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Wizard World offers fans a panoply of superheroes, zombies, vampires and pop-cult celebrities

Call it a geek-culture state fair, a pop-culture spectacle or an entertainment circus. But whatever moniker you choose to slap on it, you'd better also slap on your sword and superhero boots: Wizard World, one of the biggest pop-culture conventions in North America, is poised to land at Madison's Alliant Energy Center the first weekend in February, much like the Incredible Hulk will land on Tony Starks' Hulkbuster armor in this summer's Avengers sequel. >More
 Inside the minds of Human Head Studios

Any seasoned gamer who's dodged missiles and firestorms in a multiplayer deathmatch knows there's a time when it's best to crouch behind cover for a few seconds, honing a careful strategy rather than charging in with CRB Vector-submachine guns blazing. It's often the difference between surviving and ending up a corpse in another player's killing spree. >More
 Raven Software revolutionizes multiplayer gaming with Call of Duty: Ghosts

If you've been near a television or computer screen in the last month, if you're the parent of a male teenager, or if you're prone to clutching a game controller, you've probably been assaulted by ads for Call of Duty: Ghosts, the 10th and latest installment in one of the world's most popular military shooter games. >More
 The road to 45 North

The show's teetering on the brink of catastrophe, and the listeners have absolutely no idea. First the phone system crashed -- on the one day the studio engineer is not on site -- and it could go out again at any moment. Rhonda Fanning, one of the show's two producers, is frantically trying to get today's guest, Albert Mazibuko of the South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, on the phone. Mazibuko was there a minute ago, but now his cell's mysteriously busy. >More
 UW theater professor Patrick Sims urges Madison to confront issues of race, culture and class

UW theater professor Patrick Sims can't resist playing around with his students. While helping them organize a field trip, he sees an opportunity for a laugh. It's a gamble, though. The subject at hand is a veritable powder keg: how "driving while black" can get a person into some serious trouble. Sims goes in for the win. "I am driving a black car," he says with a sly grin, his eyes twinkling behind wire-rimmed glasses. "Can't a black man drive a black car?" >More
 Arts lessons: Insights from 2012 that could help Madison culture in 2013

If 2012 were a high school faculty member, it would have been the disillusioned but determined substitute, pressed into service by a crisis during the second week of school. The whole year felt like a long exercise in transition and upheaval for several of Madison's arts groups and venues, some of which found themselves without a home, without a leader or without a certain future. Others flourished in unexpected ways, despite a turbulent local economy and political scene. >More
 UW's Constance Steinkuehler shapes the White House's videogame policy

It's a Tuesday afternoon in March, and the woman the White House has tabbed to craft its national videogames policy is just a little stressed out. Her weekly flight from Madison to Washington, D.C., has been canceled, leaving only pricey last-minute alternatives flickering on her Macbook screen. And in less than an hour, she has to introduce her boss, Carl Wieman, associate director for science of President Obama's Office of Science and Technology Policy, to a crowded room of dignitaries at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. >More
 Friendly rivalries: Videogame groups take play out of the living room

Less than 50 yards away, Madison families are focused on avoiding gutter balls and picking up 7-10 splits. But here in a side room at Ten Pin Alley in Fitchburg, a big-ass virtual sword is all that stands between life and death. Prizes and some serious league points are at stake. Amber Barreras, 24, deftly mashes a couple of buttons on her PlayStation 3 controller, and her Greek warrior princess administers a last-second coup de grace to her opponent. >More
 Madden NFL 12's improvements don't outweigh its flaws

It's an unspoken cardinal rule that any NFL head coach's inspirational, Al Pacino-esque halftime speech has to include the notion that football is a game of pushes and retreats. For every play that busts off tackle for 13 yards, there'll be a double-reverse that gets stuffed ten yards in the backfield. >More
 God of War: Origins Collection brings the saga's early chapters to PS3

According to Sony sales figures, more than 70 million people own a PlayStation Portable. That's reasonably impressive, but when you consider that there are 7 billion people in the world, that means only a small fraction have had the opportunity to play two of the five chapters in the bloody -- and bloody good -- God of War series. >More
 Rogue Sky lets you bash monstrous balloons

In most cases, the sight of a hot-air balloon in a clear blue sky slaps a smile on anyone's face -- even someone who just found out they lost their pet and are late again on last month's rent. The balloons in Rogue Sky, an addictive little sky platformer with some serious combat strategy tossed in, are more likely to make you cower in fear or run for cover. >More
 Be a lil' Rambo in Toy Soldiers: Cold War

Defend the toy box. It seems such a simple task, really. It's the kind of thing you used to spend countless afternoons doing as a kid, with phalanxes of plastic toy soldiers, planes and tanks lined up on your bedroom floor. >More
 No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise brings the franchise's family-unfriendly charms to PS3

With apologies to the folks who keep coughing out Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, some tastes actually don't taste so great together. Case in point: When No More Heroes debuted on the Nintendo Wii in 2007, it was a little like a team of strippers suddenly descending on the Iowa straw poll, handing out bottles of Jack Daniel's and Jell-O shooters with wild abandon. >More
 Playing Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is like navigating a (malevolent) work of art

Somewhere in the galaxy that houses Limbo and Sony's Patapon series lies Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, a gorgeous 2D side-scroller that serves as yet another reminder of the levels of artistry games can now almost effortlessly achieve. >More
 Fruit Ninja Kinect brings pomegranate-slicing fun to the living room

For the past six months, Microsoft's Kinect peripheral for Xbox has been, like a forgotten customer slouched in the back of an obscure Chinese restaurant, literally starving for interesting titles to get someone, anyone to bring it back to motion-sensing life. Maybe all it really needed was a big serving of fruit -- in this case, fruit that's been slashed, splashed and splattered all over the screen. >More
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