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Getting into Grad School with a Super Nerd essay?

So I recently submitted the following essay to a top 20 Business Graduate Program. It took me a long time to come up with my answer to the following question. What do you all think? Will the admissions department be impressed?

Essay 1: If you could host a dinner party and invite any four people, either living or dead, whom would you invite and what would the five of you discuss together? There is no right answer concerning the dinner guests; rather, we want you to be creative and thoughtful in your response. Space is limited to 4000 characters.

The four people that I would invite to a dinner party are Shigeru Miyamoto, Joss Whedon, George Lucas and Stan Lee. Each of these individuals has enjoyed enormous amounts of success due mostly to their creativity and abilities to communicate their creations in a way that resonates with people. In essence they are storytellers who know how to raise themselves out of the noise and interference and say something meaningful to a large audience.

Using dinner topics as a three-course meal our panel will start with"presentation of creative ideas as smart business decisions" and "how to maintain creative control of intellectual property". As an entrée we'll discuss "mixing business with creativity" and "management of various personality types". For dessert we'll all enjoy a roundtable discussion of criticisms that America is becoming an "anti-intellectual" society.

Shigeru Miyamoto is the creator of 7 of the top 25 all time best selling video games in history including Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda and Nintendogs. His games have totaled more than 180 million units sold and always garner high critical praise. Because video games are a large collective effort Miyamoto has worked extensively as producer and manager of his projects. His contributions to the discussion would likely focus on how to manage various personality types while maintaining creative control of his projects. I'd also like to hear how he helped a medium in its infancy grow into major money maker.

Joss Whedon, a respected writer, director and producer of films and televisions shows, has earned a fiercely loyal fan base in a crowded and fickle industry. Because his ideas buck conventional thinking I believe his contribution to our conversation would include how he has presented his creative visions as smart business decisions. Programs such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly continue to live on outside of their original formats. No matter the obstacles Whedon manages to produce his ideas for consumption in one way or another. His ability to connect with his audience no matter the medium makes him a perfect candidate for our dinner discussion.

George Lucas is the American icon responsible for ultra popular franchises Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Since 1971 he has directed just six films. Those films have earned an average of $282 million dollars each. While these numbers are impressive I believe Lucas' genius is more rooted in his acute understanding of merchandising andbranding. Star Wars especially has become a part of our American cultural heritage and is the perfect example of how a creative mind can, with the right positioning and work ethic, generate enormous returns and lasting success. I'd love to hear from Lucas how mixing creativity with savvy business choices has made him so successful.

Stan Lee, using a mostly disregarded medium, turned Marvel Comics into a multi-billion dollar empire with co-creations like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men. The comic book industry has faced serious obstacles in the last 60 years including government and social criticism of content, which would later contribute to threats of an industry collapse. Lee's powerful storytelling allowedhim to position his stories to be told in other medias thus provinglucrative for him and his company. I would like to hear his views on overcoming barriers to success despite serious opposition.

Lastly, television, comic books, video games and films have all been criticized as lazy medias that some critics argue has contributed to a perceived disinterest in more traditional ("intellectual") forms of communication. Each of these dinner party attendees has been important in legitimizing their respective genres. Video games andcomic books especially are still seen as juvenile medias with little to contribute to society or culture. I would love to hear the responses of my dinner guests to those who say they have contributed to a "dumbing down" of America.

EA Sports Active 30-Day Challenge - Workout 30

Well I'm glad that's over with. The EA Sports Active 30-Day Challenge is a pretty crazy experience. It's time-consuming and grueling and possibly helpful for those looking to have a daily exercise routine. I don't feel particularly healthier. If anything the game forced me to use my Wii for an extended period of time. I said it in my previous post, I don't think I want to mix something I like to do with something I don't like to do. I'm afraid that my discomfort with exercising might cause me to dread playing video games if they were one in the same.

I'm also glad to go back to writing editorial posts about what I really want to write about. It's been a while since I posted a Soap Box article so everyone should check out the one that I'll be posting here in the next little bit.

Thanks for everyone who followed me.

My conclusion - Eat MUCH healthier and go to a gym atleast 3 times a week. You'll build better habits than you would struggling through a video game workout routine.

EA Sports Active 30-Day Challenge - Workout 20

Quick update from the EA Sports Active 30-Day Challenge. I'm now two thirds of the way done and I've regained the weight I lost after the first third. Many posters are telling me about how exercise isn't as important as changing your diet and reducing intake. I'm believing that more and more because this system, while intense, doesn't appear to me to be a long-term workout solution.

I do feel more active which may be the whole purpose of the game. I'm not ready to turn my hobby into something as strenuous and annoying as working-out. That may be my main complaint. I don't want to dread turning on my Wii. Maybe those who are already into fitness and exercise wouldn't feel this same thing as me but that's the way it goes.

I did take advantage of XBLs DoTW by purchasing Magic: The Gathering for 400 MS points. If anyone wants to play with me that's cool, just send me a friend request. If you see I'm online you can also send me a game request and I'll likely accept it even if I'm playing a different game.

Until next update.

EA Sports Active 30-Day Challenge - Workout 10

I'm now a third of the way done with this 30-Day Challenge. I'm pretty much done with this game. There are a couple of good things about the workout but I don't think this game is anything more than a lifestyle maintainer. Again, the workout isn't that intensive, the peripherals don't hold up well to extended use and I'm constantly worrying about breaking the nunchuck and having to shell out another 20 bucks to replace it. Obviously you can cheat the system by making the nunchuck motion without doing the actual workout but EA has done a good job of limiting your ability to do so. Many times it takes more effort to cheat the movement then to actually just do it.

The trophy system is pretty good and it's nice to get a little validation for your in-game efforts (for whatever a digital trophy is worth) but there's not enough to keep me entertained and that's what I was hoping for. I wanted a workout experience that was also entertaining. This is not that system. Perhaps a cardio theater or bike machine with a television would work better because you can watch a story without having to incorporate it into the activity you're engaging in. The game just makes me remember I'm working out whereas something totally detached might not.

I'm not sure I'll keep going on 5 day updates. At this point I'm fairly certain I won't change my opinion of this program so I'll finish it up but I'll likely give updates every ten days from now on.

As a side note, I have lost 3 pounds. I can't in all honesty attribute that to the workout. I'm more inclined to think it's a result of eating less.

EA Sports Active 30-Day Challenge - Workout 5

As many of you know I've taken the EA Sports Active 30-Day Challenge and as of now I've gone through the first 5 workouts. When I first announced this experiment many of you said that the workouts wouldn't make much of a difference when it comes to weight-loss or improving my overall health. I'm not feeling more healthy and I haven't lost any weight but the workouts are strenuous and require a good amount of effort. Whether that translates into something more noticeable is yet to be seen.

So far I've been less than impressed and convinced that this is a viable option for a meaningful exercise routine. I imagine that workout DVD's and in-home programs are very similar to this experience so there might be something there in the end but for now I'm not ready to commit to anything beyond this 30-Day Challenge.

Meanwhile - Here's my backlog - Fallout 3 (GOTY), Dragon Age Origins, Final Fantasy 4 (DS), Lego Rockband, MLB 2k9, Halo 3: ODST, Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Anyone who wants to game with me that's cool. I'm thinking my next Soapbox post will be about online gaming and online friend-making. Anyone have any experiences with that?

Also, don't forget to vote me for Gamespotter of the Year!

EA Sports Active 30-Day Challenge - Workout 1

I started the EA Sports Active 30-Day Challenge today. I told the Soapbox readers I would complete it and let them know along the way my thoughts on it. Here are my first impressions.

The interface isn't as hokey as Nintendo's Wii Fit. That's nice. It seems to do a pretty good job of tracking my usage but that isn't all that impressive. So far my experience with the hardware hasn't been stellar. The resistance band is kind of a joke but I only did one knot on it (I have to put it together? Lame). The leg strap is of good-quality but it slips off easily in the work-out. You really have to have it up on your leg and tight otherwise you'll be pausing a lot to retighten it. The band is also not long enough if you're wearing baggy clothes at all.

The program itself is a pretty good. The cardio is pretty strenous but that might be more a product of my habits. The exercises are varied and allow you to work up a sweat by the time you're done with each one. The strength building is no good but I blame it on the crappy resistence band. If you can spend an extra ten bucks you should definitly go get one from like Sports Authority or something.

All in all it was a good workout but nothing that I can see so far leads me to believe it is sufficient for accomplishing too many health and exercise goals. A 20 minute run would help and a way to input your food intake would be nice (It may have this but I didn't see it anywhere.).

Check back often as I'll post throughout the next 30 days. Also be sure to look at my Soapbox blog and vote for me for Gamespotter of the Year!

Gaming your way to better shape - do exercise videogames really work?

The NPD Group released a report yesterday listing the top 10 best-selling games in the United States for 2009. While reading the report I felt pretty vindicated after a bunch of posters tried to knock my last post. Six of the top 10 games were Nintendo only games. Activision made the list twice for Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (PS3 and Xbox 360), while EA and Microsoft each had 1 game. As far as sales go, Nintendo cleaned up.

Now I don't want to get into another brawl about Nintendo and the Wii. What I want to talk about is something else I noticed in the report. The number 2 selling game of 2009, Wii Fit, was actually released in early 2008, so I did some digging. The Wii Fit has sold 22.5 million copies making it the second highest (unbundled) console game ever. That's more than Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 and Halo 3 combined. That's more than the top 5 best selling games for Playstation 3 combined. That's a lot of plastic sitting around collecting dust.

So what's the big deal with this Wii Fit game? For that matter why are so many exercise games being created?
Why are there so many of these?

Isn't there a dichotomous relationship between exercise and video game playing? Perhaps, but notice the audience that these games are attempting to appeal to.

Do you see how every cover, every commercial and every message is an attempt to speak to women. That's the target audience for these games and calls for more fragmentation of a traditionally one dimensional product. Core gamers likely take exception to the fact that their medium is on a path to fragmentation and bemoan that studios will start to invest in more lucrative forms of video game making and leave their genre of choice behind. Maybe this happens and maybe it doesn't but anything that gives the video game industry more mainstream credibility AND opens up new revenue streams that make the pie bigger are okay by me.

But really the point of this post is to determine if exercise video games actually deliver a meaningful workout. I don't know, but ask me in a month. I've purchased EA Sports Active and am ready to take their 30 day workout challenge. Throughout the coming month I'll be posting the results of my workouts. I'm anticipating that it will be strenuous but I highly doubt I'll lose any weight.

I believe the correct approach to successful experiences with these workout games is to view them as exercise tools and not as video games to be conquered and controlled. I consider myself a core gamer and making my hobby of game playing into work may not be a good idea but I'll try it and let everyone know what risks and rewards are associated with going down this road.


Also, I hope you've enjoyed my posts and will vote for me for Gamespotter of the Year. Remember to use my username - Safad0 (That's a Zero on the end there). It's nice to be recognized and I look forward to the new year of posts.

Vote for me for Gamespotter of the Year!

Hey Everyone!

Just got back from vacation and found out that I've been nominated as Gamespotter of the Year! That's pretty cool. I hope you'll all vote for me by visiting this page and following the voting instructions.

Remember to use my username - Safad0

I'll be posting a new Soap Box Blog this week. I want to get at least one more in before the end of the year.

You guys rock,


Why Nintendo's Unique Position is a Winner

I recently read a gamespot article on Nintendo's president claiming the Wii had hit a wall and it got me to start thinking about the much maligned system, which in turned got me to think about Nintendo in general. I thought I'd take a few minutes and share my thought process and conclusions.

First, the Wii is by far my least favorite system of all time. In fact, leading up to its release night I just happened to be in a Walmart where they were raffling the chance to buy one. I only put my name in the pot for kicks. Much to my surprise my name was called with nine other schmucks. So I bought one release day and really enjoyed all the attention (and offers) I was getting. Little did I know then that I would rarely pick that system back up after completing Twilight Princess.

Now I could go on as to why the Wii is flawed (shovelware, wiimote controls, subpar graphics, terrible online play) but I'd rather focus on why Nintendo is here to stay.

Everyone knows Nintendo played perhaps the biggest role in pioneering the video game industry. They did especially well in creating a stable system that became extraordinarily accessible to the average consumer. The NES wasn't the first system to hit markets but it certainly was the most important. Simple controls, simple setup, simple games. When you're trying to get a consumer base to embrace a totally new product you'd better make it simple.

Many followed Nintendo's strategy of creating an easy to understand system. However, what many tried to replicate and few have succeeded in doing was creating a trusted brand with easily recognizable identity points. You ask anyone who Mario is and 9 times out of 10 they're going to say Nintendo. That's the genius of Nintendo. They took their original characters and they made them video game icons.

Mario and Luigi, Link and Zelda, Donkey Kong, Samus Aran, Kirby, Fox McCloud. Heck, Nintendo is responsible for giving Final Fantasy a home in the United States. These are all titles that continue to hold respect within the industry. It doesn't matter how terrible third-party games are for any Nintendo system, people will continue to buy a Nintendo because we KNOW the first-party games are going to make the purchase worth it.

For Nintendo, success is just as much about hardware as it is software. One of the reasons why Sega couldn't survive as a console was because outside of Sonic they didn't have any other identifiable icons to convince people to buy their systems. This is why exclusive's for consoles are such high selling points. Sony and Microsoft both know they'll never be able to push Mario or Link out of the gaming world (and I hope they don't want to) and that's why we have characters like Solid Snake and Master Chief. As good as those two are they'll never gain the same level of standing as Nintendo's top two because they weren't there at the very beginning.

Now it's easy to say that Nintendo is losing the fight because they're not going after core gamers. Many have criticized Nintendo because they don't focus on online play like Microsoft does or they don't actively upgrade their graphics to the latest and greatest like Sony does but did anyone stop to ask themselves why? Why has Nintendo chosen to innovate a new way to play? I think the answer is because that's what they've always done. Just look at their controllers, with the exception of possibly the NES and SNES their controllers are all drastically different from one generation to the next. Playstation hasn't done that and neither has Microsoft.

The point is Nintendo has continued to do what they've always done. They took a medium in its infancy and pioneered it. Now, with that medium in its adolescence, Nintendo is again trying to mold it into something more accessible to the masses much the same way parents mold teenagers into well-adjusted adults. Furthermore, the masses are where the money is. Ask yourself, if I could choose a product to make a fortune off of would I want that product to be appealing to males and females from age 4 to 65 or would I want just males age 14 to 30?

So while Nintendo might not be the coolest console on the planet, it's still vibrantly successful and maintains high top of mind because of its history and accessibility. That's why most gamers will feel a familiar sense of loyalty to Nintendo and that's why they'll continue to remain a powerful player in the video game industry.


Author's Update - I just got done reading a REALLY good article that addresses this whole idea WAY better than I did. It's pretty lengthy but was a well done piece albeit very hard-hitting. Kudos to Sean Malstrom.

Wanted - People interested in gaming for achievements

So over the years I've collected a couple of random people on my "friends" list on XBL. I met most of them playing recently released games and then we just kinda agreed to add each other or whatever. Now their names pop-up every once in a while and I think, "hey I vaguely remember playing with that person." Couldn't tell you anything else about them. It's kinda sad.

So what's the point?

Well, I would really like to add some new friends on my XBL account so we can go through and game together and get achievements and have fun but it's just not the same doing stuff like that with random people. So I've decided to introduce myself and hopefully some of you readers will introduce yourselves and we can become friends and game it up.

So here goes. In your replies try to use my format.

Name - Safad0(Paul)
Age - 27
XBL name - Safad0
PSN name - SafadaO
Wii - Can't remember (can anyone?), NEVER play online
Interests - FPS, RTS, RPG, Sports
Availability - Most evenings 7pm - midnight EST, Saturday by appointment, Sunday afternoons and evenings by appointment.
Wants - Quality gaming, achievement hunting.

If anyone is interested, or thinks we might be a gaming match please respond or email me and let's make friends and get it going.

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