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SMART | life A slippery overreaction

Recent events in curling have led some to speculate that it's high time that helmets become a mandatory part of the uniform. Photo by Amber McNulty. By Marc Lagace


potential for head injuries, and even some going as far as potentially mandating helmets. I’m of the opinion that, of course, with any sport that

he debate over concussions and head injuries has entered a somewhat unusual sporting realm: the world of curling.

On Oct. 31, Newfoundland skip Brad Gushue was in-

volved in a scary incident at the Grand Slam of Curling Masters event. Stepping back to watch a teammates shot in the fourth end, he slipped and fell flat on his face, unable to even put his hands out in time to break his fall. Te spill resulted in a nasty gash above his right eye and required a visit to a nearby hospital. After getting stitched up, Gushue was able to return to finish the game in the seventh end. Now, by all accounts, this was a particularly freak ac-

cident that just happened to occur to one of the world’s top curlers during a televised broadcast. It’s not the first time head injuries and curling have been in the news, but it invariably sparked the question whether curlers and curling’s governing body needs to do more to address the

takes place on a frozen surface, there’s a heightened risk for injuries. And I don’t see the harm in youth or senior curlers donning headgear, as both skill level and age would factor into the risk factor here. But for competitive or even casual adult leagues, the idea

of mandating helmets is preposterous. In doing research for this column, I did see that there’s an entrepreneur mak- ing curling-fashionable headwear with built in protection. Tat’s a fair compromise, but I’d still pass. Because curling has always been a social sport, like golf, and you wouldn’t wear a helmet playing golf because there’s a chance you might get hit in the head by a club or ball. First off, it’s not a high-impact sport like hockey, where

watching archival footage of helmet-less players makes you cringe. Instead, you can watch Orest Meleschuk make shots with a cigarette hanging off his lip as his rink won the 1972 world championship final. It’s in a different category

of competition, is all I’m trying to saying. When I played as a kid, half the fun would be kick sliding

down the rink. Tese days, the growing popular method for sweepers is to wear two grippers and walk down the rink. Tis is undoubtedly a smarter method, and makes the game safer. Te only time when you really need to slide is when you’re making a shot, so it makes sense to remove the risk wherever else. Gushue’s injury resulted in concussion-like symptoms

that put him out of commission for a week as a precaution- ary measure. He’s since told the media that he suspects the fall was caused by frost buildup on his gripper. Tat tells me the lesson here isn’t that headgear should be mandatory to keep curlers safe, but instead, check your grippers and footwear regularly throughout the game to make sure you’re safe. Tere’s plenty of downtime to do so, so no excuses. In summation, you’re probably more likely to slip and

fall on an icy sidewalk than during a match, so to all the curlers play safe and have fun.

son right around the corner. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your level of disposable income) the majority of triple-A games launched last month. Tat being said here are a couple noteworthy titles dropping in December, along with my gaming predic- tions for 2016. The Just Cause series has always been

little more than a 90s action movie simula- tor, and it knows it. Te games' plots never venture far outside archetypal "weary hero tasked with toppling a corrupt dictator" trope that action movies fans should be more than familiar with. Tat being said, the over the top machismo and never end- ing explosions clearly place its tone well within the realm of parody, which somehow never makes you feel like any less of a bad ass. Released in 2010, Just Cause 2 was a remarkable improvement over its prede- cessor, offering a much more detailed and populated map that spanned nearly 1050 square kilometres. Te mechanics of the game are what truly made it shine however. By providing a grappling hook that could at- tach itself to virtually any surface in tandem with an infinitely deployable parachute, the developers gave players the tools they needed to have a nearly limitless sense of creativity. Oh, there were also fighter jets, tanks and bazookas. Te world map was literally a glorious playground of destruc- tion. Say for instance you need to highjack an enemy plane to cut off their weapons supply, only problem is you're stuck on the

16 Smart Biz

Will gamers have 'Just Cause' for joy? B

Drew Nordman

eing the final month of 2015, you'd think that video game releases would be abounding with the holiday sea-

Screenshot for Just Cause 3. Image courtesy of Square Enix Co., Ltd.

ground. Simply find a fuel canister, shoot it, then grapple onto it and rocket towards your objective, meanwhile feeling like a genius for inventing your own means of transport. If Just Cause 3 is even half as inventive and fun as 2 was, then it's certainly worth your time. Look for it to explode onto shelves for PS4 Xbox One and Windows December 1st. If you're looking for a slower paced

shooter, then you'll be interested in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege. A far more tactical experience than say your Call of Duties and Halos, Siege pits two teams of five players against each other in a strate- gic game of tug of war. Instead of mindless team death matches you see in most mul- tiplayer shooters, Siege is heavily objective

based. One team of special forces works to covertly rescue the hostage(s) or disarm an explosive, as the other more nefarious team attempts to thwart their adversaries by placing deadly traps and eliminating them via guerrilla warfare. As an ever changing game of cat and mouse, Siege should prove to be a pulse pounding experience as players adapt on the fly to other teams' strategies. Look for Rainbow Six Siege to take hostage of your free time on December 1st for PS4 Xbox One and Windows. 2015 has been a pretty remarkable year

for the gaming industry. With the current generation of consoles entering their third year, we've received some truly masterful games over the past 12 months. From the

mind numbing terror of From Software's Bloodborne to the irradiated wastelands of Bethesda's Fallout 4, it's been a great year to call yourself a gamer. Tat being said, I believe we are about to enter an entirely new era of gaming. What if instead of just play- ing a game, you could be entirely immersed in the game's world to the point where it almost seemed real? This past October, I was lucky enough to experience such a sensation when I tried demo for the Oculus Rift. A virtual reality headset that uses glass lenses, motion tracking and 3-D technol- ogy to ostensibly put you in the game, the Oculus could change the way we play games entirely. Virtual reality isn't a new concept. When I was a kid, I vividly remember going the Red River Ex and seeing a booth that was showing off a VR demo. It was awesome and futuristic at the time but to give you some frame of reference as to how far the technol- ogy has actually come since then, that demo I saw back in the day was like rubbing two sticks together to make a fire; the Oculus is more akin to a flamethrower. When you put that headset on you really are transported to another world. With this technology com- ing to market somewhere in the second to third quarter of 2016, I think there will be a huge paradigm shift in the way we experi- ence games. Te implications of this tech doesn't only apply to gamers though. Imag- ine Skyping with somebody who feels like they're right in front of you. Moreover, VR could have a huge impact for the disabled community. Speaking as a guy who's in a wheelchair, who will probably never reach the top of Mount Everest, it would be pretty surreal to get a virtual peek at what that might be like. Look out for the Oculus rift and other products like it to make virtual reality significantly more real in 2016

December 2015

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