Last One Out, Hit The Lights


A while back, Microsoft discontinued support for old Xbox titles on Xbox Live, mainly because they were holding back features that they wanted to implement. This is an inconvenience for people who still played older games online, but for the most part, those online communities had pretty much died.

That is, except for Halo 2, which still maintained a sizable player base long after the release of Halo 3. And as of earlier today, there are still 14 people connected and playing games of Halo 2 online. I don't know if they're actively playing, or just leaving their characters idle (I assume a mix of the two), but these 14 are essentially prolonging the final death of Halo 2 online multiplayer. Nobody else can join in (I tried earlier - access to the servers is cut off), but they're still there until they disconnect (or Microsoft kills the servers completely), or until their consoles overheat.

I enjoyed reading the comments on this article about it, because there's something so very poetic about this entire situation. Imagine being one of the last 14 people to play a game online, watching as your numbers slowly whittle, being claimed by disconnects. Imagine being the only person left, starting up a game, and existing in an empty world, until finally, you too disconnect, and it's all over.

Very haunting.

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Everybody Calm Down: Bomb Edition


There's kind of an underlying theme to my last post about hours spent playing video games, which is that people tend to overreact and blow things out of proportion too easily. Personally, I think a lot of this has to do with the media (in terms of video games, negative reporting on "video game addiction" and "violent video games" causes people to have these warped senses of them). It's not just reporting though - movies, books, and even games show things in a consistently over-exaggerated manner, which influences how we see the real world.

That is, of course, unless we calm down, and think for a moment. This advice can apply to a TON of things. I've already addressed time spent on gaming, which was inspired by a real-life interaction I had. Today, I'm going to look back to the summer, and talk about explosives.

Last summer, while I was living in Westwood, there was a standoff/bomb threat down at the Federal Building (located on the corner of Veteran and Wilshire). I was living north along Veteran, approximately 1 mile away.

One of my roommates actually worked AT the Federal Building, which made the situation a bit scarier, though also provided us with a bit more information "from the inside". The building itself was evacuated (as best they could), as was a nearby apartment complex. What I remember most about this situation, however, was how much people in our apartment complex (and others nearby) were freaking out. And while a bomb threat right down the street is scary in theory, most people were seriously concerned about our personal safety. I remember telling them at the time that we were safe, but they were freaking about what would happen to us if the bomb detonated.

Despite what you may see in movies and games and TV shows, bombs (especially those made by crazies from Westchester, and transported in a small car) DON'T have nearly the blast radius you might think. Do you know what kind/strength of bomb it would require to cause massive structural damage within a 1 mile radius?

Well, it'd need to be equivalent in strength to the Little Boy - aka, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

(NOTE: Being a powerful nuclear warhead, the Little Boy did cause significant damage beyond that 1 mile structural damage radius, in the form of fire and radiation. But for more conventional explosives, the damage comes from the blast itself, any shrapnel released, and the subsequent shockwave if the bomb is big enough.)

I can guarantee that the dude at the Federal Building did NOT have a nuclear weapon in the trunk of his car. IF he had a bomb, it would likely be some crudely made explosive with a pretty small blast radius - hence the evacuation of only one apartment complex (right across the street).

Of course, this would still be highly dangerous to people in the area (especially if it was also blowing up cars), but there was no way it was going to reach us almost a mile away. The worst we would've suffered would be some ear ringing.

Conclusion? The world is not what you see in the movies. Calm down, and think rationally about situations - you'll save yourself a TON of unnecessary worry.

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Fun With Numbers


At lunch the other day, a friend of mine said she "didn't like guys who played video games", claiming that there's a certain age in which we should outgrow them, and implying that continuing to play was a "waste of our lives". I found this to be very interesting. It's not a new claim by any means, so my mind immediately started thinking of the usual counters, such as:

- I don't really watch movies that often, choosing to play games instead (rather than in addition to); something I mentioned briefly in this post.

- What would you have me do instead? Work a job? I currently have TWO. Go out with friends? I do that on a regular basis. Go to sporting events? I was a regular attendee of UCLA football games for the past 4 years. Go to concerts? Did that too.

But a few days later, I saw a comment on a blog post that inspired me to look objectively at the amount of time I've spent "gaming" over the years. And to go further, I'll compare it against some other things, just for some context.

Interested? Read on...

I think the best way to start this is with the video game franchise that has claimed the most total hours of my life - Pokemon. I mentioned in my games post that I've kept up with the series since the beginning, and listed reasons why I still enjoy it today. No need to rehash them here, but I will point out quickly that my enjoyment of the games over the years is due to how they are as games - I don't watch the show or anything of that nature. So please try to suspend any claims about the game being "for kids".

So, how many hours have I spent on the games? Here's a rough estimate of the breakdown:

Generation 1 - 200 hours
Generation 2 - 300 hours
Generation 3 - 200 hours
Generation 4 - 200 hours
TOTAL: 900 hours

WOW, that's a lot of my life I've spent on these games, right? Well, not so fast. The US release date for the first Generation 1 games (each generation has a few different versions released throughout the generation span) was September of 1998. That's TWELVE (ok, 11.5) years ago. So how exactly does 900 hours break down over 11.5 years?

11.5 years * 365 days/year * 24 hours/day = 100,740 hours

So how much of my life over the past 11.5 years have I spent playing Pokemon?

900/100,740 = .0089, which is LESS than 1% of the time. Hmmmm. How much is that per week?

1 week = 7 days * 24 hours/day = 168 hours

0.89% of 168 = 1.5 hours.

That's my average. One and a half hours each week. Roughly 20 minutes a day. That's VERY little, actually.

But what about some other games? Certainly Call of Duty has to be up there!

Total time: 14 hours online play + roughly 20 hours campaign = roughly 25 hours (rounded)

I got Call of Duty for Christmas of 2007, meaning I've been playing for 2.33 years.

2.33 years * 365 days/year * 24 hours/day = 20,410 hours

25/20,410 = .0012

So over the last 2+ years, how much time have I spent playing Call of Duty?

168 hours/week * .0012 = .20 hours, or less than 15 minutes per week on Call of Duty.

I could keep going for other games (Mass Effect - 70 hours over 2.33 years, which comes out to roughly half an hour each week, for example), but I think I've provided a pretty good picture of just how much (or little) time I truly spend on gaming.

But just to really drive it home, let's look at something totally different; what some people might call the exact opposite of gaming. That thing is sports.

For all of middle and high school (7 years total), I was involved in some kind of sport. It was mostly Taekwondo, except for my freshman year of HS, which was football.

Football was roughly 6 or 7 hours a week (plus game time). The years after, when I was mostly teaching Taekwondo, I spent roughly 6-8 hours per week doing that (more when it came close to competitions). But in the years before high school, when I was competing regularly, and working toward my black belt, I would spend at least 2 hours EVERY DAY practicing Taekwondo.

Which means during middle school, I was spending more time every DAY on sports than I was in a WEEK on Pokemon (I was also playing other games on our N64, but as we've seen, NOT that much).

So next time you think about chastising somebody for the amount of time they spend playing games, ask yourself if maybe you are VASTLY overestimating the true number.

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