Of Nether Rays and Infernals

When I heard the blog topic for this week, my mind jumped in excitement at all the possibilities. However, this elated feeling quickly evaporated once I realized how difficult the choice would be for me, making me carefully consider the pros and cons of all of my top choices. Eventually, I decided upon my final choice, the world of World of Warcraft.

To begin, I choose this world partially because of my persistent fascination with medieval-style combat, weaponry, and magic.  To live in world that contains all of these features and relies heavily upon them would be extremely exciting and consistently interesting.  In addition, I would enjoy practicing combat skills all day long, attempting to get stronger and better each day.

However, I mainly choose this world for another reason. The world is constantly in peril from nefarious forces such as dragons, the undead, and a legion of infernal monsters. Even though this may not seem to be a very appealing world to live in, I believe that the inherent danger in the world makes it all the more appealing to me. To elaborate, the inherent danger would create a strong sense of purpose and appreciation for life, something I believe has been somewhat lost in modern society. Everything one would do in this world could affect the fate of the entirety of the world, giving true meaning to this life. Moreover, fighting against the evil legions assists the citizens of the world, bettering their lives and making their world a safer place. This sense of duty and helping others would be very rewarding, especially because one would be saving their lives rather than simply helping them.

On a lighter note, it would also be extremely fun to be able to fly on giant, winged creatures like the dragons and nether rays available in this world.  Although we can fly on airplanes in our world, it wouldn’t even compare with the thrill of flying on a colossal beast barreling through uncharted lands. Speaking of uncharted lands, this world is filled with dangerous, beautiful, and widely varying landscapes that contain a plethora of interesting creatures. If I were able to explore these regions in my own body, I doubt much could compare to the thrill of finding new and exciting places everywhere I went.

Last, the ability to become a craftsman in a variety of magical trades appeals to me greatly. I wish I had the ability to enchant an item to make someone stronger, or craft potions at a whim that would help others succeed at difficult tasks.  If only this were possible, I would choose to live in this magical world in a heartbeat.

-juancarlos284

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Limehouse

           After some amount of time flipping through the pages of this graphic novel, I arrived at this deeply interesting panel. This panel is the first panel in which the Limehouse district is visually introduced to the reader.  To begin, the scenery in the panel is dark and dreary, thereby giving the reader the impression that this area isn’t a particularly good area to live in. Furthermore, the sky is filled with a face that is presumed to be the face of “The Doctor”. The face is not meant to be taken literally as being in the sky, but rather it helps to emphasize the fact that “The Doctor” oversees the district, acting as its crime warlord.

The next items that stood out to me in the panel were the smokestacks coming from the houses and pollution in the sky.  Following the norm in most steam punk fiction, the pollution indicates a critique of the over-industrialization of the city by showing one of its negative effects on the environment. Also, in the top left corner, two workers are working on repairing a phone line in a very precarious manner. Herein lies another critique of the over-industrialization displayed in most steam punk fiction, as the safety of the workers is not put into consideration, and they are viewed simply as a means to the completion of industrial projects.

The panel also contains some racism, specifically against the Chinese. First, in the bottom left corner, three Chinese men are displayed with slanted eyes and stereotypically Chinese headwear. Moreover, these men are robbing an unconscious man lying on the ground. In addition, in the middle-bottom right corner of the panel, a Chinese man is karate-kicking two other men while raising his sword menacingly at them. Although the racism throughout the graphic novel is not meant to be taken literally, the panel does demonstrate the stereotypes about the Chinese, and it portrays them in a very negative manner.

Next, the housing of the district is extremely broken down and ragged, and beggars can be seen in various parts of the panel, such as in the bottom right corner, thereby displaying the district as a very poor area.  In addition, a brothel exists right next to this beggar, and naked men and women are shown on the decks of this building. There is even a depiction of a woman beating on a man in the center of the panel. These examples portray the district as a fundamentally immoral and flawed neighborhood that thrives on vice and crime in order to survive.

All of these examples come together to show that the Limelight district is a seedy, dark, and corrupt location filled with evildoers, prostitutes, and violent individuals. By showing  “The Doctor” in the background overseeing all of this activity, he is thus also characterized as an evil and corrupt individual. However, the panel also critiques industrialization by displaying many of its negative consequences.  These characteristics help to influence readers’ opinions later in the novel, thereby increasing the panel’s importance.

juancarlos284

Gaming Art

In order to identify whether or not video games can be considered art, one must first consider what qualifies as art. According to most sources, art is a division of objects or things that are subject to certain aesthetic criteria, or the expression of human creativity and imagination.

From this definition, video games certainly qualify as artistic expression as they, just as much as any other art form, demonstrate a wide range of imaginative ideas.  From games like Dead Space to Assassin’s Creed, creative genius is at work creating an array of different possibilities and ideas never thought of before.  Gaming, in my opinion, sometimes even takes art to whole new levels that contemporary and ancient art does not, as it demonstrates levels of creativity far beyond the levels achieved by what is traditionally considered art. The range of games is virtually unlimited, and game designers are constantly expanding the variety of available games.

Furthermore, many games also create artistic landscapes, scenery, and backgrounds. For example, in the Assassin’s Creed games, entire cities are constructed that retain intrinsic beauty and complexity. It takes serious artistic talent in order to construct these multifaceted landscapes that come together seamlessly and create entirely new worlds to explore.  To not consider this art would be to ignore the aesthetic beauty and unbelievable creativity required to construct these backgrounds and landscapes.

However, I doubt video games, in my lifetime, will ever be seriously considered artistic by modern society.  Society tends to view gaming as simply escaping from reality, and it thus receives a negative connotation. It also is typically viewed as a medium that can really only provide base pleasure for the gamer as many popular games are warlike and do not engage the gamer cognitively. As long as games like Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto exist, however fun to play they may be, games will likely not be considered art. However, games can be cognitively engaging and have artistic storylines, even though the most popular ones do not. For instance, Lord of the Rings Online retains a deep and complex story that, if placed in the form of a novel, could easily be considered an artistic masterpiece. The game medium simply hasn’t become appreciated within modern society, and the artistry within some games is not appreciated as it sometimes should be.  Maybe one day society will see that some games retain intrinsic artistic value and beauty, but that day is not likely to come soon.

What King of Kong Taught Me

In King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, the gamers devote their entire lives to the games they love. They spend long hours at the arcades and in their homes, constantly trying to achieve higher and higher scores. From this documentary, I learned about a whole new perspective about competitive gaming that I had never experienced before. By this I mean I gained a whole new appreciation for the world of competitive gaming and those who participate in it. Although I would not devote my life in this manner, I now don’t view this world as had previously seen it.

The world of competitive gaming is very similar to the world of competitive sports, even though they appear to be very different. For instance, in both worlds, the participants train long hours, memorize complex patterns, and must master certain skills in order to be successful. The difference simply lies in which skills and traits must be exercised in order to succeed. In sports these traits typically include strength, agility, and other athletic attributes. On the other hand, in gaming, these traits include hand-eye coordination, pattern recognition, speed of thought, and other attributes. None of the traits, whether in gaming or in sports, are easily obtainable, and they can only be attained through hard work and practice. Even though because sports are typically more popular and better thought of than games, this fact should not undermine a game’s intrinsic worth or the accomplishments of gamers.

Furthermore, after viewing the movie, I now understand the true competitiveness in the gaming world. The gamers devote much of their lives to these games, thereby linking them emotionally to the outcomes of their games. This devotion leads to the competitive spirit between the gamers as they have spent so much time and effort in order to succeed in their respective games. Herein lies another connection to the world of sports, a world with which I am much more familiar. In both worlds, the competitive spirit drives the participants to new heights and previously unachievable accomplishments, thereby creating impressive and sometimes spectacular performances.

The last things the movie taught me about the competitive gaming world were the difficulties present in judging. Before seeing the movie, I hadn’t even considered that referees and judges for gaming would exist. I also hadn’t considered the possibilities of cheating that occur in the gaming world. Again, in this aspect sports and gaming become very similar. In both worlds, different types of cheating occur and must be discovered in order to preserve the competitive integrity of the worlds.

In all, the movie simply taught me a new appreciation for the world of competitive gaming and a hatred for Billy Mitchell. It also taught me about the similarities between gaming and sports which are not always clear. Gamers deserve similar recognition for their accomplishments as many athletes do, and it was satisfying to see the Guinness Book of World Records taking note of this opinion.

-Juancarlos284, John Shula

The Best Game Ever Made

When I heard that I was to choose my favorite game and write about it, I immediately knew which game I wanted to write about. That game is NBA 2K11 for the Xbox 360 game console. For me, no other game can compare to the enjoyment I experience from playing this game.

As an avid basketball fan, this game immediately appeals to my desire to always be either playing or watching the sport. Nothing can be more enjoyable for a basketball fan than to play alongside his or her favorite players and feel immersed within the game. In addition, the game constantly updates real stats, trades, and other items, making the player feel as if he or she were actually part of the league.

From a more technical standpoint, the game is very enjoyable as its controls are relatively simple to understand. However, the simple controls also allow for a large amount of variations on the game. Thus, the player feels in complete control of the players on the court, controlling their every motion with relative ease. The challenge arises within the strategies, plays, and jukes that control the real game of basketball. All of these seemingly unimportant game mechanics, however, prove to be extremely vital to the game, as they combine to create an easy to use system of controls while still maintaining a challenging atmosphere.

To be more specific, although I absolutely enjoy every part of the game, I enjoy a specific mode of play more than any other in the game. This mode of play is referred to as My Player Mode. In this mode, the user creates a player, possibly in their likeness, and progresses through the draft and consequent preseason until he or she reaches the regular season. In this mode, the player only can control this single player, unlike in the other modes of play. Furthermore, the player comes with a low skill set that the user must improve upon by utilizing earned currency. I believe I enjoy this mode more than any other mode of play as it imitates real life play most closely. In other words, it immerses the player in the game, making the player feels as if he or she was on the court with the pros. In addition, the player is forced to react to others’ actions in the game, as the player has no control over any other player. One has to run plays and act instinctively just as one would have to do on a real court.

Furthermore, the game contains many mechanics that allow the user to more thoroughly enjoy the game. For instance, it is rife with impressive dribble moves, high-flying dunks, and players going hard in the paint. All of these reasons I have listed still, however, can’t fully demonstrate how enjoyable of a game NBA 2K11 is.  Simply put, playing the game is an amazing experience that hasn’t been rivaled by any other game I have ever played before.

-juancarlos284

A Difference of Opinions on Gaming

From the day I began playing video games, my parents and I have been at odds with one another about the merits of gaming. In gaming, I saw a world of opportunities. Not only could they help me to relieve stress from my everyday life, but they also provided me with new and interesting ways to interact with others and challenge myself in a myriad of new ways that would have been impossible to experience in the non-gaming world. However, my parents did not share this love for gaming as I did. On the contrary, they consistently reminded me that I was wasting my time and should be focusing on other aspects of my life, such as my studies or swimming.  They believed that the games consumed too much of my time and effort, unbalancing my life and distancing me from reality. To a certain extent, they were right. I did spend too many long hours on online games, often sacrificing my weekends to the games which so enthralled me.  I also occasionally prioritized the games over other areas of my life which deserved more of my time.

However, my parents neglected some of the intrinsic benefits of playing video games. As I briefly touched on before, games can serve to relieve anxiety and provide an excellent outlet for negative emotions. Furthermore, games can provide online forums for interactions between diverse people, such as in the case of World of Warcraft. Although the game centers on the storyline and fighting, players are constantly in contact with one another, possibly exchanging different opinions on guild chat, learning how to utilize the online economy to their advantage, or gaining other general insights that can be applied to real-world situations. Nonetheless, my parents retained their negative views on gaming, thereby ignoring the intrinsic worth of it.

When it came to my friends’ opinions on gaming, there stood a sharp divide among them. This divide arose from the separation between gamers who only enjoyed console games, and those who enjoyed other types of games like MMOs. To most of my friends, playing massively popular console games such as Call of Duty was perfectly alright. However, when one ventured into the realm of online MMOs such as World of Warcraft, he or she might as well have committed social suicide. A small group of closer friends disagreed with this notion. These select few believed that, in moderation, any type of gaming was acceptable because one should do whatever makes one happy.

Thus, many of my friends and my parents have disapproved of my gaming habits throughout my life. Even those who supported me in my choice to game often believed I played games too much. However, I contend that games do retain merit and can teach important life lessons, even if my friends and family cannot share my passion and respect for gaming.

-juancarlos284