Tag Archives: video games

The “Impossible” is Now Possible: Video Games in Real Life

Many people have had thoughts before like: “Man, if that weapon on Fallout or Metal Gear Solid was real, imagine the damage it would do.” Well, someone in the U.S. Government had the same thoughts as well.

Various weapons in the video game world like railguns and lasers have been in development for years and are used in some places, while the weapons like plasma are not in use yet. Here are some video game weapons that may  or may not be actually real.

Railgun Specs; photo from science.howstuffworks.com
Railgun Specs; photo from science.howstuffworks.com

Railguns: Actually, railguns have been in development for decades now, with the first patent in the U.S. issued in July 1922 as no. 1,421,435 to a French inventor by the name of Louis Octave Fauchon-Villeplee. However, his development didn’t go too far due to the lack of technology during his time. Nazi Germany in 1944 was looking into the first theoretically possible railgun. The guns were to be mounted with six batteries and would be able to launch twelve rounds per minute. Their plans were thwarted by the Allies in World War II. These plans were found after the war and believed to be “impossible” after studies found that each gun would need enough power to light up half of Chicago. It took until 1962 before an operational railgun was possible, but it was only a scientific study. Then in comes the world of video games, where games like Halo, Metal Gear Solid and Fallout introduced the railgun as a weapon of mass destruction. In recent years, railguns have been created. The U.S. Navy tested a railgun that fired a projectile at the speed of “Mach 7″ in the 2000’s. After the success of that railgun, the U.S. Navy is going to have a railgun in use for intercepting missiles in 2018. Now, that’s something video games couldn’t make up.

LaWS on the USS Ponce; photo from www.stripes.com
LaWS on the USS Ponce; photo from www.stripes.com

Lasers: Some of us have been to places where they have laser tag with the fake guns, but the U.S. Navy (man, why do these guys get all of the new weapons?) has an operational laser weapon in use since 2014 that blinds the enemy. The LaWS, as it is called, will not be in use for long however as the ship it is on, the USS Ponce, will be decommissioned in 2018. The lasers in video games like Mega Man are meant to cut people in half. No words, if the U.S. military is planning to make a weapon like that.

Plasma: In Fallout, a plasma gun means your demise if you’re ever shot with one in online gaming mode. Researchers at the University of Missouri actually were able to create a very weak but impressive plasma gun in 2013. This has opened the possibilities of energy and weapons dealing with plasma, something thought to be impossible.

Death Star from Star Wars: photo from starwars.com
Death Star from Star Wars: photo from starwars.com

Honorable Mention – Death Star: Yeah, this one is impossible, but in 2012, a petition started on the WeThePeople site asking the U.S. Government to build a Death Star from Star Wars. Once the petition reached 25,000 signatures, an official response from the White House was necessary. It turns out it would take 830,000 years to make enough steel and as for the cost: let’s just say, you would need to find a planet made out of diamonds.

 

Featured Image Photo from NextBigFuture.com

Fighting Video Games are still Kicking (and Punching)

Video games have become a heavily integrated part of our daily lives. It is common and in fact expected that most people have a video game system and some type of favorite game. Admittedly, this is not universally true. Poverty is something a lot of people deal with; financial situations are different for everyone, and they are ever changing on a person by person basis. Nonetheless, most of us (of the younger generation, at least) often ask about the video games others play, especially if you are getting to know someone. Who doesn’t play video games, right? But let’s save the class issues for another time.

Moving on, there are many different video game genres to pick from and an increasing number of video game systems to pick from. Most people will usually answer something like the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One for the system of choice and then something like first person shooters or RPGs (Role Playing Games) for the genre. A genre that is not necessarily popular per se but has a steady fan base is fighting video games.

Photo from injustice.com

Fighting games are enjoyable and desired because they offer a simple premise and objective while still offering countless scenarios, changes, and options to the player. They can stay consistent without being boring. The idea itself is simple; fight and defeat your opponent by making them run out of whatever represents their health/ stamina. But the player has countless options for how to go about doing so, from stringing attacks into combos to using whatever special, and usually character specific, attack they have at their disposal. Then they also have to deal with an opponent, either controlled by the computer or by a person, who has the same amount of options available to them.

No two fights or matches are ever exactly the same. You can always expect something new and different (to a certain extent) each time you play. This is especially true nowadays with games like Mortal Combat X and Injustice 2 that have increasing rosters of new and familiar characters to choose from along with long lists of attacks and combos. More options mean greater possibilities. These days, the games even offer downloadable content (DLC), almost always consisting of at least one new character, as time goes on to keep players interested and invested in the game. There is something to be said for a form of interactive entertainment that can keep a (relatively) simple and basic format while constantly changing.

eSports vs. Regular Sports

eSports should be just as respected as traditional sports. eSports athletes put just as much effort into their training as any Olympic athlete.  To compete at the highest level, eSports players practice hours a day.  They do training drills and scrimmage matches to perfect their techniques and strategies. In team eSports, watching your opponent’s past match footage gives each team a vital edge going into the big games.  Even ESPN is taking notice of the growing popularity of eSports.  If ESPN is treating eSports with respect, you should too.

eSports are competitions of skill conducted through video games.  Nearly any game can allow people to compete, but the most successful eSports games are ones that have high skill caps and reward both great strategy and great physical execution of that strategy.  eSports are a combination of physical and mental competition in the same way traditional sports are.

video games
“To compete at the highest level, eSports players practice hours a day. They do training drills and scrimmage matches to perfect their techniques and strategies.” Photo from: http://www.hindustantimes.com/rf/image_size_640x362/HT/p2/2016/04/26/Pictures/_18efe1c0-0bbc-11e6-9193-d7b8f3a11d8b.jpg

eSports are not only solo sports.  There are team based games that require as much precision and coordination as the best basketball teams.  This does not detract from the achievements of solo eSports athletes.  Many dominant fighting game competitors put in as many hours as the grandmasters of fencing.

eSports also have the advantage of accessibility.  In many cases, there are many more opportunities to play eSports at high levels than there are for more traditional sports. Many of us do not have the privilege of living in a family that can afford the costly sports training needed to compete in the highest levels of sports.  The eSports community is full of stories of teenage prodigies discovering the game that takes them all the way to the top of the competition. Barrios Gonzales from Chile, and Leonardo Perez of Mexico came from poor families, but are now making a large amount of money playing Super Smash Bros. in America. The low barrier to entry can make players’ dreams a reality.

One challenge to eSports’ growing popularity is the complexity of the games.  It is often more difficult to explain to a newbie what the rules of a game are than it is in traditional sports.  Most eSports are more complicated than putting the ball in the place, but this may change as the next generation of game designers build games with spectators in mind.  As eSports become easier to watch their popularity is sure to grow.

eSports are a growing industry.  They will never totally replace traditional sports, but that is okay.  There is a place for both in the spectrum of entertainment options.  All achievements that push the boundaries of human possibility should be recognized.

Gamer Girls

Video games are one of the most common pastimes that we have today. At least among the younger generations, it is expected that someone can safely ask what video games a person plays in casual conversation or as an icebreaker. But, as commonplace as gaming is, there seems to be some idea that women don’t play video games as much or do not play them the right way. They often get called “fake gamer girls.” Somehow, video games have become a “guys only” activity and it’s considered weird, or at least unusual, for women to play them. But this really doesn’t make sense, at all.

Firstly, there is no “right way” to play any video game. Video games exist for the sole purpose of having fun; you cannot do that wrong. When a person plays a video game it does not matter if all they do is play the main parts of the game, if they try to complete the entire game and do everything possible, or if they aim for the highest score they can. It is a video game; have fun with it.

girls playing video games
“There seems to be some idea that women don’t play video games as much or do not play them the right way. They often get called “fake gamer girls.” Somehow, video games have become a “guys only” activity.” Photo from: www.rantgamer.com

Secondly, plenty of women play video games. A 2016 report by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) found that 41% of gamers in America are women (1). That is a significant amount, and thus, one certainly cannot act like female gamers are a minor portion of video games’ audience. I point this out because it is not uncommon to hear people say that women can’t or won’t play video games. This is very alienating to those that do play them. No one wants to hear that they don’t belong to a community they are really interested in and a part of, and they especially don’t want to hear that they can’t be a part of it based on their gender.

Lastly, probably the main reason why one doesn’t usually hear much about female video game players is because the other people in the community are usually extremely aggressive and sexist. In fact, it’s not uncommon for women to get death threats or rape threats (2). Video games have somehow become a “boy’s world” and there is a strange idea that women aren’t allowed for some reason. Frankly, it’s extremely sexist and misogynistic, not to mention childish. There’s a blatant prejudice against women who are involved in video games and many male gamers seem to think that they aren’t capable of “properly” playing them. The other idea is that male gamers are like children in the sandbox or their own special tree house and simply don’t want to allow females into the community. Women are perfectly able to play and enjoy video games, and they should be able to do so without a bunch of people harassing them for it.

  1. http://www.polygon.com/2016/4/29/11539102/gaming-stats-2016-esa-essential-facts

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/10/20/rape-and-death-threats-are-terrorizing-female-gamers-why-havent-men-in-tech-spoken-out/?utm_term=.cae4060e2ebd

The politics of Final Fantasy

Many fans (myself included) continue to hope for an updated re-release of Final Fantasy VII that would include enhanced graphics and voice recording. The original game didn’t age well graphically, with its blocky Lego-style character models, and voice acting is a must have for any game genre nowadays.  Perhaps there is a deeper reason why FFVII hasn’t yet seen a re-release.

It may seem preposterous to state that a video game made back in 1997 could have such powerful political statements within it, and yet, FFVII does. In short, FFVII is host to a cadre of political and social commentary on modernity.

My major focus of inquiry is with the beginning of the story. As the story progresses, itspirals into one concerning the fate of the world; however, in the beginning, the main plot concerns the ragtag environmental group AVALANCHE and the enigmatic Shinra Corporation. Both of these groups frame the story politically and socially.

An HD re-release of Final Fantasy VII is coming soon.
An HD re-release of Final Fantasy VII is coming soon. Graphic from Dual Shockers

For starters, Shinra is about as evil as a major corporation could be written.  They have engaged in genetic reengineering and experimentation on an unborn fetus,draining the land dry of its resources, poisoning the environment with the equivalent of chemical runoff, and tracking its citizens,to name a few.

Final Fantasy VII does a great job of showing a world where big corporations are  evil and vindictive entities only out profits.

On the other hand, the protagonists are part of  AVALANCHE. Problems exist within their organization as well.They’re home grown terrorists who casually blow up the equivalent of nuclear reactors to suit their own agenda.

They are explicitly anti-government (albeit, against a corrupt government) and anti-capitalist. As the story begins, AVALANCHE are framed as, and live up to, their reputations as extremists. Their extremist agenda results in the death of an entire sector as well as half of their members.

The game paints neither party as innocent. Likewise, several scenes concerning diversity are handled  tactlessly (as expected of 90’s popular culture). The only African American party member, Barrett, is a filthy-mouthed, shooting substitute for gangster culture and a racially insensitive allusion to Mr. T. Likewise, several scenes deal with hookers, sexual innuendo and crossdressers, often associating all of these things (especially crossdressers and homosexuals) with humor and shock.

Did I mention this entire game was rated Teen (for 13-year-olds and up) by the ESRB?

At the end of the day, FFVII resonates  with its powerful symbolism, which is far more complex than I can detail in this analysis. These are but some of the polarizing and glaring sociopolitical issues raised by Final Fantasy VII– and perhaps one of the reasons why Square Enix was so hesitant to remake the game.

Law, order, and video game ISIS

Gaming has always been that one habit that people are hesitant to tell others about. It’s mostly because the default image that pops in a non-gamer’s head is that of a fat kid with an overabundance of Doritos and Mountain Dew raging at his TV screen. Whether they’re bragging about the things they’ve done with your mom, or tripping over themselves at the first girl who hops in a game lobby, gamers aren’t well liked by a great number of demographics.

It doesn’t help that every time a shooting happens, the news media tries to find which violent video game to point to as a possible motivator for such an act. In fact, the media as a whole doesn’t seem to understand gaming at all–and when it tries, it seems to miss the mark every single time.

A recent “Law & Order” episode aired, loosely based on the events of what has been dubbed Gamergate. It’s a scandal that involves accusations of both misogyny and journalistic ethics. It’s a topic that deserves further explanation, but I’ll do so after you watch the episode.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7faUHdlh9g

Putting aside the fact that they felt the need to use and explain just about every outdated and unused piece of gamer lingo, this episode tried to take on way too much. Granted,  Gamergate is a monster of an issue to tackle with multiple facets that someone from the outside would never understand.

To grossly oversimplify, the actual Gamergate started after evidence came out that a Kotaku reviewer had given a game good review because of an intimate relationship he had with the developer. It raised questions about corruption in gaming journalism, due to the fact that many large game developers have been known to give sponsorships and other gifts to entice positive reviews.

It then devolved into an issue of trading sex for coverage, after a writer put out a prolonged blog post about how his ex-girlfriend Zoe Quinn had cheated on him with another writer. As a natural internet reaction to this blog post, people began to question if this is true for all female game developers.It further descended into madness from there.

New characters started to spawn into the Gamergate battlefield after feminist blogger Anita Sarkeesian took this opportunity to criticize the gaming community and the culture that surrounds it. She made the points that games often portray women in scantily-clad clothing or as supporting roles for the male protagonists. In doing so, she inadvertently generalized gamers as sexists, largely due to what they are exposed to in games.

As one could imagine, gamers didn’t like being labeled, and she became a vilified character among the community–but championed by many feminists who have long held the idea that video games aren’t a safe place for women. It got worse, however, when Sarkeesian began receiving death threats that prevented her from speaking at several events. This helped to serve her point that gamers are these monsters that want to silence women.

There’s plenty more that I’ve unfortunately had to leave out, but there’s a lot of bias and contradictory information that tends to muddy the water. The point is that it’s a big deal due to the fact that it hits on about four different issues at once. The media completely dropped the ball on the issue by siding against the gaming community, because it’s a community that’s already so misunderstood by the general public.

It’s almost too easy to get it wrong, because it won’t matter to the general public (who don’t care enough to make the effort to understand). It’s so much easier to write gamers off as sexist nerds than it is to understand that this is an issue of journalistic ethics. Yes, it’s wrong that a select few took it upon themselves to send death threats to any female who covered the issue from a feminist standpoint. Yes, it’s wrong that there aren’t more realistic female protagonists in games. However, it’s also wrong to use an entire demographic of gamers as the scapegoat any time anything goes wrong in society.

The reason gamers appear so defensive about what they do is because of negative media portrayals. After making the point that a shooter enjoyed playing violent video games , news anchors always seem to encourage family to talk to their loved ones. This often results in the taking-away of said violent video games. There’s an inherent distrust of the media every time they decide to cover gaming, because they always get it wrong.

What “Law & Order” did here was a prime example of why there was a need for gamers to speak out against the media in the first place. This hypothetical video game equivalent of ISIS will only further make the non-gaming community wary of gamers and what twisted ideas they have in their heads.

Maybe we need more gamers in the media, or maybe the media just needs to do more research before they try to cover topics like this. Gaming impacts such a large demographic that it’s impossible to generalize everyone to one collective hive-mind. We’re not all sexists, and we’re not a mean joke away from shooting up a school. We’re everyday people who happen to enjoy escaping this reality to one with less rules.

From Our Perspective: Gun control and violence in the media

Cover image with the Boston bomber. Image from Rolling Stone.
Cover image with the Boston bomber. Image from Rolling Stone.

Welcome back to another episode of From Our Perspective! This episode was recorded in collaboration with Radio Free Radford so the sound quality is much better thanks to real recording equipment.

In this episode, we debate all of the rhetoric behind gun control and discuss whether or not video games have an influence on gun crime. Continue reading From Our Perspective: Gun control and violence in the media

Octoberfest: Scary, dark and tons of fun!

This year’s Octoberfest, which occurred on October 18th, was a lot of fun!

Admittedly, the food wasn’t what other members of Otakudon were expecting; the Asian food usually received for the celebration was replaced by sandwiches, chicken tenders, nachos and casseroles. The food was delicious, but a little disorienting because members expected Asian foods.

jacko
BOO! Did I scare you? Photo by Sydney Crawson.

The Bonnie combo room was split in half so people could enjoy whatever form of “scary” entertainment they chose. One section of the room was devoted to Asian horror. Most of this year’s selection was Korean horror, though of course there were plenty of classic Asian horror selections (like the original version of “The Grudge” and “One Missed Call,” or a really scary Japanese horror movie called “Spiral”). It wasn’t all serious; a few were cheesy in ways that only horror movies can be, with strange, off-the-wall plots, gratuitous gore and unbelievable characters. Many of us weren’t sure whether to laugh or be terrified. Continue reading Octoberfest: Scary, dark and tons of fun!

Tech Talk: Video games

masseffect
Check it out! Photo from Bioware.com.

This is the first installment of our audio series for Science, Tech and Health. In this installment, we’ll be discussing Mass Effect and its disappointing ending along with Xbox’s new “Games for Gold” marketing. We’ll also touch on the eighth generation consoles and their online services as well.

Continue reading Tech Talk: Video games

PS4: The beast within

The Playstation 4, more commonly known as the PS4, was announced during a special event at the E3 gaming convention. It’s Sony’s next big contender in the eighth generation of consoles. The PS4 is Sony’s fourth game console, succeeding the PS3 and its great-grandfather, the original Playstation.

Continue reading PS4: The beast within

Xbox: The One you want

The Xbox One is Microsoft’s contender in the eighth generation of video game consoles, and the successor to the coveted Xbox 360 console. The Xbox One was unveiled to the public on May 21, 2013 and was dubbed the ultimate system for the new generation. The One is considered Microsoft’s all-in-one entertainment system, the coveted center of your living room life.

Continue reading Xbox: The One you want

Why collectibles make video games so addictive

If you’ve played video games you have probably spent hours on end running around collecting various items and rewards such as coins, gems, heart pieces, armor, weapons or even high scores or achievements. Why spend all that time collecting things that aren’t real? Sure, that magic armor is useful in the video game world, but what about rewards that don’t even help you progress through the game, such as trophies and achievements? Continue reading Why collectibles make video games so addictive

Do violent video games cause violence?

Violent video games have always been a topic of controversy. The Columbine shooters loved the violent video game Doom and Adam Lanza — the Sandy Hook elementary school shooter — played Call of DutyIt’s not unusual that people have placed much of the blame on the violence depicted in these games. However, what about the other millions of people that play Call of Duty and don’t commit violent crimes? Continue reading Do violent video games cause violence?

Little Inferno: a game to keep you warm

Hello, boys and girls. I know it’s cold outside, and it seems like it will never stop snowing, but don’t worry. The Tomorrow Corporation released Little Inferno to help you stay warm through these bitter winter storms. So sit back, relax, and burn all your toys to make a nice, warm fire. Continue reading Little Inferno: a game to keep you warm

LoZ Skyward Sword: New blood in an old classic

Released in November of 2011 on the Nintendo Wii, Skyward Sword is the latest installment in the Legend of Zelda video game series. The game breaks away from some the conventional game play of the Zelda series and introduces some new concepts while still staying true to the Zelda formula. Many of the concepts are a great leap within the Zelda franchise while others fall flat. Continue reading LoZ Skyward Sword: New blood in an old classic