Sunday, February 15, 2009
The Video Game Evolution: First-person shooter (FPS) games have been in existence since the days of Doom back in 1993. But it was not until the 1997 release of GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64 console that the Video Game Evolution truly soared. Its connection with the 1995 GoldenEye movie only heightened the game's popularity. Prior to James Bond mania in the late 1990s, most, if not all, FPS games were made for the personal computer (PC). And given that PC technology was slow to personalize the video game industry, home consoles such as Nintendo 64 became extremely popular. To streamline sales and make matters more cost-effective, video game companies like Nintendo decided to adopt the old "loss leader" marketing technique whereby the consoles themselves sold at prices below their production costs and the video games sold at prices higher than their production costs. This business model is similar to the razor and blades paradigm invented by King C. Gillette at the turn of the twentieth century. In short, the Video Game Evolution began to assume all kinds of themes after GoldenEye 007 popularized the genre of first-person shooters. Video games like Half-Life moved the genre in the direction of science fiction while simultaneously spawning the field of tactical first-person shooting with Counter-Strike.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Why Chicago??: According to American environmental historian William Cronon, Chicago developed as "nature's metropolis." The land upon which Chicago sits today was conducive to the growth of a major urban area. A low-lying ridge (Valparaiso Moraine) exists about ten miles west (and south) of the city. This ridge ultimately determines how water flows to the Atlantic Ocean. East of the ridge, water streams into Lake Michigan and eventually out the St. Lawrence River. West of the ridge, water trickles down the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico. With respect to shipping, this distinction in water flow patterns is key. Early Chicago entrepreneurs quickly realized that they could ship goods to Europe by way of New York (Erie Canal) and South America by way of New Orleans (Mississippi River). The geographic location of Chicago necessarily enhanced its prospects for trade. Railroad barons saw huge potential for expansion, especially regarding the agricultural development of the Midwestern plains. Texas cattle ranchers would drive their herds as far north as Kansas in order to meet the railroad lines that would take their cattle to Chicago slaughterhouses. And given the heavy demand for railroads to transport everything from farming produce to raw materials, Chicago became the railroad capital of the United States by the late nineteenth century.