Google Glasses – Never Stop Playing – Ouroboros

Watch these two videos and then watch Ouroboros. Augmented Reality glasses … video games we can take with us anywhere … it’s only a matter of time before we start creating worlds to jack ourselves into ….. and thus: Ouroboros.

Google Augmented Reality Glasses

Playstation Vita – “Never Stop Playing”

And my short film – Ouroboros Season One

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Ouroboros – The Complete Season One

Season One:

A 5 episode web series about the discovery of self and perceptions of reality. It follows the residents of an apartment building through their interconnected journeys to find the truth about their identities and the worlds they have created around themselves.

Written, Filmed, Directed and Edited by Joel Nickel
Original Score by Grey Spade

L.A. Noire Video Walkthrough

I’m a weird person with a lot of random idiosyncrasies. One thing love doing is watching other people play video games.  I do love playing video games, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I like to watch people who know what they’re doing play a game and see how the storyline progresses. This is the walkthrough from L.A. Noire.

(I also don’t have a PS3 or Xbox 360 so a lot of games I’d like to play I can’t so I find video walkthroughs on YouTube so I can still get the story aspect of the games.)

I hope you enjoy the L.A. Noire Video Walkthrough

Entrepreneur Anshe Chung Makes A Fortune Selling Virtual Land, Banking and Fashion

Via Singularity Hub

How much would you pay for a piece of imaginary real estate? Anshe Chung has made millions renting it. Maybe your investment portfolio needs to include more fake property. A decade ago Ailin Graef was just another player in online games with a virtual avatar named Anshe Chung. Now the young entrepreneur’s China-based company manages online video game property worth millions in US dollars. How? In some online worlds, like Second Life, in-game currency (in this case, Linden Dollars or L$) can be sold for real money. Ailin/Anshe started making virtual money by designing and selling virtual fashion items for her fellow avatars. She leveraged that into virtual real estate investments. Today, Anshe Chung Studios has 80+ employees managing thousands of rental properties, helping design new 3D virtual chat rooms, and making tons of money on virtual to real currency exchanges. Anshe was the first person whose virtual property exceeded a real world value of 1 million dollars, and Anshe Chung Studios is perhaps the single largest third party developer of virtual property ever. Hers is a model for a new kind of online mogul: not one who makes the games, but someone who works inside the system to make a killing. Anshe Chung is a digital life mogul. Who wants to be next?

Anshe Chung is the online persona of Ailin Graef, world's first virtual millionaire and a developer of digital property.

Each online video game has its own way of handling currency. Some just give you points, some allow you to perform repetitive tasks to earn coins, and many will allow you to trade virtual goods and currency back and forth. The true goldmines (so to speak) are those games where the currency can be exchanged for real world money. Second Life allows its users to readily exchange L$ for US dollars or Euros, etc. Entropia actually sets the rate to a fixed amount. Either way it means that the activities you do in the video game can translate to an actual income. Some people, like Graef/Chung see that as an opportunity to make a fortune.

Graef started off in mid 2004 designing small scale animations/styles for virtual fashion. “Give me a few fake bucks, I’ll give you this nifty alternate design for a normally bland accessory.” (Something like that.) Anshe Chung Studios continues to make customized goods you can buy to dress your avatars in several online worlds.

Here's what 21,000 L$ (about $80) per week can get you. Not a bad island, even if it is virtual.

Once you start accruing virtual currency, however, investment opportunities outside of fashion begin to arise. In some virtual worlds, like Second Life, you can buy land to modify and develop. That’s what Graef did, and soon “Anshe Chung” was managing vast tracts of land in Second Life. And the scope of that real estate continues to expand. Today you can go to Azure Islands, some of the custom built and designed landscape built by Anshe Chung Studios, and get yourself your own parcel to rent starting at around L$ 821 or $3 USD per week. The really fancy plots go for as much as 13000 L$ a month (about $50), and the prices just keep going up from there (check out the picture to see what $80 a week will buy you). Anshe’s tenants may simply want a fancy place for their avatars to live online, or they could be more business minded. Virtual dance clubs and other meeting places can draw in good business by having the right landscape and design. It’s not just Second Life selling to Anshe Chung Studios who’s selling to users. There are many more tiers in the economy as everyone in Second Life, Entropia, IMVU and the other online worlds find places to live their virtual lives.

Online real estate is just the beginning. AnsheX is a virtual currency exchange. Do you have USD but want Linden dollars? AnsheX will sell you some. Same for Euros and PED (the currency for Entropia) or IMVU credits and Hong Kong dollars. While AnsheX rates are pretty close to the going rates, they make real world money on each purchase. Customers are willing to buy and sell at slightly disadvantageous rates because they can get the currency in 24 hours or (much) less rather than having to barter or arrange their own deals by hand.

So, you’re a fashion mogul, a real estate developer, and a banker – what’s next for your virtual empire? You might as well step behind the video game. Anshe Chung Studios is one of the major partners with a hand in Frenzoo, a social network and online chat program based in Hong Kong. Create an avatar, spend money (or time or both) dressing them just right, then go and meet other avatars and chat. Frenzoo has a pretty standard formula for success. IMVU is similar and has 50 million+ users and six million items up for sale. Catch the demo video for Frenzoo below and judge for yourself whether it has the same potential:

We’ve certainly seen people make real money on virtual property before. A single piece of territory sold for $635,000 not too long ago. What makes Ailin Graef and Anshe Chung Studios different is that their endeavors highlight the diverse paths one can take to gaining wealth by augmenting the way people play online games. The appearance of avatars, the design of locations, and the facilitation of trade are three big virtual markets and Anshe is tapping them all.

Talk about expanding markets - did we mention that many of these virtual worlds, like Frenzoo, are going mobile?

I also marvel at the value of the secondary markets that Anshe represents. If the actual producers of these virtual spaces are the ones reaping in billions of dollars (as Blizzard is with World of Warcraft) there’s still hundreds of millions to be made as players trade not with the owners, but with each other. Most of those business deals are probably going to be small – probably for virtual property valued at less than $1, but when you multiply that by millions of items for sale and tens of millions of regular users…that’s a lot of cash. The efforts of Anshe Chung Studios exemplifies how these games constitute real economies. Er, virtual economies. Or real virtual economies – look, you get the idea, these games are real revenue generators. Graef accrued a million dollars worth of online wealth way back in 2006. Others have followed and it looks like the future could support a wave of new VR moguls who build their riches on nothing but digital living.

Which isn’t to say it isn’t all some elaborate bubble. After all, when you buy Linden dollars, or an island paradise, or a new broach for your avatar you aren’t owning anything physical. Some day the entire affair could come crashing down. Imagine if people suddenly lose interest in a simulated environment because a new and better one arrives. Your investments could turn out to be worthless.

The same could be said of any investment on Earth.

Take a good long look at the multi-tiered empire Anshe Chung has built, and think of all the people it took playing those games to help her build her fortune. Those millions of players represent a growing part of our population. As online living continues to gain ground, the virtual economies (however temporarily) will thrive as well. There’s money to be made in those digital hills. Ailin Graef was the first virtual millionaire. The first billionaire could be right around the corner.

[image credits: Anshe Chung Studios]

[sources: Anshe Chung Studios]

‘Grand Theft Auto’ Director’s Next Game Explores 1979 Iran Revolution

Via CNN

 

1979 was marked by the overthrow of the shah of Iran by a populist revolt and the rise of a fundamentalist Islamic state.

Vice City. San Andreas. Liberty City. Tehran.

Three of these locales are instantly familiar to videogame diehards as settings in the “Grand Theft Auto” series, which has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. The latter, however, is more commonly linked to news bulletins about the Iranian nuclear program or confrontational statements by the country’s hardline Islamist president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

If Navid Khonsari, 41, has his way, Iran’s capital city will soon be much more familiar to gamers. A director of the “Grand Theft Auto” series, the Iranian-born Khonsari’s next game has a simple working title whose numerals denote a world of significance: “1979.” And the game’s tagline? “There are no good guys.”

“1979” gets its name from the year when the hostage crisis at the U.S. embassy in Tehran began, which was during the height of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. That year marked the overthrow of the dictator, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, by a populist revolt and the subsequent installation of a fundamentalist Islamic state.

The game aims to combine some sandbox, open-world elements popularized by “Grand Theft Auto” with what Khonsari calls a “baton-pass” narrative, which explores this historic backdrop through the sequential perspectives of several playable characters.

Khonsari has an ideal pedigree for an undertaking this ambitious: Besides creating a raft of iconic and genre-defining games, he also grew up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.

Navid Khonsari says that players of "1979" will make choices that could change how they look at history.

“I want people to understand the incredible moral ambiguity of this story, that this was a country with many different ideas and beliefs,” Khonsari said in an exclusive interview with CNN. “Growing up in Iran when I did, I saw Iranians in the greatest light, and I saw them in the worst light.”

Shortly after the fall of the shah, Khonsari’s family fled Iran for Canada. Khonsari moved to the West Coast as an adult to pursue a career as a filmmaker. He later moved to New York City and applied his talents to an up-and-coming studio named Rockstar Games.

“I was the cinematic director for ‘GTA 3,’ ‘Vice City’ and ‘San Andreas,’ as well as the two Max Payne games, ‘Red Dead Revolver’ and ‘Bully,’ ” he said. “Anything that came out through Rockstar between 2001 and 2005, I was fortunate enough to be involved in.

“My main job, and what grew into my current passion, was bringing that cinematic ‘feel’ to video games.”

After he left Rockstar, Khonsari founded his own game-production company, iNKstories, which he co-runs with his wife, Vassiliki. The duo already have two blockbuster titles under their belt, “Alan Wake” and “Homefront.” They aim for “1979” to be the third.

The gameplay of ‘1979’

At the game’s outset, the player is an American/Iranian translator on a mission to rescue the embassy hostages. The player must choose one of three historically inspired ways to enter Iran: By helicopter with a U.S. special forces team, through the Iraq border with Saddam Hussein’s army or across the Afghanistan border with the Taliban.

In these preliminary levels, the game plays as a fairly standard third-person shooter, with some linguistic puzzles that will test your character’s imperfect mastery of the Farsi language.

The gameplay of "1979" includes morally ambiguous elements of diplomacy, stealth and bartering.

“But once you get into Iran, you’re no longer the translator,” he said. “You take the role of a student demonstrator who was opposed the shah. You’ve kicked the shah out, but you’re unhappy with some of these fanatical elements you see rising up.

“So the game changes, and now your mission is to get this small military group to Tehran, but nonviolently, clandestinely. You want the American hostages out of Iran because you want the country to focus on rebuilding itself, and you’ve heard all these rumors about a war with Iraq coming.”

This, Khonsari explains, is where gameplay shifts to include some morally ambiguous elements of diplomacy, stealth and bartering. Each time the baton passes to a new character, the style of gameplay changes, too. Some characters will focus more on action, while others will feature vehicles and puzzle-solving.

“Not everyone you meet is going to be helpful,” he said. “There are going to be aspects of bribery, making exchanges and turning a blind eye to really bad stuff so you can get the job done.

“Maybe, in order to get the group there, you need to sacrifice some stragglers and let them get captured so the others can get away. And then you’ll have some extreme choices to make when you get to Tehran: Are you going to invade the embassy, guns blazing, to try to get the hostages back? Or are you going to try to protect the embassy from the Americans?

“People who might not be completely familiar with the game world look at fancy graphics and polished gameplay and say ‘this is cutting edge,’ ” he continued. “But from what I’ve seen, it’s still quite basic. Very much a checkers mentality — red against black, good against evil. I’m interested in having good and evil within the same character, and for you to experience both. I think that’s true to life, and I think you can design a game around that, too.”

A multiplayer version is also in the works, with 12 maps planned for release. The multiplayer modes will feature differing combinations of straightforward gun combat with ruthless negotiation and decision-making.

First in a franchise?

Though the game is still in the alpha stage of development and at least a year and a half away from release, Khonsari hopes the success of “1979” will breed a franchise of similar games.

“(This is) the first installment of a franchise where the games will be named after years in which there were CIA operations within certain countries,” he said. ” ‘1979’ is the first one because it’s closest to my heart and I know the story the best. After that, we want to explore what took place in Panama with (Manuel) Noriega, and Libya back in the ’70s and ’80s with (Moammar) Gadhafi.”

Khonsari’s heritage is one reason he’s not concerned with political correctness in his treatment of one of the United States’ supposedly implacable enemies.

“Iranians are going to criticize me because I’m making a game that ‘promotes American imperialists going in and shooting Iranians,’ ” he said. “Americans are going to criticize me because I’m making a game that ‘glorifies Islamic fundamentalism,’ or something. I’m not going to please everyone, and the point of the game isn’t to do that.

“I think that being able to base a game in contemporary historical truths is significant, besides being educational,” he said. “It opens people’s eyes to look beyond what they’re reading in the paper and realize that there’s a definite relationship between history and the headlines.

“Most of the people who are playing games nowadays were born after 1980 — after the Iranian Revolution. People are so quick to accept the official record of things as ‘history,’ without examining everything that’s gone on in the last 40, 50, 60 years. It’s important we remember these things, and work to keep them relevant.”