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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Issue: People: Fantasy Football



Issue Summary:
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that uses magic or supernatural stuff to establish setting and theme or to advance plot. Fantasy establishes itself as a separate genre from Science Fiction and Horror by attempting to steer clear of scientific (genetic enhancement, math) or horror (ultra violence, death, mayhem) themes, although all three are sub-genres of speculative fiction.

American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven. To win the teams must progress a ball into the opposing teams end zone. The ball can be advanced by running with it, or throwing it to a teammate. Points are scored by carrying the ball over the opponents goal line, catching a pass thrown over the goal line, kicking the ball past the goal line and through large metal uprights, or tackling an opposing ball carrier in the opponents end zone.

Fantasy football is an interactive virtual competition created on a trip to New York City in 1962 by Oakland area businessman and limited partner in the Oakland Raiders Wilfred Winkencach, Raiders public relations manager Bill Tunnel, and reporter Scotty Stirling. The competition allows people to pit professional football players against one another, with the people acting as general managers of a pseudo-football team composed of the assets they select for competition.

Steps to reproduce:
American football is a jambalaya of many other sports, but most agree it can be traced back to early versions of rugby played in the United Kingdom around the early- mid 19th century, where for fun they played a game in which a ball is kicked at a goal or run over a line.

American football diverged from rugby football due to rule changes instituted by Walter Camp, who is considered the "Father of American Football." Among these changes were the introduction of the line of scrimmage and down-and-distance rules.

Professional American football started in 1892 when a guy nicknamed "Pudge" was paid $500 to play in a game for the Allegheny Athletic Association against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. It grew as a sport of blue collar Midwestern industrial towns, but eventually became a national phenomenon.

Today the sport has arguably dethroned Baseball as Americas favorite pastime. There are few industries in sports or otherwise that generate more income, and the sport has become a major revenue producing lifeline for American business and educational institutions.

Expected Result:
The 2011 NFL Season was put in risk of being canceled due to a labor dispute between league owners and players. The owners threatened a lockout, which is a work stoppage caused when an employer prevents employees from working. The lockout would have resulted in an estimated 115,000 jobs affected, and 160 million lost in each NFL City.

The owners cited financial loss as the cause, and were vocal in their desire to reduce the share of league revenue set aside for player salaries by roughly 18 percent, but also would like to increase the amount of games, as that would bump up the $4 billion in television revenue the NFL receives, which would help to get American football back on its feet as a profitable endeavor for all involved in the game.

QA Observations:
QA believes that the managerial process of football has endangered players and fans of the sport unnecessarily. Today, children with talent and aspirations to play in the NFL are indoctrinated in the sport from the time the can walk. They begin in Pee Wee leagues, advance to high school, then college, then the professional league, sometimes skipping most High School and all of College to do so.

The skill they carry makes it easy for them to progress to the professional level, as people they surround themselves with want the same goal for them and allow them greater autonomy in their personal and educational advancement in order to lighten the load of their journey.

QA believes that this process does not benefit the player of American football, because if the player completes their ultimate goal they may find the strength and aggression they were admired for on the field is met differently outside a theater of combat. And in adjusting to this new reality they may discover that they have no other interest or skills besides playing American football.

And while it is each persons personal responsibility to develop as a robust individual, the current American football program gives overwhelming incentive to focus on football only. Whereas in days past combatants that played sports focusing on aggression and strength were given the responsibility of protecting those around them through military service, with glory and wealth being the reward for outstanding personal achievement in the area.

QA suggests that any person with aspirations to play in the NFL choose between a four year enlistment in the military branch of their choice, or attend a 2-4 year university without participating in a school sports program, with the option of playing American Football through amateur leagues if they choose to do so. QA believes that this inclusion to the process would allow players a reprieve at a critical time in their development as a person.

Through military service they may develop a sense of civic duty, and perspective as both an individual and citizen of this country. And if they survive this service they could return to the league tougher for the experience.

And during a 2-4 year College education without sports as a distraction they may develop additional interests and personal pursuits outside of football that they may carry with them through their time in the league and after their career has ended.

QA also suggests a modification to the football managerial process be instituted where league managers that are physically able play an actual game of American football at the end of every regulation NFL week. The managerial participants aggregate their real life end game team totals with their chosen professional player team totals (e.x. RL manager team total 12 + NFL team total 120) to create a top score and decide a winner.

QA believes that this small addition to the external process of football would give people not on the field a better perspective on what the players in the game go through on any given Sunday, and make them more appreciative of what they do to entertain a nation.


DEFAULT TESTER PLAYLIST 11/5/2011(YouTube channel link)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Issue: Games: The Moon



Scrooge McDuck is an anthropomorphic duck that wears clothes and loves money. He is named after Ebenezer Scrooge from the novel "A Christmas Carol." Scrooge is a wealthy Scottish business magnate characterized as a stingy old miser. Most people agree he is based off Scottish industrialist Andrew Carnegie, but no one knows for sure.

Scrooge made his first appearance in a comic book called "Christmas on Bear Mountain," where he tests his family members to see if they are worthy of inheriting his wealth. Scrooge became popular enough through comic book appearances that later he became the lead character in his own. It's first issue was called, "Only a Poor Old Man."

The comic "Only a Poor Old Man" begins with scrooge swimming in his money bin saying, "I love to dive around in it like a porpoise, and burrow through it like a gopher, and toss it up and let it hit me on the head!" The family members from his first appearance are there with him, and they ask scrooge why he is so attracted to his money.


Scrooge said that to him it is not just money, his fortune was the result of a long life of hard work and daring action, and that each coin is a memento of an adventure. He told them, "You'd love your money as much as me if you'd gotten it the way I did - by thinking a little faster than the next guy, by jumping a little quicker. I had to be smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies, and I made it square!" Today "Only a Poor Old Man" is considered a masterpiece by most comic book enthusiasts. 

An animated television series based on Scrooges comic premeried in the eighty's. The show is about Scrooge taking care of his great nephews when their uncle joins the Navy. The show was the first attempt from a studio to create high budget, high quality animation for an animated series.

Which was a risky move, because animated series of the time were generally considered low budget and low return investments, as the intended audience could not pay for products displayed in advertising. And seemed unnecessary, as animated shows of the time maintained viewer bases off the name of the brand, regardless the quality of the product.  

The show was a breakout success, it ran a total of four seasons and 100 episodes. The immediate success of the show resulted in a licensed tie in video game of the same name being released two years later, which also became a breakout success. 

The game company tapped to create it were fans of the show, and decided the title should raise the bar in gaming if only to honor the subject material it came from. The DuckTales NES title is remembered for its bright and colorful graphics, tight play control, unique gameplay dynamics (such as using Scrooge's cane as a weapon, tool, and pogo stick), non-linear gameplay, and musical score.
    
The show and games appeal spread across all demographics, to the point if today you asked anyone of a certain age about the show, or to sing the theme song, they will recite the shows theme verbatim, or point to the music in the Ducktales Moon level stage (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_80PQ543rM) as one of the greatest achievements in the history of video game music. 

The DuckTales game contains an alternate ending shown when the player finishes the game with at least $10,000,000, and has found both hidden treasures. The alternate ending displays Scrooge McDuck with a crown on his head in a newspaper photo, the caption says "Scrooge stunned the world with his discovery of 2 Lost Treasures."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Issue: Games: Exploitation



A medium time ago I tested for one of the old guard companies. My hair was a nappy brier patch imitating dreadlocks that I hid it under a big grey wool cap. After a while people began to refer to me as "Black in the hat," because I wore the hat everyday as I couldn't afford to get my hair fixed at the time.  But I didn't mind the Dr. Seuss reference much because most people couldn't pronounce my real name correctly anyway.

Our bosses boss was a guy that never smiled and dressed in a manner that would be referred to outside of work environments as a "Cholo." Our bosses were scared of him as much as we were terrified of them. He referred to almost everyone as "Hammerhead." Producers were hammerheads, security personnel were hammerheads, landscapers were hammerheads, e.t.c...

The first time I ever directly talked to him was around the end of my second year there. Temp testers of that working length were summoned to his office one at a time for a raise review. I was led to his office by the temporary staffing onsite rep, it was a new part of the building for me. Everything was dark and quiet, all the doors were closed, but you could almost hear people talking behind them.

When we got to his office the rep introduced me by birth name and excused herself quickly. He nodded toward her without saying a word and waved me in. I put on my best thizz face, a thizz face is a form of disguise you wear to hide your emotions. For instance, at that moment I was very scared. If someone lightly tapped me on my stomach, I would have no doubt shit myself. So I put on my thizz face to fool the guy that was making me scared into thinking I wasn't.

He stares through me for a few beats, not at me, through me, as if he saw a quarter behind me and understands he has to kill me to get to it, but isn't too worried about the killing me part. Then out of nowhere he perks up and says, "They call you Black in the hat, right? Yeah, I heard that name around. Take off your hat." I told him I couldn't, he responded, "What is it stapled on, hammerhead? Take your fukin' hat off."

I took it off. He stared in wonder for a few beats, then began laughing hysterically. After a moment I started laughing too, at first out of nervousness, but then because I realized his laugh sounded like a little girls.

When we both calmed down he said, "Damn holmes, I know your momma would kill you if she knew you were walking around like that, c'mon now, you don't gotta be all three piece suit, but you can't be walking around work looking like a crackhead." I agreed, and he was right, she would.

We started talking about my progress as a tester. He said he had seen my bugs and they were some of the cleanest he had run across. He said that my lead was impressed at how I handled TRC, one of the worst assignments on the floor, which surprised me, because I was convinced my lead hated me. I only took the assignment because I saw no one talked to the TRC guy unless it was important, and I just wanted people to leave me alone.

He told me that I had what it took to get where he was, and that my only problem was I never communicated or stood up for my issues. He said "People out there talk shit on you, they talk shit on me, that's just how it is, but you keep showing up and writing good bugs when most hammerheads check out at the first speed bump, and keep that, but also stop being such a pussy."

He gave me a dollar raise and told me to get out. It was and still is the best raise I have ever received.

I was on vacation (unemployed) for about a month before I received a call to test another title. I showed up to find that the Cholo boss was gone, and his replacement called a department meeting to introduce himself. He rode a motorcycle, smiled constantly, and wore Guile's haircut, which he was constantly preening. He introduced himself and gave a speech about changes and revenue streams and respect for what we do. At the end of his speech he welcomed any input that would help him help testers, he said "Because to me that is the only reason I am in this industry."

I saw this as an opportunity, during the last vacation I had been kicking around the idea of post title surveys, the tester would fill out a form detailing the titles and duties he/she felt most comfortable testing, so returning testers and leads wouldn't have to spend the first weeks figuring out where to put the vets. So I raised my hand and suggested it to him, a lot of people were surprised, as it was the first time they had heard me say anything.

The guy with Guile's haircut looked confused at first, then a bit angry. He said, "I love that idea, but I think it needs some work, write up a proposal and bring it to my office when you are done."

After the meeting let out my buddies congratulated me on getting myself laid off in the most spectacularly stupid way possible. Other people hadn't heard me speak, but people that knew me knew I wouldn't shut up when I thought I had a good idea, and just had to tell everybody around me, with predictable results.

I spent a week writing up the documents he asked for after my crunch time shifts, I went to my old work and bought a manila envelope to put them in, all businesslike. I woke up early and walked myself to his office, I knew the way because he was in the cholo's old office.

The door was open and I saw him talking on the phone, when he saw me he raised a finger to let me know he was on the phone and to shut the fuck up for the duration. He glanced up once during his conversation and noticed the manila envelope. He motioned toward the envelope then to the edge of his desk, so I put the envelope on the desk.

When he finished his conversation he tussled his hair then looked at me. He said, "And you are?" I said, "I pitched an idea in the meeting, you asked me to put something together for you." He put his hands on the folder but didn't open it.

He said, "Listen, I remember what you said, but you have to understand that a business has a lot of moving parts, and what you are trying to accomplish here, while admirable, is just not realistic. Now I don't know if you are making a power play here, or what you are trying to do, but I suggest you just focus on your current job and let me get this department moving forward, because that is what they pay me for. Take Care."

 I think he thought I wanted to unionize, when all I wanted was to have first pick at TRC on new titles. I never heard from him again. But I did see him again. It was much later and I was doing the same job only for another place.

Everybody on my new team had been working the job for years as a career, we had our good days and bad days, but we got by. One day a coworker begins laughing hysterically and calls for the team to come and see what is so funny.

We all huddled around a computer screen and watched a bunch of regular people all jumping and falling and scheming to get the job I had worked so long ago, and cousin to the one we were currently working. It was billed as a "Dream Job." Then I noticed the guy making it happen had a familiar haircut, looked like Guile from street fighter. We couldn't stop laughing.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Issue: People: Weird Girls



This one girl writes adventure stories that you can help finish inside video games. She comes from a place that smells like patchouli all the time, and everybody there is into weird shit but nobody there thinks its weird because after a while of being around weird it becomes normal.

She is weird because she thinks stories are important in video games, whereas most people don't really worry about it. She is also weird because she is a girl that makes games, whereas most girls only play them or talk about them. But she doesn't really make a big deal about being a girl, most people that play her stories don't even know she is a girl.

She spent most of her school years learning about literature and film, but decided that she would have more fun making her stories inside of games instead of books or movies. So one day she took a crappy job at the bottom of the game making industry, and just hung around doing whatever needed to be done until a long time later somebody important quit. They asked anybody brave enough to step up and do his job as well as he did.

None of the guys wanted anything to do with it, it looked too hard. But she said, "Fuck it, I'll give it a shot." There weren't many girls in the business at all at this time and the guys were worried, they saw she was brave enough but thought as a girl she would end up making stuff about petticoats and dandelions, and not the aliens and big guns, stuff that guys like, because only guys played games.

But when the stories she told were finished they ended up being about about brave guys that shoot guns, and cool girls that also shoot guns, and vampires and explosions and jumping and whatnot, and when the guys saw what a story game could look like if a person really cared enough to work on it, they said, "Holy crap, that's peanut butter and jelly."

She just shrugged and said, eh, that's old news. After that they never really bothered her about being a girl, they just treated her like anybody else that makes the thing they like better. And she moved on to the next one, and the next, then kept doing that until she became the boss.

I'm from the same area she is from, I don't think she is that weird, matter of fact I think she is pretty awesome.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Issue: People : Education


I large time ago I lived in Stockton, California (a.k.a. the jungle). My parents loved me very much, but their workload kept them away for home, making me a latchkey kid. I would make my own lunches, correct my own homework, and came and went as I pleased. But my parents didn't worry much about me as I was quiet, stayed out of trouble, and got good grades.


I loved books and video games. For Christmas I would only ask for comic books, the series "What If," being my favorite, Calvin and Hobbes Anthologies, or modules for my favorite role playing game Villains and Vigilantes. On birthdays my mom would drive me to Toys R us and let me pick out one game. I would walk up and down the isles for hours studying game boxes, one year it took me 3 hours. I chose Street Fighter 2010 because I thought it had something to do with Street Fighter the fighting game. I regret that decision to this day.

I still use games as a placeholder for childhood memories. Some examples, I still resent my best friend at the time because we spent the whole night playing double dragon and after beating the final boss we were forced to fight each other over Marian's affections and he got the girl. I remember our family trip to Washington because my uncle had a Super Nintendo. I spent the whole time playing Super Mario World and to this day could not describe what the house looked like or what else we did there.

But around 4th grade I learned that most other people did not enjoy books or video games that much. Our class was assigned a book report, I did mine on the Calvin and Hobbes anthology "Weirdoes from another Planet." I was nervous being in front of the class, I looked down at the shaking paper and stuttered the whole time. In the middle of the report someone yelled "Homo!" and everyone laughed. I stopped reading and ran to my seat in the back and cried with my head covered, and stayed this way until the class had left.

After the class let out for recess the teacher sat next to me and told me the reason the other kids pick on me was because I don't join them in what they like to do. She suggested I take up sports, so I did. I stopped going to the school library at lunch and went to play soccer or baseball with everybody else. But as soon as the bell rang I would run home to read and play games in my room with the door locked because that is what I loved to do and didn't know how to love anything else. And for a long time after it became that secret thing I did alone, I was scared that people would pick on me because of the stuff I like to do. I still feel like that today, and most grown up people still pick on me when they find out.

The rest of childhood was pretty much the same. I wasn't thinking straight one day and pulled my Game Boy out at the bus stop to play Final Fantasy Adventure. Some big kids saw me playing and threw it against a brick wall for fun. And that was my life, I wore a red spider man shirt to my first day of high school and got jumped by some guys that took offense to my wearing red in a Crip school. they beat the crap out of me in the parking lot, and I finished the school day bloody and bruised, no one said a thing, and I never told my family. And from then on I was terrified of the place.

I pretty much lived out by the track, because not many people went back there. All of the other culturally or academically marginalized students steered clear of me because I attracted so much attention, because I looked just like the people that victimized them. So I just did the only thing I knew how to do, I got my work done, graduated as fast as possible, and ran away from the town and everyone in it. Then joined the Navy to create more distance. Another mistake, as my military experience quickly became high school with bigger guns.

I don't think I ever learned anything in a classroom I wouldn't have run into myself, all of my lessons started the second the bell rang and school let out.  

Monday, October 31, 2011

Issue: Games: Online Distrobution



Issue Summary:
Online distribution (digital delivery,electric software distribution) allows game companies to deliver video game content without the use of a disk. The content is delivered directly to the to the end users platform (PC,game console,phone) via the internet. The content may be streamed or downloaded, streaming users may download and use the content whenever they choose and for as long as they would like but must request it from the providers servers first, while downloading users hold all downloaded content on their platforms hard drive.

Online distribution is an enticing option for companies because it cuts expenses and opens the door to new business models, like how the music industry adopted the Open Music Model. The music industry is now able to sell songs from an artists album separate, giving listeners the option to buy the songs they already enjoy without being forced to purchase the whole body of work, which alleviates the need for listeners to decide if they enjoy songs they have not heard yet.

Game companies now have the ability to initially sell a portion of a title, then present the rest of the game as downloadable content, or (DLC). This is beneficial to the company as they may release the title as a complete standalone for full price no matter its point in the development cycle, and continue to release additional game content at leisure over the course of years for a third the price of the initial release.

Steps to reproduce:
Online distribution has become pioneer country in the games industry, with one company emerging as arguably the front-runner of the service. The company is named after the gaseous phase of water, it was started by a big boned individual and his weird friend. They used to build operating systems for a philanthropist until they decided they liked games better than doing things that only facilitated it, even though they were pretty good at that as well.

So they built this internet thing that sells their own and other companies games and DLC. They figured it would just be easier if every game was in one place, because for them at the end of the day it was about fixing a problem they saw and they would deal with the money stuff when it came up because they had crap-tons of cash already, and were pretty much over being rich.

They traveled hat in hand to video game and internet people they met along the way trying to get them to see how this would help everybody and fix a big problem before it got worse, but nobody wanted anything to do with it.

Even their old philanthropist friend said no. The philanthropist reasoned that no other video game company in their right mind would give a competing company their product to sell, that other company would rip them off, obviously, and they would not have any say in how their game is presented. What if it's not front page? What if it competes with something they were trying to sell? It sounded stupid.

The public thought the service sucked hard at first. They just wanted their games, and they did not trust the internet to hold on to something they bought on their behalf. What if the internet or the company went away, what would happen to what they bought? It sounded stupid.

But the vapor company stuck with it, they approached each developer individually and plead their case in a way that the developer knew money didn't mean shit to them as they had more money than they knew what to do with. They were more interested in changing stuff, so a lot of people gave them their games to take care of. They took that responsibility seriously, almost everyone got off their back, and things got better for a while.

Expected Result:
Major game companies have recently pulled their titles from the vapor store. Each has a different reason, but most boil down to conflict of interests, exploitation, or money. The companies that object appear later with their own online delivery service with modified objectives.

They provide only their own titles, all the profits go directly to them, and the end user must deal with them directly if they need help playing the games they bought. But it hasn't gone so well. People don't like or trust them, they want them to go back to the vapor place because after a while it just became easier for the people to get everything from one place.

So now end users are mad, because they just want to play the games they bought, and not deal with shit they don't care about and didn't pay for.

QA Observations:
QA believes online distribution is an unavoidable but dangerous direction for the industry. The absence of physical media will negate the need for artists, floor production personnel, and many more vital industry jobs.

This shift puts responsibility for the survival of the industry squarely in the hands of game companies. End users have no dealings with the data delivery process, and without a physical disk are beholden to the deliverer for services and content if something happens to their hard drive data.

If the end user feels they are being cheated or manipulated dealing with each online distributor separately for access to purchased content for too long, they will simply stop purchasing the product. The end user only wants to play the video game they purchased, and wish it to be fairly priced, complete, and available to play any time they wish to play it.

QA suggests companies decide among themselves a centralized hub for delivery of online content after coming to an agreement on the business related details among themselves, as now the decision to do the right thing completely up to them.

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