Category Archives: Visual

Video games ruined my life. Good thing I have two extra lives.

One hot summer day, Eric, a student at the local state college, decided he needed some new excitement in his life. He had heard a lot of good things from his friends about a new video game for Xbox called Halo, so he decided to go buy it. Eric had been playing video games for years, but he had heard this one was different. This one was a first-person shooter and apparently had some really amazing graphics, but this particular game allowed players to play against each other online. Eric was excited about being able to play against people from around the world, so he drove down to the mall to purchase a copy.

Eric started small, only playing the game a few times a week after he returned from class. His copy of Halo came with a special edition headset and controller that allowed him to communicate and interact with the people he was playing with in ways that in other games was not possible (click the image below to see what they looked like!).

halo poster with controller and headset

But the more Eric continued to play the game, the more he wanted to continue to get better and better. He was a pretty self-motivated person to begin with, and this motivation drove him to try to be the best in anything he did. He began playing with the same people every night; sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. He loved playing Halo so much that he even decided to change his ringtone on his cellphone:

Once Eric started playing Halo into the wee hours of the morning, he started sleeping through his classes. He was too tired to go to class, and even when he woke up, all he wanted to do was play more Halo. Although Eric had historically been a pretty diligent student, Halo started to become more important to him than school. Skipping classes meant he started missing assignments, and as a result, his grades began to suffer. However, Eric didn’t care. He only wanted to get better and better at Halo.

This continued desire to improve at Halo began to wear on Eric’s relationships. He had always been a pretty sociable guy with a large group of friends and a busy social calendar. However, the countless hours of Halo began replacing the parties and get-togethers Eric was accustomed to attending. After a while, Eric’s friends stopped calling because they knew he would rather stay in and play Halo than come and hang out with them. Eric had seemingly made new friends online in Halo, but he didn’t realize how this was affecting his real friendships.

The more Eric played, the more the game wore on his emotions. While he was oblivious to his deteriorating friendships, the lack of sleep combined with his overwhelming desire to improve began to make him very agitated. He started losing his patience easily, and his roommates were often awaken in the middle of the night by him screaming and cursing at the TV. In fact, one roommate even videotaped one such encounter (unbeknownst to Eric):

Please note, this video contains language that may not be appropriate for all viewers……

There was seemingly no hope for Eric to break this detrimental pattern. Eric was playing Halo 15-20 hours a day, failing all of his classes, and was completely estranged from all of his friends. His only friends were people he never met in person, only online. In one of his many online sessions, one of his ‘new friends’ mentioned a big Halo tournament that was happening down in Orlando, FL. They all decided that they would buy plane tickets and pay the registration fee that evening. That night, Eric got on his computer and started searching for plane tickets. He found the perfect ticket and entered his credit card information. As he was about to submit and pay to confirm his reservation, Eric received a text message from an old friend asking him to come to a party that night. He hadn’t talked to this friend in months, but the result of the text was an emotional tidal wave. Eric became self-aware for the first time since that warm summer day when he first bought Halo. He realized that he was addicted to the game, and all of the other things he cared about had suffered dramatically as a result.

Fighting back tears, Eric responded to his friend’s text message. Determined to beat his addiction, Eric asked his friend for help. Within minutes, Eric’s friend knocked on the door and came in to console him. The wakeup call did not cure Eric’s addiction, but it was a step in the right direction. Although it was easy enough to stop playing Halo, the uphill battle that Eric faced as a result of his addiction was far from over. He was still failing his classes, and many of his friends were hurt by how he seemingly stopped caring about them for months on end. However, that same drive and personal motivation that brought Eric down the path to video game addiction helped him get back on his feet. Determined to mend all the bridges he burned, Eric resolved to turn his life around. He went out with his friend for one of the most fun nights of his life, and smiled as he went to bed that night feeling like the weight of the world had finally been lifted off his shoulders.

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Storified and Non-Storified Content: Week 5

For this week’s assignment, I decided to go in a little bit of a different direction. In past weeks, I came up with ideas that were more process oriented (i.e. my pedalboard example). However, this week I decided to come up with something a little more conceptual which I think ultimately lends itself better to a story (rather than just “instructions”). This concept is video game addiction. This is something that affects many people (see the Wikipedia link here), and I think it is a form of addiction that is only now just starting to be recognized as a serious addiction. Similar to a drug addiction, addiction to video games can consume a person’s life, break down all family and personal relationships, and can even cause physical harm (carpel tunnel syndrome, sleep loss, etc.). Despite all the information that is starting to become available about video game addiction, it is still a concept that is foreign to many people. Many of these people do not believe it is actually a thing, so I would love to create a story to help explain it to everyone.

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Design Assignments

The first design assignment I tried was the person’s face on an animal’s body. This one started off innocently, but as I was browsing through Facebook pictures, I found a truly terrifying picture of a buddy of mine from high school. It didn’t take much creative thinking to realize that this would be perfect to use as a face on a big gorilla. In terms of how I did it, I used Adobe Photoshop for the entire process. I enlarged and squared off his mouth and added some “wrinkles” to give him an angrier looking face. Then I blurred the face into the gorilla a little bit to make it look more “natural.” I may have gotten a little carried away–it’s pretty scary looking and I don’t think my buddy will be too pleased!

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The next assignment I completed was a little less of a stretch. As you may remember from my previous posts, I’ve played guitar for almost 20 years. My guitar hero is Paul Gilbert from Mr. Big and Racer X. He’s an unbelievably talented guitarist and I’ve tried to emulate a lot of his playing style in my own. You can see him playing my absolutely favorite guitar solo ever in his cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps here at about the 3:20 mark:

Anyway, I took a picture of me playing at one of my own gigs up in Worcester, MA–I love the face I’m making since I think it is very “rock n’ roll,” and I think it works perfectly on Paul’s body. I used Photoshop to crop out my head from the original picture and then added it to Paul’s body. I had to blend the background a little bit since our heads aren’t exactly the same size ;-). Anyway, check out all three images here:

I love having fun in Photoshop, so I really enjoyed this assignment. It was a little creepy at first, although I’m pretty sure that was my fault!

Design Safari

I think I found a few really good examples for my design safari this week. Ok, to be honest, I kind of cheated on one–it was a picture I took when I was in Phoenix last summer. To be fair, though, I took it because of the balance/symmetry and how cool I thought it looked (so technically, I guess I just had the foresight to take the picture for this class!). Here’s the picture:

symmetry example

This picture was taken in front of the hotel my family stayed at in Phoenix, and I was struck by the symmetry of the layout. Everything was meticulously maintained, and even the palm trees were all the same height, shape, distance apart, etc. Aside from the inherent beauty of the scenery, the symmetry in front of the hotel almost provides a channel to the entrance–somehow it seems very welcoming.

Ok, so now on to the non-cheating examples ;-). I took a picture this week that I thought perfectly defined the unity design element:

unity example

This picture is from inside my apartment. My fiancée likes anything involving elephants, and to be perfectly honest, I never really noticed how they were intertwined before (typical guy not being aware of his surroundings, I guess!). I think this is a perfect symbol of a unified family, which is an adventure we are embarking on together in October when we get married. It is also an example of how unity equals support, since the red elephant is “watching over” the grey elephant, but the way the piece is designed, the grey elephant is actually holding up the red elephant.

Last, but not least, is an example of color and dominance. I took this picture in my brother’s house, because I thought it looked really cool:

color example

My parents’ best friends always told us that you should never be scared of color in your house, and my brother definitely took that to heart. He painted his living room a very bold lime green. This has always been my favorite color, and although it is definitely a shock when you first see it, it is great to have something bright and cheerful (think spring!!). The dominance part comes with the dogs. My brother has two puggles, and they always sit in that spot guarding the room. It sounds ridiculous, but in order for them to move, you actually have to pet them. He didn’t train them to do this, but they just want to make sure they’re getting some love from everyone in the house. So ridiculous, but also super cute!

Each of these three images definitely elicit a different set of emotions. The symmetry example has the “wow” factor, the unity example has the “aww” factor, and the color/dominance example has the “haha” factor. I love that you can feel emotions just from looking at a picture, and I think these emotions are enhanced when the picture has elements of design.

Photobomb

This was a really interesting exercise! I love photography–I even had a darkroom setup in my parents basement in high school. I took a few pictures earlier this evening to try out some of the techniques we learned about this week. The first technique I experimented with was from @AnnyCow. The technique she described was to “plan your photos.” My fiancee and I have an English bulldog, and I know that she sits at the front door to our apartment any time one of us leaves. So I had my fiancee step outside for a second and came up with this gem:

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The next technique I tried is forced perspective, from the slideshare by Darren Kuropatwa. I got the idea from an accidental photo I took of a buddy years ago on July 4th:

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I don’t think I matched the goofiness with the one I took this evening, I think our dog eating my fiancee’s toe is pretty funny as well:

photo 2

Last but not least, I tried a variation on the “looking thru the lens” technique, posted here by Alan Levine. I set up three iPhones, with the ones in front and in the back both with their cameras on. I ended up getting kind of a cool purple reflection effect on the blank screen of the middle phone. Check it out:

photo 1

I tried to get creative with things I had readily accessible at home, so hopefully you all like what I’ve done!

Storified and Non-Storified Content (Round 2)

Since I’m currently in the throws of planning a wedding 500 miles away from where I live, I’ve done a whole bunch of traveling recently. Back and forth, back and forth. The airport is a fascinating place, and one which I think could definitely be a candidate for a story. Specifically, I’m thinking about going through security, and how that process has changed over the years. Interestingly enough, even though TSA has very specific guidelines for this process, it really does change depending on the airport you are in. For example, a small terminal in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport had much more lax security than Logan Airport in Boston. And to complicate matters further, some security checkpoints have the whole body scanners (see below) and some only have regular metal detectors. I could see this being an interesting subject to try to storify!

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Storified and non-storified content

When I was taking my driving test as a young 16 year old, I almost failed. I had heard from more than one person that the Massachusetts state police officers try to trick you into going down a one way road the wrong way. With this in mind, I set out on my test with the “statie” sitting shotgun. While out on the road, he told me to take a left turn. To my right was a one way street, and I instantly thought of the warnings I had received. I told him I couldn’t make the turn. What I didn’t realize was that only the right street was a one way; the street he wanted me to turn onto was perfectly capable of handling two way traffic.

When I started thinking about topics, I thought about my driving test and I immediately thought of a picture someone sent me a while back. It has to be the most confusing image I’ve ever seen, but there’s no explanation of it anywhere. I don’t know if this will ultimately work for the final project, but I think it’s a pretty good start…

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