Monthly Archives: July 2010

From psmith, gamer: Why there’s more to life than the XP Factor

World of Warcraft
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve started* a games blog – at – and this is an exerpt from a new post about levelling up in gaming. Stick around here for thoughts on digital media, but go there for thoughts on shooting aliens.

Something very odd has happened to gaming: people no longer try their damnedest to get to the end of a title to find out what happens. These days, with some of the biggest games around, the story is mostly a compared to the pursuit of increasing a player’s score, XP or level.

Gone are the linear afternoons spent testing “completing” games – Atari, C64, Spectrum and Amiga veterans will understand this concept all too well – now it’s more a case of competing in them.

XBox Live’s GamerScore, Steam‘s in-built, in-game achievements and Ubisoft‘s own game achievements system add another layer to games: outside the plot, nothing to do with the characters, they’re just extraneous throw-away trophies to compare with friends.

Some very clever people such as Jesse Schell, technology professor at Carnegie Mellon Institute (via the very good Gamestm magazine), think this is a bad thing for games.

Here are some achievement/XP heavy titles:

Call of Duty 2: Modern Warfare, the biggest consumer entertainment product launch of all time (according to Activision/Vivendi) was nothing to do with its story-based first-person single player mode, but everything to do with its collaborative or solo deathmatch leagues, which are still sapping bandwith in homes and internet cafes across the world.

Read on here…..

*I say “started” it’s actually a tumblr I launched years ago when Tumblr first kicked off, so beware some strange old posts….

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Curse of the journalism ‘intern’ – when working for free goes too far

A fifth-grader interviews US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack. Too much for an intern?

It’s tough out there in the journalism job market. It always has been, but those entry-level openings are only available to people that really want them or have talents that newspapers, websites and magazines cannot do without.

Naturally, many students and recent grads complete many weeks of work experience in newsrooms across the land. I certainly did – it’s now an inevitable part of getting a first foot on the ladder. It’s been an interesting barometer of the recession to see how many of the job listings on Gorkana‘s Friday newsletter have moved from the ‘jobs’ to the ‘work experience/intern’ section.

If the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development gets its way this kind of thing would be illegal: it is calling for has called for a living wage of £2.50 per hour for interns, the same rate modern apprentice schemes pay (Nicky Woolf on has more).

But check this out: freelance journalist Tiffany Wright is advertising for what amounts to an unpaid personal assistant to help with her real life women’s mag features for a minimum of six weeks…
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