Time and Again

Inspired by H.G Wells,The Time Machine

Forget the geometry you learned in 10th grade. A point has one dimension, a line two, and a cube three because it contains within it length, width and thickness. Thus we say, the cube exists three dimensionally. But what if the cube had all three dimensions but lacked duration, it would no longer exist now would it? Therefore, there must exist a fourth dimension; a dimension that we call time and wherein all of us travel at an equal velocity (both speed and direction) forward. One day we shall be able to illustrate this fourth dimension in three, just as we have been able to illustrate three-dimensional cubes on two-dimensional paper; we must only master the perspective of it.

The question is not whether this dimension exists or whether we can represent it, but rather whether or not we will be able to change the speed and direction that we travel within it. At one point, we humans were only able to travel laterally, forward, back and down, but we have manipulated our world in order to be able to also travel up, and even “out”, in to the cosmos. One day we will be able to master this fourth dimension as well.

The next question becomes whether this pursuit is noble, or destructive. Will it promote order or entropy? I only need look into my life to answer these questions. There was a person in my life that I shall refer to as “Morning”. She said and did some things to me I know she wishes she could take back, and I the same to her. More so even than the regrets, I would give most anything to travel back in time and re-live some of those moments we shared.

But if those things we said could be taken back, and those events relived, how could we have made up and learned? How could we live and appreciate each moment for what it was worth without worrying about visiting it again tomorrow?

Yes, time as a dimension exists, and yes, one day one of you readers will discover how to travel through it. Don’t. Though you might not know it, there are those who have, and have regretted it, and others who went back in time to prevent the discovery from ever happening again- again and again. That you are reading this means that you are lucky enough to be living in a continuum that has yet to be interrupted by time travel and we should keep it that way. Because we are humans and can only learn from our mistakes.  To travel back and relive the wonderful times with “Morning” and remember what I no longer have, and then travel back not so far and take back all the hurtful things that I said and win her back, would be to live a lie. If it is meant to be, it will be, and to tamper with it would be using science to make fiction.

– Kinetix.

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Catch Em All

While some of you may “hit yourself in your own confusion” (Pokemon joke you may not get it) as to why I am not choosing Azeroth, World of Warcraft’s expansive world where I have spent over 150 days of play time, as the one I would most like to live in, I can promise you that my reasoning and desire to live in the Pokeworld is well thought out.

 

Pokemon is a world of color, companionship and complex simplicity. When beginning on my journey I am given a choice of three companions with whom I will share a “life-long” bond with, and go on dozen of exciting adventures. The relationships developed with your pokemon are similar to those one would have with a pet, except these pets live in balls with their own maintenance free litter boxes, have complex personalities, can speak (one word- their names) and last but not least take you to the depths of the oceans, fly you around the world and shoot fire balls from their mouths at your enemies,. As you grow, and move further away from home, you almost develop a new family with your Pokemon, as they also get stronger and evolve in to the post pubescent versions of themselves.

 

Furthermore, having a variety of Pokémon allows me to have mastery over dozens of different elements and terrains whereas in other fantasy worlds, people are restricted to a certain class or specialty. Pokemon promotes the strategy of diversification, in order to best combat the opponents poke line up.

 

I used the word “opponent” and not enemy purposefully, because unlike Azeroth the world is not on the verge of cataclysm every month with every new patch. As Pokemon trainer, it is my responsibility if and only if I take it upon myself, to be the best Pokemon trainer I can be and to defeat all of the other best Pokemon trainers, kind of like a sport. Azeroth is a dark, dangerous, volatile place, and even within capital cities one is never totally safe. People can share relationships with pokemon without having to be competitive or violent at all. The lush and densely inhabited Pokeworld is almost idealistic in its lack of hierarchy, its distribution of responsibility and its primary mode of transportation being bicycles.  Plus- who wouldn’t go for totally free, efficient and effective healthcare at every local Pokecenter?

 

While I would obviously be very competitive and strive to be the best trainer in the world (- be that guy who challenges every trainer on the road J) I wouldn’t have to do it to save the world, and my responsibility would be to my pokemon and myself not to the world at large. I would experience dozens of fruitful relationships and grow as an individual in strength and maturity. Pokemon- Gotta catchem all.

 

–       Kinetix

 

P.S Ash Ketchum’s hat is swaggy as hell

 

 

“We Are All A Little Bit Racist Sometimes”

Racism and stereotypes are things we cannot avoid. Our bodies make snap judgments based on peoples accents, religion, and physical appearance without conscious cognitive reasoning. The thing that novels without pictures struggle to encompass, is that first snap judgment, or take in of an entire scene.

We spoke in class about how the racism that is pervasive through out the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in some ways takes away from the book. While I do think using the name “Johnny Chinaman” does not add any substance to the graphic novel, I think in some ways Alan Moore’s use of racism and bluntness does.

Multiple times throughout the graphic novel Moore expresses that this “comic book” is not meant for children. It is a graphic, brutal story geared towards adult readers. These adults should have already formulated opinions on race strong enough to at the very least not be swayed by a comic book, and thus readers will be accepting what they see as a form of media and not as truth.

The scene that best utilizes racism and callousness to add to the novel is when Ms. Murray ventures to Cairo to seek out Quatermaine. Upon entering the building wherein he is staying, Ms. Murray is confronted by an almost alien scene. The bar is packed and thick with dark shisha smoke. There are no women and none of the men seem friendly at all. In fact, they fit the exact Arab stereotype that makes some of us as Americans uncomfortable. In the dark room they all wear turbans or little hats, wear the thin mustache and heavy beard and do not speak English. Ms. Murray is wearing proper English lady attire and is easily recognized as out of place and not belonging there.

The stark contrast of Ms. Murray and the men around her and the use of racism provide a powerful visual message. Upon entering the bar, we can see that this place is alien, it is different and potentially harmful. There are no allies in this place of people so different from her, and she is not safe. It illustrates the intensity of the position that Quatermaine is in and the lengths Ms.Murray would go to find him.

In the frame I chose, Ms. Murray is being raped. In this foreign, unsafe place she is forced to the floor and has her legs spread. In the frame one can see the man’s naked but as he prepares himself to rape her while his fat brother holds her down. The men’s faces are totally unconcerned or afraid or merciful. Once again, before reading this book we were warned of its illicit material.

This scene is incredibly disconcerting to put in words, but to see it on paper, in color, to a woman whose character has been developing? Far worse. However, I think that that is a good thing. Rape is a very disconcerting thing, and we should not take it casually even when we read it. Too often now in books do we read of massive amounts of civilians dying without pause to think of each of their families- the widows and the orphans. It is so easy to just keep reading, “what is going to happen next”? Between the two frames I have discussed, one can see how hopeless and afraid Ms. Murray, how dire her situation is and better relate to it. If the first frame was brighter, and the men there looked more decent and less foreign maybe Ms. Murray could have called for help, or maybe even she could expect that these men would be punished for their crimes. If I only saw a shadow of her about to be raped, I would not have fully grasped how invasive they were being or the closeness to which they came to being successful.

All in all in this set of frames the racism help build set the tone of the scene, and better let us relate to the character and her situation.

This is not just a comic book… it’s a graphic novel.

– Kinetix

Creature Consumed by Creativity vs. Addictive Alien Annihilator – The “Artsy” and the Gamers

They will rot your brain. They will make you lazy. They will demagnetize your moral compass and turn you into a sociopathic monster. They will sabotage your ability to function in the real world. Sound familiar gamers? I think so.

Artists aspire to create, and create differently. They differ from engineers only in that their creations are not tangible and thus have no clear physical benefit on the world at large. Blessed with incredible talent, artists are able to create creatively, meaning that they have the ability to construct, draw or recreate things right from their mind. These powerful aesthetic or sensory experiences are utilized by the artists as a from of expression, but also to stimulate a different part of the appreciator’s mind, the creative aspect. We exalt the masters of creation and re-creation for their abilities to understand what we would like to see, or piece together thousands of sounds into a brilliant symphony that makes us recall a powerful memory.

Why then are video game designers not artists? They too create worlds with no tangible benefits. They too have the unique talent to take what is in their mind and recreate it in a medium for us to walk and adventure through. These worlds provide powerful and often enjoyable experiences through music, narrative, graphic design and interactivity. As those of us who have tried game design, and all of us who will later this semester, it is hard- very hard, and there is a huge difference between an excellent game, and a really bad one. Video games stimulate a fantastical part of our minds, one that allows us to escape reality and play by rules in a “safe magic circle”. We encounter creatures, quests and lands that have been brought to life from people’s minds and feel strongly emotionally invested in our character’s successes and failures.

Just as artists used to have studios, with hundreds of apprentices working on one sculptor, does the chief game designer, who delegates but sees the full completed picture of his game not deserve the adjectives, creative, brilliant, or a master of his art? Are the intellectual challenges posed by a new rule, or a newly introduced ability that change the game and make we gamers think differently not stimulating? No, I do not believe that the person who writes code to create the bird nest behind one of Bilbo’s Trolls’ ear is an artist. However, the person who chose the music, envisioned the light poking through the trees, and a challenge worthy of being proud while passing through the area is. LOTRO may not be the best example because it is based off of a book, but the same holds true for may games such as World of Warcraft and even the creator of chess. That to understand human nature, the power of variables, rules, fiction, tone, setting and story is an art, and that this new art has champions who deserve to be famed as artists.

But who are those people who fame artists. The twenty year olds with the tight, off colored jeans, strange facial hair, tight shirts, cigarettes and some sort of hat, that we call “artsy”? Or the straight laced doctor, who hasn’t rhymed or drawn since mandatory 5th grade art class who through his pervasive knowledge of art history, is considered an expert appreciator? Or is it the kids like me, who have a full outline for a fantasy series but without the god-gifted talents of composition who reveres those legends like J.R.R Tolkein? All of our opinions should be considered, but only those culturally accepted are heard.

Some people do not like video games- they are a waste of time, physically. Some people do not like art- it is just as much a waste of time, physically. We as humans need to waste time in creative ways. We appreciate what humans can do besides build sky scrapers and powerful calculators and realize that there is more to life than procreation and financial success. What is scary is when people like Steve Wiebe or ambitious artists aspire to be the best at wasting time or allowing us to waste time. When gamers sabotage one another’s scores or rich kids from NYC spend hundreds of dollars to look like poor rebellious artists, we have a problem. Gamers and artists who try and escape the competitive world, actually play the game of relative power (see Kintex’s Theory of Relativity Part One) and do not embody the essence of creative entertainment.

People need to look at video games and art in a similar way. You may wear some article of clothing from the 1860’s that looks absurd to most, to make a statement about who you are- an appreciator of the creative arts, but me wearing a shirt with the sigil of the horde (my faction in World of Warcraft) is just as much a statement of what I appreciate and should be treated as such. Yes, video games are addictive and serve no tangible benefit, but a binge museum goer is also no way to live life. Society still looks at them differently though.

Most of us are not artists, most of us are not video game designers. We are the appreciators and gamers who facilitate the furthering of these arts. What games we play are just as reflective of our creative processes as what art we like, and if done in moderation, games can be a stimulant for, critical and creative thinking (rules and fiction). To create these games is an art form and we gamers are not less sophisticated for appreciating them. Why I love this class is because I can have a lengthy talk about Master Van Goh followed by a lengthier one on Lord Voldemort.

I am an artist. I am a gamer. I am an appreciator of the arts.

“Humans are body and soul. Brains are pragmatic and creative. We are judged and classified by our bodies and pragmatism to fit an ideal. We must stop judging and classifying soul and creativity. There are no ideals just perceptions. In art, majority should not rule.” – Kinetix

– Kinetix

Kinetix’s Theory of Relativity Part One

It once mattered who the toughest kid on the block was; it mattered which mother could bake the best cookies and which hunter was best in his clan. It mattered because we humans are a species of relativity, I am only strong if I am stronger than him and only rich if I can afford more than almost everyone else. But, in this day in age, with new technologies that facilitate globalization and 6 billion competitors it is hard to be the “est” of anything and being good is rarely ever enough. And that is what all of us are, competitors- competing for success in a world where everyone is comparing themselves to everyone else.

 

All of us, every single one of us, starts our lives believing we are the center of the universe. Over time however, we realize that we are just not that special and that while we are unique, there are thousands of others just as “good” as we are. Well, at least some us experience this awakening.

 

Because everyone strives to be the best, we idolize and envy those who are, believing that they must have it all, and lead the lives we normal folk can only dream of. This adoration and respect of the public, inflates the heads of the winners, preventing them from the day of reckoning all of us need, making them nearly unbearable to be around. For if the mediated world is telling you you are the best, wouldn’t you be a fool to disagree with them?

 

To me, “King of Kong” is one of the clearest examples of the exaltation of those who have separated themselves from the pack and established themselves as best of… anything. In the film, Billy Mitchell, the world’s first gaming celebrity,  was surrounded by the best gamers in the world who all just wanted to be him, and while he was screwed up in the head in the first place, I think this screwed him up even more. It was he who (apparently) got all the pretty girls, made the money and even had a nemesis. While he is an exceptional athlete of sorts, and deserves to be proud of his accomplishments and success, it was that everyone wished they were him, that gave him the power. In reality, another sixty thousand points in Donkey Kong does not make either one of them better or worse than the other, but Steve Wiebe needed this for himself, he needed the applause of the world and to be recognized as excellent, and his need being so great is what empowers people like Billy Mitchell, the winners.

 

What I am taking out of this film (besides incredible entertainment) is that in order to empower ourselves we need to stop striving to be others. Looking closely at what I said, I did not say stop striving to be the best because we should always strive to be the best, just not relative to others, but relative to ourselves.

 

Not everyone will hear our names on CNN, or solidify our heroism in history with statues. However, all of us have the ability to change the world. By being the best son, brother, friend, wife boyfriend, boss or employee we really can make a difference. If the owner of a factory decides to spend an extra 1000 dollars to install an air-conditioning in his factory, all of his 300 workers will not dread coming to work as much everyday, and thus be in lighter spirits when they come home to hardworking wives and children.  That is being the best boss you can be and not having to be the best one there is.

 

All in all, while we all cheer for Steve Wiebe, it is sad that he needs this to feel good about himself, especially when he has a job and family to worry about at home. To play a game only to remind oneself how good you are, defeats the purpose of entertainment and is a sad byproduct of our competitive world. The world’s best gamers and Olympic athletes spend their lives trying to get to the next level or shave a few milliseconds off their time. While we are all happy in the end because the kind Steve Wiebe has defeated the obnoxious Billy Mitchell, this article,

http://www.examiner.com/arcade-game-in-dallas/donkey-kong-world-champion-beats-own-score illustrates how unhealthy and futile this complex is. All I can think of now is a teary eyed Wiebe in his dark garage trying to reclaim the top of the hill while his wife sleeps alone upstairs. An ending thought to be continued another week- is it then worth it to quit the game? To never compare ourselves to anyone else?

 

See you next week,

The best, , the strongest, the fastest and the prettiest-

Kinetix

 

“Best does not have to mean better than the rest” – Kinetix

Are the Rulers of Middle Earth Naturally Selected?

In Oxford’s English dictionary, play has over 30 different definitions, though the most prominent one is “to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose”. But my question is- is that really all play is? Something to keep us amused for whatever period of time were engaged and participatory? I think play is a lot more, and I do not stand alone.

Play is a concept seen most prominently in adolescents of all species. Human babies throw their food and jingle the bells over their cribs before they can walk or talk. Boys play war and wrestle, while girls try on costumes and have tea parties. But, as noted earlier, we are not the only species who play. In fact, some phylogeneticists believe that play, and more specifically cooperative play is another defining characteristic of all mammals and can be used to help categorize animals. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp4vhO-vcNc

The reason why I am so passionate about animals is that I look at the world through a Darwinist lens. Every animal that exists has some trait, or most likely a slue of different traits that have made them more suitable to survive in this ever changing world than thousands of other competing species. So why is it that all mammals have maintained this trait, this inherent desire to play? Many animal researchers believe that play is actually a naturally selected, desirable characteristic, and that it can be compared to “studying for the game of life” – survival and reproduction. This is clearly supported by the ever-present evidence of boys wrestling, racing and playing war. Boys are known to pick on the smaller child, and assert their dominance if they can; all of these “games” preparing themselves to fight, compete and ultimately win in an aggressive world. Girls (as animals) once filled far different roles than they do now, and their survival, though also based on vigor, was largely dependent on the quality of their mates. Looking at the world in this way, it is not surprising that girls enjoy dressing up, and practice their role of primary caretaker on little dolls.

(Just an interesting idea that I will not delve into- these same animal researchers believe that dreams are akin to a virtual reality practice for life and that vivid dreaming makes mammals more likely to survive.)

So why do we “play” games? Gaming is often thought of as a waste of time- empty entertainment, lacking culture or substance like movies and art. However, looking at games through a “rules and fiction” lens- that games are in essence a set of easily understood rules from which enjoyment is drawn based on “these easy to use rules presenting challenges that cannot be easily overcome. Playing a game is an activity of improving these skills in order to overcome these challenges, and playing a game is therefore fundamentally a learning experience.” (Juul 5) A critical thinker can see why dozens of millions of people slave away at their computers and consoles day after day.

Thinking as the mamaologists do: As an adolescent, I am intrinsically and biologically programmed to play- to want to prepare myself for the world to come. However, we humans no longer live in the world of survival, but rather the world of success. Today it is not the fastest, the strongest or the meanest who survive, it is the smartest, the most diligent and the different. So how do we best prepare ourselves for this new world? What games do we play? As kids we play one massive, institutionalized game called school. This game has rules, it has goals, enforcers, competition, consequences and benefits. However, this game is also our job and there are some games we ADD children tire of quickly, and so we search for supplemental fulfillment elsewhere. We can go wrestle, we can go race we can play war and pick on the little guy, but that too is obsolete, because one does not need to fight or hunt to succeed in this world. And so when I come home from school, I plop down in my chair at my desk and turn on my computer and play a video game. How does sitting at my desk with a mountain dew clicking away prepare me more for the world? Why does it fulfill this inherent need to game within me? While there are some practical purposes for gaming like using video game simulators for combat in the army and race car simulators for NASCAR drivers, the purpose of video games is deeper than that. Looking back through the “rules and fiction” lens, games are also fiction. I am not preparing myself for this world but rather a different one. When I step in to West Bree, or move my knight to C5, I am learning, through playing, a new set of rules, establishing a new set of goals and improving a new set of skills to succeed. That once again looking through a Darwinian lens, we, the most adaptive creatures our world has ever seen, are excited by the challenge of these fictional worlds and want to play to be able to best compete in them. We gamers (as not all people find these games fulfilling) fulfill our biological drives of playing (preparing) and succeeding in the dangerous worlds of Middle Earth and Azeroth, when the game of school, preparing us for the game of life seem more daunting than well… a cave troll or a 4 move chess mate.

So, all in all, we all must play- and when we play games we do play- and learn; just with a new set of enforced rules and often in a different world.

“Everyone plays to win, but what world we do it in is a gamer’s choice” – Kinetix

-Kinetix

My Gaming Relationship Status

My home gaming experience:

My parents got stuck with the most difficult of all children. Despite their mild mannered respectful personalities, my were those parents who were always being called by the school for some reason or the next. While I am not sure what their guiding philosophy for me would have been had my brothers been more docile, I was quickly marked as the “easy child” and my parents had a unique way of raising me. They never put any pressure on me to do my homework or to go to sleep early, as long as I did what I had to do I had my freedom. Except when it came to gaming. I started playing WOW when I was in 7th grade and it was probably the worst thing that ever happened to me. I would play and play for hours on end. Socially I still never missed a beat, and I always did enough work to get a B+/A- but never pushed my self. Homework was done as fast as possible so I could get to the computer. When my parents tried to get me to stop I would argue with them time and again “I am doing fine, I have friends and good grades, nothing is out of control” but it was. I was just absorbed and making excuses for myself. My parents tried making me quit, but I would get so angry and upset, and I never got like that, that that they would be weak and I would soon get it back. I finally quit in 11th grade when I woke up and realized that I wanted to get into a good college. I played other games but nothing saps away all of your time like WOW does.  I went back and dabbled in it for a few months after I got into college but quickly felt badly about it and dumped it for good. I am happy to not be addicted going into college.

The problem with the previous paragraph is that it makes it seem as if WOW was all bad, believe me it wasn’t. I had a million good moments and nights I spent smiling behind my keyboard. They are regrettable now, but in the time it was all great fun. One of the funniest bonding experiences I have or maybe ever will have is that one time I went over to a friends house and saw WOW on his computer and asked him whether or not he plays. He told me he used to and quit and I lied and said the same thing. A few months later, after a party I had a bunch of buddies over, and because I had known them for almost a year (this was the end of freshmen year) I decided to let them in on the fact that I had been playing WOW all along. After showing off my character, my gear etc… My friend said “move over”. I gave him the chair and he logged onto a character, also of top level but with all of the gear that takes WEEEEEKS to get. The highest level everything. He started playing PVP and he was the rogue I always wanted to be. My other friend there also logged onto his lesser account. We had all been playing wow secretly for over a year. We then made a guild, arena teams the works and played multiple games together for the rest of high school including League of Legends, Halo and Heroes of Newerth. We no longer hid our gaming and everyone in the school knew about it. It was much better like that.

A sadder ending story is that of my cousin. My cousin was a gamer, and I introduced him to WOW because I thought it would be good for both us if we played together. It destroyed him. He got better than me in under 5 months and his grades slipped drastically. He was lying to his parents that he was working when he actually playing wow almost every day and into the wee hours of the night. When he got to college and raw brain power could not make him pass, he failed out and then went on a study abroad program and failed that to. He worked in McDonalds for 5 months and is trying to study abroad again. We will see how that works out. I watch his account to make sure he doesn’t play now, because he lies even to me, but it seems he has replaced it with other games. I am not sure if he will ever break his addictive habit and it is hard having to be the one to watch out for him rather than watch him play.

All in all, my parents were right in trying to stop me, my friends awesome for being like me in such a strange way, and my cousin… ruined. It has been a part of my social life with my friends, and part of my alone time at home. It has stressed the relationship between me and my parents, and made a different one of me and my cousin.  It has definitely impacted my life.

– Kinetix