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So I finally get a chance to say what I feel about this subject. Yay me! Where to start? I guess I should start with my stance on the combination of horror and humor as genre’s, especially now and today and that stance is…don’t do it anymore. Seriously, please don’t do it anymore. Perhaps I have a different feel of what horror is compared to others but I am a horror movie fan to those movies that I deem worthy. Nowadays, horror is just consisting of a killer going around, mutilating everything in their wake, a main character that somehow ends up coming across said killer, and them trying to figure out how to escape while trying to kill the killer. Sadly, horror nowadays isn’t the genre it used to be. It’s completely watered down. When I think ‘horror’, I think of something that frightens me. In fact when I watch a so-called ‘horror’ film nowadays, I don’t find myself scared but rather I laugh out loud hysterically seeing blood and guts splatter everywhere and a more expensive showing of ‘1000 Ways To Die’. In this retrospect, I guess you can call me experiencing the comedy side of horror versus the fear. Horror films nowadays are just that: a joke. They are constantly repetitious and some of the elements that happen in horror movies have just become cliched. For example, why–TELL ME WHY!!!–there is always a dumb character that walks in the woods by themselves, ends up lost and with a broken car, starts running with the killer behind them and decide to slip and fall, the one and only black character dies protecting everyone (truthfully, most black people get highly offended by it because they would end up abandoning their own mother to survive, let alone a friend or comrade), the killer walks at a slow pace and no matter how much running the main character does, they end up getting killed; and somehow they manage to squeeze in a sex scene between characters right before the man then the woman (most times but it can be vice-versa) gets killed by the killer. Personally, I feel that in order to experience horror and humor first one must fix the horror side, at least to my standards. In fact, Gore needs to have its own genre to keep people from being confused about what is true horror.

In my opinion, the movie exemplars given by Carroll to me isn’t horror. Many of them are comedy movies/sitcoms (<– and that’s stretching the word ‘comedy’ too much for some of the films) ¬†with horror movie elements. I can’t order a large sized meal from Burger King then get a diet Coke and say that it’s a healthy meal just for the diet Coke (<–that’s intentional. ‘Healthy’ is stretched a lot for diet Coke). There may be some elements like tomato and lettuce on your sandwich and the Coke but speaking realistic, it’s not healthy at all. That’s what I see with many horror/comedy movies nowadays. It’s not done right. Heck, sometimes I question the comedy aspect just as much as the horror.

I agree with Stuart Gordon when he states that ‘The thing I have found is that you’ll never find an audiences that wants to laugh more than a horror audience.’ but the only reason I agree with him is because I’m already biased as to how horror movies should be. To me, horror movies are to test someone’s will to survive when they have absolutely nothing and the situation seems totally desperate. That’s right, NOTHING! No guns, no shovel, no laser gun, no army, no knife, taser, mace, or brass knuckles. You are naked as an individual to protect yourself. That’s how horror movies should be, it should portray helplessness to the extreme. You can’t fight the enemy, all you can do is run, hide, and hope that they don’t see or hear you. THAT’S horror. None of this bullcrap nowadays can make me feel the fear of the character lost in a place that they’ve never seen before, surrounded by multiple enemies that when spotted, they must run for their lives. In that retrospective, I can’t say that comedy needs to be in it. True, I do want to laugh when seeing how pathetic the character is and that they are screwed with absolutely no hope of making it out alive; but laughing takes away what makes horror so awesome in the first place. There is no relief, there’s only suffering and no hope for getting out of the situation.

The only two names that come to mind when I think of these are in fact videogames. Honestly, it makes it much more scarier because you ARE the character that’s helpless. This is interesting because all last night, I watched the walkthroughs for both titles after looking up the top 10 scariest games of all times list on YouTube and a reference from a friend for a more recently released game. Both of those titles are called ‘Outlast’ and ‘Amnesia: the Dark Descent’. After hearing how scary these games were from my friend and knowing how much of a Boss I am, I was like, “Man, grow some hair on your chest and quit being such a punk!’. First I watched Amnesia, without any commentary (usually I hate hearing people talk while the game is being played) and found myself screaming more than watching to the point where I couldn’t even watch the first 10 minutes. It was too quiet and had me on edge so I had to find a video with commentary to make things easier. Needless to say, I didn’t finish it. So when my friend said ‘Outlast’ is scarier, I didn’t believe him…until I watched the first few minutes of it then called it quits. Those are true horror genres. When grown men with deep voices are so frightened that they scream out 6 octaves higher, that’s real horror. People truly forgotten what it’s like being caught off guard and surprised then realize that you have no means of protecting yourself. You can’t laugh at that. But with my sense of crude humor, it is possible to instill comedy in it to my liking, but like I said before, it’s got to be done right.

Sorry for the long post! You can tell I’m passionate abut this subject. ūüôā

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I like this paper a lot and it got me to think a lot about horror, comedy, the fine line in between and user reactions and response to context.

Specifically, such fictions are generally
designed to control and guide our emotional responses in such a way that, ideally,
horror audiences are supposed to react emotionally to the monsters featured in
horror fictions in the same manner that the characters in horror fictions react
emotionally to the monsters they meet there

Carroll mentions this and it really resonates with me. I think a major factor to what is humor and what is horror has to do with the reactions. For me, the reactions of the actors give the audience a context…is it horror or is it comedy. That being said people themselves bring something to the table and decided if it is infact horror or comedy.

So Jared just posted a video on Day-Z. Honestly what made that funny was the guy who was laughing at it. If I personally was playing that game and that happened, I would not hang around, I would head for the hills. It may be because I am in the studio alone this late, but in my context, that was terrifying.

And that brings me to my primary argument. In movies what separates horror from comedy is the reactions of the characters. Carroll points out that horror and comedy both have similarities especially since both of them seem to take a normal situation and juxtapose it with something opposite. Dracula is dead and not dead at the same time. With this juxtapositioning in mind, I want to show the difference in the way we interpret horror and comedy is based on the reactions of the characters. The walking dead vs Shaun of the dead would be ideal examples. Specifically their first encounters with zombies.

In the walking dead the main characters expression is of confusion and fear. Character reaction to Zombies TWD_Ep_101_Sneak-325

This is similar to what Carroll says. But the point is, the actor and his reactions tell us this is serious. There are other queues in the shots, but their reaction to an unusual situation tells us that we should be fearful for him.

Whereas in Shaun of the dead, the characters react very differently to the zombies. they at first sort of ignore them, but when they find out you have to destroy the brain to destroy the zombie they get a hold of their LP’s and proceed to throw it at the zombies

shaun-of-the-dead-records

It is this absurd reaction that tells the audience that this is comedy even though almost everything else is the same. You will never see this happen in the walking dead. The actors will never take their time and go through their LP collection while death approaches them slowly.

We can see how reactions of the characters can persuade our emotional reactions. Now let me give you an example in which we bring our own feelings into it. This is not horror related, but has to do with comedy.

In Inglorious Basterds there is a scene in which the Bastards have captured a group of Nazis and proceed to brutally interrogate them. What is interesting was the audiences reactions to the interrogation. People were laughing when they were graphically scalping heads, even when they beat a soldier to death with a baseball bat. It was funny primarily because we all know the Nazis were not good people (a dumb way to summarize it!)

Similarly in the movie, the Germans were watching a movie in which the Americans were dying…the Germans in the audience were laughing, but the audience in the real theater were not. We do not associate the death of American soldiers to fun. ¬†What I am trying to say is that we as an audience also have a say in what is funny and what is horror. Our experiences and context definitely shape our reactions.

Thus in a similar fashion, I think Jared’s video is funny only and only because the guy is laughing….I swear, watch the video without the guys laughter and it becomes pretty scary!

 

I was going to argue about why certain games and movies do not pass the test of time and more specifically why older games will die faster than older movies.

I want to be clear, I am excluding games like Tetris, old mario, games that have simplistic mechanisms. I want to talk about more complex game mechanics and how the complex interactions have gotten better over time which in result makes the mechanics of previous games feel sluggish and problematic. I am claiming that the better more advanced versions of certain interactions are slowly killing off the older games. The same way better visual effect driven movies are sort of ruining the older ones. If you do not have nostalgia associated with an older game, you will have a hard time playing it, or even understanding why it was such a good game when it came out.

Example: Re-watch “Star wars the Phantom Menace” Do not think about the movie, look especially at the visual effects. Back when it came out, it was the most spectacular thing you had seen, now, you can easily see the pixels! Now I am not saying this ruins movies like the old school “Clash of the titans.” I am saying Visual effects is killing itself.

Similarly, try going back and playing Half life, or even the first assassins creed. The interactions specifically feel problematic. For example in the newer games, if you character reaches an edge, they do not fall off. They sort of step near the edge and back up unless you force them to fall off. In older games like Prince of persia and even Zelda, if you reached a corner and stepped a little bit more than you should have you would fall. For long distance jumping you had to get the exact steps. Whereas in todays games, the game mechanics sort of compromise and complete the task any way. So I propose if you go and play an older game, these tiny differences will add up and make it a frustrating experience.

I need to do more research.

 

In this post I want to talk about tabletop roleplaying games, referred to as tabletop outside of this paragraph, such as Dungeons and Dragons being one example. These games, while loosely defined, tend to be games where you have several people each playing a character and there is another participant acting as the Game Master (GM). These are different from board games in the way that board games tend to not involve playing as a character and board games tend to be games that are played in single sittings, although there are outliers to this and this is a working definition. I also want to exclude War Games, like MechWarrior Miniatures and Warhammer 40K, even though these games were originally inspired by such games.  These are also not video games either because video games are mediated by a console and tend to not have a GM.  Also video games do not have to be social experiences, but Tabletop Games almost do.

I would argue that these games provide a unique experience that is very different from the examples I have said that it is not as well as other examples. These games can provide a wealth of good participatory storytelling that allows for everyone to engage in the creation and can be very fun. It is because of this powerful narrative freedom that tabletop games can be very liberating.

With that said, Tabletop Games tend to have this negative stigma associated with them. That they are only for the stereotypical geek or nerd. This is wrong though. I believe tabletop games are for anyone who wants to experience participatory storytelling. With that said, the cultural artifacts associated with Tabletop games tend to favor that nerdish stereotype.  The books tend to be thick and the rules arcane and dense. Dungeons and Dragons which is by far the most popular of these games tend to favor combat and violent solutions heavily as emphasized by the complexity of the rules, options that are available, and the design of the character sheets themselves. This is very different from video games, which at one point were considered nerdish and/or childish, but in some respects have escaped some of the trappings and are more socially acceptable than Dungeons and Dragons is. I tend to avoid playing Dungeons and Dragons, particularly with new players, but it is still a problem with other games too.

And yet after all of that, if I, as a person who would like to see people playing more of these games, can get people over that barrier then they have always admitted to having fun. Occasionally, people who are completely unfamiliar with the game and the story up to this point will sit and listen in even if they are not players or GMing. It’s a design problem and a hard one. How do you maintain the intricacy to allow the creation of interesting characters and yet make it simple enough that new people can enjoy it as well? Not sure about that one, but maybe one day.

Here is my collection of different input devices that I felt were interesting for Thursday’s class. For most of these picture you’ll see my right hand using them and how they are used by me. The only three that are not are the Xbox Kinect, and the one-handed video game controller in the bottom left as I don’t own these input devices. You won’t see my hand on the microphone either, since that uses voice input.

Xbox-360-Kinect-Standalone

Xbox Kinect

IMG_3561

Microphone

IMG_3576

Nintendo 64 Controller

IMG_3571

QWERTY Keyboard

IMG_3579

Nintendo Gamecube Controller

IMG_3578

Nintendo Wii Controller & NunChuck

IMG_3584

Wii Controller

IMG_3580

Xbox 360 Controller

IMG_3589

Late 90’s Early 00’s Joystick

IMG_3585

Super Nintendo Controller

one-hand-controller500

One-Handed Video Game Controller for PS2

IMG_3590

8-button mouse

[I feel like a disclaimer should be put here. 
This argument is not fully thought out and may contain errors, fallacies, etc. 
At the very least this is an interesting gaming thing.]

http://www.twitch.tv/twitchplayspokemon

TPP is a game of Pokemon Red/Blue for the Gameboy that is being played on the Twitch.TV steaming website. Through the chat, viewers control the character’s movements throughout the game world affecting everything from the path he walks to the choices made in battle. As of posting the game has been going for 6 days and 19 hours. Tens of thousands of people are viewing the game at any given time and a segment of that number are actually playing it. I’m not sure how many unique viewers are giving commands, but I’ll guess it’s at least in the thousands.

At the beginning of the game, the character’s actions were controlled in a first-come-first-serve basis. The chat entries were handled as they came. For a while this worked until the character got stuck in a maze room that is difficult enough to navigate regardless.¬†Since then the creator has updated the game¬†(I think, specifically, around day 3) to include two control modes: anarchy and democracy. In anarchy mode, the control system is as it was in the¬†beginning. In¬†democracy mode, a majority of votes is required to move the character after a given time period.

In either case, the game is pretty chaotic. Most of all in anarchy mode where one misstep, one person who decides to troll the game, can decide to ruin hours of progress with a simple command like “down” leading the character off a ledge that will take another day to get back on top off.

I think this is a critical design, whether the creator intended it or not. I think this design is speaking to the gaming community, a group of people who are often the perpetrators of chaos in the gaming world. TPP can be seen as a metaphor for the effect the gaming community has on developers.  The massive number of people participating on this game, only a few of whom are contributing to the argument, is representative of the gaming communities reactions to the release of a new game. While some are content or are happy with the game as it is, there is a vocal group which is not happy and is actively attempting to derail the experience.

TPP brings to light the effects of those who want so badly for their voice to be heard. The trolls and haters that plague the community have an alive and active voice and the effect on the people who make the games is evident.

Image

Nathan’s post on Coke machines got me thinking about food. Food, at least in the fast food sense, seems to be in the commodified imagination realm. It’s main purpose, as stated in its name, is to be fast, convenient, and appetizing enough to want to eat. I think its safe to say fast food has easily achieved each of these goals. As a society, we definitely want fast food to be a part of our lives even though, on the surface at least, it’s just about the most revolting thing around.

In the context of other commodified products, it is easy to call producers out on their shit. Have a [thing] that isn’t working? Take it back. Buy [another thing] that broke immediately? Buy one of their competitors. Affecting change here is comparatively easy compared to other commodified products.

Fast food presents a challenge that, perhaps, can be seen in the digital realm as well. To affect change, however, would mean admitting that we have a problem, that we have an addiction. That we’ve gone all this time eating this terrible food, believing whatever we’d want to believe while scarfing it down. We’d also have to admit to being wrong and not just “different.” This is a lot easier when our physical bodies, our pride, are not on the line and when we can decide that the utility of getting something done is more important than being the one who got it right (imagine if Sony stuck to Betamax or Microsoft to HD DVD). ¬†I think, just as we are addicted to unhealthy food, we are also addicted to social media, video games or the like.

Even the justifications are the same: I have to eat, don’t I? And, I have to get on Facebook to keep up with what’s going around the cohort! But, what other kind of food that is as convenient? And, it’s where all of my notifications are!

It would be interesting to see if there is a framework that could affect change here. More interesting if a digital framework could inform the culinary.

http://gamescriticism.org/articles/lange-1-1

Little too exhausted from Connect to fully engage with this now, so I’ll come back and write a bit about it later, but I thought this paper was really interesting, and some of you may think so as well!

(Thanks to Gabriele for posting the journal on fb!)

Recently, I had the opportunity to play the newly released Broken Age, a point-and-click adventure video game created by Tim Schafer and his studio at Double Fine. The game itself is great, but it’s not what I want to talk about right now. What I want to discuss in this blog post is something that I has been stirring in my mind since this game was announced through the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter. This thought was that medium-sized development studios could see a resurgence through the Kickstarter platform. When Double Fine announced their this new game through Kickstarter, it was first time that a major developer had used it to make a game. When Double fine exceeded their goal by a huge margin, it caused other developers from other studios to create their kickstarters. Like Double Fine, the most successful of these promised an “old-school” style of game saying that the genre had been dead and traditional publishers would not fund them the money in order to make the game. It’s no secret that video games have increased in cost and the risk to make them has increased. During the nineties and 2000’s many medium-sized developers were acquired by major publishers, bringing them into their own branding. In my mind, this along with the increased costs, of producing a video game feels like a loss in creativity among larger games, particularly the very popular of these.

When we read Dunne and Raby and their talking about how society defines what we prefer and how we can shape that in a limited way with our role as consumers and, this idea came back to me. I would argue that Kickstarter has given people more access to the design of their video games through being able to interact in a more meaningful way as consumers for specific projects and yet still is limited in key ways. In a way I could see parallels to the traditional role of the patron. With that said, there are still some interesting power dynamics that I find curious in Kickstarter. There is still a very limited amount of interaction between the designers and the kickstarter backers. Kickstarter provides few tools that allow backers to organize themselves and alter the direction of the project. The most important is the comment system where a user can post a general comment about the project as a whole. Another aspect kickstarter campaigns engage in after reaching their goal amount is to create stretch goals as further incentives to make more money. These stretch goals are in general presented to the users by the designers with no input from the users.

Double’s Fine Broken Age is one of first major games to be released through the Kickstarter platform and I feel it is a good mix of old and new, but I’m certain there will be bad games that arise from the process. I’m not sure what all this means if I should assign a value judgement to the undemocratic aspects of kickstarter, and the direction that it should go in, but I think kickstarter has the potential to offer a way within our current society these medium-sized developers to create unique games, at least that’s how I see it right now.

Since a long time I have thought that the screen of a computer acts as a wall which separates the real and the artificial world. ¬†No matter how immersive the screen-content can be, it still is a different world. It is unreal, but has a lot of elements which are the reasons of our fascinations. Since the 90s, a lot of attempts have been made to somehow penetrate into this artificial world, but they did not achieved what they really promised. It is mankind’s endeavor to somehow get into the artificial world and feel as if it is real. The attempts of Virtual Reality are real and great, but they don’t really dissolve this wall, they just fake being immersed. We have a lot of examples such as virtual reality caves, Head Mounted displays, Augmented reality, but nothing is satisfactory.

We have seen movies like The Matrix, Tron, and cartoons like Johnny Quest where the hero gets immersed in a different world, and this become a great inspiration for reality to come up with something which really gives us this immersed feeling. Many of the people working in this field are trying to achieve this, and one of the attempts is made my Oculus VR by making the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Display.

The Video below explains the capabilities of the headset.

Oculus Rift is the idea of Palmer Lucky, which he started in his parent’s garage. He is a virtual reality enthusiast ¬†and big fan of head mounted displays. He wanted to buy the best VR headset to get the immersive matrix experience, but there was nothing out there, so he decided to build the Oculus Rift. The makers of the Rift have specifically targeted gaming industry as they want to focus on giving the immersive experience. They want gamers to feel like being in the game when playing it actually. This is a dream of breaking the wall and going completely in the artificial world and feeling like being a part of it. ¬†They never thought of it as for watching movies in an immersive way as because here they focus on games and only games. They don’t want this experience ¬†(even if it is so rich) to be expensive so the device only cost for $300. ¬†They are giving it to the developers (game developers) ¬†to develop content for the Rift.

The Oculus Rift is made of two in-built Hi-definition ¬†screens — one for each eye– and two lenses which allows the eyes to see the things on the screens which are really close to the eye. ¬†Together they give a VR experience. It has a gyro sensor and an Accelerometer which act as the motion sensing couple to track the head movement and translate them into the game, so if the user moves the head, he sees where he is looking. The best part of it is that the motion sensing is very low latency, so the combination of the motion sensing and the one screen per eye generates a stereoscopic 3D image which actually fools the brain to believe that it is experiencing an actual thing. The device itself is very bulky and wired to the PC via an HDMI cable. It has foam layers to make wearing it comfortable. People with spectacle can wear it as because it fits perfectly on a spectacle and also they thick lenses on the device itself can be change to suit the vision of the user. Compared to the traditional VR options available, it is very different. The existing VR goggles give an experience which is like sitting in front of a 100 inch screen kept at a distance of 60 feet, and the head tracking is also very lagging. Oculus Rift has a very low latency head tracking and it feels like being in the environment as you don’t really get to see the ends of the screen so it is a curved, very wide screen giving you a very engulfed experience.

When I tried it for the first time, I was completely astounded. I had never experienced anything that immersive. Initially when you are new to the device, you feel a bit dizzy because your brain is orienting to it, but once you are accustomed to it, ¬†that experience you can never forget. When I tried it I was asked to move my head turn it to right and left to see if I can see stuff, but when I was asked to turn and see what’s behind me, I was simply shocked. ¬†You can move your head and orient yourself to the virtual environment which gives you a feeling of actually being there. The only thing you will say when you are wearing it is “This is amazing”. If you are using something that immersive, then the traditional keyboard and mouse doesn’t work. I was asked to use the keyboard and mouse to move around in the virtual environment, but it seemed not at all intuitive. So I feel that for this kind of technology, the interaction has to be very natural. Using omnidirectional treadmill, gestures, mind-control to interact in such environment is probably the best possible things to be done to make it more realistic. It was hard for me to find the keyboard and the mouse since my eyes were covered with the Rift. ¬†Although, it has all the good aspects of interactivity, it is hard to keep wearing it for a long time because of it’s big form factor and the fact that it is wired.

What effects can we see because of such a piece of technology. Well there can be both good and bad. Good is that there are can be games that help us relax from day to day activities and isolate us from all the tensions. Such kind of immersivity is very essential for relaxing. Instead of visiting families, you will have these virtual hangout ¬†where everyone will meet in this virtual space and celebrate and electronic Christmas. Imagine the future of gaming. What would it feel like actually being the avatar you are playing. How will it feel like actually taking a bullet from the enemy. Will it be for people with a light heart. Imagine the future of porn. Having a virtual sex partner in such an environment will change every thing. You won’t won’t want to come out of it. It being very immersive, the user will get detached from the real world he won’t be aware of the world besides him. What kind of design guidelines with it suggest. ¬†We today are so much immersed our cellphones that we forget the world around us. What will happen when we are totally into different world. What will it change.

Overall, I feel that is a  great piece of technology. It truly gives you a very rich immersive experience. Although, it is not very real, but slowly it will get there. So far there was nothing like this. It has a good side as well as a bad side. It is in the hands of design and the designer of the content how it will be used. Given the applications are made that rich and after carefully thinking about the things this device can change it can really bring about a huge transformation in immersion in to the virtual world completely destroying the wall separating the real and the virtual world.