Technological World for December 23: Play chess against Beth, Google searches in 2020, Ford's trends report, you should play Among Us and Fall Guys on your holiday

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This week, looking back at 2020 and what we searched for and what we’ve said we plan on doing next year and the two games you should be playing over the holiday season. But first, playing chess online.

How you can play chess against Beth from Queen’s Gambit

Interest in the game of chess has spiked in recent months thanks to the Netflix limited series, Queen’s Gambit.

Chess is a two-player game, and there’s a lot of that play that happens online these days. And now the website, chess.com, will let you play against Beth Harmon, the protagonist from the show (and the Walter Tevis book the series was based on).

There are seven versions of Beth that you can play, starting with the eight year old who has just learned the game, and ending with the 22 year old who wins the world championship.

Google search trends for 2020

There’s not many surprises in this year’s search trend list from Google. The U.S. election and coronavirus were the two most searched topics in Canada, and the two top Canadian topics were coronavirus and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

The number one “why” people asked of Google was, “Why are people buying toilet paper?” The number one “what” was, “What is coronavirus?”

The second most popular “what” question? “What does WAP mean?” Which tells me there’s lot of olds searching things on Google these days.

The Google Trends team also put together a flow through the things that captured the world’s attention, from the death of George Floyd to searches for “how to stop climate change”, from the popularity of toy poodles to the sudden cool of cranberry juice.

Ford Motor Company reports on trends for 2020 and into the future

This is the ninth year that Ford has issued a report looking at how global citizens confronted the past year and what that might mean as we step into the future.

It’s an interesting exercise this year, because as the company’s chief futurist writes in the introduction, “… even the most prepared organizations couldn’t have anticipated the pace and fury of change that unfolded over the course of 2020.”

The report was developed based on interviews with more than 13,000 people from 14 countries and is organized into seven themes:

  • Pressure points
  • Time to escape?
  • The company you keep
  • Minding the gap
  • Good buy
  • Traffic detour
  • Sustaining sustainability

One of the interesting topics for me was about personal transportation, and revealed the unsurprising result that about half of all people are less likely to use public or mass forms of transportation as a result of covid-19.

At the same time, 60% of people say they will need fewer vehicles for their household.

This seems to be a contradiction, but I think suggests that many people believe that remote work and work from home is going to become the new norm. You don’t need multiple cars if everybody’s staying home all the time.

Among Us and Fall Guys are the family games to play over the holiday break

We’ll all be spending time off over the next few weeks in our households, and while you may not be able to get together with all the friends and family you want to see, you can enjoy some quality time playing games together.

Two games you want to play are Among Us and Fall Guys, which are multiplayer games that are easy to play and fun to figure out.

Among Us, from Innersloth, is newly released on Nintendo’s Switch console, and is also available on Windows and mobile devices (Android and iOS).

The premise is that one of the crew on a space ship has been “replaced by a parasitic shapeshifter”. The task of the imposter is to avoid detection while hunting the crew. The crew need to maintain the ship and, when a body is found, determine which of them is the imposter.

It’s a cartoon version of John Carpenter’s The Thing. And it’s a riot.

One of the best things is that you can use unique codes to play only with your friend group if you want.

Fall Guys, meanwhile, is available on PS4 and PS5 and Windows.

It’s a series of obstacle course races that pits you against up to 60 players. Every round a bunch of players are eliminated, and the objective is to be the last player remaining.

Season three has just begun. The environments are all winter themed and new costumes have been made available, including a Santa outfit being given to everybody.

There’s also seven new events:

  • Ski Fall, a slip and slide
  • Tundra Run, a gauntlet style race
  • Freezy Peak, a climb to the top while dodging snowballs
  • Snowy Scrap, a team event
  • Pegwin Pursuit, catch tiny penguins 
  • Thin Ice, try not to slip off the course 
  • Roll Off, a twist on Roll out

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