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Brandon Erickson's blog

On having a game room

I think that part of growing older is knowing that there's a time and place for escapism (e.g., games, movies, TV, etc.) and that there's a time for human connection without the interference and distraction of technology. I love playing games, but I don't want them to permeate my life, mentally or physically.

Moving to Seattle

Next week I'll be leaving the Portland area and moving to Seattle. With the demands of looking for jobs, going to interviews, finding a place to live, and organizing the move, I haven't had much time for videogames. Nevertheless, I thought I would take a moment to remind myself of how cool it is to be moving to one of the best videogame cities in the world.

Cel-shaded visual design in videogames

Games that use a cel-shaded style, such as Wind Waker, Killer7, and Okami, tend to look more visually coherent and artistically whole than their realism-focused brethren. Gears of War looks absolutely amazing today. But someday it will probably look more dated than Okami.

The bizarre and hazardous nature of Boom Blox

There's no rule that says Stephen Spielberg shouldn't be allowed to make a Jenga-like videogame. It just feels so completely out of left field and so totally unrelated and uninformed by all of the things that make Spielberg who he is. It'd be like if Spielberg suddenly decided to team up with Nike and create a new running shoe and that after the shoe finally came out it just turned out to be, well, a pretty good running shoe.

Gamers learn surgical skills faster than non-gamers

The link between videogame experience and surgical ability has been widely reported in the media. Until now, however, there has been no published research regarding the question of how videogame experience affects the speed of surgical skill acquisition.

Judging a game by its music

Music can't really make the game part of a game better. With the exception of rhythm-based games, music doesn't really have any connection to gameplay. Which kind of begs the question: to what extent is it fair to judge a game by its music?

The motivational power of Grand Theft Auto IV

I haven't played Grand Theft Auto IV yet, and I probably won't play it for quite a while. But that doesn't mean it isn't exerting an influence on my life. Like many people, I've been keeping track of the game's astronomically high Metacritic ranking, and it's safe to say that I'm pretty damn stoked about the possibility of playing it. The problem is that I'm currently in the midst of a competing set of interests and commitments, which for sake of brevity I'll simply refer to as "life."

Bloodier videogames make players more aggressive, say researchers

It seems that as long as there are videogames there will be scientific studies trying to prove how harmful they are. The credibility of these studies varies widely, ranging from rigorous and well thought out to flawed and utterly misleading. An article in the upcoming May issue of the Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology entitled "The effect of the amount of blood in a violent video game on aggression, hostility, and arousal" lies a little closer to the dubious end of the spectrum.

Virtual reality for the blind

For most people, the idea of "virtual reality" probably conjures up images like those from The Lawnmower Man or The Matrix, with a heavy emphasis on visual realism. The upcoming May issue of Computers in Human Behavior, however, looks at the rather foreign concept of virtual reality for the blind.

Is there a "critical period" for videogame skill acquisition?

I can't count the number of times I've heard people talk about getting bested at a videogame by a kid. These stories typically involve people in their thirties playing games with their kids and getting totally dominated, which then leads them to talk to their friends about how they can't believe how good this kid is at playing videogames. We've all heard some version of this, or perhaps experienced it firsthand.
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