4 Recession-Busting Tips for Gamers

I just bought a brand-new, director's cut Blu-ray movie and technically two PS3 games. Total cost: 50 bucks. You see, the deals are out there--you just need to know where to find 'em. So stick around for a list of surefire ways to entertain yourself without going broke in the process.

1. The Bundle Deal

You've seen it your whole life: Buy One, Get One Free. Reading between the lines it usually means, "Buy One, Get One [Clunker] Free."

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Ancient Atari Joysticks Unearthed

Hilarofustis atarium
On a recent excavation, Chris Locke unearthed an amazingly well-preserved fossil of Hilarofustis atarium, commonly referred to as the Atari joystick. This is the most recent "discovery" he has made, but among his Modern Fossils collection you can also spot long-dead boom boxes, aged iPods, obsolete hard drives, and ancient phones.

Yep, technology gets old, fast. While most formerly cutting-edge tech ends up in a pile of yesterday's trash, Locke does his best to preserve specimens the best way he knows how: by burying them.

It started when Locke had some extra rubber after making molds. "I grabbed an old Nintendo controller I had lying around--it was an iconic symbol of my childhood--and I thought it'd be cool to preserve it as a fossil," he says.

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Apple iPhone 3GS vs. Palm Pre: In Real Life

My Palm Pre dialed 911 without my knowing it. "How did you find out," you ask? The dispatcher called me back to make sure I was all right. You don't see that in many product reviews, do you?

Well, forget about being first--I'm perfectly happy to write the last few words on the iPhone 3GS and the Palm Pre. I spent two weeks with each, using them as a normal human would--not as a reviewer sprinting to get first-posting bragging rights would. Which smartphone is really better (for me, anyway)? I'll tell you. But first, let me explain where I'm coming from.

By the day the Palm Pre launched, I counted no fewer than four reviews already up. Same story when Apple released the 3GS a couple of weeks later. We poor editorial saps maybe clock a few hours--one or two days, if we're lucky--using each phone at a breakneck pace before penning reviews. And you know what? I'm guilty of that with laptops.

"Here's what matters: Which screen makes my face sweat less?"

Walking around outdoors, I found the Pre's screen a little easier to make out, while with the iPhone I occasionally had to slip into a shadowy doorway. Indoors, though, it was a little harder to decide. Obviously the iPhone's screen is bigger and pretty crisp--but the tightly packed pixels on the Pre's small screen are pretty appealing. Side by side, YouTube video playback loaded a hair faster and looked a little better to me on the Pre.

What I didn't like about the Pre is that it gave me face sweats. You might know what I'm talking about: You hold a phone next to your noggin for too long, and it can get uncomfortably damp. It was a hot day, the phone heated up--whatever--my Pre was forming puddles. Thanks to its new coating, the iPhone 3GS wasn't nearly as gooey after extended gab sessions. Then again, maybe I should just invest in a Bluetooth headset.

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Sexy iPhone App Funds a Startup

You can't really take iGirl seriously. It's a goofy (with an emphasis on sad and borderline creepy) iPhone app featuring a pasty-looking, scantily-clad virtual girlie that you can customize according to your...ahem...interests. "We get e-mail complaints from conservatives that think [iGirl] is too perverted while kids complain that there's no nudity," says Resistor Productions CEO, Toby Batton. But that 99-cent joke helped kick-start a company and fund a new MMO (massively multiplayer online) fighting game, Disciple.

In the past, I've spoken with a homebrew coder who built games on the side, but Batton's story is a little different. He's a serial entrepreneur who got tired of courting venture capitalists in pursuit of his browser-based fantasy fighter (and I'll get to that game in a few seconds, promise). "I loathed having to go around to VCs asking for money," says Batton.

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The Goofiest Game Gear Ever Made

Game controllers are getting completely out of control. You want exhibits A through Z? Just look at the coverage that came out of the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo (aka E3).

I already have so many plastic instruments at home, I feel like a roadie for Fisher Price. Add things like replica Beatles gear (coming to moptop loyalists this September); DJ-wannabe turntables; and gaggles of gamepads and Wiimote strap-ons with slightly freaked-out twists; plus everything from new flight sticks and plastic faux skateboard decks, down to the Sony PS3's wacky wands and the Wii Vitality Sensor (perfect for the home version of The Moment of Truth)--and I'm ready to declare 2009 as "The Year of the Peripheral." At least that's what it says on the geek calendar.

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Goodbye, Comcast (or 'How I Learned to Love the Internet')

Are you ready for the digital upgrade? According to Nielsen, 2.5 percent of the U.S. populace isn't. That works out to about 2.8 million people whose screens could go dark today. Statistics I see in reports and on the news tell me that "Younger, African American and Hispanic homes are disproportionately unready." They forgot to mention another demographic: stubborn nerds who are fed up with how Comcast handles cable's version of the analog-to-digital transition.

Like me. I'm a TVholic. I have a Media Center PC, with three digital tuners. I have a couple terabytes of storage for the stuff I record. I stream out shows to my Xbox 360 and PS3. I should be psyched for the digital upgrade, right?

Wrong.

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E3 2009 in Pictures

Ever wonder what a journalist sees when he's on the road, covering the news? Well, here's a snapshot of a day-in-the-life at a trade show dedicated to video games. If you're reading this story from a site other than pcworld.com, you're missing out on all the candid photography that goes with it (click here for the full package).

This small "protest" outside of E3 was either a genius bit of marketing for Dante's Inferno (an action game that takes some liberties with the classic book--you journey into hell to save your lady love) or a really grassroots effort. Here are some bits from the pamphlet I was handed:

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