New ongoing series – Throughout the ages

Hey there guys, just a small post about a new idea I’ve been working on. Basically, I just decided to start up a new ongoing series here called ‘Throughout the ages’. The idea is to talk about one particular developer, writer, director, … Talk about their history, major achievements and such. For example, if I would be writing an article for this about Blizzard, the creators of World of Warcraft, I’d probably explain their history a bit and their major achievements like Warcraft, Starcraft and such, the many changes and evolutions the company went through. I’m not quite sure yet how I’ll do it, but you can expect one of these by the end of the week.

The dangers of excessive gaming


Hey there guys. You might remember an article I did last week called ‘The merits of gaming’, well today you get to read the dangers of gaming. A somewhat darker side of the whole gaming thing. Note that this article isn’t meant to scare you to death about ever playing a game again, it’s just meant as a sort of heads up to inform you of the possible consequences so you can prevent them.
So let’s kick it off with the most prominent and most common of all these dangers. Addiction. Yes, it happens quite a lot, more than people think actually but fortunately not quite as extreme as it could be. So what is an addiction exactly? Addiction can be defined as physical and psychological dependence on psychoactive substances (for example alcohol, tobacco, heroin and other drugs) which cross the blood-brain barrier once ingested, temporarily altering the chemical milieu of the brain.
However, addiction can also be viewed as a continued involvement with a substance or activity despite the negative consequences associated with it. Pleasure and enjoyment would have originally been sought, however over a period of time involvement with the substance or activity is needed to feel normal. Some psychology professionals and many laymen now mean ‘addiction’ to include abnormal psychological dependency on such things as gambling, food, sex, pornography, computers, internet, work, exercise, idolizing, watching TV or certain types of non-pornographic videos, spiritual obsession, cutting and shopping. In short, people can get addicted to just about anything they can grab. In the case of gaming, it is mostly online gaming that is addictive (ahem, World of Warcrack anyone?). Players will often find themselves thinking about the game, an ‘irresistible’ urge to play regardless of the time of day. Naturally, people start living for the game and start neglecting their real life. Some ‘side effects’ can be the decline in personal hygiene, aggressive behaviour and a decline in school or work results. So what do you do if you get addicted? Well, either you face the fact that it’s just a game or you go to one of the specialized facilities that have been sprouting out of the ground to treat your addiction. But if that’s your only way out then you’re quite messed up really. Talking about messed up, check out this link about a Chinese gamer.
Another danger could be social detachment from the world. I’ve seen it often enough when people start living for a game they give up on their real social life. The social awkwardness created by the isolationism of gaming addiction actually feeds back into the gaming addiction. Sort of a street with no end really.
Next up on the list is physical damage. The list of physical distress that you can experience as a result of gaming is quite impressive, although I should not that these can also be caused by other activities that have nothing to do with gaming at all.
First up is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has long been associated with computer use, so it’s no surprise that it’s a physical symptom of gaming addiction. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused when the main nerve between the forearm and hand is squeezed or pressed. This occurs when the carpal tunnel – the area of the wrist that houses the main nerve and tendons – becomes irritated or swollen. Overuse of a computer mouse can cause such irritation and swelling, as can excessive use of a video game controller. It’s highly recommended to take a 5 to 10 minute break after every couple of hours behind a computer or holding a controller. You should walk around a bit, get something to drink or eat just so you do something other than using your mouse or controller. Another solution if you already have this is a wrist brace, which offers extra support to your lower arm and wrist area.
Next up is migraines. Migraine headaches typically start in one spot and slowly spread, getting more painful as they progress. In severe cases, the pain can be so extreme that it causes the sufferer to vomit. Light and noise can cause excruciating pain. Someone who plays video games for extended periods of time is more prone to migraines because of the intense concentration required and the strain put on the eyes. As I said above, take regular breaks.
Next up are backaches. Backaches are a common physical symptom of gaming because most gamers stay seated in the same position for hours on end. The lack of movement causes stiffness and soreness, but could deteriorate into chronic back problems. Again, same solution as above, take regular breaks, practice some sports or whatever. Next to that you should also buy an ergonomic chair, which costs a bit of money but is certainly worth it if it prevents backaches.
And lastly, food and drinks. Many gamers often don’t take the time to eat properly and prefer to stuff themselves with junk food and energy drinks. While fun for a while, it does not offer all the nutrients your body need, and in the case of energy drinks can cause insomnia due to a large amount of caffeine running through your body. Whatever the case, stay away from energy drinks, ‘zey ar ze spawn of ze devil!
As you can tell from most of these physical dangers that are linked to excessive gaming, moderation is key. This list also isn’t a complete list but I started getting depressed about the whole subject, thinking of how I sit at my pc and which of these symptoms I experienced so I think I’ll call it right here.
Here’s a question for you guys though! Do you know any person who has an addiction or shows these symptoms? Or have you yourself experienced any of this? If so, please leave a comment in the section below and tell me your story!

Social media and its impact on the world

Social media, we all come in contact with it these days. In fact, this whole blog can be counted as social media as you can communicate, i.e. bein socially active, with other people. I’m sure you all have Facebook and maybe Twitter where you share all you ever wanted with half the world.

Social media has become increasingly popular in the last few years and has anchored in today’s society. But what exactly are social media? Well, the explanation is in the name itself, it’s an environment for people to meet and chat about topics of their liking. Several social media websites have spawned into existence in the recent years, most of which you already know. For example there is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Myspace. It’s safe to say that these are the most known with Facebook and Twitter right at the head of this list. Currently, Facebook is on 500 million users. To put that into perspective, that is 1/12 of the world’s population registered on the same website. That’s a massive amount of people that you can instantly connect to! So naturally that brings a lot of opportunities and threats (Starting to sound like a SWOT-analysis here). Continue reading “Social media and its impact on the world”

Superheroes, why do we like them?

Hey there guys, as the title says this article is about superheroes, and more in detail about why we like them. It struck me a couple of weeks ago that almost the whole world likes superheroes and I really had no idea why. Maybe it’s the tight latex suits (Watchmen anyone?), the superpowers, the fact they do things we can’t? Keep on reading and you’ll find out!

The idea of creatures with superhuman powers and skills is almost as old as man itself. The origins of our current ‘men in tights’ go back all the way to Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Just think of the countless gods and goddesses, not to mention centuries of myths and legends about people with superhuman traits. People back then listened in awe to these stories as they were told year in year out and carried on from one generation to the next.
But why did these stories survive and how come they were so popular. I honestly don’t think it’s just because of the story itself I mean, everyone can write a story in a fantastical setting but that doesn’t mean people will like it or even relate to your main character.
I believe we like these so-called super humans, not because they are something we do not see in real life, but because they are different from us, special if you will. Superheroes are often portrayed as people who transcend normal values and ethics. They apparently do not get affected by greed, misery or thirst for power (as opposed to the villains). Above all, heroes inspire us. Reading about their heroic acts inspires the average Joe to do their share and uphold the same principles, some kind of role model if you will.
Another thing that might aid in the popularity of a hero is how they got their powers. In many cases, these were just ordinary humans like you and me, but something happened that changed them. Just think of Spider-Man who was bitten by a genetically altered spider. And in some cases, they’re still humans without superpowers, who can bleed just like us. Think of Iron-Man who is just a man in a suit.
Even though a heroes’ popularity is dependent on their range of superpowers, but it’s also decided by the setting they are placed in. Just think of Batman and Gotham City, a dark and damp place full of corruption and crime. Batman is a perfect fit for such an environment as he is ‘The Dark Knight’ who deals with criminals head on, without much talk or mercy which is very different from heroes like Superman. As a quick note, Superman might be too perfect to actually view as a role model. Most recent developments in superhero lore is that they have just as large an amount of flaws as we do, while Superman still remains perfect.
As a final reason, we are attracted to superheroes because they often lead 2 lives, one as a normal person with a job, or even a family and another life as a superhero who spends his time swooping in to save the damsel in distress while juggling 20 thugs in one hand doing the macarena with the other. The concept of having a secret life is appealing to a lot of people I believe, because you can become whoever you want to be.
Although, I realise all these reason might sound a bit utopian and that it’s mostly children who really like superheroes but you can’t deny that secretly you still look up to Superman and hope that maybe, one day you’ll be able to do the things he does and be a role model yourself.
But, in real life people with superpowers don’t exist but that does mean we don’t have heroes. And this will sound really corny, but the real heroes of the world are parents, teachers (ok, maybe not teachers), firemen and policemen.
If you have any comments or thoughts on this, or any other topic, don’t hesitate to leave me a note in the comment section.


The merits of gaming

Hey there guys and welcome to article numéro 2! In this article I’ll name and discuss the merits of gaming, some of which are very well known, but others might not be.

First of all, why this topic? Well, what prompted me to write an article about this was the bombing in the Russian airport a few weeks ago. Immediately after the fact fingers were being pointed towards the gaming industry for promoting violent behaviour. I’m sure you all remember one of the first missions of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 where you were an undercover operative in a terrorist organisation. Basically, you pull out your machine gun and start mowing down people. Now I can see why this would prompt some reactions as this scene is fairly shocking but to say that violent games is a cause of terrorism or rape (not counting RapePlay) is going a bit too far.

In short, this article is to show that gaming has a truckload of benefits and advantages. So what do you think? Did I spike your interest? If so, keep on reading. If not, what the hell are you doing on this blog?! 

Alright let’s kick it off then. First off all, gaming improves human performance in general sensory and perceptual tasks, such as hand-to-eye co-ordination, as well as those involving a lot of attention. Unfortunately, this gain in performance is only for the task in which the video game trains you. For instance, if there’s a game where you have to dodge balls of fire as fast as possible, you will train yourself in doing this task faster and better.
Secondly, it has been proven by recent studies that gamers develop an enhanced sensitivity to what is going on around them. This may help people when driving, multitasking, keeping track of people in a crowd, etc. The consequence of this is that video gamers collect the data needed to make a decision a lot faster than people who don’t regularly play (fast-action) video games. This implies that the general reaction time of people will increase over the years as more and more households end up playing video games.
Thirdly, in ‘How the gamer generation is reshaping business forever’, a book written by researchers John Beck and Mitchell Wade, they write gamers are considerably more social, are more self-aware and more creative (+5-12%) than the non-gamer population. This has everything to do with how a game is played, and how it is designed. For instance, games can often be played with 2, 3, 4 or more people at the same time, and this is certainly true for MMO’s where thousands of people communicate, share ideas and solve problems.
The gaming generation learned to deal with risks and are constantly looking for new and exciting ways to challenge themselves. Next to that, they are used to facing problems and will not give up at the first sign of trouble. And last but not least, they are more flexible when it comes to change and viewing things in a broader perspective.
I should probably also note that gaming is a sort of exhaust valve for aggression, rather than a generator. Playing video games offers people a chance to get rid of their aggression in a virtual environment where it’s unlikely to hurt anyone. Before someone raises the arguement that gamers have trouble diversifying fiction from reality, I should note that this is not the case in your average Joe. Building further on that, it’s only an extremely small number of people who take guns to school to ‘re-enact’ a game or something they saw on television. But this is unrelated to the video games itself and cannot be proven at all. Hell, for all we know those people would turn out to be psychopaths regardless. 
Finally, gamers who play MMO’s learn to deal with other people, how to handle conflict situations, how to work together as a member of the team and how to face and overcome cultural differences, which is something that shouldn’t be ignored in these times where globalization is taking over the business world.
As you can see, gaming holds a large amount of benefits that can give you a slight edge over people who do not play video games. I’d certainly recommend mentioning it on your curriculum vitae, because it can be such an advantage when employers learn to use the, so far, untapped potential of the gaming generation.


Hands-on – DC Universe Online

Hey there guys. As promised, here is the first real content post of this blog. If you worked out the ‘hint’ gave in the previous post you should already know what this will be about. And if you didn’t … well, you either didn’t read the post or failed to work out the hint, in which case, you fail! Continue reading “Hands-on – DC Universe Online”