Becoming One with the Game

As time, and technology, advances one of the core elements that Raph Koster discusses is the idea of immersion in video games. Or is it?

Games didn’t begin immersive, as Koster says about something as simple as mancala. But looking at games we have now, like the newest trend of Pokemon Go! it’s clear to see how immersive we’ve gotten. But is it really immersive as it seems? An immersive experience is one by which says “noting or pertaining to digital technology or images that deeply involve one’s senses and may create an altered mental state.”

An altered mental state. It’s part of the definition but do we actually achieve it to become fully immersed? The answer may seem like a yes, but it’s probably a no. Koster throws out the idea that even though we’re in this game, we can get notifications to join a party or a group and be in this game with our friends. From this point we can chat about the day we had, or what the other is up to while we play whatever game we’re in; taking out the immersive experience and replacing it with just another way to keep in touch with our friends.

While Pokemon Go! is a big hit right now and a lot of users are taking it to the extreme like how one woman found a dead body, cops are suspecting large groups of Pokemon players to be participating in drug deals, or whatever the case may be; we are normally out trying to catch them all as group or with a friend or two. Does this hinder the immersive aspect the game makers are trying to achieve, or does it only make it better by putting your world in the game and not requiring us to do the imagination for ourselves?


Past to Present: Movies Through It All

What do movies all have in common that we like so much? Unpredictability. But for some this isn’t as easy as it seems. Pixar is a mainly child based film industry so most of their works are pretty predictable. Toy Story, Wall-E, Up, and many more all have extremely predictable endings; the good guy lives and the bad guy looses, but rule number 12 says to get the obvious out of the way and to look for something new and exciting. Pixar must have a harder time with this than they originally hoped for…

But what does this say about writers as people? They’re extremely creative, for one. So many things have been done and then done again that it’s hard to come up with or find new angles for things. We’re programmed to see it one way so trying to see it in a new light is much harder than we may originally think. I used to want to be a writer when I grew up, and I would write stories in my journals all the time. Looking back, they’re all the same stories with different variations here and there. My writing dreams quickly came to a halt.

What do we do when we run out of stories? Honestly, how many times can someone write a story and shoot a movie about being very fast and very furious? (Apparently the answer is 8 and maybe more to come.) What will happen when we finally have no more stories to tell?

I actually think this is already happening with Disney in particular. Beauty and the Beast was originally released in 1991 and in 2017 a remake with live people will be coming to a theater near you. The same has been done with The Jungle Book, Tarzan, and some spinoffs have been made of Alice in Wonderland as well as countless others. But who’s to say this is a bad thing? This allows us to relive our childhood for those of us who grew up watching these classics and allows these stories to continue on in to later generations. Maybe it’s not so bad that we’re running out of ideas after all.

Infringement or Informative?

When searching the web for “copyright infringement rules” you’re give a plethora of results. About 1,350,000 results to be exact. For someone who is searching for the “rules” of copyright-infringement; good luck. This search brings up pages and pages of results. While the initial Wikipedia definition of copyright infringement is pretty good of explaining what it actually is, it doesn’t explain how to avoid it. For that answer one would have to go much deeper into the article. So my question becomes, is this information as easily accessible as it should be? YouTubers and bloggers around the world are given take-down notices for using content that is supposedly breaking copyright-infringement rules but how are we, normal everyday people, supposed to know what these rules are off the top of our heads? Seitz discusses briefly how a lot of companies are including their watermark in the works, just incase it is used. Shouldn’t this be enough? This obviously proves it’s not something I created on my own and am trying to steal. But contrary, there are video editing services to counter and take out the watermark. To which I have to say; haven’t we all seen the big movies or shows that people put on the internet? Obviously we aren’t trying to steal it, it’s already been made and our friends know it wasn’t made by us.

With this being said, another point that raises some questions for me is how does YouTube actually catch every single person who supposedly don’t follow all of the copyright infringement rules? There is no way to catch absolutely everyone who doesn’t follow all of the rules and as technology progresses and more and more people get on the internet, this may become a loosing battle for movie producing companies. Me personally? I could probably post something online with all of the copyright rules broken and no one would ever know because I’m not a huge presence on the internet. If someone else were to do this, like Kim Kardashian or Kanye West, they’d be busted immediately.





Before the Blockbuster Weekend

When you watch a movie, sound just comes with the film. But do you ever wonder how that sound got there? It may not be as traditionally as you think. An art that I personally believe is at the very furthest edge of the scale is something called “foley” and it takes years and years to master. Gary Hecker is a veteran foley artist and one of the best in his field. Personally, I always thought these sounds were just made in filming and tuned in a studio to be a little louder or were put in with computers; but in the video link you can see it’s much more complicated than that.

With images, no audio, the audience is free to interpret whatever they want from the way the images are displayed. It’s not quite like that for film. We are given the final product and what is laid before us is how we portray it. But, this isn’t the case for the foley artists who work on these films. They are free to interpret, with guidance from directors I’m sure, on how they think background things should sound and therefore leaving us feeling a certain way.

These jobs were created for the soul purpose of enhancement, but do we as viewers actually realize footsteps in gravel? Or is it just sound to fill an empty space? Of course if we were to take these small details out now we would definitely be able to tell that something was a little off but if we were to go back in time, and never see a movie where we could distinctly hear shoe to pavement, would it really make a difference in the movies we watch?

It’s amazing what humans can think of and can make a living off of doing. Being a foley artist seems like one of the coolest jobs in the world, but will there always be a need for foley artists? With advances in technology and foley being such a time consuming and expensive way to put finishing touches on a film, I guess only time will tell.

Reality Images

All over the world millions of pictures are taken every day. We, as humans, see these images and think how beautiful they are, eye opening, scary, or whatever the case may be. We are quick to see these and fall into the traps that are presented before us.

Clothing companies have taken a big hit at altering their images for a “better looking” model. For example, Target has been in the crosshairs of retouching their images a lot. Most of the time these changes are subtle, but sometimes it’s very noticeable, and for some reason we are much more inclined to accept the subtle changes; a small shrinking of a waist line or a spot remover of a blemish, but when there’s a whole chunk missing out of a girls leg so the two don’t touch in the thigh area the world has a hay day.

A big movement right now is a love your body campaign. A couple of major retailers have taken this on like Victoria’s Secret and Aerie (an undergarment/swimsuit spinoff of American Eagle). For these campaigns, they claim that the images of their models in commercials or pictures have been unretouched. They’re real images, of real girls, with all different body types. But as Rosenberg says:

“There is no sharp easy line between photos that are ‘manipulated’ and those that aren’t; there is a spectrum of practice, and when a photo is cropped or artificially lit or color-adjusted or sharpened or filtered in any way it is already being manipulated.”

Anyone who owns a smartphone knows that simply changing the exposure or the brightness on a picture can change it drastically. If we want to encourage young women to be happy with their bodies as these campaigns endorse, but at the same time are sharpening and filtering photos that make these women “glow” in a way they normally wouldn’t, is the campaign false or flawed? The claim of “no retouching” might be partly true; but at some level the photo was, in a very simple way, manipulated. Is this breaking the rules, so to speak, of unretouched photo campaigns?


Does media change us?

In a society where media is heavily prevalent, there will eventually come a time when all of us asks “does media change us?” In some ways, I believe it does. One of the biggest issues young people are facing today is the way media deals with body image. Models have gotten much more skinny, clear skin is a prize we’re all searching for and how others think of the way we dress is something that consumes us in the morning while we’re picking out an outfit.

Roles are assigned through media whether it be by the television shows or movies we watch, or simply by billboards we pass on the way to the mall. There are stores that are given a high brand recognition and those stores sell clothes to the “popular kids” while the lesser sell to the “nerds.” These stores were not simply opened and had these associations. They were worked for and earned by teams of people striving for brand recognition. And how did they do that exactly? Media. Advertising.

10 years ago, at the tender age of 13, the coolest clothing brand for teenage girls was American Eagle. These were the commercials you saw on television of skinny, tan, long hair, free spirited girls chasing boys by the ocean and all you could think was “I want to be like that girl.” How did we achieve that? By buying American Eagle. We were swept up in the brand and allowed media to tell us that if we didn’t wear American Eagle we weren’t the cool girls in school. We didn’t decide this for ourselves, someone else decided it for us and then it spiraled into our peers thinking it as well. Understanding who we actually were got more difficult because we were expected to fall into what society expected of us; not what we expected.