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Category: YRC Investigates

YRC 26: YRC Investigates (Google Glass)

googleglass2

Google Glass is a wearable device launched on the American mass market in May this year by Google, amidst negative criticisms and health concerns. Google Glass is a kind of eyewear that works as a hands-free cyber device, which is controlled through voice commands and a touchpad.

People can use it to make videos, surf the web, find directions, play music, send messages, take photos, video streaming…the list goes on.
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Thursday,18 September 2014 by | Blog, YRC Investigates |

YRC 26: YRC Investigates Entertainment Technology

By Natalya Thangamany

Entertainment is an antidote to the busyness and stress of life. Good entertainment makes us laugh, stirs our imagination, and gets us excited. A great amount of our entertainment these days come via our computers and mobile devices. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to digital music, virtual games with realistic graphics, games you can play on your mobile devices, video-sharing websites…the list goes on. And all these things have one common goal: To let us have fun and be happy amidst our hectic daily lives. This is what we call ‘entertainment technology’.

Back in the 90’s and early 00’s, entertainment technology existed in the form of computer games on floppy disks and compact discs, saturated pixel graphics, bulky plastic gaming consoles and arcade machines with gigantic levers.

I remember my preschool days where I would sit with my cousins and friends to watch them play computer games on big bulky square screens – The Secret Island of Dr Quandary, Escape from Monkey Island, Putt Putt, Gulf War, Jurassic Park, Lemmings, Mario 64, the Sims, etc. Now, such titles are long forgotten, only occasionally mentioned on gaming forums under threads discussing vintage games.

I remember when Playstation was that one gaming console everyone wanted to get.
I remember Neopets, an online game where you raise a virtual pet and do activities with it. It was a trend when I was growing up.
I remember chalet vacations where I will visit arcades to play anything from racing to combat to shooting.

Over the past 20 years or so, the landscape of entertainment technology has changed drastically.

TODAY AND BEYOND

When I compare the technical details of present day video games to those of my childhood, I can easily see how far entertainment technology has evolved.

Gaming platforms and genres have changed over the years to suit shifting demographics and tastes. Much advancement has been made to player controls, graphics, systems and platforms for video games.

Game developers today have used advancements such as motion capture, hardy graphic cards and user-friendly software to create graphics and systems that are visually appealing, interactive and realistic.

Recent popular titles such as Far Cry 3, The Last of Us and Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls are examples of games which have used motion capture technology to create more life-like and realistic models for their characters. The latter even used the facial features and voices of big-name actors Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe.

Now, we are progressing from using motion capture on our gaming consoles (think Xbox Kinect, Nintendo Wii, etc) to using devices that pull us right into the game. Virtual reality, once a sci-fi concept, is becoming the next phase of entertainment technology.

BEING IN CONTROL

Taking our love for cyber entertainment too far can lead to cyber addiction, and that can distract us from our ambitions and responsibilities in life, as well as isolate us from those who care about us.

A Huffington Post article by Russ Warner about teenage cyber addiction observed that children spent at least 44.5 hours a week in front of an electronic device, be it a smartphone, computer, gaming console or a television.

The article also revealed that in the UK, 95% of its teens are online most of the day and 40% of 2,200 teenagers interviewed feel that they are addicted to the Internet, an addiction that grows more severe as they get older.

Cyber addiction can get so severe to the extent lives are compromised or even lost. There are reports out there detailing how gaming addicts:
1) Died due to over exhaustion of playing video games for long hours without rest,
2) Killed somebody due to being influenced by the game or wanting to continue gaming,
3) Killed somebody or themselves over losing or winning in a game
4) Neglected somebody so that they can stay in the cyber world, leading to that person’s death,
5) Skipped school or work so that they can play computer games as long as they want
6) Played games too much to the extent family members had to resort to extreme measures to help them kick the habit, further straining family ties
7) Experienced symptoms akin to those of drug withdrawal if they do not get onto the computer
8) Developed health problems due to irregular sleep patterns from constant gaming

It’s important for us to reflect: How long do we spend on your mobile device or computer? Have we talked to anyone face-to-face recently and not through a screen?

It is not bad to spend time on the computer but spending too much time will have a negative effect on your life and on your family and friends. Get help from people you trust if you need to.

I read a Huffington Post article about Ryan Van Cleave, a man so addicted to cyber gaming that it threatened his job, his family and even his mental health. It was on the verge of committing suicide that he realized his mistakes, went back to delete his computer game and slowly rebuild his life.

So have a thought – which side of the computer screen do you really want to be on? Is immersing yourself in a fantasy world really worth the life of anyone, even yours?

GAMING FOR GOOD

However, while the cyber world does have its dangers, we have been able to put it to good use. We can use the internet for learning and altruistic purposes.
In the 259th issue of gaming magazine PC GAMER, an article by Chris Thursten talked about how gaming community MilitaryGamers helped former and current soldiers in the US deal with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and interact with one another through playing military games.
Battleground experiences may negatively impact the emotional and mental well-being of soldiers. So through video games, they honour the memory of fallen comrades, get support from fellow gamers and cope with their stress and trauma.
Not only that, an article found in local newspaper Today talked about how video gaming is used to benefit society and help people in need. Games for Change, a non-profit organization, works with other organizations to promote games that are about social change rather than pure entertainment.

The goals of the campaign collecting books in-game to donate real books to improve literacy and gender-equality, using Minecraft to construct a sports field for the slums, finding molecular structures in-game to fuel medical research, and making important decisions for inter-country peace.

So entertainment technology, like everything else, can be both advantageous and disadvantageous. It is fun and exciting, until you allow it to take over your life.
Read up more about three devices that are making waves in the entertainment technology field in the next few pages – do you know about them and what they can do for society?

Thursday,18 September 2014 by | Blog, YRC Investigates |

YRC 25: YRC Investigates (Sidebar 4)

22 THINGS NOT TO SAY TO A CHILD OF MIXED RACE

1) “So, you are a hybrid?”
2) “Is that lady your maid? Oh wait, that’s your mum?”
3) “Why is your skin so dark/light?” (more…)

Friday,23 May 2014 by | YRC Investigates |

YRC 25: YRC Investigates (Sidebar 2)

ETHEL2

SIDE BAR 2
ETHEL WIDJAJA
BORN INDONESIAN-CHINESE, BRED SINGAPOREAN

14-year-old Ethel Widjaja, now in her second year at Raffles Girls Secondary School, comes from an Indonesian-Chinese heritage; her father is half-Indonesian while her mother is Singaporean-Chinese. Chirpy and animated, Ethel sees herself as a born-and-bred Singaporean who has blended in and feels right at home. “I blend in with my classmates very well,” she said with a chuckle. “I speak Singlish, I complain, all those Singaporean habits. The only difference between me and my friends, I guess, is my surname.”
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Friday,23 May 2014 by | YRC Investigates |