News from the virtual world:
— CAREER CORNER: Are you looking for a job where you can play video games all day? Do you have "experience with children" and "strong communications skills"? If so, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board is looking for you.
The agency, which assigns ratings to games based on violence and sexual content, placed an ad on the GamerDad Web site seeking full-time game reviewers.
"Having full-time raters will allow for each one to have greater experience actually reviewing content and recommending ratings," said ESRB president Patricia Vance.
Under the new system, she said, "full-time raters would also be responsible for play-testing final versions of the game, time permitting."
Currently, the board assigns ratings based on video footage provided by game publishers.
The new policy looks like a response to the proposed Truth in Video Game Rating Act, which was revived a few weeks ago by Kansas senator and GOP presidential candidate Sam Brownback.
The legislation, if passed, would require the ESRB to review all of a game's content before assigning a rating. Naturally, the industry would rather take action itself rather than have Congress get involved.
— SO LONG, FAREWELL: Despite the arrival of the PlayStation 3 last November, its predecessor — the PlayStation 2, of course — is still selling like crazy. The same can't be said for the GameCube, the forefather to Nintendo's surprisingly popular Wii.
Nintendo sold more than 435,000 Wiis in January, but only 24,000 GameCubes. Without any new software for the old system, it's a wonder that many were sold.
Nintendo of America vice president Perrin Kaplan, in an interview with the GameDaily Web site, called the Cube "a great starter system" but added: "Are we producing any more GameCubes? No."
So farewell, old friend. We had some good times, thanks mainly to Nintendo-developed games like "Metroid Prime," "Animal Crossing" and "Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door."
There were even a few third-party surprises, like Namco's "Baten Kaitos" and Capcom's "Resident Evil 4" and "Killer 7."
During its life span, however, there were just too few games for Nintendo's clunkily designed system. We'll miss it, but we have much higher expectations for the Wii.
— FINE TUNING: Once upon a time, pop stars launched new singles with flashy videos on MTV. Today, you're more likely to find new tunes on video games than on MTV, and every rising band wants to land a cut on a game soundtrack.
Even established stars crave the exposure: Avril Lavigne, for example, is debuting her new single, "Girlfriend," on Electronic Arts' (ERTS) forthcoming "Burnout Dominator."
Senses Fail, Brand New, Killswitch Engage and a couple dozen other up-and-comers round out the soundtrack.
The lineup for 2K Sports' "Major League Baseball 2K7" is a little hipper, featuring bands you usually hear only on college radio.
Along with bands like Death From Above 1979, the Editors and Tapes 'n Tapes, indie rock stalwarts like the Pixies and Sublime are featured.
Tapes 'n Tapes, last year's big blogosphere buzz band, will also be headlining the 2K Sports Hit-n-Run Tour, starting April 16.
— NEW IN STORES: Opening day is still a month away, but you can get an early start on the pennant races with the aforementioned "Major League Baseball 2K7" (2K, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable) or "MLB 07: The Show" (Sony, for the PS2 and PSP). ...
Or you can ride out winter by turning your Wii remote into a snowboard with EA Sports Big's "SSX Blur." ...
If you prefer more conventional racing, there's Sony's "Formula One Championship Edition" (for the PS3). ...
As you might guess from the title, Atari's "Bullet Witch" (for the 360) combines shooting and magic. ...
And the title of the week goes to Eidos' "Chili Con Carnage" (for the PSP), a Mexican crime saga from the creators of the dreadful "Total Overdose."