A call for 1 or 2 more group members for group project!

Myself and Scott are currently looking for an additional group member or pair.  We had the idea of making a chemistry type based game that had some elements of the classic Pokemon series.  You would collect elements by discovering them in places where they would normally be found (ie you might have to venture into a mine shaft to find gold, it isn’t just random) throughout the game play and try to “evolve” them to be stronger by combining them in a chemically stable fashion.  For instance you find 2 Hydrogen atoms and 1 Oxygen atom and you can take it to the “Mad Scientist” and he will combine them for you, giving you a more powerful fighter.  There may also be some isotopes and radiation mixed in with the game to make it more interesting.  The game would obviously cater to an older crowd, probably late middle school to high school.  If you know anybody that is still looking for a group or are interested in joining our group please email me at mgromo@umich.edu.

Driving games make you worse at driving

A new study has shown that people who play video games that include driving are actually more likely to be worse drivers on the road.  A study by British tire manufacturer Continental Tyres, based in West Drayton in Middlesex, southeast England shows the people who play driving video games in their spare time are more likely to attempt risky maneuvers when behind the wheel and could be more dangerous.

The study studied Gran Turismo and Grand Theft Auto and showed that people who play them are more likely to take their risky driving in the video games into the streets.  This could include taking risky turns, turning red lights or attempting more dangerous activity while driving.  Finally, the study concluded that players who play these games are more likely to crash in the real world.

I found this report very interesting and I would tend to believe it to some extent.  Having experienced playing these types of games they do tend to give you a feeling of empowerment and that you can do anything while driving without getting hurt.  While this is simply a theory, the study has apparently shown correlation between the two activities.  It could introduce a problem for video game developers if this theory is given more light.



Moscow Airport Attack like Call of Duty?

Last week a suicide bomber slipped into a crowd waiting for international passengers arriving at Moscow’s newest and busiest airport, setting off a huge blast that killed 35 people and highlighted another weak spot in security for global air travelers.  This attack was one of the most tragic events to happen to Russia in recent history and their president, Putin has vowed revenge when they find out who was behind the attack.  The blast also wounded 180 other people and was aimed at killing foreigners.

The scary part about all of this is that video games put us in these types of situations every day.  Every time we play a first person shooter we are entering into a reality where things like this are normal.  Most gamers know that reality and a video game are completely different but there are surfacing reports that are aimed at blaming video games for this attack.  I find this pretty outrageous, clearly this was a terrorist attack and I highly doubt they were inspired by the likes of Call of Duty.  However, the claims do offer a bit of a debate.  In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, players are put into a mission that includes the killing of civilians as an objective.  In the mission “No Russian” the player goes on a terrorist rampage, helping to massacre civilians in a fictitious Moscow airport.

While I don’t personally believe that this is enough to connect the attack that happened at the airport to the game scene that is depicted in Call of Duty it is interesting point out the differences.  Obviously in the game play you are using a gun and not a suicide bomber which I believe is a clear difference.  If the terrorist had planned on emulating the game he would have attacked in ways reminiscent of those used in the game.  The game scene has long been controversial as such a popular game has included an act of terrorism as part of the plot.  However, people should realize that video games are not to blame here.  This was a planned terrorist attack by a terrorist group and the hunt should be on to find the group and bring them to justice.

Video Games can make you smarter

While browsing CNN today at work I came across an article that talked about how video games can make you smarter.  It puts the theory that video games are a lazy, anti-social form of entertainment to the test.  Coincidentally it employs Gee’s book at one point.

The article branches off into 4 categories that try to show that video games can develop skills and make people smarter in the process.  The first category was hands-on experience.  It asserts that video games are actually much more engaging than simply watching tv or a movie.  As we know about the flow now, we know that video games can be very engaging and draw all of our focus.  This is where they credit Gee for his work and tell us that this was Gee’s point exactly in his book.  That memorizing facts will not help you solve problems in life.  Children may be able to pass tests but they often cannot apply the knowledge in the real world.

The second part is job training which I found to be very interesting.  When I had my internship we used online training simulations which I found very helpful.  It never clicked with me that this was a manipulated way to get you more focused on learning information instead of just reading it in a manual.

Probably the most important part of the article for the future of the world is the contextual learning section.  It talks about bringing real life and dangerous situations into the virtual world.  They specifically mention medical training but in the coming years I expect this field to expand greatly.  We could soon see training for dangerous jobs becoming a virtual training.  This could be for jobs such as police, firefighters, etc.  The possibilities are limitless.

The final portion was about teamwork which I found pretty self explanatory.  It just mentions that video games can be social and often require high level skills to understand and high level management to be successful.  Video games like this could be used to test a persons management skills in the future.

Overall I found this article to be very interesting and informative.  It was nice to see an article from an accredited news source that helped validate a lot of the concepts we learned in class.



Bungie starting fresh

Recent rumors are that Bungie is starting fresh and getting back into the gaming world sooner than most expected.  What is Bungie you might ask?  Well if you are an avid video game player like myself then you know that Bungie is the mythical creator of one of the most popular series of video games ever made.  The Halo series has become Bungie’s legendary trademark and stomping ground for the past 10 years.  Bungie has featured 5 installments to the franchise and finally called it quits last year when it released its final installment (Halo: Reach).  Many gamer fans might be disappointed to know that Bungie has discontinued their production of Halo, but never fear.  Microsoft has taken over the franchise and has employed 343 Studios to continue to carry out the workings of Halo.  Whether this is good for the series or will cause it to be a flop is yet to be seen.

But enough about Halo.  Lets focus on Bungie.  From humble beginnings Bungie has created one of the largest multi player realms on console systems ever.  While video games existed on the computer before (like WOW and Half Life) Bungie broke through the ceiling with Halo and essentially created Xbox Live.  So what are they up to now that their franchise tag on Halo has expired?  According to inside sources Bungie has been secretly and avidly developing a new game that they hope will even eclipse the Halo tag that will forever be associated with their name.  Activision will most likely be their publisher but it is rumored that the game in question has been being developed for 10 years.  Bungie has called upon hundreds of thousands of gamers to take part in their beta testing of their new product so we will know more once that gets underway.  I for one can’t wait to see what Bungie is capable of in the industry and how they will work to shed their Halo tag.

A few things are for sure about this upcoming game.  It will be a multi platform game, meaning that Xbox, Playstation, PC and possibly even Nintendo will finally all get a crack at what Bungie has to offer.  This is a large step for Bungie as they were always shielded from the Microsoft bubble they were under.  The second thing we know for sure is that the game will have a large multi player online system.  This will come to no surprise as Bungie was one of the pioneers in the multi player console gaming industry.  Finally, rumors are that Bungie has filed multiple filings with the US Copyright Office for names for their upcoming game or even games.  These titles – “New Monarchy,” “Dead Orbit,” “Osiris,” and “Seven Seraphs” were filed last July with the office and unfortunately offer little to no indication for what the game might center around.  I can’t wait to see where Bungie goes next!

Source: http://www.psxextreme.com/ps3-news/8401.html