Richard Tait, Co-Inventor of the Board Game Cranium, Dies at 58

Mr. Tait studied laptop science as an undergraduate at Heriot-Watt College in Edinburgh earlier than transferring to america, the place he earned a grasp’s diploma at Dartmouth’s Tuck Faculty of Enterprise. When he completed his M.B.A., he took a job with Microsoft, within the suburbs of Seattle, simply as that software program maker was rising into one of many world’s strongest firms. Not lengthy after, he employed one of many firm’s most notable staff: the long run chief govt and chairman Satya Nadella.

Within the Nineties, in the course of the heyday of multimedia CD-ROMs, Mr. Tait oversaw Microsoft’s catalog of reference titles, together with the Encarta encyclopedia and Bookshelf, a catchall assortment spanning Roget’s Thesaurus, The American Heritage Dictionary, Bartlett’s Acquainted Quotations and The Chicago Handbook of Fashion. He ultimately grew to become a form of entrepreneur-in-residence on the firm, launching 5 new web companies inside Microsoft inside 4 years, together with Carpoint, a car-buying service, and Sidewalk, an internet metropolis information.

He left the corporate in 1997, hoping to grow to be a radio disc jockey on the energy of his Scottish brogue. However after a failed audition, he determined to develop Skull, constructing a brand new firm, Skull Inc., with Mr. Alexander, a former Microsoft colleague.

Once they completed creating the sport in late 1998, sport shops and different conventional retailers had already stocked their cabinets for the vacation shopping for season. However one afternoon, after they met for espresso at a Starbucks in Seattle, Mr. Tait had one other thought: What in the event that they bought the sport via the espresso store chain?

“His thought was to promote the sport not the place video games have been bought however the place our prospects have been,” Mr. Alexander stated. “Most people we have been going for would by no means set foot in a sport retailer.”

By means of an acquaintance, Mr. Tait organized a gathering with Starbucks’s chief govt, Howard Schultz, and shortly Starbucks was promoting Skull in retailers throughout the nation. Later, Mr. Tait and Mr. Alexander organized comparable offers with Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, each of which have been then recognized for promoting primarily books, not video games.

Steam Deck Review: A Game Console for the Quintessential Gamer

There’s a new hard-to-get game console this year that’s not a PlayStation or an Xbox. It’s sold online only. Most casual gamers probably haven’t heard of it.

It’s the $400 Steam Deck, a console as utilitarian as it sounds. The hand-held device, a slab of bulky black plastic with a built-in game controller, has the guts of a supercomputer and a touch screen. It’s as if a gaming computer and a Nintendo Switch had a child.

Valve, the company in Bellevue, Wash., known for its Steam online games store, began taking orders for the Steam Deck last year and the consoles arrived recently. The company has not published sales numbers, but estimates suggest that hundreds of thousands have shipped. People who try to order one today won’t receive the device until the autumn.

The Steam Deck is the result of Valve’s ambitious effort to blend the benefits of modern game devices. That includes gaming-dedicated computers; Nintendo’s hand-held Switch, which focuses on family-friendly games; and Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, which are living room consoles with faster computing chips for playing more intense games.

The Steam Deck tries to be a jack of all of those trades. It runs Linux, the open-source operating system, which makes it capable of loading a huge swath of new games, including titles made for personal computers and some PlayStation and Xbox games. And just as with a computer, the Steam Deck can be customized to run older games by installing emulation software, which are apps that can run digital copies of games for older consoles.

As someone who grew up with consoles all the way back to the Atari, I decided to give the Steam Deck a try. The verdict: This is the console I recommend for serious gamers who don’t mind doing some tinkering to enjoy games new and old. But it has major flaws, and it’s definitely not for people looking for a plug-and-play experience offered by a traditional game console.

Unlike normal consoles, like PlayStations and Nintendos that can play games stored on discs and cartridges, the Steam Deck is fully digital, meaning it only plays games downloaded over the internet. Gamers will primarily get titles through the Steam app store. So to get started, users set up a Steam account to download games.

From there, there are plenty of options. Gamers can choose from Steam’s library of tens of thousands of games, including popular ones like Counter-Strike and Among Us. Some big titles that were previously exclusive to PlayStation, like Final Fantasy VII: Remake, are also now on Steam.

Those who feel adventurous can move outside of Steam to get more games. This involves switching to desktop mode, which converts the Steam Deck into a miniature Linux computer that can be controlled with a virtual keyboard and a tiny trackpad built into the controller.

Here, you can open a web browser to download some files to set up the Steam Deck to work with Xbox Game Pass to play Xbox games, or to install emulators to run games made for older consoles like the classic Atari from the 1970s and the PlayStation Portable from 2005.

In my tests, the Steam Deck was fun to use for playing Steam games. It smoothly ran modern games with intense graphics like Monster Hunter Rise, and the controller, which includes triggers, joysticks and buttons, felt comfortable to use.

But tinkering with it to run games outside of the Steam store was an arduous task, and, at times, maddening. I watched several video tutorials to run EmuDeck, a script that installs emulators on the device. The process took more than an hour. I ultimately had to plug in my own keyboard and mouse because the Steam Deck’s trackpad and keyboard often didn’t register clicks and keystrokes.

Valve said it was still improving desktop navigation and that there were situations where people would need to plug in a keyboard and mouse.

After I finally got emulators running, I had a sweet setup running games new, newish and old, like Vampire Survivors, Persona 4 and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.

The Steam Deck lacks the polish and practicality of mainstream gaming devices, which makes it tough to recommend to casual gamers.

Though it’s fine to have at home, I wouldn’t take one with me on a trip or to a cafe, which defeats its purpose as a mobile device. Chief among its flaws, its battery life is subpar. In my sessions, the Steam Deck lasted roughly 90 minutes before needing to be plugged in, even when I was playing games with minimal graphics, like Vampire Survivors.

For another, it’s large (about 12 inches long) and heavy (1.5 pounds) for a portable gaming device. That makes Nintendo’s smaller and lighter Switch, which lasts upward of four hours on a charge, a superior portable.

While tinkering is purely optional, it is one of the Steam Deck’s main selling points — and compared with using a gaming computer, customizing the Steam Deck is not fun or easy with its keyboard, mouse and desktop software.

Lastly, while some may not mind the Steam Deck’s digital-only approach to buying games, many who prefer owning physical cartridges and discs — which can be easily shared with friends and resold to others — will view it as a dealbreaker.