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13 Oct 16:30

Analysis – Game Resolution Matters As The Intersection Of Art, Science, And Business

by Mike Futter

As I typically do at too-regular intervals, I looked back over the stories I’d written in the week prior to see what readers were most interested in. While I wasn’t entirely surprised, two stories caught my eye, both about the same, relatively inconsequential topic.

The issue of resolution and framerate in Xbox One and PlayStation 4 games has been a hot-button topic since the consoles launched 11 months ago. We’ve avoided covering unsubstantiated rumors and reports about variances in this area, but when publishers and developers make official statements, we don’t ignore them.

Last week, Assassin’s Creed Unity senior producer Vincent Pontbriand made news by specifically citing “debates” over framerate as a reason his game was normalized across the two console platforms. Ubisoft rushed to change the narrative, but the damage had been done. We covered this story later than some outlets, prioritizing it lower than items we deemed more pressing. It has since received over 43,000 views.

Later in the week, BioWare stepped forward to directly address Dragon Age: Inquisition’s resolution on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4. I happened to see the tweet immediately and quickly wrote the story, suspecting that our readers might be interested. It has received over 64,000 views.

There is a furor over resolutions and frame rates. Some of it comes from console warriors looking at the topic as a psychological warm blanket to reinforce a purchase decision. Others though, are genuinely curious about which platform will see the best performance, even if that discrepancy is only slightly perceptible (depending on screen size, seating distance, etc.)

In the comment sections of our stories and in others where resolution and frame rate are the focus, readers have pondered why we address something some see as inconsequential. This inspired me to examine what makes the topic such a hotbed of discussion. Yes, resolution often doesn’t impact gameplay. Yes, you can have a perfectly satisfying experience at 900p that will likely be no different than the same one at 1080p. Yes, resolution conversations skew away from the reasons we actually play games (entertainment, challenge, narrative engagement, etc.) and not just look at them.

So why bother with resolution?

Games, like every artistic discipline, are an intersection of that artistry, technology, and business. That’s not to say that “art” is always about business. It’s not, as any hobbyist will tell you. But collectively, “the arts” as disciplines have a relationship with business; something I learned in a decade working with non-profit arts organizations. As that’s the case, resolution discrepancies have a very real impact from all three of these intersecting and competing interests.

Resolution from the technical perspective
Whether we as individual gamers agree or not, there is a subset of the consumer base that concerns itself greatly with numbers on a page. The now frequent “how many Ps does your game have?” joke is rooted in the reality that, for some, any variance is enormous.  

Whether or not 900p versus 1080p is perceptible does not matter to these individuals. They want the best entertainment experience they can possibly get, and even the psychological impact of knowing there is a difference influences their ability to derive enjoyment.

Resolution from the artistic perspective
For some, the technical aspects of a game’s visual fidelity are deeply entwined with the actual play experience. How a game looks is as important to a portion of the audience as how it controls, how it sounds, or how its story is told.

There is no sense in faulting this portion of the audience or telling them that they are incorrectly prioritizing. This is engrained in how these individuals consume media, and it is unlikely to change through exhortation. 

And if you prioritize the artistic aspects of a game differently? That’s ok, too. The combination of reasons you play what you love is going to differ than almost everyone else.

Resolution from the business perspective
Here’s where things get a bit tricky. In my “Our Take” in the Dragon Age resolution story, I touched very (maybe too) briefly on the business angle of resolution discrepancies.

There are two different aspects of this that bear examination. First, there are some gamers that already have both an Xbox One and a PlayStation 4. 

Assuming that there are friends on both platforms with whom a consumer wants to play, there are no particular leanings toward either controller, and the user isn’t an EA Access member (which will grant early playtime for Dragon Age: Inquisition), there may be few things to nudge a purchase toward one platform or the other.

Ceteris paribus (all other things held equal), resolution might be the element that leads someone to choose the PlayStation 4 version over the otherwise identical experience for Xbox One. Platform holders derive licensing fees for games sold (the specifics of these arrangements are complex and vary from deal to deal). Overwhelming uptake on one platform versus the other has a financial implication for Sony and Microsoft.

With the holiday season upon us though, there are a number of people looking to make the upgrade to a new console. There are a number of factors one might consider when purchasing one of the two available options:

Which system has the games I want to play? 

Where do my friends play?

What features are available that distinguish the two?

For someone that isn’t particularly moved by the available platform exclusives and isn’t interested in Kinect or television integration, resolution might play into the discussion in two ways. First, as a raw set of data, a user might simply choose PlayStation 4 since it has, on multiple occasions, had a resolution or frame rate advantage. 

Second, the consumer might not care about resolution themselves, but still might be indirectly impacted. If enough friends have been swayed, there is a compelling case for even someone disaffected by the resolution discussion to make a choice. As more players choose for one of these two reasons, there is the potential for real business impact. 

I still believe that players should play what they like and where they want. But I’ve come to realize that for some, resolution is either directly or indirectly involved in that decision. 

Games are greater than the sum of their parts. We should absolutely recognize that the hours-long experience we spend with them is an interplay of systems, technology, and artistic expression. It’s just as important to recognize that the varied and personal weighting of those components influences how we experience those games. 

Does resolution matter? Yes, but not in the same way to everyone. And that’s ok. 

19 Oct 18:48

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20 Oct 00:33

3 Beliefs That "The Teacher Wars" Has Me Questioning

by Joshua Kim

The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession by Dana Goldstein 

Published in September of 2014.

How many books do you read that cause you to change your opinions?  

Mostly we read to confirm our views, seldom to challenge them.  

The Teacher Wars has caused me to question some of my long-held beliefs about public high school, middle and primary school teachers.  These beliefs have been formed primarily from my own experience as a parent, watching my girls go through the public education system, as well as by watching movies like Waiting for Superman. 

3 beliefs that The Teacher Wars has caused me to question:

Belief 1. Teacher Unions Are Always Bad:

Goldstein traces the roots of how and why teachers became unionized, as well as the subsequent backlash from education reformers about teacher union practices.  We need to understand that teacher unions were a response to a history of arbitrary and capricious firing and employment practices.  That prior to unions, public school teachers suffered from both much worse pay and often intolerable working conditions.   

If one believes that the educator is the most important part of the education equation, then it is important to balance the protections and resources that unions have been able to deliver to teachers with the well-documented downsides of teacher unions.  These downsides include an unfortunate hesitancy to allow individual evaluation of teacher performance, including both incentives for the best teachers, and penalties for the worst.  

Belief 2. Teacher Tenure (for Secondary and Primary School Teachers) Is Always A Bad Idea:

As a parent I’ve witnessed my kids benefiting from many amazing teachers, and struggling through a few truly atrocious teachers.  I’ve always wondered why the school can’t seem to get rid of the worst teachers.  The answer, at least the answer I hear from other parents (which may or may not be informed), is teacher tenure.   My thinking on tenure has always been that it should be to protect academic freedom and unpopular views, not provide a job for life.  I have the higher ed view of tenure.  

So how can primary and secondary teacher tenure be defended?   If utilized correctly, teacher tenure should provide classroom teachers with some protections against the politics and fads that sweep schools in the same way that they sweep every other workplace.  Teacher tenure should provide a base of security for both a long-term commitment to the profession, and a focus on the needs of the students rather than the demands of the current administration.  Teacher tenure should not make any teacher immune from the requirement of demonstrating effectiveness in the classroom.  As we learn in The Teacher Wars, tenure job protection in public secondary and primary schools does not give the same level of employment protection as we understand in the higher ed world.  

Belief 3. Improving Public Schools Means Getting Rid of Bad Teachers:

The key insight in The Teacher Wars is that the biggest challenge for our schools is attracting and retaining the most talented teachers, and raising the performance of those teachers in the big middle of the profession.  U.S. teachers make less money and enjoy less status than comparably educated professionals.  This is not true in countries like South Korea and Finland.  Further, good teaching can be encouraged with programs that provide robust peer feedback and mentoring.  

Nor is it a simple matter to identify the worst teachers, as outputs such as student standardized test scores can be confounded by a range of local social and economic factors.  We would do far better to invest in raising the levels of professional development, pay, and status of our teachers than to pursue a set of punitive tactics against the few bad teachers that we imagine are pulling our schools down.

What The Teacher Wars also demonstrates is that we do not want to go down any of the same paths in postsecondary education that we have seen in the primary and secondary world.  That we need to be very careful at any efforts to replace testing with investments in educators, and that the best student learning results will always come from investing in the status and autonomy of our teachers.

What are you reading?

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Smart Title: 
3 Beliefs That "The Teacher Wars" <br>Has Me Questioning
19 Oct 19:05

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19 Oct 19:06

gonnagetcaged: "what can you do with an art history degree???" this

gonnagetcaged:

"what can you do with an art history degree???"

image

this

19 Oct 19:15

malformalady: Heirloom carrots



malformalady:

Heirloom carrots

19 Oct 20:30

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19 Oct 17:45

Frozach Submitted

19 Oct 17:32

Humiliation replaces fear for the women kidnapped by Isis

by Annabell Van den Berghe in Duhok
Widow with child sold for marriage after raiding Isis militants shot her husband and took them into captivity Continue reading...






19 Oct 16:40

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19 Oct 17:05

realitytvgifs: accurate scientific research





realitytvgifs:

accurate scientific research

19 Oct 17:18

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19 Oct 04:27

Emma Thompson: too fabulous for the oscars.













Emma Thompson: too fabulous for the oscars.

19 Oct 06:37

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19 Oct 03:08

Frozach Submitted

19 Oct 01:15

Frozach Submitted

19 Oct 11:55

agia paraskevi sepia by Φ-Filippos-Κ on Flickr.

17 Oct 15:03

UN confirms 5,000 Yazidis men executed ’lined up, shot dead,...



UN confirms 5,000 Yazidis men executed ’lined up, shot dead, then bulldozed into mass graves’

ALSO: 7,000 women now sex slaves
http://t.co/6ERY9pNItX

17 Oct 21:51

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18 Oct 23:31

You shook me aaaaaaall niiiiiight looooong

Toaster Strudel

for rosalind



You shook me aaaaaaall niiiiiight looooong

18 Oct 20:20

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18 Oct 09:19

The Walking Library from the VSW Soibelman Syndicate News...

18 Oct 19:59

"Ernest Hemingway would have died rather than have syntax. Or semicolons. I use a whole lot of..."

Toaster Strudel

via ThePrettiestOne

Ernest Hemingway would have died rather than have syntax. Or semicolons. I use a whole lot of half-assed semicolons; there was one of them just now; that was a semicolon after “semicolons,” and another one after “now.”

And another thing. Ernest Hemingway would have died rather than get old. And he did. He shot himself. A short sentence. Anything rather than a long sentence, a life sentence. Death sentences are short and very, very manly. Life sentences aren’t. They go on and on, all full of syntax and qualifying clauses and confusing references and getting old. And that brings up the real proof of what a mess I have made of being a man.



-

Ursula K. Le Guin on being a man – the finest, sharpest thing I’ve read in ages 

(via ananthymous)

18 Oct 19:18

gameraboy: Hell’s Bells (1929)









gameraboy:

Hell’s Bells (1929)

18 Oct 20:07

buzzfeed: asgardreid: boyfriendhook: In which Jaime required...







buzzfeed:

asgardreid:

boyfriendhook:

In which Jaime required coffee in order to sit through the wedding vows. [x]

OMFG BEST MISTAKE EVER

Did the Tyrells bring Starbucks to King’s Landing?

Jaime Lannister shows up 15 minutes late with Starbucks and a gold hand.

18 Oct 01:03

hemmosauce: taking-the-hobbit-to-erebor: babyferaligator: pica...



hemmosauce:

taking-the-hobbit-to-erebor:

babyferaligator:

picassojawbone:

this show is for little kids but it is the funniest shit I have ever seen

whats that mythbusters dude doin

is this attack on titan

once in art class my teacher played this on the projector for a full hour 

18 Oct 14:37

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18 Oct 14:08

thatdisneyprincess: gameraboy: It’s a snap! WHAT WHY HAVEN’T...



thatdisneyprincess:

gameraboy:

It’s a snap!

WHAT WHY HAVEN’T I SEEN THIS BEFORE

18 Oct 10:30

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18 Oct 03:07

Frozach Submitted