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I recently saw news that they are making a sequel to Clash of the Titans, which was recently released. I don’t know if anyone else saw it, but it was horrible. I usually find mythology movies really interesting story-wise, but this movie was ridiculously bad because basically it had no plot, or character development for that matter. So when I saw that they were making a sequel I couldn’t help but wonder: huh?
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Well apparently, the movie ended up grossing $300 million world-wide, and not because it was a good movie, but because it was in 3D and people went to see it for the effects. In fact the release date for the film was delayed so that it could be converted in 3D and so that the theater could charge movie goers the additional $5. In class we discussed the 3D phenomenon and whether or not it was a fad or something that was here to stay. In my opinion this example shows that 3D movies are here to stay: at least for now. The studios have discovered a wonderful gimmick that causes audiences to flock to the movies, even the bad ones. The best thing is that this gimmick also allows the studios to make even more money because they can charge more for these 3D movies, even if they are quickly and shoddily made. The fact of the matter is that those that call the shots only care about one thing: box office performance. Since 3D movies are still proving to perform financially for the studios, they will continue to make them until audiences stop lining up to consume them.

I must admit that I have put Twitter on the backburner because honestly I don’t find it that useful a tool, because I know that the amount of people who read my twitter are infinitely less than the amount of people who I am friends with on Facebook and therefore read my status. Nevertheless, recently I have received a couple of emails notifying me of new people that have started following me on Twitter. These people are strangers and while I understand the one-sided following aspect of Twitter, I don’t really understand why strangers would want to follow me, after all I’ve only tweeted a handful of times.
However, the most interesting group that has decided to follow me is without a doubt Gao International. With a little investigating, I discovered it to be a Twitter page dedicated to following and connecting people with the last name Gao. While I understand that the internet is a place for people to gather, they usually have common interests or something that connects them together. To me it just seems superficial and arbitrary that people would assume that a person would want to get to know someone just because they share the same last name. Anyways, it was something funny that happened this week that I thought I would share.

HBO’s Imagine Cube

I must admit that HBO’s imagine concept was really interesting to watch because it was executed very well. Watching the short clip titled “the affair” from the four different angles really opened up the story in a way that would not have been originally seen, had there only been one angle, without expanding the clip. Yet, at the same time by giving you ‘all’ of the story at once you are not really saving any time either because in order to fully get the entire effect of the story you also have to re-watch the clip many times from each side of the cube.
“The Affair” sort of reminded me of Façade, in that we are immediately taken into the living room of this couple that is obviously having marital problems. At first we are unsure of what is going on, however as time elapses we soon realize the depths of the issues that lay underneath. Like Façade, “The Affair” starts and ends with the same outcome, when watching from different angles the middle details get filled in, but the ending is still the same. This is exactly like Façade, in that you can vary the conversation and interactions you have with the couple, but the outcome will always be that you get kicked out of their apartment in the end.
In my mind “The Affair” is like a cross between Façade and the film Memento. If you treat the entire experience as a series of different clips that are independent entities, it is clear that the format of “The Affair” is very similar to the format of Memento as well. Just by viewing one clip we are not able to put together the pieces of the puzzle, however after watching all four we can begin to construct a story of what really happened. Similarly, even after watching all of the story from all of the angles the audience is also left to make significant assumptions and guesses about what really happened as the many details of the story are left vague and incomplete, no doubt to encourage users to watch again and enquire more about the story online through message boards. All and all I really enjoyed the formatting of “The Affair” and thought that it was a creative way to tell a story using a format that is not commonly seen.

So I recently stumbled upon this video via twitter, someone has translated the entire Dr. Horrible series into a video game format.

Rentals on Youtube

As I recently went to the youtube homepage, I saw something new on the sidebar. There was an add for the youtube store, curious at this new development I clicked on it. It turned out to be an online movie rental store run by youtube. The movies ranged from new releases to popular favorites and even hard to find indies and the prices were from .99 to 5.99. The format seemed normal enough and was pretty much a copy of similar online rental sites such as itunes, blockbuster.com, or netflix. However, the interesting thing was that this store was being run by youtube.

This factor alone made the whole concept of the site utterly and completely ridiculous. I mean how ironic is it for youtube to try and sell movie rentals when you could probably find most of these videos on youtube for free anyway. Further more, if the average Joe is aware of this fact then the execs over at Google should be aware of it too right? They are trying to to tap into the market of users that go on youtube to watch movies, however while it is much harder to find full movies on youtube, it is not impossible which is why it is doubtfull that this store will be especially lucrative. Similarly the quality of these illigally uploaded movies are also getting better and better, which is why I think that the appeal of an HD quality movie rental will not sway the average user to shell out that additional fee. Who knows, in the future this format might prove to be extremely successful, however for now that is not the case.

For those who want to check out the store for themselves, go to this link:

http://www.youtube.com/store

Video Games Dispute

After reading Jones’s The Meaning of Video Games, and computing all that he says about the complexity of video games I couldn’t help but wonder: which games are better simple or complex ones?

Using Jones’s example of Katamari Damacy, I know that even a game with a simple basis can have many elaborate layers that extend beyond the sphere of the actual game. Yet, one must ask are these games really that accessible for the everyday person?  For anyone who’s ever tried to casually join in on a game of Halo, Grand Theft Auto, or any other popular game, you know that it’s pretty much impossible to be successful at it. Without the skills to navigate the universe of these games, the games themselves pretty much cease to be fun. Speaking from personal experience I’m not really interested in playing these games because I don’t know how and I can’t learn how to play without putting in a significant amount of time. Furthermore even if I do put in the time, beating these games would take another myriad of sleepless nights. After reading the story behind Katamari Damacy I questioned the necessity of the story itself. I mean when people are playing these games are they really that worried about the narrative and where it’s going? In my experience during game play you are almost completely enraptured in the game itself and everything else is just extraneous. I mean who does wish they could just skip though all of the intro videos and transition pages?

After playing Rockband in class last week, I was able to confirm that this was more my type of game, something you could just pick up and play, albeit not perfectly, but still easily. Thinking back it also seems like all of the classic great games of the past are all fairly simple ones in context. After all Pacman doesn’t need an elaborate back-story, it’s just fun to play. Maybe times are different now with the new technology that’s available to elaborate these games, but one thing remains, while complex games may come and go with the fads, simple ones will stand the test of time in longevity. People of all generations will always be able to play simple games like Tetris, Pinball, and Pacman because they will never forget how to play once they learn. However, the same thing cannot be said about these intricate cross platform narrative games and that is why I feel as though their presence, while strong amongst certain demographics, is ultimately fleeting in the overall population by comparison.

So I’m gonna have to agree with the rest of the class and say that Second Life pretty much blows. It’s like a slower, lonelier, and more boring version of the Sims. The fact of the matter is that while I was on Second Life I think I ran into a total number of 3 people. Also you can’t really do all that much without any money, and we all only have $500. Anyways, here are some pictures of my time in the world of Second Life, while some of the locations are pretty interesting to look at graphically, I would still say that the ability to visit different exotic landmarks is not enough of a factor to entice me to use Second Life. Also I don’t understand why sometimes I have hair and sometimes I’m bald on Second Life.

This is me at the Welcome to Second Life sign it’s on the far right. This is me at the space museum. On the Middlebury Island I took a Picture in front of a sign that reserved the area for Spanish speakers only, which I though was kind of funny.

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Here is me in Australia. pic3

Here is me in at the Space Museum.pic4

Here is me in front of a religious park, random I know. Untitled

Here is me at the Moulin Rouge. pic5

Here is me in Morocco, which looked pretty cool actually.secondlife-postcard-1

Virtual Subjectivity

The idea of virtual subjectivity to me is kind of like an oxymoron. I mean how can these virtual experiences be deemed as real when, the whole foundation behind them is the fact that these experiences are happening in virtual reality and not actual reality? Is it too old school for me to think that interactions in virtual realities such as second life are not real because it’s not actually real reality?

You can have conversations, “visit” exotic locations, and do much more in a virtual reality. However, none of these experiences in my mind are real because they lack the physical relevance of real life. For example, the rapes that were described in “A Rape in Cyberspace” were disturbing, but at the end of the day for the victims it was their avatar that was raped, and not their actual self. They might have been temporarily disturbed by the events, but ultimately they would get over it; the same would not be said had the rape occurred in real life. Similarly, if you got stabbed online, would you bleed in real life, obviously not. This argument might go in one ear and out the other to adamant users of virtual realities because the fact is they are adamant users because of the fact that virtual realities are an escape from the real world.

Online, one can control what they look like, the world that they live in, and the experiences they have. But the fact that all of this is predetermined makes it artificial and contrived. Instead of living out your life online in a virtual world, people should instead go outside and experience the actual one for themselves. This idea is taken to an extreme by the recent movie Surrogates.

The movie describes the world in 2017, in which everyone on the planet has a surrogate android by which they live their lives. Their real self lives at home, while they live life through these physically perfect Surrogates. While the plot of the movie takes the idea of having an avatar online to a much more intense extreme, its ideas are not so farfetched. I mean is it a stretch to assume that people would want to take the chance to be able to experience life though a perfect body that they could design. *Spoiler alert* the movie ends with the protagonist destroying all surrogates and forcing the population to interact once again with their actual bodies. This pretty much summarizes my point about virtual realities; they are okay to visit every once in a while, but once you start to prefer your second life to your first one you have a problem and need to bring yourself back to reality, pun intended, pronto.

After going without a computer for a week I’ve come to the conclusion that while it is fairly easy to stay away the hassle arrives when you come back. Over Spring Break I was down in Georgia with the crew team and it seemed smart to go without a computer for a week because there was going to be no Wifi anyways. Since I kept busy during the entire week and there was no shortage of people to hang out with I never found myself yearning to use the internet and thought hey going without a computer is actually really easy. Granted, I did check my email and Facebook occasionally on my blackberry.

It was only after I got back on campus that the week away from the web took its toll. Suddenly all the things I went without started to pile on top of each other and now I am left playing catch up. Life goes on without the internet, but sometimes we all forget that the internet goes on without us too. Blogs continue to get updates, news continues to run, and internet traffic goes on as usual. As I went back to my normal internet routine I realized that I would have to back track if I wanted to consume all that I had missed out on during the previous week. Whereas all that stuff is manageable over a week, the combined buildup makes it seem overwhelming. Some of it I can let go, I mean I can move forward without checking the dozens of new pages updated on Perez Hilton. However, I still need to go back and catch up on all of the TV that I’ve missed over the week, which altogether is a disgusting amount, if I want to stay up to date, which obviously I do. Not to mention the fact that classes have started up again and now it would be impossible to go without the internet in some capacity or another. Our everyday lives we are completely dependent on technology and here’s a little advice from my week without it: to save yourself the stress of the aftermath, try not to go extended amounts of time without it cold turkey, if you find that you are wasting way too much time simply moderate yourself, it’s the only solution because somewhere down the line a task that requires technology will come up.

Convergence Culture

I personally am a supporter of convergence, user interaction, and reading spoilers. In this day and age media convergence simply opens up many new levels of for the spectator to consume, so why not enjoy it. After all what Jenkins said is true, for the 20 million people that watch survivor  only about 50,000 of them are on the online message boards, and even fewer of them are active. Most importantly the amount of user interaction depends on you the user, so I don’t understand why people criticise those who choose to look for and post spoilers online. At the end of the day if you are against it, then don’t read them, we can all turn off our computers to watch an hour of television.

While it is also annoying that new media has adopted a cross media platform type of storytelling, this too can be circumvented. In fact, this is made possible by convergence. For example, if you missed the whole Matrix phenomenon and want to catch up, you can do so much more quickly today then you could have when the films first came out. Now, you don’t have to buy the video games, read the comics, and etc. to fill in the gaps of the matrix story. Today, all you have to do is go to your local search engine to find the missing plot points of the films. Convergence culture, may not be for everybody but I think the point is that it makes it so much more worthwhile for those uberfans that want to be that much more involved in their favorite shows/films.

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