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.

/Niels

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.

/Niels

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”