But it’s only 9-5, right? Right?! WRONG! Along with the many, many advantaged of being constantly connected to many devices all floating around in this wonderful, mysterious goo we call the World Wide Web, also comes the concept of liquid labour. Traditionally worker bees bumbled along to the rhythm of the machine hum, fast forward a hundred years or so and that hum has escalated to a piercing shriek that you just can’t quite get rid of.
The flow of information that was once a novelty has become a commodity and a rather desired one at that. What’s the most important factor in any capitalist society? All together now kids: Money. Profit drives the flow of information (free or otherwise) and the flow of information drives the flow of labour needed to match it. Young professionals (Bah who are we kidding?!) are judged on their skills, diligence, competence and availability. Work hours are no longer rigid and dependable but never-ending and demanding.
I’ll preface this by saying that I am a huge fan of Wikipedia and it is both an extremely overrated and underrated resource simultaneously.
Aaaaaaanyway … In this age we are existing in, technology basically dictates all aspects of everyday life. What was once considered intangible is becoming tangible, fantasy blends with reality.
With so much of our lives controlled by and dependent on devices the most important things about them is the speed at which they receive and deliver information and the level of control we have over them. The scale of the information hub handling all of this information directly correlates to how effectively it operates and the speed at which it can process and transport data. When the system is working fine, the whole world is working fine. When it’s not…
Current technological generations may not know exactly what they want but they sure know when they want it. The emergence of immediate communication has allowed people of every age, gender, race, religion, cartoon preference to reach across time and space to converse with whoever they desire. To quote our lord and saviour Albus Dumbledore; “words are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” Language is what makes us human, the ability to manifest our thoughts in a verbal form and communicate this to others distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom.
The idea of real time communication was revolutionary and inspired an explosion of technology and ideas that have not only improved our way of life (on a personal and societal level) but has shaped the political, social and economic landscape unequivocally and forever. But as with most things instant connectivity comes with ramifications both glorious and tragic.
Ever since it emerged in the late 80’s, the Australian videogame industry has been trying to establish a foothold in the international market, experiencing moments of success and decline. The last few years have not been productive with several pioneer studios in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney shutting down, including Pandemic Studios, Krome Studios and more recently, THQ’s Brisbane and Melbourne studios. There are several reason for the loss in traction. First and foremost the fluctuations of the value of the Australian dollar often dictated where Studios choose to develop their projects. With the rise in the late 2000’s early 2010’s it is no surprise that some Studios decided that Australia wasn’t lucrative enough. The second id tax incentives for game developers overseas, for example, Quebec government subsidises 37.5% of videogame studios’ payrolls. This offer is designed to entice Studios to move and open in a certain location meaning that they either close down or simply don’t open in Australia. The third reason is with the increase in Indie gaming and game developers there has been a sharp decrease of middle-ground games, that is games that fall below triple-A titles.
Although Australian consumers are still buying games, they represent only 2% of the world market which means that Australian game companies need to export in order to survive which increases the risk that professionals or ‘talent’ are leaving to work overseas. The fact that the Australian game industry relies so heavily on international game studios and publishers means that in order to flourish they need proactive support from the government both at a state and federal level, like the Gam Developers’ Association of Australia. It is clear that there is plenty of talent and opportunity to develop a sustainable video game industry in Australia; proximity to the Asian market, expertise in online gaming and mobile gaming, and university programs in computer programs. The key is to encourage and maintain an ongoing dialogue between industry and policy advisors
Machinima, Machinima, everywhere. Since the days of “Diary of a Camper”, which is considered to be the first piece of Machinima film, the concept of reappropriating game visuals has exploded into an art of film making. The rise of such an art form is in part due to the low cost of screen capture low barriers of access generated by gaming engines, but the main reason so many consumers have now become prosumers is the creative nature that surrounds the gaming industry. From walkthroughs and Let’s Play’s, Fan art and videos, parodies, and modding, players now have more access and influence over their gaming experience than ever before.
Machinima is an important aspect of the gaming culture and it will only continue to increase as technology and tools of creation become more ubiquitous and less expensive. It is fast, accessible and cost significantly less than actually making your own film and with many platforms of distribution, the more circulation, the more awareness and the more people who will start to create their own content. This means that the demand for new and creative work is, at the moment, endless. The desire for consumer to generate their own gaming content may be a new idea but what has given rise to this is the intrinsic human desire to create. Storytelling and character development has always been a huge aspects of art, literature, film and games so it is no surprise that it has found its way into the newer platforms of art.
“The Eyes of Ara is an immersive, fully 3D Puzzle-Based Adventure game, inspired by genre classics like Myst and modern exploration-based storytelling like Tomb Raider. A game full of devious puzzles and countless hidden secrets!”
This game caught my attention for a number of reasons. First I always have a soft spot for Australians (for obvious reasons) and The Eyes of Ara is produced by 100 Stones Interactive, an Australian creator based in Brisbane. The second is the beautiful cinematography in the kickstarter trailer. It is always important for a campaign to capture the mind of a potential backer but it is also equally important to capture their imagination. The Eyes of Ara does this perfectly. The design lends itself to dynamic locations, striking interiors with warm lighting and an overall style that complements the storytelling. The third and most important reason this game drew my attention is the story. Solving puzzles, collecting items and exploring an old, abandoned castle are all things I enjoy as well as the personal satisfaction of discovering everything, uncovering all the secrets the game and environment has to offer. Another feature of this kickstarter campaign that I found myself drawn to was the effort the creator had put into the ‘about this project’. With over 2000 words detailing the story, the mechanics, the technology, the campaign itself and its goals, dozens of pictures and videos depicting the world and design of the game, viewers and backers become more invested in this campaign than others that haven’t put that amount of time and effort in and because of this I would (and did) support the project.
When looking for a game to review I began rummaging through the recesses of my memories past the multitude of crappy online flash games I played in high school until I stumbled across a gem. The hilariously infuriating Impossible Quiz by Splapp-Me-Do kept my art class entertained for hours when we were supposed to be on Photoshop. In my prime I could whip through the questions in minutes, challenging anyone else to try and beat my time. When starting this review I thought it best to go back and give myself a refresher course and let me tell you, muscle memory is a beautiful thing. After just one try I was hooked and spent the next two hours desperately trying to beat the game in progressively less time. For those who know their general knowledge and enjoy winning quizzes and trivia, you should know this is not the game for you.
Not only does this not require general knowledge, but it requires an intelligence of another kind. The questioned asked are not on sport, politics, history, geography, or anything to do with popular culture but bind benders that are infinitely more entertaining. The Impossible Quiz is a fast multiple choice game that encourages players to think outside of the box, way, way outside of the box. It is strangely addictive and makes you want to beat it for the sheer satisfaction of running around with your hands in the air yelling “I WIN! I WIN! I WIN!” Childish, yes but true. I highly recommend this game to all whose lives were not shaped by this game and I encourage all whose were to replay if for no other reason than pure nostalgia. The questions along with the sound effects make for many hours of frustratingly good fun.