Monday, July 25, 2016

Loving that Gaming Convention Life

Gaming expos are an an odd cataclysm in the realm of conventions. People go to network and do business. And they go to relax, have fun, and try out new games. And to hang out with friends. And to boost their fanbase on Twitch and YouTube by playing tournaments. And to spend money on swag and Five Night's at Freddy's plushies. It's a weird place to be.

Unlike anime conventions, with a focus on a fun, friendly environment where people can geek out on all things Japan while spending money, and pen shows, which is a real thing and it's 100% business related, gaming expos are a little bit of everything and anything. More then a party atmosphere, and full of serious gamers.

What makes them so enticing? 

Gaming expos are multi-faceted. It allows everyone, no matter what type of a gamer you are, to enjoy themselves. Want to play the latest tech demos before anyone else? Head to PAX Prime/West or GenCon (for you tabletop fans). Interested in meeting your favorite YouTube and Twitch stars? RTX, PAX, SGC, and a bevy of other gaming expos now feature them as guests! Indie gamer? You're covered there. More indie games are appearing at expos, big and small, to get their name out there. Or if you want to just sit in a room and game all weekend with your PC, you can do that too.

It's not an experience you'll find anywhere else. And even if you are a casual gamer, you'll find yourself among your peers and brethren talking about the hobby you enjoy so much. Also easy access to developers. Many of the core team members will attend these conventions to test our their games, and it gives you an extraordinary opportunity to talk to them. My favorite thing to do is to try and break their games when I play because it's the most helpful feedback to the team, as odd as that may sound.

I don't think of gaming expos as a "party place." There are after-parties, sure. But the feeling on the show floor is more like being involved in an exclusive club with thousands of others that you can call friends. It could also be that my expectations of a party include alcohol, dancing, and lots of smoke in the air - the dancing thing might happen at a gaming expo if there's a DDR game in the room.

But it's an atmosphere that I adore. I always find myself entertained and gravitate back to it. More so then anime and comic conventions. What about you? Have you been to a gaming convention before? Tell us your experience!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Another Week of Pokemon Go!

Another week of Pokémon Go, which means a bevy of news stories to showcase the popularity of the game. And some of them are doing some really stupid things to catch these digital creatures. Talking about the craze this week, a number of us have come to the same conclusion: the people getting into accidents would have done it eventually in some other way. Pokémon Go happens to be the easiest thing to blame. Very true. I've seen people walk out into traffic while talking on their phones, oblivious to the world around them. This was long before the app's release. People who don't care will do stupid things. Simple as that.

So here's another friendly reminder to those of you playing Pokémon Go:

- Turn off the sound and use the vibrate feature on the app. The phone will let you know when there's a Pokémon near by so you don't have to bury your face into the screen while you walk. This allows you to be more aware of your surroundings!

- Check both ways before crossing a street to ensure there is no oncoming traffic. You learned this in Kindergarten. We shouldn't have to repeat it.

- DO NOT PLAY WHILE DRIVING. Put down you damn phone and focus on the road.

- DO NOT PLAY ON PRIVATE PROPERTY. That means homes, parking garages, cemeteries, office complexes - any place that is not public and requires you to go through, or over, fences, means you are not meant to be there.

I know most of us understand the laws of the land, but some people seem to forget. The game is enjoyable and exciting. But don't let that overwhelm your senses and pay attention.

Here are some of the stories of the week for the popular app:

- Go is finally in Japan! It released with it's first advertised content from McDonald's. And the drastic growth has seen Nintendo's stock rise to over $35 billion. That's more then Yahoo. The advertising deal with McDonald's has created 2,000 PokeStops and a handful of gyms at their restaurants.

- And not to be left behind by the other countries, a number of people in Japan are finding creative ways to level up and crack open eggs.

- A US user has already claimed the title of PokeMaster, until they add more monsters into the game. Walking 153 kilometeres, he has managed to capture all available Pokémon. Barely took 2 weeks. Madness.

- Wednesday was the largest Pokémon gathering to date in San Fransisco. Over 9,000 people signed up for a Facebook event of a PokeWalk - which is walking around a park or a city with a group of people to catch pocket monsters. The event had over 21k people interested, and drew in a massive crowd. Even as the servers went down before the event, people arrived and experienced the controlled chaos.

- Director Oliver Stone, currently at SDCC promoting a new film, isn't a fan of the app. Like several others posting memes and concerns online, he believes the game is nothing more then a large-scale data mining project meant for harm, rather then good. Think what you will of it, but we know the risks when we download the game to our phones.

- In other world news, Saudi Arabia's 15 year old decree on banning all things Pokémon is still an issue. While there has been no official ruling on how to handle Go, it is unavailable in the country (even though some people are playing it illegally). The religious force in Saudi Arabia cites that Pokémon could create havoc for supporting evolution and polytheism.

- In other world news, people are dicks. Some people are using the new craze to play pranks, and suggest violence against those playing the game. One man even called it a "Purge" on his Facebook page, and he was reported to authorities for making terrorist threats. People...don't. Please. Just don't. There's so much bad crap happening in the world. Let us have our silly game, okay? You get your sports and movies. This is what we have. Let it be.

- Wired has an interesting article looking into how Pokémon Go isn't a solution to Nintendo's financial problems, but a symptom of them. For a company that has been stead-fast against mobile games, why this sudden change?

- And finally, here are 8 random stories about Go players that may or may not be true...but they're funny and reemphasize the need for people to PAY THE F ATTENTION!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Why Do Games Sell?

I stumbled upon this story on my news feed by accident, and it's already causing me to shake my head. It's one of those "well it has something to do with video games, so people will click on it" news reports that the station hopes will prompt people to click it. In doing so, there are no links to the actual article and such broad information that even non-gamers would have known the content and understood what was up.

Why am I talking about this? Because the source article has promise. It's a viable marketing study. Though it too lacks in details, the reason for the research is one of those gaming and sales conundrums that is exclusive to this media.

The question is pretty simple: Why do video games (consoles) sell?

I added in the 'consoles' since that seems to be the focus on the press release.

The original piece I'm not going to link to. DoNotLink.com is not working right now, and I'm not going to add to the news stations click rate. All you need to know is you can read the "news story" on your mobile phone without scrolling, and that popular games sell systems. As if we didn't already know that.

The study comes from the University of Texas at San Antonio, from the chair of the Marketing Department Suman Basuroy and Associate Professor Richard Gretz. The focus of the research and the release of the details coincides with the event 'Big Data, Big Movies' in Berlin, Germany later this year. From the synopsis, the study focused on multiple avenues on how video games move - more specifically how their sales help generate console purchases. Traditional marketing tactics like bundling games with systems (which is no different then getting a promotional movie toy in your McDonald's Happy Meal when you get to the core concept), and console exclusivity are the key drivers to people wanting to buy games, and the systems. Knowing that you can only get X game that's been promoted everywhere on the PS4 is enough to entice people to want that system.

I also found it interesting that they mention backwards compatibility being a turn-off for buyers, due to this notion that we want the "best and latest" hardware. Like mobile phones, we want the coolest one out right now. A 3 year old phone doesn't satisfy our needs. We want what's hot right now. Video games work the same way. Even to those of us from gaming days of ol' who want those features, it doesn't satisfy the majority of consumers.

I'd like to see more of the facts and figures behind this study. It's interesting to learn the mental aspects behind why people make their purchase decisions. What's involved? What neurons fire off in our brains? How can we rationalize having one of every console to play 2 games that are exclusive?

Speaking of which, Microsoft is still popping up in the news that they are making the transition from exclusives to having XBox One/PC integration. Whether that's true or not remains to be seen. But that could hurt their bottom line for future sales, if this study is any indication.

Based on my own observations in marketing, and having worked for a gaming retailer, I think it's a little bit of all of these features, and something more. There's a fervor with gamers that I haven't seen outside of the masses storming Wal-Mart and Target on Black Friday. Except with gamers, it's year-round. They see something that looks awesome, due to it's spiffy graphics, story-line, or it's from a developer they like, then they will stalk the product online/in stores. They have to have it before anyone else. The history of video game marketing has always been about "you get to be the cool kid on the block if you have it first!" I remember way back in the late 1980's, early 1990's, the TV ads for the Sega Genesis. Their sole purpose was to not be Nintendo. You are the baddest kid in town if you have a Sega! And we all bought into that notion. This mind-set has been further emphasized these days by offering pre-order bonuses, day one exclusives, and early unlocks in MMO's. You get to be "cool" all over again by having the game first. I don't know if the UTSA study will focus on this aspect, but I'd love to see this fleshed out more.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

The Weekly Link Round Up is a bit early this round, as I've found a lot of random news articles on the internet today and it was difficult to pick just one to focus on. So why not a little bit from each? Here's a listing of the best, and worst, gaming news on the internet:

- GameSpew has a list of the top 10 funniest video game cheats. I'm thankful that they focused mostly on pre-2000 games when cheats were icing on top of the cake. Not modded pieces that you had to build and implement to get better armor. These were cheats that were meant to delight as well as annoy. Such as the DK/big head cheat in GoldenEye. Or Washing Machine Banjo in Banjo-Kazooie. Game options that are utterly silly, and all the more brilliant!

- A study recently released from Indiana University claims that female characters in games are becoming less sexualized. I'm calling BS on that, but let's see what the study says. The researches focused on 571 games from 1983 to 2014 where there were playable female characters. Games such as Grand Theft Auto were not included since you can't play as a female avatar. While it does limit the amount of what we can pull from the study (because NPC's are just as important as heroes in how they are portrayed), one thing to note is that heroines are becoming less sexualized. Whether it's in their actions, their clothing, or their dialogue, they are not pandering as much to the male gaze as they use to. However, the field for female heroes is stagnant. The study finds that there hasn't been any growth in female leads for games since 1998. This year's E3 showcased games is a prime example.

- Looking for some new games that are quick to love? The Telegraph has compiled a list of 15 games that you may have missed this year! In all fairness, a lot of the games they have down only released in the past month. One was JUST YESTERDAY! At least give us a week to let the buzz build up before we play. Yeash! Having said that...solid list. I recommend Inside, from the creators of Limbo, and The Flame in the Flood.

- If you're one of the lucky people heading to San Diego Comic Con, Discover San Diego.com has a couple of gaming booths you should hit up while you're there. And expect Pokemon Go to be impossible to access. They are set to release it in Japan today. God help us all.

- Like the Olympics? Who doesn't! ACMI is set to celebrate the history of the Olympics with 'Retrolympiad.' Starting this Saturday, ACMI will transform its Melbourne gallery into an arcade, with games, music and, visual art that blends Olympic fever with retro style.

- A press release from late yesterday confirms that Ubisoft will release UNO for PS4, XBox One, and PC on August 9th. Somehow this is news. I'm not sure how, but there you go.

- Pokemon craze is still sweeping the world. And some countries are already taking precaution, such as Indonesia. The presidential palace is a Pokemon free zone. Security officials were concerned that the game could be used to highlight and/or photograph areas of the palace or documents, and be shared with unknown sources. It's best to assume that if you're not in a public space, you shouldn't be playing Pokemon Go. Let's leave it at that.

- Oh, hi there WhatCulture. Do you have a list this week that won't make us depressed? This time they present us with 10 beloved video games that have crappy openings. This is one of the few times where I'll have to agree with the slow pacing of Red Dead Redemption and Uncharted 4. While both help set up the story and setting, they can be tough to swallow when you want to get into the meat of the game right off the bat. I'm still not convinced on their argument for Metal Gear Solid 4. It's like they never played an MGS game. Kojima is all about the exposition, so don't whine about it. This list gets a 30% on the like scale. Keep trying WhatCulture. You'll win back favor eventually.

- It looks like someone is trying to revitalize the NCAA football series. After a lengthy legal battle, the NCAA and EA Games have terminated the contract that the games have been out of development for a few years now. But a number of fans, including current NCAA football players, want the games back. iMackulate Vision Gaming is looking to make that happen. How? That's up in the air at the moment. The project is still very much in it's infancy, and they will have a ton of legal proceedings to wade through before they can even consider beginning to code. While EA may no longer produce the games, they still own the rights to NCAA football. 

- Finally, Games Radar takes a brutally honest look at how difficult it is to be funny, especially in video games. Like a movie, the jokes and prat falls are pre-planned. You can't edit on the fly, and hope that your crack sticks with the audience. You have to factor in the story, timing, and pacing to get a joke to land. Fun read and well thought-out, Games Radar. Thanks for rounding up my links for the week with this gem.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mario Kart Can Improve Your Driving?

Another "study" was published yesterday regarding video game violence and how it's bad for children. But instead of wasting everyone's time, and rising to the click bait, for another pointless story that has no merit (because we all know better), we're going to talk about another study that was released that should be getting more coverage.

Mario Kart can help improve your driving skills!

Not kidding. Here's the link to the study. The original paper was submitted in 2015 and was published in April. Academic papers take a while to turn around, especially in 'Psychological Science.' Lead author Li Li from New York University Shanghai, along with co-authors from the University of Hong Kong, Rongrong Chen and Jing Chen, set out to see if action games would "improve essential visuomotor-control skills used for driving." They set limits on play to 5 hours, over multiple sessions, to see if limited time spans of gaming would help. Each participant needed to utilize a driving simulator for three-95 second trials. It's the same type of driving test one would take during driver's ed, but in a virtual environment. Everyone was scored, and split into groups of action games like Mario Kart and Unreal Tournament, and non-action games such as The Sims 2. Mario Kart is considered an action game for this study because you need to constantly move your character. There is no down time outside of the menus. Unlike Rollercoaster Tycoon, also cited in the study, where most of your movements are pointing and clicking the mouse, and waiting on objects to build.

The researchers found that people playing the action games had better response times while driving compared to the group that did not play the games. And after 10 gaming sessions, the subjects showed even greater improvement. They also factored in whether or not the individuals had driver's licenses (most of them did not, however many in Hong Kong are given tests to drive and are capable of doing so, but it's expensive to own a vehicle. See: Japan, South Korea, France as examples). Which ended up not being an issue as all tests came out even during the driving simulation, prior to gaming.

Science! It's amazing.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Playing Games with Cats

Lots of crappy things are happening in the world today. So let's keep today's post lighthearted and talk about cats! Specifically, cats that play video games and questioning how someone managed to get a research grant out of it.

RMIT University, located in Melbourne, started their research three years ago to look into the everyday gaming habits of Australians. From there it grew to include their pets, cats in particular, taking interest in playing the same electronic devices as their owners. Gizmodo Australia spoke with Professor Larissa Hjorth, who leads the study.

“When we started, we were not expecting to find anyone other than humans playing games but it seems their animals are joining in with them as well."

Apps for pets is not a new phenomenon. Apple and Google have categories specifically for cats and dogs with games that can stimulate their brains, and paws. By researching how and why cats play with iPads, Hjorth believes it correlates to how we, as humans, play games with each other. All of this leads up to an exhibition called the Art of Play, going on now through September 6th, that dives deeper in to the minds of cats and their pet owners.

Seriously I couldn't get a grant revolving around interactive digital media, but someone was able to continue their study on cats playing games? Weird world we live in.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Pokemon Go Weekly Link Round Up

This edition of the Weekly Link Round Up is all about Pokémon Go. The app that has catapulted as the top download on iOS and Android charts. People are waiting for the app to release in their country, and even now it's already estimated that 410 thousand South Korean's will download the game upon release. I'm sure the server lag will be a nightmare. And though it's only been a week, there are a ton of stories swirling the internet of the good, the bad, and the ugly with Pokémon Go. So much so that late night talk show hosts and morning radio DJ's are talking about it. It's a thing!

Before jumping in, I do want to use this space as a quick PSA. Because this app, as fun as it is, has caused a few people to forget about things such as social decorum, or laws; or even common sense. And sadly, I feel like I have to put this note in here because people are not paying attention and doing dumb things by not looking up at their phone when they walk or drive. If you think texting while driving is bad, imagine how much worse it is with Pokémon Go.

So, dear readers. Please be safe and be aware of your surroundings while you play Pokémon Go. 

- If there is a Pokestop or a gym at a hospital, police station, fire station, or any medical offices, do not go there. Do not camp out the space. You are putting lives in danger by blocking vehicles that are trying to transport people to safety.

- Look up from your phone while you are walking. You do not have to have your nose buried in the screen. Pro tip: turn on the vibrate option! When you are near a Pokémon that has spawned, your phone will buzz. That way you can walk without having to look at your phone, and only stop when you need to. You can pay attention to your landscape and not do something silly.

- DO NOT PLAY WHILE YOU ARE DRIVING. I am bolding that line because damnit people, you know better. Stop it.

- If you see a grass flutter or a Pokestop behind a gate, fence, wall, a cemetery, or inside a building that is not a public facility (such as a home), do not pass go. Do not collect. It is still illegal to trespass on private property or any government facilities. You can find a Pokémon elsewhere.


Got it? Okay then. Now that's out of the way, let's get on to the Round Up!

- If you have been jealous of your American friends, not to worry, Pokémon Go is finally hitting European countries and Australia. This week it was posted in the UK, Germany, New Zealand, and Australia. Italy, Spain, and Portugal should have access today. Welcome to the club!

- And the wait for official releases are not stopping people from downloading and tweaking settings to get the game to run. Indonesia is seeing a rapid rise in downloads using US and Japanese servers.

- While the use of Google's tech for GPS seems logical, since it's a very robust map system, it's also tied in to the history of Niantic CEO John Hanke. The founder of the mobile phone company, with the hottest game out there, was once a member of the Google team that developed Google Maps and Google Earth. He knows what it's made of and the power behind it to create the AR gaming app. The game that sold Pokémon to going with Niantic is called Ingress, which many of you may have heard of this week as Go's Pokestop/Gym hangouts mirror Ingress's game locations. The people at Pokémon and Nintendo were so impressed by Ingress, that even Pokémon CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara was a fan of the game. Thanks Google for once again making the world awesome.

- Barely a week out and of course the political world is trying to capture on the success. Hillary Clinton's campaign has been dropping the P word on social media. And some follow-up tweets have sent in suggestions to Nintendo and Niantic to try and secure rare Pokémon at polling places this November to encourage younger people to stop in and vote. Not a bad idea.

- The app is such a hit, that even a few NYPD officers are currently being investigated for possibly playing the game while on duty. The gamer that filmed them did apologize for taking the video, but really, they should have known better if they were, in fact, playing on the job.

- T-Mobile customers are going to love this one: they are giving away free data for a year for use with Pokémon Go. There are clauses to be aware, of course. The data will only be free when you play Pokémon and won't be associated with other programs or apps. The offer starts July 19 and runs through next August. If you currently don't have a plan and sign up soon, you'll be rolled into it, with the same ending date.

- Not to be outdone, McDonald's is already working out a deal with Nintendo and Niantic to make their fast food shops into Pokestops around the globe. Several users have checked out the coding in the game and noticed the pattern, which has prompted some inside sources to discuss the potential ad deal. Sponsored locations are nothing new to Niantic, having used them for Ingress. But such a big name so soon is unexpected. That's the power of Pokémon.

-  The power of the pocket monsters is so strong that a number of people are now using the game to promote their businesses. I can attest to a few restaurants, shops, and even the local arboretum have been advertising their spaces as PokeStops and Gyms for people to gather, and spend money. Niantic will be installing ads in the game soon and open up sponsored locations, so don't be alarmed when that happens. We knew it would. Until then, enjoy the bevy of lures that smaller businesses are dropping to attract people to their stores!

- If the app is killing your phone battery, there are ways to help reduce the impact. Time has 6 tips to help you out. Surprisingly, the app doesn't use a lot of data - but it does destroy that battery life, hard core!

- And are you one of those people who is just tired of all of the Pokémon talk? Chrome users have your back with a set of extensions that will block out everything on Google Chrome that relates to Pokémon. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Former Ubisoft Motion Pictures CEO - Game Movies Can Win an Oscar

Hopefully some of you enjoyed my writing overlord article yesterday. I needed to type that out of my system. Badly. Back to gaming!

GameSpot recently spoke to Julien Baronnet, former CEO of Ubisoft Motion Pictures who quit to start his own company, Marla Studios. The new venture will focus on video game movies, which after one film and negotiating contracts for 4 others, Baronnet feels like he's an expert now. So much so, that he believes a video game movie will one day win an Oscar.

Yep. You read that correctly. A video game movie winning an Academy Award. Will that happen in our lifetime?

Baronnet has had a peek at video game movie adaptations over the past few months and believe it will. "The creative angle, the production design, the artistic choices, the originality. Yes, definitely I think that maybe one video game movie can win an Oscar...if it's properly done."

Always a catch, isn't there? And knowing the Oscars, it'll be for something like special effects or costume design, not necessarily for acting, directing, or screenplay. The "noble" awards, as they call it.

Look. We get it. Video game movies have a bad rap. As gamers and non watch these filmes, we are criticizing the story, the casting, or the lack of connection to the games.  Even the latest Warcraft tanked here in the states, but did incredibly well overseas so there will probably be a sequel in the works. One day, there will be a good one that breaks the barrier and allows the public to see that yes, it can be done! But we aren't there quite yet. Maybe Assassin's Creed will break that barrier? With the exception of the Kanye West, gay fish, song, the trailer looked promising. But is it good enough to earn an Oscar? That's debatable.

Baronnet believes there are 3 things necessary to make a good game adaptation to the silver screen. Number 2 and 3 make a lot of sense, and those are the game developers having creative control over the script to prevent movie studios from changing them, and that said developers are actively involved throughout the entire process. Having their stamp of approval on a film is likely to produce a better product. Baronnet's first point is meh. 'The right creative choices must be made.' Well, heck! That's like shooting fish in a barrel! Sarcasm aside, it take a lot to develop a great film. There is no way to know if the "right choices" have been made until you plop the final product in theaters. It's an ambiguous statement.

Before leaving Ubisoft, Baronnet worked out deals to have games such as Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell, Watch Dogs, and Rabbids to be on the movie block. Though I cringe knowing that Michael Bay will be working on the Ghost Recon movie. There goes that Oscar nomination.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Please Punctuate!

Today's post has less to do with gaming, and more about writing. In fact, it's all about writing. So unless you're really interested in the English language, grammar, and punctuation, now's a good time to check out and we'll see you tomorrow. But hey! If you are trying to get into the gaming industry as a reviewer, or on a production team as a story developer/script writer, then stick around. This post may save your career.

English is a subject I have always been fond of. Not only for the reading aspect, and I fully admit I was one of those nerdy kids who loved getting homework assignments that involved reading, but writing as well. Developing my own thesis and defending my position through the written word is something I still get a kick out of today. I've got three degrees to back it up. My final thesis was over 250 pages long. And it wasn't to fluff the content. It needed to be done to fully develop the argument.

And over the years I have been exposed to a myriad of writing styles. Being a film student at a Baptist private university, I have seen classic religious works to television scripts and manga. Writing has transformed so much over the past decade. The rise of cell phones and texting has made way to a new genre of short-term typing. In that, we have seen a rapid change in the written word among children and young adults that better cater to their LOL and 1337 needs. Even so, there is something to be said for the centuries of writing that have been formulated to create the foundation that we have today.

Writing is fluid. It will grow and adapt to the world around it. But we can't ignore the basics. It's those rudimentary aspects that allow writing to exist, and maintain it's use in society. We need foundations. With everything! Writing has evolved for hundreds of years to become what it is now. The reasons behind the use of commas, periods, quotation marks has been scientifically studied. The too long, didn't read version (TLDR) is pretty straight forward: we have honed the written word that is pleasing to the eye and easy for people to read. Punctuation is necessary, otherwise people will tune out.

And yes, people like their periods and commas to delineate pauses in sentences. We don't speak 500 words in one breath; we pause, whether it's for emphasis or to let Oxygen into our systems.

Texting is an odd phenomenon. Back in the 90's when cell phones were becoming more common-place on the consumer market outside of executive jobs, texting had limits. Think of it as Twitter for your phone. You had only X number of characters to use for free before your phone network began to charge you for each additional character. So people began developing a new system of short-hand and 1337 speak to reduce the numbers of characters used. That also meant all forms of punctuation went out the window. This has become so ingrained in us that even today, with unlimited texting, we still forgo the punctuation and proper spelling. And even that is being replaced by emojis, pictured images that represent a word or phrase. This has spilled over into social media, Twitter and Instagram in particular come to mind. But for the most part, the decorum is to use proper punctuation and sentence structure unless there are character limits. Science backs it up.

What's the point of today's post? It's ranting and tying to understand why there is a change happening in writing classes around the globe to highlight trends that throw the rules out the window.

Yesterday my friend Meg sent me a fan fiction she wanted me to read. There was no context to the note. I don't read fan fiction often. She knows this. But I trust her point of view, so if she was sending it to me, there was a good reason behind it.

I made it about 3 sentences in before quitting. At least I think they were sentences. I couldn't tell you what the story was about, of if it was worth the read through because the lack of punctuation and spacing made it near impossible to read. The first 'paragraph' was composed or 350 words with 2 periods and dashes to designated characters speaking. The character dialogue was in the paragraph. They were not separated out into their own lines, and they talked on top of each other. It would go from one character to the next without a pause. The sentences ran together. Where there were paragraphs, there were no double spaces to indicate as such. No indents. I don't believe I saw a comma or an apostrophe.

I understand that the dashes are used in some countries instead of quote marks. And some writers use it to provide additional emphasis on words or actions to delineate the importance of the sentence. In doing so, they still showcase proper punctuation and sentence/paragraph spacing so that people can read it. They don't ignore the other basic principles of writing that allow people to read the content.

It was after that third sentence, or paragraph, that I gave up. I scrolled down the rest of the page and found the formatting to be the same throughout. There were 9 chapters into this fan fiction over the course of 8 months. I hoped that clicking on the recent chapter would show an improvement in style. Sadly, it did not.

My next instinct was to read through the comments, possibly post my own to give the writer a heads-up that if you're going to break some writing rules, you shouldn't break all of them. The reader needs to be able to still dissect your content. If they can not read it, they won't follow-through with your story. But of course, this being the internet, people had already commented with their thoughts. Only 10 comments; all referring to the difficulty of reading the story. And polite! Sometimes the internet can be a wonderful place where people provide construction criticism instead of insistent bashing. One person commented that he/she appreciated the tone of the story as well as the character development, but the writing style made it a challenge to read. This person offered suggestions to help out with the spacing, and adding more punctuation so there would be pauses in the sentences - allowing both the reader and the characters a chance to breathe.

Unfortunately the writer didn't take the words as constructive, and responded to each comment with the type of defensive tactics that one would see with politicians. The writer apparently was taught how to write like that in school, and their way is correct. How dare we question their ability to write!

When I got back to Meg, I asked her if she sent me the fan fiction as a joke. (For the sanity of the "author" I'm not going to link the story.) Meg was 100% serious and wanted to know my initial reaction to it.

"I wanted to bang my head against the keyboard with every word for the lack of spacing and punctuation. Maybe doing that, I could add a few more commas and periods to the story."

After that, we had an interesting debate about the changing language of writing. Make no mistake. Writing is moving into the digital era with a loud thud that is rattling the cages of scholars and authors. But to outright ignore the foundations would be literary death. If the author of the fan fiction truly was taught how to write in that manner, we need to put an end to that teacher's madness. He/she has set that writer up for failure in life by not being able to write a clear sentence.

We are at an odd time where we need to learn more then on written language to communicate. And that's okay! Learning how to text, comment on social media, and write a thesis are all important aspects of life today. They allow us to stay in touch with friends and family while securing jobs as adults. All are equally important. It's no different then being bi-lingual, when you get to the nuts and bolts of it. But there is a time and a place for it. Texting should never, never, never take place in a short story, paper, or any type of work where people, en mass, are reading it. Ever. If you were to write in 1337 speak for a movie/TV/game script, you would be laughed out of the room. Scripts, in general, are different from novels as they utilize capitalization to designate settings and character names. They also do some very interesting formatting where dialogue is centered and in tight margins. This is done to ease the reading and to limit the pages to a minute, i.e. one page equals one minute. If you have an 80 page script, that's an 80 minute movie. Even so, you'll find that every one of these scripts still maintains the basic principles of writing to ensure people can read the content. They don't ignore or disobey all of the rules due to the unique format.

Proper spelling, grammar, punctuation are all important - no matter what you do in life. It's okay to embrace the changes in society with technology, but we shouldn't do so at the expense of the written word. Please continue to use those punctuation marks. Or people will stop reading and it will be a disaster.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Amazon Prime Day v.2.0 for Gamers

It's Amazon Prime Day, once again. Last year, many of us remembered it for being really crappy on the sales. Ridiculously so. How about that 10 cent savings on a PS4? But Amazon released the numbers, and their sales were bigger then Black Friday for the site. While social media ripped them apart for the lame deals, Amazon was prepping to run Prime Day once more.

So what's on the docket this year? Hopefully not 30 gallons of lube. Luckily, a few sites have compiled some of the gaming deals that have cropped up so far, and more will appear throughout the day.

-GameRant has a listing of console bundles where you can save up to $140 for some. And Amazon Fire TV starts as low as $69.99. Not bad.

- PC World has a few games that are worth mention. Doom and the latest Mirror's Edge can be purchased for under $49. And if you haven't played Saint's Row IV, it's only $3.75 today. Nice.

- Tech Radar lists out multiple gadgets that might peak your interest, including 25% off on select Android phones, and GoPro bundles.

- For our UK friends, Gizmodo has you covered, and they will be updating their site all day to include the flash and goldbox deals that are limited time offers.

As for me, nothing is really standing out. But if you haven't picked up some of last year's hits the deals might be worth the investment. The Witcher 3 is selling for $29.99 on PS4 (for the next 29 minutes at least). That's about on par with a Steam sale. Just Cause 3 is up for $24.99. And the Turtle Beach X12 headset is on sale for $34.99. That is one headset I would recommend. Excellent sound quality and great microphone output. The keyboards? Eh. I'm seeing some at 15% off. Big whoop. I'll go to Fry's instead.

That's all that's caught my attention so far. Maybe some better deals will crop up throughout the day?

But if you need a reason to sign up for Prime, because this is a Prime Members offer only, any pre-orders or new games (within 2 weeks of release) you'll receive a 20% savings by ordering through Amazon. I have a couple of games on my list for the fall and winter release cycle that made my Prime membership worth it. There's always a silver lining.