Tag Archives: Ted Talks

The Human Ego at Play (and the usual daily recommendations)

Today I created a weekly game folder  where I will put all games I find every week to be played on the weekend. I will write about the most interesting ones now and then, but already a little game observation of the day further down this post.

Also signed up for Brainy Gamers – Vintage Game Club forum, where classic games are being played and discussed one at a time. I really enjoyed Brainy Gamers Podcast so I thought I would invest some of my time on the forum, I was a real forum junkie a couple of year ago, not going to go back to being that hardcore, but  it’s a good way to evolve my communication skills in English, getting to know people and get into dissecting games. My nick on the forum is: LeFisk.

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One game I had time to play today is ‘Make My Head Grow!‘ it won five categories in the 2009 Nordic Game Jam, which is basically a 49-hour game development contest. This game is truly disturbing and is meant to be played by 2 players on the same computer keyboard. What is interesting is that it works really well to get the whole games concept by playing it by yourself. When you have defeated the other avatar an ending song begins playing that gives the whole game more context and some depth. But in the end the lasting appeal comes form being two-players. I’m glad that flash games are being more and more used to create these quality experiences that etches in to the mind.

For me the message of the whole game was about communication, and the way we go about inflating our egos, diminishing other people’s ways of thought and life. Basically isolating ourselves and pushing others aside, even if we are more alike than we think,  the childish presentation just reinforces the message. But the game also works just as well from a strict game mechanical point if two persons want to have some absurd 1-minute fun now and then. 

Today’s Ted Talk is about how security makes us unsecure, a very interesting topic. People who have some problems with edgy feminism may find some things said a bit weird, and the word vagina is overly used, but I hope everybody can see the main point of the talk. Mainly being that the more we protect ourselves the more our ego becomes the center of all we do, thinking we have all these  answers to life that we must protect, creating enemies near and far, keeping us afraid and offensive, and thus the more vulnerable and insecure we become.

As you probably noticed both the game and the Ted Talk describes overly egoistic mind states that can seem as a natural part of everyday life, but there is alternatives as with all things, and the age of communication and shared resources requires new standards of empathy, a important skill set to be worked on.

Another thing to observe is how these messages can be delivered in such extremely different ways depending on medium.  Hope you played and watched both, and I would love some input on these topics, if you see any connections at all or had some other thoughts around the material.

And now switching the topic entirely.

Today I also took an hour to gather information on how to transfer my food habits to a vegetarian model. This vegetarian site has a good lineup of information for anyone who eats, and I hope that’s most of us do.

If all goes as planned I will be on a vegetarian diet by the end of this month if not sooner. 

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Popular Culture, Learning and Games

 

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Today I spent most of the day reading through ‘Everything Bad is Good for You’ by Steve Johnson. It tries to answer what effect today’s media has on us, if it’s making us dumber as most reports presume, and comes up with some interesting theories. The main one being that the Internet, games and TV-series now days demand a much higher degree of interaction and sophisticated information analysis and deciphering, and that the demand continues to rise because the brain essentially seeks challenges. Even the Reality Shows on TV with their often dubious subject matters activates our brains more than previous generations of programs by containing more material to analyze and find social patterns in, demanding more activity of the viewer in different ways. It’s definitely an interesting read but the book has the problem of to little scientific proof according to academics and scientists, but the theories are well presented. These were the valuable thoughts and concepts the book reinforced in me:

We benefit strongly from exploring new media, technologies & linguistics instead of alienating ourselves and thinking we had all the answers when we grew up and media was better in our generation.

A diverse intake of books, games, internet, music, theater etc. is a good core for challenging our minds and keeping them open, strongly referring to the above point. All cultural expressions have their own strengths in what they can convey and how. So just as with food a balanced intake should logically be a good thing.

Interactivity is the future of learning, better not to be pushing ideas and concepts on to people but instead creating exploring environments with choices. As argued in the book and in other observations the scientific method is built into games naturally, when diversifying the subject matters this becomes a really powerful tool filled with entertaining value that keeps us alert. Give people questions to answer and boundaries to explore instead of premade opinions.

Create entertainment that can be experienced many times instead of conveying all information at one run trough; the concept is talked about especially within the frames of TV-series in the book. If that is done with good craftsmanship the value of the work is prolonged. Seinfeld, The Sopranos and The Simpsons are given as great examples of this “Most Repeatable Programming model” (MRP). I have now gotten an even better understanding of these TV-series and why they have been so successful. “MRP shows are designed on the scale of years, not seconds” referring to the content value, as viewers willingly return to old episodes because there’s new things and previously hidden layers to discover which have been thoughtfully crafted.

 Other than reading and taking notes on the book I’ve spent some time reading about how scientists are seen as a lobby groups not willing to communicate to any greater extent with the public. On that I found an interesting speech written and given by Michael Crichton (may know him as the writer of ‘Jurassic Park’ among other works) about how scientist are described in media, the most interesting part comes near the end where he critiques how scientists view appearing in public and that they should help common citizens instead of working in secluded domains.

Lastly a Ted Talk about how children adapt to learning without teachers. Begins a bit slow but the interesting observational parts start to appear after a while.

Oh, almost forgot to recommend a game, it’s a puzzle game about sustainability called City Rain. It’s highly addictive and calming at the same time.

Mind Sorting

Too day I sorted out my mind onto my computer, did a complete re-edit of the old spring plan so that if fit into on 5 page document filled with mission statements, values, spring goals and future goals.

Also watched this amazingly well done talk on Ted Talks, the topic is “Do schools kill creativity?” and it is as relevant today as it was in 2006. Behold:

Ken Robinson knows how to captivate the audience and fill 20 minutes to the max with content and amusing stories.

Another task I have been working on as a part of my Sunday evening is to transfer all my random post-it notes, which had small bits and pieces of learning and motivational principles scribbled down on them, to a desktop image for my Mac. I took that information and mixed with some keywords form my spring plan and made a simple image, it really suites my needs and the empty part of the image is mostly for folders and such.

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I always think it’s a good idea to have all the small keywords and reminders close at hand, streamlining as much information as I can so I don’t get any paper nor folder clutter. 

Have lots more to do before midnight, new post tomorrow as usual :)

Game Environment Sketching

At the beginning of this term I promised to help a follow student gr0up with some videogame artwork, and should have had something presentable for the group today. The problem was that I had not begun working on the environments for the game until late last night, so today was spent structuring ideas and making a core composition of a level background, so that I can return with some ideas and a drawing on Monday instead. Game production can be a bit unstructured at times, it tests your skill to adapt, especially if you have a game project of your own that is demanding quality time. 

I began by reading the environment part of the game design document carefully and jotting down the important key information and questions I needed to create the setting, and then I tested with some fast sketching what kind of ideas I could add to that. After knowing somewhat of where I was headed I looked at what height I should place the horizon line, on to where all the  vanishing points will be drawn. I opened a document in Photoshop to make a useful template, also made sure that the scale of the image was right because the game is going to be able to scroll (move) both up, down, left and right. Don’t want to scrap images because I made some wrong calculations in the beginning of my work.

Next I began creating a composition of all the elements I wanted to see on the level, step by step testing different ideas and also trying to map out some basic values of dark and light in the image. I’m a really slow drawer so this is not in anyway the process of a pro, but in the evening I felt that I had something up and running. The level talked back to me (a important part of the design is “listening” to the work you create) and gave me some interesting solutions of how enemy’s can enter the level, and how it could support the games setting even further than I first had intended, by making some minor tweaks.

Other than drawing I re-worked my information sorting procedures, so paper notes and all kinds of digital content is more effectively sorted depending on how valuable they are. I also watched lot of truly interesting and inspiring seminars as usual, I’ll post a batch of links for the curious. Enjoy!

TEDTalks : My championship season – Aimee Mullins (1998) – She lost her legs when she was one year old and still became an awesome championship runner when she grew up, truly the power of believing that anything can be done.

 

TEDTalks : Great design is serious (not solemn) – Paula Scher (2008) – About the honest original design process.

 

TEDTalks : Understanding comics – Scott McCloud (2005) – What comics can become, what they are, and some interesting info about Scott.