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From Zelda to Elden Ring – how to make time for gaming when you have a busy life | Games

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I have a long, emotionally-significant history with Elden Ring’s developer – I was the first person in the world to review Dark Souls, for heaven’s sake – but I still haven’t found time to play FromSoftware’s latest title. I once flew to California to play Dark Souls for 24 straight hours on a live stream. These games are IMPORTANT to me! And yet it feels impossible to carve out enough time to do Elden Ring justice. I know I’m not alone in this; most weeks I get emails from people who read this newsletter asking how anyone has time to play massive games and also have a job and a life.

Games can be a time-consuming hobby, which is one of the reasons why it’s traditionally been dominated by teens and young adults with few responsibilities. For those of us in that annoying period of life where people need stuff from you ALL THE TIME, it gets harder. It’s tough to sink into something for 50 or even 30 hours when you have bosses (of the professional kind), partners and/or children to keep happy, as well as a resurgent post-pandemic social life. But like most working mothers, I have by necessity become extremely efficient with my time, so I’m here to tell you that it IS possible – you just have to take what you can get. You are no longer a student, and you can no longer spend an entire weekend wrapped in a duvet playing Mass Effect 2. But that half hour before work, or that hour when the kids are in bed? Take it.

It’s perfectly possible to prioritise games that don’t ask for too much of your time, too. Most of my gaming diet now is things that take 5-10 hours and have something interesting to say. It’s especially useful if you can play those games with a partner, friend or housemate, thereby usefully stacking gaming time and social time – here’s a list I put together of 10 shorter games that are especially good in company.

If you are going to pick a timesink, then you have to just stick with it. Bouncing around between a few different games that you feel like you’ll never finish is a recipe for dissatisfaction. It might take you a few months to get through Red Dead Redemption 2, Horizon Forbidden West or Elden Ring, and it might feel like the conversation has moved on, but if you’re enjoying yourself, who cares? The hot takes might be lukewarm by the time you get round to reading them, but is that such a big deal?

Another solution for parents is to play games in front of your children. I’m obviously not saying you should bust Doom Eternal out in front of a seven-year-old and start eviscerating demons – but there are a lot of games that are suited to either playing with (especially older) kids, or while they watch. I’m reviewing Tunic at the moment, an interesting and very cute Zelda-a-like game starring an adorable fox, and managed a good 40 minutes of wandering around bashing creatures with a sword before my kid got bored watching.

Be careful, though: I tried the same with Horizon Forbidden West a few weeks back, and it became quickly clear that it was a bit intense to be playing in front of wee ones, even though the violence was only aimed at robot wildlife. I was equal parts ashamed and delighted when we passed a bus with a PlayStation advert on it and my two-year-old cried “Look Mama, it’s Aloy! Aloy fights the METAL DINOSAURS! I wish I was Aloy.”

There are games you can play actually with your kids as well, if they’re old enough and interested enough to pick up a controller, but this relies on them actually being interested in good video games. You’re never going to catch me willingly spending time in Roblox. My teen stepson and I intersected briefly on Minecraft and Destiny when he was a bit younger, but for the rest of the time our gaming taste has been poles apart. I am intensely jealous of my friend Carolina, who passed several happy months exploring The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild with her delightful six-year-old. That could be you! Maybe, one day, it could also be me, once my kids age out of lovely, educational – but ultimately quite boring – iPad games.

Something I’ve heard over and over from people in my many years in this job is: “I used to love games, I just don’t have time for them any more.” Like anything, you gotta prioritise. Games aren’t a guilty pleasure, something to fit in around the fringes of your life; they’re part of life, and like all art they can be nourishment for the soul. Don’t feel bad about making time for them.

What to play

With an adorable fox as its protagonist, Tunic does not disappoint.
With an adorable fox as its protagonist, Tunic does not disappoint. Photograph: Finji

Since indie games started to boom again in around 2010, there has been a steady stream of games inspired aesthetically and mechanically by the 16-bit era: the glory days of the Mega Drive and the SNES, bright colours and pixel sprites and chiptune music. This is because the developers making these games grew up in that era, and a lot of their titles aim to recapture some of the joy that those games brought them as children. More recently, however, there have been more and more indie games inspired by the early 3D games of the late 90s; those atmospheric, slightly weird treasures found on the PlayStation, N64 and PC. Tunic, the Zelda-like game starring an adorable fox that I mentioned earlier, is one of those. It reminds me a lot of the action-adventure games that I loved when I was really getting into gaming and waking up to its possibilities. It has mystery, atmosphere, secrets, and puzzles, all pulled together with an evocative look and feel. Reviews will start appearing tomorrow (that’s Wednesday if you’re reading this later in the week) – I can’t go into too much detail before then, but know that this does not disappoint.

Available on: PC, Mac, Xbox One Approximate playtime: 12 hours

What to read

  • Video game companies continue to remove their games from sale in Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Pokémon Go no longer works in the region. Nintendo and Ubisoft have withdrawn their games, and Bungie has blocked its multiplayer space-shooter Destiny. EA, Microsoft, Epic Games (of Fortnite fame), Sony and more are also cutting Russia off. All of this follows Ukraine’s vice prime minister Mykhailo Federov’s open letter to Xbox and PlayStation, published on Twitter, asking the games industry to withdraw from Russia and prevent players in the region from accessing their accounts or competing in esports tournaments: “If you support human values, you should leave the Russian market!”

  • Meanwhile, a bundle of 992 games for $10 (or however much more you want to donate) has raised more than $5m to date on indie game platform itch.io. Obviously I have not played most of these, but there are some good ones in there – for that price, and that cause, it’s surely a no-brainer of a purchase.

  • The blockchain/crypto/NFT backlash is starting to make companies nervous: GamesIndustry.biz’s Brendan Sinclair reports that startup developers aren’t even mentioning the blockchain aspect of their new developer/project/business, even during job interviews with people whom they are trying to employ. Meanwhile, Peter Allen at Axios delves into a report on $17bn’s worth of NFT sales in 2021 to find that there is only one game of any consequence operating in this space.

What to click

Question Block

Keeping with the theme, reader Amanda Forde wrote in with this question: “I wonder if you have any tips about how to play games with young kids? I played a lot of Mario Kart with my six-year-old but that got old. We’ve now moved on to Super Mario Bros U Deluxe, which we both enjoy but it causes HUGE rows. He blames me whenever anything goes wrong and I turn into a big kid myself and go into a rage … Is there a better game for a kid and adult to play together? Or does one of us just need to grow up?”

I’m going to recommend Untitled Goose Game, which often has kids in Amanda’s son’s age bracket nearly wetting themselves with laughter; Minecraft, which is obvious but just still one of the greatest creative outlets for kids, and better than most alternatives; and Nintendo Labo, which has you building working cardboard models of motorbikes and fishing rods and pianos and then playing with them (it’s good for at least a couple of weekends, but I found my kid got bored by it after that). Oh, and Rocket League, if you can handle the competitiveness: it’s football, but with RC cars. I’d also like to throw this one out to the readership: what games have you successfully played together with your kids?



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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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Current

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.


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