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Sep. 9th, 2009

Hello, Again...

Hi all, for those who don't know me already, I'm Leila (Lee-eye-la). I took this class last year, so it's been a while. So! A quick introduction... I'm a double major in Communication and Computer Science as a 2nd Major, with a double minor in New Media and Chinese. I'm graduating early this December. I'm on the Trinitonian as the Graphics Editor, as well as an on-going intern at Valero in web development. Oh, if you didn't notice, I'm much less shy in the virtual world. (:

It's fun to see how this class is going, since we're covering more of the transnational aspect of gaming. I look forward to seeing what you all observe in your blogs. As for me, I'm conducting my own independent research in this class, dealing with the music in video games. When I took this class last year, I wrote a rather lengthy paper on video game music, and hope to expand on that by analyzing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Something I'd like you all to keep in mind when we explore various games is music. Does it help engage your gameplay? What do you notice about it? Do you notice it at all? Is it an aesthetic feature to the game or is it more than that?

Now, just to get this straight, I'm not really a hardcore gamer, but I do have an affinity for Japanese video games, specifically RPGs or Action/Adventure games. I love the Final Fantasy series and The Legend of Zelda series. Currently, I'm working on Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 for PS2, an annoyingly long game with an annoyingly long title. That's kind of on hiatus, as I've also started distracting myself with Phoenix Wright: Justice for All for the DS. If anyone could throw me some good recommendations, I'd love to hear them. (:

Nov. 16th, 2008

Educational Games

I missed class Thursday, but Arno was kind enough to fill me in that we had to find an educational game. In class Oregon Trail was discussed. A pretty classical game I think, I remember that since elementary school. I got angry a lot because my people died randomly. Or not randomly--stupid dirty water. Anyway, I immediately thought of one of my favorite educational games--Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Contrary to popular belief, it wasn't just a game show, but they had several computer games on this. It actually released 5 versions--Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (1985), Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Deluxe (1990), Carmen Sandiego: Junior Detective Edition (1995), Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (1996), and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Treasures of Knowledge (2001). I played the 1996 version of the game. Basically, you need to fill out the warrant for the culprit that works for Carmen. You have a fuel bar at the bottom of the screen, which tells you how much "energy" you have left. This energy is depleted by asking bystanders about the culprit's appearance or clues of where they went. It is also depleted by flying to the next country. You can take notes on the information you are given. There's also an encyclopedia in your electronic database so you can match the clues to the corresponding country so you don't waste fuel going to the wrong one. You also can't arrest someone without fully completed the warrant, so you need to use your clues wisely. Additionally, you can find scraps of paper on the ground for clues instead of asking bystanders. Whenever you fly to a country, it would tell you the time elapsed it took to fly from your country to that one.

There's 39 crooks total, and every some number gives you an overall clue about Carmen. You progress through the ranks as you capture more crooks. I almost got close to beating the game, but I don't think I ever did. It was really fun though, and I learned some geographic and historic information about the world. To obtain the game, I'm sure you can just Google it, but I also have the CD at home somewhere if anyone wants to try their hand at it.

Nov. 9th, 2008

Parlor Games, Part II

I read through some of my classmate's blogs to pick out an interesting parlor game to implement. Though some people haven't posted, I found "Murder" by Meaghan pretty interesting. It seems like we would all have to get used to emoting though, in order to act out like charades. I guess it's kind of like the game called "Taboo," where you have to describe a word without using a certain list of words. Meaghan's description was kind of confusing, but I liked the idea overall.

Brendan's "Hide and Seek" game was also amusing to read. I bet it would be quite chaotic but interesting...

Nov. 4th, 2008


Parlour games can be described as games played indoors. Like Mafia, normally these games are not board games. I found an interesting one called Fictionary, also just known as Dictionary. If you couldn't tell, it's a word game. A person picks and obscure word that everyone else has to define. Everyone picks a word, and once those words have been shared that round ends.

Players earn points  by guessing the correct definition of a word, composing a fake definition that other players guess is the correct one, or as Picker, selecting a genuine word that no players vote for. After a pre-determined amount of rounds, the player with the most points wins.

Definitions of the word read out loud are submitted by paper by each player to the Picker, who reads through the definitions by each player. Once all definitions have been handed in, the picker reads the list aloud, once. The Picker may read the definitions in any order. On a second reading, each other player in turn then votes for the definition he or she believes is correct. Because the picker selected the word and knows the definition, the picker does not vote. Of course, rules of the game may vary.

This shouldn't be too difficult to implement via Vanguard. It would just be a lot of tells to the Picker in-game, but other than that it shouldn't be too hard or complicated like Mafia.

Oct. 30th, 2008

Current Research Developments

I still need to find a focus for my topic, which is about music in video games.

Possible research questions:

1. Can video game music be a subculture on it's own and how can be defined?
2. Is there a difference between music in RPGs compared to MMORPGs? If so, how are the compositions different?
3. How has video game music progressed into real world culture that it has become accepted as actual music?
4. What are the psychological effects of video game music on gamers and non-gamers?

The problem in my topic certainly involves the implementation of research methods given my time limit for this class. It would be very difficult to explore the psychological effects of music, as it varies amongst the audience. It also wouldn't give a definite conclusion. The progression of video game music into the non-virtual culture would also be difficult to conclude as well. So even though I find questions 3 and 4 interesting, questions 1 and 2 will probably be the route I go. If number 2, I will explore mainly Final Fantasy or compositions by Nobuo Uematsu, and compare it to those of MMORPGs like Vanguard or World of Warcraft. Following through number 3, however, can give me many points of interest to analyze...

I looked into using Pandora to analyze the musical structures and compositions of some RPG music, mainly Nobuo Uematsu. This website/program is actually pretty nice, as it categorized the content about 400 different ways. The problem I found was that they severely lack in the amount of music they have by Nobuo. Most, if not all, the music by him is from Final Fantasy though.

Other than that, the ratings method may or may not go as planned, depending on the context. I will most likely conduct interviews in-game and in real life. Ideally, I would like an equal number of gamers and non-gamers. After all, there are people who listen to video game music yet don't play the game.

Oct. 15th, 2008

Unbiased Research

It's very difficult to remain unbiased in the research process. But there are some steps to prevent this. One of them is to reason. Before making any conclusion or decision, you have to reason it out. It has to be logical and make sense. You can't just assume things. One needs to research and become infused with the subculture one is examining. If you get different points of view and become familiar with the subject you can make an impartial conclusion.

This can also lead to being able to take in different perspectives. Don't just drown yourself in one aspect. Maybe once you learn something someone offers differently, you can start to open up new ideas and theories.

You should also not discriminate in terms of gender, because many times each gender's point of view is different; there will be discrepancies between what girls think and what guys think. This can extend to different ethnicity's as well. As a researcher, you will want different points of view from whoever for your data. Then you can point out what features stand out from whatever population.

Oct. 13th, 2008

Research Methods

I've pretty much figured that my topic will be something along the lines of music and its influence and affects on video games. It's not a topic that's emphasized a lot, I think, but I think it would be fun to look into. Besides surveys, I learned in my class, Media Audiences, a method called auditorium listening, which is used for music programming purposes. This includes around forty random or nonrandom people placed in an auditorium. They are given audience dials with numbers 1, 2, and 3. They will hear a part of a song and turn the dial accordingly: 1 means they will change the station, 2 means they might continue to listen, and 3 means they will listen to the entirety of the song. With this information, they were able to define different types of jazz music and decide what type of music to air on the radio.

I think this would be interesting to implement. I would choose a variety of music from a variety of video games and have my research participants decide if they would listen to it or not. In this manner, I would try to see if there was a certain pattern among video games that people tend to listen to. After all, there are now orchestras and bands that play purely video game music. There are even some internet radio channels that play video game music.

Oct. 5th, 2008

Terra Nova

Searching through Terra Nova, I found an interesting article by random. Incidentally, the article of choice was written by Dr. Delwiche, entitled How will "free-to-play" business models affect the gaming landscape in the West?. It mentions how in Thailand, many children play Ragnarok Online--which I've played before, however, on a private server. I did not have to make any payments for game play, and that was one of the factors I played. The article dives into how teenagers tend to gravitate those free-to-play games, mainly because they have limited access to money. But I feel that this population is limited, and that the player-base is much larger than those of teenagers. In previous articles read, it was stated that players were around the age of thirty. Also, I feel that many of the free-to-play games have lower-level, "cute" graphics. Compared to World of Warcraft and Vanguard, the difference in graphics is vast. I would then say that the younger generation will start off with the free-to-play MMOs, and once they are older and make some amount of income, will gravitate to the "sophisticated" MMOs.

Another interesting article I found was called China, World's Largest MMORGP With Over 1.2 Billion Users, Follows Second Life's Lead and Changes EULA to Grant Users Property Rights by Cory Ondrejka. I have no idea why the title has MMORPG spelled wrong, but anyway, I digress. They tell something interesting about how China has placed property rights into their Constitution. I'm not sure of how their government works, but I know over there censorship is pretty big. How will affect the MMOs like Second Life? Or rather, how has MMOs like Second Life affected privacy in China? The article is open to discussion, but I found it rather intriguing.

I was hoping to find an article about MMO music, but sadly I could not. I figured it might be an interesting research topic, but unfortunately I doubt I'd be able to have any substance to my paper. Or at least to make it about ten pages long.

Sep. 29th, 2008

Guilds in Vanguard

Working off the Vanguard: Saga of Heroes website, I browsed through the guilds. They were sorted by "most members," "most NPC kills per member," "most deaths per member," etc., up until "most work orders completed per member." It's a really weird way to categorize, in my opinion. I found that you can only see what type of guild it is by clicking on it and going to the main site. You can further arrange the list alphabetically, server, members, and average level. Since we are all on the Seradon server, the guild will obviously need to be from there.

The members in Seradon range from 1 to 1222. The largest guild is named The Platinum Order. As I go along class, I am still thinking of a research topic for my paper. I am thinking of maybe defining "MMORPG", as I think it is not truly a "roleplaying game." I will probably compare classic RPG games to those of MMOs. Does tacking on the "MMO" make a great difference? Or what really defines an "RPG" type game? Are players more likely to play one or the other? With these questions, I will go for fairly large guilds to collect data. The largest guild, The Platinum Order, appears to do a variety of things so it is not limited to just raiding or socializing. They do a little bit of everything. The second largest guild is Safe Haven followed by Oracles of Vanguard. Safe Haven is a non-roleplaying guild, and is focused on real people playing the game. Data from them may be quite helpful. Going down the list, I encountered some guilds lacking information on their websites, so I could not find the purpose of their guilds. I'm still looking for a good third guild that is no exclusive to one action, except maybe role-playing.

Williams offered various questions regarding guilds. Since guild members will be an important part in collecting data, it will be useful to try to follow or work off of the way he carried out his study. It will also be interesting to compare the data collected from guilds in Vanguard in comparison to World of Warcraft. Since I'm going off of sizes to collect data, I wonder if I'll find what he did; small guilds focused on socializing, and larger ones on game goals. The Platinum Order is the largest guild, yet does not really focus on game goals, but is a jack-of-all-trades type guild.

Sep. 22nd, 2008

Bartle Player Type

On Bartle's Player Type quiz, the highest score I received was Achiever (67%), followed by Killer (53%), Socializer (47%), and then Explorer (33%). The description given was that "people with high Achiever scores tend to prefer collecting points, levels, treasure and accomplishments that set them apart from other players--or simply present challenges." The games most preferred were World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XI, Everquest, MapleStory, and Guild Wars.

I would say that on this quiz, it was fairly accurate. As a gamer, I prefer to play games based on storyline and game/graphics design. Personally, I also prefer to be different from others, or to be considered slightly a challenge, though normally I'm not. I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a Killer, though. Maybe the name just irks me, but if I kill, it isn't for pleasure, but for the necessity of leveling in order to continue on with the story. I also tend to talk more online, but only because of the lack of eye-to-eye contact. I feel that these percentages are fairly even.

Bartle's quiz was quite straight-forward, but the choices were lacking, as we were only given two. Sometimes I felt the answer I chose wasn't entirely true, so I picked what was closest. I also felt as though I knew what choice would contribute to which player type, and that I could probably manipulate it to get a type that I wanted. The games listed were also pretty accurate to what I would play. I played World of Warcraft, and liked the style. The Final Fantasy series are also a favorite of mine, so I wouldn't doubt that I wouldn't like the online game. The only one on the list that I think I wouldn't like is MapleStory. That was a horrible game, in my opinion. All I ever remembered doing was stabbing snails. It was pretty lame--I actually don't know why that's on that list, it's very different from the rest, which are very intricately designed MMORPGs.

So the results were pretty accurate in my opinion, but perhaps could be more so if given more choices in the questions. I actually want to see how everyone else results are, though...

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