Good Fun… or Gambling? Micro transactions in ‘FIFA 18’ 

Many of you, just like me, have been playing FIFA religiously since the days before Ms Dynamite lit up the games’ soundtrack back in 2003. However, despite the countless hours played or numerous controllers broken, it seems the game we all know and love may be losing the charm that kept us coming back.

Don’t get me wrong, the game is by no means in decline, the numbers show that. FIFA 18 managed to sell  a whopping 10 million units worldwide and ever since EA released the first ‘FIFA International Soccer’ back in 1993 they have managed to have pretty much uninterrupted market dominance over football gaming. EA churned out classic after classic each year, making it clear they were focused on creating a game that simulated every aspect of the sport in the right way. This is where their famous catchphrase “EA Sports: It’s in the game” originates.

But there’s something new “in the game”…  and it is micro transactions.

If you’ve played pretty much any of EA’s releases in the past few years then you’ll certainly know what these are, but if you haven’t, they are essentially any purchase you make inside of a game, after the initial purchase. FIFA use these to sell FIFA points, a digital currency for Ultimate Team. In fact, EA earned $1.68 billion through micro transactions in 2017 alone.

You can’t deny that these massive digital sales are impressive and they have undoubtedly revolutionized the gaming industry as a whole.

It’s forecasted that 2.3 billion gamers across the globe will spend $137.9 billion on games in 2018. This represents an increase of +13.3% from the year before, or $16.2 billion.

Micro transactions are the leading force behind this and have become a great source of income for developers, thanks to our ever increasingly digitized society.

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Photo by Soumil Kumar on Pexels.com

So what’s the issue?

Well… this isn’t the first time FIFA have used digital currency and micro transactions for their Ultimate team platform, however, many players are becoming aggravated with the reliability of micro transaction drop rates.  Meaning that some players could spend thousands and get nothing good and another player could spend £3 and get the best player in the world. This has lead to a growing narrative that FIFA has become a ‘pay-to-win’ game and therefore spending more and more money has become a necessity to be competitive.

Could this be dangerous?

Chris Lee, Hawaiian state representative, held a press conference where he labelled micro transactions as ‘predatory gaming’ , and he is currently working on legislation to ban children from buying them. On top of this, in a recent Reddit post , he added that ‘these kinds of micro transactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology in the same way casino games are designed’.

According to the NPD, 91 % of children age 2-17 play video games… and these numbers are rising, coming up nearly 13 percent from 2009. The gaming community clearly has large number of minors within it, which only seems to be growing, so could these shifts towards micro transactions be influencing them? Could this be installing bad gambling habits in the kids? I guess only time will tell.

For now, you may be interested in a Reddit post and campaign called #FixFifa that has been gaining a lot of backing online. This movement has also gained over 40,000 signatures through their Change.org petition.

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The impact of Crowdfunding on the Music Industry? ‘A look at Amanda Palmer’

With crowd funding platforms such as Kickstarter, GoFundme and Indigogo growing and becoming increasingly influential in the creative industries, could crowdfunding be the future for music artists?

The meteoric rise of the internet and the rapid digitization of society have clearly had a massive effect on the music scene… however so has crowdfunding and similarly, it’s difficult to determine whether this impact is positive or negative.

Artists have been using Crowdfunding to defy the conventions of music labels

The best example of this has to be the case of Amanda Palmer. The musician whose Kickstarter project closed after it managed to successfully raise $1.2 million, making it the 7th Kickstarter project to reach $1 million and the highest funded music project the site had ever had.

Amanda broke with her label back in 2010; because of this she decided to start a project with a $100,000 goal to fund her album, an art book and a tour. She obviously smashed this goal, with most of the funders donating less than $100 but there were also a small amount of much larger pledges. For example, two people who actually pledged around $10,000 each for a personal art sitting with Amanda, followed by dinner.

Palmer has revealed that she had just shy of $100,000 left from the extremely lucrative campaign after she finished completing the album and the art book; made all of the arrangements for music videos and tours and finally made sure she has paid the featuring artists. This is just one example out of many that proves that when everything goes right, crowdfunding can be very powerful. Although Amanda believes the biggest success is the plain, hard evidence that ‘major label refugees’ can utilise Kickstarter as a primary source of funding.

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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Fans are using Crowdfunding too!

Artists are not the only ones that are deciding to make the most out of the crowdfunding platform. There has been a surge of fan led campaigns being created, in the hope of convincing their favourite artists to create.

A funny example of this happenend with Run The Jewels, a hip hop duo from America, when they revealed various ways in which fans could buy their new album, Run The Jewels 2. The jokingly mentioned the idea of paying $40,000 for the two to completely reshape the album, taking out all the instrumental sounds and replacing them with cat noises.

Fans, however, could not resist the temptation and so then arrived the ‘Meow the Jewels’ Kickstarter campaign to back this idea. Hilariously, the duo was up for it if the 40k target was met. The campaign managed to gather over $60,000 and attracted other major producers to the project such as The Alchemist and Just Blaze.

Another interesting example of this fan intervention  was back in 2014,  where big Foo Fighter fans from Virginia created a page on Crowdtilt, that sold tickets to a performance that the band had no idea of, praying that the band would see the demand for the show and decide to go ahead and play it. It turns out they saw the page and wanted to do it! It became their first show in the particular town in Virginia for 16 years.

These are just a few examples of successes of crowdfunding, but unfortunately it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Is Crowdfunding good for the industry?

Some people argue that with the crowdfunding model, young artist are able to get the their money way before they have even created any music, so this could potentially deter them from putting in the valuable hard work needed to create a good product. Artists could become lazy.

Although, crowdfunding is helping major label rejects, independent artists and small record companies to grow and be able to raise substantial amounts of money that they may not have been able to before. This sways me to believe that overall, crowdfunding is an asset to the music industry and a potential game changer for the future.

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Photo by Josh Sorenson on Pexels.com

 

Is social media influencing and content creating considered a ‘real job’ in 2018?

 

 

YouTubers and bloggers such as Zoe Sugg, Fleur de Force, Alfie Deyes and Tanya Burr have tens of millions of followers between them and are widely recognised throughout the UK. However, their roles as social media influences and content creators typically aren’t considered as ‘professional’ roles or ‘real jobs’, even in today’s current media climate, where social media is a huge part of our lives.

Why is this? Surely the fact they’re raking in thousands of pounds a week and making a living through brand deals, partnerships and other ventures all stemming from their niche ‘art’ means they should be classified as media professionals? Zoella reportedly earns £50,000 A MONTH.

Crazy!

She’s only one example. There are thousands of people with a large following who are making a living out of their social media. The trouble is, it’s not really considered a ‘proper’ job, especially by the older generation. Melanie Murphy, a full-time content creator is one of many that have spoken out about the lack of acceptance or understanding regarding their job:

“It’s been hard to explain to a lot of older family members what I actually do. Sometimes I don’t even want to try and explain. I’ll be in a taxi and when faced with the usual, “So, what do you do?” I’ll say, “I teach.” It’s just easier. Even my parents have a difficult time understanding what my job consists of.”

Melanie Murphy for Fora

In my opinion, it is a ‘real’ job and should be considered as one. Online influencers play a huge part in digital marketing, they are the face of many campaigns and are benefiting hugely from digitalisation in general. Sure, they might not be considered ‘media professionals’ in the sense that they don’t direct television shows or edit magazines, but the ones who are able to make a living out of what some would call “nothing but a hobby” are really at the top of their game, and that makes them professional.

Zoe Hellewell of Zoe London discusses on her own blog “I earn enough to keep a roof over my head, holiday to Los Angeles and buy clothes. I couldn’t say that in my last job, my marketing job. I actually haven’t been able to say that throughout my life until now. So… how is that not a real job?”. 

What exactly is this ‘real job’ that online influencers are so often told to go and get? Holden Page, an editor and journalist discusses for Medium that these ‘real jobs’ more than often don’t pay the bills any better than an ‘untraditional’ role like content creation would, so where is the issue? Even he struggles to pay his bills comfortably, and he most definitely has what would be considered a ‘real, professional media job’.

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Copyright: Pexels

The extreme amount of competition in this emerging industry of content creators and influences makes it harder for those with smaller followings to be able to make a living from their art. In a way, it could be said that it decreases the value of content creation on the whole and only the lucky ones are able to reap the benefits. 

Social media influencing, content creation, YouTubing, Instagram modelling, whatever you want to call it: If they’re making a living from the content they’re producing then surely it is a real job? Undoubtedly, it’s hard to draw the line in regards to when exactly they become professionals at their jobs. Earnings? Followers? The number of brands they’ve worked with? I guess it’s a subjective thing, but at the end of the day, they’re the ones laughing all the way to the bank.

(Featured image taken from Google – labelled for reuse)

 

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. Straight movie or ”out of the closet”?

Whatever media does to the world, it seems to be a perfect fit between the two. If media shows patterns of life, it’s because media replicates such patterns. Media are our window to the world.”— (Bauman,2002pg161)

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Call Me By Your Name movie cover

I couldn’t agree more with Bauman’s statement that media is a mirror of our world. I believe Media not only represent patterns of life and behaviours but also mirror our reality.  It could also serve as a potential source for transmitting powerful values and messages to our society. The changes in new technologies and globalisation is making this even more possible!

LGBT movies are more and more common in the movie industry. LGBT society is a vulnerable group of people in need of social recognition and appreciation. There’re many countries which still urge for consideration and social support. Lack of same sex marriage policies, punishments or even sentences to death. Isn’t this awful? Only because you love another person, just like I love colour blue!

Anyways, Call me by your name is a revolutionary movie based from a novel by André Aciman which shows the love story of two men living in the North of Italy in the Summer of 1983.  The main character is Elio, a 17 year-old American Italian who lives in a villa with his family. Oliver, who will fall in love with Elio, goes into this house to do research on Greco-Roman culture. Even though Oliver is much older than Elio, they both profoundly fall in love and live this amazing experience as a secret, (Being gay at that time wasn’t a cool thing to show)

The end of the movie is quite sad because Oliver doesn’t only have to go back to America as the Summer is over, but he marries a woman short after that! When Elio finds out in tears the film ends. It’s a very drastic finish but I really think that despite being oriented in 1983, it still reflects our society with the fact that many gay guys are still ashamed of their sexuality or the prejudice that comes with being gay.

This is a very good movie which despite being considered as low art, can potentially transfer a lot of morals to our society! In fact, it’s been awarded as the Best Film of the Year, rated with 95% of positive reviews on rotten tomatoes. Isn’t this amazing? The age gap between these two could give us an idea that love can be found no matter the age, as long as it is healthy, of course!

There have been concerns in the industry related to the actors not being gay in real life or the movie not providing sexual content to normalise same-sex sexual relations. In fact, there’ve been claims that the movie fails to represent and normalise gay people, as it’s been heteronormalized through the censure of sex. Also the sex wasn’t omitted in the book…Why would they do it for the movie? Come on, all the content in media is sexualised! I don’t get it… However, Garret Schlitchte  a freelance writer interested in the intersection of the LGBT community in popular culture said that when it comes to visualisation of same-sex love, not only emotional but sexual content is also necessary, which is not shown on the movie.

Garret Schlitchte website
Garret Schlitchte critics on Call Me By Your Name

In terms of choosing a gay or straight actor, Luca Guadagnino, the director of this movie, said that he didn’t have a previous idea or judgements to choose the actors. He thinks it’s better not to investigate on the sexualities of people. Moreover, when he got asked why there was no sexual-related content he said “The tone would’ve been very different from what I was looking for”.

What do you guys think? Has this movie been heteronormalized or could it actually show a clear view of the gay society? Would you guys think sexual content was not on the movie so that it could reach more audiences? If yes, does it mean we are still not prepared for the visualisation of gay love? Let me know!

DEPRESSED musicians or DEPRESSING jobs? Demi Lovato on mental health.

Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato speaks up about mental health

We all know how important it is to speak up and reach out for help when things go wrong. When it comes to mental health, musicians are in the number one list for having mental breakdowns… You guys like me may ask… Are all of them crazy? The answer is no.

Irregular cash flows, no contracts, unpredictable payments, and lack of sustainable policies are just some of the main issues musicians have to deal with. The stress that comes with the fame is also a lot of trouble. I bet! Not all is bad news though! I believe creative industries and specially famous people have the power to make a change and raise awareness. It isn’t only the fame that gives them the chance to speak to a wide range of people, but also the globalisation we have experienced in the last years and the emergence of new technologies such as social media and Internet.

The #sorrynotsorry girl is killing it! Demi Lovato has long spoken up about mental health issues. She shares her own struggles with bipolar disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders and body image.  Her new documentary SimplyComplicated shows the pressure she’s been dealing with while working for the music industry since a very young age. She also partners with charities and other companies to raise money for people that can’t afford treatments. In fact, she is offering free treatments in her own concerts, funded by an organisation called Cast. Isn’t this amazing? She is also collecting money through selling T-shirts and donations from her Demi Lovato Scholarship Treatment Program where everything goes to this Cast organisation.

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius presented chart-dominating singer, songwriter, and actress Demi Lovato, Honorary Chairperson of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day 2013, with an award for her advocacy work on behalf of young adults with mental health and substance use challenges during the Awareness Day 2013 press briefing held at the Theater of the Performing Arts at the University of the District of Columbia Community College on May 7

I’m fascinated by the fact that the music industry and popular culture can actually raise awareness about issues that concern us. Just like they can encourage negative attitudes towards children they can also encourage them to have a healthy life. It is not just about making money or sexualising content! Creative and cultural industries have these complex relationships where they work with different sectors in order to save costs and diminish risks. Fundraising and crowdfunding is a good choice when it comes to that! Also if the quality offered for the audience is good, educative and inspiring, then that’s awesome!

I think the best way to battle our own demons is to open up with your loved ones and share your feelings, seek for help. Wellbeing is not like a broken ankle which gets fixed in some days… It takes time to heal! For this reason, I think that if you want to work for the music industry you must be mentally prepared for the pressure and you obviously must love what you do. If not, what’s the point?! (I don’t want to be depressing, sorry) Despite this, I think that it is very beautiful that people can make meaning through bad experiences and become more powerful by sharing their own stories to help others.

Demi Lovato is the perfect example of a person who can live well with mental illness. You can do it too! (even if you are a musician). She also serves as a role model for young people and educate society through meaningful messages. Creative industries must regulate the content they share with the public and make sure it promotes positive attitudes. What do you guys think? Would you be able to go through a lot of pressure despite of doing something you truly love? Is the new creative economy providing optimistic values to our society? Leave a comment below!

 ”No matter what you are going through there is always light at the end of the tunnel”-Demi Lovato

 

Is Traditional TV Drowning Due To Online Streaming?

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Image taken from Pexels.com licensed for use under Creative Commons Zero License (CC0)

Let’s watch DISNEY CHANNEL!

I mean, if you didn’t singalong and dance to Hannah Montana growing up, what did you do after school?

Growing up watching TV has been something me and my family have always enjoyed (and argued about) together. The power of having the remote control would often end in me and my sister fighting on the floor, with mum being the referee deciding who got to choose the channel, oh the simplicity of being young!

But there has definitely been a noticeable change over the past few years.

Now it would seem that we can all be at home at the same time, and be watching different programmes in different rooms, but why? Why don’t we all sit, laugh and enjoy the programs together like the good ol’ days?

The movement from watching traditional TV to favouring online platforms such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, has resulted in the average viewership age to creep up. Research by Enders Analysis found that the average age of ITV viewers is now 60, followed by Channel 5 at 58 and also Channel 4 being 55.

I’m sorry, What?

Where are they days of watching Made In Chelsea or My Mad Fat Diary? I can’t see my mum tuning into these youth targeted shows!

 

Tablets, Laptops, even your mobile phone! The possibilities for streaming are endless, has this radical reshaping of the delivery of content to audiences killed traditional television?

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Image from Pexels.com  licensed for use under Creative Commons Zero License (CC0)

 

Founded in California 1997 as a small DVD by-post service, Netflix has now rocketed and has OVER 100 million subscribers, that’s a lot of eyes watching!

Ian Hargreaves noted that:

The rise of digital has been accompanied by a severe decline in analogue formats

So it seems programme’s are trying to keep up with the demanding digital audiences, last year BBC3’s TV channel switched to an online only provider known as Iplayer, saving them a fair few bob (£30 million a year to be exact!)

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Image from pexel.com licensed for use under Creative Commons Zero License (CC0)

 

I must admit, as a student I am guilty of binge watching series and programmes, and yes, I watch everything online. ‘Funnily’ enough no one in my house actually watches TV, we all stream online, we aren’t helping this issue are we…

So what can be done about this decline in viewership?

 

Will we young’uns ever go back to the days of looking through the TV guide to see what programmes are on? Or is it time to remove the TV as the focal point of the living room? (replace it with a laptop on the mantelpiece…perhaps a bit absurd)

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Image from Pexel.com licensed for use under Creative Commons Zero License (CC0)

Don’t fear though keen TV viewers! It’s not time to take your good old’ telly to the tip just yet!

One TV provider which seems to have taken note of these changes is Sky. On the 5th of March 2018, they have saddled up with Netflix, offering a brand new TV subscription pack, with the Sky Q box

Jeremy Darroch- Group Chief Executive for Sky explained:

By placing Sky and Netflix content side by side along with programme’s from the likes of HBO, Showtime, Fox and Disney, we are making the entertainment experience even easier and simpler for our customers

 

Very Clever Sky I see what you are up to, hopefully this should encourage viewers to not complete dismiss traditional TV, whilst also having the easy access to their favourite online streaming platforms, very clever indeed.

The Digital Museum: Should Museums Give Into Pressures of the Digital Era?

When was the last time you were allowed, let alone encouraged to use you phones at a museum?

Museums are recently creating new exhibitions and galleries, combining traditional arts with contemporary digital experiences.

Although these technologies have strong influences on the creative industries – the effectiveness of these technologies in traditional creative spaces continue to be questioned.

Whether museums and galleries should introduce digital technologies and in what ways are big questions in the arts community’ – Scarlett Evans

To capture a technologically-hungry younger generation, virtual experiences are being introduced in museums. However, although these technologies can increase audience reach; others see creative spaces as areas to escape digital activity.

NESTA’s Manifesto suggests that digital technologies are bringing in new audiences to arts and cultural organisations, creating new sources of cultural and economic value – how true is this regarding museums?

So how are digital technologies being used? Let’s examine some key areas:

The ‘Virtual Museum’

Some museums don’t exist in the real world, but are only available online – creating similar experiences, but from your personal devices!

The Natural History Museum recently introduced almost 4 million of its 80 million specimens to the internet, ranging from zoology, to a 3D exhibition of Charles Darwin’s fossils, hoping that people will have more access to these artefacts.

Artists using digital technology

Artists are now also using digital platforms to produce art, allowing artists to express themselves in ways previously impossible! But they’re also nudging museums down the same digital path.

The NESTA report claims the UK needs to ensure to offer an environment to spur innovation creative businesses undertake.

Beacon Technology

Museums are bringing in new software to provide personal guides and companions for exhibits, from smartphones to Virtual Reality (VR)! By introducing these software’s, visitors are able to interact with galleries in a whole new way.

For example, The Natural History Museum in London has introduced a VR experience featuring the legendary broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, guiding visitors through the museum’s central space – which should be a bit hit for all you Blue Planet fans!

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VR: Really Suited For Museums? Source – Pixabay


But do they increase audience reach?

Although implementing online exhibitions are likely to see recruitment of visitors, rather than cannibalise audiences, attendance figures show otherwise.

The Natural History Museum; among the most visited museums in the UK, has seen a significant decline in visitors; from around 5.5 million in 2013, to 4.6 million in 2017.

Yet, museums who haven’t introduced these technologies seem to be doing better than ever!

Take The National Museum Cardiff for example, where no immersive technologies like VR have been introduced. However, visitor numbers have been on a steady rise; from 448,288 in 2014, to 494,518 in 2017.

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As Digital As It Gets in National Museum Cardiff

The Victoria and Albert Museum also found a lack of interest towards their own interactive experiences – reflected in their low visitor numbers.

Granted, other reasons may have caused the fall in visitors in these exhibitions, but this does suggest a limited impact digital technologies have on these traditional creative spaces.

Yes, introducing VR and similar technologies could benefit museums to help educate and entertain, alongside to hopefully reach to modern audiences. However, I personally prefer the traditional physical museum experience – my smartphone in my pocket, chatting with fellow visitors and making my own perceptions of the exhibits.

There are many ways an immersive experience can be made without the need of VR and similar works!

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Creating an Immersive Physical Environment – Even The Poo on the Wall…

Yet, if digital technologies entice younger generations, provide artists with a new platform for representation, and help deeper discussion of pieces – I welcome the changes to the museums’ structure.

But what are your views? Let us know about your perceptions of a ‘digital museum’ in the comment section below!

 

All images are my own unless stated in the captions.

The Hitchhikers Guide To Creative Cities

Image credit: Pexels

So, you’re visiting a creative city, are you wondering what to look out for? What really defines a creative city anyways? Heres 4 things to look out for during your visit to a ‘creative city’.

Construct your Concept

What better way to identify a creative city than by the architecture, buildings and structures that surround you? Architecture does more than just look pretty, having distinctive and striking buildings can attract companies and business that want to set themselves up in a city. Moreover, these ‘creative buildings’ have to be technologically equipped to allow for the increasingly digital work experiences that business are increasingly looking to adopt.

Technology isn’t everything, the idea of a cities architecture being entwined with the natural world is becoming increasingly popular, for example the ‘Gardens by the Bay’ structures in Singapore serve a number of creative purposes, they exists as a space for flora and fauna to flourish, as a relaxation and leisure space for citizens and tourists, as an an events space and even as a generator for solar power!

Feed Your Creativity

Quirky cafes, busy bars and gastro-pubs. Food and drink have long been primary definers of a cities appeal, its tough to enjoy a city experience without a belly full of food.

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Image Credit: Pexels

Coffee shops and cafes are great things to look out for, first and foremost because there are often so many of them to choose from! Heres a list of 16 in Cardiff alone! These cafes often sell a large variety of products, including vegan, vegetarian and organic foods, locally sourced produce and imported rarities. Regardless of what takes your fancy, these are great places to try new things and possibly find your new favourite coffee place.

Resonate With A New Rhythm

The beat that a city moves to can be felt like a sixth sense, and a city’s musical scene drives this beat. The music of a creative city is not just one that follows the trends of other cities, its one that is inspired by the local talent that undoubtedly exists. Topping the UNESCO list of the 9 best musical cities in the world was Bogota in Colombia, who have 60 festivals every year and over 500 live music venues for both relatively unknown artists as well as the big names to perform.

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Image Credit: Pexels

Finding music in a creative city is not difficult, and it isn’t always found in a venue, street buskers and cafes also offer a great insight in the music a city has to offer. If you’ve venture as far as Asia then get involved with the culture and head to a karaoke bar where its as common place as local bands are in the Europe and North America. 

Don’t Be An Artful Dodger

Whether its street art, performance art, a cartoonist, a graffiti artist or even that guy who draws faces on your coffee cup (I am this guy), art is a consistent provider of culture in a city, and can often define your whole experience of a city, so get involved!

Art is at the very centre of a creative city, it can be found everywhere you look, it can be argued that everything I’ve mentioned in this post is art! However art is greater than just culture, and is an economic signifier as well. In a survey conducted by the Joint Legislative Committee on Cultural affairs, they found that 99% of chief executive officers stated that cultural and art in an area were an important consideration when choosing a new location. This is why keeping art alive in cities is and always will be, crucial to a thriving city.

So heres the general tip: don’t be afraid to integrate yourself with a city, put in the effort to find new places and experiences and you will surely be rewarded. Have fun!

 

 

 

 

Sophia the Robot – How Has AI Merged with Popular Culture?

Meet Sophia:

(Courtesy of Giphy)

If you haven’t heard of Sophia the robot by now, where have you been hiding? And even worse, you’re way behind in your preparations for the robot takeover. In essence, Sophia  is the given name to a robot developed by Hanson Robotics, and since her activation in 2015, she has made quite the splash. Sophia is the first robot to have received citizenship anywhere, after being granted the honour by Saudi Arabia last year. Sophia has also been the first non-human to receive a United Nations title, and briefly spoke about Artificial Intelligence (AI) at this year’s conference.

26448126199_92149f36ff_k(Sophia at the United Nations Conference, courtesy of Flickr)

While Sophia has been pressing for progress in AI, the internet and media have gone crazy over her in one way or another. Whether you’re a Sophia fan or not, her face has been hard to escape, and this is where it gets interesting. With Sophia’s overwhelming media presence, it’s starting to feel like Sophia is more of a celebrity in her own right, rather than a robot with Artificial Intelligence. Sophia has given countless interviews, even appearing on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, as seen here:


(Courtesy of Giphy)

Sophia even goes as far as to joke around with Jimmy Fallon, where they play a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, and Sophia suggests that she hopes to dominate the human race, before saying she’s just kidding…Let’s hope she’s telling the truth.  (Courtesy of Giphy)

This isn’t the first time Sophia has been known to joke around, either; Sophia trolled the world on April Fool’s when she said she was going to start a wig line in response to haters on Twitter.

Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 18.17.14(Sophia on Twitter)

As Sophia becomes more renowned, it’s becoming more plausible that she is a celebrity, merging the ideas of popular culture and AI in a way that we haven’t seen before. As if Sophia’s media appearances and Twitter friendship with Chrissy Teigen didn’t establish her fame already, our girl has appeared in numerous big-time magazines such as PAPER Magazine, and even gracing the cover of Cosmopolitan India!

With Sophia’s growing fame, the lines between popular (or low) culture and the industry of Artificial Intelligence are blurred. Are we entering an age where robots are not only among us, but have infiltrated our celebrity spheres as well? How autonomous are these programmes? Could a robot one day be President? Does any of this explain Kanye West’s notorious outbursts lately? I mean, maybe he’s been reprogrammed.

Honestly, the notion of AI and robotics becoming mainstream culture isn’t exactly a new idea, check out the 2016 MET Gala theme of ‘Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.’ Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 19.18.00(Courtesy Twitter)

And let’s be honest, if you haven’t seen Westworld by now, you’re gonna be the first one to go when these hosts take over. The merging of AI with popular culture is certainly happening, so it’s time we get on board! Whether it’s in the fashion industry, public appearances, talk shows, or even social media, it’s undeniable that Artificial Intelligence is finding its time to shine, and Sophia the robot has certainly paved the way. Little by little, AI is becoming a central part of our culture, and that doesn’t exclude the creative spheres. Maybe one day we will see great robot artists, the limits of AI only seem to be reaching further. Disclaimer: Sophia, if you’re reading this, I love you and please spare me when you come for the rest of this nasty human race. You’re too good for them, I don’t think you need a wig at all.

(Courtesy Giphy)

SUPERHOT proves that crowdfunding rewards creativity – developers take note

Image: PlayStation Store 

The genius viral marketing campaign behind SUPERHOT caught my eye back at its release in 2016 – but I never had the time to experience it properly. What better time to revisit this indie gem and see if it’s worth the hype? Honestly, I’ve never played anything like it, and I have crowdfunding to thank for this incredibly unique game.

A one-of-a-kind experience

In a world full of generic, drab, first-person shooters, SUPERHOT sticks out like a sore thumb – not only is it bold and red, it’s minimalist, futuristic aesthetic distinguishing it from the competition – but its core gameplay couldn’t be further from your typical, run-of-the-mill corridor shooters.

The indie developers behind SUPERHOT always aimed for a unique first-person shooter experience that doesn’t rely on lightning-fast reflexes and hours of practice to build and retain muscle memory – and it shows. It plays much more tactically, as you manipulate the flow of time in order to defend against hordes of unnerving, faceless red enemies.

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SUPERHOT’s twist on the Mexican stand-off
Image: Jazmin Frost

Not a cliché in sight

Instead of a B-movie war story filled with over the top set pieces and action movie clichés a-plenty (sorry, Call of Duty) SUPERHOT creates a unique meta-narrative where the player plays a version of themselves sitting in front of a computer, and a friend sends you a link to a mysterious game called SUPERHOT, thrusting you into the core gameplay.

Without spoiling anything, the story takes many unpredictable twists and turns, immersing you in a vibrant, violent world where time only moves when you do – allowing you to pull off slow-motion bullet dodges, acrobatic shooting, and melee combat to disarm enemies before catching their weapons in glorious slo-mo.

Just as you begin to familiarise yourself with the gameplay, an entirely new scenario is thrown at you

The level design is extremely imaginative, and the pacing of the game rarely slows – the infrequent story segments such as the online chats with the friend character prevent the gameplay from becoming exhausting, providing a welcome break from the constant action.

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The beginning of the enigmatic story
Image: Lewis Ashley

Just as you begin to familiarise yourself with the gameplay, an entirely new scenario is thrown at you – whether it be having to deal with environmental obstacles like a truck hurtling towards you, samurai’s attacking you with katanas, or an entirely new ability like ‘hotswitching’ that allows you to teleport into, before hijacking an enemy’s body.

 

 

 Images: top two – SUPERHOT Kickstarter & bottom two: Rabbit Respawn’s Youtube Channel

A budget success story

Overall, the game is extremely impressive, particularly for a game that was produced on a minuscule £300,000 budget. The developers set up a campaign on Kickstarter to raise $100,000 after the success of their browser-based prototype. After famous YouTubers began broadcasting play-throughs of this prototype, the Kickstarter reached its funding goal in less than 24 hours. They had to include ‘stretch goals’ to further encourage donations in order to make the product even more refined, and of course, they achieved most of these as well.

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Stretch goals, as seen on the Kickstarter page.

Crowdfunding is the future

SUPERHOT proves the success of crowdfunding – instead of conforming to industry norms, the Kickstarter platform has enabled the SUPERHOT team to break the mould of the first-person shooter genre. I hope this encourages some of the industry giants like EA and Ubisoft to take creative risks instead of churning out yearly Call of Duty and Assassins Creed titles – as SUPERHOT has proven that taking risks can lead to an exceptionally high reward.

Have you played SUPERHOT? What do you think? Do you think more video games should be crowdfunded? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

SUPERHOT is available to purchase on all major online platforms, and due to the success of the game, a Virtual Reality sequel aptly named SUPERHOT: VR was released last summer. 

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Become even more immersed with VR and motion controls

Image: Pixelrator