Welcome!
warhol
shoelscher
Hello and welcome! My name is Sarah and I am a Junior at Trinity University where I am currently studying to be a communication major - though I am definitely not limited to that specific field as far as my interests go. I love photography as well as great music. My contribution to this research comes from my work on Runes of Magic as well as another MMO that I have yet to really get too much into called Silk Road Online. Basically, I hope that with the findings through this research, our class will be able to distinguish some cultural patterns of behavior and/or maybe some different opinions concerning transnational gaming and region-locking. I am very excited to see where this study goes.

Free Realms vs DDO - is there a comparison?
warhol
shoelscher
So this past week, we went back to Free Realms in class to take a closer look at all the game and how it compares to Dungeons and Dragons Online.  It was really difficult for me to get back into Free Realms after playing DDO for so long.  I had to get used to the simplicity and the slower pace of everything, but I did manage to learn some more things about the game itself throughout the session.  While the purpose and general mechanics of these two games are quite different, there are still some similarities to speak of.

The quality of the graphics are much better in DDO than Free Realms.  The characters are able to move more easily and have more "personality" as it relates to the game.  DDO's plot line specifically involves the character you are playing, in some cases even including your name when the quest is bestowed upon you.  I almost feel as though Free Realms is less interactive, to a point where I don't really involve myself in the game as much.  I find myself completely drawn into DDO in a way that I cannot really explain.  Background noise fades out, I'm a member of my group, battling evil demons and zombies.  I love it!  I must say that it is nice to have the ability to teleport in Free Realms.  The map is far too huge to be able to successfully run around everywhere, and it made it easier for our group to stay together.  DDO has a much smaller map, so running around a village or town is manageable, but without the communication, we would have a hard time finding one another.  

One similarity between DDO and Free Realms is the camera angle and the general look of the game.  I have already mentioned how the graphics are not on the same page in terms of quality, but there are certainly some similarities between the character actions and the general landscapes used in the games.  For me, Free Realms just isn't as exciting of a game as DDO.  I noticed that the quests we were actually doing in Free Realms as a team were probably as close to a DDO challenge as we could get.  What I mean by that is we were choosing to do quests that required a lot of direct combat, facing huge numbers with our small group of only four people.  I like the similarity within the group dynamics of both DDO and Free Realms.  We all worked together to make sure we stayed alive and got through each mission together.  No matter how entertaining or boring the game might have been, we stuck together.

The chat option for me was never something I ever considered using.  We had the convenience before of sitting next to one another so communication was simple and didn't require us to remove ourselves from the situation to address matters at a moments notice.  Most of the time, I am too involved in the game I am playing to even look at it, since it is just sitting in the corner of the screen.  I am usually just more focused on the action that I am partaking in.  The chat kind of showed me a little bit about my group members.  The amount that they used the chat was usually the amount that we had talked amongst ourselves in general.  Everyone was really willing to help one another out though.  I was definitely a little hesitant not being able to ask questions every few moments, but being forced to use the chat box really kind of allowed me to explore some things on my own and try to figure them out for myself, like I would have to do if I were not playing the game in this setting initially.  I really found out a lot about myself through the use of the chat box, though.  I was slightly more engaged in the game that I had previously been, but still no where near the level of engagement with DDO.
My group! We're all pretty much awesome.

Common Anthem Games Presents: Wii Sit and Bii Fit
warhol
shoelscher

Core Mechanics
warhol
shoelscher
 In class on Tuesday, we discussed the different dynamics in different types of games.  Looking at board games, outdoor games, console video games, computer video games and word games, we went through all of them attempting to note the core dynamics in specific games that fit under the aforementioned categories.  One thing we discovered as a group was that many games in the world actually include just about every dynamic mentioned in Brathwaite's article, but that does not necessarily make them "core dynamics."  A great example of this was the board game Risk.  We decided that risk was about the "competitive acquisition of territories through strategic and careful planning."  Clearly, the core dynamic is Territorial Acquisition.  The interesting part was that nearly every other dynamic plays a part in the context of the game.  Things like destruction, collection, spatial and even chasing take place within the game.
I thought it was interesting that the different games people listed had different core dynamics.  Basically, people aren't choosing to play the same types of games.  The varying types of games available allow people to explore different features and dynamics in the arena of competition.  For instance, tag (an outdoor game) is all about survival, while Sorry! encompasses a "race to the finish" dynamic.  I played both of these games as a child and loved them both dearly - obviously for different reasons.  I guess the point I'm trying to make out of all this is that people are attracted to several different games because they all require various approaches in order to be successful.  I might not be the most competitive person to ever play some type of game, but I've been able to win many types of games that I've played.  With games, it seems as though there is something for everyone.

Nintendo Wii - the next generation?
warhol
shoelscher
Our assignment over the weekend was to experiment with the Nintendo Wii.   I had actually never touched one before, so I definitely went into the experience pretty hesitant.  Sure, I had seen people play before, but seeing something and actually doing it yourself are two completely different things (this should come as no surprise).  The only game systems I had ever owned as child were the original Nintendo Entertainment System and a Sega Genesis 3.  Beyond that, I only really played an N64 when I would visit my cousins, and I have had a few encounters with an xbox 360 playing Rock Band.  Basically, I was a bit thrown off.  I wasn't really sure what to expect but life is all about new experiences, right?

For the most part, the Wii's single handed controller made me feel like I had little to no control over what I was doing, and given that I was relying on a sensor to track my movements, I found little encouragement.  I ended up playing Mario Party for about an hour and a half.  I obviously had to choose Princess Peach as my character - no real reason why, I just always found myself drawn to Princess Peach...even when I was just a kid!  Even playing the game for an hour straight, I had not managed to really master the controller.  The small vibrations that came with each and every impact were enough to distract me and made my hand feel weird.  It wasn't anything that I was used to at all.

The interface of the Nintendo Wii really kind of blows my mind.  I'm sure that with practice I would be a lot better with the controller, but I could not help but wonder how much I felt like I was embedded in the game, since my movements were controlling the movements of my character.  The controller led me to believe that what I was seeing on the screen was merely an extension of myself, and I kept referring back to everything as "Oh no, he stepped on me!" and other things quite similar.  I watched a few videos on youtube of people playing the Wii, and I found one
video in particular that really addressed the extent of people's interaction with the game system.  The young girl utilized her entire body in Wii Boxing to knock out her opponent.  She would adjust her stance to allow herself to put out a better punch, and she would slowly ease closer to the television, having to back up every so often so she did not actually punch it.

I'm not fully aware of every input device available for the Wii, but I know that there are several which allow players to experience different games in different ways.  The Wii Fit board, for example, can be used across several different fitness routines such as yoga, or surfing.  I can only imagine that other game systems haven't attempted to add "accessories" like this for their games because they really aren't necessary for the types of tasks that the players are to be doing.  While trying to think of something I could possibly add to the Wii for even more excitement, I had to take a few things into consideration: 1) that my idea hasn't already been done 2) that the device is user friendly - as the Wii has one of the widest age ranges for their target market - and 3) that would be something that people would actually want to use.  My first thought was Wii Wakeboarding, since they already have skiing.  I looked into it and as of late March of this year, there were rumors of Wii Wakeboarding coming out, using the balance board as the wakeboard itself.  Along with that, kneeboarding could also be done, as it is very similar.  The only thing I would say should be done is to add something that creates that pull in the arms.  Your arms and shoulders are what become most sore after an afternoon of wakeboarding/kneeboarding on the lake.  I know that the Wii system is predominantly wireless, but perhaps a tension wire or something of the sort could be added to complete the effect.  It would be rather challenging to sustain that much tension without breaking.  My idea doesn't really involve much NEW game design, but it is very difficult to try and be innovative when practically all the bases are covered already.  It is definitely something to think ab
out, and I will more than likely end up with a couple of much better ideas as the days go by.

MMORPG, etc.
warhol
shoelscher
 The first source I went through was MMORPG.com - a blog that is specifically dedicated to massively multiplayer online role-playing games.  At first glance, the site itself was a bit overwhelming.  There were screen shots of game characters everywhere along with animated graphic advertisements and text all over the place.  What was I even looking at?  I'm not too sure.  It was very difficult to decipher all that was going on, so I took it one line at a time.  Luckily, there was a search tab close to the top of the page.  Looking over most of the topics on the homepage, it looks as though most of this website is dedicated to MMORPG-ers.  Here, they have the ability to post anything they want (as long as it is relevant content).  With a forum that is updated every ten seconds, it is clear that there is TONS of discussion going on between the members of this gaming community concerning the games themselves, or any sort of gaming news (such as the release of the new Dungeons and Dragons game).  The advertisements displayed on the homepage are all video game-related, which makes sense.  The target audience for these products would be the people that spend a decent amount of time on these types of websites.  Utilizing the search bar, I found that there was quite a bit of discussion in reference to regional segregation... over fifty posts, in fact.

I consider myself to be a person of good humor.  I'll laugh at just about anything and in some cases, I can even anticipate the punch-line of a joke.  This was all true until I found The Noob.  It appears as though these comics are meant to poke fun at the many facets of video games, including character descriptions, the cliche story lines and even the stereotypical emotional detachment from other players in the game.  I found that this type of humor can only be truly appreciated by a certain type of person: one that is an avid participant in the world of video and/or online games.  The site itself is very intuitive with a very organized template and design.  The comics don't appear to mention any game in particular, most likely due to copyright laws.  The advertisements along the margins of the page are very similar to those seen on the MMORPG website.  They all pertain to video games.  There is also a link to the online store for "thenoobcomic" merchandise.  The comics themselves don't really cover any part of transnational play or region locking, at least not in any kind of prominent manner.

Finally, I looked into Grand Text Auto, which is a host site for "a group blog about computer narrative, games, poetry, and art."  In a way, the site reminded me of a tabloid magazine.  There was a lot of research done to produce these hot topic stories about what is going on in the current events of games, etc.  I have to say, the little previews of each article got me excited about the topic that was to be discussed.  I felt like I was getting an inside look on subject matter that was unintentionally leaked out to the public.  The actual process of looking through the site was about like going through TFLN.  You have to kind of read a little bit of everything before you can get to the next page, and each page has a TON of information on it.  You don't want to skip over something good.  This website is one of those that you would need to set aside a couple of hours for if you were trying to catch up on everything.  Since the site is simply a blog (much like this), there is no need for advertising to pay for the existence of the site.  It is, however, run by Baskin Engineering out of UCSC (University of California at Santa Cruz).  I did find this particular article concerning Transnational Play.  This site does a very good job of covering a vast spectrum of information.  Overall, it was pretty well organized and had plenty of outside sources to legitimize the latest stories - unfortunately, those tabloids haven't figured out how to do this for their latest Hollywood hook-ups and biggest cat fights.  While I probably wouldn't give that website enough of my time to fully appreciate it, I like what they are trying to accomplish with it.

about me
warhol
shoelscher
My name is Sarah.  I'm a junior Communication major, minoring in Communcation Management.  Outside of class, I'm a member of Catholic Student Group, I sing in the mass choir, and I'm a Resident Mentor on Calvert 1st.  I love being an RM.  I've got thirteen awesome residents, many of which are from out of state so it creates a really awesome dynamic for the hall.  I've lived in San Antonio my whole life and I love it here.  Everything from the people, the culture and (naturally) the Spurs and Silver Stars has me slightly obsessed.  I'm a huge fan of music in general.  Literally, everything...with the exception of Leona Lewis.  I also really love taking pictures.  I finally got in to the digital photography class and I'm loving every second of it.  I'm pretty intrigued by this gaming course, though.  I'm used to playing games like Medal of Honor and Diablo, but I'm looking forward to stepping into new types of games.  Basically, I'm approaching my last four semesters of college with a mindset of living life and enjoying it as much as possible.  It's a great outlook for what I think will be an amazing year.

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