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Meg Stivison

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reviewercardWant a free drink? Want to be seated first? Use ReviewerCard to have a random dude on the internet accredit you as a reviewer, and start demanding perks!

The business model behind Brad Newman’s ReviewerCard startup is quite simple. For a hundred dollars, shoppers can receive a wallet-size card titling them a reviewer, and can present that card to hint heavily for upgrades, free extra and discounts in exchange for more favorable reviews. It’s a win-win for anyone with a Yelp account who likes dining or travelling and for Newman, who makes $100 to accredit each carded reviewer. Of course, it’s a lose-lose for local establishments shaken down by the threat of negative press and for folks trusting the information from user-generated reviews.

timberlake myspaceSo, MySpace is back… again. The troubled social networker has re-reinvented itself as a, um, social networking platform with new site design, and a continued focus on music promotion. After a couple rounds of closed beta tests, the new site is live now. While I usually believe that solid QA is one of the most important parts of the design and launch process, I have to wonder what new features MySpace could possibly be testing.

Bluetooth Bamboo KeyboardImpecca’s new eco-friendly bamboo wireless keyboard is launching at CES. This wireless keyboard is compatible with Bluetooth devices on many different operating systems, including Android, Surface, Kindle, Nexus, iPad, and smartphones, or can be used as a cordless keyboard with a PC. The keyboard is lightweight and portable, thanks to the bamboo construction. Impecca already offers a bamboo USB mouse and a bamboo USB keyboard with the same simple bamboo style and environmental goals.

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BitMonster’s first game, Lili, a sweet story-based indie adventure, was quite a departure from the developers’ previous work, since the dev team are Epic Games alums, with credits on the AAA Gears of War franchise. And now BitMonster’s second title, THRED, is a departure again. After an all-indie project with Lili, THRED is a collaboration with Coke and (RED), a complete reversal from an independent game.

Bitmonster’s new game, THRED, is a fundraising and awareness game. The game is tied to The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, although the gameplay is not tied to health or disease. Instead, THRED is an abstract and artistic game, creatively inspired by games like Rez, Osmos, and Flow. The game is free to download and play, with optional in-app purchases. Any money players spend in this game is donated to charity, providing essential anti-viral medications for HIV patients, and continuing The Global Fund’s goal of fighting infectious diseases. Each in-app purchase can also be shared on thesocial networks Twitter and Facebook, to spread awareness of the issue and the game.

Price: Free (with optional paid upgrades) Score: 9/10 Category: Games

g5 preppersIn G5and National Geographic’s new iOS game Doomsday Preppers, players take on the role of a prepper, ready to build an underground bunker that’s surprisingly adorable. Players can’t directly customize their avatar besides gender, but after randomizing a few times, I got a purple-haired avatar in a demin skirt and surgical mask for contaminated air, probably close enough to what I would have made anyway.

Players then begin building their adorable underground bunker, beginning with housing for five prepper friends. Arriving preppers are then assigned work preparing for the apocalypse in different capacities. My first preppers grew algae in a hydroponic garden and produced duct tape in a workshop, making my doomsday bunker kind of, well, cute. The basic mechanics of Doomsday Preppers are resource management, as your preppers work in assigned stations to make products, prepare for doom, and earn gold, which is then spend on expanding your bunker deeper into the earth, providing more housing and more production for more preppers.

igf-iconThis March will be the 15th annual Independent Games Festival, which will take place in conjunction with the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. These winners, along with the rise of successful Humble Indie Bundles andIndieGameStand, bring excellent indie games from a niche interest to a wide audience.

IGF continues to put winning games in front of a wider audience with their announcement of the Independent Games Festival’s new agreement with Valve. The winners and finalists of IGF 2013 will receive distribution agreements for Steam, which will make it easier for players to find and download these games. (Actual Steam, not Steam Greenlight) Popular games like MineCraft, Portal, World of Goo, and Super Meat Boy are indie titles and previous IGF honorees that hardy seem underground at all. More recently, games like Fez, Dear Esther, Spelunky, and Botanicula show indie titles becoming popular with a wider audience.

PopUp is an upcoming location-based social app for iOs, presented at last week’s Triangle Start-up Factory’s pitch day. PopUp promises to deliver users relevant social information based on their location, and allow connections to existing social and checkin apps.

Users will connect to PopUp to share a note, checkin or photo tied to their physical location, and follow friends to see their notes. The dream usage of PopUp is walking into a new restaurant, and getting a recommendation from my foodie friend on a special dish to try ordering. Or maybe being the foodie friend, sharing a culinary find and leaving clever suggestions for future visitors to that eatery!

Facebook’s new “feature” creates relationship pages for coupled-up Facebook users. This relationship page features common interests, tagged updates and photos, and shared events, and reminds anyone who’s forgotten about it of Facebook’s origins as a college hookup site. While it doesn’t seem like much of an improvement for Facebook users, it might be a benefit for advertisers. If you’re publicly in a relationship, you can check out your adorable — or awkward — couple’s page,…

Campaign Story is a casual, election game from new studio 519 Games. In this campaign sim for Facebook, players decide to run as a Liberal, Conservative, or Moderate, and start hiring a staff and running a political campaign. Starting out by running for mayor, players win elections and earn money to be spent on staff, upgrades, strategy, and finally winning the whole country. As the game progresses, player-candidates are presented with choices along the campaign trail, deciding whether to run a clean campaign or pursue victory at all costs.

Looking for a Halloween game? To celebrate Halloween, the indie developer Difference Games is releasing a new hidden-object adventure game ‘Where Vampires Dwell’, for Droid OS, available from the Google Play store. This new Halloween-themed game follows Difference Games’ successful previous hidden-object titles ‘Where Fairies Dwell’ and ‘Where Ghosts Dwell’.

‘Where Vampires Dwell’ promises the attractive and engaging artwork of Stephanie Herrera, with a horror and Halloween theme. The launch day release of ‘Where Vampires Dwell’ includes 15 levels of hidden object puzzles, and plans are in the works for future updates, providing free, additional content to players.

Most gamers are familiar with Humble Indie Bundles (and if you’re not, check it out for accessible, unusual titles at pay-what-you-want prices), and there was also a Humble Bundle of music, with songs from They Might Be Giants, OK GO, and Jonathan Coulton, among others. Humble Bundles have been really successful in giving fans discounted media, introducing new works to possible fans, and raising money for charity. The newest addition is the Humble eBook Bundle.

The launch of WizKids Games’ HeroClixTabApp, a half-digital, half-physical iPad game using the collectible HeroClix mini figurines, sounds like futuristic science fiction. The game will use the physical Marvel Universe HeroClix figurines as game pieces, interacting with virtual game arenas in an iPad game. Back in my day, we had to mash our action figures against each other and argue about which superhero would win.