There is No Cow Level…

a fresh look at video games…

by on Oct.05, 2009, under ICM 501a Assignments

CS was actualy an add-on to half life

CS was actualy an add-on to half life

After reading the study by Malliet I realized a couple things; the first being that we are only beginning to understand the effects of video games on violent behavior.  For years now studies have aimed to determine the true effect of violent games on the behavior of young children and adolescents, most of the results to these studies have conflicting answers.  Some say that the effect is astronomical and that in order to stop it video games need to be reexamined entirely.  On the same note other studies mention that there is not even close to enough evidence to determine anything significant.  I am a believer of the latter, I believe that video games are only now emerging as viable forms of entertainment that truly have the power to influence us as much as television and film.  Malliet in my opinion believes this as well as he mentions that too many studies have been using the standard violent video game study model where we compare violent games to non-violent ones.  This is a mistake, there will be no progress in examining the effects if we continue to analyze effects in this manner.

The ESRB ratings

The ESRB ratings

Studies in the future need to adopt Malliets model for analyzing game.  That is to break the game down into seperate sections and not just judge the game as a whole as violent.  “…a general scheme for analysis was developed, structured around 7 topics of interest: audiovisual style, narration, complexity of controls, game goals, character and object structure, balance between user input and pre-programmed rules, and spatial properties of the game world” (Malliet, 2007).  Each of these seven different topics was individualized, tested, and coded for to determine their weight in influencing violent behavior.  The current studies of video games do not do do this.  I am no expert on the matter but I wrote about 6 or 7 papers on violent video games and college and of all the studies I looked at, none of them broke the video games down in this matter to get a new look at their true influence. As I mentioned above, in my opinion, we are only now entering the era of photo-realistic gaming, meaning life like graphics and intense storyline).  Caution must be taken to understand these games as not only entertainment but as real life influences.

The massively popular RPG

The massively popular RPG

On a separate note, after reading some of Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, I almost instantly connected it with Second Life.  I went ahead and did some research on Snow Crash to find out that it was released in 1992.  Far before Second Life was even a concept, in fact while reading it I thought the piece was about the game.  I found it very interesting that this piece of literature was so related to the massively popular MMORPG.  For instance, being able to customize your house where ever you want and being able to take off and carry swords and model yourself however you want, the list goes on and on.  However you look at it, it is near impossible to deny that this piece of literature influenced the game and in fact the entire MMORPG genre.

In conclusion, games need to be looked at in a non-biased way by people who understand that they are legitimate pieces of art and entertainment.  We are no longer in the era where gamers and games themselves were looked down upon.  The gaming industry brings in far more money than Hollywood every year and the gap is growing.  If we study games in the form that Malliet has, I strongly believe we will arrive at conclusions that can be discussed and be viable for some time.

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Audio Recording For Class

by on Sep.29, 2009, under ICM 501a Assignments

Here is an audio response that I made myself on Piracy.

Piracy Audio Response

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Batman: Arkham Asylum

by on Sep.29, 2009, under ICM 501a Assignments

The second game I have started playing this week was Batman: Arkham Asylum for PC.  This game was released a couple weeks ago but I did not start playing until recently.  Most suphero games I have played in the past have sucked, batman games included but this game is very fun.  It has some of the most satisfying combat I have seen in a while and the storyline is excellent which is rare in most games these days.  The premise is simple, Arkham Asylum is an insane asylum where batman has been taking all the criminals he has caught in the past, and this game begins with him bringing joker to the asylum as well but it is a trap to no surprise.  Essentially Batman gets locked in the asylum and is forced to play along with jokers games and puzzles to escape and bring the complex back into Police hands.  So far I have played about 1/3 of the game and like I said it is very  cool.  The hardest part to my surprise was the puzzle solving.  Some of the puzzles in this game are near impossible and take way too long to finish.  Its nice when you figure them out but I believe Eidos should have made them a bit easier.  Puzzle solving also seems to relate to real world skills, where the answer isnt just sitting there, a lot more needs to be done.  I know this is a stretch saying this but I would assume it couldn’t hurt real life skills. With that said this game also looks pretty good, I wouldn’t say great but it has a couple cool visual aesthetics in it.  One of the coolest features in the game is that Luke Skywalker plays the Joker, and if any of you are fans of the cartoon series, he played the joker on that as well.  One of my gripes with this game is that it is extremely linear, there is no room for real exploration.  If you cant go into a certain area the doors will be locked or you will hit an invisible wall.  I understand that this helps nudge the player in the right direction but it would be really cool to be able to explore where we want to go even if there is nothing there.

WATCH IN HD!

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Aion: Tower of Eternity

by on Sep.29, 2009, under ICM 501a Assignments

Aion is a RPG that is online and on a pay to play basis for PC.  So far I have played a decent amount.  The game essentially is a Massively Multiplayer game with around 500,000 people currently playing.  The game was only released last Tuesday so those numbers should grow rapidly.  So far the game has a pretty steep learning curve, with the amount of time I have put in, I am far from figuring much out.  But it is a lot of fun, a lot of storyline with cut scenes and cinematics.  Basically you first enter the game at a character creation screen from there you choose one of 3 classes that each have a male and female version.  One of the main selling factors of the game is the customization of the character.  There are so many different ways to change the way your character looks that it is very possible that even if millions of people play the game, you will not find another character who looks much like you.  I chose the warrior class and dove in.  First thing I noticed are the games visuals, it looks fantastic and runs at a smooth 60 frames per second.  The only issue when you start playing is screen real estate.  Things really get cluttered fast.  So if it was possible to simplify some of the pop-up windows I would highly recommend it as something the game company (NCSoft) should look into.  If any real life skills are transferable in this game it has to be multi tasking.  You cannot take your eye off half the screen while fighting and you are almost always running with a mini map open to see where you are going while also looking at the quest bars to the right.  The level cap in the game is 50 I believe and currently I am 17.  Like I said I have been playing for a couple days now and I am enjoying it though it is too soon to determine if I will continue playing the game long term or if it will die along with all the other recent WoW competitors.

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So am I going to have to pay for music because of convergence?

by on Sep.22, 2009, under ICM 501a Assignments

Convergence has been occurring for some time now.  Like Jenkins said, it all started when things went digital which for us was the early 90′s when everything was 28.8k or 56k, slow by today’s standards.  But what started back then is just finally taking shape close to 20 years later.  “Sooner or later…all media content is going to flow through a single black box into
our living rooms” (Jenkins, 2006 p. 14).  The way we are receiving and interpreting media is changing, we are no longer using our phones just to talk in fact we are doing that less and less.  Case and point: when Michael Jackson died, I found out through my cell phone and I confirmed this by going to CNN’s mobile site.  Within 30 seconds I got links and stories and video from a small “black box” in my hand.  This idea of convergence though as beneficial it is for the consumer, is horribly terrifying for the media producers especially the movie and recording industry.

The TED demo that we viewed was extremely ground breaking as is most of the stuff they do.  But what they are doing is staying ahead of the curve. “the emerging
convergence paradigm assumes that old and new media will interact in ever more complex ways” (Jenkins, 2006 p.6).  Convergence is driven by the consumers, as we change, the industries must change as well, and fast.  There seems to be no way to predict what is going to happen with technology and media which explains why acts such as Twitter and Facebook were so successful; they were complete shots in the dark.   But this is the issue for industries such as the recording and movie industry, they were not prepared for the consumers to pull a fast one, and it is getting worse.  The game industry is in the consumer’s sights as the next target for piracy.  In fact game companies are now considering cutting the production of games for PC as it is nearly impossible to release a game without it getting stolen by hundreds of thousands.  There are some precautions though that Jenkins gives.  As we progress into the future, Jenkins gave his golden three messages for companies to prepare for:

“1. Convergence is coming and you had better be ready.
2. Convergence is harder than it sounds.
3. Everyone will survive if everyone works together.” (Jenkins, 2006 p. 10).

Benkler supports the catalyst for all this change, technology.  It has allowed us as individuals to communicate with millions with no more than a keyboard and a free blog.  But we are not just communicating information and facts, we are also stealing, giving, entertaining, gaming, and exploring.  Convergence is due to technology and innovation, and it is not a bad thing that convergence is occurring at this rapid of a rate.  It may be bad for industries in the short run, but over time the sharing and dispersing of media through multiple “black boxes” will only prove to be good for everyone.

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Del.icio.us

by on Sep.20, 2009, under ICM 501a Assignments

Delicious was a little hard to work with at first, it does not have a great interface and i am still kind of skeptical as to what this is so cool for.  I browse the internet and find most of this stuff on my own so I don’t think I would use it again.  It seems kind of like twitter where it is supposed to bring data and links and people together but in my opinion it is too much information presented in an inefficient way.  Just my two cents.  My favorite tool to surf the web by the way is Stumble, it generates random websites, videos, and pictures from all over the web.  Some of the coolest, funniest, and most interesting things I have seen on the web are due to stumble.  Install it to your browser and check it out.

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Electric Vehicles In The Future…Sure!

by on Sep.14, 2009, under ICM 501a Assignments

http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2009/09/lithium-ion-new-hotness-in-electric-carsexcept-for-toyota.ars

I completely agree with this article from the blog ArsTechnica.com.  Hybrid cars for the last 10 years or so have been paving the way for a new type of transportation.  That being a car that runs 100% on electric power.  Currently there is only one production model electric car, that being the Tesla Roadster, which is pretty good but it has some quality issues as well as the long recharge time and the fact that it can only go so far.  The big dogs in the car industry hope to join the Tesla in the race to electric dominance.  Chevy has the “Volt” coming out soon and Ford is working on a fully functioning electric production car of their own.  As for BMW and Audi they want in on the action as well.  However in their case, they hope to still appeal to speed demons in the process of producing electric cars.  BMW says they have a car in concept form now which should be able to go 155 MPH and have a 0-60 time of 4.8.

I really believe that electric is only a stepping stone though.  If you really think about it, electric cars do help but only as much as it costs to produce the electricity to power them.  In the end all roads lead to oil.  So in the near future (that being in the next 20 years), Hydrogen cars will be emerging as the freak child between hybrids and electric cars.  Think of a prius getting it on with a Volt and BAM! Hydrogen power cars.  With hydrogen you have no byproduct of running the car, the only emission is pure drinkable water.  And the fuel stacks last a very very long time.  Overall the importance of developing electric and hybrid cars cannot be denied.  They are creating a much cleaner and more sustainable future for everyone on Earth.  Without this research and innovation I would assume we would have had an oil crisis of massive proportions about 5 years ago.

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Self-Assessment

by on Sep.13, 2009, under ICM 501a Assignments

I believe that this module was a good review of what communication is in the fundamental sense.  I have not gone over this basic information for about 3 years so it was a nice refresher to go back and analyze what it means to communicate again.  Understanding now that communication is not just a sender, message, and receiver; but can also be a one way path where the sender does not expect the receiver to respond but to just intake information.  Overall this Module was enjoyable but I am really ready for the more technical and interactive modules that deal more with design and development of media and communication.

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Sprint Mounting Comeback?

by on Sep.09, 2009, under Technology News

Sprint, the once laughing stock of the cell phone networks is possibly seeing light at the end of the tunnel.  For many years now the company has been bleeding customers to Verizon and AT&T for better phones and for a larger network base to make free calls to.  Sprint has been frantically pouring out ads on television and on the internet featuring the CEO Dan Hesse and other ads showing what is going on in the Sprint network at any given time.  To add to its desperate ad campaign, Sprint is now featuring a pretty decent lineup of phones.   This all started back in 2007 when they released the Samsung Instinct which Sprint hoped would take on the iPhone and draw some customers back from other networks.  Now Sprint has also added the highly coveted Palm Pre featuring the multi-tasking Web OS and the recently released Blackberry Tour which is the face lift to the Blackberry Curve 8330.  With Sprint actually giving customers decent phones and affordable plans such as the simply everything plan, it seems Sprint might have a fighting chance in regaining lost profits and customers.  It is too early to tell just yet but hopefully Sprint can re-image itself quickly and join in on the race for network dominance.

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Technology…it changes too damn fast!

by on Sep.08, 2009, under ICM 501a Assignments

The technology world is rapidly changing every day, week, and month.  A piece of new technology seems to only remain new for a couple weeks until a better version comes out or until everyone has it.  Communication has relied heavily on the ability of the technology created by humans.  Without the appropriate technology, record keeping, calculation, and document processing would be impossible.  The key to communication and interactive communication is assigning the appropriate technology to the task at hand so that it can be completed with the most efficiency and with the least or most user input depending on the situation.

Licklidder describes in his article Computer as Communication Device (1968) how the future of computers will undoubtedly be full of technology that is easily tens of thousands of times more efficient.  Obviously he was right, but now this mega change is occurring again just as it had from 1968 to now.  We have accomplished streamlining standard communication of data to one another and to the web.  The change we are undergoing now is streamlining interactive communication which is quite different.  “Creative, interactive communication requires a plastic or moldable medium that can be molded, a dynamic medium in which premises will flow into consequences, and above all a common medium that can be contributed and experimented with by all” (Licklidder, 1968).  We are just now arriving at an efficient means to problem solve and interact with one another through computers using interactive software and technology.  The future is making this technology second hand just as for most of us surfing the web is second hand.

Bush also seemed to have this confidence that the future would be full of innovation and discovery.  In his article, As We May Think, he states that “The world has arrived at an age of cheap complex devices of great reliability; and something is bound to come of it” (Bush, 1945).  In a sense he was imagining a future that both Licklidder and Engelbart had in mind; a future with technology that allowed users to communicate both with other users, but also interactively communicate with data.

Englebart’s video demo was in essence, the mother of all future interactive communication.  The video consisted of almost every modern day function we have in our computers today.  They were rough and complicated and half of them were unnecessary but they paved the way for future innovation of communication through computers.

Conclusion

Overall, communication has come a long way, from the demo in 1968 to MSWord 2007.  The next step as stated is interactive communications.  What is the future in streamlining this process?  I believe we are on the verge of an interactive explosion, the future holds an unlimited amount of innovation.  Englebart, Licklidder, and Bush were right about the communication aspect changing dramatically, now we will see what happens to the interactive communications aspect as it changes from 2009.

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