E-Literature & Gaming-Relations

What is E-literature you may be asking yourself? Well a definition offered by the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) states electronic literature “refers to works with an important literary aspect that takes advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer.” [1] However, it can be much more than that. Of course E-literature refers to your Kindle or reading a digital news article on the train on your iPad but it also offers new depths for stories to explore.

E-literature to me also revolves around new ways of showing a story. Be that through game-play elements such as [2] Pry (2016) allowing you to see into the mind of the protagonist ever step of the way and understand their motives and decisions vividly unlike the pages of a novel could express. It could also be like in [3] Journey (2012) where you are initially a mere wandering wayward vagabond learning small tidbits of the world as your explore a wasteland and find little pieces of information along the way that tell a story unlike any novel could express without words.

Stories are developing beyond the medium of pen and paper. Many mediums are looking towards creating video-stories such as in interactive Youtube videos such as Hell Pizza’s Zombie Attack. Videos like this craft  a story with some different outcomes depending on the viewer or reader. E-literature is a medium where you do not merely read and enjoy a novel but instead interact with it, explore it and absolutely become a part of the story yourself.

I’ve been a firm believer in anything being able to create a grandiose story when people come together to put it together. As a Dungeons & Dragons (I’m gonna get nerdy for a second, just let it happen!) player and long time Dungeon Master, I know that crafting a story, setting and world can take months of work to pull off. However, that world would go nowhere without the players to push the story forward. I understand that this is not entirely E-Literature as it is not online but it does connect people together to create a collaborative story. Together the players work to craft their story.

It might be a little irrelevant but Roll20 is an online place for D&D players to find each other and play online as well which, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of E-literature as you craft your own story online with other people, the possibilities of these tales are endless.

I hope this was an enjoyable read! Thank you for making it to the end!

Bibliography :

[1] Electronic Literature Organization – http://eliterature.org/

[2] Pry 2016 – http://prynovella.com/

[3] Thatgamecompany – Journey 2012

E-Literature & Gaming-Relations

Personality and Computer Analysis

So recently a friend of mind showed me this quiz and it got me thinking about computer analysis of human people in general such as on dating websites. I will mainly focus on the quiz I linked however as it’s fantasy related (and I do love fantasy) but also because it does a great job at showing your results compared to others.

After playing around with the quiz it turns out my RPG class would be this : A Mirror Mage.

mirrormage

I assume you think I’ve gone off the deep end right now with me saying that I’m a mage and can sling spells around and such. Well, let’s not get too hasty with the mental stability allegations! At the end of the quiz you are presented with six attribute ratings. These are : Strength (Athleticism and how important it is to you), Bloodlust (This one is a bit odd but think about it more as your own independent action, how driven you are), Intelligence (Academia and how important it is to you), Spirit (How willing you are to continue preserving against a challenge), Vitality (Similar to spirit but more about your physical willingness rather than mental fortitude) and Agility (Not really your speed here, it’s more how open you are with people, someone with high agility is often very charming or well spoken.) Once finishing the test you’re rated from 1-100 in each stat (and anything above 35 is usually of exceptionally high importance to you).

To take my stats into consideration, I received a 40 Strength, 15 Bloodlust, 20 Intelligence (probably shouldn’t admit that haha), 43 spirit, 53 Vitality and 17 Agility. So I bet you’re thinking “well that’s great but what the hell does it mean?” Well, it means I’m more of a physical person than a studious one, I’m quite a passive person who doesn’t love to be in the limelight but I am always happy to take up a challenge and keep going until I resolve it.

What really interests me is the section at the bottom (after all the fluff about your class and it’s abilities). At the bottom you can compare yourself against everyone else who ever took this test! You can see that a lot of it is just fantasy flair (I mean no one in real life is actually proficient with Necromantic Wizardry or I sure hope not anyway) but some things are quite interesting to look at, such as if you lean more towards good (angelic) or malignant (demonic) tendencies. In the end, this isn’t the most extensive personality quiz out there but it sure throws a lovely fantasy flair on it!

I had two of my close friends take the test as well to which both got the “Spell Slayer” result. Both had similar stats of high intellect, bloodlust and agility. Meaning I tend to have friends who are more independent than me, usually more studious and much better silver-tongued speakers than I. It just seemed to be the trend! I think if an extensive study of which classes were more likely to be amicably with one another was carried out sometime it would have some rather interesting results.

But for as fun as this fantasy idea quiz is, if you really want to have your personality analyzed go to this quiz, it is called the Jung and Briggs Myers Typology test and puts people into two categories of “I” (Introvert) or “E” (Extrovert), “N” (iNtuitive) or “S” (Sensing), “F” (Feeling) or “T” (Thinking) and “J” (Judging) or “P” (Perceptive). It’s a much clearer analysis than the above test and has a rather large amount of works to back up its authenticity. I would say if you truly want to go in-depth and learn about yourself go there but if you just want a fun little side-quest take the fantasy option!

Thank you for reading!

Bibliography :

J.H.B. – What fantasy RPG class would you be? – https://www.helloquizzy.com/tests/the-fantasy-rpg-class-test

Schuerger – 16Personalities Jung & Briggs Mysers Testhttps://www.16personalities.com/

Personality and Computer Analysis

How AI in Video Games is furthering our knowledge of programming AIs in general.

AI had humble beginnings. In 1957, Arthur Samuel successfully played a match of checkers with an artificial opponent. [1] This came with some restrictions however, such as his opponent being the size of the room he was playing in. We’ve come a long way since that almost prehistoric computing period and a new age of AI has dawned on us in video games such as Bioshock Infinite‘s Elizabeth being an almost new standard of AI on her own.

Elizabeth [2] is a very interesting example of AI. She isn’t just a follow along companion or just a recruit you can hire like in The Elder’s Scrolls : Skyrim or Fallout, Elizabeth adapts to the player she is with. She can follow or lead while being reactive to the protagonist character and still proactive in pushing players through the story arcs. The team in charge of programming her faced many challenges in non-combat situations. Will having her function to merely follow the player they said it opened “a comedy of errors” while in play. They knew for this character they needed to step up the AI from previous video games.

They wanted Elizabeth to feel like a real person next to you during the campaign. Never too close to you to be “creepy” but also never straying too far as to become impersonal with the main character. It was a tricky blend but through long hours programming they were able to create what is now a critically acclaimed as the best AI in video game history! It is a far cry from the AI of Watson in Sherlock Holmes : Crimes & Punishments. Who would often feel like he was stalking the player with his obsessive teleporting. (Gif Attached)

At its core, Artificial Intelligence is imbuing interaction between people and machines. Video games already blend this line with player input being the key factor of progressing the story. But what is AI? This is an interesting question Graft, K. [3] posed to multiple game AI developers on Twitter. Some responses were quite interesting such as “Teaching the game to make decisions that provide context for the player’s own decisions”. Now I’m not one to spell the “end is nigh” for teachers out there but that does sound awfully similar to how teachers in school show pupils how to do tasks and homework. Perhaps one day we could see AI implemented into the real world through similar means? Though that is probably as far away from us as we are from that checker game in 1957!

Currently, AI is still a developing format with limited research. Sadly, The video game industry takes almost no note of cutting edge AI research which is truly a shame in my eyes. As if we could combined or albeit limited research of AI with the expertise of developers who knows what we could create. However, the challenge of learning with less data known is well known and almost inspiring to computer scientists these days [4] so it may be possible one day soon we will have Terminators and Personal AI Assistants helping us out in our regular routines!

Thank you all for reading, I hope this article on how AIs are currently evolving was suitably entertaining!

References:

[1] – Togelius, J. Why Video Games are essential for inventing Artificial Intelligence. http://togelius.blogspot.ie/2016/01/why-video-games-are-essential-for.html

[2] – Corriea, A.R. The long road to building AI for Bioshock Infinite’s Elizabeth. http://www.polygon.com/2014/3/18/5522450/the-long-road-to-perfecting-ai-for-bioshock-infinites-elizabeth

[3] – Graft, K. When Artificial Intelligence in Games becomes… Artificially intelligent. http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/253974/When_artificial_intelligence_in_video_games_becomesartificially_intelligent.php

[4] – Knight, W. To get truly smart, AI might need to play more video games. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601009/to-get-truly-smart-ai-might-need-to-play-more-video-games/

How AI in Video Games is furthering our knowledge of programming AIs in general.

Gaming in Education and Holograms

Last year, I discussed Gaming in Education and the positive effects it could enable students between more diverse interesting classes to less likely chance of burning out. While looking into this I discovered Hologram Videos and how some teachers have found ways to incorporate them into their classes (albeit, it is a very limited practice as of right now).

While limited, it is possible to create a hologram with your Smartphone right now if you wanted to try it! I’ll leave a link to the creation of the apparatus you’ll need to make to do so here as well as a video made for holograms.

and once you have this created, place it on the video below for results. (This requires viewing the video below on a Smartphone)

Now, how are these relevant to Gaming in Education? Well, the videos are exceptionally interactive, they’re more or less 3D models of figures, places and such. One day perhaps that Butterfly or Jellyfish could be intractable in a Biography class, allowing “dissection” of creatures without all the grisly bits in between.

We’ve seen great success come from Holograms before from concerts with Tupac from beyond the grave to vocaloids like Hatsune Miku in Japan (Essentially animated musicians coming to life on stage!). But I want to look at the possibility of such a thing coming to the class or boardroom one day. Instead of Skype calls, you could almost be sitting next to someone in the same room while in reality there in America. Would it be possible?

Well, it is sort of a Reality already. The iCandy glass and other Virtual Reality augmentation devices can already perform such a task over skype giving the illusion of real perspectives near the person. That is merely an illusion however, can we take it a step further?

The answer is yes, Cisco have been developing something known as TelePresence Live Holographic Calls and there is even a video circulating YouTube showing off the strides they’ve made (they even had a conference in front of a live audience). So the technology is definitely there! It is just sad to say it is not cost-effective as of yet and the “interactive” nature of this equipment is in its primitive stages as of yet. One day we may see “touch-screens” similar to our smartphones incorporate holograms we can play with on our phones (imagine Pokemon GO where you could pet your virtual friend!) but that is sadly still a futuristic idea but not complete technological jargon! Our technical know-how just may evolve to a stage where holograms are common place everywhere between meetings and in the classroom to give students from primary school to college “hands-on” experience without the actual need for having to actually dirty your hands.

Here is a link to Cisco’s Presentation, it is very interesting and I recommend you give it a watch if you have time! (Or at least the first 2 minutes to see the holograms come on stage). This is quite primitive (it was from 5 years ago) and I believe they were using a projection screen which is technology that can be dated up to 15 years ago but with correct innovation it does show just how far this technology could go.

Thank you for reading!

 

 

Gaming in Education and Holograms

Visual Analysis of “Artemis Fowl”

As my final Digital Humanities assignment of this semester, I was tasked to analyse any publicly available text using some visualization tools such as Voyant 2.0. I chose to analyse Artemis Fowl (2001, E.Colfer) in this way as it was the first book I read as child and nostalgia drew me back to it. There will be spoilers to the plot of this book beyond this point! Consider yourself warned should you wish to delve further.

A-D

So, just what does this jumble of text tell us? At first glimpse it looks pretty meaningless, like a kid just scribbled all over his parents’ walls. However, we can see all the main (and even most of the side characters) names appear in this block of words.

First, we have our main characters:

-Artemis Fowl (His name appears 748 times in total): Our protagonist, the boy genius who kidnaps our second main character, Holly and holds her at ransom.
-Captain Holly (Her name appears 429 times): A fairy and captain to the armies of fairies who live just below our feet.
-Commander Julius Root (His name appears 269 times): Commander of the fairy armies, his mission is to save Holly from Artemis.
-Butler (His name appears 229 times): Artemis’ most loyal and deadly servant, military-trained man but with a soft side for his younger sister.

and our secondary cast:

-Foaly (184 appearances): A centaur who is an expert in all things computing, he is allied with Commander Root.
-Mulch (149 appearances): A convicted criminal Dwarf with a nack for burrowing into places no one else can get to. He is reluctantly recruited by Root when it looks like he may be Holly’s only hope of escape.
-Juliet (84 appearances): Butler’s sister who he cares about above all else, even Artemis.

Now, using Voyant’s Trend tool, we are able to see when and where each character is mentioned in the story. This* is a link to a trend page of voyant which compares the frequency of characters appearing in the story. We can see from it, Artemis is always a character in focus, being the protagonist. However, Holly spikes in importance at chapter two and then is pushed to the side in a way by chapter four while other characters see more of the spotlight. Comparing mentions of characters in this way can show their importance to the story line at that moment (such as Commander Root receiving no mention in chapter one, due to this chapter primarily focusing on the kidnapping of Holly.)

Other words being used such as “Fairy”, “Troll” and even “Human” to an extent in context show us a little of the world in which Artemis Fowl resides. It is a fantasy world where ages ago, humans evolved and pushed fairies (who were weaker bodied but technologically superior) under the Earth, where they stayed and were forgotten about except in myths. Artemis believed in these myths and lures Holly – which is where the story begins, however it shows that in the ancient past of this world humans and other mythical creatures were at war, setting up a resentment of one another bringing racism into the novel as a theme (which is developed on in further installments of the series).

It also allows Colfer to write about fantastical creatures such as Dwarves with the power to burrow miles into the Earth, Trolls – mindless but powerful and dangerous creatures which dwell beneath our feet and so much more which gives this series a real flavour of that “fantastical but almost believeable world” one can truly immerse themselves in.

So, in answering, Voyant allows us to quickly glimpse and assemble the image of an entire book, it’s characters, main themes, genre and even the frequency of characters appearing in one amazing tool. It is a fantastic way to covert raw data into visual text and particularly great at turning novels and texts into one “bite-sized” chunk.

*Link to trending voyant page : http://voyant-tools.org/?corpus=d7d717b6b78e14ed7a0d3f081d420657&query=artemis&query=holly&query=root&withDistributions=raw&docId=799701add56d38cc81a7f6df42c2b527&mode=document&view=Trends

Bibilography:

Eoin Colfer,  Artemis Fowl (2001),  Viking Press

Visual Analysis of “Artemis Fowl”

Open Street Map Participation

Our project was to contribute to Open Street Maps by either responding to an Humanitarian needed cartography initiative or mapping our local neighborhood on Open Street Maps (OSM for short). I chose to participate in initiative #1623 which included mapping Fiji (the island of Vanua Levu from the city of Lekutu to Naduri) as the Island had recently been hit by one of the most powerful storms recorded to date in the Southern Hemisphere. We were tasked with mapping three “blocks” or sections of the map, this included hand drawing roads, buildings and farmland in the affected areas the storm affect Fiji. We were also tasked with reviewing the work of another member of the OSM community and validating there work as correct.

This was the first time I ever attempted to use software such as this and of course, I started off pretty confused. I stumbled into locking myself to Task #300 and edited this area using Bing Maps and ID Editor. I noticed someone more experienced had already filled out a secondary road on this area, which was a boon to someone as inexperienced as I. Knowing this could affect people in that area, I wanted to map this as precisely as I could, so I spent well over an hour mapping ever dirt road, building, farmland and one lake no one else had marked on a nearby adjacent block. Feeling that I had confidently filled out this block, I saved it and marked it as complete. I may also mention that upon starting this the map was 70% complete and had two more experienced members of the community working on nearby blocks with me, this gave me much more confidence in the case of an error being made (by an inexperienced member such as myself) it would be corrected.

After gaining some confidence in using the software I moved onto Task #299 and Task#352. While the task only asked to map roads, I also marked down houses, farmlands and any water features I could find. Though it may not have been required it may certainly be useful knowledge to locals of the area. It certainly is an enriching feeling to know you may be helping emergency services around the world find routes to areas and potentially saving lives. All of my tasks have been set as complete but not yet validated, I am eagerly awaiting validation so I can either see my mistakes and improve from there or potentially even be praised for using the software well as a first timer! (Though I expect the former much more likely than the latter)

Gaining confidence on the software, I decided to validate Task#350 which was submitted by another member of the OSM community. After reviewing their work I noticed they had omitted several roads and had forgone mapping buildings and farmlands completely. I personally edited as many omissions as I could find, when I believed to be finished I validated the work as complete. However, within an hour I received a message from another member of the OSM community. This message stated that they had noticed I was a new account so they checked my validation and noted I had also omitted a road. They added this in and allowed me a second chance to validate Task#350 again. My second validation was accepted as correct.

However, this experience really showed me the community of OSM, they are extremely diligent and keen to fix mistakes as soon as possible. If not, my mistake and omission of that road could have been critical in an emergency service making it to a site in time and not. I was surprised for the level of scrutiny the community shows the mapping but also very thankful for it as it is only after many iterations that a map is charted to complete accuracy.

As a consensus, while OSM is not the easiest to access community, due to the learning curve and figuring out the level of accuracy expected of members, the members are extremely active and welcoming. When criticism occurs, it is only to help each other improve our mapping skills and never an attack on another person. It is exciting to view your interpretation of a map to become locked into place as the true routes of that area. The community strives for accuracy and collaboration. After helping out on this project of mapping Fiji I believe this community is both noble and extremely important. I am impressed by the more experienced members the most of course, the re-correction of my validation and allowing me to submit it again did not turn me away, it made me want to try harder and be more precise with my maps in the future. I firmly believe that as long as members of the community uphold this standard then OSM may even replace google maps in terms of usefulness one day as the members on OSM constantly update everywhere they can.

 

Open Street Map Participation

Digital Research Tool Review

After spending some time looking for interesting tools on the DiRT (Digital Research Tools) directory, I stumbled upon one particularly interesting historical research site. Being an archaeology student, I was drawn to ORBIS, a geospatial network model of the ancient Roman World at the height of its power. (Roughly 200 AD) ORBIS reconstructs the time cost and financial expense associated with a wide range of different types of travel in the Roman Empire.

Background, Development and Research
Developed by Digital Humanities Grant of Stanford University and Center for Textual and Spatial Analysis (CESTA), ORBIS is essentially, a website that gives the feel of a Google Maps for an ancient Roman Empire, however it goes into extreme depth and details on Roman Life. For example, we can explore how a merchant would travel from Roma to Corinthus in the Summer by oxcart and see the routes he would take and expenses that would need to be accounted for. (If you’re curious, it takes roughly nine and a half days and you’ll be taking a detour in Messana.) Finally, we can see that this route would cost you roughly ~252 denarii (ancient Roman Currency), with 250 of the denarii being spent on sea travel.

While ORBIS is a pretty niche site, it is stunningly detailed and could be used as a tool to study questions in various fields of study about antiquity, including trade and social interaction in the past. Below is an image of the rivers and roads that have been modeled into ORBIS.

orbis

ORBIS is a free close-sourced webpage that anyone can access. While it deals with a niche subject matter, anyone can find an interest in discovering forgotten information of the Roman Empire, such as the cost of transporting a kilogram of wheat or a legion of soldiers across the Empire.

Using ORBIS
With ORBIS, it is possible to create your own roman routes and discover the price of transport as a merchant living in the past. ORBIS contains 632 sites of the Roman Empire and covers close to 10 million square kilometres detailing the maritime and terrestrial travel. It even accounts for the monthly wind conditions and strong currents / wave height in increasing or decreasing the cost of travel by sea.

In calculating any route in ORBIS you are presented with three options, “Fastest”, “Cheapest” and “Shortest” routes. The fastest route will always take the least amount of days to go from point A to point B, however it will not take into account the cost factor of sea travel or land travel so will often end up well over the amount of denarii any reasonable business man would ever spend!

The cheapest route option will, as expected, calculate the least expensive route. This route is often much longer than the fastest route, however you’ll have denarii to spare after traveling by these routes! In study, the cheapest routes are often taken by merchants selling grain and can be used to see social interaction of Roman people as they traveled and who they may interact with along the journey.

Finally, the shortest route will calculate the geographically closet route. However, many of the roads or sea-ways were less used and this often results in a journey that is both longer and more expensive that would have been expected.

When you become more advanced at using these routes, you can move onto network diagrams, clustering and flow diagrams which give another perspective on movement based on priority routes and seasons. This is distinct from making routes as this shows the priority of routes during the year. (For example, the cheapest route may be more popular in Summer, but the fastest route may be used more frequently in Winter due to goods being in a higher demand)

Goals
The goal of ORBIS was initially to model an ancient Roman World and contextualize the information of routes that had long since been forgotten in a modern way. This data is now digitized and preserved forever in an interactive medium. It can also be used to analysis the networks of travel and routes in Roman times and can be used to analysis the spatial distant between Roman sites.

To this, I will say ORBIS has achieved its goals, not only does it bring us a modern overview on the topic of Roman socialization and life expenses but it allows us to in a way travel back in time and plan our own routes across the world.

Design and Accessibility
ORBIS is not a simple website to use at first. However they do offer tutorials in the about tab in the top right of the screen which allowed me as a beginner to understand the procedures in making my own routes within 20 minutes.

One small technical problem some may encounter is that this website is designed with Chrome and Safari in mind, so accessing it with Internet Explorer or other web browsers may leave users with unsatisfactory results. However, there is another version of ORBIS (which they link you to immediately when accessing the website) for those browsers.

Final Word
ORBIS is an amazing example of how we can digitized information that is otherwise long forgotten into an interactive website. Some may ponder as to what advantage digitization of the past in such a manner is important in our world. Well, simply put, ORBIS makes finding the records of these routes a simple process rather than the alternative of looking through ancient ledgers to find the same information. In a way, ORBIS even feels like a game where you are managing the routes people travel in ancient Rome, and that makes it not only a useful resource but in a way, fun aswell.

Until next time, this stream is going offline, thank you all for reading!

 

Digital Research Tool Review