Hyrule's Breathing Space

Hyrule's Breathing Space

Legend of Zelda's empty spaces self-pace the game

I recently came across a video on YouTube about “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and its use of empty spaces. This got me thinking about the idea of empty space in a video game, because by all popular wisdom of the industry, empty space is wasted space. A player isn’t going to go somewhere if there isn’t an objective specifically pointed out for them, a myriad of collectibles strewn around the area, or some sort of hidden easter egg. At least, that's what many video game developers and publishers seem to think. Within the industry, there appears to be this need to densely pack everything in the game world. No corner of an open world can be underpopulated by content, whether it be enemies, items or side activities. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach, after all gamers pay $60 or more for a reason, it can lead to some unintended consequences. Namely, a lack of breathing room.

Very few games allow and encourage you to catch your breath naturally through the design of the game world itself. Most of them accomplish this through scripted sequences tailored to that purpose. Often, games will use cut scenes meant to present the story -- moments where the player is no longer involved in the gameplay to any major degree -- to artificially provide this downtime. It is rare that a game manages to establish natural pacing in an open-ended design through the geography of the world itself.

“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” accomplishes this idea of breathing space through its use of empty space. Between villages and shrines, dungeons and enemy encampments, there is open landscape. While there is a fast travel system in place, the real beauty of the game’s world is found in long horseback treks and on-foot meanderings across its vast swaths of nature. Among the plant and animal life, between showdowns with monsters and after each leg of the game’s epic quest, there are moments of reflection. Piano keys gently tingle in the background as the player gallops on horseback through the fields and forests to reach their latest destination, providing moments of welcome solitude and peace.

This is where the idea of self-pacing comes into play. “Breath of the Wild” has a certain rhythmic quality to it, where the world and your experiences within it seem to expand and contract naturally as you play. The pace quickens as monsters ambush the player or a major story beat appears, contracting into a tight, densely focused experience of combat and objectives. However, once these encounters are completed and the player moves on, the atmosphere of the world relaxes, the taut pace loosens and expands, unveiling the world in all its beauty once more.

It is this idea of expansion and contraction that makes “Breath of the Wild” special among open-world games, a design philosophy that balances tense action and thoughtful meandering. These extended treks across Hyrule give the world life, making it feel like it wasn’t just tailor-made to be some sort of monster-fighting arena. You feel like the animals and people of this world carry on with their lives even when you aren’t present. You can take the time to appreciate the world around you and detox your mind from both the in-game combat and the world outside the game.

Cover Image Credit: vinereport.com

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FOMO And The 21st Century

Social media: a blessing or a curse?

FOMO (fear of missing out): noun, anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening somewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.

As a child who grew up in the 21st century, I'm lucky in many ways. I mean, I've had access to a computer all my life, with thousands of resources at my fingertips. I lived in a house with running water and had a car to get to where I needed to go. Well, my parents did. And I had the privilege of receiving a great education and medical attention when I needed it.

But something that comes along with these privileges and advancements is social media. It seems like every couple minutes my phone is buzzing with some sort of notification. It has made me, and the rest of my generation, so senselessly aware of what everyone is doing around us.

There comes expectations with these apps that we spend countless hours diving into. We are expected to post literally everything we do. If we don't, we must not be having fun, right? At least nothing fun enough to share with our 300 Snapchat friends. We feel this obligation to share the tiniest details to people who, honestly, couldn't care less. We're all just curious. And that right there is the problem.

Our curiosity has gotten the best of us. It has shown us things we would be better off not seeing. I can't tell you the amount of times I've checked my phone to see videos of a party I wasn't invited to. It's one thing to hear about something you weren't invited to, but another thing to have to watch it without warning. You would think we would learn not to check our Snapchats on Friday nights when we're comfortable in bed at 10 pm, but we don't. This cycle, along with the highlight reel everyone posts on Instagram and Facebook, makes it appear like everyone around us is living their best life.

Perpetual posts of our 'best moments' has led this generation to feel an incessant strain of FOMO. If we aren't doing something that lives up to what all our friends are posting, we might as well not be doing anything at all. We are so scared of missing out on something that might be going on that we become so unaware of ourselves. We are missing out on the now. We are missing the details of everyday.

I think it's time we all take a break. Take a technology cleanse. Delete your apps for a couple of days. Focus on what's in front of you, not what's behind a screen.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

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All You Need To Know About 5G

Downloading giant 4K videos in just minutes will soon become a reality.

If you own a smartphone, you have probably noticed the small letters towards the top of your screen that spell out either 3G or 4G. The alphanumeric combination indicates what generation wireless technology your device currently uses. According to Techworld, when 3G first appeared, it was "a breakthrough in communications," enabling users to reap the benefits of faster connection to the internet, as well as global roaming. Over time, 3G became its bigger and better self with the advent of 4G, and it's only a matter of time before the evolution of Fifth Generation Wireless Technology (5G). So what is 5G ? Let's take a look.

5G will be the replacement for the latest 4G LTE, which is used for wireless mobile networks. 5G will enable super fast wireless roaming, nearly eliminating the need for cables. In addition to 5G serving as an internet provider to households, it's incredible speed will serve the era of driverless cars tremendously, as well as virtual reality.

So just how fast can 5G go? According to PCMag, Samsung's 5G routers can run at 4 gigabits per second (or 500 megabytes!) That means that you could download 100 GB 4K movies in just a few minutes. 5G's incredible roaming capabilities would enable it to run hundreds of laps around the current average internet speed: just 6.5 megabytes per second as of 2016 in the U.S. That's not even a fraction of what 5G has in store.

To really understand the power of 5G, we need to get down to the science of it. 5G wireless networks will be set to function at a high frequency known as the millimeter wave spectrum (between 30 GHz and 300 GHz). These millimeter waves will serve as a medium for rapid data transfer. However, because of how tiny these waves are, the information being sent via 5G will not be able to traverse very long distances, and may have difficulties penetrating buildings, walls, and other objects. Additionally, the integration of 5G means that you'll need to acquire a new mobile device, and you will probably have to pay exceedingly more than you already do for internet service

So when can you expect to get a hold of 5G? Some areas across the US have already begun to implement 5G, and currently, Verizon and AT&T appear to be the biggest talkers of this wireless tech. Recently at the Mobile World Congress, Verizon announced that it would be commencing free 5G trials, and AT&T will be conducting further testing of the technology. Though these internet service giants are starting to gather a global audience over 5G, it will realistically only be in the hands of consumers by 2020.

The advent of 5G speaks to the mass advances currently unfolding in the technological realm. Moreover, the craze that surrounds this topic allows the world not only an exciting glimpse into the next revolution in wireless technology, but it also shines light on the advanced direction that the future is headed in.

Cover Image Credit: Smartware

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