Cranial Inversion

A blog about personal views on Internet Search, SEO, Gaming and the Gaming Industry

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Darth Vader vid from YouTube

This has to be one of the best fan films I have ever seen. Just thinking about the time it took to research, assemble, edit and compile this film warrants many kudos. And it funny as hell!!!

Clips from Star Wars showing Vader and voice enitrely Jame Earl Jones (I know, I know....duh!!!) But watch the's good.

The Gamer Life: Married with Games

Game obsessed boy meets not so game obsessed girl. Boy and girl get into relationship. Boy brings gaming into relationship. Girl leaves boy.

This is a typical scenario you hear about when a gamer gets out of a relationship because the other person didn't "understand". This isn't the norm, but it does happen on a frequent occasion. Of course, this mostly happens to people who are just dating, but I have heard of a couple of marriages that have crumbled under the weight of someone's gaming habit. Does it have to be? That is hard to say. It involves the gamer's own addictions and priorities. What is more important to the gamer: the games or the person he is in a relationship with.

An interesting article from Destructoid offers a look into some issues and ways to compromise. However, I think the problem and solution isn't neccassarily so cut and dry. Yes, feeding your gaming habit while trying to be in a relationship with a non-gamer can cause problems. Especially if that other person has no interest in games at all. However, relationships (especially marriage) require more effort to maintain than staying number 1 one the leader boards.

Being in a relationship doesn't mean you have to quit playing video games. It just means that your game time will have to be set on a lower priority than everything else. You have to remeber that the person you are in a relationship with isn't with you because of your K/D ratio or "l33t skillz", they are with you because of the "real" you. You have to return that feeling outside of playing games.

One thing that can be taken in consideration is that the more you give yourself and your time to your significant other will ultimately lead to more time with you and your computer (or console, handheld, mind jack...whatever). Marriage and gaming can co-exist, but it is a careful balance. One suggestion is the article is to introduce gaming to your partner. I mostly agree with this. Show them you want to share something that brings you happiness so you can both shoot each other and enjoy each other while your doing it (WARNING: Massive smack talk from you during this may lead to other "complications".) However, if your significant other is in no way, shape or form intersted in being a "gamer", then don't force it on them. Back away. Slowly. Ask them why? If there is absolutely no interest and no chance that there will ever be any interest, then you have to adjust your ways if you want to stay in the relationship. People first, games second. Even I believe that one.

Just remember, if you spend more time trying to solo a Krayt Dragon, you might find yourself soloing everything in "real" life.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Gamer Types: Hard-Core

This is a category I can file myself under. Hard-core gamers probably (in my opinon) make up about 60% of gamers. And this type of gamer doesn't belong to one type of game or game platform. Remember, I'm talking about mentalities of gamers.

Hard-core gamers, unlike casual gamers, spend more time playing games. To them, playing games is more than just a few minutes of entertainment. It is also an escape or avenue for virtual socializing. They also spend some time during their day thinking about playing games. Granted, they can concentrate at the task at hand, but when they start to daydream, chances are they are thinking about gaming or something related to gaming.

These are the players that follow game development (trailers, screenshots, news, etc...), pre-order games that haven't even been released yet, participate in a game's offical forum, always on the look out for new patches or releases for their games and (for male gamers) have more "PC Gamer" magazines in their bathrooms than "Maxim" *raises hand*.

Hard-core gamers also spend more time and are more readily able to immerse themselves into the game. They can willfully throw away believability and their sense of logic to immerse themselves into their games for reasons more than just entertainment. They try to "become" the character. To live in the game's world. It is more for the reason of escaping reality than just entertainment.

Another difference between casual and hard-core gamers is that the hard-core gamers are probably the most finicky, demanding, self-centered, opinonated and most vocal sub-culture there probably is out there. Think about it. Let's take in-game advertising for example. Imagine the uproar that would occur if a company like Tampax started advertising on the virtual billboards of Counter-Strike (just an extreme example of course). You can read my opinon on this type of blasphemy here.

Over all, it is this rambling blogger's opinon that this group of players are the "meat" of the gaming industry. This is the category that mostly all of the big budget games are developed and all that marketing money is spent. This is the type of gamer that can raise or destroy a game development company. And, unfortunately, why movies like "Blood Rayne" and "Doom" get made. Hmmmm......I think I have another idea for post.

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SEO Explained in Geek

For those geeks out there who want to learn more about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or gauge how far they have advanced, I will direct you to a rather humorous (yet geeky) list of the different levels of SEO knowledge.

I think I can honestly say I have reached level 4 with a +10 in Paid Search.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Gamer Types: Casual

When I say casual, I'm not referring to casual games like Bejeweled. I'm not referring to games at all; I am referring to the players that play the games. I have this theory that there are three main "mentalities" when it comes to the types of computer gamers: casual, hard-core and power. The one I am going to discuss in this post is casual.

To me, a casual gamer is a player who looks at computer games as just an entertaining way to pass the time. These gamers are not the ones prowling through game forums, subscribing to game magazines, trying to find the latest patch or playing for hours just to reach the next mission. To these gamers, games are simply an interactive toy. They turn it on, play for awhile and turn it off. This doesn't mean that they don't play games that are as depth as Oblivion or as action packed as Counter Strike. This just means that if all they have is about thirty minutes to play, then that's fine with them.

Casual gamers don't really concern themselves with finding that cheat to make them invincible or "give all", they play just for the entertainment a few minutes will give them. Also, if while they are playing and something in real life comes up that needs their immediate attention or is more important, they have no hesitation about turning the game off, saved or not!

It is with this playing mentality that simple, easily understood and played games are developed. Again, I point to games like Bejeweled and Zuma (my wife's digital crack). I am not down playing the fun value of these games or trying to make them seem extremely childish, but for the type of players they are designed for they are just right. Besides, it wouldn't make sense for a developer to spend a million or more dollars on effects, voice acting, marketing, writing, dialouge, etc... on a game that will only be played a few minutes at a time. At least to me.

Casual players are the type that spouses, significant others, parents, etc... wish all gamers were like. Players that can tear themselves away to clean the house, take out the trash, wash dishes, tell their wives that the dress is really cute and looks great on them, anything but spend more time playing "vidgit games" than it takes watching a romantic comedy. Okay, I'm ranting a bit. But, let them get hooked on Zuma and the tables turn. I bought Zuma for my wife and now she is on my computer more than me. In a way I am so proud of her. Next stop, Counter Strike!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Anti-gamers Respawn in Utah

It is pretty well known to gamers who follow the news concerning the beloved past-time that there are those in "power" trying to censor what they can and can't play. And all of the hooplaa centers on the violent content of some of the games on the market. The most infamous of these "kid brainwashing" games is GTA. Many in Washington sought o ban such games because they said it "appeals to the morbid interest of minors in violence". This has been debated by many "experts" on both sides even though records show that the overall violent against commited by minors have been dropping over the past decade. Several state legislations have tried to ban minors from playing some of these games, and have failed overall. They say that violence should be taken out of games played by minors because of "psychological damage" and de-humanizes people to make it easier for them to justify violent acts. This is rubbish. There are always going to be some whack jobs out there that are going to be influenced by such things, but most kids are intelligent and sane enough to realize life from fantasy. In fact, I bet because these games provide an outlet to release frustration and anger, kids are actually LESS inclined to commit crime as depicted in these games.

That being said, a bill that was shot down last year in Utah is once again going to make a reappearance and try to censor video games. This bill was drafted with the help of every gamer's favorite person, Jack Thompson. Why are they targeting video games? Why not movies (wasn't that big bank robbery gunfight years ago in LA based on the movie Heat?), television shows, books, etc...? I have seen and read many of these other mediums depicting terrorist activities, cop killing, rape, torture, mass killings, etc... and yet I don't hear anything about censorship being applied to these to keep them out of the hands of minors. Hell, Looney Toons is more violent that some of today's cartoons. And comic books!!! Why are they not being censored for the same material and topics that are depicted in video games? I'll tell you why. Because the gaming industry is still in it's infancy compared to the other entertainment outlets and not seen as a "legitimate" media form, even though the gaming industry brings in more revenue than the movie industry and more and more people rather play games that watch TV. And not to mention (to show the little conspiracy theorist in me) that the folks in Washington are very friendly with the entertainment tycoons.

I agree that minors (like below the age of 15) should not be playing games like GTA, however, it is up to the kid's players to decide whether or not they should be playing it or not, not the governments. I support the use of the ESRB as it informs parents of the material inside the game. At the least, this allows the PARENTS to make a more informed descision on whether or not their kids will play the game. At least they have a choice. It is not the government's. If these types of bills get passed, then the government starts making those choices for the parent's.

So, in closing, who would you prefer making the choices for kid's entertainment: Big Mamma or Big Brother?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Idle Hands Are the Tools of the Devil

Well, it has been since October since I have written anything in this blog. I have no excuse. Sorry. With that being said, I do however, want to correct some assertions I made in my prior (last) post from October. In that post I said that there were three types of players; casual, hard-core and power-gamers. And I said that developers tend to develop games to target those play types. Well, that was a bunch of uneducated ignorance (redundant term I know) on my part. You see, I just finished my first term of college last month. I am in the Game Art and Design program and took a class last term called Game Development Essentials (Jeanne Novack, 2005). In that class I learned a lot about the development of video games and the behind the scenes goings on. Come to find out, there is a lot that goes on (a lot more than I thought). Also, while player motivations and desires do play a part in the over-all scheme of things, games are not developed mainly how much time a player might have (which I knew, but I thought it would have a larger impact in the development of the game).

So, my last post was mainly inaccurate. I do, however, believe that there are three "mentalities" of players. Those would be casual, hard-core and power-gamer. I do plan on discussing those types of players, just without trying to connect them to the developing and marketing of the games. It is amazing what you learn when you go to school. They say knowledge is power, but it also helps to prevent you from looking like a idiot *cough* Ted Stevens *cough*. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Which type of player are you?

Since the conception of playing video games by the mass public, there have been three types of players; casual, hardcore and power-gamers. These three "archtypes" have been labeled, studied, marketed and had games developed for each of them. What are the differences between the three? Is one better than the rest? Is one the outcast? How do each of these types of gamers affect the production and marketing of games?

Although these "archtypes" are generally socially cliche, they do have a profound impact on what type of games are developed and how they are marketed. Developers decide on how to develop a game based partly on the class of gamer they are targeting and also, to an extent, the type of gamer they are. For example, say a developer is developing a first person shooter (FPS) with alot of great graphics, awesome story, well developed levels and non-linear gameplay. Obviously, they are not making this game for the Real Time Strategy (RTS) players or the Role Playing Game (RPG) type of players. Now, let's say that they develop the game with the golden "save anytime, anywhere" save system that we all love so much. This will allow those players who don't have but a few minutes to spare a "get in, frag and get out" type of game experience. This is being developed with casual gamers in mind. It will allow gamers to get qreat gaming experience in an awesome game, without have to spend 15- 30 minutes being so cautious about dying in the game and having to start all over from the last "check point", which in some games hardly ever seems to come.

I will post more on these types of gamers in three individual posts to address them each and how games are developed and marketed for them later.

Monday, September 11, 2006

In-game voice for MMOs

Voice chat programs have, without a doubt, revolutionized online gaming. They provide the ability to talk to your teammates in real time in the heat of battle or just kicking back watching the rendered virtual sun set. The services these programs provide have been very successsful with more and more gamers logging in and using the "push to talk" button to begin, at times, a more immersive feeling.

Some of the more popular services Ventrilo , Roger Wilco , and Team Speak allow for seamless communications with your friends while you are all playing, or not. They also provide you a way to communicate with friends while you are playing and they are not, in another game or vice versa. There are no boundaries, per say, with these programs.

Enter Vivox. This company is developing a program for use as an internal game hosted in-game voice program. An article written in outlines the core of the capabilites. At first look it seems like a great addition to any online game. Persistent channels, outgame IM and even voicemail. There are alot more great features in this program. But there is one thing I see as a speed bump to it's usage. Latency.

What I mean by that being an issue, I mean how will the continous connection of this program to others affect your ping? With all things considered, CPU speed, the type of graphics card you have, amount of RAM, game settings, etc. , sound is often overlooked for game performance. But it does have an affect on your system's performance. As laggy as some MMOs can be, how much so will it be when you have abunch of people talking at you through a program in a game already hogging your system's resources?

Perhaps the good people at Vivox have already thought about that have been able to come up with a solution. After all, not all gaming systems are greated equal. Hopefully they have designed their new program with the lowest common demonator in mind. Or even the option to disable this program in the game (which is a no brainer, but you have to ask).

Another thought (from the cynic in me), with the addition of in game advertising and this type of voice chat programs in games, how long before the first unwanted podcast commercial for the Honda models?

In conclusion, I think that until this new system is tried and tested and meets industry standards (by that I mean the overwhelming approval of gamers everywhere) I think that gamers will continue to use the old reliable third party programs.