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Jacob Grimes 3310

Page history last edited by Jacob Grimes 12 years ago


 

Who Am I?

 

Introductions are always hard for myself. I am not sure if it is because I am shy, or just uninteresting.

 

Currently I am a professional/technical writing major hoping to graduate after next semester. It seems cliché to say that music is a big part of my life, but in a way it is. After graduation it would be my dream to find a job in the music industry, preferably writing press releases for musicians. If that does not pan out I have always wanted to work in the comic book industry, either editing or creating my own stories.

 

I try to not religion govern me in anyway, but instead follow a set of moral codes. Really what it all comes down to is living life as you want and not letting anyone tell you different.

 

Supporting local music is important to me, whether the artists are from Gainesville or Tampa. I am also a big advocate of the vinyl format and have hundreds of LP’s and various 7”s and 10”s.

 

We were born to sin
We were born to sin
We don't think we're special, sir
We know everybody is

 

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Gaming Experience

 

I wouldn’t really call myself a gamer in the traditional sense; instead I play the game of life. What is the difference between life and a video or board game? The outcomes are unpredictable and we all play a small role in a large picture. The point is to better ourselves, or character, and to reach a common goal, the end. Everything about life is a game.

 

The reason why I am taking this class is to learn more about the culture surrounding gamers. I have been known to play video games on occasion (Street Fighter), but have never made it a habit.

 

 

 

Ito

 

We are in the age of the Internet. Found within is an unlimited amount of information that is changing as I type this. So it is of no surprise that the Internet is shaping the minds of our youth not only mentally, but also socially. Social networking programs are allowing millions of users to connect and interact with one another. Through these sites a person is able to start anew. You don’t have to be the “nerd” or “jock.” Without face-to-face interaction a person is able to act and speak as they wish. The Internet acts as a mask. This is detrimental to our youth. By sitting in front of a computer all day you are not learning the basic communication abilities needed to function later in society. It is a scary to think that computers now are not only used for performing tasks, but also becoming the preferred method of communication.

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Games

 

I am a huge fan of basketball, especially the 80’s and 90’s era. You remember the players: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing, and of course Charles Barkley. These men were larger than life, each with their own unique personalities.

 

 

A few months ago a co-worker of mine brought to my attention the computer game Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden. According to the Wikipedia page, a group of game programmers decided to create their own game, poking fun at basketball, and I love every second of it.

 

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Persuasive Games

 

Bogost Chapter 1

 

Bogost is a smart man. In fact I found myself needing to open Dictionary.com in order to read through some of this chapter. What is really fascinating is his ability to break down games and explain their real intentions. Games are becoming a new form of rhetoric all together, one that disguises their objectives with a fun and exciting activity. Fair shares of these games are not designed to change your way of beliefs, such as educational games, while others are much more sinister. The McDonalds game is a restaurant simulation that informs the player on the foul practices of the establishment. While, this one is trying to do some good in the world, it is horrifying to imagine what else could be done.

 

Bogost Chapter 2

 

Bogost builds upon the framework he constructed in the first chapter, games as rhetoric. Games are not only being created to educate players in traditional subjects, but also in politics. I feel that a fair share of the population has no clue what is going on in the world. Perhaps it is because they find reading to be a drag. Could games be the missing link between these people and political awareness? I sure think so. They are providing a simple and amusing activity, but also educating the player on pertinent information concerning the world around them. The only problems with these games are that the author’s political agenda is what fuels them. They are a form of rhetoric to push what the creator believes in. This can be considered a good and bad thing. I would hope that the player could distinguish between radical ideals and well thought claims.

 

 

 

 

 

McDonalds Game

 

Did I have any startling revelations while playing this game? No. I feel it pretty much points out the obvious when it comes to companies using corrupt business practices. However, I do feel it succeeds in spreading the message to a larger audience. The makers of this game are using technology perfectly to reach the masses. They are providing a fun and addictive game to point out the atrocities the McDonalds Corporation is committing each day. I enjoy how they take each aspect of McDonalds and point out the foul business practices, such as adding hormones to cows and awarding frustrated employees worthless merit badges. Unfortunately, I feel that most people after playing this game will drive straight to McDonalds and buy a hamburger.

 

 

 

Understanding Comics

 

McCloud Chapter 1

 

 

What can be said about this book besides genius? Scott McCloud is a rare breed of story teller, one that can take the sometimes childish genre of comics and turn it into an intelligent form of literature. Along with Alan Moore, Dave Sim, and Peter Bagge, McCloud will always be remembered for ushering in a new era for "juxtaposed pictoral and other images in deliberate sequence ."

 

So what is chapter 1 about? Well, it is as McCloud put it, “Setting the Record Straight.” Comics have been around longer than people seem to think, centuries in fact. Through a brief history lesson, McCloud is able to take 60 years worth of work trying to legitimize the comic genre and do it in 15 pages of… comics. You have to appreciate the irony.

 

 

 

McCloud Chapter 2

 

McCloud is right. Human beings are a superficial narcissistic race. We see what we want to see and will not compromise. But what does this have to do with comics? Simple, we see ourselves in the comics. To me comics and books are a form of escapism. They put us in a fantastic new world, one where we see ourselves in the characters. They help us experience different ideas and actions without actually living them. If I want to encounter political intrigue I will read Cerebus by Dave Sim, the possibilities are endless. Comics are a mirror. 

 

 

 

McCloud Chapter 3

 

When one decides to read a comic book they must compromise with the creators. It is not only the artist and author's job to convey the story being told, but also the readers. McCloud describes the space in between the panels as the gutter, which is where the reader lets their imagination go wild. It is their job to determine what happens between each panel.

 

What this chapter really succeeds in is breaking down eastern and western comics. Being the huge comic dork that I am, I really understood where he was coming from. Mainstream American comics are very aggressive, favoring action transitions over any other. While Japanese manga is more passive, and relies on deeper storytelling. Does this make American comics bad? No, these types of transitions are needed in order to convey the story, which unfortunately is a man in a cape fighting another man in a cape.

 

 

 

Branding

 

We are walking billboards. As I type this I am advertising Adidas, Levis, and the band Jawbreaker. Can we avoid this? No, unless we start making our own clothes and products, which will never happen. Instead we should choose what brands we want to support based on beliefs. I myself try to buy shirts from American Apparel, mainly because they are made in California by laborers paid a decent wage. If we are walking advertisements we should at least make a conscious decision on who we market for.

 

 

 

Stealth Lab

 

After perusing various students’ wikis a few paper ideas came to mind. Aldijana posted an article concerning women and video games. Throughout tbe years it seemed video games were socially unacceptable, something a “nerd” would do to for recreation. But now it seems the video game industry has done a complete 180. Games are being made and marketed for all genders and social classes. Could this be  a basis for an argument?

 

 

First Person

 

Can There Be a Form Between a Game and a Story?

 

What makes movies so compelling? The story. Without a strong script we would just simply turn off the film or leave the theatre. The story allows characters to seem real, a person or group we could relate to. It is what keeps us coming back for more. Videogames are now at a point where they are being made to not only keep strong game play in mind, but also a gripping narrative. With a powerful and emotional story in a game we are not only able to relate to the characters, but are sucked into their world. This allows us to feel what they feel, control their actions, and experience their history.

 

Some computer games market themselves as a simulation, but are we really feeling what they feel? In games like the Sims you take control over a persona. Throughout the game you live your life like any normal person. Unfortunately there is no plot driving your character forward. You have no motivation to get that new job promotion. Without desire you are just a robot performing menial tasks for the sake of completion. That is what simulation games are, menial tasks.

 

Currently the videogame industry is at a point where it is making more money per year than the entire film industry. They are able to do what no other form of media has been capable of, absorbing the player into their world.

 

 

 

DIY Games Rough Draft Notes

 

Forums

 

Gaming World Indie Development

Indie Gamer

 

Other

 

International Game Developers

DIY Xbox Games

 

 

DIY Games Semi-Final Draft

 

Four friends begin setting up their instruments inside the basement of a new acquaintance they met through a message board. In about an hour they will be drenched in sweat, pouring their hearts out to twenty complete strangers. All they ask for in return is a floor to sleep for the night. Across town a computer science major is working endlessly through the night coding a video game he has been designing since the beginning of his collegiate career. Within a few months it will be complete and circulating for free on the Internet. What do these two groups have in common? They both live a DIY lifestyle.

 

DIY or do it yourself is the art of creating or fixing an object without the aid of paid professionals. This phrase came into fruition during the 1950’s when homeowners began repairing broken objects themselves. Whether you are fixing the broken latch on your kitchen cabinet, or self-publishing a magazine, the DIY aesthetic can be applied to any activity.

 

Towards the 1980’s bands such as Black Flag, The Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, and Minor Threat began administering ideals found in the DIY culture to their music. Unlike musicians on major labels, these artists did not have the financial backing of a corporation. In order to reach their audiences they had to do everything for themselves. This included recording and manufacturing their own albums, booking tours, and producing their own merchandise. While this took a toll on them physically and financially, with many of the artists living in poverty, they were able to live a sort of freedom most musicians will never experience.

 

During this time home computers began appearing in homes across the country, and with this came computer programmers. Without an established videogame industry, programmers were able to create and distribute their own games however they liked. Much like tape trading, games were passed along from one person to the next. Soon the videogame industry experienced a surge in popularity, and as a result the DIY community rose in prominence. As more games were being independently created, a new type of distribution was needed, the most popular form being freeware. Created by Andrew Fluegelman, freeware is software that is available for an unlimited time at no cost to the user. By uploading freeware to the Internet, developers were able to reach a wide variety of gamers thought unimaginable. Freeware still exists today, but is unfortunately being phased out by developers wanting to make a humble living off of their art.

 

As the DIY community grows older, the values still stay the same, especially in music. Musicians continue to travel the county in their beat up vans, asking for nothing more but a plate of food and a place to rest. Most of these artists work second jobs in order to pay rent and provide for their family, but still make the sacrifice for self-expression. A strong advocate of the DIY music community is Chris Clavin, owner of Plan-It-X records, whose slogan is “if it ain’t cheap, it ain’t punk.” DIY is much more to Clavin then providing LPs and CDs for modest prices, it is a mind set. To him DIY means not being afraid to take chances and treating others with the respect. It is inviting others into your home and cooking them food and having the same done to you. Clavin is one of the last artists still keeping the spirit of the 80’s punk movement alive whether we like it or not.

Independent gaming continues to evolve and adapt new techniques and systems, most notably the open source movement. Open source games are any programs whose source code is available to edit and build upon. This allows multiple participants to work on a project depending on how much interest it generates within the gaming community. The open source game movement has led gaming communities to establish their own development studios, such as Tales of Games Studios, who released the widely praised, Tales of Game's Presents Chef Boyardee's Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa, a light hearted look at basketball.

 

Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the DIY gaming revolution is the community that has been established. Internet forums geared specifically towards independent game development have allowed programmers to form bonds with people throughout the world. These forums are merely discussion boards in which users can post threads, or topics, related to game ideas, code, and the finished product for other users to evaluate. The most fascinating of these discussion boards is the Indie Gamer Forum. Inside is a tight knit community of programmers who are willing to offer constructive criticism to any aspiring game developer. The reason why this forum is so enthralling is not the specific topics related to game development, but the threads concerning an independent lifestyle. The DIY lifestyle does not only apply to the creation process of a product, but also the business side. In these threads information can be found relating to the sales, marketing, publishing, and legal side of game creation. This allows developers to recuperate some of their production losses, while still staying true to the DIY community.

 

Some independent developers have decided to use their programming abilities for the mainstream and design games for the average consumer. These developers are releasing their games under the financial backing of major publishers in order to reach an even larger audience. The Microsoft Corporation has began providing independently developed games through their Xbox Arcade, with its biggest success being the award winning Braid, created by Jonathan Blow. Blow is an independent programmer, designer, and advocate of videogames as an “innovative, ethical, and personal art.” He cites the immensely popular World of Warcraft as an unethical game that exploits players by using a simple “rewards-for-suffering scheme.” Blow can be seen as a champion for independent gaming, but is he just as guilty as some of the corporate developers? Yes and no. Sure Blow can be considered a “sellout,” someone who literally sold his soul to the devil known as Microsoft, but is this really such a bad thing? His unique and innovative game Braid has sold over 50,000 copies, which has allowed him to start work on his next game. Blow is single handedly responsible for ushering in a new era of mass-market gaming, using innovation and art as a basis for progress.

 

The DIY revolution will continue to evolve and branch out into the mainstream. Thanks to Jonathan Blow more and more programmers will be designing games based on innovation and creativity for the mainstream. But who is bold enough to take a stand and lead the way for advancement of the gaming culture? Currently Microsoft is providing aspiring developers with the tools to create and share their games. Is there an ulterior motive for providing this software? Yes, by doing so Xbox sales should increase drastically, allowing Microsoft to hold the top position in the videogame industry.

 

It is hard to tell what the future holds for the DIY community. Will everyone eventually sell out? In a perfect world these artists would. Accept they will continue to make music and games on their own terms, valuing innovation and creativity over the conventional media that is being shoved down our throats. Maybe one day artists such as Chris Clavin and Jonathan Blow will be praised for their courage and creativity.

 

 

DIY Final Draft

 

Cover Page

 

1. What is the purpose of your argument?

 

To shed light on the DIY culture that is slowly affecting mainstream media.

 

2. Who is your target audience?

 

The average American who is happy with what the media is telling them to like.

 

3. What is your thesis statement?

 

Can artists who choose not to follow the rules of the mainstream revolutionize the music and video game industry.

 

4. Did you learn/try anything new while growing this composition?

 

This compostion was a rewarding experience that taught me about a growing gaming community who value creativity.

 

5. What do you like best about your composition? About your composition process? Here's where you talk about your best experiments (Did you mix genres? Where you able to integrate ideas from different sources with your own? etc)

 

The research aspect provided me with much needed knowledge concerning the DIY video game industry.

 

6. Of the feedback you garnered in our workshop, what piece of information was most valuable/helpful?

 

7. Where would you like to see the most feedback/advice on your final draft?

 

Everywhere since I was absent the day of peer reviews.

 

DIY Gaming

 

Four friends begin setting up their instruments inside the basement of a new acquaintance they met through a message board. In about an hour they will be drenched in sweat, pouring their hearts out to twenty complete strangers. All they ask for in return is a floor to sleep on. Across town a computer science major is working endlessly through the night coding a video game he has been designing since the beginning of his collegiate career. Within a few months it will be complete and circulating for free on the Internet. What do these two groups have in common? They both live a DIY lifestyle.

 

DIY or do it yourself is the art of creating or fixing an object without the aid of paid professionals. This phrase came into fruition during the 1950’s when homeowners began repairing broken objects themselves. Whether you are repairing the latch on your kitchen cabinet, or self-publishing a magazine, the DIY aesthetic can be applied to any activity.

 

Throughout the 1980’s bands such as Black Flag, The Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, and Minor Threat began adopting ideals found in the DIY culture into their music. Unlike musicians on major labels, these artists did not have the financial backing of a corporation. In order to reach their audiences they had to do everything for themselves. This included recording and manufacturing their own albums, booking tours, and producing their own merchandise. While this took a toll on them physically and financially, with many of the artists living in poverty, they were able to live a sort of freedom most musicians will never experience.

 

During this time computers began appearing in homes across the country, and with this came computer programmers. Without an established videogame industry, programmers were able to create and distribute their own games however they liked. Much like tape trading, games were passed along from one person to the next. Soon the videogame industry experienced a surge in popularity, and as a result the DIY community rose in prominence. As more games were being independently created, a new type of distribution was needed, the most popular form being freeware. Created by Andrew Fluegelman, freeware is software that is available for an unlimited time at no cost to the user. By uploading freeware to the Internet, developers were able to reach a wide variety of gamers thought unimaginable. Freeware still exists today, but is sadly being phased out by developers wanting to make a humble living off of their art.

 

As the DIY community grows older, the values still stay the same, especially in music. Musicians continue to travel the county in their beat up Astro vans, asking for nothing more but a plate of food and a place to rest. Most of these artists work second jobs in order to pay rent and provide for their family, but still make the sacrifice for self-expression. A strong advocate of the DIY music community is Chris Clavin, owner of Plan-It-X records, whose slogan is “if it ain’t cheap, it ain’t punk.” DIY is much more to Clavin then providing LPs and CDs for modest prices, it is a mind set. To him this means not being afraid to take chances and treating others with the respect. It is inviting others into your home and cooking them food and having the same done to you. Clavin is one of the last artists still keeping the spirit of the 80’s punk movement alive whether we like it or not.

 

The music industry is now at a point where independent artists are finally receiving the recognition they deserve. Music executives are continuously searching through Myspace profiles of millions of artists hoping to discover the next big thing. Unfortunately the ones being picked up by these major labels are just cookie cutter versions of every other mainstream artists being shoved down the public’s throats. While most of these artists are uninspired clones of one another, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel. Bands such as The Gaslight Anthem are being discovered not by the music executives, but instead well established musicians. These artists value creativity and musicianship over appearance and marketability. In a few months The Gaslight Anthem will be supporting Bruce Springsteen on some European dates, which could only be a dream come true. This will expose them to thousands of new listeners who are in desperate need of a breath of fresh air.

 

Much like the music industry, independent gaming continues to evolve and adapt new techniques and systems, most notably the open source movement. Open source games are any programs whose source code is available to edit and build upon. This allows multiple participants to work on a project depending on how much interest it generates within the gaming community. The open source game movement has led gaming communities to create their own development studios, such as Tales of Games Studios, who released the widely praised, Tales of Game's Presents Chef Boyardee's Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa, a light hearted look at basketball.

 

Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the DIY gaming revolution is the community that has been established. Internet forums geared specifically towards independent game development have allowed programmers to form bonds with people throughout the world. These forums are merely discussion boards in which users can post threads, or topics, related to game ideas, code, and the finished product for other users to evaluate. The most fascinating of these discussion boards is the Indie Gamer Forum. Inside is a tight knit community of programmers who are willing to offer constructive criticism to any aspiring game developer. The reason why this forum is so enthralling is not the specific topics related to game development, but the threads concerning an independent lifestyle. The DIY lifestyle does not only apply to the creation process of a product, but also the business side. In these threads information can be found relating to the sales, marketing, publishing, and legal side of game creation. This allows developers to recuperate some of their production losses, while still staying true to the DIY community.

 

Some independent developers have decided to use their programming abilities for the mainstream and design games for the average consumer. These developers are releasing their games under the financial backing of major publishers in order to reach an even larger audience. The Microsoft Corporation has began providing independently developed games through their Xbox Arcade, with its biggest success being the award winning Braid, created by Jonathan Blow. Blow is an independent programmer, designer, and advocate of videogames as an “innovative, ethical, and personal art.” He cites the immensely popular World of Warcraft as an unethical game that exploits players by using a simple “rewards-for-suffering scheme.” Blow can be seen as a champion for independent gaming, but is he just as guilty as some of the corporate developers? Yes and no. Sure Blow can be considered a “sellout,” someone who literally sold his soul to the devil known as Microsoft, but is this really such a bad thing? His unique and innovative game Braid has sold over 50,000 copies, which has allowed him to start work on his next game. Blow is single handedly responsible for ushering in a new era of mass-market gaming, using innovation and art as a basis for progress.

 

The DIY revolution will continue to evolve and seep out into the mainstream. Thanks to Jonathan Blow, more and more programmers will be designing games based on innovation and creativity. But who is bold enough to take a stand and lead the way for advancement of the gaming culture? Currently Microsoft is providing aspiring developers with the tools to create and share their games. Is there an ulterior motive for providing this software? Of course, by doing so Xbox sales should increase drastically, allowing Microsoft to hold the top position in the videogame industry.

 

It is hard to tell what the future holds for the DIY community. Will everyone eventually sell out? In a perfect world these artists would. Accept they will continue to make music and games on their own terms, valuing innovation and creativity over the conventional media that we are being exposed to. Maybe one day Chris Clavin and Jonathan Blow will be praised for their courage and creativity and inspire new artists to continue in their footsteps.

 

 

 

 

Jillian's Grade

 

Kevin's Grade 

Progress Report

 

 

What are you learning in class? What more do you think you could learn in class? How can class be structured to help you learn what matters to you?

This class seems to be centered on two major focal points, gaming and the composition process. From what I have gathered so far these two seemingly different subjects are more related then I thought. They both will not succeed without an extended amount of time developing and nurturing the ideas that are being put on paper. I feel that by reading the texts that legitimize gaming as a true form of rhetoric and art, I will learn more about a subject that I ignored. In order to succeed in this, it is important to give each student a chance to express what they are having trouble with, but not spending too much time on one subject.  

 

How do you define your responsibilities to this class? How are you living up to those responsibilities? What are your greatest contributions to class? What can you improve?

I believe that each student in the class shares the same responsibilities, which are providing prose for strict editing and the ability to give unbiased feedback. As a whole we are accomplishing these responsibilities rather well by offering peer reviews in class and on the wiki. Not only mine, but the rest of the classes greatest accomplishment was able to succeed in providing feedback and peer grading. Even though the reviews worked out well in the end they still can be approved by adding strict deadlines, which has already been put into fruition.

 

How do you define ShareRiff's responsibilities as teacher of this class? Is ShareRiff fulfilling those responsibilities? What more or different can he do to help you fulfill the work of this class?

It seems that ShareRiff should be acting as an instigator and moderator for discussion amongst the students. What that means is he is able to start a topic for discussion and allow the rest of the class to chime in with their feelings. He is fulfilling that role almost perfectly with a few exceptions. I feel sometimes we get caught up in one subject for too long or go off topic at times. This is not always the instructors fault but sometimes the students asking questions that could wait until break or after class. An easy way to remedy this is follow a strict schedule and encourage office visits for these problems.

 

What more or different can ShareRiff do to help you understand the work he is asking you to do?

As of right now I feel that I have a pretty good grasp on what needs to be accomplished. Although I may be having an easy time I think that some of the other students might benefit from more detailed explanations of assignments. Sometimes the class schedule may not of an entry for that day because we discussed the assignment in class. By providing an entry for each class period I feel that this problem would be easily remedied.

 

What suggestions do you have for how we can improve class, to help you learn more, and enjoy the class and the learning more? (you can bullet your list for easier reading)

·         More focus on individual needs

·         Detailed expectations for the week

·         Stricter deadlines

·         Focus on text

·         Review individuals blog posts in class

 

Cause and Effect Paper 

 

1. What is the purpose of your argument?

 

To illustrate how innovation does not always lead to a shift in market dominance in the video game industry, but still should be studied and supported.

 

 2. Who is your target audience?

 

Anyone who is not familiar with this particular industry.

 

3. What is your thesis statement?

 

Innovation should be embraced by the target market.

 

4. Did you learn/try anything new while growing this composition?

 

Not being a video game player, but still a supporter of any art form, I learned about the current trends of the gaming industry, as well as some of their blunders.

 

 5. What do you like best about your composition? About your composition process? Here's where you talk about your best experiments (Did you mix genres? Where you able to integrate ideas from different sources with your own? etc)

 

I enjoyed intergrating the wiki and the essay form. By providing youtube videos, I feel that my point was reinforced better than the traditional sense.

 

6. Of the feedback you garnered in our workshop, what piece of information was most valuable/helpful?

 

When I received feedback my paper was still in a somewhat infant stage. The responses were very supportive and allowed me to feel more confident on the thesis of the paper.

 

7. Where would you like to see the most feedback/advice on your final draft?

 

It seems that most of my peers are in fact gamers. I would like to know if my thesis was true.

 

 

 

 

Working Title

 

We have seen this scenario a million times: a small mustachioed plumber pummeling helpless turtles to their death in order to save a simple-minded princess. If you are not familiar with this depiction, it is Super Mario Brothers for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Super Mario Brothers ushered in a new era of videogames, one that represented colorful graphics, simple yet compelling stories, and innovative game play. As a result many Mario clones were created, but nothing could compare to the original. Just like any living being the gaming industry is continuing to evolve. Each new idea causes a shift in the market, resulting in development studios mimicking the original, eventually over saturating the industry. This is a problem that should not be prevented, but instead embraced. 

 

 

 

The gaming industries phylogenetic tree is eerily similar to that of the human races. At the dawn of time small rectangles bounced back and forth a ball. Eventually these rectangles developed appendages and a love for Italian food and plumbing. Soon this plumber was abandoned on Mars and his only means of survival was to slaughter Hell’s minions. Even though this example is a little extreme and comedic, the same thought is still there, we are constantly evolving. Video Games are never stuck in a rut, when something is boring and stale; a new gaming innovation is already in the works. This means a whole lot more than finding a new way to take money from consumers. It is a form of artistry one that involves the player than ever before. Unfortuantly, all of these advances cannot succeed. Many of them drown under the weight of their own hype and lack of marketability. With every successful gaming innovation being praised, there are hundreds that will never even see that the light of day. If a few of these manage to seep out, they are met with lackluster reviews and sales. Two of the most infamous debacles are the Nintendo Virtual Boy and the Nokia N-Gage. Even though they were perceived as a commercial failure, one must admire their creators ingenuity and imagination.

 

 

 

Nintendo is seen as the most influential and important videogame development companies. Despite being one of the top videogame publishers in the world, Nintendo has met their fair share of criticism. The year was 1995 and the videogame industry was at an all time high. A Super Nintendo and Game Boy were in the home of almost every child in America. Even with Nintendo's large amount of success, various other consoles were in development in order to compete with their main competitor, Sega. Gunpei Yokoi, creator of the Game and Watch and the Game Boy was already hard at work on a console that would turn the gaming world upside down, the Nintendo Virtual Boy, codename: VR-32. The Virtual Boy was intended to create what no other home console could, a 3-D environment for the user. The hardware of the Virtual Boy was nothing more than a pair of goggles with red LED lights that caused the viewer to experience a slight 3-D environment, similar to a 3-D movie or comic book. Instead this caused the user to see double rather than a new dimension. It is important to note that the choice of red LED lights was made not for the quality of picture, but instead for the cost. Red lights at the time were much cheaper and a less of a drain on batteries. This was the first indication that the Virtual Boy was doomed from the start. Soon the project was given the green light and word got out to the gaming community and press that Nintendo would be releasing the first 3-D gaming console. Upon its release Nintendo of America's description only hammered the nail in the coffin: “"Powered by a 32-bit processor, the Virtual Boy produced very impressive 3-D effects, although the monochromatic graphic style proved to limit the appeal of the visuals.” This farce did not full the public and critics. The system was universally panned after its first years of sales, dropping its initial price of $180 dollars, to a mere fraction of the original. When confronted about this universal failure, Nintendo did the only thing a true corporation was capable of, blame the creator. Yokoi became a martyr. Production was soon halted and Nintendo continued to focus even more on their new system, the Nintendo 64.

 

 

 

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In the early 2000’s videogames were at an all time high. The Sony Playstation 2 and Microsoft Xbox were selling millions of consoles around the world. In order to find a niche in a market dominated by home consoles, Nokia decided to incorporate what they knew best, cell phones. They saw gamers as a group who owned not only a cell phone, but also a portable gaming system. By combining the two, Nokia would not only be able to sell more phones, but also games as well, thus the N-Gage was born. Much like the Virtual Boy, the N-Gage suffered a fate caused by poor design and lack of development. When the system was finally released in 2003, gamers were disgusted by its “taco” shape and poor button scheme. Even though Nokia managed to secure some lucrative gaming rights such as Tomb Raider and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, this was not even enough to save the N-Gage from abysmal sales. Nokia reported that 400,000 units were sold in the first two weeks, while market research firms Chart-Track and Arcadia Research claimed that the N-Gage only sold 5,000 units in North America and 800 in the UK. Nokia later confirmed this information was true. Although the N-Gage was received poorly in America and the UK, it is still being produced and sold in Chinese and Indian markets. What is most fascinating about these two consoles is that despite horrendous sales and a lackluster reception, they were not bad ideas per say. In fact some would dare to call them revolutionary. One must admire the designers for trying something new and daring. Not every idea will be successful. Failure is the first step to progress.

 

 

 

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 The Nintendo Corporation has seen some of the industry’s biggest failures, but also major successes. In 2006, Nintendo hit a grand slam with the release of the Nintendo Wii, a revolutionary console that immerses the player into an entirely new gaming experience. The Wii is based around two appliances, the Wii remote and a sensor bar. The Wii remote uses LED lasers and Bluetooth technology in order to connect with the sensor bar. This allows the user to control the game being played by movement of the remote. What makes the Wii so revolutionary is not the sensor based control scheme, but instead the name. According to Nintendo “Wii sounds like 'we', which emphasizes that the console is for everyone. Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii.” The Wii is not just a gaming console; but instead an experience that is shared by everyone, young or old. With the release of the Wii, Nintendo has once again  repositioned itself on top, outselling both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. While both the Xbox and Playstation have superior graphics and sound, they still do not offer what the Wii can; interactivity. They allow the players at home to not only feel like they are in the game, but also a social experience other consoles can not provide. Would you rather sit in a dark room playing a game by yourself, or go virtual bowling with four of your friends?

 

 

 

Gamers know what gamers want. They are the ones purchasing the consoles and playing the games. It should be of no surprise that some are slowly becoming fed up with the same games being regurgitated into the market, which has led them to take matters into their own hands. The Microsoft Corporation has begun providing independently developed games through their Xbox Arcade, with its biggest success being the award winning Braid, created by Jonathan Blow. Blow is an independent programmer, designer, and advocate of videogames as an “innovative, ethical, and personal art.” He cites the immensely popular World of Warcraft as an unethical game that exploits players by using a simple “rewards-for-suffering scheme.” Blow can be seen as a champion for independent gaming, but is he just as guilty as some of the corporate developers? Yes and no. Sure Blow can be considered a “sellout,” someone who literally sold his soul to the devil known as Microsoft, but is this really such a bad thing? His unique and innovative game Braid has sold over 50,000 copies, which has allowed him to start work on his next game. Blow is single handily responsible for ushering in a new era of mass-market gaming, using innovation and art as a basis for progress.

 

 

 

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In the end it is important to know that failure is the basis for progress. They provide a foundation, one that needs to be nurtured and developed. It is important to learn from these mistakes and not ignore them. Without the LED technology developed by the virtual boy, the Nintendo Wii would never exist. It is disappointing to know that the gaming community is very unforgiving. Should a man become a martyr for trying something new? Should the same games be recycled for a decade? No. One day gamers will realize that some of the industries biggest failures were also great successes. 

 

Neil Young: Space Defender

 

For my final project I took the basic concept of DIY games and made my own. Here it is! Despite it being very simple, I found it challenging, all be it fun to make.

 

It is called Neil Young: Space Defender. In this sprawling space action adventure you are the head of Neil Young and the only way to save the earth from space records is to shoot guitars from your mouth.

 

neil young space defender.swf 

 

 

 

  

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

 

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