The 'Dance Central' Work Out

A remix of "Your Rain" was used in K...

GTFO DDR!!!! Image via Wikipedia

I knew about the “Portal 2″ announcement and the newest Star Wars: The Old Republic trailer before E3, so I wasn’t expecting anything to come out of the convention that would shatter my hum-drum gaming existence.

But then I saw “Dance Central“.

I think it was love at first sight.

I tried to resist. Dance Central? Please, Fruzs, have some gaming class.  I can’t buy an Xbox and Kinect just for “Dance Central”. I am part of the “Glorious PC Gaming Master Race” – not some ninny scum “Dirty Console Gaming Peasant”. But then I remembered how much I love dancing.  And then I noticed this game actually teaches you different dance moves – moves I’ve never attempted before.

[youtubevid id="JS2LvrdIbPA"]

This isn’t DDR, where I jump around pressing buttons to the beat with my feet, and nothing happens with my upper body (DDR is no  “glorified tap dancing“).  And I do like this idea of making “working out” a game. Sure, marathon running or sprinting is a great skill to have if I needed to worry about the impeding Apocalypse, but I’ll take my dancing in my home with weights over running on pavement every 6am any day.

[youtubevid id="EOIVaPryg8w"]

I never got into the Wii Fit, with its balance board, or yoga  in general, because I much prefer high impact workouts, like jump roping, or dancing in my apartment with weights. Why not just play this game with some light 2 – 3 pound weights around your wrists?   (psst, “gamer girls”, if you post videos of yourself playing this game with weights come November, you must link here, or I will get very mad.)

I would to take this moment to challenge you,  Kristen from GameMeetsGirl, to a Dance  Off.


Steam Sale: 7 Games for your Girlfriend

Two things I hear from my gaming male friends often are “I can’t find a girl that games!” and “How can I get my girlfriend to play video games?”. Steam is currently having a huge blow-out sale on hundreds of video games for the Mac/PC until July 4th, and with prices cheaper than a trip to the movies, there is no better time to get your lady a video game.

I’ve compiled a list of games the ladies would enjoy despite being unfamiliar with the whole video game genre. These are also the best of the cheapest, because when a game is less than $10, how can your girlfriend get turned off by the price?

In order of ascending difficulty:

1. Osmos, for $4.99

This game is the exact opposite of those “damn noisy shooters” you like to play and is perfect for the lady who has limited to no experience with video games. As the above video demonstrates, this game is as close to a yoga session for your brain as it gets. You have to be patient, flying through space in your quest to eat other orbs. The saying “Good things come to those who wait” is applicable in describing Osmos game play. You have to stay calm and move slowly, or risk colliding into a bigger orb that will eat you. Despite this games simplicity, the levels do get a bit harder as you progress through the game; there is some sort of challenge (I moved too fast and flew into the sun a couple of times).

You can play Osmos for as short increments of time as 5 minutes (a level), and feel satisfied.

-

2. Blueberry Garden for $4.99:

If you’re looking to get out of seeing another bizarre European indie film, get your gal this game instead. Designed by a Swede, this beautiful and quirky game reminds me more of an interactive art piece than a video game. Don’t be fooled: there is a goal in this game, not made evident by the above trailer.  If Ebert played this game he would give up his silly notion that video games are not an art form. Bobbie Johnson, from the UK Guardian, described this game as ” a dainty piece of indie magic”: “I almost wanted to put it in a ribbon-wrapped box with a kitten and cry a little”.

Blueberry Garden is more fast paced than Osmos and Machinarium.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Case For Video Games As Art Continues

Rapture is an underwater city with art deco de...

Underwater city with art deco designs, in Bioshock. Image via Wikipedia

Tom Bissell, in a Salon interview promoting his new book “Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter“, continues to make the case for video games as art. The whole interview is worth reading, but here are some choice tidbits:

Around 2006, 2007, a handful of games started coming out that, as someone who played games but didn’t think of them as like a viable artistic medium, made me think, “Wow things have gotten extremely compelling formally.” I mostly associated video game storytelling with unforgivable clumsiness, irredeemable incompetence, and suddenly I was finding the aesthetic and formal concerns I’d always associated with fiction: storytelling, form, the medium, character. That kind of shocked me.

Games that changed the paradigm, at least for me, were “Portal,” “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,” and “BioShock.” All took their storytelling seriously in different ways, and brought to the table a relatively unusual level of sophistication when it came to video-game storytelling. They simply didn’t seem unnecessarily dumb in the way a lot of video-game storytelling games feel dumb.

Roger Ebert has famously argued (and recently restated in a blog post) that video games should not be considered art. What do you say to that?

I really admire Roger Ebert a lot, but on this issue he’s just wrong. I think he even kind of knows he’s wrong, and he’s kind of Custer in a battle that he knows he’s outnumbered on, but he’s actually asking the wrong question. The question is not, “Are video games art?” The question is, “Can artists express themselves through the video-game medium?” …

He’s kind of right in the sense that this isn’t going to stand up against impressionist painting, but it’s not supposed to. …

…It’d be like giving sex advice after having watched “Debbie Does Dallas,” but never having fucked anyone.

via Salon “Extra Lives”: Are Video Games the Next Art Form?

Interestingly, perhaps because neither of two are from an arts background, the point of “interactive art” was never mentioned in the interview. Perhaps Roger Ebert is unaware of the “interactive art” movement, and his ignorance of this type of artistic impression (despite beginning in the 20′s, catching steam in the 60′s, and exploding in the late 90′s)  is what keeps Ebert from understanding video games as art (that, and the fact that he doesn’t play any video games).

Interactive art is defined as a form of art that requires the viewers to participate in some way. Without the viewers participation or input,  the art piece would not function, and therefore not be. The art would be reduced to a monitor, sensors, plastic, metal, wood, what have you –  plain ol’ inanimate objects with no artistic merit.  Now consider video games. Without the video game player, directing the characters, unlocking story arcs, making choices, providing input, the video game would cease to be a work of art, and just be code, or plastic and metal – plain ol’ inanimate objects.

We already consider films as art, so why when video games combine the visual medium of film with  interactivity, are they not considered art? Sure, not every game is a work of art, just like how not every movie (Transformers?)  is a work of art. The art community already considers art that isn’t displayed in galleries or museums  ( see the “street art” movement) as “high art”, so why can’t we make the obvious leap to video games?


Nintendo ad makes the feminist in me happy

The below ad aired some time in early May, but I am one of those weird people that only watches TV on the internet (yay, Hulu?) so the first time I saw this  ad was yesterday. Did I miss the parade?   I will admit I  spend a lot of time on here talking about what displeases me regarding gender in the video game industry, but this ad gets it whatever that “it” is.

[youtubevid id="BV9WTzK1uqE"]

The 30 second ad opens up with two women in their late 20′s, early 30′s, sitting on a park bench. One woman looks professional in every sense of the word- from her attire, to her make-up, to her calm but gracious behavior – all while being sexy.  The other character in this ad looks  like she engages in a more relaxed lifestyle- she is not in business attire, wearing a patterned shirt, eating chips or cookies and  presumably slurping a soft drink. This second character gets caught up in the moment and does things spontaneously, like talk to strangers. Right off the bat we know this game is for every type of woman (well, “white” at least).

This ad puts a new spin on what many parents think of as just a child’s toy. Both of these women are beautiful and fit, proving that you don’t have to be an overweight loser nerd in their parents basement to like video games.  These video game playing gals are also outside, loving life! Perhaps employed and on a lunch break! They don’t look depressed.

The  professional woman is playing a puzzle game on the Nintendo DS.  Why play Sudoku, or do a crossword puzzles, when you can do it on a portable high-tech consumer gadget? We don’t need to chop down any trees for these types of puzzles… or be at home linked into a social network like our older aunts. The  free bird character (played by Jama Williamson, the actress who plays Aziz Ansari’s ex wife in Parks & Recreation) jumps in at the end of the commercial and helps solve the puzzle. The professional woman has enough class to not be phased and the two women move closer to each other on the bench so they can both play,  indicating that these two can be friends in real life after all! How idyllic – no back seat gamer there. Nintendo says “See, technology can bring people together!”

Way to go, Nintendo! Look at you, understanding the older untapped female market with all your research and consumer reports! Your good efforts almost make me want to go out and buy another DS game …. from the used bin.


Cop shoots dog in the head on camera

As you might have heard, True/Slant has been acquired by Forbes and should be integrated with the company by July. I have about 10 days to post whatever the hell I want, so I will try to post at least once a day and, finish all the posts I started but never completed. First up on the agenda:

The below video is making the rounds on the internet (somewhat graphic, be warned):

[youtubevid id="tNyhyrNDOJ4"]

Video from part of the incident later was posted on YouTube, but it shows fewer than 10 minutes of the 68 minutes that Howell and Officer Jason Powell were on the scene.

LaGrange dog owner vows to fight for law changes via Hannibal.net

The video is approximately 7 minutes long, so here is a summary. Two cops show up, and try to put a nuzzle on a dog hesitantly. The dog is afraid of the cops and their long stick, so runs around to the best of its ability (it is chained up) in an effort to avoid the strange cops. When the cops leave the dog alone for a while, the dog lays down.  The dog does not bark, or make threatening motions. The only time the dog tries to bite is when the pole is attached to its neck and it tries to bite the pole.

Near the end of the video, the cops succeed in getting the noose on, and instead of using their electro-shock weapons, decide to shoot the dog. Whether or not the dog should have been put down, for growling at passerby or chasing away people  (a guard dog doing that? unheard of!), these two police officers are royal idiots.

First and foremost, you never ever approach an animal while being nervous or hesitant. Animals can read your body language and will react aggressively. If you are frightened, they think there is something to be frightened of. I am willing to bet that if any of these officers walked up to the dog is a firm, steady and nonchalant manner, they could have easily put the noose on the dogs head.

Second, why were these cops so frightened of a dog already restrained, that they had to shoot it twice? In the head? This dog showed no signs of rabies. Dogs don’t just vocalize/growl when they want to kill you, they also do it when they are scared or excited. The dog obviously cannot bite any of the officers with the noose on its neck, so this excessive use of force just shows how utterly inept the officers are.

Third, why didn’t these police officers wait for animal control to arrive? Last I checked, police should only use their weapons when their lives are in danger. I didn’t see an officer down with an angry dog tearing at his  neck, or an officer bitten.

Fourth, don’t waste taxpayer money on “dog training” :

McNelly said his department is working with the Humane Society of Missouri on additional training in dealing with unruly dogs.

LaGrange dog owner vows to fight for law changes via Hannibal.net

A single class will do. If I can approach large  guard dogs that are loose, restrain them to check their tags, and hold them while I call their owners, then a large male with a gun and a taser should be able to do it too. Or do these officers need some confidence and common sense training?


How to talk to your video gaming significant other

Live In- Nerd Rage

I typed in "nerd rage" and this is what Zemanta found.... Image via Wikipedia

It is 2010, and techno-phobes are crying over our youth’s inability to communicate without a machine and somehow we’ve lost the subtle art of conversation.  Social media is more popular than ever, and even the video game industry (from Xbox Live to Steam) has gotten into the online community-building business.

The exact percentage of the US population that plays video games is unclear, but lies between 68%  (the Critical Gaming Project), and 87%  males/ 80%  females (2009 chart from gameindustry.com). The percentage of the population that plays video games online ( chance for addiction increases) hovers around 58% for males, and 42% for females.

According to some Australian researchers, 1 out of 10 gamers is addicted, but I have a hunch that percentage might be higher. My hunch is based off of Cracked.com’s most excellent piece “5 creepy Ways Video Games Are Trying to Get you Addicted“. For those about to scoff at the idea of being addicted to something that “isn’t even real”, David Wong counters with:

Your brain treats items and goods in the video game world as if they are real. Because they are.

If it takes time, effort and skill to obtain an item, that item has value, whether it’s made of diamonds, binary code or beef jerky.

After all, people pay thousands of dollars for diamonds, even though diamonds do nothing but look pretty. A video game suit of armor looks pretty and protects you from video game orcs. In both cases you’re paying for an idea.

If you or your significant other is a gamer, chances are, there is some form of neglect going on in your relationship.

Before I address the right ways to go about approaching  your significant other when you feel they’ve been playing video games for too long, I would first like to address the wrong ways. And while this “How-To” might seem obvious to some, it apparently isn’t when you consider  the magnitude of people using the wrong methods to deal with their video gaming significant others.

THE WRONG WAY TO GET YOUR GAMER’S ATTENTION

1) Destroying your significant others gaming property, from deleting characters to destroying consoles

The internet is littered with  videos of gaming equipment being destroyed by significant others. Despite many internet users proclaiming these videos as fake, the destruction of property in each video is too real (and also could be deemed illegal in some cases). There is a reason these videos are popular – these videos appeal to both the gamer who fears their significant other will do this to their machines, and to the significant other who sympathizes with the person doing the smashing.

Deleting Characters

The most recent video to make the rounds of the internet is “Girl deletes WoW Characters, Dude destroys Computer

[youtubevid id="dGBOGamm1x4"]

Read the rest of this entry »


The Internet wants a Half-Life Movie

If Gordon Freeman gets dialogue, Hugh Laurie is your man...but I also wouldn't be opposed to Robert Downey Jr as the crowbar-wielding physicist

Over the weekend, a post appeared on Josh Whedon’s “Official Facebook page” implying Whedon was talking with Valve over a Half Life movie.  The internet became excited (no one questioned the outlet for this breaking news ?), and predictably, the Official Facebook page was a dud. This isn’t the first time rumors of a Half- Life movie have hit the internet.

Back in 2006, GameSpot ran a post called “Tarantino to direct Half-Life movie?

While making preliminary plans for their annual sojourn into the deafening neon inferno that is E3, GameSpot editors spoke with a person who has many contacts within the Los Angeles film industry. The person in question said that the hot game-movie crossover project du jour was Half-Life, Valve Software’s groundbreaking shooter.

Furthering the hoax, 6 months later someone took it upon themselves to create a teaser-trailer for this fake Half- Life movie, viewable here. Three years later, The Purchase Brothers created some very impressive short films based off the Half-Life universe,  impressive enough to catch  Valve’s attention.

[youtubevid id="q1UPMEmCqZo"]

Various blogs have written about the creation of a Half-Life movie, and just recently Empire Online named Gordon Freeman the greatest video game character of all time, over Mario or Master Chief. Even GameSpot readers from a poll last year think Gordon Freeman is a better hero  than Mario (though the voting results could be due to Valve announcements).  By all accounts, a Half-Life inspired- movie makes sense and I am dying for some modern action movies where the people of Earth kick some serious alien ass  in an “Aliens” sort of way.

Psst…Hollywood, please don’t make another Prince of Persia movie, or any other movie where we continue to offend those in the Persian Gulf. Stick with invaders from outer space, ok? At least until the Middle East and Asia cool their war jets.


Sexy women in the video game industry make better role models

American television host Olivia Munn dressed a...

Olivia Munn hams it up for the nerds: Image via Wikipedia

Naming the most public female representatives of geek (or “nerd”, what ever word you prefer) culture is easy: Olivia Munn from G4TV’s “Attack of the Show“, Jessica Chobot from IGN, and Felicia Day from The Guild. All three ladies are excellent in pandering to their horny male fan base, and each of these ladies can attribute their success on their attractiveness (yes, they are smart too, but we’ll get to that later).  If you’ve got it, flaunt it right?

Olivia Munn had a few bit parts as an actress in various TV shows before she was signed on to “Attack of the Show” ,  and her “tasteful” appearance in Play Boy, combined with her dressing up as slave Leia, cemented her status as one of the hottest geeky girls. Munn has admitted video games are her weak point, but no one has called her a faker yet, and she hasn’t received any backlash for it (unlike former youtube sensation ultraneko).  Munn just tried out for The Daily Show, did an excellent job, and judging by her performance she is also bilingual, so that makes her a favorite in my book.

Jessica Chobot’s rise to fame is based exclusively on a picture of her licking a PSP. The picture made the rounds on the internet, and Jessica Chobot was hired by IGN to be their female host for their web-based “IGN Daily Fix“.  I want to dislike her, because licking a gaming console is so easy, but Jessica Chobot likes manga and anime, plays PC games with a headset, writes on the show she hosts, and a recent tweet reveals she likes Mark Twain, so all is forgiven, Jessica.

Read the rest of this entry »


CTA ban on 'mature' video game ads unconstitutional

CTA LaSalle 'L' Station

Image via Wikipedia

Back in 2008, the CTA banned GTA4 ads following a local Fox News report that predictably cast  video games as the scapegoat for the increase in violent school shootings. It took two years for the ban to be deemed unconstitutional.

Citing the First Amendment, the Entertainment Software Association, which represents software and video game publishers, sued the CTA in July 2009 challenging the agency’s prohibition of certain video game ads.

In her mid-May decision, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer said the CTA cannot enforce its gaming ordinance. The CTA also agreed not to appeal the ruling.

via ChicagoNOW, Judge: CTA can’t ban ads for games rated ‘mature

You’d think with the CTA’s budget deficit of more than $200 million, they wouldn’t complain about advertising that doesn’t feature blood or naked ladies.  Ars Technica makes a most excellent point (the point I planned on making) regarding this attempted ban and other forms of entertainment not meant for children:

Given that advertisements for R-rated movies frequently make their way onto the side of CTA vehicles and facilities, it seems that the somewhat controversial proposal that games make people more prone to violence is becoming accepted within the political sphere.

via Ars Technica, CTA bans violent game ads following GTA IV debacle

Parents shouldn’t take their children to R-rated movies, and they shouldn’t buy their children “mature” games.  A developer for Rockstar Games, Lazlow Jones (Lazlow is a Hungarian name that should be spelled Laszlo?) was recently asked to comment on the notion that violent video games cause violence in youth. Mr. Jones’ response?

Our games are not designed for young people. If you’re a parent and buy one of our games for your child you’re a terrible parent. We design games for adults because we’re adults.

via BBC’s Red Dead Redemption hoping for ‘emotional response’


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 74 other followers