17
Dec
10

The Work is Over. Let the Games Begin.

The other day, I made a goal to celebrate the end of each final/final assignment with a new post. This, of course, did not happen the way I planned.

Instead, I am writing a celebratory post to honor the completion of my long and harrowing semester. And what better way to do this then to talk about the game I am about to play to kick start the holiday season.

Sadly, I don’t have much time during the semester to play games. I love ’em to death, but it’s hard finding time to play while working and going to school. So, to start off my holiday gaming binge, I’m playing EA’s 2008 sleeper hit “Dead Space.”

Dead Space is a survival horror game that drops you into an abandoned space mining vessel. This giant ship, now occupied with carnivorous zombie creatures, has been offline for months in a deep sector of space and it’s your job to solve the mystery behind what happened to the crew.

After the game’s release, Dead Space received very positive reviews from various sites–all of which arrived at the general consensus that thanks to the game, the survival horror genre was now resurrected.

I will admit, this was a game I passed up for two years. It always caught my interest, but I never found the time to play. After reviewing some shitty game for the website I write for, I returned it for $20 and used that money to pick up Dead Space. After all was said and done, I thought it was a great transaction.

With loads of time to play, I’m pretty sure I’ll have the game beat in a week. My next achievement is to finish playing Halo: Reach, Red Dead Redemption, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, and Amnesia: Dark Descent.  All these games, with the exception of Dark Descent, have been sitting idle waiting to be finished.

I have to be careful though. So far in my college career, I’ve kept a safe distance between my social life, school and gaming. All the girls I’ve dated understood that gaming is very important, but none of them ever played. Now that I’m in the single world again, I have to make sure that my suppressed gaming urges don’t take over my life this holiday season. Besides, I have a lot of cool things I want to do. However, after watching this video of a loner begging some girl to be his friend in Team Fortress 2, I’m certain I won’t let gaming get in the way of my more important social endeavours.

Some students celebrate the end of the semester with big parties and expensive drink tabs. Forget that. I’ve got a large pizza and plenty of time to sit on the couch. For the next few hours, I’ll be trapped in a dark space mining ship fighting alien zombies. Goodbye, Fall semester 2010.

 

14
Dec
10

Parasitic Assignment 1/4 Mad Science

So I’ve been stuck in a writing rut for the past couple days.  It all started with a fresh supply and a pick-me-up attitude. Then, I awoke to a blank word screen–the same one that was blank much earlier in the day.

Now I’m here checking out the blog I thought to hard while working on. It has everything it needed, but of course I wanted it to be that much more. I at least need to add some more content. My plan is to reward myself by putting up a new post every time I complete a final assignment, of which I have four. And all of them, oddly enough, have something to do with video games.

Holy fucking shit, I’m such a dweeb. Whatever, these posts should throw me back on course to success.

Posting at the end of every final should work– ’cause if it doesn’t I’m blown. No biggie, I’ll have plenty of leisure time at work tomorrow while proctoring exams. The keyboard I drool over is really nice, only problem is that the computer gives off an even larger blank screen to stare over.

I’m not too worried about finals. I do have till the 17th to put the fire out on the semester. Then ill be wrapped up in my winter cacoon. And when I come out, life should be a little sweeter. I think.

Until then, I’ll be trudging along trying to lay the finishing move on these parasitic assignments. I’ll just save the games for later.

09
Dec
10

My 2010 Holiday Gaming Guide

This year, the holiday season has been shadowed by evil professors and looming projects. Already its December 9th and I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.

Of course, the top item on my list is money. Greedy, dirty money. I’m a student, its WHAT I NEED!! However, since my parents are veteran gift givers and spit on such requests, I have taken the liberty of putting together the top four gaming gifts for the 2010 holiday season.

#4- A sexy gaming monitor

So I dumped off my old–and quite capable–computer monitor to my needy roommate. It was put to great use over the past two years, but I figured it was time for change. Thinking I was going to buy a new one right away, I eventually realized that this semester was not the right time to shell out the big bucks on a huge monitor. Thank god for Christmas. This season, I want a 24″ gaming monitor

# 3- NBA 2k11

I love sports, I really do. But I can never find the time or dedication to follow a specific sport in great detail. Well, its time that I grow up and do manly things–like watch basketball. I am no good at the sport, but after playing NBA Street and NBA 2k10, I’ve realized that this is a sport that can satisfy my interests in both the real and virtual world. NBA 2k11 is the best made basketball game to date, and It would be a shame if I didn’t own it.

#2- Vintage video game shit

I need more wardrobe options. As it stands, my clothes are comprised of earthly tones and grungy jeans. Not cool, and very unprofessional. After bouncing around online, I found tons of cool posters, shirts, and accessories (follow down to middle of article) for old school video games. The best thing about them is their subtlety. Fellow gamers will appreciate the designs, but it’ll fly under the radar with most people. I imagine its the closest thing I can do to becoming a video game ninja.

#1- OnLive Gaming System

And at the top of my list this holiday season is the OnLive Gaming system. This new console type, which streams all of its games online, is only $99 and gives you access to dozens of cool games. So far, their game library includes hits ranging from Borderlands, the Prince of Persia series, and Batman: Arkham Asylum. I have always admired these games, but don’t have the freaking money to buy them. OnLive also offers a standard montly subscription to play through their games library. Uh, $9.99 a month to play some of the greatest games of years past? I’ll happily accept the challenge.

07
Dec
10

The Non-Violent Gamer

Earlier today, I was asked to give a presentation on the artistic merit of video games. I really had no idea where to begin.

I started off just fine, talking about my upbringing as a gamer and how I was fascinated, even at an early age, with being inside of a story. I recalled sitting in front of the television playing Crash Bandicoot and intensely wondering what the evil Dr. Neo Cortex will do next. The class was kind enough not to laugh.

Then, in the middle of my presentation, I began to discuss the non-violent nature of video games. This certainly threw them for a loop.

I started off talking about how video games were born and cultivated from animated violence, but have now reached a point where creation, not destruction, can be the focal point of a game.

The first video I showed was of ThatGameCompany’s “Flower.” Immediately, the class was glued to the screen.

In Flower, there is no obvious conflict. You simply control the wind and collect/deposit as many flowers as possible across the many different landscapes.

The next video I presented was of an upcoming game called “From Dust” by Ubisoft.

From Dust allows the player to control nature and its elements. The best part about this game is that the environments are free-flowing and can be physically altered with the touch of a button.

The end of my presentation triggered a quick discussion on how video games can be used to ‘create’ rather than destroy. Unfortunately, the game industry feels that the market is thirsty for blood, guns, and mayhem, so they continually dish out big-budget games that satisfy this supposed craving. While some gamers take delight in such games, there are others, including myself, who are ready for a change of scenery– a non-violent world for non-violent gamers.

 

 

02
Dec
10

Jane McGonigal: “Gaming Can Make a Better World”

There is an important bridge being built between real and virtual worlds. Through virtual simulation, we are able to occupy a space where rules and parameters are defined by the creativity of its developers.

This sort of application can have a drastic impact on the way we observe and solve real-world problems. Jane McGonigal,  a game designer and games researcher, specializing in pervasive gaming and alternate reality games, delivers this TED talk in which she discusses the extreme potential of gaming as a means to better the world.

McGonigal, along with many others, are on the future track to utilize games as productive texts that can shape and improve our surrounding societies. This sort of work, although in its infancy stage, can eventually provide us with opportunities to play games and help people.

Imagine what will happen if we can harness the power of every gamer to make the world a better place.

23
Nov
10

Holiday Cheer with the GSO and Child’s Play Charity

Gamers have much to be thankful for this holiday season. Not only have we witnessed the next step in motion control technology, but we’ve also seen a handful of games and hardware  that, well, are pretty damn cool.

Lets do a quick recap:

Best game on store shelves: NBA 2K11

Biggest blockbuster game: Call of Duty: Black Ops

Most affordable stocking stuffer: OnLive Gaming system

Best new hardware: Microsoft Kinect for the Xbox 360

Before I let my thirst for holiday gaming take over this post, I’ll shift gears a bit to talk about two major events that have my jingle bells bouncing off the ceiling: University of Maryland’s Gamer Symphony Orchestra performance on December 11, and the 2010 Child’s Play Charity.

UMD’s Gamer Symphony Orchestra is the first collegiate orchestral ensemble dedicated to playing video game music. The student-run organization, founded in 2003, will be hosting its fifth annual show on December 11th in Dekelbouom Hall of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. This year, 12o musicians and 40 singers will take the stage to perform songs from Mega Man, Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy VI and more.

And here’s the kicker–it’s totally free.

Check out the GSO’s bone-chilling performance of Halo during last year’s Spring performance

Now on to some awesome charitable doings. The Child’s Play Charity, also founded in 2003, is a foundation where gamers raise money to help over 70 children’s hospitals across the world with new and old gaming systems. Participants can either donate money directly to the site, or take part in a gaming marathon that is streamed online to raise money. So far, the charity has donated more than $7 million.

Here’s a video to one of the many gaming marathons hosted across the country.

This year, Child’s Play has already received close to $450,000 in donations and is hoping to achieve $1.2 million. This holiday season, make a difference to many children’s lives by giving them the gift of gaming.

09
Nov
10

University Alumni David Bagget

When I first started playing video games, Crash Bandicoot was the game that made me fool my parents into thinking I went to bed on time every night.  Once the lights were off and I could hear my father start to snore, I turned on the TV and surrounded myself in a chaotic glow of Crash and his arch nemesis, Doctor Neo Cortex.

Many years later, I have dozens of game franchises under my belt, but Crash Bandicoot always brings me back home to my glory days.

I recently discovered that David Bagget, the co-creator of the Crash Bandicoot series, is a University of Maryland Alumni- I seriously lost my shit. The man who co-inspired the game that made me so passionate about the medium is also a Terp. To say I’m a fan of this man’s work is an extreme understatement.

The One and Only Crash Bandicoot

Bagget graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S./B.A. in Computer Science and Linguistics from the University of Maryland in 1992. After his stay at Maryland, he moved on to join MIT at their Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Shortly thereafter, Bagget joined forces with Naughty Dog, the developing studio who gave us Crash Bandicoot in 1996.

After discovering such awesome news, I’m making sure to reach out and thank him for providing the game that defined my childhood. Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, I’ll meet with Mr. Bagget and learn the whole story about his work in the games industry.

Apuminiga!