Finding Employment In The Video Game Industry
In another article, we described a great number of educational opportunities that lay hidden in video gaming. This time, we're going to introduce a few employment opportunities as well.
1. Working as a Video Game Clerk. Working at video game store or rental place - either permanently or temporarily - has got to be a teen gamer's dream. In a single place, employees have access to the first games and game systems hot off the market and they're privy to peek inside magazines hot off the press before anyone else. If that wasn't enough, gaming clerks get a discount on what would otherwise be too expensive (games, game systems, and game accessories) to even think about buying. Sweet!
2. Working as a Game Tester. Before a game hits the market, it has to go through extensive testing and if you think the programmers behind the game test their own material, think again. The gaming industry is extremely sensitive about what it puts out into the public. In an effort to remain competitive, it must make absolutely sure that the games it produces work as intended. This is where testers enter the picture. But it isn't easy to become a game tester. Becoming a game tester requires a little inside help but once you're in there, you'll not only have access to games that no one else knows about, you'll also have an opportunity to shape the game into an experience that you and your comrades prefer.
3. Working as a Game Designer. Do you have good artistic skills? Can you whip out a character faster than you can say, "I drew that"? If so, you may be able to get a career designing video games. Today's video games exude some of the most beautiful graphics ever seen and if you have a good imagination, are able to use some of the most advanced graphics software programs available, and can follow instructions, you could see your own artwork in the next popular video game.
4. Working as a Game Critic. The gaming industry is always looking for good content and if you have a flair for writing combined with a love for games, you could write for game magazines like Game Informer or you could write content for a highly popular gaming website.
5. Working as a Game Programmer. Not a career for everyone, a good game programmer is always in demand. As player preferences change and new technology is developed, someone with the right programming skills has to be there to fill the gap between what players want, and what the gaming industry can supply. Becoming a game programmer requires extensive training in several different development languages - so if you don't have a clue as to what we just said, skip this profession and look into some of the others.
The great news about all of this is that the gaming industry shows no sign of disappearing any time soon. Even colleges are getting in on the gaming craze as they fill their course books with game programming classes and game design curriculums. There will always be an opportunity for you to blend your love for games with a steady paycheck as long as you remain dedicated to looking for these opportunities, and you make an effort to stay abreast of what's happening in the gaming world.
Check the employment section of your local paper for more, or visit the nearest college to find out what classes and training are available.
Going Broke Playing Games
You Don't Have To And Here's How
If you haven't looked at the cost of new computer or video games and gaming systems as a whole recently, you might be in for a shock. Today's games and gaming systems can run from a meager $30 all the way to a whopping four hundred dollars or more. To a loving mother of a game obsessed teenager, the costs can be astronomical and nothing short of frightening. Fortunately the cost of buying quality computer or video games (including the systems that they run on) can be significantly reduced once you know what to do and where to look.
One alternative to funding a gaming pursuit with a second mortgage is to "go old." By "going old," we mean buying last month's or year's games and game systems. If you could admit the one truth that we all know, but never readily face, you could literally save hundreds of dollars in an instant. This truth is that unless you're a millionaire, none of us can afford to buy the latest toy on the market. The ugly fact behind that truth is that within a relatively short amount of time (say, 60-90 days?), that latest toy will be replaced with a new and improved system, which consequently, grants access to what was wanted in the first place - at half the price! So go old and have a little patience. Within about three to four months, you will have made a tremendous saving.
When it comes to computer gaming, you could also come out better by upgrading games rather then an entire computer. It can take anywhere from a year or more for a gaming company to release a new version and chances are, the upgrade doesn't require new hardware - it just requires a new payment. Remember, the gaming industry can't really keep up with the computer industry either (no one can), so there's no reason to panic or worry. Concentrate on keeping your game current rather than your system. Only in rare instances, such as if your computer is archaic to begin with, will you need to upgrade your hardware. Shop wisely and you can catch a new soundcard, joystick, or graphics card on sale. But if you have a high gigahertz processor and Direct X 9 installed, you'll do fine for quite a while.
Here's a whopper of an idea and one that probably won't take as much of an effort to convince younglings to do as you might think. But to curb the costs of gaming, perhaps a group of families could pitch in and share the finances together. Depending on the number in a group, the cost of a new gaming system - and 5 or 6 of the most popular games - could diminish to 20% or more of their original costs.
And since gaming consoles are getting smaller and smaller, there's no reason why a group of families couldn't band together and trade gaming space within their homes every week or two. This way the kids in the neighborhood can enjoy one or two of the new systems on the market that they could never otherwise afford, and they can enjoy them without their parents having to shoulder the burden of funding them alone.
Seeing that kids generally play games together anyway, a group effort of this sort satisfies game cravings at a significantly reduced cost and it keeps everyone happy.
What S Up With Wii
A Guide of What's Available for Nintendo's Wii System
If you haven't heard of Nintendo's Wii system, we have just one question for you. Where have you been?! This hot new gaming system made its debut right at the time when Microsoft's new Xbox hit the market. But what makes this system so popular is that it's the first system that incorporates virtual reality in the living room. That, in addition to Nintendo's dedication to producing gaming material for that entire family as opposed to the complex games that we have on the market (for other systems) today.
This article describes some of the accessories and games available that everyone can enjoy.
The Wii System. Welcome back to family fun with this console. For only $249, the entire family can enjoy time's treasured games and physically interact with them using Nintendo's unique wrist-strapped controller. Anyone at any skill level can get in on the fun with this new machine and it comes with a free Wii Sports game cartridge.
Wii Accessories. If you're still "old school" and you prefer to use the classic Nintendo style controller, no need to fret. They're still available and they cost no more than $19.99. But if you can't wait to try out the Wii Remote, get one or two or three at only $40 each. The Wii Nunchuck Controller will run you about $19.99, however both the Nunchuck and Remote controller will give you hours of fun as you swing your way through your favorite games.
Of course, all that gaming could warrant the purchase of the Wii Air cooler ($14.99) or the Wii Charge Station ($29.99). And you certainly don't want to quit a game without saving your place! You can buy a 1GB SD Memory card ($39.99) or 2 GB SD memory card ($59.99) made by SanDisk, and pick up the fun where you left off at a later time.
To make sure your Wii console fits snuggly into the back of your television, you can buy a pack of Wii Component cables for $29.99.
Wii Games. Looking for games? We've separated this part of our guide into two sections: one for children and one for adults. Use caution when purchasing Wii games for players under 18 years of age.
Wario Ware: Smooth Moves........................$49.99
Super Paper Mario.......................................$19.99
Sonic and the Secret Rings.........................$49.99
Cooking Mama: Cook Off............................$49.99
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07.......................... $49.99
NOTE: Bionicle may not look children friendly at first, but it really is a fun and innocent game that battles and controls a line of toy action figures. It's based on Lego's Bionicle universe. Cooking Mama is rather new to the Nintendo game suite and it challenges young players to prepare more than 300 real recipes from 10 different countries.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess......$49.99
Medal of Honor Vangaurd...........................$49.99
The Godfather: Blackhand Edition..............$49.99
Mario Party 8
Legend of the Dragon
Mortal Combat Armageddon
Scarface: The World is Yours
NOTE: Legend of the Dragon and Zelda is rated T for Teen. The Godfather, Scarface, and Mortal Combat is rated M for Mature. Both The Godfather and Scarface emulate scenes from their movies and the violence follows with them.. Mortal Combat was designed to appeal to an audience that's, "eager for violence."
What S Up With Playstation 2 And 3
A Guide of What's Available for SCEA's Playstation 2, Playstation 3, and the PSP System
The Playstation Systems. As number three in a line of Playstation products, Playstation 3 ($599.99) boasts new parallel processing that enables broadband multiplayer action. It's built in Blu-Ray disc drive promises high definition gaming, tons of media storage, streaming videos, music and an online service leaving you little to desire.
It's predecessor, system number two, sells for only $19.99 and networks as well (just not as fast as system number three). With over 1,400 games to choose from, it's hard to argue against this bargain.
PSP is hot again ($169.99) and integrates 3D gaming on widescreen with high fidelity stereo music, full motion video, communication and wireless networking.
Playstation 2 Accessories. If you're still "old schooling" your Playstation, then you'll enjoy Playstation's Dual Shock 2 Analog Controller ($24.99), Wireless NERF controller ($29.99), or it's 8MB memory card ($24.99). But the music doesn't stop there. It plays on with the SingStar Pop game and accessory pack ($49.99) or the Guitar Hero II ($79.99).
Playstation 3 Accessories. What's required? The Playstation 3 system sports two different kinds of controllers: a standard Chillstream controller ($39.99) and a Sixaxis Wireless controller ($49.99). Combined with the Blu-ray remote control ($24.99), you can have complete domination over your system in no time.
PSP Accessories. Never interrupt your game play again with a 2GB Memory Stick Pro Duo ($69.99) or 4Gb Memory Stick Pro Duo ($109.99). Carry your handheld in a Platinum Pack ($19.99) or Traveler Case ($19.99). And don't forget a carry all for your media ($14.99). PSP's Media Manager ($24.99) will keep you organized as well.
Playstation Games. Looking for games? We've separated this part of our guide into two sections: one for children and one for adults. Use caution when purchasing Playstation games for players under 18 years of age.
Playstation 2 Games
MLB 07: The Show $59.99
ATV 4: Off Road Fury $39.99
Meet the Robinsons $29.99
Dance Dance Revolution: supernova $39.99
Durnout: Dominator $39.99
NBS Street Homecourt $59.99
Shadow of the Colossus $19.99
God of War $19.99
Gran Turismo 4 $19.99
Socum U.S. Navy Seals Combines Assault $39.99
Rogue Galaxy $39.99
God of War II $49.99
Destroy All Humans! 2 $39.99
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories $19.99
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas $19.99
Medal of Honor: Vanguard $39.99
Dawn of Mana $39.99
Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion $59.99
Resistance: Fall of Man $59.99
Playstation 3 Games
MLB 07: The Show $59.99
NBS Street Homecourt $59.99
Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion $59.99
Resistance: Fall of Man $59.99
NOTE: Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion is works with all Playstations and is a game
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2
Ultimate Board Game Collection $39.99
Street Horizon $39.99
MLB 07: The Show $39.99
Rachet & Clank: Size Matters $39.99
Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition 19.99
Full Auto 2: Battlelines: $39.99
NOTE: Street Horizon brings both turn-based and real-time strategy game play.
300: March to Glory: $29.99
Socum U.S. Navy Seals Combines Assault $39.99
After Burner Black Falcon $39.99
Dragonball Z Shin Budokai Another Road $39.99
The Warriors $19.99
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories $29.99
Prince of Persia: Rival Swords $39.99
Rocky Balboa $39.99
Dungeons & Dragons: Tactics
Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2
What Makes A Great Game
A Gentle Reminder for Programmers
It's easy to get lost in all the details of building a great video or computer game - so easy in fact, that we can forget the parts of a game that make them fun to play. The following serves as a gentle reminder of what prompts players to play games in the first place. Refer to this reminder in the event that you get bogged down or distracted with confusing C++ syntax, or lines and lines of Visual Basic statements and DLL structures.
1. Remember the player is the main character. Here's a secret between you and me: People play games to gain a sense of control. If you can manage to program your game in a way that puts the player in control, then you've already won half the battle. This doesn't mean to suggest that the game should be easy. It simply means that when a gamer runs home from school or drives home from work to play a video game, she wants to feel the control that she didn't have during the hours between nine and five. The outcome of a game - whether it's a win or a loss - should never be random, but the result of a good, controlled game play instead.
2. KISS. Remember that acronym? It stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. We all know that programming a game is hard business, but believe us when we say we don't want to be reminded of it. The difficulty of programming a game should never be part of the game play so when possible, make the game easy to start, easy to navigate, and of course, easy to play. We're not asking for pre-school strategy here, but on the other hand, we don't want to feel as dumb as a pre-schooler either. Forget the hundred page manual. Nobody except the truly obsessed is going to read it anyway. Build your game for the average Joe and everyone will be your fan.
3. Add plenty of action. And add lots of it too. The more action you add to your game, the more attention players will pay attention to it. And the more that players pay attention to your game, the more addictive your game gets. For every action that a player's character makes, have the game react and then prompt the player for more.
4. Make the story a good one. Nothing is worse than playing a game only to wonder what you're doing and why. Purpose is and always has been a human obsession. But without it, we're left wandering... in the darkness... wondering bizarre things like how the house would look in a coat of bright pink paint. Don't give your players the opportunity to waste time like that. Give them a mission and make sure your game reminds them what the mission is at opportune times and why they must complete it.
5. Give us eye candy. But make it relevant. The graphics in a game shouldn't be distracting, they should make our eyeballs glaze over with satisfaction upon seeing them, and then salivate for more. Graphics should contain clues and entice us further and further into the game until we've beaten the thing.
6. Make it real. Fantasy games are okay, but what makes them cool is the fact that they're realistic. It's hard to get into something that isn't familiar or that there's no way we could ever experience. But if you can implement some reality into your games, players will appreciate it and relate to it on a whole new respectable level.
Video Games In The Future
A Gamer's Plea
With video game technology advancing so fast and so far from where it started, one can't help but to entertain the idea of where it's going to go from here. After all, that is part of a larger creative process and we'd like to think that our writings contribute even in some small way. One of the earliest video games that we can remember is Commodore's "Pong." But never did we think the industry would have reached the point where it is today. One thing is for sure however, and that's the gaming is pushing full force ahead.
Today we did a little fantasizing to see where our imagination and desires would take us.
The following offers some suggestions of what could be done short of a little thing called, "impossible."
We're a little intrigued with the "Sun Game Glasses" idea. Wearing a pair of dark sunglasses and using the technology implemented by Nintendo's "Wii" system, we could literally watch a game take place right before our eyes and then interact with it using a device that's about the size of a pen. Since this isn't exactly a new idea, we're curious to watch what develops from University of South Australia's 'ARQuake' project1 - a springboard for this kind of gaming to develop in the near future for sure.
Another cool idea we'd like to see erupt within the gaming industry is the ability to talk to the characters inside a game. Some games allow players to textually speak to game characters already, but we'd like to see this pushed a little further. We'd like to be able to orally interact with characters: ask questions, joke around, warn and speak to them as if we were speaking to another human being. And we'd like to hear these characters talk back! It's the ultimate artificial intelligence opportunity and although it would probably be years before this technology would be available on a wide scale, we're sure it would be a hit.
Will we ever get to the point where we can play inside a simulated environment the way the characters in Star Trek: The Next Generation could play? Virtual reality is getting close, but the reality of the simulation is gone the moment we put on the silly-looking goggles and gloves. In order for simulation of this sort to work, there has to be as little a barrier between gamers and the game as possible. We don't what to just think we're inside a game, we want to feel that we're inside a game and to be honest, we don't want to have to go somewhere outside our home to do so.
The television or computer screen will suffice for now, but in the future, we're going to want to be surrounded with the elements that make gaming the wonder that it is today. We're going to want to transform our dens or bedrooms into a virtual alien ship or simulated jungle. In short, we want a new world.
One possible obstacle to bringing this fantasy into our living rooms is public acceptance. Would the public be ready for such a high level of entertainment? And could the public handle it? Immediately following Nintendo's Wii release, customers were ready to complain that they wanted their old controller back! So as with any new development, there will surely be unintended consequences and although we're gung-ho for these types of advances, we also share concerns about the impact it would have on an audience that isn't "virtually ready."
As a result, we can certainly envision a few laws introduced that restricted the use of our fantasy gaming. We already have some laws that attempt the same now and in our opinion, that's a good thing. The last thing we want to encounter in gaming is physical harm - especially when we're trying to enjoy virtual entertainment!
Your Own Virtual World
Play God - Be God (Even If It's Only Electronically)
Part of the appeal of video games is the visual eye-candy that splashes across the television screen. But even the addictive imagery is only half of the equation. The remaining half is the magic bestowed upon our eyes when this imagery comes to life. Animation that's controlled by a gamer is all it takes to escape into a different time and place - a time and place brought to you by virtual reality.
As you can imagine, virtual reality is a hypothetical three-dimensional visual world created by a computer. Players can enter and move about in this world and interact with objects as if inside it.1 Some of the games that are already on the market give a pretty good idea of what virtual reality is and can do. Video games like Zelda, Halo, or Harry Potter allow players to enter into an environment and interact with objects, but they don't allow the player to create an environment and that's what virtual worlds are all about.
Without a single ounce of programming experience, anyone can create a virtual world and have loads of fun doing so. All one needs is an idea.
To begin, you'll want to construct a plan that maps your idea of the perfect world, the craziest world, or the oddest world that you can imagine. Some virtual world software will give you a template of sorts (a "starter" world) that lets you make additions and ultimately build a world that you've always dreamed of. A good example of template use is inside Maxis' SimCity or SimTown games. Both games provide pre-designed environments that provide plenty of space and opportunity to shape them into one that you prefer.
Of course, you could always start from scratch. The only problem with starting with scratch is that it takes more time and knowledge to add some of the features that virtual worlds provide. Either way (from scratch or from a template), most users build a world by adding objects and scenarios - even deleting some until they've reached the perfect balance.
A good place to find examples of what you could build in virtual world gaming is online. Every virtual world program available offers sample environments that players can download and install into their own system. Some manufacturers of these games even hold contests and award winners with free upgrades. Other suitable places to find ideas are from fiction books: -historical, -fantasy, -futuristic, you name it. Science fiction movies are a good resource for ideas as well.
Just understand that virtual gaming takes time. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will your virtual world. There's no rush and this is a relaxing hobby. Take your time and have fun. Don't fret over not knowing how to build an object or lay down a map - you can learn how to do these kinds of things in due time. Your goal is to create a world of enjoyment and it won't help if you find yourself frustrated all the time.
When ready, you can add characters with their own unique histories, habits, strengths and weaknesses. You can even give them goals or small tasks to perform throughout the game. Giving your characters goals and tasks will help you give the game a plot.
To get started, look for RAD (Rapid Application Development) Tools. RAD tools will help you bang a virtual reality game together in no time and with little difficulty.
A Few Suggestions for Gaming Etiquette
No, it isn't Ms. Manners to the rescue, nor is it Polite Polly knocking at your noggin. We just know how easy it is to get frustrated or even angry while playing a difficult game, but if we're not careful, that anger and frustration could lead to some butt-ugly moments during a time that's supposed to be amusing. The following is offered in an effort to keep everything fun and entertaining during a session of group play.
1. Encourage each other. Even if you're competing with each other in a boxing match or car race, take time out to congratulate another player for making a smooth or cunning move. There's no need to be a kiss-up, but when tensions are high, and the desire to impress is high, you can help relax any stress just by throwing out a few compliments here and there.
2. Be patient. Your gaming comrades may not be as fast, as coordinated, or as smart as you. So when you notice your regular game pace slowing down, don't criticize. You could quietly plan your next move or you could offer to help if you notice that your buddies seem lost. This will encourage cooperation and relive some of the stress involved with playing a difficult game.
3. Take some breaks. Permitting that your group finds appropriate places in a game to pause, take advantage and get up to stretch, snack, use the john, talk about school, or catch a few silly commercials on television. A long stretch of game play is tiring and stressful at the same time.
4. Play an inclusive game. By that we mean to make efforts to ensure everyone in the group contributes to the game's completion. You never want to make another person feel left out or just hanging around to fill the space. Create opportunities for everyone involved to participate and help play.
5. Listen to others. You may think that you know all the answers about a game or game system, but listen to what others in the group have to say. You just might learn something new.
6. Invite the "weird guy." This bit of advice of course comes after the horrid Virginia Tech massacre. Tales circulating this news event indicate that the young man responsible was a loner and the victim of bullying during his teenage years as well. Sometimes, all it takes to prevent things like this is a simple effort to reach out to someone. We're not suggesting that an invitation to a gaming party would have saved the lives of 33+ college students, but we are suggesting that making an effort to make others feel welcome and wanted is a huge step towards eliminating the isolation known to cause these kinds of senseless acts.
7. Vow to keep the voice level and cursing to a minimum. That almost goes without saying, but to prevent arguments, agree beforehand to not cross the line when it comes to debating about a particular strategy or selecting a game to play. Some of the most serious fights stem from the silliest arguments. But you can prevent a flare up within your group just by maintaining a cool composure during the entire session.
Now see? That's not too bad a list. All the things that we suggested are certainly "do-able" and they really do work to create a calm and enjoyable environment.
This Game Sucks
A Guide To Giving New Games a Chance
It's hard to get into a new groove once we've settled into a favorite pattern of doing something and that includes playing new games or trying a new game system. It's important to remember however that just because you're not used to the way a new game plays or the way that a new system runs - it doesn't mean that there's something wrong with it. The following offers some advice on how to get over the hurdle of giving new games a chance.
1. Accept the errors of your ways. Nothing is perfect and that includes video games, the system that it plays on, and dare we say - even you! While trying a new game, you're bound to trip all over the place and make even some of the most goofiest mistakes that anyone could ever make. Try to remember that flaws are inevitable and the even the master of all masters (that's you) can blunder your way through a new game. Mistakes don't make you a terrible player. On the other hand, they don't make the game stupid or dumb. In fact, it's quite the opposite. If you find yourself making mistakes during a new game, it's time that to slow down and give this game a second and more serious look. If something in the game tripped you up - you, the master of all masters - then the game couldn't be as bad as you first thought.
2. Play a new game when you're "in the mood". What a fast-paced world we live in! So fast, that we mistakenly expect to understand a game within the first 5 minutes of putting into the console! Then when we're not sure of what to do, the game becomes confusing, or just dumb. Never try a new game when you're not in the mood to or when you're in a rush. New games require patience and a thorough read of its manual.
3. See the positive. There's something good about every video game - even the more violent ones (although we're not prepared to defend violent video games). While checking out a new game, think about what you like about the game as opposed to what you can't quite figure out what to do yet. A positive attitude will carry on to other aspects of the game and before you know it, you'll be encouraged to carry on with it and make some real progress.
4. Don't be such a know it all. In other words, don't be blinded by your own conceit or skills in a particular genre of games that you close yourself off to new ways of accomplishing tasks. The biggest room is the room for improvement and your room is no exception. Understand that the game you're playing may have something new to teach you about gaming as a whole. Then revel in it.
5. Continue to play. It's highly doubtful that anyone will like a new game in one day. Keep playing a new game until you're absolutely sure that you don't ever want to see it in your console again.
6. Play by yourself. It's quite possible that if you play a new game with a friend, you'll be vulnerable to accepting your friend's feelings about the game as your own. Play a new game by yourself so that you can interpret your own feelings about the game and not anyone else's.
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