Video games

Paul L. Dineen via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/ebu1fU

“Birthday suit”, “in the buff”, “wearing nothing but a smile.” Call it what you will, on today’s show we’ll strip bare the American nudism movement and we’ll explore the progressive-era origins and continuing tensions over what it means to take it all off.

Then, we’ll hear about two young men who embarked on a bold crime spree, stealing thousands in gold and weapons. The hitch? It all went down in a video game. 

Leveling The Playing Field: Digital Games & Children

May 21, 2015
amanda tipton via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/c8fYHA

In 1983 Ronald Reagan gave a speech at Disney’s Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida extolling his new found understanding of the virtues of video games: “I recently learned something quite interesting about video games.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Video Games & History

Mark Stevens via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/oWwRHM

According to a report from the National Park Service only 7% of annual park visitors are African American. On today’s show, we delve into environmental history and cultural studies to find out why the story of the American outdoors is so white.

Then, environmentalists have taken many tacks to get people to be “greener”: the doomsday approach, education, shame. Now new research suggests another way to increase green behaviors: a salary. Why paying people an hourly wage decreases environmentally-friendly behaviors.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Women In Gaming And Tech

Nov 24, 2014
John / Flickr/CC

While just as many females as males play, the gaming world has a reputation as a less-than-welcoming community for women, with some extreme harassment in a recent controversy dubbed Gamergate. We’ll look at the conversation since Gamergate, from why gaming culture has these elements, to the challenges women face in the tech industry.

GUESTS:

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

 A newly-formed group of independent video game developers in Manchester looks poised to open a game developers’ incubator in the city’s Millyard by the end of the year.

Local game developer David Carrigg is one of the founders of the state chapter of the International Game Developers Association, which is leading the creation of the incubator called Game Assembly.

Geoff Jones via flickr Creative Commons

Israelis and Palestinians recently agreed to a cease fire, but while the conflict may be on hold in Gaza, it continues to erupt online.  On today’s show: from Hitler hashtags to Facebook groups seeking revenge on Hamas, is social media trolling, stoking Israeli-Palestinian tensions? 

Then, late last month Amazon bought the online video platform “Twitch” for nearly one-hundred million dollars-- we’ll find out why the streaming service is such a hot commodity and why people would want to watch someone else play videogames in the first place.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.


JDevaun / Flickr/CC

A New Look at Violent Video Games (9:00):

A study from Dartmouth suggests teens who play certain games are more likely to develop what one researcher calls a “warped moral compass.” But others argue singling out one form of entertainment is over-simplified and ignores other factors.

GUESTS:

8.10.14: The Game Show!

Aug 9, 2014
mbiebusch via flickr Creative Commons

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!

Listen to all the fun of our full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Liz West via flickr Creative Commons

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.

6.24.14: Not Dead Yet!

Jun 24, 2014
Jim Golden, "Relics of Technology"

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.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.


Classic Video Game Music: From Bosses To Beats

Apr 26, 2014
Coleman via flickr Creative Commons

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 NintendocoreWizards 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):

Maureen McMurray

Authored by Sarah Thomas 

We reached out on Facebook to find out what video game you wanted 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 Skyrim and learned a few lessons along the way.

upenn.edu, Sergey Galyonkin, Phill Roussin & Ian Thomson via flickr Creative Commons

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.

Listen to the whole show and click Read more for individual segments.

snooze via Flickr Creative Commons

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.

via Knack.it

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.

Brandon Burris via flickr Creative Commons

We like to think of the Word of Mouth Saturday show as a convenient, one-hour public radio field trip. So pack a special picnic lunch and grab a buddy, here's what's on the itinerary this week:

  • Bill Maher Love him or hate him, it really doesn't matter, Bill Maher is a great interview.
  • Field Trips Jay Phillip Greene explains his recent study on the power of the school field trip. Turns out they have real and powerful educational value.

ATOMIC Hot Links via flickr Creative Commons

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.

Playing Pac Man In The Library

Aug 6, 2013
medium.com

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, younger patrons don’t use libraries only as a place to study, they also go there to “hang out” in place that feels calm. It’s a little less serene at the Chattanooga Public Library.  Justin Hoenke is the teen librarian there...we were a little stunned to find an article Justin wrote called “Why I bought an original 1981 Ms. Pac Man Arcade machine for my library”

skippyjon via flickr Creative Commons

In May of 2012, feminist blogger and pop culture critic Anita Sarkeesian launched a Kickstarter campaign called “Tropes Versus Women in Video Games.” 

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.

Logan Shannon

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 their natural habitat.

Microsoft

We recently spoke with Jamin Warren about all the controversy surrounding the launch of Microsoft's new console, the Xbox One. Here's five facts you should know about Microsoft's sleek new hardware.

1.) It Won’t Run Your Old Xbox Games

Pinball Wizard

May 28, 2013
Kapungo via flickr Creative Commons

In February of 2011, Jon Lynch visited the newly opened Pinball Wizard Arcade in Pelham, New Hampshire, where more than 200 impeccably restored pinball and vintage 80's video games are still luring gamers looking for big-time nostalgia.

Flickr Creative Commons

In a product launch last Tuesday, gamers around the world waited with bated breath to see what innovations the Xbox One, Microsoft’s third console entry, would offer the gaming world.

The exhibition was sleek, innovative, trendy...and made almost no reference to gaming. Maybe not surprising, given that online entertainment usage outstripped online gaming for the first time last year. Here to discuss what Microsoft’s new console means for the future of home entertainment technology is Jamin Warren, co-founder of Killscreen and former culture reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

Here's a link to his article about the Xbox One.

Average Jane via Flickr/Creative Commons - http://www.flickr.com/photos/averagejane/7173196970/in/photostream/

Create your own game in a day and a half. That's the challenge awaiting participants in this weekend's New Hampshire Game Jam in Manchester.

Glenn Given and Michael Taylor are organizing the Jam; they sit down with All Things Considered host Brady Carlson to discuss how it works, the gaming scene in the region and what you can learn from trying to create your own games.

Leo Reynolds via flickr Creative Commons

In this special edition of Word of Mouth: are we catching up with technology? This week we'll explore the very human way we interact with technology; resistance is futile.

via pipetrouble.com

A major spill of heavy crude oil in Arkansas couldn’t come at a worse time for the Canadian tar sands industry - though President Obama has hinted he’s preparing to green-light the much-debated Keystone XL pipeline, any push in the wrong direction could finish the project before it even begins.  Meanwhile a new report from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce says that, without new pipelines to help ease production bottlenecks, Canada will be missing out on an estimated 15 billion dollars annually.

Anna Fischer

Since its name was first coined in 1984, cosplay has grown in popularity from a fringe convention pastime to a performance art form... Inspiring thriving real-world and social networks, and even competitions, like the World Cosplay Summit. Now, photographer Anna Fischer is looking to take the role playing subculture even further outside the convention-center walls of comic-con to a whole other level - the great outdoors. Her Kickstarter-fueled project is called “The Wild Places.”

Jonathan Lynch / NHPR

Here's a slideshow of sights and scenes from PAX East 2013.

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