the artistry and psychology of gaming

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Game capture technology and online communities

Game capture technology and online communities

(Disclaimer: the following article is sponsored by Roxio Game Capture. However, the views expressed in this article are certainly my own.)

When the Internet started exploding in popularity, everyone anticipated the impact it would have on video gaming: online multiplayer. The first online game I ever played was StarCraft, and I remember being struck by what a game-changer online multiplayer was. I distinctly recall predicting (and fearing, actually) that one day gaming would become all about online multiplayer, that the plots that formed the backbone of the games I loved would become relics of the past, and that I would never again feel good at a game because there would always be people out there in the world better than me.

However, that wasn’t the only way in which the Internet changed gaming, and as wary as I was about the increasing emphasis on online multiplayer, I would have been incredibly excited to learn about the other trend that would take place. I wouldn’t call myself an artist per say, but I’ve always loved creating things, even just silly things for my own amusement. I used to make collages of images from my favorite television shows, plan out music videos to my favorite songs even though I had no means of creating them, and other similar little creative things. It’s for that reason that I would’ve been incredibly excited to hear about the way the Internet has facilitated communities surrounding creative works based on gaming.

Hop over to YouTube real quick and you can find all sorts of videos based around games. “Let’s Play” videos are an incredibly popular genre, giving players without access to games the ability to experience to some extent the gameplay. Music videos are common surrounding all your favorite Final Fantasy characters. There are lots of videos of particularly impressive killstreaks from Halo or creations in Minecraft or tricks in any Tony Hawk game. Video walkthroughs give the viewer more insight than they ever could glean from a simple textual walkthrough. Maybe most entertaining, there are incredibly humorous videos of the kinds of random things that can happen in today’s ultra-realistic games (my favorite is the guy getting killed by a falling Warthog in Halo).

All this thrills me because it lets me combine two of my favorite things: gaming and creating. But up until recently, I did have one major obstacle, and that was an equipment problem: I lacked the means to get the footage of my game onto my computer for editing. Everything I tried was either too expensive, too complicated, too finicky, or too unflexible. If it worked and let you edit your videos, it cost an arm and a leg. If it worked and was affordable, it barely gave more editing facilities than Windows Movie Maker. If it worked and would allow interesting editing, it had a learning curve to rival PhotoShop.

It’s for that reason that I’m legitimately pretty excited about Roxio‘s new Game Capture system. This system really does have everything I’ve been looking for in a capture system. The first thing that jumped out at me about it was a design element: its stated purpose is to allow the player to capture gameplay footage. I come from a Human-Computer Interaction background, so seeing that this is actually in the purpose for the system has profound implications. If the device is created specifically with game capture in mind, that empasis then spills over into other functions I’d want as well. For example, other capture systems I’ve tested had no functionality for voiceover commentary because they were framed as tools for recording TV shows, movies, etc. But because this system is designed with gaming in mind, voiceover capabilities are built right into it.

The second thing that caught my eye was the ease of setup. As I mentioned, the past systems I’ve used have been inordinately complicated; at least two convertors were required, convincing the software to see the video input was an exercise in futility, and the system would break at a moment’s notice. But Roxio’s system is simple and even portable (compared to the bulky ones I’ve used in the past). It’s a straightforward connection from the component ports straight to the USB port. Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, the system comes with a built-in video editor specifically crafted for the types of functions a game video editor might need. At £79.99, it’s significantly less expensive than the $300.00 Dazzle system I purchased a few years ago, but has ten times as many functions.

I don’t do a lot of PC gaming myself, but Roxio’s PC Game Capture system is also intriguing. I’ve used PC video capture in the past for class projects (including one, interestingly in Video Game Design), and the way free software tends to obliterate the scene’s framerate just isn’t acceptable. I can say with certainty that the £39.99 PC version would definitely be worth the price to put a more professional spin on your recorded gaming moments.

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2 Comments

  1. This sounds fantastic! How is it for straight screenshots? Also, will it be available in retail outlets?

  2. “Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, the system comes with a built-in video editor specifically crafted for the types of functions a game video editor might need.”

    Could you please elaborate on this? What types of editing tools does the software have? I can do a lot of basic stuff with the software I have now, but the fact that I can’t make moving/fading text or any sort of split-screen beyond a single picture-in-picture is kind of annoying when I get a cool idea.

    Also, how stable is the software? My current software seems like it eats RAM faster than Kirby would, which usually results in my entire computer slowing to a crawl. It also decided that randomly crashing every couple hours is a perfectly acceptable thing for a piece of commercial software to do. I trust the Roxio software isn’t plagued by these problems?

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