc., saying it provides material support to Hamas.

The plaintiffs include the families of Taylor Force, a Vanderbilt University student and Lubbock, Texas native stabbed to death in Tel Aviv last March, Yaakov Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old dual Israeli-American citizen kidnapped and killed in Israel in 2014, and 3-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun, who was killed in 2014 when a Hamas operative drove his car into a crowd at a train station in Jerusalem.

That suit was combined with a third lawsuit brought on behalf of 20,000 Israelis seeking a court order requiring Facebook to stop providing services to terrorists.

Similar lawsuits across the country have been rejected by the courts on grounds that the companies are protected by the Communications Decency Act, which bars social-networking companies from being sued for speech used by their customers.

“I’m confused why new lawsuits are continuing to be filed because I think these lawsuits are unmeritorious and it seems like the plaintiffs are not directing their ire toward the proper targets,” said Eric Goldman, a professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law. “Many social media companies have taken extra steps above and beyond the law to further reduce terrorist content.”

In court papers, Facebook is fighting back, saying the material support claim is not new and it’s been routinely dismissed by the courts.

“Facebook has zero tolerance for terrorism,” the Cupertino, California-based company wrote. “It condemns terrorist actions, prohibits terrorist content on Facebook, and swiftly removes any reported terrorist content.”

Twitter said in a statement that it condemns the use of it services to promote terrorism.

“This type of behavior, or any violent threat, is not permitted on our service,” it said, adding that it has suspended over 360,000 accounts in the last 18 months for promoting violent extremism, primarily related to the Islamic State.

For legal support, Twitter cites a November ruling at a U.S. court in San Francisco brought by relatives of two U.S. government contractors shot and killed in 2015 at a law enforcement training center in Amman, Jordan. U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick said the suit was barred by the Communications Decency Act.

Alexander Pinczowski, 29, and Sascha Pinczowski, 26, were Dutch siblings who lived in New York. They died when suicide bombers detonated explosives at a Brussels airport.

Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, was among 129 people killed by gunmen in Paris in 2015. She a student at California State University, Long Beach and had been spending a semester in Paris studying industrial design.

The Satanic Temple Disavows Anti-MILO ‘Satanist’ Event At Cal Poly, Defends Free Speech

Following my previous article on a “Satanist” counter-event planned by leftists at California Polytechnic to protest MILO’s upcoming visit to campus, The Satanic Temple have reached out to clarify that they have nothing to do with the event, and defend MILO’s right to free speech.

In response to my previous article, entitled “Cal Poly Leftists Plan Satanist Counter-Event Against MILO,” Lucien Greaves, the co-founder of The Satanic Temple (TST), immediately reached out to distance the group from the counter-MILO event at California Polytechnic State University.

“The Satanic Temple was not in any way involved in this, nor would we be,” said Greaves. “The Satanic Temple are firm advocates for free speech and, while we may not agree with the speaker in question on some issues…we would never move to have him censored from speaking. We are mortified to have our name falsely attached to this and hope it can be corrected immediately.”

Greaves condemned Cal Poly Students for Quality Education (SQE) for their efforts to censor MILO, noting that “TST has had no contact with Cal Poly SQE, and rejects their celebration of the shutdown of MILO events.” (Cal Poly SQE had made Facebook posts celebrating the shutdown of MILO’s event at UC Davis).

Graves also stated how “disturbed” he is that “so many campus crusaders seek to shut out disagreement by way of censorship.”

The Satanic Temple is perhaps the largest and most well-organized Satanist organization in the United States, with chapters up and down the country. According to a profile in the New York Times, the group’s co-founder does not believe in an actual, living Satan. The group’s website also states that it does not promote belief in a “personal Satan,” and instead views Satan as “symbolic of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority.”

On Wednesday, The Post Mortem Show, another sponsor of the event, posted a detailed blurb on their website, recognizing the Cloven Hoof Society as one of the event sponsors—not The Satanic Temple. According to the blurb, the Cloven Hoof Society is performing a live “castigation ritual” at the event.

The blurb also explains that the “Demonic Double-Feature” is a “protest event in response to the presence of Neo-Nazis on campus in the guise of ‘Alt-Right’ supporters,” before arguing that “The Cal Poly Administration allowed those fascist douchebags to come to their campus unimpeded, under the guise of ‘free speech,’ so we’re going to use our freedom of speech to tell those clowns exactly what we think about them!”

The Cloven Hoof Society’s Facebook page includes a lengthy post with the header “Meet the Angry White Pigs” that features photos of alt-right leader Richard Spencer, President-Elect Trump’s senior counselor and chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and Breitbart Senior Editor MILO– despite the fact that neither MILO nor Bannon have anything to do with Spencer.

“The weekend after the Nazis bring their darkness to our community, we will be casting out their foul presence with a ritual of LIGHT, SHADOW, and BODILY FLUIDS!” claim the Cloven Hoof Society in their “Angry White Pigs” post. “Come join us in our unholy exorcism of the hideous psychic stain that the Alt-Right will be leaving in our community. If those degenerate idiots think that it’s cool to be ‘un-P.C,’ then we will gladly show them a thing or two!”

MILO is set to speak at California Polytechnic State University on January 31st in one of the final dates of his Dangerous Faggot tour around American universities.

CNN Advertises Job Listing for Full Time ‘Fake News’ Reporter

CNN, the news organization branded as “fake news” by President-elect Donald Trump, recently posted a job listing for a full time reporter focusing on fake news.

The Hill reports that a job listing was posted to Turner Media’s website seeking a “Senior Writer” for CNN media. The advertisement reads, “CNNMoney is expanding its Media team. We’re going to be examining the wave of ‘fake news’ stories and the people behind them, but more than that we’re going to be looking at truth — what happened to it, why so many of us no longer believe it, and where those people are going to get their information instead.”

The ad states that applicants must have at least six years of writing experience and aim for a high level of accuracy within their reporting, and they should, “get angry every time they see any inaccuracy in any story, whether large or small.” CNN is also apparently looking for someone tech savvy, as ideal applicants should “live on the Internet, and be intimately aware of its darkest corners.”

Applicants will apparently be focusing on: “Investigating fake news, hoaxes and untruths of all kinds”; “Debunking myths”; and “Confronting the ‘real’ media.”

Applicant’s should also be “the kind of person who can’t pass by a single rabbit hole without being desperate to jump in to see where it leads,” and they must have “Intimate knowledge of and fascination with the parts of the Internet from which dubious news stories bubble up.”

Despite the level of detail given relating to the expectations CNN will be placing on applicants, no salary is listed on the Turner Media website. Successful applicants will be working under CNN media team leader, Brian Stelter, a senior CNN media correspondent and the host of “Reliable Sources.”

MIT ‘Moral Machine’ Asks Users Who Should Die from Runaway Self-Driving Cars

Moral Machine is a simple site, operating on binary choices in difficult situations. The essential conceit is that of an autonomous vehicle experiencing total brake failure which will cost lives in the inevitable accident. Your job is to choose which lives are more valuable over the course of the 13 given scenarios.

It’s a problem that could just as easily be applied to human drivers, but is specifically geared toward helping researchers at MIT understand the decisions that a human would rather a robot make in the fraction of a second the AI would have to react.

The choices given are simple and direct, though some are easier than others. It’s not difficult to choose who should survive between a family of four over some dogs in an accident, but once the problems include occupation, gender, or background for those involved, things get stickier.

That specification can be made after you finish all 13 questions, if you choose to help MIT understand the reasoning behind your decisions by adjusting sliders weighted toward various aspects of each. The relative value of humans to animals, men to women, young to old, and others is assumed by the choices you’ve made, but can be altered to more clearly reflect your intent.

Furthermore, you can then write out your thoughts and answer similarly-framed follow-up questions about your likelihood of purchasing an autonomous vehicle, your level of trust in the technology, and other optional demographic details. Finally, the site will compare your choices to the average for all users, including the characters you most often chose to save or kill.

It’s important to understand that vehicular fatalities will never be wholly eliminated, barring some sort of technological revolution that can eliminate the risk of mechanical failure, or somehow guarantee that human error or intervention cannot ever be deadly. The questions posted by Moral Machine are less “if” than “when,” and will have to be answered in a future where we may not always be in control behind the wheel of the metal shells hurtling our families from place to place.