Fall 2014: We’re back in full swing!

Hello again readers, friends, and colleagues! It is the end of Week 4 here, and Think.Play has been in full swing since the beginning of the term. I wanted to write a post to convince everyone that Think.Players have not become zombies or victims of the night…yet!

For the month of October, Think.Play’s weekly meetings have been veiled in a theme of fright and horror as the Halloween fever infects all of our presenters and game choices. It has been a scary-good time!

This past week was a wide discussion on many aspects of horror in games, the forms that it can take, and the implications for gamers. It was a fascinating look into many well-known games, while Rebecca and Ana flexed their knowledge of some lesser-known gems as well. There is a good chance that the talk could appear on the blog within a short time in some form or another. Stay tuned!

Uncanny valley

Does this look familiar?

Grave picture

The surreal horror game Grave came up in the conversation. Is it done yet?

The week before we had a flashback to one of the earliest Think.Play events where Limbo and a dark room made for an enjoyable but foreboding group play experience. That game can be seriously creepy! We were also pitting players against zombie hordes in Resident Evil 4’s The Mercenaries mini game.

RE4 Merc. Picture

Silencing zombies for points? Cool.

I’ll end abruptly with a shoutout to a new group that is forming on campus that is separate but tangential to Think.Play. It is called Waypoint, and they are a group for students to discuss and work on video game development. If that sounds like something you REALLY WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN, please visit them on Facebook. Go on now, and make greatness.

– Jon

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Defining games: not an easy challenge!

Hey all!

Jon here. Last night Think.Play met and had it’s first discussion based meeting since all of the craziness began a few weeks ago. The good news is that it went really well!

We started off thinking about what a game is and isn’t. We spent a great deal of time coming to a consensus on some universal traits that make something a game, and what we came up with was pretty interesting. You can find our list of game-traits within the slides that were used during the talk.

Freedom Bridge Picture

Freedom Bridge was one of the ‘games’ we played. Was it fun? Sort of. Does that make it more or less of a game? Certainly not.

One of the more interesting distinctions that the group hovered around was the difference between simulations and games. Simulations can occur within games, but a simulation running by itself lacks interactivity, a trait that we decided was a pre-requisite for something to be a game.

Overall it was a fun night, and it is good to be back in the swing of things. Remember that, if you would like to lead a discussion, or you have an idea of some discussion(s) you would like to see happen, let the Steering Committee know. Until next time!

Winter Term Updates

Hey all! Jon here, and today I want to give you a quick update about recent Think.Play happenings.

Last Wednesday was a play day commemorating Mega Man’s 26th anniversary. Eder felt that Capcom didn’t celebrate the Mega Man franchise enough last year, so we continued the party by playing the X series on Gamecube, Mega Man Legends on PS2, and Mega Man 9 and 10 on the Wii U.

Mega Man Happy 25th Picture

This, but 26 of course.

The week before that, Iris Bull helped us explore the possible close relationship earnings management has with games. We also talked a bit about how debt free expenditure in games simulates and perhaps perpetuates the masculine defined existence of financial institutions. Very interesting stuff!

Finance meme

I’ll let you be the judge of this pictures relevance.

That was my quick recap of the last two weeks. Join us next week where we will be looking at where the game industry is heading in the near future.

Bloom Lighting and Industry Outlooks

Last Wednesday, we were lucky enough to have Eric Wills of the computer science department come and talk about the fascinating world of computer graphics. During his talk, Eric broke down bloom lighting.

Bloom lighting example image

See how the light from the window seems to melt onto the surrounding frame? That bright blue is the bloom.

It was interesting to see how the algorithm records pixel data but does it in a non-linear fashion so that we humans cannot detect patterns which would make the lighting effect seem forged.

Eric also had some company along for the ride. Shelby Wills, a producer at Pipeworks studio, and their son Finley. Shelby talked about her role as a producer in the changing landscape of the video-game industry. Personally, it was fascinating to hear about how consoles are not the way of the future, and how other game platforms such as mobile phones and the web are taking charge.

Is this the future of the video game industry?

Is this the future of the video game industry?

Even after Eric, Shelby, and Finley departed, the Think.Play crew hung out and digested topics of the night for another hour or so. Now that is a sign of a great event.

In other news, Retro Night was last night! Unfortunately, I did not make it, but there should be a post going up sometime to detail all the wonders of the 8-bit era gaming session. Until next time.

The past few weeks, and the end of the year

Hello all. Thank you all for the patience in waiting for new content on the blog. This term has been a busy one! Luckily for Think.Play, it has been a term filled with successful events and great dialogue. What I want to do in this post is recap this term’s happenings. Let’s jump right in.

Week 1 – Fight Night

We kicked off the term with a few of our favorite fighting games: Guilty Gear, Dragonball Z: Budokai 3, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Guilty Gear and Budokai 3 were open play, while Smash Bros. was the stage for tournament style fighting. Jacob took the gold with Ness in the Smash tournament. Fun times were had, and many butts were kicked.

Week 2 – Gentrification, Gender, and Dance Central with Bryce Peake

Bryce Peak, Ph.D. candidate in UO’s School of Journalism and Communication came to dance the night away with Dance Central. Not really, but a lot of dancing happened that evening. Bryce talked with us about how Dance Central transformed hip-hop music to be ‘safe’ for its target audience (white domesticity). Because Bryce’s background is in music, he gave a detailed breakdown of a few songs by comparing the structure of the original version to the Dance Central version, and boy were the results interesting!

Week 3 – Rock Band Night

Classic fun was had by all when Eder busted out Rock Band. It was really fun hearing everyone take a shot at singing. That is all.

Week 4 – Fandom and Harry Potter/Pottermore with Mara Williams

Mara Williams led a discussion on fandom in Harry Potter, and how that fandom was channeled into a new game called Pottermore. This was a fantastically interesting talk for me personally because I see fandom everywhere, and I am even a participant of it, but when it comes to understanding it, fandom is enigmatic to me. Delving into the very real example of Harry Potter fandom and how it sparked the creation of an online game was great times.

Week 5 – Field Trip: Level Up Arcade

Week 5 will forever be known as the greatest idea of all time. Why wouldn’t it be fun to go to an arcade and play pinball? Why wouldn’t it be fun to pay 4 quarters to wield giant light-guns and shot dinosaurs like they are NOTHING? These questions are ridiculous, because everyone thought it would be fun, and it was. Four words people: Need. More. Field. Trips.

Week 6 – A Primer on Starcraft II Strategy and Tactics with Chris Thomson

Last week Chris sat down and scratched the surface of the complex world of Starcraft II. Seriously, there was so much covered, and I feel like I would be able give a regular player a decent game. Just talking about the many different tactics you need to employ to not get blown out immediately was mind-boggling. Remember kids, scout the enemy right away, and always remember to hf (Starcraft lingo for have fun).

Week 7 – Co-op Night

Co-op Night was just last night, and went well. Minecraft on the Xbox 360 is, in my opinion, generally inferior to the PC version for many reasons which I will not go over here, but being able to play with up to 4 players split-screen is some classic fun that translates well to the Minecraft experience. We had one person in the mines digging for minerals, one person setting up farmland for harvest, one person gathering materials topside, and our last compatriot building sand castles. Sin and Punishment made an appearance, while New Super Mario Bros. Wii rounded out the night. That game is hilarious to play with four people because you never know if it will be a koopa that is going to kill you, or a teammate.

That has been the term so far, and it’s easy to see that things are going great. Feel free to post some comments of your favorite moments from the term, and we can all reflect back. Join us next Wednesday (5/23) at 7pm in Knight 101 where Eric Wills of the computer science department will be talking about bloom lighting in modern games.

Audio for Jacob’s Indie Game Development Economics Talk

Hello everyone! I am writing today to inform you all of some good news; I have finished cutting up another audio file for your listening pleasure. Cut up is a term I like to throw around I guess because this is still a beast of an audio file weighing in at around 40 minutes long. Inside, you will hear about the wonders of the game industry and its financial inner workings.

I also want to note that very soon, I will be implementing a rotating system for the audio on the blog. I’ll try and keep the most recent audio up for streaming, but as new talks are recorded and uploaded, they will take priority for streaming. Don’t fret though! What I will do is change the older streams to a download link, so you can still listen to the older discussions. Now, without further ado, here is the audio.

P.S.

Since finals week is essentially upon us, I want to wish everyone a restful spring break! See you all in a few weeks.