Behold the Finest Achievement in the History of Man

In “2001: A Space Odyssey” director Stanley Kubrick opens his film with a group of apes discovering the monolith, which was a towering structure of great significance, that would serve as a beacon to change of global proportions, and shape the events of everything that was to come.

In 2013, we now know this was not a creative plot device and instead a herald of the real future, as the monolith was recently discovered, and it has taken the form of an arcade machine called The Last Barfighter.

The Last Barfighter is a Big Boss Brewery sponsored arcade machine that allows two players to play a few rounds of a simple 2D fighting game featuring a host of wacky characters. The game is mostly irrelevant though, as the real story here is that the victor gets his or her cup filled with a free beer straight from the machine, immediately putting to shame every Chuck E Cheese gaming prize you’ve ever garnered.

The machine runs off of motion sensors that recognize cups and not quarters, and it only appears at special events, most around the brewery’s home state of North Carolina. With any conceivable amount of luck though, they will start getting these to venues everywhere as it is not only one of the more significant milestones in all of human endeavors, but the best combination of beer and games ever.

The Game Stick: A Small Console that is Part of A Big Movement

One of the bigger stories of 2012 in gadgets was the success of the Ouya. The Ouya promises gamers a new type of game console that will be powered off the Android OS, and will retail for under $100 with free to play games, which could include thousands of titles, and serve as a  highly accessible development platform for small game developers everywhere.  It sparked a sizable wave of hype, and destroyed Kisckstarter records, as the idea of such a fresh game console took the public by storm, and had them throwing money at their computers to support it.

And now, not long after the release of the initial Ouya development kits, it appears the Ouya’s triumphant burst onto the gaming scene has left a gaping hole for other companies to join the party through. The latest, and most intriguing, is the Game Stick, a project of PlayJam. It’s intriguing, because it’s a console that is essentially just a controller and a USB stick that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port. From that simple set up, you have access to a substantial number of high profile Android based games available through the PlayJam Games Network service, as well as a host of additional titles the company are hoping to acquire from major Android developers.

Currently the creators of the Game Stick are looking for $100,000 on Kickstarter to start production, and are over halfway to their goal with 29 days to go.

2013 is set to be a huge, huge year in gaming, and you can’t belittle the Ouya’s role in that. Even if it achieves nothing greater than its current role as Kicstarter darling, the little system that could is proving that there is a market out there for a cheaper, simpler, open sourced gaming platform. While the Game Stick doesn’t appear to be quite on the same level of the Ouya as far as depth or available titles, it does offer further evidence that the indie and mobile markets are looking for a traditional platform that will allow them to stand shoulder to shoulder with the big boys to see how they measure up. At an expected $75 price point, the Game Stick may not prove to make that impact, but it could be a great way to get Android games on TV’s on a budget, and with minimal set up.

They Still Haven’t Built a Better Mousetrap, But Logitech Has Built a Better Mouse

I remember my old computer science teacher telling me that the computer mouse is a handicap. Her theory was that since so many features can be accomplished quicker using keyboard hotkeys, relying on a mouse to navigate your digital world was only for technologically illiterate people who don’t have a working knowledge of keyboard shortcuts. Now while she was clearly pretty hardcore in her beliefs, I’ve got to admit that I do find myself thinking back to that theory when I use a computer, as I catch myself more and more often not relying on the mouse as a default.

There is, of course, one notable exception. As well designed as Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have made their controllers over the years, there is still no gaming controller that can compete with the mouse and keyboard set up. It’s the perfect marriage. The keyboard’s comfortable and familiar array of buttons allows for a wide range of features literally at your fingertips, while the mouse provides a level of fluidity and pixel perfect accuracy that no console controller could ever hope to match.

Now accessory mainstay Logitech may have made the mouse even more useful to gaming. That’s because their new G600 gaming mouse takes some of the functionality away from the keyboard, and gives it back to the mouse, just where my old teacher always said it belonged. Equipped with 20 buttons (and a “G switch” that can double button functionality) this mouse was specifically designed to allow MMO gamers to easily access hot key features. Generally though, this little gadget is useful for all types of genres, especially RPGs and RTS games that also rely heavily on quick key access. Not to mention it boasts the extreme durability, rapid movement speed, and pinpoint accuracy you would expect from a gaming mouse, as well as vanity features like customizable color LED color schemes for the buttons and tracking.

Now, this mouse hardly breaks new ground in the field of gaming mice, as various models over the years have featured available buttons before. What I do love about this one, though, is the overall design Logitech has implemented. Not only does it look slick and smooth, and boasts stats that compete with some of best mice available, but unlike some other, similar gaming mice, this one actually looks like it was designed for human hands. Plus considering how I just cleaned house during the Steam Summer Sale, I’m starting to consider the G600s somewhat hefty $79.99 price tag an investment.