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Game consoles 'cause skin sores'Excessive use of consoles may cause physical problems
A new skin disorder caused by use of games consoles has been identified by skin specialists.
The condition, dubbed PlayStation palmar hidradenitis, is described in the British Journal of Dermatology.
Researchers outline the case of a 12-year-old girl who attended a Swiss hospital with intensely painful sores on the palms of her hands.
The girl, who had been using a games console regularly, recovered fully after 10 days of abstinence.
If you're worried about soreness on your hands when playing a games console, it might be sensible to give your hands a break from time to time
British Association of Dermatologists
Doctors who examined her at the Geneva University Hospital concluded she had a condition known as 'idiopathic eccrine hidradenitis', a skin disorder that generally causes red, sore lumps on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
The condition has been previously found on the soles of the feet in children taking part in heavy physical activity, such as jogging.
It it is thought to be linked to intense sweating.
For the disorder to only affect the hands is very unusual.
The patient had not participated in any sport or physical exercise recently, and could not recall any recent trauma involving her hands.
However, her parents did say that she had recently started to play a video game on a PlayStation console for several hours a day, and had continued to play even after developing the sores.
The doctors suspect that the problem was caused by tight and continuous grasping of the console's hand-grips, and repeated pushing of the buttons, alongside sweating caused by the tension of the game.
The researchers said cases of addiction to using games consoles had been recorded, but the symptoms had initially been thought to be psychological.
However, some physical symptoms, such as acute tendonitis, dubbed Wiitis, had begun to emerge.
They said 'PlayStation palmar hidradenitis' could now be added to the list.
Nina Goad, of the British Association of Dermatologists said: "This is an interesting discovery and one that the researchers are keen to share with other dermatologists, should they be confronted with similar, unexplained symptoms in a patient.
"If you're worried about soreness on your hands when playing a games console, it might be sensible to give your hands a break from time to time, and don't play excessively if your hands are prone to sweating."
A spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd, manufacturers of PlayStation, said: "We firmly believe that video gaming is a legitimate entertainment pastime like watching movies, listening to music, or reading books.
"As with any leisure pursuit there are possible consequences of not following common sense, health advice and guidelines, as can be found within our instruction manuals.
"PlayStation was launched in 1995 and has sold hundreds of millions of consoles over the last 13 years.
"We do not wish to belittle this research and will study the findings with interest. This is the first time we have ever heard of a complaint of this nature."
Killzone 2 is a highly anticipated game for PlayStation 3
Killzone 2 is arguably the most important release in the short history of the PlayStation 3.
Announced at the unveiling of PlayStation 3 (PS3) in 2005, it was used as a battering ram to convince gamers of the power of the as yet unreleased console.
But the trailer shown at the E3 games conference in 2005 became mired in controversy when it was revealed the footage was a "target trailer" and a render running on unfinished hardware, rather than on a PS3 itself.
Despite the controversy, and the four years that have elapsed between that announcement and the imminent release of Killzone 2, the game remains a crucial release for Sony, which will be hoping it can drive sales of the PlayStation 3.
Sony needs a title to help define its console in the minds of core gamers. The PS3 lags in sales behind its rival Xbox 360, and the price difference between the two machines means Sony's exclusive titles have to work harder in order to justify the higher price tag of the PS3.
Just as the Halo franchise came to define the Xbox and, more importantly, make people go out and buy the console, Sony needs Killzone 2 to push hardware out of the doors of retailers.
The developers have been working on the game for four years
Hermen Hulst, managing director of Killzone 2 developer Guerrilla Games, says the game has always been an advert for the console.
"Our mission for the title was to build a showcase for the PlayStation 3 hardware. I think we have pushed the machine, so I am hopeful that we can help Sony push hardware units.
"It's a great title for gamers to show off what they can do with their HD set. I am quite hopeful it will make an impact."
Reviews of Killzone 2 have been very positive, with Metacritic.com putting the average score at 92%.
Set in the future, the game pits the human race against the Helghast in a ****c science fiction battle of good versus evil, with plenty of references to the march of the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s.
The game has been praised for its graphical fidelity and solid design, while criticisms have mainly centred on a lack of overall innovation and a rather stolid narrative.
We've delivered in most areas on the vision we set out. We have pushed the machine hard
Hermen Hulst, Guerrilla Games
When it finally hits shops at the end of February, every pixel of its 720 by 1280 resolution will be pored over by gamers looking to see if the finished article matches the original vision.
Mr Hulst insists that the game has surpassed that vision in some places.
"We've delivered in most areas on the vision we set out. We have pushed the machine hard. The vision was about the graphical fidelity we were creating, and the other thing was the intensity and chaos around the player - there's plenty of that in that game."
The game certainly stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the most graphically rich titles released on any gaming platform. It also boasts 7.1 surround sound, making the most of its atmospheric audio design.
He adds: "If you analyse down to the nitty gritty, there are some areas to improve.
"But in some areas we have pushed it further; the weapons look better in game than they do in the target trailer, for example."
Guerrilla has had the PlayStation 3 hardware longer than most and claims, contrary to popular belief, that the machine is not harder or more difficult to develop on than other consoles.
Killzone 2 is set in the future and pits humans against the Helghast
"I'm surprised by how much room our technology producers have squeezed out of it. We were reviewing some levels and thought that 40 or maybe 50 dynamic lighting elements were possible in one particular level at a time.
"But there were many dozens more. There were well over 100 active dynamically at the same time.
"Our tech team have been optimising right up to the last minute and rather than shaving things off we were able to let a lighting artist and texture artist know there was room for more polish," he says.
The launch of the title has missed the crucial Christmas window but Mr Hulst says it was a conscious decision.
"We wanted to take extra time to put in the polish. The window we are coming out in now is good for us. People have played their Christmas titles and are ready to get their hands on something new and fresh."
Mr Hulst says he is loath to compare his own game to other First Person Shooters on the market but he adds: "It's perhaps got a little more polish and is realistic and smoother. But now it's up to the consumers to give us the final verdict."
Sony will be hoping the final verdict is reflected in a lift in console sales.
Hackers target Xbox Live playersHalo 3 players are a popular target for the Xbox attacks
Xbox Live is being targeted by malicious hackers selling services that kick players off the network.
The booting services are proving popular with players who want a way to get revenge on those who beat them in an Xbox Live game.
The attackers are employing data flooding tools that have been used against websites for many years.
Microsoft is "investigating" the use of the tools and said those caught using them would be banned from Xbox Live.
"There's been a definite increase in the amount of people talking about and distributing these things over the last three to four weeks," said Chris Boyd, director of malware research at Facetime Communications.
"The smart thing about these Xbox tools is that they do not attack the Xbox Live network itself," he said.
He said the tools work by exploiting the way that the Xbox Live network is set up. Game consoles connecting to the Xbox network send data via the net, and for that it needs an IP address.
Even better, said Mr Boyd, games played via Xbox Live are not hosted on private servers. The tools mean anyone with a few dollars can boot rivals off Xbox Live
"Instead," he said, "a lot of games on Xbox Live are hosted by players."
If hackers can discover the IP address of whoever is hosting a game they can employ many of the attacks that have been used for years against websites, said Mr Boyd.
One of the most popular for the Xbox Live specialists is the Denial of Service attack which floods an IP address with vast amounts of data.
The flood of data is generated by a group of hijacked home computers, a botnet, that have fallen under the control of a malicious hacking group.
When turned against a website this flood of traffic can overwhelm it or make it unresponsive to legitimate visitors.
When turned against an Xbox owner, it can mean they cannot connect to the Live network and effectively throws them out of the game.
"They get your IP address, put it in the booter tool and they attempt to flood the port that uses Xbox traffic," said Mr Boyd. "Flooding that port prevents any traffic getting out."
The hard part, he said, was discovering a particular gamer's IP address but many malicious hackers had honed the skills needed to find them.
Some interconnect their PC and Xbox and use packet sniffing software to hunt through the traffic flowing in and out of the console for IP addresses. The hackers target the way Xbox consoles connect to the net
Others simply use con tricks to get the target to reveal their net address.
The technical knowledge needed to hunt down IP addresses was quite high, said Mr Boyd, but many of those who had the skills were selling their expertise to those keen to hit back at their rivals on the Xbox Live network.
For $20 (£13) some Xbox Live hackers will remotely access a customer's PC and set up the whole system so it can be run any time they need it.
Some offer low rates to add compromised machines to a botnet and increase the amount of data flooding a particular IP address.
Defending against the attack could be tricky, said Mr Boyd: "There's no real easy solution to this one."
Although IP addresses regularly change, people could find it takes hours or days for their ISP to move them on to a new one.
In response to the rise in attacks, Microsoft said: "We are investigating reports involving the use of malicious software tools that an attacker could use to try and disrupt an Xbox LIVE player's internet connection."
It added: "This problem is not related to the Xbox Live service, but to the player's internet connection. The attacker could also attempt [to] disrupt other internet activities, such as streaming video or web browsing, using the same tools.
It urged anyone falling victim to such an attack to contact their ISP to report it and get help fixing it.
In January 2009 Microsoft announced that Xbox Live had more than 17m members.
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