Category: Articles Archive (page 1 of 2)

Editor’s Note: The BOOM, Issue Number 12.

BOOM Salad Logo 1

The first logo and mascots for BOOM Salad Issue 1.

Editor’s note:

How time flies when you’re having fun. Twelve issues ago, we started the BOOM with a few simple goals in mind. The first was to reclaim the phrase “BOOM Salad” from the idiotic definition it had garnered in the equally ridiculous, quasi-dictionary known as, “the Urban [F]ictionary.” When we began the site, over a year ago, their nonsensical and grossly misogynistic definition was the first link that Google, Bing, Yahoo, and all other search engines would list whenever our brand was searched. Now, it is our content that dominates the search results.

To the world and all humanity: You are welcome.

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BOOM Salad header version 2.

Our second goal was to demonstrate that the community of people known as “gamers” was far more intelligent and sophisticated than their societal stereotype would have us all believe. We knew that if we published articles of greater substance and scholarship and research than was currently available from most gaming blogs and video sites, the “gamers” would come, and boy have they.

As of this post, BOOM Salad has witnessed nearly 33,000 visitors, representing well over 20 nations, cross its digital threshold to be informed and entertained. To all who have come and made the BOOM what it is today, we say, “Thank You,” for your continued patronage.

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BOOM Salad mascots version 2.

It is with our readers in mind that we present our newest BOOM mascots: “String Bean, Pinto, Grenade!” Like the multivarious legume, visitors of the BOOM are as diverse in their individual tastes as they are powerfully compatible when blended together. Which leads to the third, and perhaps, most important, motivation underlying our efforts: to prove that the worldwide community of gamers is a sterling example of how it is possible to co-exist peacefully and amicably despite differences in race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political ideology, and all the other characteristics that make us unique as individuals, and yet unified in our humanity.

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Introducing our latest mascots: String Bean, Pinto, Grenade!

In this turbulent and polarizing time of economic disparity, political upheaval, violence and fear, the world of video gaming stands apart as an oasis of harmony and cooperation, in spite of those that would see humankind fragmented, divided, and mistrustful of one another. And while it may not be a perfect unifying force, no one can deny the power of gaming to join people together, to make allies out of former enemies, and friends of those who were once strangers.

Thus, it is with a sense of pride and hope that we bring to you our twelfth issue, signifying our twelfth attempt to participate in the global society of gamers who’s only ambition is to have fun and play games with whomever wants to join the party. Once again, to all of our readers, we say, “thank you,” for allowing the BOOM to be a part of that effort.

In recognition of our twelfth issue of the BOOM, we will be adding more content before the month is done, including, Part II of our consideration of the technological implications of Virtual Reality. Until then, KEEP ON GAMING!

-BOOM

BOOM Salad: "Where Smart People Go BOOM!"

BOOM Salad: “Where Smart People Go BOOM!”

Editors Note: Another Historical Moment for the BOOM!

Mainland China

Mainland China

Editor’s Note: The article below represents another historical milestone for the BOOM for numerous reasons. Over the past few months, we have noticed, in our traffic results, a sharp increase in visitors from China, and the Orient in general. While we anticipated a Japanese appreciation for our work, and have translated articles into their language, we did not expect the remarkable response from our video gaming sisters and brothers from the motherlands of China and Vietnam. You are, both, most welcome to the BOOM.

In honor of their extraordinary participation, we have decided to translate some of our future articles into other languages of the East. Our first, is a translation, into Mandarin Chinese, of our most popular series to-date: “The Panopticon in My Bedroom: Parts I & 2.” It is our way of saying “Thank You” for coming to the BOOM, and allowing us to inform and entertain you.

Vietnam

Vietnam

-BOOM

Mandarin Translation of the above:

编辑前言:在过去的几个月中,BOOM惊喜地发现网站中来自中国和其他远东地区的访问量激增。因为我们认为日本玩家会对我们的内容感兴趣,所以我们过去将文章翻译成日文。然而,我们并没有料到会有大量来自中国和越南的玩家来访BOOM。我代表BOOM欢迎你们加入这个大家庭。这是BOOM发展史上的一座重要的里程碑。
为此,我们决定将未来发表的一系列文章翻译成简体中文。第一篇中文文章是我们至今为止发表的最受欢迎的文章:《私人卧室中的环形监狱》。这是我们用来欢迎和感谢中国大陆玩家来访BOOM的方式。
-BOOM

THE ROOM: An Architectural Theory of the Future Technological Foundations of a VR Universe.

In a recent GAMESPOT article, Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Take-Two Interactive, encapsulated in a single sentence, the greatest challenge ahead for Virtual Reality. He said, “…there is no market for [an] … entertainment device that requires you to dedicate a room to the activity.” He, then, went on to identify the second major issue, when he jokingly said, “We don’t have a [room] where you stand in a big open space and hold two controllers with something on your head—and not crash into the coffee table. We don’t have that.”

And that my friends, is why Mr. Zelnick, though admittedly not a “gamer,” makes the big bucks.

Fig. 2: Staring at walls.

Figure 1: “…staring at moving pictures on walls.”

As progeny of the television-centric home entertainment ecosystem (HEe)[1] we have grown accustomed to staring at moving pictures on walls (see Figure 1), and not moving while we do so. Certainly there are times when movement is appropriate and expected, but in order to fit within the HEe it must be anticipated, and changes made to accommodate the increased need for space and separation. In other words, you need to move “the coffee table” so no one gets injured.

But in most cases, we watch TV, not moving, and, often, reclining. In fact, there have been numerous studies conducted by the manufacturers of video and audio equipment that indicate the best viewing angle, and thus seating position, for the consumer to fully enjoy a, so-called, “immersive,” entertainment experience. VR will eventually demand more.

In this, the first of a two-part series of the BOOM, I examine the problems inherent in the VR experience, as a duplication and augmentation of reality, in the context of spatial dynamics (the ROOM), room orientation, stabilization, and finally, sound presentation. It is around these fundamentals, along with several others, that the foundations of true, cognitive envelopment, necessary to convince our minds we are really somewhere else, may be established.

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From Peripheral to Preeminence: The Rise of the Video Media Console, Part III, “From arcade to VR ecosystem.”

Those that grew up during what I have often referred to as the “Golden Age” of video gaming,[1]  remember a time when there was no preference between PC and console. There was just gaming. In fact, there are some games that we loved every bit as much as our favorite PC, console, and arcade games, which are now, all but forgotten.[2] Still, as for where most gamers of the period, young and old, preferred to play their favorite games, the arcade was king (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 Game arcade, ca. 1983

Figure 1 Typical 80’s arcade

Though the graphics and gameplay of the standalone machines were often identical to their console/PC versions, there were a lot more games to play at the arcade then at home or school. Also, there was an energy in the place that was palpable and electrifying.[3] Playing in the arcade during the decade of the 1980’s could be viewed as a prototype of the multiplayer experience that we now enjoy online, with one big difference: back then we played, physically, side-by-side, every time.

While the arcade may have been our preference, there were two, significant, disadvantages: cost, and the fact that you needed transportation to get to one. Both reasons made it an impractical, though highly desired, option for me and my eight and nine-year-old, school friends. Even after washing everyone’s car on the block, mowing their lawns, scavenging for and returning bottles and cans for the deposit, and, finally, squeezing your parents for every last quarter they had, it didn’t take long to burn through your hard earned change once you walked into that neon-lit, multisensory extravaganza of light, sound, and movement (see Figure 2). It is largely for these reasons that the console became our video gaming method of choice.

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Figure 2: “The Quest for the Quarters.”

Thus, it was during the decade of the eighties that video gaming as a practice and event shifted from the surrealistic environment of the arcade to become a more home-based activity in which the console played a dominant role. At the time, PC’s were also in their infancy. Companies like Apple, and even HP, had demonstrated an early interest in video gaming software development, but purchasing their hardware was expensive, often more expensive than a console (see Figure 3). Moreover, PC’s were still, for the most part, considered business machines and not video gaming platforms. For many gamers, therefore, the console was the only realistic option.

Figure 3: Apple

Figure 3: Apple as early adopter of video gaming software.

This economic ‘reality,’ in many ways, created a division between the gamers that had access to a PC, and those that could only get their hands on a console. From this point forward, the question of which platform, PC or console, was technologically superior, became the subject of a debate that continues, thirty years later, into our current day.

Of course, the rift between PC and console gaming is more complicated than the “debate” over which is a, “superior,”  platform. However, no one would dispute that this is the primary issue that continues to surface and resurface whenever gamers argue over which is best for gaming. Now, it seems, this age old argument has been given new life in the discussion over which is a better platform for delivering Virtual Reality (VR).

As recent as this past February, Tim Bajarin, a well-known, well-respected technologist, “futurist,” and contributor for PCMag, revealed how this divisive issue is being used to influence the direction of VR software development. In his post, “Why Sony Has a Big Lead in VR,” he offers reasons why the PC is a more preferable VR appliance than the Playstation, or any other console. The primary concern, as he sees it, is the console’s seeming, one purpose functionality as a gaming device. According to Mr. Bajarin, consoles like the Playstation 4, “[are] largely gaming platforms.”

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From Peripheral to Preeminence: The Rise of the Video Media Console, Part II, “And the Winner IS…”

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Figure 1: VR, a Pandora’s Box?

Since the release of FB-Oculus[1] first of, what I expect will be, numerous iterations, of its mind-bending, reality-shifting, VR apparatus, much has been said by the mainstream media (Vox, Wired, New York Times, etc.)  about the future of VR, and its immediate and long-term impact on the way in which we consume media. And while we at BOOM Salad are gratified to see these touchtones of 21st century, online journalism finally affirm something that we stated conclusively more than a month ago, it is clear that they are still struggling to understand the far-reaching implications of a world permeated by VR technology.  By that I mean, VR is not 3-D Television. VR is legit, it’s coming, in fact, it’s here, and Oculus is just the beginning.

Unlike other entertainment devices, the uses of VR will not be confined to the realm of video-related entertainment. It will continue to evolve beyond its original focus to include whatever need or desire we have for a virtualized universe. In other words, there is no aspect of society that does stand to be affected in a significant way: education, politics, commerce, medicine, and of course, ART. VR has the potential to redefine the way in which humanity consumes reality.

Figure 2: The Louvre Online Tour, "Egyptian Antiquities."

Figure 2: The Louvre Online Tour, “Egyptian Antiquities.”

A simple illustration: for the past two decades, most of the world’s greatest cultural centers have labored, with the best of intentions, to provide an immersive online environment via the web (see Figure 2). They have all failed for the same 2D reasons. With VR, their dream: to deliver an immersive, first-person-experience to anyone, anywhere in the world, just took its first big step forward to becoming a reality. Well, a virtual reality at least.

Still, it will take more than a fancy headset that looks like your grandmother’s UV shields (see Figure 3) for the promise of a VR universe to be realized, and this is where other media sources seem hopelessly unaware. The most important component of the VR paradigm is not the magic goggles. Nope. An Oculus would be nothing without a delivery device to feed it content (see Figure 4).

Figure 3: Grandmas UV shields.

Figure 3: Nice RIFT Grandma!

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BOOM Salad Thanks King-Dylan666: The Paganini of the First-Person-Shooter.

The KING lives!

Long Live the KING!

At the end of last fall, BOOM Salad entered into an historic agreement to become the first sponsor of the Battlefield 4 player known as KING-DYLAN666.[1] Since that time, we have been honored to reveal to the world, via this website, his near inhuman playing skills on the battlefield. Time and again, in video after video (see below), the KING has demonstrated conclusively that he is one of the best in the business. He is a machine, a true 21st century gaming freak of nature, and yet, some in the online gaming world have sought to undermine his place amongst the elite, by criticizing the amount of time the KING has played the game for which he has become well-known.

KING-DYLAN666 & the DdFA CLAN.

KING-DYLAN666 & the DdFA CLAN.

According to his Battlelog profile, KING-DYLAN666 has spent a total of 9,320 hours playing Battlefield 4 (PS3 and PS4 combined). If one assumes he began playing on the date of the game’s release in 2013, that would mean he has played, on average, more than 10 hours a day, for nearly two and a half years! It is, in fact, a world record.

But I know what some of you are thinking, because, for the past six months, we’ve heard it all:

“What a loser!”

“Damn Daniel! That man needs to get a life!”

“I bet he’s a virgin.”

Naturally it is hard for some to fathom the kind of dedication that the KING has put into an activity that continues to be miscategorized by society as a form of casual entertainment. By this I mean that the criticisms leveled at KING-DYLAN for the amount of time he has spent perfecting his skill, reveal an outdated view of video gaming that fails to recognize its increasing complexity as a practice. Moreover, such statements also demonstrate a disappreciation of the physical ability required to achieve the level of dominance exhibited by the KING.

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From Peripheral to Preeminence: The Rise of the Video Media Console, Part I: “The Virtual End of the Reign of Television.”

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For nearly 60 years, television has ruled the living room as the center of the home entertainment universe. But the emergence of media streaming services, like: Netflix, Youtube, and Amazon Instant Video, along with an ever-expanding global network delivering high-speed Internet service to the home, has revealed a growing number of threats to TV’s half a century long reign.

First, and foremost, as consumer behavior has adapted to the expanding role of the Internet as a vehicle for the delivery of media content, there has been a notable shift away from television as the primary viewing platform. This has been accompanied, and is in many ways symbolized, by the so-called, “[TV cable] cord cutting” movement we see growing in popularity throughout the world. It is now possible to watch “TV” programming on something other than a TV, such as a PC, tablet, or even a smartphone.

In saying this, we are giving form to a fundamental change now taking place which seeks to dismantle our decades old, TV-obsessed culture, and replace it with a spatial reconstruction in which television becomes just another option amongst a growing number of alternatives. In other words, with the emergence of app-based viewing platforms that rely on the Internet to deliver their content, the interdependent link between TV and the creation, consumption, and distribution of video media, including video games, has been broken.

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Figure 2: Sony’s entry into the VR marketplace.

Moreover, with the rapid development of virtual reality devices, such as Sony’s Playstation VR and Facebook’s Oculus Rift (see Figure 2), it is now possible to envision a future in which the television is supplanted by a far more immersive, and spatially practical, viewing paradigm. Some, of course, would disagree, claiming that, “Television technology, with its increasing resolutions and size, in addition to a recent industry-wide adoption of app-based viewing platforms, a feature of so-called, “SMART TVs”, will insure its status as the primary media viewing appliance both now and well into the foreseeable future.”

And yet, in highlighting the increasing size of television, proponents of the TV-centric, media-viewing household, give light to one of television’s greatest weaknesses, which also happens to be “its increasing size.” A simple maxim to describe the problem might be, “the larger the TV, the less practical it becomes to the majority of consumers.” The prima facie evidence for this statement is in the simple calculus of how many consumers, worldwide, have the available wall space to support the largest sized devices manufactured today, and at what point in that mathematical relationship is that number reduced to zero?

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2016 – The Year of the BOOM.

BS-ANN-HNY-1Greetings friends and readers, and welcome to the sweet sixteen of the second millennium of our common era. Before we say, adieu to 2015, I’d like to take a moment to recognize some of the more significant events that made last year truly epic for video gamers, and video gaming in general.

First and foremost, BOOM Salad was born! As “humanity’s first Intellectual Gamer’s Monthly (IGM),” our success has proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that video-gaming is no longer simply a child’s diversion, but rather, a cultural idiom that is being developed and maintained by a global multiplicity of ages, genders, ethnicities, races and religions. It is a realm that includes serious thinkers who share a common interest in a highly complex aspect of media that, like cinema and TV, has transcended its humble origins to become an important and telling reflection of our post-modern society and culture.

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Glimpse of good things to come.

Second, 2015 demonstrated, once and for all, that the console IS NOT DEAD! Far…far from it haters! If anything, 2015 revealed that the video game console has evolved well beyond its original, single-purpose functionality to emerge as the first comprehensive and, possibly, most relevant media and entertainment delivery device of the 21st century. Therefore, the BOOM calls for the establishment of a new category for these appliances that we feel more accurately represents their ever-expanding role in the household media and entertainment ecosystem. From this point forward, we will refer to them as, “video media consoles.”

 Finally, 2015 delivered to the gaming world some of the first real glimpses of how its favorite franchises, and newcomers, plan to exploit the advanced technological features of the new video media platforms. Games like Fallout 4, Bloodborne, Batman: Arkham Knight, Rocket League, (and many others), gave us all an opportunity to see the future of console gaming and my friends, the future looks AWESOME!

Thus, we say “goodbye” to 2015 with both appreciation and anticipation as we look forward to what we expect will be another watershed year for video gaming and the video gaming community in general. For this reason, we have declared 2016 to be “the Year of the BOOM!” And BOOM it will be, (at least if we have anything to say about it).

So get ready for another year of BOOMalicious content including a brand new three-part series beginning in February’s issue (release date 2/8/16) in which we will analyze and discuss the rapidly evolving role of the video media console as the preeminent media and entertainment delivery apparatus of the new century. In addition, we will be hosting numerous live events on our PS4/BF4 servers throughout the year, including our first, ever, wait for it…EOD BOT ‘ONLY’ BATTLE!

EOD BOT - 1

Yep…nothing but BOT’s and RUSH…

Once again, we say “welcome” to 2016, the Year of the BOOM!

BOOM Salad Logo

The Uncanny Violence of Video Games, Part III: “BOOM Salad Calls For An End to the Stigmatization, Marginalization, and Misrepresentation of Violent Video Games and the Players that Love To Play Them.”

Since June of this year, BOOM Salad has been renting its own “servers[1] for the violent video game, Battlefield 4.[2] This means that, for the past several months, we have paid a company for the privilege of managing and maintaining our own online, multiplayer environment for the game. Virtually anyone in the world, who owns Battlefield 4, and has access to a high-speed Internet connection, can play on our servers.

Figure 1: Image from a BOOM Salad event on our "server" in which players between the ages of 10 - 20 tried to launch vehicles in the air with explosive munitions while riding them. See the video "Mr. Flowers and His Dirty Band of T-baggers."

Figure 1: Image from an event on our “server.” See the video above.

In the 120 days that our Playstation 3 (PS3)server has been operational, and open to the public, we have played with and against a wide variety of age groups, cultures, ethnicities, and genders. This has afforded us a unique opportunity to observe and participate, first-hand, in what’s known as worldwide, multiplayer gaming, or, Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming (MMO, see Figure 1).

Important examples of the genre include World of Warcraft and Minecraft. The game, Minecraft, has become a global, cultural phenomenon, somewhere on par with the Pacman craze of the early-1980’s.[3] But more than just a simple maze in which the goal never changes, and never gets beyond the consumption of dots, fruit, and ghosts, Minecraft may very well be one of the most subtly complex video games ever devised.

Like its namesake, it is best to think of the game as having “layers” of complexity. Each layer provides numerous opportunities for pro-social, empathetic interaction with other players online. The number of players that can participate in a single session interactively depends on the platform, but for consoles like the Playstation 4 (PS4), the maximum is eight at a time.[4]

In conversations we have had with younger players of Minecraft,[5] we were told, time and again, that the primary motive for playing was building things with their friends. And by, “building things,” we don’t mean swords, and bombs, and other weapons, though all that is possible. The children we spoke with were far more interested in building castles with incredibly ornate bedrooms, and underground dwellings (see video below). And yet, because the game includes depictions of violence in its battle play (which can be turned on or off), it is equated with other, so-called “violent-video games,” like Battlefield 4, and is, therefore, considered by many in the medical community to be, “harmful [to society].”[6].

In Parts I and II of this series, we demonstrated how the arguments against video games with violent depictions are based on a so-called, “link,” between real-world violence and video game violence. This “link” is observable, according to various medical studies, [7] in those who play violent video games, in the measurable decline in cognitive function in areas that are known to regulate and influence aggressive and violent behavior. Whether or not these conclusions are accurate, [8] the fact is they do not provide a satisfying answer to the most important question of all, (something BOOM Salad has endeavored to do since our first issue, [9]): Why do people play these games in the first place?

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An Important Message from the BOOM!

 

Figure 4: "Researchers," took the game out of "video games."

The Uncanny Violence of Video Games, Part IIa and IIb.

Since the release of our last issue, and more specifically, Part IIa and IIb of our feature series, “The Uncanny Violence of Video Games,” several things have occurred to cause us to postpone the third and final article in the series. The first thing that happened was that we broke all of our previous traffic records. Daily views, unique daily visits, number of total views, all of these and more, were completely smashed. Because of this overwhelming response, we decided to have both IIa and IIb translated into Japanese, (see articles below).

We did this for numerous reasons but most importantly, as our mission states, we endeavor to be international in our focus and scope. Japan represents one of the largest populations of gamers in the world, and a huge Battlefield 4 fan base. In other words, how could we not?

The third thing that occurred has formed the basis of the article that follows. This past month, we had a chance to sit down and chat with Dr. Atilla Ceranoglu (click here for more information on Dr. Ceranoglu’s work and practice), a highly regarded child psychiatrist, who, like BOOM Salad, has publicly challenged the premise and underlying theories that formulate the anti-violent video game argument.

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Dr. Atilla Ceranoglu.

As a man of science and medicine, Dr. Ceranoglu’s credentials are unimpeachable, thus we felt it was important that our readers have an opportunity to read what he had to say.

For these reasons and others, we decided to push the release of Part III of The Uncanny Violence of Video Games, and instead, use it as the feature article in our historic SIXTH ISSUE of the BOOM, (which we can now confirm will be released on October 31, 2015).

We would like to thank Dr. Ceranoglu for his valuable time and contributions to the BOOM, as well as, our growing body of readers, for their interest and support of our work. All we do, we do for our readers. – BOOM.

 

PS. Those that visit the BOOM will NEVER have to worry about the need of an ad blocker. Never…never…never.

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