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Gamers break driving record

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Five bleary-eyed gamers have each completed a mammoth two-day stint at the wheel of a virtual Ford GT race car in Forza Motorsport 6 to set a new Guinness World Records title for the “longest video marathon on a racing game”.

Gamers Cara Scott, 25, from the U.K.; Hélène Cressot, from France; Johannes Knapp, 30, from Germany; Andrea Lorenzo Facchinetti, 42, from Italy; and Jesús Sicilia Sánchez, 23, from Spain, took on a simulated version of the La Sarthe circuit used for the Le Mans 24 Hours, where the real life Ford GT race car achieved a historic victory earlier this year.

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Driving for 48 hours, 29 minutes and 21 seconds, and completing a combined 41,004 virtual kilometres and 3015 laps, the gamers survived on power naps, sweets and soft drinks as they broke the previous record of 48 hours 1 minute.

The Guinness World Records title was later presented on the Microsoft stand at Gamescom, Europe’s biggest interactive games trade fair, in Cologne, Germany.

“They did an amazing job. Just like driving at the real Le Mans, this achievement required extreme levels of concentration, attention to detail, and most importantly endurance – because they had to keep going for twice as long as we did,” said Ford Chip Ganassi Racing driver Stefan Mücke, who competes in the FIA World Endurance Championship in the Ford GT, and started the virtual race.

Compared with Mücke’s 136 laps of Le Mans – completed during 9:05.40 hours of real world driving – the five gamers averaged 603 laps each over 48:29.21 hours of virtual driving during the challenge with Forza Motorsport 6 for Xbox One, at Ford’s European headquarters, also in Cologne.

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Their combined 41,004 kilometres is equivalent to driving once around the world. To stay awake for two nights straight, they drank 32 energy drinks, 146 bottles of water and 47 bottles of soft drinks, and consumed more than 3 kilograms of sweets.

“For me, it’s incredible to see anyone stay up all night, whether it’s for a bumper car marathon or four days of watching television,” said Lena Kuhlmann, official adjudicator, Guinness World Records. “Two days of race gaming is a superlative effort. The endurance of the gamers is remarkable. They were engaged, concentrating and having fun even after the record was broken. It’s also great to have the actual Ford GT in view, to keep the gamers from getting completely immersed in the virtual world.”

Ford GT and Forza Motorsport 6

Ford engineers worked closely with Microsoft’s Turn 10 Studios to ensure the virtual driving experience of the cars in Forza Motorsport 6 is as realistic as possible, from the look and feel of each vehicle to distinctive engine sounds and handling styles. With the Ford GT, certain performance aspects were first revealed through the game, such as the active rear wing, which automatically changes its angle in different conditions. The Ford GT is now one of the top five most raced cars in the game and has racked up almost 71 million kilometres – nearly as far as the distance from the Earth to Mercury, when at its closest.

Ford and Microsoft have combined forces again with Forza Racing Championship, the largest Forza racing competition in history. Open to elite gamers and aspiring amateurs, the championship, running until Sept. 4, will crown the best Forza player in the world, with the ultimate prize a brand new 2017 Ford Focus RS.

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“Dronekhana”

Ford this week also premiered the new “Dronekhana” video showing expert drone pilots tackling a unique and challenging course – involving a Focus RS, a smoking Ford Mustang, and a robot, also filmed nearby at Ford’s European HQ.

World Drone Prix champion Luke Bannister, 16, and fellow Tornado XBlades team member Brett Collis, 22, both from the U.K., raced the drones over an obstacle course that also included flying through a Ford B-MAX car, under a Ford Ranger pickup and bursting through smoke-filled balloons. A rig of 36 GoPro cameras captured the lightweight racing drones mid-action in a style made famous by the 1999 film The Matrix.

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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