Archive for the ‘Article’ Category

by: David Tadros

 

In the year and a half that we have been capturing video game footage, we have had experience primarily with two HD capture devices, the first device being the Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR and the second being the Blackmagic Design Intensity Extreme.  The key differences between the two devices are the ports, the capture resolutions, the lag, the pricing, and added necessities.  When examining the two side-by-side, each has it’s pro’s and con’s.

USB 2.0  Vs. Thunderbolt

Firstly we can examine both devices and notice one key feature that the Blackmagic Design Intensity Extreme has over the Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR, and that is the Thunderbolt port.  While the Hauppauge 1212 uses a USB 2.0 connection, the Intensity Extreme utilizes the new Thunderbolt technology, allowing the device to transfer at incredible speeds.  Not only does the transfer speed increase with this connection, but also the lag drops significantly.  In our testing we have seen about a five second lag from the capture source to the computer screen with the Hauppauge 1212, while the Intensity Extreme seems to have little to no lag at all.  This may not be a deal breaker to many, but the added ability to play straight from the computer screen may be enticing to some.

The use of Thunderbolt gives the Intensity Extreme a leg up over the Hauppauge 1212’s USB 2.0 port when streaming gameplay footage to popular websites such as Justin.TV as well.  While it is possible for both capture devices to stream gameplay footage, the Intensity Extreme is more seamless in its delivery as the computer recognizes it as a video input device.  This feature allows the user to simply select the Intensity Extreme from Justin.TV’s drop down menu.  The dropped lag also seems to aid in syncing audio.  Where it may be difficult for some to live stream using the Hauppauge 1212 due to it’s five-second capture delay, syncing audio with the Intensity Extreme proved to be much easier in our experiences.

The Intensity Extreme’s Thunderbolt port also features the ability to power the unit and daisy chain to multiple Thunderbolt devices.  In our experiences we’ve used the Intensity Extreme with an external Thunderbolt hard drive using the same Thunderbolt port on a Macbook Pro with seamless operation.  The two downsides to the Intensity Extreme’s Thunderbolt is the lack of a second Thunderbolt port on the unit as well as the lack of an included Thunderbolt cable.  Using the Intensity Extreme will force the user to keep the device at the end of the Thunderbolt chain, limiting the ability to use Thunderbolt monitors that have only on input.  The lack of a Thunderbolt cable also sets the user back $50 on top of the Intensity Extreme’s $284 price tag.

In’s and Out’s

Examining both the Hauppauge 1212 and the Intensity Extreme’s in’s and out’s you will notice that both devices are capable of capturing devices using composite and component cables.  The key difference between these devices is the Intensity Extreme’s inclusion of both an HDMI in and out.  Using HDMI the capture resolution is bumped up from 720p to 1080p.  While the Hauppauge 1212 can capture in 720p and 1080i, it lacks the ability to capture in 1080p.  Though the Intensity Extreme does capture 1080p, we were disappointed to see that the fps was capped out at 30.  The inability to capture 1080p at 60fps leaves the user unable to capture gameplay footage from the Xbox 360 as the console is unable to drop its fps.

Necessary Accessories

Though the Intensity Extreme may seem quite easy to use for many users, the device demands great speeds from the target hard drive.  In our experiences, capturing footage using an internal hard drive was very difficult using the Intensity Extreme forcing the purchase of a Thunderbolt external hard drive.  The Hauppauge on the other hand, records to an internal hard drive easily.  Though both devices benefit from external hard drives, the Hauppauge proved to be more consumer friendly as it’s required transfer speeds were much less strenuous on the target hard drives.  As mentioned previously, the Intensity Extreme does not come with a Thunderbolt cable or HDMI cables.  The Hauppauge 1212 includes the necessary USB 2.0 cable as well as a component cable, allowing the user to begin using the device right out of the box.

Software

Users of OS X will find using Blackmagic Designs included software to be easy and effective, while Windows users may be turned off by the Intensity Extreme for it’s current lack of support.  We see this situation changing as soon as Thunderbolt ports become more prominent on Windows based computers.  The Hauppauge 1212 is opposite to the Intensity Extreme in this respect as it only provides first part support for Windows computers.  Mac users will be forced to purchase a program, be it EyeTV or HDPVR Capture, to allow the device to work on the platform.  One major difference between these devices is the ability to use the device as a pass-through.  While the user is able to have the Hauppauge 1212 continually connected without the use of software, the Intensity Extreme requires an application to access the video output.  If an application is not currently using the Intensity Extreme, the output channel to the external monitor or television shows a blank screen.

Pros and Cons

Intensity Extreme

Pros

HDMI in’s and out’s as well as a breakout cable for component and composite inputs

Included program that works well with OS X

Ability to capture up to 1080p

Realtime Capture – Lag free.

Computers recognize the device as a video input

A wide variety of resolution, aspect ratios, and compression settings.

No external power supply

Cons

Lack of support for 1080p at 60fps

No support for Windows

Inability to use the device without an open application or computer (Output Pass-through)

No second Thunderbolt port.  Device must be at the end of the chain.

Does not include Thunderbolt or HDMI cables

Hauppauge 1212

Pros

Simple installation

Support for Windows

Audio/Video pass-though without an open application or computer

Includes necessary cables

Cons

About a five second lag to the computer

Cannot capture in 1080p

No HDMI

Cannot be recognized as a video input

No first party support for Mac OS X

Bottom Line

While both devices are capable of many of the same features, the Intensity Extremes Thunderbolt port, HDMI in and out, and the ability to set it as a video input device makes it a bit easier to use than the Hauppauge 1212.  While the Hauppauge 1212 is priced at $180 and includes all necessary cables, the lack of first party support for Mac users may be a turn off, as well as the need for work arounds to access the ability to live stream and the significant lag.  The Insanity Extreme’s price point of $284 seems reasonable enough, but still may be disappointing when realizing the required $50 Thunderbolt cable is not included.  The lack of support for Windows may also turn off many potential buyers, but as Thunderbolt becomes more readily available on PC’s, we can assume support for Windows will eventually be added.

 

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NJ Based Gaming Charity

Posted: June 11, 2012 in Article

Gamers over at http://www.extralives.org/ use their favorite passtime as a way to raise money for various charity foundations.  Since 2009 Extra Lives has raised over $90,000 to help those in need.  Every so often Extra Lives runs gaming marathons for days on end entertaining viewers while seeking funds to aid their cause.  All money raised by Extra Lives goes directly to the charities they play for.  Currently Extra Lives is hosting a Legend of Zelda marathon that is close to rapping up.  Head on over and get in some last minute donations!

http://www.extralives.org/

Road to EVO 2012

Posted: March 5, 2012 in Article

By: Eduardo Preciado

Sunday is usually set aside for football. With the football season over and very little to replace it, I find myself roaming through my RSS feed searching for deals or anything that could catch my interest. I ended up seeing a video that caught my eye and set the tone for my Sunday in a very interesting way.

On shoryuken.com, I saw a story titled, “Kusoru’s Anti-Phoenix Strategies From Final Round XV,” which had a video that I thought would be interesting. Though I know few people play with Phoenix online, it’s always good to be well rounded. It was the Final Round with Complexity CrossCounter Filipino Champ (Magneto/Doctor Doom/Phoenix) against Final RoundBats AgeoJoe (Viewtiful Joe/Frank West/Rocket Raccoon).

To sum up, here are a few things that make this video special.

AgeoJoe – considered the best Japanese Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 player with an extremely awkward team. Viewtiful Joe: a good tier character. Frank West – only after being “leveled up” to level 4 is he considered an S tier character, if not he is sub-par. And the wild card, Rocket Raccoon: not many players use him on their team, especially at the most important position {the anchor}. Col. cc Filipino Champ on the other hand played with a great battery/lead position using Magneto. Doctor Doom is among the best and most dangerous thanks to his foot dive loops. And though Phoenix was nerfed from her ‘Vanilla’ version, she still is a threat with level 3 X-Factor and 5 Bars. (This gives her the ability to transform into Dark Phoenix)

Right off the bat it looks as if this match favors Champ after he quickly took out Viewtiful Joe, however AgeoJoe impressively manhandles the Master of Magnetism with level 1 Frank West. This is no simple feat. Doom would have almost had a game changing combo had it not been for the fact that Champ missed his combo because of Raccoons’ minuscule size. Champ lost to DD for his dropped combo and then Frank West was brought in to take on Phoenix. The turning point of the match occurred after Champ did a down High into a trap left by Raccoon. Frank West finished Phoenix with a Blue Light Special and right when Dark Phoenix rose, AgeoJoe X-Factors with Frank West, then barrel rolled under Phoenix to avoid the explosion since the roll has invincibility into Funny Face Crusher. “Simply amazing” is all that can be said. It was so shocking. Fast Forward to the end of the second match, Raccoon vs. Phoenix, both still having X-Factor. Raccoon called it first and when he activated Dark Phoenix he droped the Mad Hopper hyper. Champ trieed to avoid it but eventually teleported with Phoenix behind Raccoon and is hit crouching Low. He hit the trap which launched Phoenix. AgeoJoe then went into the Rock ‘n’ Roll hyper to win the match.

I immediately signed into twitch.tv and looked for the Road to EVO stream. I grabed the HDMI cabl from behind my monitor and plugged it into my TV. I grabbed some Chinese Food, Dr. Pepper, and my cell phone. For the next couple of hours I listened to the likes of Ultra David, Justin Wong, James Chen, and Skisonic. I watched as guys like OMG itz Andre, FC Jago, UVG Noel Brown, Knives got eliminated in the Top 16. Just as surprising were some of the guys that ended in the Losers Bracket in this Round Robin style tournament such as Neo, Filipino Champ, PR Balrog and FC NYChrisG. The very impressive matches were definitely in the winners and losers finals.

In the Winners Finals it was BT|IFC Yipes (Spencer/Dante/Hawkeye) vs FRB AgeoJoe (Viewtiful Joe/Frank West/Rocket Raccoon). AgeoJoe won the match set 3-1, but it was how much he confused Yipes and did his homework that most impressed me. AgeoJoe knew who his opponent’s best character was and made sure to finish him [Spencer]. AgeoJoe showed a lot of skill in being able to defeat some really top tier characters while showing that he didn’t need to play with top tier himself. He showed great team chemistry especially with Viewtiful Joe’s dive kick mixed with Rocket Raccoons’ Pendulum assist. His notion of “if it works why stop it?” worked the entire tournament.  It was what made me root for him even more since he was sort of the underdog.  Most would have bet that Col. CC Combofiend would have won the tournament.

In the Losers Final PR Balrog (Spencer/Wolverine/Wesker) vs BT|IFC Yipes (Spencer/Vergil/Hawkeye). Balrog took the first match convincingly and was able to show that he is the best Spencer for a reason. Yipes impressed by running the table with his Vergil and level 3 X-Factor to comeback and win the second match. The third match went to PR Balrog in a match that came down to his Wesker vs Yipes Hawkeye. Yipes made it interesting by winning the fourth match by hitting Bionic Arm then X-Factor and Bionic Arm such is known to be a Balrog specialty. PR Balrog moved onto Grand Finals by getting a “Happy Birthday” (catching two characters at one time) and then mixing up Vergil with Logan.

Grand Finals were the most interesting of all the matches since it seemed that everyone was giving PR Balrog as much advice as possible on how he could defeat AgeoJoe. In this match PR Balrog went with the team of Wolverine/Spencer/Felicia. It looked like a runaway with AgeoJoe taking the first two matches with the same strategy that got him to the Grand Finals. It was obvious in the third match that some of AgeoJor’s tactics were catching up to him as PR Balrog was able to take the third match, especially since he ended up taking out Rocket Raccoon on a “Happy Birthday.” The fourth match was taken thanks to Felicia getting her X-Factor Level 3 Infinite in on both Viewtiful Joe and Frank West. The fifth match had the most implication since if PR Balrog won he’d reset the brackets, but if he lost he’d lose the entire tournament. Balrog did well until one very puzzling move in which Balrog missed an overhead. AgeoJoe countered with Mach Speed (which has some invincibility start-up) than Balrog went into Bionic Arm (invincible start-up), but then switched to Wolverines Fatal Claw which got Wolverine killed. AgeoJoe ended up winning the match after he was mobbed by his own companions.

I know a lot of people probably didn’t tune in since there were some great basketball games on, but I’m glad to say that I tuned into the entire tournament. It was a blast to watch. I rooted for the Japanese player that had the very awkward team, and felt rewarded to see him come out victorious. FC Jago once said in one of his videos that “if you want to get good you have to start by learning to play Wesker.” It was great to see that passing up on the overpowered characters and learning the in’s and out’s of other unknown characters would sometimes get you unexpected results. After watching the tournament, I was so excited I ran to my PS3 and started practicing some of my team unity and combos to improve. I may not be a Pro, but it sure feels good to win in some of the smaller tournaments we have among friends.

by David Tadros

Since Gamestop has been receiving an extraordinarily bad reputation for a while now, the Deus Ex situation not helping, we here at 4HGames thought you’d be interested in finding a great alternative to your gaming needs.  Here are five reasons to ditch Gamestop for Amazon.com, keep in mind that we have no affiliation with either Gamestop or Amazon.com

#5    Amazon does not charge sales tax.

With the economy in the toilet, how amazing is it to find a place where a $60 video game is actually $60?  Amazon is so against sales tax, they are fighting to keep their no sales tax record in California.  It’s always awesome not having to pay a few dollars extra.

#4    Release day delivery is $1.

Worried that ordering your game will leave you trailing compared to your friends who buy from Gamestop?  Use Amazons release day delivery on most big title games and have your game delivered the day it’s released.  After saving those extra dollars from the sales tax, use it for amazons $.99 release day shipping.

#3    Know exactly how much you’ll get for your trade in’s.

Amazon tells you up front exactly how much you will get for every game that you trade in to them, unlike Gamestop where you need to bring the games in only to quickly be disappointed when you see that you’ll only be getting a few dollars.  Our experiences have even shown that Amazon is capable of giving better trade in values than Gamestop!

#2    Use your trade in money for things other than games.

Tired of being stuck with using your Gamestop trade in money ONLY to buy games and game accessories?  Use Amazons trade in program and use that cash to buy ANYTHING shipped from Amazon.  This makes it at least feel a little more like getting actual money for your trade ins.

#1    Get money for spending money

What we love most about pre-ordering games from Amazon is, many times they will give you $5, $10, or even up to $20 towards your next game purchase, just for pre ordering with them.  On  top of getting extra cash towards another game, you are always guaranteed to get your pre-order bonuses, no more of Gamestops “first come first serve” policy.  If Amazon doesn’t follow through on their pre-order bonuses, look forward to receiving some Amazon credit, ain’t nothing wrong with that!

 

By Andy Nighthorse

Be A Pro – Revamped

 Be a Pro mode returns in NHL 12 with a host of new features.   In this installment, a key feature is to earn your ice time.  Your coach will assign tasks for every shift that you play to help the team out.  The more tasks that you complete the more trust you will earn from your coach which will lead to additional ice team.  Advance from a 4th liner playing 5 minutes a game to a 1st liner playing 17-20 minutes a game.

Ever dream of having an entire Junior’s career before being your career as an NHLer?  In NHL 12, you will be able to do just that.  In prior years, you were only offered an option to play in the Memorial Cup Playoffs, however in NHL 12 you will be able to play through an entire 4 year CHL career before being placed in the NHL Entry Draft.  Play well and rise through the rankings in hopes of being drafted #1 in the NHL.

Anticipation A.I.

New this year is “Anticipation A.I.”  No longer will players wait until an action occurs before reacting on the ice.  For example, when a puck is going to be retrieved easily by a defenseman, a superstar like Alexander Ovechkin will begin his turn up ice to get in a lane for a breakout pass.  Previously, only would the actual retrieval of the puck from the defenseman then trigger Ovechkin to turn and head up ice.  This will lead to overall smoother gameplay and a more realistic hockey experience.

NHL 12 Full Contacts Physics Engine

Improving upon NHL 11’s physics system is this year’s full contact physics engine.  Prepare for players to be checked through the glass, hit into the benches, goalies knocked over, and nets knocked off their moorings.  Size and strength will be major factors in a lot of these interactions and bigger, stronger players will be able to dominate other smaller opponents in the physical game.  Puck physics have also improved which will create a more realistic experience.

Dynamic Goalies

For the first time this year, goalies will be live just as players.  Goalies can now be knocked over and will react with players on the ice such as battling through screens to make saves.  How many times as a goalie have you wanted to thrown down like an enforcer?  Prepare for battle this year as goalie verse goalie and goalie verse player fights have been introduced.

Signature Traits

In addition to Anticipation A.I., players will also play as their real life counter parts.  Ranging from dump & chase grinders to one time specialists to net agitators, prepare for the most realistic experience playing with or against your favorite players.  Tomas Holmstrom will crowd the crease, Steven Stamkos will go down to one knee on one-timers, and the Sedin’s will play a cycle game to set up scoring chances.  Goalie personalities will also be noticeable with goalies such as Tim Thomas & Martin Brodeur coming out of the crease to play the angles while more conservative goalies like Henrik Lundqvist will play further back in the net and rely on reaction speed.

New Presentation/ Action Tracker

   Presentation has been overhauled in NHL 12 and the new Action Tracker is a major integration.  Recording everything from where you shoot to what your face off percentage is in your defensive zone, the new Action Tracker has got you covered.  Replay any moment from the game by accessing this feature & reliving a quick clip of the moment.

Winter Classic

   The NHL Winter Classic is finally here.  Experience the thrill one of the most exciting games of the year by participating in the Winter Classic.

By David Tadros

For years a debate has been brewing in several state court systems on whether video games should be regulated, starting with a law restricting the sales of violent video games to minors.  These propositions for regulation have always been deemed unconstitutional and have always been thrown out of court, until recently when California decided to escalate this concern to the United States Supreme Court.  At first glance, this would truly seem as though it would be a great thing.  Who would want minors to play violent video games?  The concern here is deeper than the regulation of video games; it would mark as our nation’s first regulation of an art form.  This argument has left the Supreme Court with the some concerns such as; what is art?  What sets video games apart from movies, books, and music?  What values do video games offer to society?  Why should video games continue to be protected?

When debating if video games are a legitimate art form one must first consider what “art” is – imaginative and creative expression.  By general art standards, video games undoubtedly fall within this criteria, which leaves the question, are video games of a worthy value or are they a waste of time?  The answer is video games are as much a waste of time as literature, movies, or music. Some video games will leave you emotionally connected; some will leave you wondering why you played them in the first place. These examples parallel the same chances anyone takes when reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to a piece of music.  In short, video games are an artful experience that one can learn from, become immersed in, form emotional bonds with, and, most importantly, enjoy, and therefore, video games should continue to be protected by the first amendment.

According to a New York Times article written by Adam Liptek, California is petitioning a law that would charge one-thousand dollar fines to stores for every “violent video game” sold to a minor.  The article defines violent games as “those in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being’ in a way that is ‘patently offensive,’ appeals to minors’ ‘deviant or morbid interests’ and lacks ‘serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value (Liptak, “Justices Debate Video Game Ban”).  Who has the right to deem something as having serious artistic value?

Currently there is no nationwide laws against minors purchasing tickets to see a movie that is rated R, purchasing a CD with explicit lyrics, or purchasing books depicting violence.  Romeo and Juliet, the famous Shakespearian story taught in high schools across the nation, is an example of what is arguably a violent book as it depicts two teenagers committing suicide, yet this literature is considered art.  The way the sale of media has been regulated is not on a government level, but rather at the industrial level.  Distributers have theater companies sign legal documents that hold their theaters liable to following the MPAA’s, Motion Picture Association of America, rating system.  If theaters violate this contract they place themselves in danger of losing the rights to show certain movies (Motion Picture Association of America). Video games are not unlike movies in the sense that they too have a rating system by the ESRB, Entertainment Software Rating Board.  Stores like GameStop must follow these ratings when selling video games to minors, or they would be in danger of losing the rights to sell the media.

The usefulness and artistic nature of video games has been questioned since the creation of the technology.  Since the days of the “Atari 2600,” when indie game developers started creating pornographic video games, to the controversial release of “Mortal Kombat,” which led to the ESRB rating system that is in place today, video games are constantly being attacked.   As the technology grew, more video games entered the realm of realism and incorporated 3D rendering (Kent, 117).  This new technology led to more interactive game experiences, but also led to more realistic violent and sexual acts.  “Grand Theft Auto IV” was one of the handfuls of games in recent history that led to more controversy, and some even say that it influenced California’s proposed law.  Video games are often described as violent, distracting, and a negative effect on children.  The media has painted the picture of the negative effects of video games, but hardly do they ever talk about the positives of using video games.

One of the many misconceptions of video games is that it “rots your brain,” basically meaning that playing video games uses up brain cells for no substantial purpose.  Some people may not realize that video games stimulate the mind and have benefits beyond their entertainment value.  An article recently written by Michelle Trudeau for NPR.org describes some of the positive effects that video games have on gamers.  Trudeau’s article talks about a study conducted by brain and cognitive professor, Daphne Bavelier, which showed the effects of game play on a subject’s vision.  Bavelier recruited non-gamers and trained them for weeks in gaming.  At the end of the experiment, her subjects were told to return home and stop game interaction.   This specific experiment proved useful since they found that the eyesight of subjects had strengthened.  Subjects were now capable of seeing sharper shades of gray and also smaller print sizes than non-gamers.  These effects, Bavelier stated, “last up to two years” (Trudeau, “Video Games Boost Brain Power, Multitasking Skills”).  In situations where improved eyesight would prove useful, this aspect of being a gamer may actually save lives.  Imagine a gamer becoming a military trained sniper.  In dark lighting situations, due to his past with gaming, his eyesight may be improved so significantly that it may save his life.  This is one of the many benefits of playing video games.

Many people see the current youth generation as the “multitask generation,” and video games have proved to be a contributing factor of the development of multitasking.  Every day gamers are put into situations where one wrong move will lead to losing the game.   Constantly gamers place the pressures of multitasking upon themselves, without even breaking a sweat.  Bavelier’s study showed that subjects had higher attention spans due to gaming and their multitasking skills had increased, leaving subjects more capable of jumping from task to task than non-gamers.  Bavelier described the results of the study stating, “we see that typically in people that don’t play action games, their reaction time lengthened by 200 milliseconds, which is something like 30 percent, but in gamers, it lengthened only by 10 percent,” (Trudeau, “Video Games Boost Brain Power, Multitasking Skills”).  This same NPR article also went on to talk about gamers having an increase of brain activity over non-gamers.  Lauren Sergio, neuroscientist of York University, conducted a study that showed that non-gamers would have to use more of their brain for certain skills where gamers would only use a small percent.  This study also showed higher hand eye coordination in gamers (Trudeau, “Video Games Boost Brain Power, Multitasking Skills”).  These studies help support the idea of children playing video games more often in hopes of developing stronger brain activity and multitasking skills.  These benefits will not only help them while they are gaming, but in real world experiences where faster reaction times are vital.

Video games have also recently showed their value in the area of education.  Much like we use books, movies, and music in our classrooms, the future seems particularly bright on the prospect of the use of video games as educational tools.  Recently President Obama has also seen the significance of video games with the introduction of the national STEM education program, part of “Educate to Innovate.”  STEM, “promotes a renewed focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education.”  Part of this program focused on rewarding game developers who took the initiative to create educational video games (National Stem Video Game Challenge).  This program not only gives developers a reason to create educational video games, but also proves that the government has a significant interest in the media and the idea of using it for education.  As classrooms grow more and more tech ready, video game consoles can lead to a whole new learning style and escalate interactivity and creativity to new levels.  Instead of simply reading or writing about a subject matter, video games would allow students to use what they learned and practice in real world situations, but in a safe and controlled virtual world.

Many video games consist of puzzles that stimulate the mind, and story narratives that parallel the real world.  Video games such as these prove that not every video game must be designed for educational purposes to be useful for classroom work.  Wabash College Professor, Michael Abbott, has proved this theory.  In an article written by Patrick Klepek for Giantbomb.com, Klepek interviewed Professor Abbott about his decision to add the video game “Portal” to his syllabus.   Portal is a video game in which players take part in the “portal gun” testing process.  These portals allow the player to solve puzzles by shooting an entrance portal on one wall, and an exit portal on another in an attempt to use these portals to navigate through the testing grounds.  Professor Abbott teaches the course “Enduring Questions” at Wabish College.  Part of the course discusses Dr. Erving Goffman’s theory on the different personality “faces” each human being has.  The two faces are described as, the face people want others to see, and the face that only the person themselves know about.  Abbott felt it was fitting to use “Portal” as a virtual demonstration since the games villain, GLaDOS, is a prime example of this theory (Klepek, “Intro to GLaDOS 101”).  Throughout the game play GLaDOS comes off as an emotionless computer program that treats the player as if the journey is a typical one that has an eventual ending.  Through the games progression, the player realizes that GLaDOS has developed a personality of her own and does not intend on letting you ever leave the testing facility.  Abbott describes the experience stating that the game “really provoked a lot of interesting connections between the Goffman text and GLaDOS as a character, as a personality, and the way that the environment is an extension of her and her personality” (Klepek, “Intro to GLaDOS 101”).  One of the most interesting parts of Klepeks article was how Abbott described his student’s initial hesitation to the assignment.  Just as many other people see video games, Abbott’s students felt that there would be no academic worth to playing a video game for class.  Abbott stated that his student’s outlook on “Portal” quickly changed after his students progressed deeper into the game (Klepek, “Intro to GLaDOS 101”).  This is proof that even those who are the most reluctant in inviting the thought of video games as an educational tool can in fact learn much from what video games have to offer humanity.

One of the biggest and most interesting things video games have to teach us are moral values.  Many role playing and open world games test your morals as a feature of the game.  One such game, “Fallout” – an open world game set in the wastelands of post-apocalyptic America – actually rewards or deducts points from your score depending on your moral choices.  These moral choices vary from picking a certain dialogue option to killing someone.  Throughout the game, the choices you make effect how other characters interact with you.  Henry Jerkins of PBS.org agrees with these points stating, “Many current games are designed to be ethical testing grounds; they allow players to navigate an expansive and open-ended world, make their own choices and witness their consequences,” (Jenkins, “Reality Bytes”).

At this point, the evidence stands quite firmly on the usefulness of video games, but that still leaves the other side of the argument, are video games art?  Art is a very loosely defined word, and what can be defined as art has been a topic of discussion since before the days of Leonardo Da Vinci.  The different types of art that most can agree on are visual arts, such as paintings, sculptures, and photography, movies, literature, and music.  The great thing about video games as an art form is it takes elements from each of these and creates a new media.  With each video game made a large amount of visual design is needed.  Game designers create the character models, backdrops, and environments.  Storywriters create the overall narrative and dialogue.  Composers create the musical themes of each part of the world.  After looking at the credits of a video game today you could deduce that, long gone are the days of small teams creating an 8bit game, production teams are as big, if not bigger, than some movie projects.  Between the world and character creation – visual art, the dialogue and story – literature, and the compositions – music, the only thing differentiating video games from movies is the interaction between the gamer and the game itself.  This aspect of gaming leads to an entirely different art form all together, one that we may let slip away if California’s law passes.

Many others agree that video games are a legitimate art form.  In his article, “But Is It Art?” Jona Tres Kap cites multiple art museums with exhibits that focus on video games.  Kap argues the same subject, “Are video games art?”  Kap points out that art is any form of expression, he goes on to argue that video games convey emotions, “more strongly than other more traditional forms of media.”  Kap agrees with aforementioned points on video games as a “hybrid” of different medias, but argues that they are the strongest in the form of literature and “storytelling.”  He argues this point further stating that video games contain “more expressive” and “impressive” ways of storytelling than any other media.  He ends his article implying that he would not be surprised to see video games in more art museums in the future, (Kap, “But Is It Art?”).

Video games are becoming more and more recognized as an art form every day, although some may like to ignore it.  One great example of video games as an art form is the upcoming exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum entitled, “The Art of Video Games.”  The exhibit is said to demonstrate the history, evolution, art, and visual effects of video games from the 1970’s to present day (The Art Of Video Games).  This exhibit will show the world the artistic value that video games provide and will hopefully inspire more people to accept video games as a legitimate art form.

Many people do not believe video games have any considerable value or are a true form of art.  Some of these people believe that video games are only provoking violent behavior, especially in children and teenagers.  Violence is all around us, from the news to movies, but no such link to an increase in violence is due to video games.  In fact, recent studies show that there are no connections between video games and teenage violence.  These studies also show that video games promote a non-violent behavior showing that people take their aggression out on the video games rather than on others.  Henry Jenkins, an MIT professor, stated that, “90 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls” play video games.  If video games cause such an increase in violent behavior, based on this statistic, the majority of children would show violent tendencies.  In fact, statistics prove otherwise.  Jenkins argues citing federal crime statistics showing that the rate of juvenile violence is “at a 30 year low,” (Jenkins, “Reality Bytes”).

Some would argue that video games promote anti-social behavior, but this just is not true.  For example, if a friend passes a level of a game that you are having difficulty with, you may communicate with each other to aid each other in the progression.  You may also share your experiences with the game and see how they differed.  Also, with such technologies as “Xbox live” and the “Playstation Network,” you have the ability to connect and play online with many different gamers from around the world.  Henry Jenkins also tackles this topic stating, “almost 60 percent of frequent gamers play with friends. Thirty-three percent play with siblings and 25 percent play with spouses or parents,” (Jenkins, “Reality Bytes”).

Many times video games are used as the blame for childhood obesity as no real physical activity is involved.  The video game industry has evolved so far that this may be a problem of the past.  With new technologies such as the Xbox 360 “Kinect,” the player becomes the controller.  No longer are gamers confined to the couch to play video games because the “Kinect” requires gamers to get off of the couch to utilize its game play.  This new technology senses entire body movements and uses these motions to control on screen avatars.  Games have been released utilizing this technology and some games aim the game play towards exercise programs that are both intense and fun.  Some games are even capable of measuring body weight.  This new technology helps keep everyone physically and mentally active while still enjoying the fun of video games.

One of the most interesting arguments against video game play is the notion that it affects the mental growth patterns of adult males.  Kay Hymowitz uses this as an example in her essay, “Child-Man in the Promise Land.”  Hymowitz describes how many young adult males use video games to prolong their childhood.  She also states that young adult males who play video games may be crippling their likelihood of reaching their full potential (Hymowitz, 367).  This argument is proven incorrect by a study that shows video games actually prepare gamers for careers.  In a study posted on CQ Researcher by Sarah Glazer, evidence shows that video game simulations are useful for a large array of job training such as army training, pilot training, and surgery training.  Glazer’s article also shows how video games teach simple strategies for the work place such as, those who arrive win first, learning from mistakes, and always trying again.  The article also mentions, “A Federation of American Scientists” who are “urging government, industry and educators to take advantage of video-game features to help students and workers attain globally competitive skills,” (Glazer, “Do Video Games Prepare…”).  By playing video games, gamers are not prolonging their childhood, but are preparing for adulthood.

Before the Supreme Court makes their final decision on the future of video games, they must realize that video games are a worthy art form worth protecting.  Video games have so much to offer to the world, and as long as we continue to protect them the art form can continue to grow and develop more breakthroughs.  We run the risk of breaking down the entire video game industry if this California law passes.  The fear of stores being fined for improper sales of their merchandise may lead them to stop carrying certain games.  Game developers, in fear of losing their retail sales, would cease the creation of new, boundary pushing game experiences in fear of falling into the laws definition of “violence.”  This law not only affects the video game industry, but the very fiber of our nation’s foundation.  America continually proclaims that we are the “land of the free,” yet here we are in danger of losing a freedom that has been set in place since our nation’s creation.  If this law goes through, who is to say that the music or movie industries are not next on the list for regulations?  This would be a stepping-stone for the loss of more than just video games, but the government regulation of all media.

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