The Science Fiction Paradox: Why Physics is not for everyone…

Niayesh Afshordi. Who is he? Well based on preliminary research he is a scientist who recently, well in 2014 that is, published a new theory of the origins of the Universe. I won’t get into the math, science, or physics of what he is proposing because frankly, I couldn’t explain it if I wanted to. What I want to do, rather, is use it as a way to contemplate some of the other mysteries of the Universe based on my current understanding. At least from a simple, lesser educated stand point.

When I first sat out to be a writer my goal was to write fiction stories. Originally I desperately wanted to write science fiction. I spent my early childhood reading books by Isaac Asimov, Isaac Newton, even Stephen Hawking. I was obsessed with astronomy for a good portion of my childhood. So much so that it fueled my other interests. I became interested in Star Wars primarily because of the space travel aspect. In fact all of my favorite episodes of the Transformers cartoon were not the ones on Earth but all of the ones that took place either on Cybertron or elsewhere in the universe in “outerspace.” I didn’t develop a purely academic interest in astronomy, physics or astrophysics, mostly because of all the damn complicated math. I make it no secret I hate math. So my interest remained mostly casual. Thanks, in part, to TV shows like Doctor Who, The Big Bang Theory and Star Trek, I have continued to explore my interest in these subjects.

That is where this particular scientist comes into play. The purpose of this blog is “To Organize Chaos” and that includes trying to unravel the mysteries that I come across. In other words, its my way of making sense of the world around me. That includes the world of physics, something I have a basic understanding of and a strong passion for but nowhere near the level of understanding I would prefer.

The theory Niayesh Afshordi and his colleagues proposed was mind boggling at first. It basically suggests that our universe originated with the ball of mass that exploded began expanding outward to create all the matter we see around us, this we all know the gist of it’s the Big Bang Theory (the scientific theory not the TV show). The interesting thing this guy and his team proposed was that OUR universe began when a 4 Dimensional star collapsed into a black hole creating a 3 Dimensional Event Horizon. The theory is interesting because in our universe the world we see around us is considered to exist in 3 dimensions and space-time is considered to be  continuum. Some of us have a very, very, basic understanding of this thanks to Doc Brown from the Back to the Future movies. However it gets more complicated than that. Fortunately I did take at least one physics class in college, the absolutely most fun and interesting course I took my entire college career. So to some extent I can kind of understand the basics of the 3 dimensional space-time, special relativity, and I know a little about what an event horizon is more than just the very basics you get from watching the film of the same name, or the movie Sphere if you want a little better scientific explanation.

Here is the tricky part. It doesn’t really explain anything. I mean not to the layman. Actually not to anyone other than a scientist really. You see, the basic question the theory proposes to explain is how our space-time could work within the framework of our own laws of physics. IN other words, how could a singularity that contained all the mass of our universe be bound up into a single point so densely it could explode and create the universe we see. The simple answer is this, it doesn’t tell where the universe came from. In fact all it really does is makes it even more complicated. The simple explanation they propose is that our universe is just the left over crap from the dying star of a separate LARGER universe. Again this begs the question, if the laws of physics that govern our universe can only be explained if you place it within the scope of being a particle within a larger universe, then doesn’t that basically mean that 4 dimensional universe follows the same rules? SO does that mean THAT universe is the event horizon of a 5D collapsed star turning into a black hole? IF our universe began with the death of an older universe, where did that universe begin? IF the only way the math checks out is to keep staking older universes on top of each other then doesn’t that mean there is some fundamental flaw in the entire system to being with?

Sure, as a Christian I could just take the easy way out and say duh, it basically all points to God being the starting point and his words spoke it all into existence. That doesn’t really satisfy the scientist though, and it still leaves unanswered the question of where did God come from and all the crap he made the universe out of as well? That’s not a question I personally need answered. What I want to know is if every new theory requires the discarding of the old, while simultaneously keeping it all in tact due to a mathematical formula that was BASED on the Earth being the center of the universe, which has been disproved by using the very math it was used to prove, it gets complicated from here. I won’t get into Ptolemy or Newton, Google exists look it up, what I will say is if the math that is used to prove the Earth is NOT the center of the universe is predicated on it BEING the center of the universe and it also disproves the space-time conundrum that also exists because we still rely on that same math, which has been disproved by another proof using the same math it was used to prove, it goes in circles.

Now I must admit my understanding of the math is limited, but I do know if you have to keep adding new layers in order for the model to work, even though its using a proven false formula to begin with, that itself is used to disprove itself, GRR!

Maybe it would be best if I just did quote the Bible “In the Beginning God…” and walk away, it would be best. I won’t being to question the experts that know the math better than I do, just like for them to reconsider all the work they have to put into trying to ask a question that was answered thousands of years before they were born.

None of that is where I wanted to go with this. You see, getting back to my original paragraph, I set out to become a science fiction writer years ago. What deterred me over the years was my limited understanding of physics. I could go the lazy route and use the basic, preliminary approach so many writers use falling back on just letting a bunch of techno babble explain away any plot holes I created as a write. What I set out to do was to learn more than I currently understood. Sure I kind of remember what it means to be a main sequence star, the basics of what a pulsar, quasar, nova, black hole, galaxy, galaxy cluster, etc., is, and I kind of know the very basics of space travel, Newton’s laws, Ptolemy’s laws, the simplified version of relativity, and all the nonsense I learned from movies and comic books. To me, that’s not enough. I don’t believe I need to be an expert lawyer to write a crime drama, but if I want to do it well I would at least need to study the topic. Since I have no interest in writing crime dramas I have no need to study criminal law or criminal justice.

What I set out to do was to learn more than the basics. I picked up a bunch of books on physics, astronomy, the universe, stars, the Sun, etc., in the hopes I could at least fill in some of the knowledge gaps I have in the event I decide to actually set out to write the science fiction novel that has been swirling around in my brain since my youth. Then I realized I can’t get more than a few pages in before I become overwhelmed by the math. I always had a problem with how physicists always have to use complicated equations and formulas I can’t make sense of using symbols I have no clue what are the meanings so I bail early. I decided I needed to tackle this head on. So I set out to first fill in the gaps I have in the math department.

I picked up textbooks in basic Algebra, College Algebra, and fundamentals of mathematics, to supplement the math books I already had from college. I started with the most basic book and found that as I went through it I was actually starting to make some sense of some of it all. Not enough to consider it real progress but enough to keep going. I don’t have the time or money to take a bunch of math classes at college right now, so my plan is to settle for just going through these text books and trying to see if I can make some sense out of enough of it all to get to the next level. My ultimate goal is to tackle the Calculus head on so I can then dive into those physics books at least with enough of an understanding that the math doesn’t give me a headache and I give up, again.

Who knows, maybe as I go on this journey I will learn enough math to be able to get back into writing computer code. I also gave up on that because the math was too much for me. I had one college professor tell me my brain was just not wired for math. She said I was an artist, a dreamer, I was wired to be a writer, or a story-teller of some sorts. I had another professor, one in the psychology department tell me that was a bunch of crap and anyone could learn anything if they put the time into it. I think I fall into the latter category. I didn’t retain much due to not using it, but I studied the hell out of Japanese and learned enough to make small talk with a Japanese girl at a Mochi party planning event I attended while in college. Okay learning Japanese should be easier for someone who loves languages anyways, and video games, but still I am determined to push through this to the end. Then I will be able to re-watch episodes of the Big Bang Theory and laugh at the science jokes and not make fun of the nerds just struggling to live their lives as best they can.

YouTube Review: Techmoan

Techmoan is a Youtube channel run by a British man who only goes by the name Mat. The show mainly focuses on reviewing old audio/video equipment and HiFi stereo components, usually from the 1970 and on. In the videos the host demonstrates the different pieces of technology. He then discusses how he acquired the individual item before taking it apart and showing off the individual components. Sometimes the videos lack the break down and instead focus on showcasing the different technologies. For example he has demonstrated videos that show the differences between content contained on pre-recorded cassettes, both in the audio cassette format as well as VHS. Sometimes he picks a single component or device and reviews it.

The series quality ranges from episodes that look like they could have been aired on public access TV to those that have a professional vibe similar to what would have been shown on a Discovery Channel or TechTV sort of program. The topics are usually well researched with the host providing a bit of background information on the item or items he is reviewing. Since he only reviews machines from his personal collection he often reminds his viewers he needs help in seeking out the items he wishes to review. In this aspect he can come off as asking for donations from time to time. It’s not entirely a bad thing, a lot of channels on YouTube do take user donations. The turn off is how he sometimes makes it sound like it is the responsibility of his viewers to help him acquire the devices he intends to review. If it were a commercial run Television production he would probably have sponsors help pay for these portions. However, since the show is focuses mostly on reviewing older and out dated technology, it’s unlikely the tech companies would consider his reviews valuable marketing for their current business products.

The reviewer has a very relaxing tone to his voice. He conducts his reviews in a very matter-of-fact method. This is one of his strengths as it allows him to shy away from over the top antics as some review shows on YouTube rely too heavily on. The reviews range in length depending on the topic. Generally speaking the videos tend to be thorough with plenty of background information in addition to the technological info that tech fans would enjoy. The videos are more informative than entertaining, however. This isn’t a bad thing it just might limit the audience to those who prefer videos that are more straight forward.

The show channel does offer a decent glimpse into the history of audio/video technologies. There is one slight draw back to the series. As the reviewer is based in the United Kingdom, his videos tend to have a very British slant. This can be interesting when discussing technology that was more popular in the U.K than in the United States, for instance. However it can be limiting when it comes to reviewing products that either had more success in the US or didn’t exist in the U.K. at all. For example he reviewed CED Discs which were a lot more popular in the United States so his exposure was limited. Also since his reviews typically cover PAL products he tends to have an emphasis on PAL signals which might be confusing to some residents in the US. This isn’t necessarily a negative of the show. After all he does a great job explaining the limitations when they do arrive. Yet it still has the potential to limit the audience or at the very least the enjoyment of those who are not as versed in the U.K. region.

Summary: Techmoan offers reviews of different technologies mostly from audio/video sectors. He often digs into the history of the individual technology he is reviewing while breaking down the items to demonstrate how they function, or how they were intended to in the case of items he was unable to repair. The host has a sort of dry personality that might not appeal to some foreign viewers, especially those in the US that are more used to the flashy reviewers who rely heavily on satire and over the top antics for their shows. As such the audience is limited.

The show has decent production values. It’s well researched with good lighting, editing and transitions. The draw backs include the hosts British sensibilities, his tendency to drone on, as well as having some times limited scope when it comes to items that were more popular in the United States. He does often admit to his shortcomings. The show comes off as more informative than entertaining which might be a turn off to some viewers.

Rating: 3.5 stars.

E3 2017: Hopes and dreams

 

images

Every June the electronic entertainment industry, primarily made up of video games and computers, come together to showcase all of their upcoming and latest projects at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3. It can be an exciting time for a gamer so here are a few things I am hoping to get attention at this year’s expo, and a few wild dream projects I will throw out just for fun. I will break it down by platform one at a time.

xbox

Microsoft:

Normally I really do not pay any attention to what they are doing. Until recently I never even owned an Xbox console. Now that I own both an original and a 360 I am starting to change my attitude towards the system. But that is not why I am interested in hearing what Microsoft has to say. There are a couple of things I want to hear about from Microsoft and I am fully expecting 1 of them to get a lot of attention, one will be wishful thinking and the other pie-in-the-sky not going to happen but I will suggest it anyways.

Scorpio

Whatever it turns out to be I am at least curious to learn more about it. I want to see form factor, learn about what exclusive features it will offer that the normal Xbox One doesn’t, beyond 4K, and I want to learn about the price and potential exclusive games, if any.

If the price is right, and the rest is to my liking, I might make Scorpio my entry point into the Xbox One family of gaming machines. Of course I am also cheap so I might go the S route or just spend my money elsewhere, who knows. All I do know is right now I am actually curious to see what Microsoft has to offer, and that is a first for me.

Windows

I want to learn more about how Microsoft intends to keep PC gamers sticking to the platform and helping it grow. I also want to learn more about their tablet future. I have a Windows laptop/tablet hybrid and I rarely, I mean hardly ever, almost never, use the tablet mode. I want to learn what they are going to do to make the tablet features of Windows more appealing to the masses so that Windows can continue to be healthy and maybe not disappear like Amiga.

Mobile

I do not want Microsoft to give up on mobile entirely but I want them to do it right. A dedicated Xbox tablet that can play Xbox specific content, but also have a mobile OS that is built from the ground up to function on a hand held type device, with the power of an Xbox might be worth checking out. Basically copy the Switch but with Xbox games. I know this won’t sell in the same numbers, but they can make it profitable if they meter their expectations and focus on what works and don’t make it an all-in-one machine.

VR

Microsoft has done nothing with VR in any meaningful way, I want to see them get into the arena in a big way so that VR can finally become a real success once and for all. I am like most, I am on the fence because VR is expensive, so if there was at least one more major player in the game it will go a long way in both bringing down costs and increasing the output of content.

Playstation-logo-colour

Sony:

Honestly I am not that excited about hearing what Sony has to offer other than announce some games and if at all possible try to talk about VR. In fact all I want to learn about is VR, a price drop and with some good bundles might be interesting, and at least 2 to 3 new, compelling games might go a long way. I know VR is struggling, but there are too many players with too much money invested for it to disappear entirely, it’s going to catch on eventually, but I think the cost is the biggest hindrance, always has been, so if more companies get involved and the ones in it double down it might have more of a shot. I want Sony to succeed because I have grown attached to the Playstation brand and even their non-gaming stuff has always been appealing to me.

I would also like for Sony to announce another PSP family of devices, something with more in common with the Switch maybe. Yes, Switch has changed the game and we all know that means others are going to look for any way they can to get in on that success, which I hope they do, having 1 device that doubles as a portable and home console is every gamers dream, or, at least it should be.

Nintendo Switch logo

Nintendo:

Games. That is all. Announce as many games as you can. I want Switch to succeed and for that to be a reality it needs as much variety as possible. They have already proven it will be a decent machine for fighting game enthusiasts like myself, not hard core like Playstation but certainly better than Wii U. They are also bringing more RPG games to the table than they have in several hardware generations, at least on the console side. I always figured it they truly merged their two divisions into one it would mean very big success for the company, as when you get down to it splitting the fanbase has always been their biggest weakness, now with a unified Nintendo fanbase, yes, we are unstopable and MS better pay attention as they keep splitting their fanbase between console, tablet, and PC.

6165-windowsSonynintendo-logoSega

The future:

I predict there will come a time when you have 3 companies doing three different things all catering to 3 different demographics. This is not so much a place a bet kind of prediction and not just wishful thinking, call it more an educated guess coupled with some strong hopes.

I want Nintendo to throw everything into the Switch and just BE the handheld gamer kings with a machine you take with you but can also plug into the TV when you want. I have been asking for this ever since the Game Boy Player transformed by GameCube from a second rate Xbox wannabe into a true gaming masterpiece.

I want Sony to double down on the console space, pushing for the best VR and augmented reality experiences making themselves the premium gaming device for the game that wants a more solid experience than the basic, but steady, offerings of Nintendo.

As for Microsoft, I just want them to get out of hardware entirely and focus everything on making Windows the very best it can be so that PC gaming can live on. If these three companies each focus on doing their one thing and doing it very well, we will live in a gaming utopia where everyone gets what they want. Then Sega can continue to exist in the last area they still have some clout, the arcade scene, which is far from dead but not what it once was.

With everyone trying to fight for a piece of the pie, dividing the gamer base into smaller segments, it just causes much division, infighting, confusion, and so-called console wars. If Microsoft focused just on PC and conceded consoles to Sony, like Nintendo has, and Nintendo focuses entirely on handhelds and remains committed to their exiting of consoles, which I contend is what Switch is, then that leaves Sony alone in the living room, Nintendo alone in your backpack and Microsoft alone in the computer space and everyone wins. Okay maybe not entirely without some overlap but you still have competition, just more focused with each doing their own thing, but doing it better than ever. Since that scenario is not likely, I just want everyone to get the best games they can and not worry so much about what the other guys are doing. Competition is a good thing, but we do have too much overlap in some areas.

Getting back into PC gaming

I have decided I am going to start getting back into PC game collecting as well as PC gaming. I don’t know what my budget for this is going to be, fortunately I come across old PC games usually very cheap at thrift stores and yard sales all of the time. My new rule is I am not going to be buying games to play, I am only collecting the disks/packaging for the sake of it, I will rely on Steam, GoG, Origin, etc., for the purchase of games. As for shareware and “abandonware” titles, well I will resort to those means at my disposable.

What got me back into PC collecting?

For starters, I have nearly reached the limits of what I am capable of in terms of console gaming. Not that I own every console game I wish to own, or console for that matter, but what I mean is I have shifted my console gaming collection to mostly digital for playing and only buying physical games where the digital version is not a viable option. I would love to have the time and money to purchase and track down classic retro NES games, but with the market being what it is, the economy being down, and my limited funds all around, I just don’t see this happening any time soon. PC games on the other hand are cheap, dirt cheap n most cases. It can cost a lot of money if I wanted to get into buying big box games or complete games with all the little trinkets and inserts, but that is not what I am going for.

My goal is just to pick up the main games, if the game came on a floppy disk, I intend to buy that, if it came on a CD-ROM, I want the CD-ROM. I do want collectible condition, however, so I will look for CD games that come in the jewel case with booklets, basically the same thing I would get if I were looking for a PS1 game, but I don’t necessarily need to buy the cardboard box with all the papers, booklets, and collectible stuff that was often included. I understand for many collectors that is their goal, and if that is you go for it. Not me, not now. I do want to attempt to amass a reasonably sizeable collection, but I want to realistically meter my expectations so that I stick to buying those items I can hope to find without spending a ton of time or money tracking down the extra rare stuff.

Now if I happen to come a cross a complete in box collectible game for a good price, sure I will pick it up. But since I am resorting to, let’s just say less than official, means of playing these games, I am not exactly interested in the little key codes or maps, etc., that came with the games. In fact, I don’t even have a floppy disk drive to be able to install most of these old games in the first place. Not only that, but I am running Windows 10 64-Bit, most of these retro, old school, and classic PC games are going to be completely incompatible with my system, and I have no intention of buying old hardware just to run old games.

Because loose games with instructions can typically be found at yard sales, thrift stores, flea markets, and the like,  usually for just a couple bucks, I fully intend to focus on buying the cheap stuff, at least for now. It’s no different, to me, than if I were to get back into NES collecting, I would most certainly be going for just loose carts only, heck I wouldn’t even be that interested in getting dust covers or instruction books, at this point.

As far as playing on “original” hardware. I am a Windows Gamer through and through, so there is no chance I will ever be without at least some form of semi-current PC machine, technically these games are all running on “original” hardware or at least compatible hardware, to some extent.

Part of what motivated me to get back into collecting is watching Metal Jesus Rocks videos on Youtube, and listening to the CUPodcast with Ian and Pat. I do see the merits for going for complete games with all the fun little artifacts, but I also have limit funds, as well as limited space.

Why to be excited for the Nintendo Switch

Just less than 2 weeks ago Nintendo dropped a bombshell on the entire gaming industry. They released a video that pretty much confirmed they are making the exact machine I have been begging them to make for over a decade, the exact machine I predicted they would make once I saw the Wii U. Okay they might have taken liberties with the concept but all I asked for was a powerful enough handheld console similar to DS that had TV output and could run semi-modern renditions of current games. Not only did they deliver on that they took it a step further.

The bottom line for those that don’t want to read a long article, is GAMES. This machine has the potential to have the strongest games line up for any Nintendo machine in years. Now read on for why I believe that if you dare.

But why am I so excited for a new Nintendo console if I have been so let down recently? For starters let me walk you back in time. I will keep this simple. In the early late 80’s there was no such thing as video games, there was only Nintendo. You invited friends over to play Nintendo, you went to the arcade to play next years Nintendo games, you watched Nintendo cartoons, ate Nintendo cereal, were duped into throwing away good money on the worst movie based on a video gamer simply because it had the name Nintendo on it. Then the world changed when Playstation came on the scene. Nintendo never faded away, contrary to popular belief they have actually increased market share and fan base every generation but they did it at a cost. The numbers don’t lie.

NES sold a whopping 90 million consoles world wide. Compare that to the less than stellar SNES, one of the most beloved and heralded as one of, of not THE greatest console of all time, barely sold over 55 million. You follow this up with the N64 selling a mere 33 million and the beloved, one of my favorites, the GameCube managed barely over 22 million and you get a picture Nintendo has been on the decline for years. Sure everyone points to the fluke that was the 100 million sales of the Wii as proof that wasn’t a case but then the mega flop that is Wii U died at a paltry 13 million and it took nearly 5 years to get there.

So what does that have to do with Switch?

Let’s wind the clock back one more time. The SNES barely sold 55 million units but in roughly that same time span the Game Boy sold an amazing 65 million units all on its own. Then while the N64 was barely pushing past 33 million the Game Boy color sold an impressive 45 million in the same time span. Along side the very small Game Cube user base was the very large GBA with a formidable 82 million units sold. Then there is the fluke years. Not only did Wii sell a phenomenal  100 million all on its own, it’s little brother the DS sold 155 million, besting even the world famous Playstation 2 for best selling dedicated gaming device, even if just barely. Why is that impressive? Because every hand held has had a 5 year lifespan, PS2 had a 13 year lifespan and PS1 had a 10 year lifespan. Oh and that failure that is Wii U and it’s pathetic, yes I said it pathetic, 13 million, well it’s counterpart has sold a respectable 62 million to date and it’s still going strong.

The point is if you look at just the console side it does appear as though Nintedo has been on the decline for nearly 25 years. But the reality is they have actually INCREASED user base every successive generation or at the very least maintained their minimum of roughly 90 million the NES launched.

So if you combine the handheld and the console the numbers are now much larger. Early 1990’s SNES/GB total is 120 units sold, or user base size. That is an increase of 40 million from the NES. The next phase was GBC/N64 (you could toss in the Virtual Boy’s less than a million but lets not) you get a number closer to 88 million, barey a 2 million decline from NES and a respectable number when you consider the POWERHOUSE that was Playstation 1 and the intense competition from Game Gear, Nomad, CDX, Neo Geo Pocket, Game.com, and you see a picture where that minor decline was really just a hiccup. Now the next phase, combined numbers put Nintendo at a very good 105 million for the GBA/GameCube, and yes many people owned Game Boy Players and relied on GBA connectivity with their Game Cubes so now even those numbers look good. Wii+DS is an incredible 265 million! So yeah for the 3DS/Wii U to be sitting at ONLY 80 million combined, all things considered, that’s still a feat worth noting.

Okay but I still haven’t explained how that will affect the Switch. Because true believers, it is BOTH a handheld and a home console. Why is that impressive? Let’s go back in time once again, the last time I promise.

SNES is the template for what a healthy Nintendo console library looks like, you had RPG games, fighting games, kids games, platformer and puzzle games, action games, quest games, maze games, cartoon games, ninja and martial arts games, if a game was made there was a very good chance it was on the SNES. But things took a dip with N64. SNES had a library over over 700 games released retail, and another 20-30 or so unlicensed games released via shady methods. N64 tops out at 297, and half of those are sports games. Not at all an impressive library. Sure it had some heavy hitters like Goldeneye, Mario 64, Smash Bros. etc, but come on no good Mega Man games, no 2D Castlevania, no Street Fighter, only 2 RPG games that barely qualify as RPG games the machine was a wasteland devoid of the kinds of games that gamers were flocking to the Playstation to get. But wait not so fast, Nintendo ‘gamers’ were still buying oh I don’t a little game called Pokemon that helped push the sales over the top. Okay you see the point? Now let me really make it clear. Even when 3rd party companies were dismissing Nintendo’s console they were still making great games for the handhelds, even Microsoft has made games for the Nintendo handheld even during the time Xbox was killing the console division.

Now imagine this scenario. You bought a GameCube, you took it home and oh crap you realize there are only 15 or so games to choose from, most are made by Nintendo and all the games you were wanted from Capcom, Sega, Konami, Rare, etc, were just gone. But those games were showing up in respectable SNES quality ports and sequels, where SNES was still the gold standard for game design, especially 2D, and suddenly if you have GBA and a GameCube you have access to a really robust library. The problem is buying a $200 + console AND a $100-$200+ dollar handheld well that is damn expensive. Many gamers are then forced to chose, which to buy first. The issue is gamers  had to split their money up so they go for the best bang for their buck, which turns out to usually be the handheld. Now not every gamer is going to buy both machines, most people don’t have that kind of money. Oh they do but they get the Nintendo handheld and the Sony or Xbox console. Well here’s is the kicker, the Switch is both.

What does that mean again? Basically it means that if you are in the market for a new Nintendo machine but you can’t decide which to get, the console or the handheld you look at the games. In the case of Wii U and 3DS you see a very similar library between the two so you decide 3DS is the better choice. But some people hate tiny handheld screens and do prefer to play on the TV, well if 3DS had just had TV output there would be no need for Wii U to even exist. That is the amazing part of the Switch, it means that you just spend the, presumably, $250-$350 dollars ONCE on one machine and spend the rest of your money on games. Now instead of picking the handheld first and getting 3 games and then the console next year and getting 2 games, you just spend all that money on 7-8 games, an increase of easily 2-3 games based on cost alone. The issue with Nintendo and 3rd parties is on console the games don’t sell because most people buy a Nintendo console for the Nintendo games and the Sony or Xbox console for everything else, or they stick with PC and Nintendo handheld. So in this scenario Nintendo is creating that means gamers will have more money to spend on the Switch games, companies will sell more games and make more money, that translates to them supporting the system longer. That is why I am excited for it. Not just because yeah I will finally be able to play Pokemon on a TV instead of a tiny screen, or that I will be able to take Smash Bros. on the go but because I truly believe this thing will easily do combined Nintendo sales, which will garner combined Nintendo support which to me means easily 80 million happy Nintendo fans all united under one platform playing all the same games, something we haven’t experienced since the NES days, you know before there even was a Game Boy and a handheld division.

Yes I am excited for the Switch, and based on the Pokemon Go craze I imagine many people the world over will be too once they learn what it truly is.

Virtual Reality is finally near

Go back in time to the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and there was this prevailing belief in our culture that virtual reality was going to someday become a reality. We had glimpses of it in the 90’s but they were expensive ventures that had little real substance.

In 2006 the first strides were made to bring VR to the masses. Nintendo released their Wii gaming machine that introduced motion controls to the world of interactive entertainment. While the concept was a novel idea, the execution ultimately turned into nothing more than just that, a novelty. Still the sales success of the Wii and it’s “magic wand” did re-introduce gamers to the idea of virtual reality and soon their competitors began offering motion controls and immersive experiences on their machines as well.

Then a few years latter Oculus was conceived which has finally made its way to market. I am not here to actually write a review of the Oculus Rift, since I don’t currently own one and I haven’t had a chance to demo one either. Instead I just want to express my excitement that between this machine and others now hitting the market, or soon to be hitting the market, I will soon get a chance to experience that world of VR that was promised to us over twenty years ago.

If you are not clear what Virtual Reality is think of it as total immersion. In normal, or should I say traditional, video games you sit on a couch and interact with the TV using a game controller. Wii took this a step closer to immersion giving us motion controls, that were neat but ahead of their time. Wii itself was actually a repeat of a similar attempt two decades earlier, the Power Glove. So with any new technology it takes time for things to advance to a point where consumers might buy in.

There are two schools of thought that are prevailing currently when it comes to VR. The first is the skeptics who have watched VR tech come and go for years and see this new round as nothing more than a waste of money and energy. The  argument is these machines are too expensive, the games are not ready, there are too few types of games that would benefit from VR, the list goes on.

The other school of though is that with the level of investment and excitement this time VR is bound to take off. The argument goes that the entry point isn’t as great as it used to be, that it is in line with other budding technologies of our time that have taken off, so not out of reach for the average consumer. They also argue that with as much competition now there is a greater chance of success.

If you look at either argument you will see they both have some merits. While I personally think VR is the future, and I am super excited for the devices that are hitting the market, I do concede that price is an issue. For me in order to get into Oculus I would need to spend a minimum of $950 dollars on a compatible PC, that is if I order one pre-tested by Oculus to work, I could always buy a cheaper model or build one my own and “make it fit” by upgrading necessary hardware but in the end the time cost doesn’t balance the money saved so I would still prefer to buy a pre-built machine proven to work. Then on top of that there is the $600 entry fee of the machine itself. On top of that I would need to buy compatible games, non of which I currently own as of right now. This puts Oculus just out of my reach. While true I am planning on buying a new computer in the very near future, I am not looking to spend that kind of money on one at this time.

With Oculus out that leaves me looking at the three, that I know of, devices either on the market or about to be by the end of the year. The one I am most likely to purchase is the Playstation VR. Why? Because for starters I already own a PS4 which is the base machine required for the Playstation VR. Also I currently own a couple of dozen games for the PS4 and several of the games that are set to be compatible with Playstation VR are games I was already interested in getting. This means that the barrier of entry is lower for me, I can buy the headset, pick up a compatible game and be on my way for about the price of a new game console. Now unless the NX totally blows my mind, I am perfectly happy buying a PS VR since I am planning on getting a new console this year anyways, it was either going to be Xbox One or NX but I might just stick to getting PS VR.

One thing that makes me excited about this round of VR is the technology has finally arrived where it no longer is a burden to play. I am also excited by the number of companies getting into this, especially seeing Sony who is the world-wide leader in the video game industry. I don’t think VR is “here and now” like many are proclaiming but I have always felt it was the future and for the first time I do believe that future is very near.

Mortal Kombat X, Xbox Tablet, and a new Smart Watch?

There are a lot of topics to get to this week and instead of giving each one their own post I wanted to do a quick rundown on the more prominent stories I have been following.

Mortal Kombat X

They recently announced Jason Voorhees will be a playable character in the new Mortal Kombat game coming to next-gen home video game consoles. The announcement was sort of a surprise but very welcome as they already introduced Freddy Kruger in the previous entry of the series. There is no current word if Freddy will even be featured in this current game so hopes of a Freddy vs. Jason rematch will have to be put on hold until there is a confirmation. Even still watching Jason “face off” against Scorpion will be more than enough for now.

Super Mario 64 Wii U Virtual Console

Wii U is apparently a sinking ship, the big release of the month of April is a re-release of a 20 year old console game that launched their also troubled Nintendo 64 console. Don’t get me wrong I love Super Mario 64 and considering I already own it on Wii the price to upgrade was a reasonable $2, I still find it somewhat disturbing that this would be their flagship release for the week. I was almost excited for AVGN Adventures finally releasing on Wii U, but they took so long porting it over I already downloaded, and completed, the Steam version on my PC.

Splatoon

While on the subject of Wii U might as well talk briefly about Splatoon, the squad based paintball-inspired shooter game launching soon. Some have complained the game will not feature voice chat but honestly the game looks like it will be super fun with out the annoying chatter so I say fine by me. Count me in as a day one purchase.

Nintendo NX

Very little is known yet there is already much speculation on the announcement of a “new platform” coming sometime in the next year or two. The official announcement was NX would be a new game platform that would sport a brand new method of play apparently keeping with the DS, Wii and Wii U motife of reinventing the wheel every generation. Little is known so for now I will reserve judgment, the Wii U was a disappointment at first but it managed to win me over so there is a chance NX will be something I follow closely.

PS4 dominance

It is official according to the latest sales numbers PS4 is not only “winning” the word-wide console war for next-gen gamers, It is also a success in Japan, the county where console gaming has long since been declared to be dead. I can’t say I am surprised, I picked up my PS4 right after it hit it’s 1 year birthday and so far it has not been a disappointment.

Where is the Xbox Tablet?

While I am not a major fan of the Xbox game console, I am curious why Microsoft hasn’t attempted to make a gaming tablet sporting the Xbox brand. I understand they are supposedly integrating Xbox as a feature set into Windows 10, somehow, I just think they need to follow Apple and spin off the Xbox brand as it’s own operating system for gaming tablets. Sort of like how Apple has Mac for their PC’s and iOS for their “smart devices” Microsoft should keep Windows for their PC’s, and use Xbox for everything else. While they are at it, they could make an Xbox Watch.