Sunday, April 03, 2011

Video Games -- Expert Q&A -- Career Advise for Video Game Kings

Men's Life Today: Expert Q+A

In my neck of the woods, I'm the video game king -- I'd like to turn my awesomeness into a career. Are there any potential jobs for people good at video games? How do I prepare for one?

Expert advice By Matthew Fillbrandt and brought to you by our content partner Men's Life Today  -- Handpicked for you by our team.

Ten years of explosive growth has fueled a demand for adding new talent into the game development world. Coupled with the most powerful consoles in history, HD capabilities of the Xbox 360 and the PS3, and the explosion in the hand-held and smartphone market, games are everywhere! And so are jobs for people good at video games.

The employment upside is tons of opportunities for living the dream of getting off the couch and into game development. The industry has a constant demand for animators, visual effects and environmental artists, AI, core and game play engineers, level and systems designers, sound designers and writers.

Getting a game on the shelf takes a village, so there are opportunities even if you’re not a techie. This includes jobs handling business, legal, finance, operations, marketing, public
relations, sales, quality assurance, etc. If you’re strong at organizing, communicating and leading, game production or production management may be your ticket.

There are over 50 North American colleges and universities offering undergraduate game design programs, and larger game publishing companies typically have staff building relationships with these programs. One resource worth checking is The Princeton Review, which lists schools offering focused gaming degrees. (The “Top 50 Undergraduate Game Design Programs” list is available at Interning is another option for breaking into the biz. Check out the game companies’ Web sites or call their human resources departments for more information.

If you have the passion for video games and want to make a career out of it,
find a way to get your foot in the door and work your way into the job of your

Play These Video Games to Perform Better … in Life

Written By Peter Pachal for our content partner Men's Life Today -- Handpicked for you by our team.

Play These Video Games to Perform Better … in Life

Could there be benefits to playing “Halo” for hours on end … besides getting really good at “Halo”?

Over the past few years, research has shown that video games can give you an edge at some real-world skills. Actual, useful skills, stuff that will come in handy at times other than when you happen to come across an energy sword.

“When I was at Beth Israel Hospital, I noticed that surgeons who played video games were better at laparoscopic surgery,” says Dr. Paul Lynch, an Arizona doctor who’s been studying the effects of video games on physiology for over 20 years. Laparoscopic surgery involves inserting a camera into the patient. “In that type of procedure, surgeons have their hands on instruments while looking at a screen. It’s almost like playing a video game.”

That’s a very specific example of video games honing a particular skill, but all kinds of studies that have been done over the years point to the many benefits of gaming. Rolf Nelson, a professor of psychology at Wheaton College, recently looked at the effects of gaming on cognitive abilities.

“Different video games cause players to adopt different strategies in subsequent tasks,” says Nelson. “For example, after playing a fast-paced shooting game, players tend to sacrifice accuracy in favor of speed in a completely unrelated task.”

So which kinds of games emphasize which skills? Lynch’s research can give us a clue. In his study, he had his game-playing surgeons play three different kinds of games, each of which improved specific tasks:

To Improve Visual Skills:

Playing a shooter, particularly one with targeting crosshairs and a sniper-like experience, can improve visual skills. Anyone who plays “Halo 3”or “BioShock 2” will probably be better at tracking several objects at once and making snap decisions. That could be useful playing sports, but Nelson suggests it could be a benefit for even more mundane tasks.

“If you're playing ‘Halo’ with friends,” he says, “you need to track where they all are and to distinguish them from non-threatening things. Thus, video game players just may be able to find their keys faster in a messy room.”

To Improve Spatial Perception:

Second, games with heavy 3-D graphics can bestow better spatial perception. The immersive experience of “Super Monkey Ball” constantly forces players to imagine depth of field. That could come in handy in drafting or graphic design.

“What I can say with a fair amount of confidence is that for any task that uses a graphical user interface, video games can certainly help,” says Lynch.

To Improve Reaction Time:

Finally, racing games like “Supercar Challenge” may have an effect on reaction time. Surgeons in Lynch’s study who played “Star Wars Racer Revenge” were quicker with their scalpels than those who didn’t.

So in light of the potential benefits, should you schedule more quality time with your PS3? Not
quite. As Nelson’s research showed, games that emphasize one goal (say, speed)
may cause you to sacrifice another (accuracy). He also warns of other consequences:
“There may be other larger trade-offs, such as depression or a loss of social
life -- but that's a bigger issue.”

The Most Stylish Video Game Characters

Written By Libe Goad and brought to you by our content partner Men's Life Today -- Handpicked for you by our team.

The Most Stylish Video Game Characters

Improve more than your hand-eye coordination while playing video games by taking style cues from these (pixelated) leading men.

In the early days of interactive entertainment, video game characters' style was more of an afterthought. After all, when you're made up of a handful of blocky pixels, no one can really tell if you're wearing an Armani suit of a suit of armor.

In contrast, today's games include near-photo-realistic graphics, so your in-game avatar's wardrobe is impossible to miss. This gives gamers a whole new generation of style icons to emulate -- from sports stars to action heroes.

Of course, if you follow video game style trends blindly, you might end up wearing overalls and a red plumber’s cap -- so pick your icons carefully!

We asked stylists Jorge Ramon and Diane Davis of the Stylelist Web site to examine a lineup of the five most fashion-forward male characters from today’s hottest video games. Here’s who got the joysticks-up and why:

1. James Bond: “Quantum of Solace”
Double-oh-seven has been making tuxes look good for more than 40 years. This latest video game version in the James Bond franchise has him sporting a classic look.

Jorge Ramon: Black and white and kicking butt all over, you can never go wrong in a classic tuxedo. Tailoring is key for a well-fitted and dramatic look. Nothing is worse than an ill-fitting suit that is either too big or small for the guy in it. Do yourself a favor: Go to your local tailor -- some dry cleaners offer this service too. Also, have at least one navy suit (pinstripes are always stylish) and a gray suit -- these are wardrobe workhorses for guys.

Diane Davis: It's pretty hard to get more stylish than James Bond. Tom Ford dressed Daniel Craig for Quantum of Solace [and Craig was, in turn, digitally scanned for the game], and boy, do those suits sing. Don't be afraid to invest in classic suits and tailored shirts -- you really can wear those looks for many years.

2. Jin Kazama: “Tekken”
Workout gear doesn't have to look drab, as this Tekken” fighting game star proves. Known for his high kicks and acrobatic flips, Jin favors loose-fitting patterned track pants and a generous dose of hair product.

Ramon: Can you say B-U-F-F? Jin's shredded upper body is the perfect attention grabber that punctuates the gold embroidery on his traditional ying-yang inspired black-and-white flame pants. Black and white is a color combination that will never steer you wrong: A black suit and white shirt can work in many situations -- from boardroom (with a slick, square-bottom black tie) to date night (open collar). Just make sure these looks are fitted and your accessories (sorry, Jin, I’d skip the gold in this case) complement the overall look (i.e., good shoes and a belt are a must -- and keep them black!).

Davis: Jin is following a cardinal style rule and emphasizing his best asset: his ripped torso. This is not a look easy to replicate at home. But you might be able to find a few pairs of flaming pants that, when combined with the right haircut and some muscles, evoke the same general feeling.

3. Snow Villiers: “Final Fantasy”
A rebel with a cause, fighting the evil Sanctum in “Final Fantasy XIII” (yes, the 13th game in the series), we’re guessing Snow was named after his shock of platinum-blond hair (in sharp contrast to his fiery temper).

Ramon: A classic trench is a must in a well-dressed man’s wardrobe. Versatile and actually useful in the rain, this piece will look amazing over a suit; or with jeans, plaid shirt and a chunky sweater. If you want to get your rocker on, trench coats also come in black.

Davis: Snow has definite cyberpunk appeal. His trench coat pulls together the entire look, and his studded belts are making a comeback from the 1980s right now. I am digging these two-tone combat boots -- they remind me of shoes I’ve seen in a designer’s fall 2009 lineup. I'm not sure you can get Snow's look off the shelf, but the classic trench is a must-have for every man. Even if you can't afford designer prices, look for quality details when you do buy a raincoat: topstitching, epaulets and straps at the wrists.

4. Leon Kennedy: “Resident Evil”
One of the mainstays of the long-running “Resident Evil” series, Leon Kennedy manages to look sharp even when blasting brain-hungry zombies. Part of his mojo comes from how he moves effortlessly from his police blues to Indiana Jones-style leather jackets (and honestly, part of it is that always-perfect hair).

Ramon: Right on trend, Leon’s look is strong, masculine and simple -- proving less is more. The monochromatic black puts the shearling jacket center stage. And don’t let the initial investment of a shearling jacket deter you from wearing a look that will serve you for many years to come. Keep it casual with jeans, layered tees and boots, or even dress trousers with a turtleneck and a dress shoe/boot. This jacket is manly but always fashionable, and the older it gets, the better it looks.

Davis: Leon makes cargo pants and camo look cool by pairing them with a classic leather jacket. He’s clearly dressed for his job and has the confidence to throw trends to the wind. A classic leather bomber can definitely lend any man panache. Just be sure to buy one made from soft but thick quality leather -- and no 1980s shoulder pads.

5. Tiger Woods: “Tiger Woods PGA Tour”
If millions of fans were watching your every move under the bright midday sun, you'd be pretty careful about how you dressed too. Not everyone can pull off the classic polo-shirt-and-cap look, but Tiger makes it look effortless -- like it's just part of his job.

Ramon: Fashion plate? Who cares when you’re Tiger Woods! The effortless “golf chic” shirt keeps his lines clean, simple and refined while highlighting those champion guns. Less can be more when dressing your best. The key is to pay attention to the details: Fit is crucial (too loose or too tight is not an option), experiment with color (Tiger’s lucky red works for many skin tones) and always make sure your shoes are shined and well-maintained. Never wear white socks with dress shoes or black socks with shorts. And remember that a baseball cap is not a hairstyle -- c’mon guys, you’re big boys now!

Davis: It’s hard to look stylish in polo shirts and pleated pants, but Tiger always pulls it off. You can find polo shirts at any department or discount store. The secret to looking good in them is twofold: First, find one that fits your body type. (Don't wear one that’s two sizes too big or that gaps at the arm.) Second, take good care of it. If you want it to look crisp and tailored, air-dry it flat, making sure to smooth out all the wrinkles.