All About id_poke_him
Have you ever found yourself being disturbed by the overwhelming sound of someone else's video games? Perhaps you're trying to watch TV? Or maybe you're studying and unable to retain any info due to the sound of explosions coming through your walls? I for one found myself frequently awakened by gunshots while living in a college dorm, due to my room mate's addiction to a little game called Counter-strike. And I wonder why I flunked out. Well thankfully we're all in luck, thanks to a new invention that not only let's you play games in silence, but that also makes you feel like you're actually in the game.
In 2005 physicist Shahriar S. Afshar found himself unable to do his work as a a visiting professor at Rowan University due to the explosions, gunshots and most likely over abundant curse words coming through his campus housing walls. In response to the distraction, he essentially fashioned two adorable little mini subwoofers to affix to his chest, dubbing it the KOR-fx.
About the size of a pair of over-inflated headphones, the KOR-fx lays across your shoulders, pressing it's two transducers(a device that translates sound into vibrations, for all us non-nerds) into your chest. It connects to your gaming console via a little box which extracts the bass out of the game's audio, and plays it through the transducers. The device even plays in stereo, allowing your body to interpret which direction the sounds are coming from. This effect helps add to the immersion of the game, for example by enabling you to tell which direction you're taking fire from.
I don't know about you, but personally I find this to be flippin' sweet!! And that's not it, Afshar says in the future he'll be able to make you FEEL rain, wind, G-force and the like, by generating certain frequencies thru the transducers! That's right, just one little step closer to experiencing our favorite games, matrix ****So run out and purchase those nifty trench coats, and secret service ****sunglasses in anticipation of beating up the baddies in a way that would make Neo proud. And remember, there is no spoon!
By now I'm sure we've all heard about Roger Ebert's accusation that video games are not, and never will be an art form. Naturally this has sparked a pretty heated debate, with everyone throwing their opinions on the table. So I figure, what the hey, I'll toss mine in too!
First off, let's define art. Now if you go search in online dictionaries, you come up with several definitions. Wiktionary itself has 10, which I won't list, but video games definitely falls under most of them. Ebert himself plays around with the definition of art, trying ever so hard to use the ambiguity to his advantage. However since Webster's Dictionary has been the go to guide for english definitions for I don't even know how long, let's look there shall we?
If we look at Webster's Online, searching for the word Art comes up with a few definitions. Though only one seems to really fit the bill:
4 a : the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also : works so produced b (1) : fine arts (2) : one of the fine arts (3) : a graphic art
Hmm, I don't know about you, but that seems to describe the process of making a game. Which brings me to another of Ebert's key points. He says games can never be art because in a game there are rules, goals, and a way of winning. Okay, to be fair we really have to concede this point, but only partially.
The act of playing a game is definitely NOT art. When you're playing a game you are engaging in the world the developers have created for you. And yes you do have a goal, which is to win the game. And winning is possible. Therefore playing a game couldn't be art. However let's apply this idea to say the Mona Lisa. In this case the designer would be DaVinci, and the player would be the person viewing the Mona Lisa. Is simply looking at and enjoying the beauty of her considered art? No most definitely not, because you're not actually engaging in creating her. You're just simply enjoying her, much like a player enjoys a game. Sure there's no real goal in viewing her, and no way to win(unless maybe you steal her), but you essentially are enjoying them both in the same way. So then if the act of DaVinci creating the Mona Lisa is art, and the Mona Lisa herself is art, then by definition you would have to say the same about video games and their creation. Being that the process, fundamentally and psychologically, is the same.
In his blog post, Ebert continually says "my notion" and "my opinion" and the like. Which is exactly what his post is, HIS OPINION. In his opinion he forgets that art is really relative to the artist and the audience to which the artist intends to reach. Perhaps Ebert has realized the flaws in his ridiculous claim, and that's why his most recent post on the matter(that I read anyway) seems to have him floundering and back peddling by spewing utter nonsensical jargon in an attempt perhaps to prove his intelligence and keep his ego somewhat intact.
Ebert's blog post is quite simply a foolish, uneducated remark from an individual of an older generation, who perhaps has suddenly found himself rapidly losing touch with the Mainstream. And whom now struggles to redefine his place in society while reminding us of why he is important and why we should care. Which is exactly why we as the gaming community should simply ignore him and his opinions. Because we don't really care.
We all know exactly what video games are and why we find them to be important and valid. They are a compilation of many artists using many mediums to create a collaborative work of art. What's important is that we appreciate and love video games, not to attempt in convincing naysayers. And the more we do, the more our art form will grow and evolve. And that's the beauty of it. So thus I say unto you, Mr. Ebert: STFU and stick to the cinema. We don't care about your opinions.
June 26, 2010
Today my partner and I crawled out of bed at 5am. After showering and getting ourselves together, we made our way to our nearest AT&T store that would be selling the next shipment of the iPhone 4. After a quick stop at Starbucks for some much needed caffeine, we then tromped around the corner to the back of the line that stretched around the block. We stood and made idle chit-chat with the folks around us, discussing how excited we were to get our hands on the new iPhone while poking fun of the crackheads who were the only others crazy enough to get up so early on purpose.
After waiting there for two hours, we finally made it to the front of the line, huge smiles slapped on our faces and dancing with excitement (though admittedly my dance was due more to the fact that I had to pee). Finally we were let inside the store. The brightly-colored cases adorned kiosks around the store. A giant "3gs" sat in the window, it's screen alight with visions of what the iPhone had to offer as several adults cooed underneath it. Oh, what a veritable treasure trove of iphoney goodness. It was as if Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory hooked up with The Apple Store and had an illegitimate love child marketed towards adults.
Some handsome store employee helped us pick out just the right protective cases to keep our new treasure safe, while ensuring us that holding it the wrong way wouldn't affect our ability to get a signal. My Partner chose some awkwardly flashy one to use while he waits for his back ordered, snazzy black one to come in the mail. We were ushered up to the counter where we were subjected to fingerprinting, a retinal scan, promising our first born, signing in blood and oddly enough a rectal exam, before being given our sleek new babies. We left the store, heads held high in triumph, and antsy to play with our new toys. After a quick breakfast my handsome hubby dropped me off at home and headed off to work.
A short while later, I received a frantic text from him complaining about his new technological wonder. For some reason, he couldn't get his computer to sync up with it, and seeing as how this is his only phone, it was quite integral that he be able to get all his work info off his computer. After a couple of failed calls (apparently we were holding it wrong) I got him on the phone, and a few choice words later I found out the problem. See, my sweetie has an iMac that is still running the Tiger OS system. Due to reasons of their own, his employer has yet to upgrade the whole office to Leopard let alone Snow Leopard, and apparently the iPhone 4 is only compatible with machines running the latter two.
Now here's where I'm concerned: The iPhone 4 requires you to be running the latest and greatest version of iTunes. Those Mac users with Leopard and Snow Leopard have nothing to fear, since they're cool enough to be up to date. Folks running a PC with Windows XP Service Pack 2 or better are also off the hook. Here's the tricky part: Everyone can run the newest iTunes, and everyone can sync a 3gs that's running iOS4 to their computers. But those Mac users still running Tiger can't sync an iPhone 4.
Now wait a minute here, that doesn't make much sense. People running an OS that is what, 10 years old, can purchase and use the new iPhone no problem, but those who haven't yet upgraded their Mac OS simply can't? So in effect, Apple is punishing it's loyal customers, by demanding they shell out another $160 to upgrade their OS. Which wouldn't be THAT big a deal, except for the only notice consumers have is some fine print on the back of the iPhone 4 packaging. Which I might add, you don't have a chance to even look at until you've already purchased the thing and are heading out the door. No employee at anytime informs people of this requirement.
I've been a loyal Apple customers for several years. I started with the second generation iPod, and from there I was hooked. About a year ago I was finally able to afford to trade in my dying PC for a flashy new Macbook Pro, and I couldn't be happier. I've always touted Apple's superiority in quality, customer satisfaction, and user interface to all the Negative Nancy's out there slandering the Apple name. I even got a friend of mine to ditch his Dell notebook for a Mac. I jumped cell carriers in order to purchase an iPhone years ago, and have stayed loyal to AT&T and Apple ever since. So it alarms me that after all this, the love of my life is forced to open his already strained wallet(those of us who aren't filthy, nasty rich are still suffering in this economic "slump"), to purchase an OS that has mixed reviews and in reality he doesn't really need anyway! Not to mention you're heavily televised response to your customer's qualms with the iPhone 4's funky antenna, frailty, missing Flash compatibility and lack of 4g.
We've all overlooked these possible deal breakers, we've stuck with you, we've stood our ground and supported you to all the Apple haters. We've emptied our pockets to purchase your many, albeit overpriced products, and in return you turn around slap us in the face. I'll admit, I plan on staying with my iPhone 4 and with AT&T, but only because I've found the iPhone to be the best fit for me. I do however think that perhaps you need to curb your ego a bit, and respond a little more proactively to your customer's requests and concerns. In the end, a company can only survive as long as people buy their products. And people don't like to be hu stled, my friend. So I hope that rather than toss my cleverly worded e-mail aside, you actually take a moment to mentally digest what I'm saying and put it to good use. I'd hate to lose my faith in Apple, almost as much as I hate listening to the Anti-Apple regiment's decrees of "I told you so."
Quite frankly and sincerely,
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