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

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!


[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

On the Topic of Emojis

It seems our module has really taken a shining to this topic. From Andrew Wiggins’ post (which I believe to be the first on this, correct me if I’m wrong) to the most recent presentations with Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen being converted to Emoji by Aisling Kilcawley. It’s pretty apparent this topic really brought some emotes to our group 😉 .

While it’s pretty much old news by this stage and no longer a hot topic of debate, I thought I’d close this blog (well, the necessary posts for this semester) out with the topic that so many of us started off with.

So, we all know what emojis are and there general usage is to make some feel an “emot”-ion from viewing them. What I’m here to introduce to us all today is the various and cultural differences emojis have around the world. We all know the general smilies and emoticons we see on Android or Iphone everyday. (Little picturing listing them below)


But did you know in Japan there exists a huge variant to emojis, the kaomoji. They’re slightly more complex than ours (they require 2bits where our emojis only use one and can not be replicated by an English keyboard.) An example : (。=◕‿‿◕=。)


These kaomoji are understandable without the necessity to tilt your head. (for example : =) and ( ^∇^) ). Both represent a happy emotion, but the kaomoji is clearly this without having to tilt your head (though nowadays, applications will often correct emojis to pictures.)

Then this type of kaomoji developed into a western style. This is when kaomoji is replicated on western keyboards. (<(o_o<)) Though, not many kaomoji are imitable.

Beyond Kaomoji from Japan, Korea also have a variant to our standard emojis by using Korean Hangul letters. They’re called Jamo emojis as jamo is the korean word for letter. An example is : ㅠㅠ which represents a crying face.

Eventually the styles of emoji and then there imitations lead to the creation of 2channel style emojis. Essentially, the internet as a culture created their own variant of emojis.Originally appearing on the internet forum board 4chan it combined many different languages (such as Kannada) to create an even greater variety of emoji to be used. An example of a 2channel style emoji would be : ಠ_ಠ which is supposed to appear as a disapproving look.

To me, seeing the vast variety and cultural differences of emoji from around the globe really makes me believe emojis are a new way in which we express ourselves. I don’t believe it possibly to see quite so many variations and nuances from culture to culture if they were not important to us as individual beings. Personally, I like to try replicate kaomoji with my western keyboard. I do this I believe because I’m showing both that I have an interest in the Japanese culture while also noting I’m from a western society.

Perhaps I’m looking at this too philosophically but I do honestly believe there is a tie in with culture, our own personal passions and the emoji. What do you believe? Does it have something to do with cultures wanting to express themselves through 1 or 2 bit expressions? Leave a comment to discuss! Until next time, this stream is going offline and in case I do not write again until after the holidays, Merry Christmas everyone!
To generate Kaomoji’s I use http://japaneseemoticons.me/



On the Topic of Emojis

On the Topic of Gamification


I briefly touched on Gamification in my Gaming in Education post, however I feel that I did not quite give enough information on just what gamification is and how it is affecting our world and daily life.

So what exactly is Gamification anyway? Well according to Badgeville.com (a site which literally has it’s own gamification wiki), gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.

It works due to the human psyche wanting status, achievements and other works we have created to represent ourselves. Our natural drives for competition, achievement, status, altruism and community collaboration are exploited in a way by companies as we are naturally drawn to these times of games in our products. [1]

Gamification comes in many forms, from Subway cards (yes, you’re scoring a point every time you use a card and when you have enough points you get a free sandwich, sounds like a game to me at any rate) to Tesco clubcards (again every purchase you gain imaginary credits that you can later use) it’s evident that games aren’t just “Call of Duty” or “Halo” anymore, they’re everywhere. While mechanics of these games are a lot simpler than that of a modern video game, there is no doubting that both entities are entertaining and fun to use, classifying both as games.

It all started from the Frequent Flyer Programs (FFP) that airlines give out. Where again, the more you traveled, the more rewards you received varying from gifts to free flights. These were the earliest “games” that came to the real world and have since been adapted and used by companies everywhere to encourage more consumers to use their products.

Some more examples of gamification used by companies include Starbucks’ mobile loyalty app, “MyStarbucksRewards”. Besides Starbucks, Nike released the Nike+ app to encourage consumers to be active while also using Nike products. In a way, this gives Nike free advertising when people see a consumer doing sporting activity using their products.

But it’s not just these few companies that use gamification, in fact, Gamification can be applied to many facets of technology and has evolved in the recent years. Over 70% of Forbes Global 2000 companies surveyed in 2013 said they planned to use gamification for the purposes of marketing and customer retention [2].

I feel I might be scrutinizing gamification a little too much, while it is true that it is a ploy by some companies to enrich their businesses, it does have it’s benefits. If the games the companies such as Tesco, Subway, Aer Lingus, etc. were not fun to play we would have stopped long, long ago. Companies are genuinely trying to keep there “players” happy. If this is achieved, the customer is more likely to remain loyal, purchase from the same company and perhaps bring more eager “players” to the market.

I really do hope that this post was a little more in-depth and brought gamification in today’s world a little more into light than my last post. Thank you for reading! Until next time, this stream is going offline.


[1] – Gamification Definition : https://badgeville.com/wiki/Gamification#garterere
[2] – Fitz-Walter, Z. A Brief History of Gamification. http://zefcan.com/2013/01/a-brief-history-of-gamification/


On the Topic of Gamification

On The Topic of Gaming in Education


While we were discussing topics in class last week we came onto the topic of Gaming in Education and in general the gamification of the world. Now, I’ve been a gamer since as far back as I can remember but even I was skeptic of the idea that gaming could be part of education and seeping slowly into our everyday lives. That is, until I did research on the topic.

Video games are shown (with substantial research found backing it up) [1] to enhance the learning experience but by providing another media to experience while also making the process less dull and boring. (I mean, who would choose to sit down and study in a library if they could also choose to learn while winning a game of CounterStrike?).

Video games offer an incentive, a reward for players to pursue, a goal that comes at the end of an arduous task. As someone with years of gaming behind me, I equate this to the same feeling after researching for hours on one of these blogs and finally complying everything I found until I’m happy to hit the “Publish” button. It’s a exhilarating feeling of completion that stems from my gaming roots.

This brings us to the idea of Gamification – our world is adapting to putting minigames everywhere. Don’t believe me? Look at your subway “free sandwich” card or your Tesco “points” cards, each one incentivizes you to collect points for the reward at the end.

This has even become a part of our school systems. Achievements are much like merits [2] some schools are introducing where you receive a stamp or some kind of token for each merit (such as good behavior). Video games are playing an increasing role in school curriculum as teachers seek to deliver core lessons such as math and reading and it is very much a tool that allows students to take a more active role in learning as they develop the technology skills they need to succeed throughout their academic and professional careers. [3]

Examples of video games being actively introduced to education are MinecraftEdu, a version of the game that teachers created for educational purposes, teaches students mathematical concepts including perimeter, area and probabilities as well as foreign languages while SimCityEDU, a version of the popular city-building game, is likewise a learning and assessment tool for middle school students that covers the English, math and other lessons.

But is it limited to just Video games which are transforming our world? I would argue Card and Board games such as Magic the Gathering and Yu-gi-Oh! have had a hand in this transmogrification of the modern world. Both are highly social games (with dedicated communities keen to meet much like study groups working on a project) and involve a lot of decision making. It forces players to use both there critical and creative thinking to outwit there opponents and defeat them in a duel. [4] Of course, one can not forget how it exercises our mathematical and long term thinking skills trying to see what our opponent is likely to do and how to react.

Overall, video games lead us to having better reactions and fore planning abilities. Our cognitive abilities are naturally enhanced as one plays video games, we learn from our mistakes and are able to apply past experiences we faced to situations presented in front of us. Video games could provide a potent training regimen for speeding up reactions in many types of real-life situations. [5]

All in all, it is evident that some video games such as “Call of Duty”, “Dead Space”, “Bioshock” greatly enhance our reaction ability while other games such as “Yu-Gi-Oh!”, “Heathstone”, “Minecraft” improve our spatial awareness and mathematical skills. It is obvious gamers have picked up a lot of relevant skills to apply to today’s world through the experiences we’ve faced in virtual worlds.

Gamers have already experienced so much that in a way, we are becoming ready to adapt to almost any situation.These experiences, we will carry them with us forever and that is without mentioning the emotional impact video games can have on us (such as “Journey”) but that is treading on the territory of video games as an art form, a topic best left to another day. I believe I have shown how games can be used in education and the advantages they can give us in this blog, and like always, until next time, this stream is going offline.

Picture: Credit to Riot Games. (Professor Ryze)

[1] – Nick Tannahill, Patrick Tissington, Carl Senior, “Video Games and Higher Education: What Can ‘Call of Duty’ Teach our Students?”, 2012http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3382412/
[2] – Elliott Bristow, “Gaming in Education: Gamification?”  – http://www.theedublogger.com/2015/01/20/gaming-in-education-gamification/
[3] – Elena Malykhina,“Fact or Fiction?: Video Games Are the Future of Education “ http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-video-games-are-the-future-of-education/
[4] – March Gallagher, “In Praise of Yu Gi Oh” http://sudburyschool.com/content/praise-yu-gi-oh
[5] – “Video Games Lead to Faster Decisions that are No Less Accurate” http://rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3679

On The Topic of Gaming in Education

On The Topic of Creative Commons


Recently, we were tasked to watch a documentary on the life of Aaron Swartz in our course. (Link Below) It was noted in the video that Swartz was one of the first architects of creative commons, a different type of copyright on the internet. Swartz believed information should be more open and free to the world, and while in the beginning of the internet this was very much the case, today almost all major nations follow the Berne copyright convention. [1]

The © (Copyright) symbol has so much power today. It can completely disallowed someone from interacting with a wealth of human knowledge or using pictures from sources. In general, if you unknowingly took something from a copyrighted source it could cause massive uproar such as copyright infringement charges and a en-slew of legal charges for accidentally using a copyrighted piece in your work

While there was the concept of “Fair Use” on the internet for copyright law was created to allow things such as commentary, parody, news reporting, research and education about copyrighted works without the permission of the author. [2] Basically, In reproducing an article, it would only be deemed fair usage if you were to use it to criticize or highlight the quality of said article. If it was used because you couldn’t find time to write your own story, or didn’t want your readers to have to register at a web site it would most likely not be deemed fair use.

Swartz aimed to change this with the concept of Creative Commons and liberate copyrighted data. You might be asking, well what IS Creative Commons? Well, Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. He hated how copyright felt like an iron-clad lock against the distribution of knowledge. Creative Commons is helping to realize the full potential of the Internet, allowing universal access to research and education, full participation in culture and is trying to drive the world into a new era of development growth, and productivity. [3]

The (cc) (Creative Commons) logo in contrast to copyright allows a publisher to options on how there content is used. There are six contracts (as seen in the image above) which allow a publisher to control the access the public has to their content. Not only does Creative Commons allow more control for the publisher, usually it gives more access to the reviewer, researcher, etc. who are using the publisher’s work. It refines your copyright and streamlines how you give permission.

There are several symbols (or rules) to every creative commons contract. A link to a great video for understanding Creative Commons can be found here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YkbeycRa2A

-Attribution : The original source must be Acknowledged
-Non-Commercial : Only the original source may make money from the content
-No Derivatives : The image, video, etc. can not be altered from original publication
-Share Alike : New creations that use the original source must follow the same license as the original.

It’s evident to see that Creative Commons allows more diverse control for the publisher and is shown to increase sales (as the work can be used by the buyer) if the original source is to be monetized. [4] Remember, Creative Commons is actually a license that is applied to a work that is protected by copyright. It’s not separate from copyright, but instead is a way of easily sharing copyrighted work. Creative Commons allows us to use works on the internet even through copyright protection. So remember, next time you’re using a source to check it’s creative commons license and if your using it correctly.

I believe this sums up the majority of what I needed to say on the concept of creative commons and how it improves on current copyright laws. My next post should be Thursday, on the topic of Openness, which will combined elements from our classes’ recent Twessay. Until then, This stream is going offline.

References :

[1] – Current Berne Convention text : http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/index.html
[2] – Notes of Fair Use Copyright Law – https://w2.eff.org/IP/eff_fair_use_faq.php
[3] – Creative Commons’ Goals – http://creativecommons.org/
[4] – Publishing a Commercial Book with Creative Commons – http://www.technollama.co.uk/publishing-a-commercial-book-with-creative-commons
Image used from : http://ohda.matrix.msu.edu
Aaron Swartz Documentary – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL182y-5iIY

On The Topic of Creative Commons