Comparison of NFS Hot Pursuit 2 and FIFA 10

Game Information

 Full Title-Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2

Year Released-2002

Publisher-EA Black Box

Genre/Game Structure-Street racing simulator

Describe the Diegesis-In-game actions include driving and interactions with the environment, including driving on pavement, on dirt and grass, driving through (breaking) traffic signs and spin-outs and sparks when collisions occur. Players within the game can interact with each other through vehicle contact-they, too, can spin each other out and pass each other. There are many alternate routes to travel within the environment. Drivers can (presumably? Unsure) drift or powerslide with the cars they control. The car’s top speed is affected by road condition, including condensation and what surface they are on (they will drive slower when on dirt as opposed to pavement. There may or may not be other “out-of-race,” i.e. “civilian” drivers such as tractor trailers within the game setting. At the beginning of the race, drivers are given a “traffic signal” of when the race starts. At the end of the race, the game audibly and visually tells the player what place they finished in.

Describe Characters-Characters are simply the cars themselves-there are no human characters seen within the game. The operator’s identity is the car they choose, including BMW m5, Porsche 911 Turbo, Porsche Carrera GT, and HSV Coupe GTS.

Game/Story Relationship-Several modes occur. An operator can race against another (or the computer) or they can play a mode in which their goal is to evade the police. They can also play as the police, setting up road blocks with their cars and spikes to “catch” the street racers. However, the “story” itself is not so much a narrative as it is playing through races to finish the game and unlock various other options, such as a faster cop car and faster street cars. Cameras can follow the players from behind the car, or in front of the car. There is also an ialternative mode in which the operator an take the “driver’s perspective.”

Machine Acts/Operator Acts-The operator simply drives the course in diegetic acts, and selects their car and navigates menus in nondiegetic acts. The machine acts include the response when a cop car pulls the operator over, or when the operator (as a cop) pulls the street racer (controlled by the machine) over.

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Full Title-FIFA Soccer 10

Year Released-2009

Publisher-EA Sports

Genre/Game Structure-Soccer Simulator

Describe the Diegesis-In-game actions include the control of one or multiples of the 22 players on the field. Actions include passing, shooting, dribbling, tackling, and diving, punting, and free kicks (such as by the goalie). The game remediates a television broadcast, seeking to simulate something like a “World Cup” broadcast as realistically as possible, including play-by-play and color commentary by two real soccer broadcasters. Other diegetic actions include the inc-game keeping of score, shots on goal, saves, assists, and other individual and team statistics. The game also “officiates” by calling fouls and balls out of play.

Describe Characters-Characters are comprised of all the various soccer players of all teams available within the game setting.

Game/Story Relationship-There are head-to-head modes for multiple players, but also several narrative modes within the game. You can “Be-A-Pro” in which you take a young international football player and take control of his “career” in which you take him from a young, promising player to an international superstar through skilled in-game play and contract negotiations with teams. There is also a manager mode in which the operator takes control of a team and plays them through seasons and offseasons, having the option of purchasing players and attempting to lure them from other teams while trying to win championships. They player can manage injuries and fatigued players.

Machine Acts/Operator Acts-The operator controls in-game actions of actually playing the game. Machine acts include the ball action after it’s kicked-thus, the game controls the laws of physics that exist within the real world. The machine provides an in-game ambience by controlling the camera and how non-controlled players move and act. It controls the commentators’ speech, crowd noise, stadium noise, and the overall out-of-game setting. Within the menus, a player can navigate through various modes while the machine controls actions by other teams in modes such as “Manager mode,” taking control of all non-user controlled teams. The game also controls pre-and post-game celebrations depending on the game’s winner, and provides highlights within the half-time show and post-game “show.”

 Comparison/Contrast

Despite a 7-year gap between the production of these respective games, they are very similar in nature. Both fall under the sport/action game simulator category. In fact, one can loosely define Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 as a "sport" game, despite that it takes place on a less formal level-it's set on "the streets" rather than a formal athletic atmosphere. But in structure, both games are very similar. The nondiegetic options within the menus are set up very similarly-a player can navigate through game modes ("Chase" in NFS, "Manager Mode" in FIFA) and select their automobile just like they can pick their team that they want to play with. Diegetic actions in Need For Speed are much less prevalent than in FIFA. In NFS, you are simply given a driving environment with a context of a) winning the race, b) not getting caught by the cops, and c) catching bad drivers as a cop. Otherwise, the environment doesn't interact with you that much. Aside from the machine-controlled cops/other drivers, the only operator-machine interaction occurs when driving off the road, crashing, or driving over/through objects, in which case they break (such as stop signs, etc.) We did not have enough time to explore every world, so there may be interactive objects that we never encountered. In FIFA, each game is essentially its own world. The computer will interact differently every time, and no game will play out the same way. However, with 21 other players to control, the machine plays a much higher role in controlling the game environment and the ambient environment as well.

It can be said that despite a concrete storyline in either, both have some semblance of a narrative. In NFS, one goes through courses in the game avoiding being stopped by the cops (or stopping violating drivers as a cop). Therein is the story. While it doesn't follow a strict narrative, it can be said that it follows the form of paradigm (as opposed to syntagm) in that in each scenario a set of events can occur, but their order is not set. For example, one could be playing as a cop on a desert course, and they could catch bad drivers 0, 1, 2, or 3 times. Catching them 3 times means "winning," and advancing. However, less than that means that the player will have to play the level again. In FIFA, each game is like its own story, sometimes within the "story mode" of Virtual Pro or Manager Mode. No game will play out the same way, and thus, since different events occur every time, the "narrative" is almost completely random. A game score could end 1-0, or 100-99. While there is almost no concrete storyline in FIFA, it certainly has a story to it within the game action. Additionally, the Virtual Pro and Manager mode take on their own larger story as you attempt to control an individual player to stardom or bring your team to the height of international soccer.

Image credits:

Need for Speed: http://www.oyun-indir.info/oyun_resim/Need%20For%20Speed%20Hot%20Pursuit.jpg

FIFA:http://www.gamekicker.com/files/fifa%2010.jpg

Who'd have thunk it?

 Gaming. Never thought you would be talking about it in class, did you? Well, rules were meant to be broken. And this week, we're examining Galloway's "Gamic Action, Four Moments" and Janet Murray's "From Game-Story to Cyberdrama." Galloway's piece divides the qualities of videogames into four categories: the in-world actions performed by the operator; the navigation through menus and displays that is also controlled by the player but is outside game action; actions by the "game itself" and its environments; and in-game actions that may or may not be intended to occur, like glitches.

Murray's piece details the development of how stories in videogames are told. It details how games like first-person shooters, RPG's, and other plot driven games have developed from just simpler "stories" to true interactive experiences.

I've asked it before, but I'll rehash it again...will videogames come to have purposes beyond entertainment? It's interesting how they have become a part of hypermedia in media forms like the Matrix. But what's really in the future for videogames? Will they ever become a truly integrated form of society like other media?

Social Networking and the Future of New Media (and Trolling)

 Sigh...another long, good post deleted mid-post...

Anyway, social networking has become a cornerstone of our society, for a couple of reasons, both positive and negative. First, the positive. Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter (the "big three" of social networking, if you will) have really accelerated our ability to communicate with one another. We can't communicate much faster anymore-literally, people are connected on a second-to-second basis through the Internet. For example, I can go on Twitter and my phone and discover the nature of New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs' knee injury just seconds after NY Daily News reporter Ralph Vacciano finds out about it in the locker room, then tweets about it from his Blackberry, iPhone, or hopefully his Droid (looks like an awesome phone by the way, I took it for a test-drive at Verizon the other day. Probably gonna buy it this week.) (and also, Jacobs is okay. Go Giants! Great game Sunday.) (But see? I just gave you an update that might not be available in article form on NFL.com. Thus proving my point).

Another key point in social networking is advertising (whether via big-business ads or individual people making recommendations to each other, which I think is a secondary form of advertising). Advertising is a key part of our society because it helps new media constantly evolve and helps define both the relationship between consumer and producer and what each deems they need.

This connectivity perpetrated by both advertising and the accelerated spread of news is perhaps the most important concept behind new media. In fact, that could be a defining factor, or even definition of new media-the acceleration of connectivity between people via various forms of media. However, as I've said in the past, the rate of growth may slow down due to the laws of physics-you can't get much faster than it is right now.

To tie in trolling, which I never discussed, the spread of social networking media has created some dangerous environments on the internet. There's a whole group of internet predators out there and trolls as well, essentially sociopaths who prey on others (either physically (predators, who are criminals) or mentally (trolls, who should be criminals). I don't think it's good for the Internet, but ultimately, it can't hurt the Internet as a whole in total. Ultimately, it's my thought that social networks can develop to a point where the internet (as it basically already is) is more and more a microcosm of our world.

Ah, the Meat & Potatoes...

 The articles read this week by Thomson, Benkler, and the Pew Internet and American Life Project get down to the real nitty-gritty of new media. Right now, social networking, I might say, is the "newest" of new media. Social networking sites-including MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, have really only come into the picture in the last 5 years. Twitter, the baby of the group, is less than two years old! The real shocking thing is how quickly these sites have developed.

A lot behind the questioning of these new sites is how they are going to affect our social lives. I don't think they will, frankly because humans require person-to-person interaction to at the very least keep the species going. And interestingly enough, social networking sites have evolved past their purpose of just "connecting people" and are now hypermedia havens. Celebrities, sports teams, businesses, and many other entities have their own fan pages on Facebook. Twitter is now a news source-the quickest one there is. In fact, while my friends sometimes razz me for having a Twitter account, the truth is this: I get the news before anyone else. Sometimes days before.

The real question here, even though I have answered it, is what effect these things are going to have on our society. The "stalker" point can be argued-that by bringing people closer together, they are more at risk. However, we might end up being more careful and better for it. Another thing to consider is, could social networking sites-which link to basically everything in the Internet-simplify the Internet? I.e., could they make most of it obsolete, creating one integrated network that everyone's on? Could they become the World Wide Web? Something to consider as we move to our discussion.

Cybertypes Analysis

 Despite that this week's readings were more focused on trolling, we discussed race and gender on Thursday and I have some ideas I want to throw out. However, I'm not going to look at minstrelsy, because I don't think it's substantive beyond any other medium that perpetuates stereotypes. That isn't to say minstrelsy is a bad thing; my discussion simply focuses away from it.

Note that I do not intend to offend any member of any race with this post. I am merely trying to provide objective analyses.

The idea that cybertypes are a result of new media is the main idea posed by Nakamura in "Cybertyping." The suggestion is that stereotypes, when put through the "new media process" underwent an evolution of sorts and morphed into "cybertypes" that we see today.

While I'm not so much for the redefinition of stereotypes-I think they can just be called stereotypes still, because new media hasn't changed the nature of their message-I do acknowledge the form of their existence in new media. New media (which operationally, for this post, include television, videogames, and internet media, and any forms of associated hypermedia) have brought stereotypes to another level. They are now a tool to be used by all-a means of sending a message. Perhaps they are another definition of hypermedia-they provide a vehicle within a vehicle to send the message. But that is not what we're looking at right now.

Stereotypes are used in all forms of advertising, in videogames, on the internet, and in television. In some ways, they are in fact useful. Stereotypes usually describe the population's general thoughts about a given group. Oftentimes, they can in fact apply to that population, to some degree. Thus, advertisers can utilize and play on these sensibilities to appeal not only to a target population that is being stereotyped, but perhaps populations around them.

Take a video game like NBA Street (I know we talked about this in class, but I'm going to do a different sort of analysis). NBA Street, as we've discussed, transforms a basketball simulator into an urban setting and changes the rules, so to speak. It's much more free and it's urbanized, appealing to a different audience than those who are looking for a pure basketball simulator like NBA Live. NBA Street can appeal to several different groups. It can appeal to white teenagers whose fantasy is "street cred" and who idolize the sort of urban stereotypes that NBA Street perpetuates-the low-riding pants of the players, the afros, the "bling," and the tough-guy nature of the characters.

It can also appeal to the same urban population in simulates. Usually, a population that is being stereotyped in a videogame is not going to overanalyze the game and say that it's an affront on them. In fact, I think it can bring out more of an enjoyment in everyone who experiences the game. For inner-city kids and more "urbanized" African-American teens (part of the game's main audience) it can provide a game that adds a more specific character. Oftentimes, these kids are stuck playing a white soldier in a first-person shooter. NBA Street, which has a "career mode," if I'm not mistaken, can allow the player to take on the identity of an inner-city basketball player who works his way up through the "streetball" leagues and eventually to the NBA. For these kids, it adds an in-depth simulation that other games might not offer. For other audiences, it offers the opportunity to take on yet another identity. Such is the beauty of videogames.

On the flip side, the stereotypes used by videogames such as NBA Street, while adding entertainment value to the game, can further perpetuate incorrect ideas in the minds of all players. NBA Street's typical character is an urbanized, mid-20's black man who seeks "street cred" and has taken on the identity of a "gangster" of sorts. This character further adds to the twisting of young minds. They see these men, and they can think several things...1) I want to be like him. 2) This is how all African-Americans are. 

The point is, stereotypes have entertainment value in how they can appeal to the population, but can be harmful in the long run, and not just to those offended by them. This sort of process is what has caused stereotypes to evolve. When the media gives its consumers a stimulus, consumers give a message back to the media based on how much they consume each stimulus. Whatever is consumed more, the media produce more of. So, in our consumption of stereotypes, we have allowed the media to produce them at a higher and higher rate. So is this the media's fault, or our own? It seems that our desire for shortcuts has created the very problems we now fight against. The only hope in "defeating" stereotypes, if such a thing could happen, is to go away from them altogether. But that doesn't seem possible. Every character in every media form must in some way follow some stereotypes, because they aren't real characters. They aren't allowed to have full-bodied sensibilities and personalities because they aren't real.

Shortcuts have to be taken. And in a way, no one is unique. Every single person takes on elements of a certain stereotype every day, because there are thousands of them. And odds are, in our lifetimes, we aren't going to get to know more than a handful of people well enough to eliminate stereotypes...that's the only real way to get rid of them. Personally? I know around 5 people through and through who I classify in their own categories, not counting myself. Three of them are family members.

Eventually, something's gotta give. An Image of Allen Iverson, a professional basketball player.

Image credit: http://kangjk.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/allen-iverson1.jpg

This image is the second one found when searching Google images for "African American Stereotypes."

Some People, Man...

I'm not going to say too much about Malwebolence both because I might have trouble restraining myself from using colorful language. It just makes me really angry. However, I feel the article may have exaggerated things a little bit to prove its point.

"A Rape in Cyberspace" was an interesting read to illustrate what was described in "Malwebolence." It's interesting to see the convergence here between virtual and actual worlds. While I can't quite connect with what went on in the story, partially because I'm not sure I really understand the game, it was a good story to read. A little more...tolerable too.

Professor Anable's article was great-it did a great job of encompassing what was read in the two previous articles and gave a more broad-scale illustration of what is going on.

 

My questions are as follows: Moral justification aside, do trolls have a positive or negative effect on merely the internet's theoretical development? If negative, can they be stopped? What created this problem, the internet itself or people?  

Second Life and Cybertypes

 

Apologies for the huge image...it was giving me trouble 

I accidentally deleted the original content of this post in trying to get the image in here...so it doesn't have the content I'd like, and might seem a bit brief, but it has mostly the points I wanted.

 Second Life very much surprised me in how sexually charged its entire atmosphere. While previously, as seen in my previous post, I wasn't as much a believer in the whole idea of cybertypes, Second Life has definitely given me an understanding of the idea and allowed me to see it in action.

I think Second Life takes cybertyping/stereotyping to another level. It's already evident in many video games-think Grand Theft Auto. There are certain expectations for what human beings should act and look like in terms of race, gender, perhaps religion as well. I think this is partially an extension of the media's image that states "what we should look like" and it continues in video games. Men are often portrayed as hardened, masculine, brawny figures with few emotions. Women take on a more mutable appearance, sometimes more geared towards a Lara Croft type, sometimes geared towards a sexy, model type.

Second Life takes this, and cybertyping, to a much further extent. I made my avatar a male in Second Life, and while one can make their character fat or skinny without muscle (which I assume can be done for women too) I think the idea behind that is that it's almost not "correct." As it's a world where you can take on a second image, I think there's a subliminal element that states not "This is what you should look like," like the media portrays, but "This is what you DO look like."

Second Life adds a great deal of sexual charge to everything. I'm surprised at the amount and extent of the "mature" content the game contains. There is a great deal of nudity involved, and I think Second Life actually perpetuates an even further disconnect between men and women-that is, women have a drastically different role in the world. As Professor Anable told us, it's very difficult to make a female avatar that is not highly sexualized. It is almost a different world if you're trying to create a female character. One can argue that this is a reflection of our current world, but that's a separate story.

The whole idea that I'm pushing here is that yes, Second Life's avatar design process takes cybertypes to another level, in men with the whole idea of brawn and masculinity, but particularly in the sexual image of women. I'm not sure this is an idea of "objectifying women" rather than just expressing female sexuality-which may be a result of one or both of the following: the idea that the high sexuality is what men want to see, or what women want to express.

 

Intro to Race & Gender in Media

In the three readings assigned for this week, I feel like I'm seeing a lot of Marshall McLuhan in the sensibilities of the authors and in their writing. Their writings reflect some cultural ideas that are prevalent today, identities that are prevalent in the media today.

Nakamura's piece on cybertyping discusses how form influences content, and vice versa. To me, this is just another way of saying that "the medium is the message." However, despite that examining cultural and gender identities in media is new to me, I'm not yet seeing where they connect. Are cybertypes really a result of technology? Or are they, in fact, stereotypes ported into new media as the article refutes? I think that is the case.

I don't deny that Lara Croft's being a female character with male qualities but still a very feminine sexuality. It may in fact be an attempt to reflect a different sort of female identity. But is this much more than that? Does playing as Lara Croft say something about the player? Does it mean the player may be subconsciously taking on a different identity? I don't think so.

The same sort of thing can be seen in "High Tech Blackface" where Leonard supposes that playing a sports videogame and operating black players within the game is an echo of minstrelsy. But sports videogames are simulations of sport. They aren't a puppet show where we exhibit a sort of dominance over black people.

All in all, I question whether playing as certain characters actually reflects the video game player's true conscious or subconscious feelings.

Convergence and Me in Baseball

An Image of Metsblog.com. You can see that it integrates various media forms.

Image courtesy of http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/03d5gKx3Zk5u1/screen_390x336.jpg. It's an image of the frontpage of Metsblog.com from late April of 2009. You can see that it integrates various forms of media including text, video, Twitter, it has a fan poll in the top right corner, links to the SportsNet New York homepage (Mets TV network) and also has billboard ad space.

Anyone who's interacted with me for a period long enough to know what I'm interested in knows that above all, I am a baseball fanatic. I don't want to use the word "fan" here because of the fact that its operational definition gives the wrong indication as to what I am.

Anyway, back to the important stuff. Over the past year of my life, I've become more and more engrossed in baseball as a hobby. I played in high school, and may try out for Hamilton's team next year. I watch or listen to every single New York Mets game...I can safely say that in the year 2009, there was not ONE game that I didn't watch in some way, shape, or form. I didn't miss one game.

Convergence is evident in the way I watch baseball as a fan and consumer. First, I went to 10 Met games in 3 different ballparks (Citi Field in Queens, Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, and Citizens Bank Park in Philly) and I probably spent about $500 total in extra things at the various ballparks (food, team gear, and other assorted odds and ends) in addition to ticket prices. Consuming these things adds to my experience at a baseball game. And when I go to a game, my money goes to the team. What does the team spend money on? Well, among many other things, the Mets built a brand new stadium this year. Citi Field is a brand-new example of convergence. In the stadium, you can experience the game in a variety of different ways. You can watch it in person, on HDTVs in the concourse when you're getting your food, and listen to the radio broadcast when you're in the bathroom.

When I don't go to the game, I watch at home (or in my dorm) through a variety of media. From April until August, I watched almost every game on TV. If I was on the road for some reason, or I went out to get a bite to eat during the game, I listened on the radio. And in early August, when I went on vacation to Bermuda, I purchased MLB.tv, which streams every Major League Baseball game online to your computer. It also enabled me to watch multiple different broadcasts of the games (say, the Mets' home feed and their opponents' video feed). At college, since the games were blacked out on my computer, I used MLB.com's "Gameday Audio" to listen to games on my computer, since Hamilton cable doesn't carry most Mets games.

And finally, in the event that I had no access, in any way, to TV, radio, or computer, I watched games on my phone. Yes. Opening Day 2009 saw me, in AP Environmental Studies class, watching the Mets on the ESPN MVP application on my phone which, with some delay, provides pitch-by-pitch play by play on my phone. I also used MLB.com on my phone, a simple alternative form of ESPN MVP's GameCast.

I'm enough of a fanatic that I will use whatever resources available to me to watch the game. I can only remember one time that I actually was unable to see an extended part of a game, and that was a day where I went to see Blue Man Group (June 2, I believe) and my phone ran out of battery (with little service in the theatre to boot). I would tell you what happened in that game, but I wouldn't want to seem THAT obsessed. 

So that's how I watch the games. In those ways, I'm more a consumer than a fan. I'm a fan in how I digest online information. When I turn on my computer in the morning, oftentimes I'm half asleep, but I still know what my first destination is. During the regular season, I head right to MLB.com to see what every other team in baseball did. I might watch video highlights of the previous night's games. Then, I head straight to Metsblog.com, the most prominent blog for Mets baseball on the internet. This site uses audio, video, and text media for its updates, which usually come every couple of hours during the day.

Next on my bookmarks is Twitter. Don't get me wrong, I only use Twitter for sports updates, not constant Facebook statuses. I follow a great deal of New York sports writers on Twitter, several bloggers, several baseball players (including Carlos Beltran and Matt Kemp), ESPN, and a few baseball satirists. Twitter gives me by-the-second access to the newest baseball news.

The next step in my "fan process" is what I'm most proud of. And that is, I'm a producer as well. I write for a blog called Disgruntled Mets Fan and also I write articles for a site called Bleacherreport.com, mainly on baseball, but some on football as well.

So, to sum it all up...I'm a fan, consumer, and a producer of baseball media. I use the Internet (via computer, cell phone, and iPod touch), radio, television, and various forms of hypermedia to digest, process, and create baseball knowledge. That hypermedia integrates all the various forms of Internet text, radio, video, and other forms. I'm an aspiring sports journalist, so this media course has really given me some insight into the derivative forms of journalism. All this use of media is definitely building towards something. But I get great happiness from not only being able to follow baseball, but to the level I can follow it and produce my own thoughts about it, and that's what gives me the most pride.

Convergence, Maximizing Media, and the Shift

 The first reading of the two assigned this week, "Living on Dawson's Creek," gave some really interesting insight into convergence. First, it did a great job of creating a distinction between media and cultural convergence. It also did a great job in its examination of US vs. UK in relation to the television show.

It's also interesting to see that US viewers have not fully maximized the alternative media related to Dawson's Creek. What is the potential if viewers do so? Additionally, is Britain always going to be "lagging" behind the US, or will we find a way to integrate the TV cultures between our two nations (note that currently there is a real disconnect in style between them).

"Serving Up Television without the TV Set" further perpetrates the idea of convergence and shows the shift away from the television. Is the TV so unwieldy that it may in fact become obsolete since it's less portable?

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