best when viewed in low light


How many?

We've been "not at war" for a while now, and I was curious how many people have died since we were actually at war. Well, the numbers above seem relatively reliable (and consistent with other sources).


TV for kids

I've been doing research for a current project (designing a children's literacy building adventure game) and had to watch a bunch of kids' tv. With the exception of Hannah Montana (which is, admittedly, trite and redundant), most shows for kids are really terrible.

[Before my darling readers can voice objections, I'll clarify why HM is an exception.]

Hannah Montana is a brilliant show, even though the plots are overly simplistic and about as formulaic as mcdonald's hash browns. Here's why: In the minds of every young girl lurks a brave, talented and outgoing superstar - whatever her real world inclinations or behaviors may be. And the show doesn't glamorize being a celebrity, in fact, it's quite the opposite - being famous is the source of all of Miley's problems [let's not get into the real life story behind the show, let's just go with the message]. And even better, it doesn't get her out of problems when the going gets tough, she actually has to rely on being a thoughtful, caring and considerate person. For once, thank you Disney.

But based on an admittedly short-lived review, I can find almost no other highlights.

Dora's [the Explorer, of course] cool cause she's bilingual, and the way they integrate the spanish language learning into the show is seamless and probably really educational [I'm no child development expert]. But even though I'm certain that they've formulated the extremely simplistic and repetitive format from some high falutin' child research, that sh*# is BORING.

And what's with the we're-in-a-computer-but-it's-actually-TV thing going on with both Dora and Super Why? And why are they talking to me and standing there like idiots waiting for me to respond? I'm sure this works for little kids - at least in terms of provoking a response and a certain level of engagement with the show - but are we training them to be simpletons?! Egads!

From a game design perspective, I find this really promising. It means that TV is trying too hard, and that they've lost touch with the value of their own medium...which also means that the field is WIDE OPEN for cross-platform and integrated content development, if only someone would create it [aHEM! cough, cough. :D]!

I hark back to the days of Warner Brothers

Hanna Barbera

and everything Jim Henson ever touched

I never felt that I was being talked down to, and even though I didn't necessarily understand everything, I can still watch all those shows and not want to shoot myself out of boredom and/or frustration. What frightens me about this contemporary approach is that it sacrifices real, profound, thoughtful storytelling as well as a multidimensional level of interaction - see, the beauty of not understanding everything you're watching is that your brain is activated on many levels, even unconscious ones, and that's gotta be a good thing!

Sheesh. Even Tom & Jerry did it better than this (and they don't talk)!

In the past...