Posts Tagged ‘video games


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.



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.


UPDATE: Supreme Court Seems to Favor Games Industry

Order of the highest, most awesome court. Justice Scalia FTW!

It looks like the Supreme Court is a bunch of gamers at heart. At the end of Tuesday’s hearing for Schwarzenneger vs. EMA, which concerns First Amendment protection for video games, the judges picked away at Attorney General Zackery Morazzini’s ill-constructed arguments.

Claiming that some games are examples of “deviant violence,” Morazzini struggled to define what exactly the term meant. He contended that any depiction of a human being mamed, tortured, or sexually assaulted in a video game would apply.

Below is the transcript for part of the hearing. Kudos to Rock, Paper, Shotgun for getting this out on the web.


Justice Scalia: What’s a deviant violent video games? As opposed to what? A normal violent video game?
Morazzini: Yes, your honor. Deviant would be departing from established norms.
Justice Scalia: There are established norms of violence? … Some of the Grimm’s fairy tales are quite grim, to tell you the truth.
Morazzini: Agreed, your honor. But the level of violence ….
Justice Scalia: Are they okay? Are you going to ban them too?
Morazzini: Not at all, your honor.

Justice Ginsburg: What’s the difference? I mean, if you are supposing a category of violent materials dangerous to children, then how do you cut it off at video games? What about films? What about comic books? Grimm’s fairy tales? Why are video games special? Or does your principle extend to all deviant, violent material in whatever form?
Morazzini: No, your honor. That’s why I believe California incorporated the three prongs of the Miller standard (for identifying porn in legal cases). So it’s not just deviant violence. It’s not just patently offensive violence. It’s violence that meets all three of the terms set forth in … The California legislature was presented with substantial evidence that demonstrates that the interactive nature of violent — of violent video games where the minor or the young adult is the aggressor, is the — is the individual acting out this — this obscene level of violence.

Justice Kagan: Well, do you actually have studies that show that video games are more harmful to minors than movies are? Continue reading ‘UPDATE: Supreme Court Seems to Favor Games Industry’


The Game Industry Visits the Supreme Court

Just a couple of gamers reppin' the constitution

Today is important for a number of reasons. While everyone is out exercising their right to vote, the highest court in the land is busy reviewing if video games should be protected as free speech.

During the hearings, the judges will determine if the First Amendment should be stripped from certain video games that are believed to negatively influence minors.

One of the main arguments is the unfair representation of video games when other mediums (books, film, music, etc.) are equally protected under the First Amendment. It is believed by supporters of the state ruling that video games encourage a more intimate interaction that may be hazardous to the mental health of adolescent players.

However, the supporters lack strong evidence that is necessary to win the hearing. Currently, the web is buzzing with facts that disproves the long constructed myth that playing violent video games leads to violent behavior.

Here is a excerpt from an editorial by the Wall Street Journal

“Such censorship is not only dangerous, it’s completely unnecessary. More than 80 scholars and researchers from schools such as George Mason University and Harvard Medical School have written an extensive friend-of-the-court brief in opposition to the law, noting that California failed to produce any real evidence showing that video games cause psychological harm to minors. And even if there was harm, the law’s supporters have not shown that the statute could alleviate it.

The game development community has worked hard on creating a rating system that clearly discloses games’ content. Even our critics, such as the Federal Trade Commission, have praised our efforts. The FTC’s own survey shows that 87 percent of parents are satisfied with the rating system.”

It is my hope that the Supreme Court arrives at an effective ruling in support of the gaming industry. As an art form, video games are expanding into new and intelligent fields. Suppressing it will only initiate a slow demise for such an impressive tool of creation.


Revisiting the Classics with Emily Stransky

She must have been a plumber in her past life

The weather forecast for Wednesday was less than promising. After trudging through lakes of rain water to get to class, I was almost sure we would not be able to follow through with our plans to play Super Mario Bros. for the NES.

My misfortune suddenly dissipated when I noticed the rain had stopped and a two-hour window with a semi-open skyline was ripe for the taking. That’s when Emily and I decided it was all systems go for setting up camp on Washington Quad.

After wading through an entire parking lot with no available spots, we settled for a nice, long walk carrying a flat screen television and possibly the most influential gaming console ever produced, the Nintendo NES.

We found an outlet and began to play.

“I’m sorry I dominate at this game,” she says while crushing each level and finding all the hidden points. The side scrolling platformer, released in 1985 was a massive success for the Nintendo Corporation and launched Mario as the highest grossing video game character of all time.

Finally, Emily lost all of her lives and turned the reigns over to me. Sadly enough, my beloved childhood memories did nothing to help my skill at the game. Sure, when I was younger I cruised through the game like a pro. I’m blaming it on all the games I’ve had to play since then. Needless to say, my inner kid was very upset with my performance.

During our session, we encountered many students who shared the same nostalgic awe that we did. Considering we are all striving so hard to become adults, it was nice to see so many students willing to reflect on the golden days.

A huge thanks to Emily for all that she did. Not many people can say they reached the turtle ninjas playing on Washington quad.


Super Smashing with Jeffrey Lue

Jeff (far right) and myself (center) playing with some new friends. Photo credit: Jimi Gipple

There are few games that define the ultimate dorm room gaming experience. Super Smash Bros. is one of them.

Jeff is a senior business major who began playing Smash his freshman year while living in Ellicott hall as part of the Gemstone program. While sitting on the sundial the other night, he recalled the many hours wasted playing inside the dorms.

To make sure we weren’t “wasting” our time, we decided to haul a hefty TV onto the middle of the mall and let our inner gamers stir up some on-campus ruckus-rousing.

What started off as Jeff whooping my Yoshi tail with Samus turned into a memorable outdoor gaming event at the heart of UM.

We only stayed for an hour, but we played with a pair of salsa dancers, a member of the FreeThought club, and a runner preparing for his Marine marathon (not forgetting to bring two extra controllers was a miracle. Instead, my bucket head forgot to eat dinner).

After a consistent string of victories for Jeff, he was finally dethroned by the marathon runner, a resident of Garret Hall, who then decided it was good time to continue his nightly jog. Good thinking on his part, Jeff is about as nice at losing smash as Peach is at competitive tea-partying.

Throughout the session, we were greeted by dozens of spectators who took a few minutes to watch me lose every game. Although humiliating, everyone was excited seeing a bunch of strangers whoop up on Yoshi. Then again, who wouldn’t?

For those interested, we’ll be doing this again. If you have a game you’d love to play, shoot me an e-mail at


From One Gamer to Another

I would like to dedicate this first post to my family, friends, and professors who put up with my many obsessions– one of them, obviously, being video games.

Another is cheese, but that’s not what this blog is about.

Gaming is undergoing a sort of revolution. Everyone, in some way, is playing them. Whether it be on a console, PC, mobile phone, or Internet, the gaming community is more diverse now than ever before.

I love games, but I can’t keep up with them. Which is probably why I’ve started this blog—to see for myself what games you guys play.

I look forward to seeing what happens…

Play on