Author Archives: gringo

Final Project

Here is our final project.

The third page (more info) is very media-heavy, and might take a little while to load completely. Be patient. Also, we looked at this in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox and all the formatting seemed to work out fine there. No guarantee on how it will look in other browsers or on very small screens though…. And yes, I know the tabs are slightly off-center. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to fix that. Anyways, hope you enjoy the mashups and the project!

~Drew and Nick

Technologies, class reflection, etc.

First and foremost, I want to give a HUGE ‘Thank You!’ to Professor Fitzpatrick! This class has been absolutely my favorite during my (admittedly short) college career. I loved the way the class was taught with focus on discussion that was very open, but just guided enough. Some readings were better than others, and I personally enjoyed the ones during the last half of the class (dealing with more contemporary, relevant issues such as copyright and machinima) than those in the first half (dealing more with the history of how digital media came to be). On the whole though, the readings were very well chosen. The ones about Friendster might be reconsidered though…. ūüėõ

As for the technologies, I would say pretty much the same thing: generally excellent with some frustrations. I greatly enjoyed working with CSS and HTML, and I have been inspired to possibly try to pursue these further as hobbies. Audio and video were both fun, and of course Sophie was…well it was Sophie. As has been said a million times before, perhaps don’t use Sophie until it has been improved, but other than that all the projects were great. I also like that the final project was very open ended an allowed us to pursue what we liked best from the course.

The way I see it though, those are only half of the technologies we made use of. The other half were things like the lab computers, google wave, the blog, etc. The lab computers were frustratingly slow on the few days I had to use them, but of course that’s got nothing to do with the class. I think that google wave was a great way to do note taking, and I would encourage you to keep using that in the future. It allows for everyone to be editing it, for stuff to be embedded, etc. It makes the whole class feel more interactive and connected. Same goes for the blog. While I admittedly did not sink my teeth into blogging with as much zeal as some (or maybe most) I did genuinely enjoy the blog. Being able to read other people’s thoughts on things (readings or otherwise) was great. A number of things people mentioned in random blog posts led me to things I now use regularly or enjoyed a lot, and I would have missed them without the blog.

All in all, I would certainly say that, a few minor flaws aside, this class was fantastic! I will definitely be recommending it to all my friends once you get back. Once again, Thank You Professor Fitzpatrick!

Gamer Theory 2.0 Response

There are two distinct aspects of gamer theory to react to: the form and the content.

First, the form: I keep going back and forth between liking and disliking the way Gamer Theory 2.0 is presented. The progressing cards and color scheme help break the reading up a little bit, and tend to provide natural breaks that can sometimes offer a nice place to pause and think about the card. On the other hand, the cards also make for constant interruption of thoughts and ideas, and the flow would be much smoother if it were simply a work of text. One part of the presentation though that I very much like is the way the comment system is implemented. Having each comment you see be related to the specific paragraph you are reading is very nice, and infinitely more useful than comments on most online pieces of writing, where they are simply all stacked at the end in an endless list with no direct tie to a specific part of the text. Admittedly, the comments change what might otherwise be considered a very scholarly work into something that is somehow more…real…..more assailable or approachable perhaps? Opening it for comments means it can be critiqued in a way a book cannot. This however is simply an inherent truth in most online publishing, not specific to Gamer Theory 2.0 at all.

It occurred to me that this form of presentation (along with the style of writing) occasionally almost made the writing feel like some form of beat poetry. Such card-ending phrases as “If there is a difference, it may not be quite what it seems,” “Civic virtue drowns in a hurricane of mere survivalism” and “The romance of the outsider is dead” all would be right at home in a smokey coffee shop being spoken in hushed tones to the beat of bongos. This doesn’t detract from the work at all, and I clearly understand that the work is not beat poetry, but the fact that a scholarly work published by the Harvard University Press could even bring the comparison to mind was interestingly amusing to me.

As a side note, I found a few pages that didn’t seem to link properly to one another. Not sure if this was a browser issue or a problem with the site or what, but I occasionally had to go back to the table of contents to get to the next section. /minor gripe.

Content: I would not necessarily say that Gamer Theory resonated with me (as a gamer) in it’s entirety, but I can certainly appreciate the attempt to explain why gamers game to those who do not, and what that reflects of real life. I can’t really relate to the idea of the Cave, or to the idea that real life is a game, but I would guess that many gamers do. I similarly can’t relate to the offered explanations of the appeal of the Sims, nor in the section Vice City. I could relate much more to the Civ III and Deus Ex chapters. Not surprisingly, this aligns with the games I choose to play. I have never like the sims, or extremely immersive games such as MMO’s, but I greatly enjoyed Deus Ex and the Civ series. This is indicative of why I can appreciate the work as a whole, regardless of my agreement with it in its entirety. I know and have known lots of gamers, and it is amazing how difficult it is to agree on a game at a LAN party. The reality of gaming is that different people do it for different reasons, and different styles of games capture the attention of different people. Wark captures this very well in branching out to cover many of these different spheres of appeal, not limiting her writing by beginning with the assumption that ‘gamers are gamers.’ It’s the same way different people play different instruments, but are all musicians, or that different people play different sports, but are all athletes.

Sophie Project

Here is my Sophie project. I had much higher hopes for my final product, but Sophie has defeated me. Hours spent trying to get things to work resulted mostly in failure. Ugh. With all due respect to this class and what Sophie is trying to accomplish, I will be quite happy to be done dealing with that program.

Reading Response 4/19

I was torn the entire time I was doing the Galloway reading between thinking that it was fascinating and thinking that it was simply analyzing video games too much. I suppose that dichotomy probably exists in many in-depth studies of specific topics, but for video games it seemed even more pronounced. While it can be very interesting to think about and classify games in the terms that Galloway lays out (diegetic/non-diegetic, operator/machine), it really has no bearing on 99% of gamers’ experiences. You play a game, and you decide if you like it or not based on either a vague, gut feeling about it, or by your own set of criteria. The criteria people use varies greatly and can consist of almost anything: genre, graphics, game world design, prevalence of bugs/problems, story, characters, gameplay, etc. Of all of these though, not once does someone pick a game because it is diegetic. Part of that is that most gamers don’t probably read Galloway, and part of it is that, even if they did read his essay, I don’t believe that they would use diegetic/not to classify their games. That all said, it does provide more insight into how games are designed and classified, even if the practical applications are (in my opinion) minimal.

Speaking of what happens to people's accounts after death…

On a semi-serious note there was a cool article in a recent issue of Wired about managing digital remains.

On a different note, An interesting video of a WoW funeral being crashed by a rival(?) group.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHJVolaC8pw[/youtube]

Ambient Awareness and the generational gap

I think that the idea of ambient awareness that was outlined in the Thompson article, along with the related consensus of what is or is not suitable information to share (semi)publicly on the internet, is perhaps the largest generational gap between us and our parents. I don’t know about you guys, but my parents (and mostly everyone I know over 40) were shocked the first time they saw facebook and how much information is available there. They could understand maybe listing favorite movies and interests and such, but phone numbers and addresses they were shocked by. These are all things that most kids won’t think twice about. Similarly, the idea that you would just be given this list of stuff that is happening in your friends’ worlds (the facebook news feed that caused such an initial uproar) was totally foreign to them as well. To their credit, they have adapted to it fairly well and now successfully use facebook to connect with long-lost friends and keep in contact with me while I’m away at college and such.

I think that the primary reason for this gap is that we all have grown up with the general assumption that if someone wants to know something about us, it can generally be found out whether we like it or not. With that as an accepted fact of life, we feel more comfortable sharing stuff online. As I type this, I am quite aware of the big brother-esque undertones of the social paradigm I just framed. I’m not freaking out and saying the world is becoming just what Orwell predicted, but it’s something worth considering and being aware of I think.

Anyways, the one point where I do tend to agree with our elders regarding facebook and the content posted there is compromising pictures. I think they actually are correct when they say that posting that picture of you and your friends (under 21 college students) doing irish car bombs or with a bong is really not a good idea, no matter how epic your st. patty’s day party was or how impressively huge at hit you are taking.

Video Podcast on Social Networking

Here is Drew and my project. Quality is kinda low, but its youtube so…you know. If you love it so much that you need a higher quality copy of it, arrangements can be made ūüėõ Anyways, the link is here:

A few funny (somewhat relevant) pictures

A few pictures that came to mind while doing these readings/discussing them:

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(full size version here)

Piracy and DRM and such

Very interesting readings that presented several sides of this issue. ¬†I’ve been following this whole piracy/copyright/drm/etc. debate for my own personal reasons, so none of the arguments were really new to me, but these articles were very well written (for the most part) and presented the arguments well. ¬†A few key points that I take away from these articles and my own research are that there needs to be a balance between protection of intellectual property and the ability to share said property, that the only way to ensure that nothing is pirated is to impose such strict DRM as to aggravate paying customers, and that the RIAA/major music labels/the music industry as we know it now is totally screwed.

A world where nothing was ever pirated would be a world where very few people would enjoy any substantial amount of music, movies, TV, etc. ¬†On the other hand, a world where everything is freely available simply does not function at an economic level (I very much liked the analogy of Barnes and Noble giving away books for free hoping people will buy enough coffee at their coffee shop to cover their costs). ¬†Much of a band’s promotion comes from their music being shared between friends. ¬†To a lesser degree, the same is true of games: many people pirate games to test them out and decide if they are worth buying. ¬†Which leads to my next point:

Pirates will almost always get their way in this digital age. ¬†To date, the only DRM on a game that has yet to be broken is the DRM placed on the game Assassin’s Creed 2 which requires users to be connected to the internet the entire time they are playing in order to continuously verify the validity of the game. ¬†Every other DRM has been cracked, and the DRM on AC2 is so severe that it infuriates paying customers and drives away potential sales. ¬†The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game (with no such DRM) have garnered a consumer ranking of 8.8 and 8.2 respectively on metacritic, while the PC version currently sits at 2.4 due to the ire of paying customers whose games got shut off one time too many because of a momentary fluctuation of their internet connection. ¬†Anything short of these measures will alienate consumers, and anything less allows for easy pickings for pirates. ¬†Simply put, anything people will buy can and will be cracked and pirated (experiential things like concerts aside, of course). ¬†Now, if the DMCA is revised as suggested by Ham and Atkinson, then legal issues will come into play. ¬†But, as it stands, producers have really no valid way to prevent piracy.

Finally, the music industry.  Their outdated business model of screwing musicians and consumers because they were basically a cartel was extremely effective at making them money, and it is I suppose no surprise that they cling to it so stubbornly.  However, that model relies on cassettes/CDs being the only way for people to get music.  The digital age of course put the screws to that market domination, and so much animosity has built up over the last couple of decades that people have little or no sympathy for the large record labels.  Other industries like the movie industry and to some extent the gaming industry have transitioned better into the new age of digital media, but the music industry is sorely outdated and its refusal to adjust to changing times will be its demise sooner rather than later.