Lets all go to the Movies…and watch some Ads

In a society where we are bombarded with advertising on a constant basis, whether it be through video, audio or other visual media, ads are all around us. In fact it has gotten to the point for some people that ads are easy to ignore. Rarely do I really take a look at the ads placed on billboards, or the side of buses. I generally tune out the ads on a radio station. But, one place where the commercials are impossible to escape from and where people tend to get very frustrated by the ads placement, is before movies in the theatre.

I find this amusing. People are willing to sit for fifteen minutes at a time and watch movie trailers, themselves advertisements for upcoming films, and be entertained, or even look forward to them. But, the minute they start putting real commercials for Coke, or Telus before a movie, people get up in arms. Some places, demanding their money back, in others letting the theatre companies know what they think.

Now, I’m not entirely sure why people get so mad at these commercials. It cannot be because of the added length of the theatre experience. If you are willing to sit there for upwards of two hours to watch a movie and the trailers, then what is a couple more minutes really going to do?

It also can’t be because of the ads themselves. None of them are overly offensive, in fact most them are quite good in terms of relative commercials we would see on television. They are usually well made and creative, similar to Superbowl commercials. Which is ironic because they literally have the audience trapped and could make them whatever they wanted and people would still have to watch.

No, I think that’s the reason people get angry. They HAVE to watch them. At home during commercials you can always change the channel, get up and do something else, or if you have a PVR, just fast-forward through them. However, in the theatre realistically you are trapped there. You can’t really come late to miss them, then you could miss something important, or miss out on quality seats, things that even the biggest hater of commercials would not be willing to do.

So, I say just calm down and relax. You knew they were going to be there before you got in the car to drive to the theatre in the first place. Box-office numbers have not been hurt by any sort of refusal to watch these ads. I say lets just have a good time in the theatre, and let our ad-crazed society wash over us.

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Kinecting with others

This past week my roommates and I decided to treat ourselves to an early Christmas gift to…well ourselves. We purchased a Microsoft Kinect for the Xbox 360.

Now, the gaming skill levels and time spent playing ranges within our house from essentially none at all, to full time gaming addict. But, the Kinect has made it possible for everyone, including friends from outside the house, play and have fun. It literally takes no previous experience or gaming skill to play the Kinect, and play it well.

Without controllers, just natural; and sometimes unatural, body movements, the Kinect allows for a more robust experience. No longer are we confined to learning what buttons do what, or having to deal with those who maybe play a little too much and end up being a little too good at a game compared to everyone else. Now, for example in a game where you have to run, jump, duck and pose, the only skills you need to already know, are how to run, jump, duck and pose.

While to be fair, sometimes the Kinect is not perfect. It can’t always register some of the finer movements, and the voice controls (oh yes, there are voice commands) seem limited at the moment, but if anything, I am more excited to see what is in the future for the system. Even now there are some impressive games both in stores, and coming soon, and in the future I expect the Kinect to become one of the biggest chanegs in interactive entertainment history. Similar to the change between 2D to 3D gaming, or the abiltiy to play online revolutionized multiplayer gaming, I think the Kinect will allow game makers to do things they only previously dreamed of

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With Christmas coming up in the near future I have begun to think about what it is I want. One thing that I can’t keep out of my head, even though I swore I would wait  a while longer before jumping on board is an iPad. They look cool, seem to work well and would be very handy.

The counter this is, why don’t I just get a smartphone? Good question, I’m glad you asked.

An iPad would be a one-time purchase, well at least until it broke, while a smart phone is a recurring monthly payment that I cannot opt out of whenever I want.

Also, I already have a cell phone, just one that isn’t very smart. It does what I need it to, make calls and send texts, but it apparently doesn’t have the intelligence to surf the web, or check email. So, in theory i would be adding another gadget, instead of replacing the one I already have.

This may seem pointless, but there is one thing that smart phones can’t do that an iPad can. It can double for an eReader if need be. This intrigues me very much. The thought of eReaders in general make me smile. Carrying around an entire library of books in your pocket. And, lets be honest the iPad looks pretty cool. Right? Guys…?

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Video Games and Art

After being inspired by Dr. Strangelove’s recent post on his blog abput video games and their worth to western society, I have decided to write about a subject very dear to my heart.

There is a raging debate that seems to pop up every few years about whether or not video games are to be considered art. Recently this debate was fueled by Roger Ebert’s words on the subject. He believes that not only are video games not art, but no gamer alive today will live long enough to see them become art.

My own opinion on this matter is that video games are in fact art, but to be fair my opinion would be a little biased. I’m a 22-year old male, with some disposable income and who has been playing video games for his entire life. However, the bigger debate might not be whether video games are art or not, but what exactly consitutes art in the first place

Video games are an entertainment medium, created to elicit emotions out of its users, and when done correctly can be as immersive or compelling as any other entertainment mediums, including movies, television, literature and music. Now to be fair, I don’t find some games as appealing as others, just as I personally don’t enjoy certain genres of music, or movie. But that doesn’t mean I don’t consider those particular songs or movies not art.

If I find something to be beautiful to look at, well written, and emotionally compelling, I consider that to be art, no matter the medium.

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Parliament…Not a Terrorist Target?

Now I’m not quite sure how the American Capitol building works, but I doubt that in the middle of the night you can wander up to its front doors, or all around the building and its property and look in windows, wander the grounds its on, or take pictures and videos while doing this.

This is exactly the case in Canada. Many times over the course of the last four years my friends and I have gone for walks, usually in the wee hours of the morning, and gone to the Parliament Buildings just to see them. We would walk right up to the front doors, walk all the way around it, look through windows to see whats inside. Usually all while a police cruiser is parked on the grounds, I guess patrolling them. However, I’m not sure why they are there, they never say anything to us, they never do anything that even looks like they care what we are doing. I guess I should be happy that I live in a country with so little worry over crime or terrorism that it doesn’t care if a bunch of twenty-year old men start poking around its most important government building in the middle of the night.

Maybe they’ll start putting ads on the grounds to give people something to read while they are snooping around. Might as well do something.

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The Shot Heard Around the Corner

Well, the World Series ended. The San Fransisco Giants defeated the Texas Rangers. Turns out, no one cared.

The ratings are in for the World Series, and it got beaten by numerous other network shows, including Modern Family and The Mentalist. Not sure those are two shows that can be easily compared to baseball, but anyway.

I believe that the reason ratings are down, and have been steadily declining for a few years now, is that the average playoff baseball game takes over three hours to play. THREE HOURS! There is almost nothing that people are going to be willing to invest over three hours into that doesn’t involve money or sex.

With the growing age of YouTube and Twitter, and media that provides substance in small doses, the idea of needing three hours to find out a result of a baseball game or to sit and watch the same thing continuously must seem archaic to a generation raised by the internet. And, to be fair baseball as a sport doesn’t exactly lend itself to over-stimulation. In fact it is usually about nuances, and things that happened earlier in the game. Ironically it takes the full three hours to truly get a full experience out of a baseball game, so I’m sure that doesn’t help.

Hopefully for baseball’s sake, the Yankees and the Dodgers will clash in the World Series and save them from themselves.

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Watching Dr. Strangelove with YouTube

I perused through Dr. Strangelove’s YouTube account today. I watched a lot of the movies he had uploaded himself, including the ones that seemed a little more personal than others. Shots of his home, or his wife filled the videos. This is a new experience for me, and I’m sure most of his student.

Never before have I had this sort of access into the private life of a professor. Well, except for a professor here at Ottawa that I grew up with and know quite well, but that doesn’t count.

Off the top of my head, I know Strangelove has an email, Twitter and YouTube account. Any of which I could theoretically use to contact him, or even just for the voyeuristic side of me, I can see what he’s like when not in class. Turns out exactly the same. But, I didn’t know that before.

We are truly entering into a new world of communication. We can engage in conversation or even dispute with people we barely know instantaneously. I don’t know if that’s a good thing, but it might be someday.

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