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9:20 PM on 08.26.2009

Video Game Healthcare - What We Could Learn

My brother is a medical mystery. Between the ages of 0 and 6, he managed to fracture his skull a total of three (3) times. Last year he had surgery for scoliosis, a condition where the spine bends sideways into an S shape. Just today he was in the hospital for something called "spontaneous pneumothorax". I don't even know what half of those words mean. The point is, though, that doctors need to get their rears in gear and start thinking of ways to prevent the horrible things that can happen to people, instead of acting afterwards. And they can do this by learning from video games.

President Obomber says "More Healthcare Now!"

Video games come in a variety of flavors, but one thing most of them have in common is their great healthcare. The doctors in video games must be amazing. How else could you tell the vitality of someone, their healthiness, how close or far away from death, based off of a single number? Imagine what we could do with such technology in the real world: "Oh dear, I've been hit by a car! I'd better check my health. 67%? Why, I'll be up and running in no time!"

Life would be great. Small children would no longer cry from little scrapes and bruises, because they would notice that it only caused them 1 loss of health. Sick people could tell exactly when they are getting better, or if they're getting worse. Doctors, too, would benefit. They could check the condition of their patients with the push of a button.

Soldiers could see exactly how they're doing, and know when to retreat. In fact, some video games have advanced so much that their residents regenerate their health. Even if you took a sledehammer to the face, rest up for about thirty seconds and you'll be better than ever. Why don't researchers focus more on that, instead of making my cell phone so small that I lose it in my pocket?

Health packs are the other major advancement we need to make in medical technology. Surgery is a messy business, and doctoring is hard work. Instead of training doctors, we should instead be focused on finding a miraculous box-sized cure for everything from sprained ankles to swine flu. "First-Aid" kits would become "Only-Aid" kits, because there would be no need for second aid, ever. Hell, the boxes are automatic - just step on the thing and it does the work for you. Dog feeling ill? Sit it on a medkit! Baby coughing up purple fluid? Just touch a medkit to her forehead, and presto! it's all better.

In fact, we don't need to start with medkits. Baby steps, right? What we could focus on first is finding the secret ingredient that make video game food so damn healthy. I know people are now very conscious about what gets put into their food, but this could save millions of lives. If I got +25 health points every time I ate a piece of chicken, I would never leave KFC.

The first step to a new, healthier world   read

5:05 PM on 07.30.2009

The Five Senses

Immersion is something everyone strives for. It's the reason why graphics have moved from Pac-Man to Crysis, why there's the whole 3D movement. It's why games support surround sound and subwoofers. The visual and audio senses are pretty much accounted for in video games, but that still leaves three more for future games to take advantage of.

We've got this one started already. Plastic guitars add "realism" to music games. Various peripherals for the Wii help give that feeling that you really are fishing/boxing/flipping pancakes (probably. I don't actually own a Wii, so I don't know if these actually help with immersion).

This is a big one. Smell, apparently, is a major factor for things like memories. California Adventures had the whole giant screen/moving chair thing down, but they also added different scents that would appear at various stages, like the smell of oranges. Imagine playing Wii Sports Resort and being able to actually smell the ocean. Or Metal Gear Solid 4 and being able to smell the jungles of South America. Or Gears of War and smell the blood... eh, maybe not. But you get the idea.

Um. Possible application for Cooking Mama games, where a pie you make in the game comes out of the screen. And then you eat it.

My dream is that someday there will be a room where you play video games and all your senses are used. I'm not talking some magical brain scanning thing where you go into the video game. I'm talking, say, Call of Duty: Moderner Warfare 7 and you know there's a giant robot nearby because THE WHOLE ROOM IS SHAKING and you can smell the dust and feel the heat from nearby fires. And then you can pause and a pie comes out of the screen and you eat it.

What are your thoughts? How can game makers increase immersion without sacrificing practicality? Anything from more realistic plastic instruments to a gas mask you wear to smell your opponents' fear in multiplayer games.   read

6:31 PM on 07.28.2009

I, the Author: A sense of impending doom

"Shh, did you hear something?"

Smacky the Terrorist was jumpy. He had been smuggled across the border of the United Statesby a bunch of Mexican Coyotes, had helped terrorize Las Vegas, and was now holed up in a lounge somewhere in the Vertigo Spire. News had just arrived that the infamous Anti-Terrorist team Rainbow Six was somewhere in the building. The others had laughed it off, but Smacky was nervous.

He leaned against the door, fumbling for a cigarette to calm himself down. He lit up, closed his eyes, and then heard through the door:

"Go silent."
"You go silent."
"No really, I want to do this stealthily this time."
"Like the guys up here didn't hear all the shooting going on downstairs."
"Terrorists are like goldfish. They won't know we're coming."

Smacky's eyes shot open. He motioned frantically at his fellow terrorists, hoping to gain their attention without making noise. Sadly, everyone else was enraptured by a game of poker. Something poked up against his foot, and Smacky looked down with horror. A fiber optic cable. They were watching him.

"Hey! There's a guy right here," said a voice on the other side of the door.
"Moron. When are they going to learn not to stand next to doors?"
"Breaching charge going up. So much for going silent."
"Shut up."

The fiber optic cable retracted. Smacky bent down to peer under the door. Maybe he could see what they were up to--

"On three, ok? One, two -"

The door exploded inwards, wooden shards impaling Smacky where he stood. He collapsed onto the ground, bleeding profusely, his weakening eyes watching as two operatives darted into the room.

"On three! Three! Not two!"
"Be more specific next time."
"Whatever. Let's just get this over with."

Smacky's eyes glazed over. Everything sounded muffled, as if his ears were full of cotton.

"You took my cover! I was going to go there!"
"Wah wah wah! Find your own cover!"
"One on the left! No, but I have a better shot with my sniper rifle if I'm where you are."
"I was here first. Throwing frag."

The last thing Smacky thought was: How the hell did this beat us?   read

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