After spending some time in res or at least close to it, I think I have figured a few things out about my character.

The main thing that I have figured out is that I have a very defined personality which is actually pretty obvious now that I think about it. I am fairly introverted, and not really that emotional. I have various other tendencies, but for some reason I always felt that I rose above whatever you could observe of me and that for some reason that made me special.

What I realize now is that I am just like everybody else and can easily be predicted, except of course for the one piece of my personality that I think makes up for it. I have a tendency to force myself to do what isn't inline with my personality. Give me any chance to do something completely different than what you expect, and I that is what I will do. This however becomes redundant since I will end up doing exactly what you least expect me to do, making it much less unexpected.

What this results in is that you should always be on your toes about what I'm going to be up to next.

There is one catch to this however. If I am faced with stress, or am uncomfortable with the situation, I won't have the will power to do the different thing; to do what isn't expected of me. I will fall inline with what I feel comfortable with and that is what I will do.


Boris the Hypnotist

As part of the orientation entertainment, we got to see Boris the Hypnotist. I went into the show with my usual doubts about anything that is vaguely reminiscent of magic and was fully prepared to break apart the show. And I am vaguely right to break it apart, but what I think I've gotten out of it is actually something more worthwhile than I initially expected.

The most important thing to realize is that a hypnotism show is actually mislabeled. It is mislabeled for a reason, but it could be accurately title as something else. I would put into the class of involuntary amateur directed improv. That doesn't sell tickets so the hypnotist title is very important.

To begin with the volunteering bit. A lot of people went up to the stage and sat through the deep sleep thing. And then a lot of people got sent back to their seats. What happened in this process was that Boris was finding out who was receptive to going into the correct state to do improv, and to begin teaching the acting skills necessary for the rest of the show.

The whole deep sleep activity isn't about having Boris to put you to sleep, it is about getting yourself to feel like you need to sleep. It is about forcing your body to feel as you want it to. You remember back to what it feels like to be sleepy, you being to feel sleepy, than you are sleepy. There is no magic, no mirrors, it is all just acting. There is a very important step in this part of the show in which Boris observed and felt each person: lifting an arm or nudging a shoulder. I'm sure that he has so much experience from doing this show that he can feel if someone is pretending to sleep, or acting.

There is an important difference between pretending and acting. When you pretend, it is a very shallow experience, it is probably limited to mental preconceptions that you have. Acting is based upon past experience and reliving those moments, letting them overwhelm you.

So once Boris was finish selecting his cast for the show he simply had to begin doing an entertaining improv show. He had to lead everyone through everything, and had to hold everything together.

Whenever he was telling people to "sleep" he was simply directing them as a director does. He wasn't actually making them go to sleep. As the performance got more and more layered, the show got more and more interesting. Slowly everyone was learning to act better, and the show continue to grow in hilariousness, but also in heart. I was so amazed with how good these "non" actors were at acting. I actually felt fear, danger and anger in them that I rarely see anywhere else.

It is odd because I don't think this experience could exist without the title of hypnotism, yet I feel as though the title cheapens it at the same time.

I am extremely impressed with this show and with the talent of all of those who participated.

I am unsure if I would have been a good participant in the show. I think now that I see the great value this show offers, I think I would do better, but I think it would require a lot more time to get into the correct roles. It would probably take more than the amount of time that was given to the show, but I think I could get into it none the less.

I better take an acting class or something. I have at least read a book on acting already.


Dealing with Departure

Hopefully many of you know that I am going to be leaving soon to go to a new school. I'm leaving Calgary to go to Montreal. This is going to be the first time that I will actually be moving out.

And as I'm sure everyone does, I feel as though I need to somehow deal with leaving this place. At first I thought that this would take the form of some type of going away party.

But I never planned one, and no one is going to plan one for me. I realized that this is perfectly fine since most of the people I would invite, I already haven't seen for about 4 months.

So I sort of felt like I was going to be missing something by not having an organized going away bash. But thankfully the natural flow of things has worked things out and I now realize how I say goodbye.

How I depart is actually very closely related to how I arrive. I find that whenever I arrive somewhere new, and especial when I am nervous, I end up scoping out the area. For example I will walk around the entire perimeter of the building or weave my way through all of a buildings hallways. I find it very relaxing to get the lay of the land before having to actually start doing anything.

And what I have finally figured out is that I do the same type of thing when I leave. I seem to always take a quick tour of the building or campus. I just walk through and look at everything with no particular intent.

And what has happened over the last week is that I actually seem find have taken the tour of Calgary for the last time. I've always been a very mobile person in the city. I also feel very comfortable just walking around and taking the train.

I've been almost everywhere that I feel a very strong connection to.

Only seems like I have moments left before I venture into an unknown place. Surely I will once again wander around to again get the place embedded into my mind.


Something Like Lightning

All summer I have been getting together with various friends and jamming away. Almost right from the start I made a point of recording everything we did. It seems to have given us a bit of focus and a way to drive us forward.

By simply cutting away all the junk, I have come up with an album.

Download Link: Something Like Lightning

This is the album art if you'd like to add it in itunes or something.

Just click the Download this file button.

This is just a free upload service I found, if any one could suggest a better free way of hosting this I would like to know.

Everything is improvised so I suggest listening to this simply for what it is as opposed to hoping it will turn into something better. I would also suggest listening to it on headphones or on nice loud speakers. I'm not an audio tech so most of the texture and interest of this music lies in being able to hear it well. I think a lot of this album would be lost listening to it quietly in the car or on your computer.

Everything about the album has been pretty spontaneous, including the track names and the Album art.

The recording of the album was done all over the place.

Thanks to everyone who jammed with us this summer. Sorry to those who got left out of the credits.


Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2

One of my favorite games of all time is the original Geometry Wars Retro Evolved. And now the sequel has come out and it has proved to be very valuable in exposing what was so well done in the original (and by original I mean the evolved version, not the original original). And what it has revealed has dramatically changed my views on video games.

To begin with here are the superficial differences between the two versions. There are more features, modes and better graphics in the new version. There are some new enemies and everything has been polished just a little bit more. Some of the rules about points have been changed and the way that multipliers are built up is different.

The major difference between the two games is what they become as a whole. The new game has 6 different modes which each focus on different aspects of the underlying game. Speed, dodging, shooting, grouping, and memorization are some focuses in these different modes. Since none of them are the main game, the whole thing starts to feel like a very good training tool.

And this is where my old video theory of video games starts to fall apart. I had said that video games were fundamentally about teaching the player things, such as a new skill. Yet this game, which has become simply a training game is not as enjoyable as the old game. It provides some amusement, but it is not as fulfilling.

I still feel that the teaching, learning and training aspects are still fundamental to the gaming experience, but they can't be the central focus. I see the teaching in video games now as more of the main meat of the art. In painting it is the viewing experience which hold everything together. In books it is the process of imagining. In music is might be letting the beat get into your body. In film it is about getting attached to the stories and the characters.

I see the learning process as integral to video games. Without it there is no interesting interaction and the whole thing just can't proceed. But what I realize now is that there needs to be something beyond that. The learning needs to be there simply to hold the experience together.

In the original Geometry Wars I feel it is the battle and the feeling this main battle produces which causes the experience to be so overwhelmingly powerful. In this game is was you versus an uncountable number of enemies. The game could only end when you ran out of lives. What was exceedingly important was how the game was balanced with new lives. It was designed in such a way that no matter how bad you were playing, it was always worthwhile to never give up and continue with all the focus you could muster. Even if you were down to your last life it was still important to keep trying as you could comeback. There was always a chance of getting a high score. In the new game, after a few minutes into any game you can usually judge if it is worthwhile to continue playing or whether it would be better to simply restart.

This original design caused the game to give me a real sense that it was trying to relate to some of the realities of life. I felt it was based upon the principal of never giving up no matter how bad the outlook. And being a game that always finished with your death, it felt like it had accepted the fact you were going to die, yet it was still important to do the best with whatever chance you get. These games that seem to answer questions about how we should be leading our lives are very powerful to me, even if the designers didn't realize what they had created.

And so in my mind games can't be about teaching, they need to be about something the designers believe, whatever that may be. It probably will be a theme that is being drawn from real life, or else it won't ring true for anyone. The teaching and training aspects are simply the vehicles in which the more important messages and themes ride.

Still Geometry Wars 2 is fun, especially the multiplayer.



Through the complete randomness of the internet, I have happened upon the blog of Mory at I am not....

You may have noticed we have been commenting back and forth on various subjects.

He has released his first video game Smilie. It is very important to understand where this game is coming from. Mory seems to be working in the same manner of the modernist painters. He is attempting to strip away all that is unnecessary from video games to get to their essence. This type of delving into video games has been in the back of my mind for some time and I was very excited that not only was someone else interested, but had actually made a game.

Here is my review and criticism, I would probably suggest to play the game before reading any further as I might spoil your opinion, which I think Mory would appreciate.

The first thing I will discuss is the design of the game. There is nothing extraneous in the experience. Title, credits, player character, non player character, ending. That is it. I don't think there is any way it could have been stripped down any further. Also, the experience is well designed in that it flows smoothly and without interruption. No loading or saving or anything of that sort of pull the player out of the experience.

The gameplay is as reduced as possible. One cursor and one smilie face. I think the choice of having the cursor as the playable character is really interesting as we rarely think of ourselves as the cursor on the screen, whereas in games such as Mario, it is exceptionally easy to realize that you are Mario.

And from what I experienced in the game, the gameplay was simply the interaction between the player's cursor and the smilie face. I could move the cursor in relation to the smilie. I could click the smilie. That was all.

How the game becomes interesting is in the fact that the smilie face reacts to the players input. I thought at first that the game was scripted as the first 2 run through resulted in the same reactions, but this was just coincidence. I have yet to figure out exactly how the interaction is determine.

And it is this apparent randomness, or the fact I can't quite tell what is going to happen which makes this game compelling. Once I don't know what the smilie face is going to do, it crosses the threshold into the space of being a living being. In the same way animators try to bring life to drawings, life was given to this character. And I don't simply mean life through motion, but life through reaction.

From the interaction that occurs in the game a small story will always develop. And from story comes a lot more interpretation which helps tie the game in with life. The strongest story I came across in this game is when I was actually killed by the smilie face. In most games you have more lives when you die and the game isn't over. That is not so in this game, when you die, that is it, just like real life. This type of truth really felt like a genuinely interesting comment on real life. It felt like there was a real message behind the game about life.

I think that is all of the glowing comments I can make about this game. Now for a few suggestions that could help enhance the experience.

I think that audio would be an important addition to the game. A lack of audio suggests things such as lifelessness or space. Since I don't believe these ideas were the intend of the game, I would suggest mininal audio which could be used to enhance the experience.

One of my friends who played the game felt that she lost interest because she didn't understand what was going on. Audio could play an important role in supplying more information to the player without confusing the visuals. Maybe a subtle audio cue when the mouse was clicked would have been helpful in communicating whether or not clicking the mouse is actually a function of the game.

Thankfully Mory has more games planned for the future and I am looking forward to playing them.

Kyler Kelly

Money Money Memes

I came to a very sudden realization about what my life is actually going to be about. I think what I have always felt is that the underlying reason that I need to have a job and a career is because that is how we survive in the world. Early man needed to hunt and gather food to survive. I need a job and a career to survive.

My mind has been changed. It became especially obvious once I saw that my current job helps the world's survival in no way. However my job is perfectly explained by memetic theory.

What I do at work doesn't help people survive. It helps ideas and tons of abstract things continue to thrive.

And this led to an important realization about money. Money is not very useful in helping people survive. Money is the ultimate abstraction of value. Money completely replaces real value with virtual value. The effect of the creation of money was enormous in memetic terms. Since money can effectively come out of nowhere, it can act as a nearly unlimited resource for the creation of memes. Generally replicators will always run into trouble with limited resources. But money allowed for the proliferation of the useless. It allowed things that are in no way related to survival to thrive since value was so thoroughly abstracted.

Money also created very weird situations to develop. A lottery is an especially weird situation as it represents a time when value magically appears out of nowhere and can drive the proliferation of particularly odd and useless memes.

What this means to me now is that money is not tied to my survival. It is tied to how I will affect the memetic movement of the world.

Money is not evil. But it is controlling us and we have forgotten that there are ways of surviving with out it.