Friday, May 9, 2008

A Pixilated Version of Rhetoric

In the previous post, I posted the video that explained why video games were rhetorical. However, due to the the horde of exams and work that I had to do due, I neglected to explain the explication. Hence, let me do so here (Warning: Long Post).One of the first pictures that is seen in the video, is perhaps one of the ones with most significance. Such a picture would be the one that shows the "Pong" arcade. The picture accurately portrays just how much different the classics are from the new breed of video games. One of these differences is the fact that technology limitations made it impractical to have such a big machine in other place but in a a dedicated arcade place. The technological limitations also allowed but a few bits in the screen to be displayed, which meant for monochromatic and simple shapes were the only choice for video game developers to have in their games.  

The next picture of major significance is the picture where Super Mario Brothers was showed. Being a more recent game, a lot more people remember to have played at least a couple of levels in that game. The game also symbolizes the change from story-less video games, to the ones that actually had something that could be called a story. The story was very crude, save Princess Peach and rescue Mushroom Kingdom, but it allowed for the users of the video game to feel some sort of connection to the character, thereby making it more appealable and rhetorical.

Another picture that has a lot of meaning behind it, is the Fight Night 3 picture where the two boxers are playing. The graphics of Fight Night Round 3 are so realistic, that it is hard to realize it is a video game. The graphics upgrade upped the ethos of the video games making them more than just "childish games."

The picture with the most significance, at least to me, is the one that reads "Bioschock: Breaking the Mold." The picture mentioned before is from one of the best video games out there. Bioshock, as it called is most known for the way in which it delivers its story. Bioshock’s narrative not only uses the technique of staring the story in the middle of it, to grab the player’s attention, but it also adds a new twist to it which utilizes the properties of the medium. The first one of the slight twists that Bioshock gives to its narrative is that there are no cut-scenes or text that tells the user the complete story of the events that happened before the user entered the city. Instead, the pre-game story is scatter abroad throughout the city of Rapture in “Audio Libraries” which are voice recordings of the fictional characters that used to live in that city.

These recordings, rather than being mere additions to the main story, they are the story themselves. Such is Bioshock’s first interactive twist. The second one however surpasses the first one in the effects it has in the real world.

Bioshock is a video game that not only changes the way in traditional narrative is done with its “Audio Libraries,” but that it also incites further discourse in the user’s world. The main goal for the user in the video game is to escape the city of Rapture. However, as the player progresses and the enemies become stronger and stronger, it becomes obvious that the user controlled character will need to upgrade.

The only way to upgrade is by finding little girl (which appeared in the two following pictures) infected with a parasitic creatures living in them called “Little Sisters,” and taking “Adam” (the game’s currency) from them. The Adam however, is not on them, but in them and there are only two ways to take out: the player needs to either save the Little Sisters by cleaning their body from the parasite that makes them produce the Adam, or by “harvesting” them. Saving the little girls will only give the player half of the Adam which the player would have otherwise gotten had he/she harvested the Little Sisters. Nevertheless, harvesting a Little Sister means to take the life away from her. Although in paper the decision might sound obvious (get the most points), in practice, it is not as easy. Although the Little Sisters are not humans in the video game, their only purpose is to create Adam now, they still look like little girls. Hence the dilemma, should the Little Sisters be harvested or saved? Thus it is possible to see the how games have incorporated logic and morals into a dilemma that has no real right answer. The paradox being discussed bares a striking resemblance with the current issue of cloning.

The rest of the pictures are meant to depict some of the greatest nay sayers when it comes to video games. The main argument of people like Arnold and Jack, is that video games are way to influential to be left in the hands of little kids. This is not the case however, since video games are regulated, much like the movie industry, by an independent organization called the ESRB. One fact is to not about this, if video games were not rhetorical, no one would be arguing that they are too influential. Hence, in fighting them, the opposers of video games have actually made them to win.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rant #3: Movies: Iron Man Lives Again! Hopefully

As the release date for Iron Man The Movie draws closer and closer, I can't help but to wonder, will it be everything they promised? I know that that is the basic question for any movie, but the danger for a flop  considerably risen as of late. If you don't believe me, just try to remember any awesome movies that have come out as of late; when I say "awesome," I mean movies that make you forget where you are and that you don't even want to stand and go to the restroom for fear of missing something. Think...not that many huh?

The last movie I can remember that kept me sit down like that was "The Lord of the Rings:The Two Towers," but that was 6 years ago!; after that, not much as really stood out of the bunch. Which leads me to my real concern, is the age of great movies over? I mean, movies are costing more and more, but I am not that sure that the are getting and better. Take for example, "I Am Legend," everyone and their mom said that movie was great. The movie lasted about one hour, don't you think that there was far more material to stretch the movie to 2 hours? Yet they didn't. How about Spiderman 3 which, for me, destroyed most of the affection to the franchise since it was waaaaaaay to cheesy? How about Pirates of the Caribbean 3? Another flop. Shrek 3? flop. Star Wars 1? Flop. Star Wars 3? Flop. The list of "heavy releases"gone wrong goes on and on.

Why is it that movies have gotten  worst? Well, it your fault! And mine too... All of the movies that I mentioned above were movie flops, but not on the money they made. When Spiderman 3 makes $382 million Worldwide what is that telling the producers and directors? It is saying "give them anything, they'll eat it." Hence, the point of this my rant is, don't be fooled by advertising, wait and see if the movie was great, than go. If you don't do so, expect more horribly and short movies as well as shorter. 

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wake Up When It's Over...

As the time for the presidential elections draws closer and closer, the democrats seem to put more and more nails on their coffins. Why is? Well, while McCain is already planning for the election, Clinton and Obama are still fighting in their little corner of the world. In the end, their struggle will prove to be the downfall of the democratic party for God knows how many years to come. 

As the fight for the democratic nomination draws on, one thing is for certain, people, or at least me, are growing tire of it. It seems as if though every day there is some sort of "news" regarding Clinton and Obama. Usually these news include awesome topics like: Obama is winning, but Clinton is not defeated; Clinton takes the lead, Obama prepares plan; Obama attacks Hillaray; Hillary attacks Obama. In other words, there is a stalemate between both of them and, who wants to hear about a stalemate? Yet journalists keep on sticking stories about the now boring democratic election on their front pages.

The continual flow of story creates an agnostic feeling among the people. This feeling can very much mean the downfall of the democratic party as more and more time and resources are wasted on the race. 
Is the pre-election ever going to finish? I don't know, but we might still find Obama and Clinton fighting during and after the election. So, just wake up when its all over...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Video Game, Meet Music; Music, Meet Video Game

(For best results, play the video while you read)

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a Rock Star? Don't lie, everyone of us has had that dream of some point. However, for one reason or another, like money, time, or lack of talent, most of do not get to accomplish that dream. But what if there was a way, in which to bridge all of these things? what if you could start a rock band at the entry price of $170.oo? This has all been made possible by Rock Band. 
Rock Band is just one of the many rhythm-action games that have been released in recent history. In fact, before Guitar Hero I came out, there were only a handful of games that belonged to the music-genre, most of which, failed to break into pop-culture. If I was to mention games like 'Space Channel 5" and "Samba de Amigo" (remake coming soon to Wii), few of you would even know what system they were published for. That whole notion was destroyed when the first Guitar Hero I, came out. Little by little, everyone started to take notice of these games making them, sometimes, the sole reason for which people bought systems.  
What makes these games so popular? In the case of Rock Band, it is the feeling of becoming something, even if it is for a few seconds, that you are not. Another factor contributing to the success of Rock Band is the fact that it is the perfect party game. Grabs some friends give them one of the three controllers and watch as you all look like a bunch of freaks in front of the TV as Bon Jovi Sings "Dear or Alive." This may sound altogether weird to some people, but that is because you need to play to understand what so great about it. 
Hence, my advice to you is leave the computer and go running right now to Best Buy to get Rock Band, or find someone that has, it, and go and play Rock Band. Go on, be a Rock Star. You'll thank me later.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

But It Looks Pretty...

How many times have we not found ourselves in the store wanting something that could potentially be completely useless, but that it looks pretty cool? As of recently, I have found myself staring at a video game like that which would cost me about $500 to play. Its a lot of money, for one game, but it looks so pretty...

The game I'm referring to is Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. That game is for the PS3, a console I do not have since there was never a cool game to get for. Well, now there is, but the price of the console is $400 in its cheapest skew. What is better, to buy the game and the console and feel proud for about a month and dumb for the rest of my life? or don't buy it and watch as the rest of the world does? The choice looks very easy, but it suddenly becomes harder when you look a the game.

The game has an amazing plot which feature PMCs which are Private Military Contractors taking over the world. This may sound far fetched, but the elements for that to happen are here in today's world. I won't say anything else since the video does a pretty cool job of showing off the story. Now, if you remember a some posts back, I talked about just how much important are lyrics in a song for me. The same follows in a video game, where I value a lot the story, so this is right up my alley.

Even if I didn't care about the story, the graphics are pretty darn awesome. Just look at them and tell me if you have seen anything better out there? It sure looks pretty huh?

To buy, or not to buy that is the question...that is the question...

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

To Buy or Not to Buy A Hybrid

As the prices of gasoline keep on the rise, we cannot help but to wonder whether or not we should buy a car. Think about it, is your car really an asset, or is it a liability? Even 4-cylinder cars are spending $40 plus dollars right now. What is there to do? Buy a hybrid... and pray to God that the battery doesn't die.

As of late, we have been bombarded with just how awesome a hybrid is. The car stops using the gasoline engine, and, in a way, recycles some of the energy you just wasted. The hybrid also provides the perfect solution to contamination since it reduces the emissions of CO2 (since you aren't using the gasoline that much). Have you, however, heard anyone mentioned anything serious about the hybrids batteries? I bet you haven't.

Doing a quick Google search you might find that it is not as easy to find the prices of hybrid car batteries. Most websites only tell you just how awesome the hybrid and how you should stop doing everything and go and buy a hybrid NOW. However, they often omit the price of the batteries. When people omit telling you something about that which they are speaking about, you know it cannot be good. This is not the exception as $3,000 is not such a far fetched quantity in the world of hybrid car batteries. Hybrid batteries are supposed to last as long as the car itself hence, you should start to rule out buying a used hybrid since, more than likely, they batteries are dead. What is there to do? Sit down and wait...
Another technology that completely throws away gasoline are cars that run on ethanol. Already several corn plantations have been set aside to produce the ethanol for these new types of cars. Is there a catch with this cars? I do not know, but with corn being potentially cheaper than oil, is it not worth the try?