Cracking Down On Piracy

I just read this interesting article on the future of the gaming industry. Its all about how companies like Microsoft and Sony are coming out with new consoles that don’t let you buy games but rather “rent them”. They are hoping to combat the used gaming industry by requiring people to only buy new games online. Some of this has already been seen in a few games like the new Call of Duty and Batman games, which give you a code along with the new version of the game. For example, this code for the new batman game unlocks the entire “catwoman” story line and in Call of Duty it unlocks a quarter of the maps. Gamers who choose to buy a used version of the game get screwed because this code only works once. The companies say these efforts are used to try and combat the use of pirated versions of the games.

However, in the next coming years Microsoft and Sony will one-up these efforts by coming out with a counsel that requires gamers to purchase copies online without any sort of disc. The new xbox 720 by Microsoft is reportedly requiring users to have a constant Internet connection going to the counsel to prevent piracy. The reason being, any data or information being uploaded on the counsel will have to be screened by Microsoft to check for validity. If it doesn’t pass the test, it doesn’t get uploaded.

Although I agree that piracy has gotten out of hand I believe these measures are too extreme. Firstly, by completely changing their counsel, games from previous counsels will no longer work. This means that gamers will have to completely re-buy every game, which as game prices increase could mean dropping $100 dollars on a game in the near future. Furthermore, requiring users to have an active Internet connection means that not everyone gets to use these counsels anymore. Finally, the biggest problem I see with these security measures is that if a human created them a human can find a way around them. As we have seen time and time again as the technology gets better so does the piracy. There will always be ways gamers get around these protections and by limiting the market to only those who have an active Internet connection the companies are only hurting themselves. I mean if Anonymous was able to completely crash Sony’s online system for months I think hackers will easily find a way around these restrictions. As for me, I think I am just going to rock out my xbox 360 until they finally create the matrix.

Video Games Saving The World

I read a very interesting article today titled, “Can Computer Games Save Us All?” that discusses an interview between Terrence McNally and Jane McGonigal. For those of you who don’t know, Jane McGonigal is the director of both Game R&D as well as Social Chocolate. She has been described by many (including BusinessWeek, MIT tech review, and Oprah magazine) as one of the top 10 innovators changing the world through technology. McGonigal starts off the interview by giving her definition of a game saying, “it’s a voluntary obstacle, an unnecessary challenge that you are volunteering to engage with.” She breaks down a game into four simple parts: a goal, restrictions on how one can achieve that goal, a feedback system to tell the player if they are close to achieving that goal, and it must be voluntary. Something that caught my attention in the article was that she mentions games have been around as long as civilizations. I had never really thought of games in that sense before because they always seem like a relatively new invention to me. Even modern day sporting events such as football and basketball only were invented in the last hundred years or so. What is interesting about this point is that although games are such a crucial part of our society, and have been since they were created, schools rarely if at all use games in an educational setting. It seems obvious after reading this article that if humans have invested so much time and energy into gaming we would also incorporate it into how we learn. Yet, this is clearly not the case. The article continues by addressing some of the big benefits of games such as, “they increase your resilience in the face of challenges”. In other words, games are always pushing you to the edge of your ability, which in turn makes you remain engaged longer with these challenges than real life challenges. This relates back to our class reading about flow and how games are great at maintaining this balance between boredom and frustration. But the really interesting piece of the article is near the end, when McGonigal mentions how gaming has given us the potential to solve real world problems, such as HIV. In a game called Foldit, developed at the University of Washington, players learn how to properly fold proteins in a way that prevents diseases. The makers of Foldit describe it as a complicated version of tetris, which takes advantage of the gaming ability to manipulate 3D objects. By playing this game, gamers, without any scientific background, solved how to stop the HIV virus from replicating in the body in only 10 days. In contrast, scientists working in laboratory settings have spent over 10 years looking for the same solution. These gamers might actually get a Nobel prize for their work even though all they did was play videogames. This is only one example from the article on how modern gaming could actually solve many current real world problems and yet still remain enjoyable. Overall, this article is a very interesting read and if you are interested in learning more about McGonigal she just published a book, Reality Is Broken, and also has a very interesting TED talk.


Valentines Day Gaming

In liu of Valentines Day here is the top 5 video games to play with your significant other on Valentines Day. This way, she (or he) cant get mad at you for staring at the t.v. screen all day! Happy Valentines Day!

History of Gaming

This is a really cool video that shows how far we have come in the gaming industry in the last 50 years. It was done by a group of students in munic for a game design project and showcases some of the most well known video games of the decades.

Tennis for Two, Oscilloscope, 1958
Pacman, Arcade, 1980
Donkey Kong, NES, 1986
Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, 1991
Street Fighter II. SNES, 1991
Super Mario 64, Nintendo 64, 1996
Final Fantasy VII, Sony Playstation, 1997
Need for Speed: Hot Pursiut 2, Sony Playstation 2, 2002
Ecco the Dolphin, Sega Dreamcast, 2000
Super Smash Bros. Melee, Nintendo Game Cube, 2001
Wii Sports Golf, Nintendo Wii, 2006
God of War III, Sony Playstation 3, 2010
Rock Band, XBox 360, 2008

Eye-Controlled Video Game

I thought this was pretty awesome; it is the first eye controlled video game. On top of that, it is the classic arcade game Asteroids. It was created by a company called Tobii that develops eye-tracking technology. The game itself only has one button that you use only once to start the game. After that, the game uses a strip of infrared sensors below the screen to scan your eyes and calibrate the system. The Earth stands in the middle of the screen, all you have to do is look at an incoming asteroid, pause slightly to shoot, and move on to the next target. Click on the link to watch the video game in action. Each machine costs $15,000, and there will only be 50 made.

I think this has awesome implications for the future of video gaming. One major improvement will be that controls no longer have to be done by the hand. As seen by Kinect, and now this game, full body movements can be used as controls in the game. Essentially, this fully immerses the player in the video game action. Add in 3-D, and you have yourself the mini-matrix. Not only is this great news for the gaming industry but for all other sorts of industries as well. I can envision this being used to help the disabled communicate without having to physically implant electrodes in their brains. It the future quadriplegics will be able to use sort of technology to communicate through computers that will free them from the constraints of their body. Just by tracking their eye movements, computers would be able to write out sentences for them so they can communicate with other people. This sort of technology could also be used to help them get around and do everyday activities.

I could also see this kind of technology being implemented in the courtroom. It is commonly accepted that people make different eye movements when lying compared to when they are telling the truth. This type of technology could record eye movements of witnesses or defendants for example and confirm when a person is telling the truth or lying.

These are only a few of the many possibilities this technology has to offer. Check out the video though because it is pretty cool. Definitely a mind-blowing advancement since the time the actual game was released in 1979.

Super Mario Frustration

For anyone who hasnt seen this video it is hilarious. Someone hacked the original NES Super Mario game and made it ridiculously impossible. This is how I feel about school sometimes… especially orgo:

Video Games and Dubstep

For all of you who like video games and dubstep this is an awesome playlist especially to bust out the NES for: