From tailfins to compact discs, America’s economy hums along on technology that goes out of date. Today on Word of Mouth, the collectors, sentimentalists and other hold-outs to market obsolescence. We take a look at why the Smithsonian Archive is cooking, freezing and drowning CDs. And then, teaching penmanship is considered passé in the age of the keyboard, but new research suggests that handwriting is essential to learning. Plus, we’ll hear from the world record holder for the largest video game collection.
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Classic video game music evokes a special kind of nostalgia, a mixture of childhood whimsy laced with pixel-fueled frustration. For musicians, sampling video game music adds an extra layer of fantasy in otherwise hardcore genres like rap and metal. Spin even compiled 50 Rap Songs Based on Video Game Samples (Some are NSFW. All are awesome). In metalcore, sampling video game music resulted in an entirely new genre in the late 1990s at first jokingly called Nintendocore. Wizards and Warriors is pretty great, as are most of the songs by Horse the Band. Themes from the NES and Super Nintendo eras are especially popular. I tapped into my Nintendo nostalgia for some of the best classics (and admittedly my favorites):
Welcome to the show, and come on down! Wait. Rewind. This isn't that kind of game show - but it is a show all about games. From video games, to board games, to game culture, we spoke with the industry game changers. Our adventurous host Virginia Prescott even took a dive into the virtual world of gaming with a Skyrim sesh for better ("I just swiped at someone pretty mightily!") or worse ("I'm getting slaughtered!"). Check out her experience and gaming pointers here. Is she now a self-proclaimed gamer? Find out on today's show - join us for the fun and games here and on our Twitter and Facebook!
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We reached out on Facebook to find out what video game youwanted Word of Mouth host Virginia Prescott to play for our game show. Options were limited to Producer Taylor Quimby's Xbox games, which include Call of Duty, Skyrim, Portal 2, BioShock Infinite and Halo 4. The masses ultimately chose Skyrim, drawn to its "Game of Thrones-ness" and option to "pretend to be a stabby turn-of-the-century street urchin." With virtual mace in hand, Virginia bravely took on the world of Skyrimand learned a few lessons along the way.
Facebook is making headlines once again with its two billion dollar acquisition of virtual reality company Oculus VR. Today on Word Of Mouth, a look into why the social network has put so much stock in virtual reality. And it’s opening day for the Red Sox as they take on the Baltimore Orioles today. Fans are hoping this year’s roster will bring them to the World Series again, but how much can we really predict at this point in the season? And are stats the final word?
Producer Zach Nugent has been scouring record stores for the best new music offerings in a new segment we're calling The Audio Orchard.
Then we talk with a National Geographic columnist who argues for lifelong love of dinosaurs.
Finally, NHPR environmental reporter Sam Evans-Brown brings us the story of a UNH "pee bus" project. Urine, it turns out, can be pretty useful.
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With 7.6 million subscribers, more people play the multiplayer online game World of Warcraft than live in the state of Massachusetts. According to NSA documents disclosed by former contractor Edward Snowden, at least some of those slaying dragons on World of Warcraft are posing as elf mages and dwarf warriors, but are actually American and British spies. The leaked NSA docs identified Worlds of Warcraft, Second Life and some Xbox games as a potential “target-rich communication network” allowing suspects “a way to hide in plain sight. The snarky comments following the leak charge intelligence agents as just wanting to play video games. Joining me now to talk about this discovery is Mark Mazzetti, who covers national security for the New York Times, and reported on the strategy.
There’s been a lot of fuss made in recent years over the increasing “gamification” of everyday life – that is, the use of game mechanics in unusual settings like personal fitness, or in schools – where the incentive to get points or awards might have more motivational power than getting good grades, or dropping a dress size. In the workplace, companies like Cold Stone Creamery and the Miller Brewing have starting using video games to train fresh hires – and a recent study by the University of Colorado found that employees trained using video games did their jobs better, and retained information longer than those who were instructed by more conventional methods. One company thinks video games can play a role in businesses even earlier – before an employee has even been hired.
Grand Theft Auto V, was released last week to rave reviews and record sales. The video game sold over 13 million copies in the first 24 hours and is projected to gross well over a billion dollars. Rockstar’s satirical crime series has regularly topped video game charts, but it’s just as often been presented as “exhibit a” in the debate over violent video games and whether they have a real-life influence on players. Grand Theft Auto III, the first mainstream success in the series, was at the center of one such debate in the early 2000’s, but a decade later the franchise is more popular than ever.
Joining us to talk a little bit about the history of how Grand Theft Auto became a household name and its legacy on the video game industry at large is Dr. Jeremy Saucier, the assistant director of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games. Also with us is Jamin Warren, founder of video-game arts and culture company, Killscreen.
The "military-entertainment complex" has been quietly developing for decades. The Pentagon helped sponsor the first personal computers, a few big-budget hollywood films and funded the M.I.T. graduate students who created the first video game, called Spacewar!, in 1962. And for decades, the military has used video games and digital simulations to train troops.
The U.S. Army-developed video game America’s Army was originally invented as a means of re-branding the military in the eyes of teenagers. It is now the Army’s go-to tool and has even worked its way into public school lesson plans. Corey Mead is Assistant Professor of English at CUNY’s Baruch College, and author of War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict.
Anita asked for $6000 to make a video series analyzing gender roles in video games; identifying and exploring tropes like “the sexy sidekick” and “the mercy killing.” She raised the money in one day – and eventually raised $158,000. The project’s first video, “Damsel in Distress Part One” hit YouTube in March.
This past weekend, Funspot arcade in Laconia, New Hampshire, played host to the International Classic Video Game Tournament. Gamers from all over the world have been traveling to Funspot for the past 15 years to compete against each other, sometimes on video games that were born long before they were. For many, it's a chance to play rare games that they've only heard about. For others it's a great chance to connect with like-minded friends over a friendly, albeit competitive, game of Tapper.
The competition runs for four days as participants try to post the high score on each of the tournament games. Outside the cordoned-off area reserved for the tournament, the rest of Funspot's American Classic Arcade Museum is open to the public. Mixed in amongst the novice players, you're likely to see world record holders trying to beat their high scores in between their tournament play. I spoke to three gamers who have made the nostalgic trip to Funspot repeatedly, enticed by the pristine machines and the sense of camaraderie among the players.
Special thanks to Derek Janiak for his help wrangling the elusive video gamers in theirnatural habitat.