Category Archives: Tech/Games

Twitch Vs YouTube gaming

By: Reed Morris

What are the Streaming Wars

Ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the on demand entertainment industry has been booming. With people spending more and more time at home, they have been starting to look for more ways to keep themselves busy and engaged with the outside world. We saw explosive growth in the TV and movie streaming industry, the gaming industry, and the live streaming industry. While I’ve already covered some big news in gaming and tv/movie entertainment, it’s high time we address the competitive and extremely valuable world of live streaming. 

Over the past few years, there has been a huge race to see who will hold the crown as the best live streaming service. The first platform that really had live streaming figured out is a platform called Twitch. It allowed streamers to create their own live broadcast for viewers to watch and interact with. For a while, Twitch was a purely entertainment based platform, but over time the company implemented ways for streamers to monetize their work. This allowed them to put more time and effort into their content and for some of the more successful streamers, it allowed them to pursue this as a full time job. Because of the platform’s massive success, it was snatched up by Amazon in 2014, for just short of $1 Billion in cash. 

In recent years however, other major companies have noticed the growth and success of live streaming. They’ve seen this growth and have decided to throw their hats into the ring. While many companies entered, not many were successful. 

The Competition

Facebook entered the competition in 2020 with the famously bad launch of ‘Facebook Gaming’. After a rocky start, Facebook had an understandably hard time pulling in audiences from other platforms and has essentially not grown at all since its initial launch. While the company’s viewership numbers are high, they are extremely inflated as they count any interaction with live streams and viewership is somewhat forced across their platforms. 

Another competitor that crashed and burned even harder than Facebook was Microsoft’s ‘Mixer’. The company started around the same time as Facebook Gaming, and had many similar problems in regards to growth and viewership. Mixer famously sought out big names in streaming such as streamer Tyler ‘NInja’ Blevins. The world famous Fortnite streamer was signed to Mixer for upwards of $30 million in return for an exclusive 3 year contract. After his switch to Mixer, Blevins’ viewership dropped and Mixer made almost no money off of the 30 million dollar deal. Before the 3 year contract concluded, Microsoft completely shutdown any operations related to the Mixer platform. 

Who’s left?

The two platform’s that still stand are Twitch and YouTube Gaming. The war between the two platforms has been growing exponentially over the past year or two and is finally reaching its peak. The reason that Twitch is able to keep up and compete with a gargantuan company like YouTube (owned by Google) is because of the culture and community it has built around its service. There is close to a decade’s worth of culture and history that Twitch has that YouTube can’t mirror. The loyalty that Twitch has garnered from its users is almost unmatched on any other platform in the world. While Twitch has the community, YouTube has the money, and in recent months, have really been flexing their financial muscles. 

The money

Unsurprisingly, the most important aspect of the streaming industry to the platforms, is the cash flow. There are many ways on both YouTube and Twitch that users can subscribe to, or spend money on, the platforms to support their favorite streamers. While this is a great aspect of the space, the platforms that the streamers use usually take a good amount of the money spent. The most common and most important type of monetary splitting between platform and streamer is the ‘sub-split’. The percentage of every subscription cost that goes to the streamer vs the platform. 

Twitch has been having a hard time keeping up with YouTube’s growing popularity, and so they have needed to find a better way to make money. As Amazon owns Twitch, there is a lot of wiggle room for Twitch to not make that much money, but at this point, it is just bleeding cash. The methods that Twitch has announced they are going to use to keep itself in business has caused a lot of controversy and backlash from the community surrounding the platform. While there were a lot of small changes that were detailed in their release, the most noticeable change is the extreme decrease in the sub-split for the creators. 

For streamers contractually signed to the platform, they would usually be seeing something close to a 50% or 75% percent profit split, meaning that Twitch would only take in 50-25% of the revenue that any given signed streamer would receive. While this is still a lot of money that Twitch is taking out, streamers would still make a lot of money, enough for them to continue to use streaming as a full time job. The big change that Twitch has announced is that they are reducing sub-splits to somewhere around 20-45 percent. This is an extreme and terrifying change for many content creators. 

Final Points

The biggest thing here is the money. Streamers need to make their money somehow, and Twitch just might not be the place for that anymore. With YouTube keeping sub-splits in the 50-75% range, and signing on huge community names such as Ludwig Ahgren, Sykkuno, and Valkyrae, YouTube seems to be slowly coming out on top. 

While the war has a lot more time left in it and neither side is giving up any time soon, this extremely valuable and influential conflict between obscenely large corporations doesn’t show any signs of stopping. 

Elon Musk’s quarrels with Big Tech

By: Liibaan Yusuf

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Early, April 2022, Elon Musk, tech mogul and pop culture superstar made a bold claim: he wanted to buy Twitter. But before we go into that you have to understand a few things.

Twitter is a public company, and public companies are different from the traditional idea of a brand or company. Instead of the original creator, or a mom and pop type business, public companies are owned by shareholders, each shareholder owning a certain percentage of the company, making it impossible for one person to own. Typically, the largest shareholders, usually those above 5%, come together as a board and are let in on company secrets adding their two cents in.

Musk attempted to purchase Twitter, becoming the largest shareholder, by buying everyone else’s shares. It would cost him approximately 44 billion dollars putting each individual share at 55 dollars. Musk, a name commonly associated with billionaires, planned to purchase Twitter through a quick fire sell off of Tesla stock, as he is the biggest shareholder in his own company, Tesla. He sold 9.2 million shares equaling about 8.2 billion US dollars. A large sale of stock leads to a depreciation of the market, and $TSLA fell 12% the following day.

After almost a month of deliberation, Twitter had accepted Musk’s offer on the 25th of April. Musk has been very vocal about taking Twitter off the public market. After Musk’s generous offer, about 1.5 times Twitters’ actual market cap, investors and finance analysts say Musk isn’t looking to make money on Twitter. As an established businessman and billionaire, it seems as if Musk is doing this for fun? As of, Wednesday, May 18th, there has been many moments of speculation of whether the deal will be called off or if it will go through.

Wordle: The new popular vocab game

By: Olivia Miller

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“Wordle” is a new daily word game that has become incredibly popular in the last 6 months. The online game that is currently being run by the ‘New York Times’ has taken the nation by storm, and unlike other vocabulary games, has managed to reach players of all ages.

How does this game work? Well, it’s quite simple. Everyday, there is a new five letter word that players have to attempt to guess in six tries. On your first try you guess any random five letter word, and afterwards the game tells you which of the letters in that word are either not in the word, in the word but in the wrong spot, or in the word as well as in the right spot.

With these clues comes a tactic most players use, which is when typing their first guess, trying to include as many vowels as possible. This tactic helps get at least one correct letter in the first try, in turn helping you guess the full word quicker. Some people (like myself) always use the same first word every day, mainly because they think that word is most effective in getting the most letters correct.

There is no explanation for this simple game’s rise to popularity, possibly because there is only one word a day. This causes people to end the round of the day wanting to play more, so they come back the next day, the next day, and so on.

I asked students of Highland Park High School what they think of “Wordle” and here are some of the responses.

“I think it’s fun to compete against your friends to see who can guess it in the least amount of tries” – Mila Hart.

“It’s a game that’s fun but works your brain at the same time… it’s also helped me learn new words I didn’t even know existed.” – anonymous.

This game has become so popular that there have been many spin offs of the game created. These include “Wordle Unlimited”, which name explains itself. Apparently players can’t wait a whole day for another word so an unlimited version of the game has been created.

Another popular spinoff is “Heardle”. This game plays a small clip of a song that you then (like “Wordle”) have to guess in a limited amount of tries. There are tons of more spin-offs that have been created, so if you get sick of “Wordle” you can check out these many other games.

Predictive maintenance

By: Musab Mohamud

Predictive maintenance is defined by Rockwell Automation as “The use of data-driven, proactive maintenance methods that are designed to analyze the condition of equipment and help predict when maintenance should be performed.” It is usually coupled with A.I. technology and is rooted in data. “The main function of predictive maintenance is on oil rigs and extractors. However, some examples of using predictive maintenance and predictive maintenance sensors include vibration analysis, oil analysis, thermal imaging, and equipment observation”. The importance of A.I. technology to oil rigs and their safety is visible in the reduction of failures of equipment and work injuries.

Predictive maintenance is necessary to minimize losses caused by “downtime”, which for oil companies results in massive losses which can quickly stack up, resulting in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars. Due to the prices of energy sources decreasing, data analysis is even more important. Energy companies must be wary of losses and need to stay at a profit; predictive measures help greatly with that.

BP, a British oil company, partnered with GE (General Electric), to place sensors on 650 of their extraction wells. A program created by GE helps predict failures in BP’s system. BP and GE’s partnership has continued to evolve and keep employees safe through predictive maintenance, which improves the safety and economic state of the company.

Data tags and sensors placed on and around oil fields record data and send them back to the analytical companies. This helps the oil companies predict when failures will occur in the future. The two sides work as a symbiotic relationship; the data companies help prevent failures, and they in turn are paid for their services.

“Predictive maintenance programs have been shown to lead to a tenfold increase in ROI (return of investment), a 25%-30% reduction in maintenance costs, a 70%-75% decrease in breakdowns and a 35%-45% reduction in downtime”, according to Rockwell Automation. With the added security of predictive maintenance, companies can spend funds elsewhere after saving part of their maintenance costs.

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Review of APEX Legends

By: Abdirahman Ege

APEX Legends is a battle royale type game. There is a certain number of people that load into one game, and the map is humongous.

As the game progresses, a gas starts to erupt. There will be a circle which you go to so you can protect yourself from the gas. Last team standing wins.

The game has different characters which are called “legends”; they each have different abilities. Each legend has three abilities, their passive skill, a tactical skill, and their ultimate skill.

My favorite legend is Octane. Octane’s passive is while he isn’t taking damage, he restores health overtime. Octane’s tactical is a “stim” – he moves faster after he uses it on himself but it also takes some health. Octane’s ultimate is he deploys a bounce pad that takes you into the air and you can double jump from it.

Each legend have unique skills that are beneficial for different things; they are all balanced. APEX Legends has about 3 different game modes. It has casual, ranked, and 3v3.

  • Casual is more for beginner players or people who want to chill.
  • Ranked are for more advanced players who want more of a challenge, there are 7 different ranks. The ranks are Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master, and lastly, APEX Predator, which are the top 750 players on their platforms.
  • 3v3 game mode is very similar to the game Valorant; you spawn into a room and you buy guns with points before the round starts. You can get more points within the map by collecting them. You get better weapons the more points you have. The team who wins 3 rounds in a row are the winners.

It’s an overall fun game that I enjoy greatly. 5/5 stars

The game is available on all platforms.

Why has the ‘NBA2K’ neighborhood become worse and worse over the years?

By: Abdirahman Ege

‘NBA2K’ neighborhood is a game mode where you walk around, in basically a map, which has a bunch of courts on it, and you can wait on the spot, to play with randoms or your friends.

‘NBA2K15’, ‘NBA2K16’, ‘NBA2K17’, and ‘NBA2K19’. These games all had unique playing styles (like you could have different dribbling styles), they had unique neighborhoods (like you could play in different regions of the world), nice cosmetics (like you could get new clothing), etc. The 2K community loved these games.

After ‘NBA2K19’, the game got worse and worse. They brought out the same neighborhood from 2K19 into 2K20, the gameplay in 2K21 is broken (too many glitches in the game), in 2K22 defense is garbage but the offense is way too good, etc.

The 2K community had enough of this, so they tried to talk to the developers of the game but they wouldn’t listen to the community.

A lot of content creators of NBA2K stopped making content on it. They all said that the game is unplayable and that the devs need to make a better game.

The developers of NBA2K are just money hungry. They don’t want to put in the effort into making a good game. For example, in the game there is a shop where you can buy things with real money. The cost of one piece of clothing in ‘NBA2K’ is 10,000 VC (virtual currency) which is equivalent to almost $10. This is outrageous for a virtual piece of clothing.

I myself has stopped playing the game due to it being garbage.

Does watching violent media or playing video games cause aggresion?

By: Abdihakim Mohamoud

Despite popular belief, violent media or video games have little to no correlation with aggressive behavior. Various sources have shown that the vast majority of young people do not show changes in anger levels when either viewing or playing violent video games. In fact, an article from Onlinelibrary.wiley.com revealed that these games carry several benefits, from increasing cognitive thinking to stimulating feelings of joy and happiness.

A study was conducted at ISU in which 275 college-aged men were tested by playing different violence levels in the same game. The men’s aggression levels were measured, and the results were overwhelming. The results were described as “15 minutes of violent and difficult gameplay on aggressive behavior may be small and indistinguishable from zero”, essentially proving there is little to no association.

While the thought of violent video games offering positive feelings and thoughts may sound absurd, it’s more than common.

According to an article from Liebertpub.com, evidence exists that these video games offer mood-boosting and stress-reducing effects. They are a pastime that allows a temporary feeling of joy and accomplishment when one completes a difficult task.

Regarding the counter argument, an article from APA.org stated that violent behavior is indeed linked with violent video games. A study also proved that the amount of time spent playing video games was correlated with lower academic grades in college.

So, while most violent media have little effect on aggressive behavior, it has been demonstrated that it has some effect on behavior and academics.

It is being proven time and time again that, contrary to many beliefs, and even some evidence pointing in the other direction, playing or consuming violent games or media does not affect aggression levels.

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Tech superpowers at war

By: Reed Morris

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In early January of 2022, Microsoft kicked off the new year by purchasing the video game development company Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in cash. The acquisition marked a major turning point of the ongoing “Console War” in the gaming industry.

Microsoft, who owns Xbox, now also owns one of the biggest game development companies in the world. Along with purchasing the company, they also acquired all IPs (Intellectual Properties) associated with Activision Blizzard. This includes well known games such as the ‘Call of Duty’ franchise, ‘Overwatch’, ‘Candy Crush’, and a handful of other major titles.

Ever since the acquisition happened the public has been waiting for a response from Microsoft’s main competitor in the “Console War”, Sony. Sony is the company behind the very popular PlayStation gaming console which is the primary rival of Xbox.

As of the end of January 2022, Sony announced their acquisition of game development studio Bungie for $3.6 billion. The acquisition is a big deal, as Bungie is the studio behind legendary titles such as ‘Halo’, and ‘Destiny’.

The purchase of Bungie by Sony helped level the playing field, and also has brought more attention to the future of PlayStation. Both Microsoft and Sony are still in competition, but now they both own a major slice of the market they rely on for content.

This is not only a big step for Sony’s gaming branch, it’s also a major step for the company as a whole. With another company acquisition to add to their list, Sony is going to become that much more of a global tech superpower.

Where will they go from here?

There has been lots of speculation that the previous IP’s and any future game production out of these two studios will be exclusive to their new owner’s respective platforms. These rumblings however, have been shut down by both Sony and Microsoft. Sony said in a statement, “Bungie will remain a multiplatform studio with the option to self-publish its games.” Microsoft also followed up their acquisition with a similar statement regarding any Activision Blizzard properties.

While both Microsoft and Sony are willing to cooperate with one another, there is still competition regarding both platforms’ subscription models. While Xbox does have more subscribers to their service, Sony now has a means of reducing that gap and balancing the fight for gaming and corporate supremacy.

iPad kids

By: Sarah VonBerge

It is highly debatable whether or not children should be allowed to use iPads, or other screens, for extended periods of time. Because the National Institutes of Health (NIH) did a study, people are now able to look further into the effect electronics have on young kids. It has been shown that screens stunt children’s development by narrowing their focus, interest, and limiting their other means of exploration and learning.

Exploring the outdoors, playing with toys, and playing with other children help them form their imagination and important social skills.

Development happens the most in the first 3 years of their lives and many skills are created by watching the adults around them. If they are looking at a screen, they are not able to take in the world around them. It’s been shown that children under 2 learn more watching someone else teach them as compared to watching a video.

Exaggerated tones and faces help them learn how others around them are feeling or talking to them, without these exaggerations, they are not always able to take in the needed information. Screens and video games cause them to miss out on valuable caregiver interactions that regulate emotions.

Excessive screen time doesn’t just affect emotions and communication, it’s been shown to actually completely change how the brain is formed. It’s been shown that kids who spend more than 7 hours a day on a screen experienced thinning of the brain’s cortex, which is the area related to critical thinking and reasoning.

Kids who spend 2 hours a day on a screen have also been shown to score lower on thinking and language tests. Along with this, it was found that kids who spent more than 2 hours watching TV a day were 64% less likely to get the recommended 10 hours of sleep as compared to kids who spend 30 minutes or less.

5 year olds who spent 2+ hours on screens were 5 times more likely to show symptoms of ADHD compared to children who spent 30 min or less. Although it does not cause ADHD, they’ve been known to be more hyperactive, which is a common symptom in ADHD.

Screen time can trigger the release of dopamine, which is ‘the happy’ neurotransmitter. When you are doing or seeing something that is releasing dopamine, you will not want to get off the screen. Because of this, many children have difficulty putting a screen down, which often results in frustration, anger and/or a complete shut down.

Although it is not completely detrimental to give kids screen time, their time needs to be limited.

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‘Sky: Children of the Light’ game review

By: Annika Getz

‘Sky: Children of the Light’ is an open-world, indie adventure game, available in the App Store, on the Nintendo Switch, and on the PS4. It was developed by thatgamecompany, a company famous for it’s indie explorer games, the most well known of which being ‘Journey’, which was released in 2012. ‘Sky’ was originally released for iOS in 2019. ‘Sky’ has a rating of 4.5/5 on Google Play, and 4.8/5 on the Apple App Store.

The main goal isn’t to “beat” the game, in fact, there’s not really a way to beat it at all. The game is simply about exploring, and communicating with other players. Throughout the game, you search for what the intro calls “fallen stars” which are spirits scattered throughout the map.

The lore of the universe is a bit ambiguous, though enjoyable nonetheless. The spirits are beings trapped in statue-like forms. Your objective is to find them, experience one memory of theirs, and learn from them. From each spirit, you learn a new action, such as hugging, clapping, waving, etc., as the game progresses, the actions get more complicated and fun. You can learn to flip, play hide and seek, blow kisses, and more.

There are also figures made of pure light in many places on the map. When you find these spirits, you receive wings. The more wings you get, the longer you can fly for. There are also options to customize your character’s outfit the more you progress.

There are seven realms in the game, the first being “Isle of Dawn”, the second “Daylight Prairie”, the third “Hidden Forest”, the fourth “Valley of Triumph”, the fifth “Golden Wasteland”, the sixth “Vault of Knowledge”, and the seventh “The Eye of Eden”. Eye of Eden is the final and most difficult part of the game, and the first time you face a real life-or-death situation (there are similar perils in the “Golden Wasteland” area, but it’s less high-stakes).

Overall, I think this game is great, the visuals are beautiful, and the music and sound effects do a great job immersing you in the world. The large scale of the map, and frequent editions of new seasons keep you from getting bored too quickly. The concept, though mysterious, is intriguing and enjoyable.

My main critique is that the controls aren’t the greatest. I’ve only ever played on a touch-screen, so I can’t speak as to what it’s like on the Switch or PlayStation, but as far as mobile devices go, I and others find it to be difficult to control. Moving your character, and moving your perspective, is basically the same movement, just on different sides of the screen which makes it difficult to control your movements at times.

Overall, this is a game I’d highly suggest to anyone looking for a calm, and visually beautiful adventure game: 4.5/5.

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