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The magic of Pokemon Go

Over the past few weeks people have been breaking their old habits and straying from their usual behavior. They have been taken to changing their normal routes home from work or to simply wandering the streets, parks and other public spaces, seemingly at random. However, these odd new movements are not random at all. They are actually quite the opposite because these people are chasing the invisible Pokémon that now have come to inhabit our cities.

Pokémon_Go_Fuller's_Brewery_ad
A pub in Portsmouth, England advertising a PokéStop location on the premises

The success of Pokémon Go, unforeseen even by it’s creators, is currently dominating the app world, claiming the focus of every social media site and shocking the stock market. Shares in Japan’s Nintendo soared as the phenomenal success of Pokémon Go has triggered massive buying in Nintendo shares. From a marketing point of view, this game opens a whole new door for smart business owners to come through. Many businesses have discovered the success of buying the in-game ‘Lure’ item which attracts Pokémon to your location for 30 minutes. This way you can tempt consumers through your doors at the low cost of £1.58 an hour. Pokémon Go has proven itself to have the power to control the movement of a vast amount of people. For this reason the potential effect of it’s business and marketing opportunities are staggering.

Pokémon_Go_-_screenshot_of_mapFor those of you who live under rocks: Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game released in July this year. Making use of the GPS and camera of your phone, the game allows players to capture, battle, and train fictitious little creatures called Pokémon.

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Are pro gamers athletes?

Today I stumbled across the video below on YouTube. It made me wonder. Are gamers athletes? What defines an activity as a sport and a person as an athlete? Is it the physical effort? Strict rules and competition? Does the skill level have to be high? Does the person have to be a professional? The definition seems ambiguous at best. Golfing, dancing, curling and even chess are all activities considered sports yet most people outside the world of gaming would hesitate before calling a PC gamer and athlete based on his performance in a video game.

Oxford English Dictionary defines a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” In this definition video games fall short, but so do other sports that are still socially accepted as an exception to the rule. Other activities such as Cheerleading (which has been determined by a federal judge to not qualify as a sport) should by the Oxford English Dictionary indeed classify and be up on the list together with football and basketball.

What’s your opinion? If you are (or hypothetically were) a professional gamer, would you call yourself an athlete?

Photo attribution: Photo derived from “Ases en la EPS” by artubr licensed under CC by 2.0

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Why do we care about fictional characters?

Have you ever really cared for a character in a video game? There are those that pass us by unnoticed and then there are those we couldn’t detach from even if we tried. The gaming industry has now more than ever shown itself capable of creating bonds and meaningful relationships between us, the players, and the fictional characters we encounter. How do game developers pull this off? How do they make us care?

Researchers of the university of Middlsex mean to say that we are predetermined to care about these fictional characters.

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Plato’s virtual cave

As gamers we are used to switching between alternate realities by immersing ourselves into the games we play. In my article “Does gaming impact my dreams?” I discussed this subject further while musing over the reasons why gamers more often experience lucid dreaming than their peers. I ended the article by saying:

When we then enter the world of dreaming, do we [as gamers] then recognize the signs of fiction and fantasy more easily than others? It is indeed an intriguing idea and the philosophical implications of this is fascinating to me. But more on that another time.

Well, my friends, it’s “another time”. It’s about to get deep!

When I hit the play button and enter a new game I am very much aware

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Are Exploits Cheating?

Of all of the topics to ponder in the world of multiplayer games, the one with perhaps the most grey area is the subject of exploits. In MMO’s specifically, some exploits and bugs are left unpatched for years, allowing enterprising players a simpler path to victory than intended. Other exploits, however, result in account suspensions and outright bans.

The question of “are exploits wrong?” has been explored at length by more qualified gamers than myself, and the answer that we always seem to land on is “it depends”.  In fact, it depends on several things. Does using the exploit give the gamer an unfair advantage in a PvP situation? Does using the exploit wreak havoc on game systems (such as the economy)? Does using the exploit degrade or disrupt the experience of other players in the game? Even the answers to these questions are seldom black and white. After all, a player might contend that my constant kiting or jumping during combat is ruining his/her immersion, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m doing anything wrong. Likewise, is gaining high-level gear more quickly than intended truly putting a player at an advantage if they haven’t also gained the PvP experience that goes along with obtaining said gear?

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Gaming Controversy – The effects of gaming

Ever since I came across the blog Gaming Conversations I have wanted to do a collaboration with Braxwolf. After writing “Between men and women…” I realised from the comments that followed how interesting an open discussion about controversial topics can be. So here we go. I have chosen the gaming controversy resulting from discussions of the topic censorship and gaming. Does the content in video games change the behavior and attitudes of a player? Does that mean we should censor certain content? In this blog post I will present some different points of view and leave the subject open for discussion.

In today’s age gaming has become a medium of storytelling which provides their audiences with an interactive power not other forms of narrative can offer. This can help us more easily immerse and open ourselves to feel empathy for the characters who’s story we are experiencing. It’s a beautiful way for the art of storytelling to develop. But what are the downsides of this? Just like any medium of storytelling we are affected by it’s content.

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Voices, voices, voices…

I don’t know about you guys but I am an avid reader of body language, an ability I’ve wasted much time attempting to perfect. I say wasted, because in the world of gaming it certainly feels sort of useless. That said I find it very useful IRL. It is such a crucial part of how I figure a person out that I feel quite crippled trying to understand people online. In this environment the tools we have to figure a person out are very limited. This makes me wonder if we as gamers tend to read even more into a persons voice than others in order to compensate for the lack of other things. So tonight when I couldn’t sleep I decided to look for some research on how a voice impact how we see a person.

Fun facts about voices:
According to research into leadership it is clear that people are more willing to follow or trust someone in charge (male or female) if they have a deeper, darker, more masculine voice.

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Between men and women…

“Between men and women there is no friendship possible.There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.”
-Oscar Wilde

Is this statement true or false?

Oscar Wilde is one of my favourite authors of all time. That kind of intelligence and wit together with the power to express it in words is nothing but attractive. It’s a shame for women everywhere that he is gay… and dead of course, that’s another complication.

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“Rules of conduct” and Ranked

As a part of our theme week focusing on SWTOR and Ranked PvP previous to patch 2.0, I decided to write a piece about the rules that were agreed upon back in the beginning of year 2013. Anthis from Reality Check and Mylex from TWATS were two of the people present at the meeting held setting the terms of this agreement. Last Friday I brought them both on the GD TS hoping to find out more.

Mylex begins by telling me that before the server transfers between Nightmare Lands and TRE there was some but not much in terms of ranked activity on TRE. When the server merges happened the best team on TRE was LotD and on Nightmare Lands it was Nostrum Dolus. Mylex continues to explain that LotD didn’t do that well against ND in those first few days of queuing and subsequently over a period of time fell apart. A few of their better players moved to ToFN for a time. Eventually RC started queuing but up until then the only other regular teams were ND and TWATS.

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What is a gamer?

A gamer. Who is that? If you would take it literally, it means someone who plays a game. So that would make practically everybody a gamer, and it would be a pretty empty word to describe yourself. Like t.v. watcher. Or driver. Gamer is not an empty word though: you see people calling themselves a gamer everywhere.

The connotation I have with the word gamer is someone who plays games professionally, or at least passionately, or is a games connoisseur. Hence, I would never describe myself as a gamer, just like I would never describe myself as a pianist. I’d say, I play the piano, or I play games. To me it would sound wrong to state that I am a gamer.

But the word gamer is out there. Not just for the professional gamers. There is something else going on here. It is the designation of a subculture. It is an identity label. Like hipster, foodie, emo, goth, etc.

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