Fall 2013 - Issue 7

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In our final issue of the semester, we explore technology and innovation from 3D printers to the startup scene at Tufts and in Boston, we look at the challenges facing the video game industry, we analyze Tufts' strategy (or lack thereof) on wellness, and much much more! Enjoy, and look for a yet another semester with the Observer in the spring.

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<ul><li><p> O VIDEO GAMESIN FLUX(PAGE 3) FUTURE OF3D PRINTING(PAGE 8) SNAPCHAT ASPERFORMANCE(PAGE 10)</p><p>TUFTS OBSERVERDECEMBER 9, 2013VOLUME CXXVII, ISSUE 7</p></li><li><p>CONTRIBUTORS</p><p>THE GAME PLAN2</p><p>The Observer has been Tufts student publication of record since 1895. Our dedication to in-depth reporting, journalistic innovation, and honest dialogue has remained intact for over a century. Today, we offer insightful news analysis, cogent and diverse opinion pieces, creative writing, and lively reviews of current arts, entertainment, and culture. Through poignant writing and artistic elegance, we aim to entertain, inform, and above all challenge the Tufts community to effect positive change.</p><p>COVER BY: Hongye Wu</p><p>THE STARTUPS ON THE HILL by Anika Ades</p><p>CR</p><p>EA</p><p>TIV</p><p>E C</p><p>OM</p><p>MO</p><p>NS</p><p>26</p><p>by Gracie McKenzie</p><p>PETRICHOR by Montana Miller 12</p><p>WELLNESS MATTERS by Kumar Ramanathan</p><p>6 MODERATION IN REGULATION by Justin Kim</p><p> 20</p><p>AN</p><p>DR</p><p>EW</p><p> TE</p><p>RR</p><p>AN</p><p>OA</p><p>LISO</p><p>N G</p><p>RA</p><p>HA</p><p>MR</p><p>OB</p><p>ER</p><p>T C</p><p>OLL</p><p>INS</p></li><li><p>268</p><p>10121317 182022242628</p><p>featureThe Game Plan by Gracie McKenzienewsModeration in Regulation by Justin KimnewsPrinting for the Future by Moira LavelleopinionTo Make a Long Story Short by Jamie Moorepoetry &amp; prosePetrichor by Montana Millerphoto insetFaces of the Futurepoetry &amp; proseItalian Wedding by Emma TurnercampusThe Debt Advocates by Sahar RoodehchiopinionWellness Matters by Kumar Ramanathanarts &amp; cultureGoing Viral by James Davisarts &amp; cultureSuper Who? by Nika Korchokoff campusThe Startups on the Hill by Anika Adespolice blotterBy Moira Lavelle and Aaron Langerman</p><p>Sofia AdamsRiley AronsonMia GreenwaldLily HerzanMadeline LebovicBecca Leibowitz</p><p>Mary Shea MaloneyLeah Muskin-PierretCharlotte ReaCatherine RosemanAndrew Terrano</p><p>CONTRIBUTORS</p><p>EDITORSeditor-in-chiefMolly Mirhashemmanaging editorNicola Pardy</p><p>production directorBen Kurland</p><p>asst. production directorBernita Ling</p><p>section editorsAnika AdesJustin KimAaron LangermanMoira LavelleGracie McKenzieAlison PinkertonKumar RamanathanNader SalassEvan TarantinoFlo Wen</p><p>publicity directorStephen Wright</p><p>photography directorKnar Bedian</p><p>photography editorAlison Graham</p><p>art directorRobert Collins</p><p>lead artistsGriffin QuasebarthEva Strauss</p><p>lead copy editorsLiana AbbottSarah Perlman</p><p>copy editorsGeorge EsselstynEve FeldbergBrett MeleKatharine PongMT SnyderNate Williams</p><p>design assistantsSahar Roodehchi Anastasia AntonovaConner Calabro</p><p>staff writersEllen Mayer</p><p>December 9, 2013 Tufts Observer, since 1895</p><p>Volume CXXVII, Issue 7Tufts Student Magazine</p><p>O</p><p>TABLE OF CONTENTS</p><p>COVER BY: Hongye Wu</p></li><li><p> DECEMBER 9, 2013 TUFTS OBSERVER 54 TUFTS OBSERVER DECEMBER 9, 2013 </p><p>Welcome to everyones least favorite part of the semes-ter. Suddenly, after a restful Thanksgiving break with friends and family, were thrust into the whirlwind of reading period and finals that just seemed so comfortably far off. All the tests, papers, and projects that were daunting from a distance are now right in our faces. As a result, many of us put our blinders on and plow through to the finishwhich is only natural.</p><p>All too often, finals period is the season of cramming and frantic catch-up. Its real-izing what youve put off or coasted through, and being forced to pick up your own slack. While there is so much talk at many liberal arts colleges about reading critically and writing skillfully, many of us (during this time especially) read and write without in-tention. We skim, underline, and highlight, to coax the main points out of our readings, and we get little out of it. </p><p>There are a million technological in-novations that allow us to do everything quickly. We can gather information and spread it faster than ever before, as every me-dia critic has repeated countless times. This is all well and good; progress is crucial. But for the most part, we should read more slowly. </p><p>Now, Id like to clarify, Im not saying that no one reads carefully at Tufts. And, more importantly, Im not saying all things truly deserve to be read carefully. What Im advocating for is simple: we should try when we can to read more slowly, with more de-liberateness, and with more thought. Finals period is not necessarily the best time to </p><p>start, but its the time that most clearly un-derscores the problematic way that many of us read. We read for a purpose that is other than reading itself: to synthesize, analyze, or summarize. </p><p>I am not claiming anything revolution-ary in this idea: a Slow Reading Manifesto already exists on its own website, articles penned in The Atlantic and The Guardian have made similar pleadings, entire books have been written on the subject. But I dont want to toss around any blame for this problem. I wont argue about how the Internet is shrinking our time spans, or that we no longer possess an appreciation for classical literaturethese things may or may not be true. </p><p>What I will say is this: find what you like to read, and read those things intention-ally. Pay attention, and enjoy them. Reading for leisure is seemingly unheard of during college, but it doesnt have to be. I joined the Observer, and stayed with it through long nights and early mornings, because I care about the writing that makes people read in this way. Over the last three and a half years of midterms and finals, there have been times when I lost sight of this intention, as we all have. Ive read entire books in one sitting before a class discussion, or skipped readings altogether when time was tight. I spend too much time reading to continue it in this way; it sucks all the enjoyment out of it. </p><p>With that in mind, here is the final issue of the Observer for the semester. I hope that youll find something in these pages that in-terests you and take the time to read it slowly. </p><p>Letter from the Editor</p><p>Molly Mirhashem, Editor-in-Chief</p><p>KNAR BEDIAN</p></li><li><p>4 TUFTS OBSERVER DECEMBER 9, 2013 DECEMBER 9, 2013 TUFTS OBSERVER 3</p><p>FEATURE</p><p>THE GAME PLAN</p><p>64% of Americans play video games according to a 2012 study by Magid As-sociates. Let me put that into perspec-tive: Wikipedia says thats the same proportion of us who are overweight. Its not everyone, but thats what makes this next statistic even more sig-nificantin 2012, video games were number two in entertainment expen-diture, second only to Internet and cable, which are counted together (no fair). So, even though we dont all play video games, as a country were will-ing to spend money on thema lot of money. 14.8 billion dollars, in fact, were spent on game content in 2012. </p><p>Yet, just five years ago, we spent $22 billion, even before figuring in inflation. And the percentage of Americans who play games is inex-plicably dropping by the year. This is despite a consistently more acces-sible video game market courtesy of smart phones and social media appli-cations. If you even sporadically play </p><p>Candy Crush, Words With Friends, or Farmville, you are a gamer by this model. Still, marketing research firm NPD Group found that between 2011 and 2012, the number of people who reported at least occasionally playing video games dropped 5 percent to an estimated 211 million.</p><p>In a feature article for Imagine Games Network, journalist Colin Campbell investigated the missing 12 million gamers reasons for quitting cold turkey. While he entertained the possibility that its entirely due to the 2011 decline of either Zyngas Farm-ville Facebook application or Nin-tendos Wii console, the likelihood of these single events having such a great impact is low. While its impossible to know for sure, he eventually conclud-ed that 1 in 20 gamers were enamored with one game in particular, such as Farmville or Wii Fit, and instead of moving on to a different game when they tired of that particular one, they abandoned gaming completely.</p><p>Overall, as Campbell explained, its also very difficult to collect accu-rate data about video games; although NPD Group surveyed 8,000 Ameri-cans, they did so online. However, a recent Pew Research study found that 15 percent of Americans dont use the Internet at all. Wouldnt it make sense that these less technologically con-nected citizens also dont play video games? But this is all speculation.</p><p>Maybe we cant trust the num-bers exactly, but the trends they show us are clear: the video game industry is facing an impending crisis. Even those gamers who do remain are gravitating away from the $500 Xbox One and $60 games from Best Buy, opting instead for free Internet games and mobile applications. It seems log-ical. Weve entered an age in which, for video games, anything more than free seems expensive. </p><p>The issue is that we, as consum-ers, continually want newer and bet-ter games to play. For example, when </p><p>By Gracie McKenzie </p></li><li><p>4 TUFTS OBSERVER DECEMBER 9, 2013 </p><p>Infinity Ward recently released Call of Duty: Ghosts, the tenth in the highly successful Call of Duty series, buyers expected something new, if only be-cause the company had started a new story arc separate from Modern War-fare and Black Ops. When not much had changed, people were extremely disappointed. Games in Asia reviewer C. Custer concluded, Call of Duty: Ghosts is not a revolution, or even an evolution, for the Call of Duty se-riesIts hard to know what caused thiswas it a genuine lack of inspira-tion? A cynical cash grab?but for consumers, it doesnt matter. Heres the bottom line: dont buy Ghosts.</p><p>In even more recent news, this holiday season the gaming commu-nity expects a showdown between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Sci-ence website Phys.org game reviewer Troy Wolverton, however, argued that any debate between the two is irrel-evant because neither shows any real innovation on the level of their com-petition from the Wii and the Kinect, which pioneered motion-controlled and controller-free gaming. Further-more, he said, The new consoles, at least to my eye, just dont seem as compelling as their predecessors. The PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 were the first game machines that could display high-definition games, and the PlayStation 3 was the first console with a built-in Blu-ray player.</p><p>We feel entitled to constant im-provements, but these cost money. How can the companies continually update these games and consoles if no one is paying for them? The in-dustry as a whole has already hit on one strategy: just like with Hollywood blockbusters, making a sequel to an already successful game guarantees money. In fact, all 20 of 2012s top-selling console games were part of previous franchises. Theres only one Angry Birds, but there are seven dif-ferent special editions and one spin-off, called Bad Piggies. But, as Call of Duty: Ghosts proves, the simple </p><p>release of a new edition is not neces-sarily creative enough to please the consumers. </p><p>This is not to say, however, that all of these follow-ups are unoriginal. The fifth edition in the Grand Theft Auto series, released in September, has been lauded for its innovationsGamestop reviewer Carolyn Petit called it an outrageous, exhilarating, sometimes troubling crime epic that pushes open-world game design for-ward in amazing ways. </p><p>But as The Atlantic tech journal-ist Taylor Clark wrote, It needs to be said: video games, with very few ex-ceptions, are dumb. And theyre not just dumb in the gleeful, winking way that a big Hollywood movie is dumb; theyre dumb in the puerile, excru-ciatingly serious way that a grown man in latex elf ears reciting an epic poem about Gandalf is dumb. Aside </p><p>from a handful of truly smart games, tentpole titles like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Call of Duty: Black Ops tend to be so silly and so poorly writ-ten that they make Michael Bay mov-ies look like the Godfather series. In addition, also similar to Hollywood, this dominance of sequels and spin-offs leaves little room for indie game success in the mainstream.</p><p>People are looking to change that, though. Game designer Jonathan Blow struck it rich with his time-warp platform game Braid, despite having independently financed the $200,000 for its development. Within 2008, its first year, Braid sold several hundred </p><p>thousand copies through Microsofts Xbox Live Arcade servicea far cry from Wii Plays industry-high 5.28 million that year but still a coup for an indie game. But beyond that, Braid, with its stunning graphics, in-geniously complex concept, and rich story complete with plot twist, proved to the gaming community (and the world) that video games could be more than dumb.</p><p>I think the mainstream game industry is a fucked-up den of medi-ocrity, Blow told The Atlantic. There </p><p>are some smart people wallowing in there, but the environment discour-ages creativity and strength and rigor, so what you get is mostly atrophy.</p><p>Now, Blow is turning his signifi-cant fortune towards financing The Witness, a game that he hopes will spur the video game industry to start making games that can be taken se-riously. This works when it comes to bankrolling the nontraditional, but its not realistic for industry-wide change. The bald-crowned Blow may appear to be a new-age Daddy War-bucks, but we cant expect him to swoop by the orphanage in his Tesla and singlehandedly save us from me-</p><p>We feel entitled to constant improvements, but these cost money. How can the companies continually update these games and consoles if no one is paying for them? </p><p> DECEMBER 9, 2013 TUFTS OBSERVER 5</p></li><li><p>4 TUFTS OBSERVER DECEMBER 9, 2013 </p><p>diocrity. If we want to use video gam-ing to its fullest extent and get what we seem to want out of it, its neces-sary to expand the preferences and engagement of the mainstream to match the way the industry seems to be heading.</p><p>Im not worried about the falling percentage of participation; gamers are still more than 200 million strong, and that provides a lot of space for different people with their own dis-tinct preferences. Put away your pre-conception that the average video game player is a lazy college kid with a box of pizza at his sideaccording to the ESA, the average gamer is ac-tually 30 years old, just five years less than the national average age. NPD claims, in addition, that almost half of all Americans over 50 also par-ticipate. With 91 percent of children from age 2 to 17 playing games, the downward trend mentioned earlier is unlikely to continue. </p><p>And why should it? While video games may get a bad rep for their productivity-killing power, studies have found that they actually pro-vide many learning, health, and social benefits. And, just as in the games, the control(ler) is in our hands. That power gives us a choice; either we can play dumb games, or we can call for something new. A change in the industry needs to happen because otherwise were at a stalemate: with-out money there are no new games, and without new games, no one will spend money. Im not saying we should all go out and pay $60 for Call of Duty, but I do know that causing this revolution requires us to come to terms with spending more than noth-ing on a game.</p><p>And the companies are making this transition easier for us; a...</p></li></ul>