Thursday, April 10, 2008

Multiple Personalities

In general, I am your average, mild-mannered graduate student.  I'm pretty low-key, good at keeping my emotions in check, and my daily life can be characterized as a drama-free zone; however, when I put on any kind of team uniform or athletic gear and being my preparation for an athletic competition or training session, I become a totally different person.  I'm intense, aggressive, and fiery, and while I have a lot of respect for my opponents, being friendly is the last thing on my mind.

For me, the context of athletic competition definitely results in elevated levels of aggression.  The Gentile (2007) article brings up the idea of cognitive cues sparking certain emotions based on the associations the brain makes with these cues.  Just as my athletic preparation gets my blood going, for a gamer, picking up the controller, flipping on the console, and beginning to play can have a similar effect.

Even though this idea is used to support the notion that video games lead to violent behavior, I would argue that these cues compartmentalize the increase aggression within a specific context and, in doing so, prevent this violent or aggression behavior, in most cases, from being transferred to the real world.

Jen mentioned last class that it's never just one thing that is the cause of either good or bad behavior.  Many factors need to be taken into account.  There isn't any one thing in my pre-game ritual that creates a sudden spike in my adrenaline level--it's a combination of factors, which, together, cue my brain to get fired up.  Similarly, a person getting ready to play a video game probably doesn't experience any kind of emotional rise until a combination of cues has helped him or her "become" the in-game character.  

So, while I do agree that certain cues, both inside and outside of video games, can lead to elevated levels of aggression, I also feel that, in most, cases, any increase in levels of aggression stay safely within the word in which those cues exist.

**Now, to completely contradict my argument, here is a Nike commercial that Caleb and I were discussing in class last Tuesday during the break.  This is actually a single cue that gets me fired up every time I see it (although I should also note that it hasn't caused me to violently attack least not yet.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The #1 reason why I love the 80s...

It's not the hair

it's not the clothing

and it's not the Coreys (Feldman was way cooler than Haim!)

It has to be the movies!!

This one has it all (see trailer below)--a flying Delorean, creatures from another planet, a wise old man, and a kid trying to follow his dreams by getting out of "this dead-end town" while simultaneously trying to get the girl who is also being courted by the meat-head with the nice car.

Most importantly, this particular movie answers a very important question--can video games prepare us for things that we do in real life?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bioshock and Ghost Recon Trailers

Here are the trailers for the games that I mentioned in the previous post.


Ghost Recon 2:

Success...and boredom

After the most recent session of The Movies, I'm happy to say that I was able to climb from 10th place (aka last place) to the third spot. In addition, I received more than half of the rewards at the last ceremony, including the best actor prize (not bad for someone who hates dealing with the talent). As exciting as it was to pull myself out of debt and rise up through the ranks, I must admit that I'm getting a bit bored with the game. This is pretty surprising, considering that I'm generally focused until the objective is met, but at this point, I'm not too concerned with getting to that top position.

I think part of the reason has to do with the fact that I've been exposed to so many other games throughout the course of this class, which seem a lot more interesting than the one I'm currently planning. Similar to Anne, I think this has a lot to do with some of the things that I uncovered throughout the course of my interviewing/investigating for the gamer paper.

Although I live in graduate housing, where you wouldn't normally expect to find the game systems that were so prevalent in the undergrad dorms, there are quite a few gamers who remembered to pack their Xboxes and Playstations before making the move to Cambridge. While my objective was to study them as they got their game on, I also learned a lot more about my own gaming preferences.

First of all, I am definitely a narrative person. I like a game that tells a good story, and the story within The Movies just isn't cutting it. I observed one of my floor-mates playing Bioshock a few weeks ago, and the story actually drew me in even though I wasn't even the one playing. I also found that I prefer games where I actually get to do is definitely not my bag. With Guitar Hero, for instance (I actually rocked out on Medium last week!!) I am in the band playing a song, with Ghost Recon 2, even though I do have to manage a small team, I'm still very much directly involved with defeating the rebel forces. It's very likely that if I reached a point in the game where I was promoted to major, I'd probably stop playing.

Since I'm a bit OCD about finishing what I've started, I will continue to play The Movies until I've written a happy ending by securing that top spot; however, come graduation, I'll probably be in line behind Anne and her SimCity game with something that's a little more my style.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Back in the Black!!

After slipping as far as 1.4 million dollars in debt, I am now happy to say that my studio is actually making money once again. The studio currently has about $20,000, and even though I am still in last place, I have high hopes for the future.

In case you ever find yourself playing the movies and your studio runs into trouble and goes into a severe are the secrets behind my miraculous recovery:

1. Downsizing-- I ended up having to sell half of my actors (yes, people have a market value in the movies) so I was left with only four. This didn't allow me to make as many movies, but I saved a lot of money by not having to pay a large number of actors' salaries. This is yet another creepy way in which The Movies mimics real life.

2. Consulting --about two weeks ago, one of my floor-mates asked to play The Movies and got hooked. He is a Movies natural, so I had a conference with him, and he taught me his patented system for success (he currently has the top ranked studio). Basically, he has his writers constantly producing scripts. He sells some of them and produces the others. This is a genius idea since the writers never get stressed out or complain about having too much work to do (insert writers' strike joke here). He also stressed the importance of caring for the talent, and explained how he has established a pattern of providing makeovers, new trailers, fancy dinners, entourages, and pay increases to the actors. It was a very balanced plan, that will make it a lot easier to manage the talent once I really get the hang of it.

3. Getting my hands dirty -- I also found that I can quickly make scripts, which I can sell, using the movie making tool. It's pretty easy to make scripts that will receive the maximum asking price just by throwing as many scenes as possible in them. Normally, a script with 20 different scenes would take forever to shoot, but since I'm selling it, it doesn't really matter.

So, this was the main plan that brought my studio back to a somewhat respectable position. Hopefully I'll be able to start moving up the charts.

I would have to say that collaborating with my fellow Cronk was the main reason why I'm making money once again. Interestingly enough, one of the main ideas that I took out of this week's readings was the idea of virtual environments as places that support collaborative learning. This week's reading for my Online Learning class also dealt with how to foster and facilitate collaborative learning in an online environment. Although I would initially think that a face to face environment would be the best way of supporting collaboration, the Online Learning readings seemed to suggest that online discussions tend to allow more people to get involved. Moving a step further, it seems like virtual environments, such as Quest Atlantis or River City, might be even more supportive of collaborative learning, since students might be less afraid to make mistakes in a virtual world. This absence of any major consequences (although I'm sure some exist) might make students more willing to share their ideas and more receptive to the ideas of others.

Congrats to Lisa

Congratulations to Lisa who was the winner of the 1st Brundageblog contest. She got all of the references except 1...PHENOMENAL!!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Interesting Machinima and the 1st Brundageblog contest

I'd like to dedicate this week's machinima selection to Lisa...may she take joy in seeing WOW in a totally different light.

Contest: List the movies that are referenced in the clip.