Friday, December 11, 2009


As a whole, I thought this class was less than I was expecting. I was expecting something that would be more about improving quality and refining the technique of posting online content. While there was a bit of that with some instructor feedback, it was much less than I'd preferred. I certainly wasn't expecting a class that was about things that I've been doing for a good while, posting blogs, creating news, etc. I was hoping that the class could help me refine my ability to write and create, and understand online content; maybe cover some more advanced or lesser known things about online publishing.

I'm authentically interested in journalism, and plan to be a career writer/journalist, and while I didn't learn much in the way of publishing content, finding content, or creating content, I did get a few tips about interviewing and some credits.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Posting on two blogs at once, because I can

NOTE: Due to the fact my 1up blog has limited readership and my strange compulsion to blog at 3:45 AM, I'm going to be posting this on my blog at 1up as well as my class-related blogspot blog.

I was browsing 1up's Holiday Buyers Guide, checking out the PSP games they recommend. One game that I've been interested in, but because of a $40 price tag I've ignored, Rock Band: Unplugged.

I thought to myself "Woo, that's a bit pricey, maybe I'll give it a buy once the price drops." Not exactly the problem right now, the problem in the not too distant future once the digital download takes hold, but that won't ever happen.

From what I understand with my enormously extensive knowledge of economics, with two (2) under my belt, the price of something goes down when nobody wants to buy it. With games, this usually happens when new releases come out, and older titles, because of limited shelf space, are left by the wayside. In the world of digital distribution, where there is no shelf-space, and all titles are as readily available as the day they were released, so the price of digital goods will never decrease.

There are examples of the price of good decreasing to match retail, my personal favorite service Steam does this well, like how The Orange Box has lowered to $30 from it's initial $50. But that's just the issue, they do it to match the retail prices, so what happens when there isn't a retail anymore? What will be the incentive to drop the price?

Demand may drop, and interest in the title may become nonexistent, so the title may go on temporary sale; selling the game at 75% off for a weekend wont make very much money, but it will sell spectacularly. You could apply this to the "retail price", if the price gradually reduces over time, sales will be steady with the cheaper price bringing in buyers instead of whatever other appeal there was.

For now though, looking at both Xbox Live and the Playstation Network, there is content on there from 2005/2007 that has stayed at exactly the same price because it never had a retail version to compete with. Geometry Wars was available at launch for 400 Microsoft Points($5), and four years later it's still at that. Will it be at that in another year? Five? Ten? I have no idea, but I'm doubtful it will ever permanently drop.

I'm very pessimistic when it comes to the future, so maybe I'm just seeing things as bad as they could be. To be dramatic, imagine a world where the concept of the bargain bin is something of the past and you'll have to forever pay the full retail price of "Big Daddy" or "School of Rock" except for the occasional sale.

Instead of hosting a sale to clear stock, because the stock and space are both infinity, it's just a temporary incentive. Also, because it's limited, you're probably more likely to buy it, because who knows when it'll be on sale again? May as well get it cheap, because it's impossible for it to ever be this cheap, besides the sale.

Also of note, because of the pricing mechanism as I understand it, digital price drops are not decided by the "retailer" alone, but the developer as well. Retail on the other hand, their merchandise has been bought from the distributor or warehouse and it's the retailer's choice to price it however.

Then agian, maybe I'm a little depressing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gamestop breaks release-dates on AC2 and L4D2

gamestop news header

Just last week a few stores in the general "North-Eastern" area of the US was breaking the street dates for Modern Warfare 2, and now, as Destructoid reports, Gamestops in Jersey City, New Jersey are breaking street dates for Assassin's Creed 2 and Left 4 Dead 2. This seems more like a trend than cooincidence now.

Calls to the specific stores 4627, 4260 and 6005 by Kotaku revealed "it was because a local independent retailer had done the same". Could it be a single retailer in the area that's large enough to warrant three Gamestops selling early to compensate? I have no idea, but if you're in the area give your Gamestop a call, and they might have a copy for you.

Being the inexperienced young'un I am, I wonder "Why don't stores simply sell once they get their inventory?" It's always been Tuesday, and in a few rare cases other days of the week. I read once that it was because shipments usually go out the Friday before and arrive around Sunday/Monday, so why hold off the extra day? Besides the obvious "we've got it, you can't have any" making people wait, get excited, etc.

Either way, Assassin's Creed 2 looks great, and Left4Dead2 looks gross (in the best way).

Source: Destructoid and Kotaku

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fourth blog - Health Care

When people think of health care, they think of a certain kind of person, and their views. From the people I've spoken to, there is generally two camps of people.

Camp A believes that if someone can't afford health care it's because they don't want to work to be taken care of, they want to have everything handed to them, etc. The people that Camp A believes embodies all of these things usually fall into Camp B. They usually see themselves as practical, and can usually afford insurance themselves.

Camp B believes that everybody should be taken care of, and given proper care, if they can afford it or not. They believe that even if someone can't afford to pay for an expensive operation, they should be allowed to live. They see Camp A as heartless bureaucrat-fat-cats who care nothing for others. They tend to see themselves often as the victim, and usually can't afford insurance.

Which camp is right? Honestly, I don't believe there is a "right" exactly. Hell, our entire law system is reliant on what the majority believes is right, or true, or constitutional. I might think that Camp B is nothing but freeloading slackers who've never worked an honest day in their life, or that Camp A is filled with apathetic people who only care about themselves. But am I right about either of them?

I do find myself leaning towards Camp B, at least for their outlook on life. A very good friend of mine works as many hours as she can for minimum wage while going to college. She can hardly afford rent and food, and her employer doesn't provide her with any coverage. Is she a slacker? Does she think everything should be handed to her? I think there should be national health care for people like her. Employed, hard working people who want nothing but to be happy.

Looking at this situation from the other side, Camp A, I could say that she should find a job that does have health care. That she should learn skills that can get her a better job, that could get her coverage.

Since everybody thinks differently, there is no universal right or wrong, just what the majority agree is right or wrong. Will national health care get passed? Maybe, maybe not, and it doesn't depend on what's right, but what a majority of congress/house/etc. think. I might think national health care is right, but someone else might think it's wrong, so it all comes down to who has the most votes.

In six months time I could be applauding or sobbing from the outcome of all the health care debate. I might think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread or the worst thing to happen since Pearl Harbor. That is what I think, but what I think doesn't matter, not in today's government.

That is, unless I were to stage an outrageously large rally/protest/demonstration to try and influence policy. In which case, maybe someone should start a preemptive rally to speed things up.

I know there are variations in what people think for/against, but these are the general categories I've come to after speaking to several people and their experiences.

NOTE: This blog was, and still is, late by about two days. Sorry about that! Please don't dock me points!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Third Blog - Places

As I spoke of before, the internet could be seen as one huge community, and all of those who happen to play games online can commune. That would be last, though, so I'm going to focus on a select few places where the gaming general public tends to come together to exchange ideas and thoughts on games or otherwise.

A very large, very temporary game community that never speaks.

The first, most popular, and well known is a location I mentioned in a previous entry, NeoGAF. NeoGAF stands for Neo Gaming Age Forums, sometimes simply referred to as "The GAF". Developers often frequent this site to see what gamers think of their latest work, and occasionally to respond to community concerns.

For a general nondescript type of gaming, NeoGAF is the undisputed champ. You can find a topic on anything from "Gaming as an Art form" to the dreaded "Why did X publication only give Y a score of Z?".

As recent as last year developer Dennis Dyack spoke to NeoGAF users who were, he believed, prematurely judging his work. You see, inside the development side of the industry, it's usually a given that there will those who are happy and unhappy, and to let people think what they will. Mr. Dyack though had had enough; he posted on NeoGAF in response to claims his work was shoddy, broken, and looked at best sub-par. He made a bet with some of the forum administrators that his game was going to be great, but as I recall it never panned out, and all parties lost interest and felt embarrassed for having an open fight on forums, for thousands to see.

NeoGAF is not only home to many developers and enthusiasts, but many resourceful people who usually uncover some hidden tidbit of information from a website, and post it for all to see. The blog-o-sphere usually picks up on this and cites the posted news as fact. Many times, it was true, and someone luckily found something on a web page or a video taken with a cell phone, but other times it was nothing but a hoax. NeoGAF may be large, sometimes intelligent, but often times it's more of a mob mentality, with people complaining and ridiculing releases before they're out, and just people being judgmental.

Most people inside the industry view NeoGAF as a collection of idiots banging their heads against their keyboards, complaining about inane minutiae. And most people inside NeoGAF see people inside the gaming industry as paid-off-fat-cats who take orders from their corporate overlords, too afraid to speak an original thought. Their relationship is not very friendly. Although there are exceptions, as with any mass of people this large, there are stupid people on NeoGAF. Just as I'm sure that Dennis Dyack is something of a blowhard.

A blowhard.

NeoGAF is great for games as a whole, but when it comes to the more granular it's very dependent on what your topic of choice is. For specific games, most publishers host individual forums that focus on a single release.

Valve, Steam's owner current logo

One place where there is guaranteed to be both granular and filled with variety though is the Steam Forums. Steam is a digital distribution service, and they host individual forums for a vast majority, if not all, of their releases where gamers can set up multiplayer games together, share stories, or complain.

I mention complain because few people realize that early adopters of most PC software, and not just games, are widely considered to be paid "beta testers". A Beta is an early version of software that isn't quite finished, and many developers release unfinished titles, and all of those who purchase it early on have to deal with bugs and issues that weren't discovered, or sometimes even looked for, in the Quality Assurance (QA) phase of development.

Thankfully, via the Steam Forums the individual game's developers can check that game's message board and see if there is any trouble, they can see what the users think, and all the rest of the great things about forums.

One key point of using the Steam forums is a publisher/developer can find out of the Steam version of a game is seeing a specific set of issues, or if Steam users are especially pleased with the release. Secondly, and we're moving into 1984-tinfoil-hat-they-can-read-my-thoughts territory here, I don't believe that the publishers has any power over the forum. There at least one case when a publisher has simply silenced any complaints, and even threatened to revoke the user's CD key, which allows them to play the game if complaints continued.

Not many people visit the Steam forums besides complaining to be honest. While there are instances of people having original discussion and intelligent conversation, most see it as a community of whiners and people who can't keep their mouth shut. Then again, that's because of the technical support nature of the forums. If something breaks, the first place someone goes is the forums to see if it's a common problem, and if there is a fix.

Most internet websites that I've mentioned in the past, IGN, 1up, Gamespot, Gamespy all host their own internal forums, usually broken up into different sub-sections, dedication to specific things. There is almost always at least the following:
  • Gaming Discussions
  • Site Discussions
  • Non-Game Discussions
Depending on which site you visit, you'll find a very different kind of user with different ideas.

It was difficult for me to define exactly what 'blogging' was, and I'm finding it difficult to find a go-to repository of gaming culture. Is this because I simply can't find it myself? Is it because blogging, and gaming communities are just both so shapeless that they can be any shape or size?

PS: Sorry about how long of a post this is, going to try and work in some images to keep things spicy. Also, read my stuff at, where I do news late-night Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday(sometimes Sundays)!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Second Blog - Community

When asked what communities I belong to, I would not say to that of my current residence, Andover. I have never participated in the local activities, I've never kept up with local news, and care little for the going-ons of the local people. A second community that I strongly identify, belong, and am interested in is that of video game players.
Before I go into detail about the questions asked of the assignment, I feel the need to defend my using video gamers as a community. Various forums allow those who create and market video games can communicate with their consumers, as seen in the NeoGAF website. Thanks to the internet, gamers are able to communicate with each other more easily than any point in history, and are becoming a closer, and larger, each year.

Many of the concepts covered in the assigned web-reading applies to the communication of gamers through the internet. The different 'leaders' of video games range from iconic developers with strong personalities that innovate in the industry with everything they touch. Some examples include Tim Schafer, Peter Molyneux, Will Wright, and Hideo Kojima. Each of them is well known in the video gamer community, and their work held in the highest regard.

Something that I'm not sure occurs in other communities, is those who report and monitor on the doings of developers are also leaders in the community themselves. I wouldn't go so far as to say 'famous', but well known games journalists are not hard to find. Gamespy's Ryan Scott, 1up's Jeremy Perish and IGN's Ryan Clements are all well known names in each website's respective circles for one reason or another. If someone had little to no games experience, going to their 'newsroom' is an option, asking questions like "Who heads LionHead Studios?" "Who's publishing this?" "When did Valve start?". They could even turn to their readership, and ask them for assistance, they're almost always willing to help.

As for my understanding of the community, I have been a part of it, and have been writing for it, for some time. I understand what new releases people are going to enjoy, which are going to be ignored, which are going to be hailed as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Although with any community, there is deviation from the majority, but as a whole understanding isn't difficult.
Using the list of seven knowledge keys, I understand:
  • Gamers are often stereotyped as basement dwelling, overweight, stinky nerds. Although with any stereotype, someone is bought to fit, this is the minority. As for my own bias towards this, I'd like to think I have none, but I tend to classify someone who fits the profile as a nerd/gamer occasionally.
  • There are numerous sources that are trusted by gamers. From the still in print GameInformer that tends to have sometimes news spun a certain direction and skewed reviews, to the constantly updating Kotaku, which is sometimes less accurate, but always fixing mistakes.
  • The sense of place is nowadays placed online, with gamers' various forums and inter-friends. The history of gamers and gaming goes way back to the 1980's, when the NES ruled Those of you who were around may have traded Metroid passwords at the lunch table, or people (like myself) who have grown up with the Nintendo 64, Goldeneye and Orcarina of Time being their favorites. As for development, more and more people are being attracted to gaming, and the trend seems to be geared towards newcomers and easier accessibility.
  • Because of the limitless ability for anybody to play, the different kind of people who play is all over the board. There are some people who only play the popular World of Warcraft or Halo, while others only play WiiPlay. As for the language, it again comes down to the medium and game being used. A quick instance of World of Warcraft may find you meeting people who are quite courteous to you, and nothing but helpful. While others, like the well-known Halo 3 will have you pelted with racial slurs and insults. As I mentioned before, communication is primarily through forums, but many use the in-game chat functions that many implement today.
  • Many of those who have been gaming for decades have concerns about the new direction I mentioned above. That games are no longer going to be their small niche, but are going to have a broader appeal that they don't like. The 'buzz phrase' that is usually used for these newer gamers is 'Casual Gamers'. People who play exclusively games that are easy to pick up and play, but also lack the knowledge to choose high-quality titles.
  • The 'civic places' gamers commune is, again, internet forums. Although I am sure that there are many (myself included) who communicate with people face to face, a majority of it is through some electronic means. People tend to, obviously, discuss games, their favorite games, or even the occasional philosophical look at games' impact on culture as a whole.
  • The aspirations of gamers is usually to just enjoy themselves, to play good games.
Games just want to have fun.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

First Blog

What is a blog?
As defined in the text, Journalism 2.0, a blog is...well it's difficult to tell. The text is too busy praising the glory of the coming of blogs to define them in a meaningful way. We are given a list of common characteristics of blogs though. Online journals, links to other blogs or websites, and the ability for readers to comment on posted blog entries.

For me though, a blog is everything described and more. A blog has the potential to be anything, a blank slate. Maybe that's why the description in the text is so poor, because a specific description of something that can be anything isn't easily done.

A blog sometimes to me is simply a place to vent, rant on and on about a subject that nobody honestly wants to listen to, so I post it where if someone does want to listen, the door is open. Other times it can be a place to get answers or the opinion from people that I know without asking them directly, like a volunteer survey.

With the advent of Twitter and microblogging, new ways to communicate with people are opening up. Simply tweet to a person a question, and they can tweet a reply right back, almost instantly. Maybe a movement for the future of news and writers to be more personal, and less separated from their readers.

2. What's your favorite/energizing thing about blogging?

As I mentioned above, the free communication of information. The ability for someone reading what's posted to comment on it and get feedback almost instantly.

Some of the more connected people in the world of news might tweet just the title of their article and a link, and people can seconds later re-tweet what they think, comments, or anything you'd regularly have to go out of your way to see in the comments section of a blog.

3. What's most challenging about blogging for you?
About the process of blogging myself, or about the concept of blogging affecting me as a person?

I know several people who aren't keen on blogging, and would rather be reading a newspaper article, without having to deal with the comments, the quick updating, basically what makes a blog a blog. But I have no personal issue with bloggers or blogging.

For creating a blog, the most difficult thing is usually finding a topic. Sometimes I feel full of energy, ready to blog and get my words out there. Other times, most of the time, a topic for a blog eludes me. I'm hoping that with this course I'll be able to blog with direction, with instruction. Although the freedom of blogging is great, freedom without structure can be chaos.