Real news from the virtual world:
— COMIN' AT YA!: Every Consumer Electronics Show is defined by its buzzwords; at this year's Las Vegas gathering, they were wireless everything, "green tech" and 3-D.
Sony seemed particularly enamored with the idea of making games pop out of your TV set, showing off 3-D versions of "Gran Turismo 5," "Wipeout HD" and "MotorStorm: Pacific Rift."
And Nvidia, the graphics-processor maker, introduced technology that it said will turn hundreds of PC games into 3-D spectacles. Yes, you still have to wear the silly glasses.
CES is generally a showcase for hardware, from tiny smart phones to gigantic flat-screen TVs, so it usually doesn't feature many new game announcements.
Indeed, the biggest news for gamers was sort of a non-announcement: Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos said his studio was working so hard on its new Beatles game that it's not likely to produce a "Rock Band 3" this year. (Publisher MTV Games was quick to clarify that there will be plenty of fresh "Rock Band" content, including downloadable songs, throughout the year.)
Besides promoting this year's releases of "Halo Wars" and "Halo 3: ODST," Microsoft introduced one new piece of software.
Called Kodu, it's an extremely simplified design tool that's meant to encourage amateurs to create their own games for the Xbox 360.
During Microsoft's keynote address, Entertainment and Devices Division President Robbie Bach had a 12-year-old girl demonstrate a game that she built with Kodu, and it looked more interesting than many of the Wii games that are on the market.
— LOST PAGES: The global economic meltdown is finally taking its toll on the video-game industry. Over the last few months, thousands of employees have been laid off, with everyone from big publishers to small studios cutting costs.
One loss may be felt more keenly than all the rest: The demise of the venerable magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly.
Ziff Davis Media, EGM's owner, pulled the plug on the print magazine and sold its associated Web sites, including 1up.com, to the Hearst Corp.'s UGO Entertainment. Ziff Davis has been shifting its focus to Internet-only publishing, so the move wasn't a big surprise.
For 20 years, EGM was the most trustworthy magazine covering video games, standing tall amid competitors who were often all too willing to swallow corporate hype. Its often prickly editorial voice, which may have cost the magazine a few advertisers, will be sorely missed.
— WII THE PEOPLE: Further proof that Barack Obama could be our first geek president: He has a Nintendo Wii.
According to The New York Times, he's been using it to practice bowling with his daughters Malia and Sasha — and he says his virtual game is a lot better than the 37 he threw in a Pennsylvania bowling alley last March.
— NEW IN STORES: Relive Middle Earth's greatest battles in Electronic Arts' "The Lord of the Rings: Conquest" (for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, DS). ... Nintendo's latest educational offering is "Personal Trainer: Math" (DS).