Category Archives: technology

No ‘Facebook fatigue’ for longtime users | Reuters

No ‘Facebook fatigue’ for longtime users | Reuters.

“This examination of people’s activities in a very new realm affirms one of the oldest truths about the value of friendship,” said Lee Rainie, head of Pew’s Internet project. “Those who are socially active have a better shot at getting the help and emotional help they need.”

They need emotional help? I don’t like the way this article was written. That implies to me that the users of Facebook are turning to the site instead of going to therapy. To be completely honest, your friends on Facebook are most likely to be emotional enablers, supporting most of your choices no matter how stupid they are. If they didn’t do that, it takes only a few clicks to unfriend someone.

The article means emotional support, which does not make it better. There’s nothing socially active about Facebook, or any social network in general – I explored that a while ago. This is all about providing your network with your best face and in return getting the best response. There’s no dislike button on Facebook for a reason, and, like I said already, those who are disagreeable are easily silenced. Facebook is all about positive feedback.

And the reason longtime users experience no fatigue or, in other words, have no desire to leave the network is because it’s difficult to go from positive feedback all the time to having nothing but your own means. I’m certain there’s a bit of withdrawal involved. Yes, I believe that social networks can cause addiction; I believe that Facebook is worth billions because of addicts.

Reading between the lines

Dating Site Says Android Users Are More Likely to Give It Up on the First Date

Thanks go out to the Consumerist for bringing this article to my attention. It says that not only are Android users more likely to have sex on the first date, but they are also more likely to have one night stands and access dating websites than people who use iPhones or Blackberrys. Meanwhile, iPhone users are more likely to have office romances and call someone a day after the first date. Lastly, Blackberry users are most likely to drink on the first date and admit to having experienced love at first sight. But what does this all mean? Read the rest of this entry

Social Networking

Before the end of the year, I said, “Social networking is the fog we use to confuse our relationships and obscure our antisocial habits. Thoughts?” That was the entire post, so only click the link if you like the idea of my hit count increasing. I didn’t get much response. What I got was incredibly thoughtful. I just wish I had gotten more.

I’m not opposed to the existence of social networking. I was an early adopter of Facebook when it hit the University of Michigan. This had to be between my sophomore and junior years, if memory serves. Someone in the University of Michigan community on LiveJournal, a proto-social network itself, announced that The Facebook had finally hit Michigan and we could all sign up. Curiosity led to my account on the network, no matter how creepy it was at the time. Some may find the timeline feature disturbing, but there was a time when the site urged its users to post their class scheduled and share them – and there were no privacy controls.

But social networks are not in and of themselves problematic. They are essentially programs. They supply none of their own information, and they only occasionally pull information about you from other locations. Social networks are ultimately at the mercy of their users. Read the rest of this entry

On social networking…

Social networking is the fog we use to confuse our relationships and obscure our antisocial habits. Thoughts?

The User Interface

I have been thinking more and more about user interfaces(UIs) lately. Maybe it’s the proliferation of devices in our everyday lives, but I cannot shake out of my head that individuals designing interfaces seem to shrug off the idea that there should be rules governing their choices. The two rules necessary for UIs are as follows: simplicity and accessibility. Read the rest of this entry

STEM Video Game Challenge and culture critique

As someone whose intended research focus will purposed toward integrating multimedia with the various therapies intended for children on the autism spectrum, I have definitely taken notice of the national competition for using video games to help children better understand science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). I also appreciate the endorsement for this competition by President Obama. As always, there are issues that need to be addressed. Read the rest of this entry

io9: How the Nielsen TV ratings work — and what could replace them

How the Nielsen TV ratings work — and what could replace them.

Great article on how the Nielsen ratings work (duh, you can read) and why you probably do not have a box yourself. The determinants are your being representative of a broader population as determined by a set of “normal behaviors”. Obviously irksome to me. I never liked the idea of “normal” people deciding anything for me.

Ebert on 3-D

I generally do not like Ebert. I have seen reviews that were too critical of the lowbrow and others that were too light on those that considered themselves highbrow. Some reviews have revealed that he is not as observant as he should be. Then there is his whole argument about video games not being art, which basically sums up to, “I know art when I see art. I don’t play games, so I don’t see art there. Since I haven’t seen it, games cannot be art.” (Check out this blog post or the other blog post he has written on the subject. I am not inaccurate here.) Ebert does not sit well with me.

What makes me dislike him more is when I do agree with him. It just does not seem right. However, he made some great points about 3-D. I see 3-D as just another marketing gimmick, and Ebert seems to agree and then some. Check out his latest in Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/id/237110

On Video Games and Dating

With video games becoming more mainstream, even more so than they were back in the NES’ best years, the idea of normalization must be popping up in the back of people’s minds. Video games are no longer a hobby of which to be ashamed when one is an adult. Getting together to play Wii Sport, Rock Band, or Guitar Hero is seen as an engaging activity and not childish play. Only these select games and a handful of others are acceptable right now, but it isn’t too much to expect the floodgates to open up in the next few years.

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By way of the ihobo blog, I came across an interesting article in the Escapist about using games as part of dating. The author of the article was part of a discussion group about why movies are acceptable for dates and games are not. The boundaries presented by games are pretty clear and understandable, though – usually competitive, discourage physical interaction between players, expensive to setup, rarely in public spaces, etc. You get the point. Games are rough to include within the first few dates because of these reasons. Then again, games have great features for dating, notably finding out how your potential partner thinks, solving problems together, and finding yourselves truly engaged in something together. If we could cut the boundaries, video games could offer so much to dating.

So how do we make video games more accessible in dating?

Aside from suggesting that people blindly enter the apartments and houses of strangers just to play games on the first date, the only thing that really makes sense is to create arcades again. Were this question posed 10 years ago, I would have been able to name a location in my hometown where people could go for game dates. Not so much with the closure of the arcade and subsequent destruction of the mall. People who went to college with me might think that the question of where to go is almost absurd because there was a large arcade on campus with a number of games that were lightly competitive or offered the opportunity to take turns. Not everywhere has that option.

But the reintroduction of video arcades to society is not enough. The game types have to be changed. What supposedly revitalized arcades in the early 90’s was the release of Street Fighter II, drawing a more competitive element to the places in the following years. It’s my opinion that this competitive element also served to discourage people from entering arcades. Fighting games were more heavily released because of Street Fighter II‘s popularity, and they have an unwelcoming learning curve. Arcades were taken over by the more obsessive gamers, which proved to work against arcades when home consoles became more capable of more graphic-intense experiences. The later years necessitated the creation of a game like Dance Dance Revolution to help keep the remaining arcades afloat in America, but the dancing games draw their own specific obsessive crowd.

The games released in arcades have to be made easily accessible for non-gamers to pick up and want to play. I’m not just talking in terms of game play. If that were the case, a gamer like Arkanoid would probably be the number one dating game – just turn the nob to move the paddle back and forth. No, games need to look fun, like there’s a point in playing them. What is it that carnivals have that video arcades lack? If it is the “carnival atmosphere”, how does one recreate said (notably vague) atmosphere?

I have been on dates with people who do and do not play video games, but many of them have involved some sort of arcade gaming. Everyone seems to enjoy skeeball and air hockey. Those don’t quite count as video games, though. What does count is that little video unit that sits in many bars and offers a number of touch screen games, usually involving some sort of matching task or spotting the differences between photographs. What also counts was a single arcade unit toward the back of Ann Arbor’s Pinball Pete’s – Quiz and Dragons. Even though the questions were about 13 years out of date, it was a great game to play.

People who are getting to know each other are probably not averse to playing games together. It’s just a matter of what is offered to them. Competitive and non-competitive are not an issue when given the right product. Dark, edgy games featuring people hitting or shooting each other with or without unnecessary spurts of blood are completely out in this equation. Games with neutral colors and non-complex interfaces should be fine. DDR is almost acceptable, but not everyone is comfortable being put on a public stage like that. Quiz games are fine. More passive touch screen games are fine. How about games that are similar in experience to shooting water in a clown’s mouth to make a balloon pop? How about more games wherein the players win a prize? Maybe more games need to provide tickets to players.

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The problem isn’t solely in the hands of the creators of games. They cater specifically to the market they were given. It’s been shown in the past that male teenagers are the main consumers of games, and that trend is expected to continue. Why not make testosterone-fueled, uninviting games just for them? No one is even looking to expand the market. Arcade operators know their audience and buy games specifically for that audience. If more arcade operators were looking to expand their audience and maybe make their arcades, at least at night, more date- and adult-friendly, there would be more games produced for that crowd.

The home consoles are already expanding the market, and there are great date games to build from. If the topic were simply about games that were good for dates, I would be able to produce a list easily. It’s not that simple. Console games are only good after you’re familiar with someone. The old joke before the system came out was that it would be difficult to say, “Would you like to come over and play with my Wii?” It’s not a joke when you’re getting to know someone. But here’s a list of games that need more arcade analogs:

  • Wii Sports
  • Katamari Damacy series
  • Tetris (I know the game is already in the arcade, but what’s wrong with more puzzle games?
  • Rock Band / Guitar Hero / Karaoke Revolution (Guitar Freaks and the ilk do not count because of accessibility issues)
  • Quiz games
  • Zelda and Ico styled adventure games, maybe like Zack and Wiki

That’s only six, but I know that there are at least twice as many game styles that would be appealing in a date setting that simply don’t come to my mind. I’ll admit that now is not the time to develop such ideas because more people are looking for cheap date ideas. Touch screen games would dominate the market if offered as an option for coffee dates. But after the recession, I’m sure that people would flock to a more matured arcade experience if offered more games of the above sorts. “If you build it, they will come,” right? Plus it would be nice to have an experience I could substitute instead of the standard romantic comedy flick.

Anyone else think that dating-friendly games would be a good idea?