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Sexta-feira, 29 de Outubro de 2010
The Extreme Nature of (Social) Games

When I heard on the news today of an incident that occured in Jacksonville, Florida (USA) regarding one of the most popular 'social games' of the moment, my draw jopped.

Apparently, a mother of 22 years of age - addicted, as it seems, to 'FarmVille' - plead guilty to shaking her 3 year old month baby to death.

Those who read a bit on video games will know the stories of how some popular games like 'World of Warcraft' or others have led to social or private problems. Some of these games have led to divorce or health problems.... but to me, this is a first.

When we think of games, we think of fun... and this is just the complete opposite.

I think it's a really scary thought that a person is unable to control themselves, to separate the virtual from reality and to take control of their lives. To let a game control and take over what we do or how we lead our daily lives... in a word, 'pathetic'.

I love games, everyone loves games. But we should love life and reality a bit more. What has the world come to when people - in this case, an innocent child - suffer or die because of games? I don't think the inventors of games had these ideas in mind.

Of course these are extremely sporadic incidents. These incidents represent to me what the extreme nature of games are...

Hopefully this kind of news will bring some people to reality...

 

In case you want to read the news piece, here's a version in english and one in portuguese.


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published by sja às 11:53
3

Quinta-feira, 28 de Outubro de 2010
The Wireless (Control) War

An interesting read at Gamasutra projected me to write up a few lines about the upcoming war we'll be witnessing in the coming weeks with the release of Microsoft's Kinect.

I'd guess the greater portion of tek fans out there have heard of Wii, possibly the biggest 'thing' out there in terms of wireless gaming. Because it seemed to me Playstation was a lone contender in the race for 'the greatest console', Nintendo had the brilliant idea of focussing on the 'other people'. Who are these other people? Those who don't play games because they simply can't understand how to use a two-joystick-four-button-plus-another-four-button controller. Naturally I'm talking about 'older people'.

 

Games have always seemed to be an activity for the 'young'. But with Wii, gaming became even more fun; and it became fun for the whole family. Wii's 'Wiimote' made it easier for people of all ages to enjoy playing games. They gave up on extensive, eye boggling graphics and focussed on making gaming a family issue, without sacrificing gameplay.

That's why I, should I ever be forced to choose between Wii and Playstation, would most likely choose the Wii. Why?

 

 

Let me exemplify: Imagine a rainy sunday afternoon. You're were thinking about going out with your friends for some 'outdoor' activity... but the rain has ruined your plans. If you had a Playstation, you could get 1, 2 or even 4 people playing a game. Normally you'll probably see one person against the other. However, with Wii, you could get up to 4 people playing a game in Wii Sports. Yes, I know you can have 4 people playing Playstation simultaneously... but the fact that Wii makes you move a bit more is all that much more appealing. Not to mention the fact, once again, you could get your parents on one team, and your brother or sister on the other.

 

So that's my 'bid' for the Playstation/Wii war.

 

Fortunately or unfortuantely - I'll explain why - Kinect has attacked!

I was fortunate to be present at the first public presentation of Kinect in Portugal, which occured during the 'Videojogos2010' Conference at the IST in Lisbon.

My first impression of Kinect was 'WOW!'

I was SERIOUSLY fascinated by how easily a player from the audience could step in front of the camera and start playing, immediatly. The calibration process takes around 3 seconds and, bam, you're good to go.

In terms of graphics, I think Kinect is slightly better than its counterpart Wii. While the avatars are similar on both consoles, the remaining graphics on Kinect appear to be more pleasant.

 

[source: http://www.csmonitor.com/]

 

I could go on a bit further about what I saw, but I'm sure 'Youtube' has plenty of videos with examples :)

Moving on and returning to my original discussion, I think Wii has found a serious opponent in this wireless (control) war. While I haven't read much on Playstation's 'Move', I think it's strong competitor against the Wii. However, the fact that 'Move' is associated to Playstation means you can move from playing graphically-rich video games to fun, family games. With Wii... you get what you buy.

With the introduction of Kinect in the market, both the Playstation 'Move' and the Ninentdo 'Wii' will suffer a blow in their revenue. A fight between two moves on to three.

But will Playstation really suffer from the arise of Kinect? Probably not. Playstation's 'Move' is an attachment to their high-performance console... so if they don't sell all that many 'Move's', they'll still be profiting from sales with other video games and the console itself.

Wii on the other hand has a serious fight with Kinect. While wireless gaming was a big thing 3/4 years ago, today's big thing is... let's call it... 'body gaming' (or controller-free gaming, if you prefer a more technical term). If people had fun playing games without worying about getting tangled in wires, imagine how much fun they can have if they don't have to worry about controllers at all. Natrually Kinect isn't flawless in terms of 'body capturing', but it is brutally awesome.

The article I referred above shows that the Kinect will beat 'Move' in terms of sales. However, 'Move' is a much newer experience than Wii. Against a 4 year old project, Kinect will probably seem to be a much more exciting buy when compared to its counterpart.

 

So in the end... I feel this 3 player war is most likely a 2 player war. As I mentioned, 'Move' could be a success or a failure, but Playstation won't 'crash' because of it. Wii however, doesn't really have a backup plan. All they can really do is develop better games for those who have the Wii or try to go 'controller-free'.

Therefore, and because 'body-gaming' (maybe the expression will catch on) is today's big thing, I think Kinect will be in the near future the big time winner.

 

We'll see who'll be the first to make augmented reality gaming a definite thing...


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published by sja às 12:35

Terça-feira, 26 de Outubro de 2010
What is 'Eye Tracking'?

In almost every area you might come across, one of the biggest concerns a reader or enthusiast might have is regarding to understanding what he or she is dealing with.

In simple terms, what we're dealing here with is precisely the 'WHAT?'

Specifically, 'What is Eye Tracking?'

Once again, in many areas, finding a single unquestionable definition for any concept is near impossible. I'd say 'eye tracking' isn't too far off.

However, and although I personally don't have a definition to offer, I can summarize a couple of definitions I've stumbled upon while researching over the last couple of months. Hopefully these can offer some insight on what exactly we're dealing with.

 

DEFINITION 1

"Eye tracking is a technique whereby an individual’s eye movements are measured so that the researcher knows both where a person is looking at any given time and the sequence in which their eyes are shifting from one location to another."

in: Eye Tracking in Human-Computer Interaction and Usability Research: Current Status and Future Prospects; Poole, Alex & Ball, Linden J. (2007) [available here]

 

 

 

 

 


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published by sja às 23:46

Segunda-feira, 25 de Outubro de 2010
Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

In my introductory 'Welcome' post, I briefly indicated that the greater portion of the content published on this blog would be related to games - video games, digital games, computer games; you choose your favorite - and eye tracking.

To be a bit more specific, and using a known portuguese verb; I'm going to 'raise the tip of the veil', which is to say, give you all a little sneak peek about what kind of things you can find here.

 

1st: Lots of stuff related to eye tracking

If I find and read an article, a report or an academic paper related to eye tracking, a study where eye tracking was used, or anything of that sort... I'll probably let you know about it. I'll give you some feedback, start what I hope stirs up discussion...

I might also publish some information related to eye tracking solutions; the 'pros & cons' of eye tracking as they come, among other relevant information.

 

2nd: Lots of stuff relaed to games

Games - or one of the cousins mentioned above - are all over the internet. So what can you find here? Whatever I find relevant to my cause or interesting in general. 'Social games', for example, are a worldwide hype at the moment - thanks Facebook - and I've been reading a bit about the issue. Just as I'll do with eye tracking information, I might publish a couple of links to articles that I find of greater interest.

Reviews! Although I'm not the hardcore gamer some might make me out to be, I do enjoy playing a video game every once and a while. So if I play anything recent, I'll let you know how I feel.

 

3rd: HCI and Usability

I've also been looking at usability and HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) for a while now. So expect information related to the area. After all, the core of my work is to understand how eye tracking can be used as a method of evaluating games, and how players use games.... yeah, that's a usability issue :)

 

4th: Other random stuff

Everything in life needs every once and a while a breath of fresh air. So don't be surprised if I publish something out of the ordinary. Maybe it'll be a funny video, or an informative video; maybe it'll be a comic, a review on a movie, on a book... on something else. Diversification is fun; so you'll find that here.

 

So that's basically the sum of it. Now you know what to expect :) I'll be posting up during the next few days a bunch of blogs or sites that I read and follow.

Also, and although this original layout is pretty awesome, I'll be looking to give it a personalized touch... but that might take a while :)


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published by sja às 10:44

Sábado, 23 de Outubro de 2010
Welcome!

Hello, and WELCOME to 'The Games & Eye Tracking Corner'.

 

Before I explain exactly what my purpose here is, let me tell you a little about me.

My name is Samuel - you can all call me Sam - and I'm currently (because I don't know what I'll be in a couple of years) a PhD Student and researcher. My PhD work and research is intimately - or exclusively - related to video games and eye tracking; and how the second can be used as an evaluation tool for the first. I'm a portuguese native, and lived in Canada for quite a while before returning to the 'home land' :) As of today, I'm 26 years old, and to celebrate... I decided to open up this little corner in the big sphere of the WWW.

Moving on; I've been planning on creating a blog like this for quite some time. It's always good to let others now what you're working on, what you're doing and what you've done; where you've been and where you want to go. I thought today would be a great day to open shop and start sharing some ideas.

What IDEAS? Well, because I'm working on 'Eye Tracking' and 'Video Games', 90% of the stuff I publish here will most likely be related to either one of those areas.

Eye Tracking is a fascinating technique, and the potential of an eye tracker even more so. And video games, well... who doesn't like video games?

 

So that's about it.

I hope this space can offer its readers (that's you) all - or any - of the information they're looking for. If not, be sure to drop a comment. Discussions are what keep these spaces alive, so don't hesitate.

 

I'll see you around :)


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published by sja às 14:40

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