Gaming is a Lifestyle

Playing video games has evolved from being “just a game”, to not only an online social platform, but also to make money. However, for most people, it remains an idle hobby. It is a time-consuming and expensive habit. Gamers develop niche expertise; games influence their “real” lives, and has become an encompassing lifestyle for generations to come.

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[Photograph of Cousins playing CS: GO]

 

In the past decade, video games have almost dominated the mainstream society, and its infiltration is growing. Graphics are better, stories are more engaging, playing experiences have also become more interactive. This has drawn more and more people towards the gaming arena. Additionally, the popularity of handheld consoles like Nintendo Switch and PlayStation Portable, which allows people to play video games on the go, allows the young and old alike to gather and interact more naturally, bringing even more people into the world of gaming.

What’s popular now is Mobile Gaming.
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This has completely revolutionized the gaming industry. Groups of people can be seen crowding in an estate or local shopping mall to play PokemonGo!. For hardcore and next-generation gamers, MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) has become a trend on handheld devices, cell phones to be specific. The power and reach of the gamer life continues to infect our society. A word of caution, however: computer-hosted MMORPGs are seriously addictive and it has the influence to turn any person into a stay-home geek. Graphics and user interface is ever advancing beyond typical games; featuring full length movies, exciting storylines, engaging characters, and mind-blowing cinematography. You can play and explore forever: there are entire alien worlds to discover, risky missions to accomplish, mystical treasures to unlock, and worldly records to beat.

Gaming tournaments and Comic Conventions are ever growing in popularity, not only influencing the entire realm of the gaming lifestyle, but tourism as well. The top competitors from all over the world, travel to the major tournaments and compete against one another for huge cash prizes. These players devote their lives to honing their skills on a select few games; encompassing their skillsets and it’s their craft, their job, and their passion. At the trade shows, the major & minor gaming companies tempt their fans with the latest technologies, attracting the media and fans on a global scale. It’s an extremely lucrative business.

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YouTube and Twitch.tv are the leading online streaming platforms. G4(United States) television network, also covers major tournaments and E3(Electronic Entertainment Expo), including line-ups entirely filled up with programs devoted to gaming: review and preview shows, technology shows, walk-through shows, and more.

With all this media attention: TV stations, tradeshows, tournaments, games with broad demographic appeal, sophisticated systems which turn into home entertainment centres, it’s a culture shock that enabled gaming to spread across the globe and continue to influence the lifestyles of future generations.

 

 

Written by Yoji Amashiro
Photograph by Yoji Amashiro

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The Beauty of Cryptocurrency

I just had read a few chapters on a book called, ‘Silk Road: The Shocking True Story of The World’s Most Notorious Online Drug Market’
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Coincidentally, I’ve actually been toying with the idea of writing an actual post about it. As usual, I had no clue on where to begin. So here’s a brief introduction to crypto.

Crypto- ; is a prefix – which means concealed, secret.
The word crypto is derived from the Greek word, ‘kruptos’ which translates to ‘hidden‘.

It is unsure who actually coined the term ‘cryptocurrency’, but the term actually represents a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security. A cryptocurrency is almost impossible to counterfeit due to its security features.
As of today, there are over 900 cryptocurrencies available throughout the virtual globe.

      Here are a list of some examples, including my favorite altcoins – ;

  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Ripple
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Dash
  • Dogecoin
  • Ethereum Classic
  • Auroracoin
  • Bitcoin

Informatively, I wanted to write about the birth of Bitcoin and how it became implemented in the infamously known marketplace called ‘Silk Road‘ and it’s steady growth.

On November 1st, 2008, a man known by the alias of Satoshi Nakamoto, appeared on a cryptography mailing list who cited, “I’ve been working on a new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party.”

Satoshi Nakamoto officially released Bitcoin in February 2009 via an online post, stating how he humbly developed a new open source P2P e-cash system called ‘Bitcoin’, asking users to “give it a try”. He also provided a long-winded explanation about how technological advancements today have mad encryption of information available to the average computer user, in layman terms – “Users could secure their own data in a way that was physcially impossible for others to access.”
With that being said, Bitcoin is a decentralized cryptocurrency that is available for trading & investment purposes and purchasing things online, as opposed to fiat currency.
Now, I’m not going to state how much is Bitcoin currently worth at the moment, because – like all currencies, the value of Bitcoin is always fluctuating, however not so much to the point that it’s ‘volatile’ though.
These transactions occur between a transfer of value in Bitcoin wallets that gets included in the block chain. Bitcoin wallets keep a secret piece of data called a private key or seed, which is used to sign transactions, providing a mathematical proof that they have come from the owner of the wallet.

On a side note, if you are interested in trading Bitcoin, you can do so here at https://www.localbitcoin.com and view a (pip chart) chart here http://www.coinbase.com/charts

Now let’s dive back into the devil of the details.
Nakamoto later revealed to public that he started the design and coding of the currency back in 2007.
And I feel it would be natural to share some of his thoughts that he, himself had shared,
“The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust. Banks must be trustesd to hold our money and transfer it electronically, but they lend it out in waves of credit bubbles with barely a fraction in reserve. We have to trust them with our privacy, trust them not to let identity thieves drain our accounts. Their massive overhead costs make micropayments impossible.”
However, the big question is, how in the world did Satoshi Nakamoto made this imaginably possible? His invention only provided for a finite number of bitcoins to be ‘mined’. Of course, as more of them are mined, they grow in value and become more difficult to obtain. This resulted in a massive race for mining.

So, how does mining work?
Bitcoins were designed to be mined by computers performing and solving a series of complex mathematical equations. This means that the ‘miners’ are racing to see who can solve the most number of mathematical equations in a short period of time. The winner is of course rewarded with Bitcoin! Now this task was able to be accomplished with a home PC in the past, but right now as the equations evolve into more complex ones, it requires a vast amount of electricity and hi-tech hardware to complete the arduous task.
Sounds like this Satoshi guy is a freaking genius right?
Yep, he pretty much is. But the mysteriously weird thing is, nobody knows who the face behind the alias, ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ really is. His ‘age’ 38, sex ‘Male’ and origin ‘Japan’ is truthfully unknown to be recognized as fact despite numerous attempts being made to find out who he really is! Satoshi Nakamoto is truly an underground wizard.

What is blockchain?
A blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger that facilitates secure online transactions. A blockchain is also used to record transactions that happens between computers all across the global network. In retrospect, the record cannot be altered without the collusion of the network, including altering all subsequent blocks.

There has been alot of controversy revolving around cryptocurrency due to it’s seedy nature. As a result, many smart investments are being withheld. In 2014, I met this lady called Summer Radtke, she had a pleasant personality and was outgoing. She also happened to be a CEO of a bitcoin exchange firm. She was later found dead in her own apartment after the Japan-based Mt.Gox exchange collapsed, resulting in a loss of $400 milion.
Personally, I have shared a similar experience in 2014, resulting in my thousands of dollars that was invested in Alphabay Marketplace to disappear mysteriously after the owner ‘exit scammed’ the users and vendors, getting away with over $40 milion USD worth of bitcoin. Despite the fallbacks, we remain a closed-knitted community and continue to keep our faith in Bitcoin.

Today, Bitcoin alone is worth USD$5,595/BTC.
I can safely say that cryptocurrency is making a comeback it will definitively shape more human lives in the future. Do look out for ICOs (Inital Coin Offerings) for Ethereum as we continue to revolutionize the digital age.

A little more information on what’s happening right now:

Don’t forget to stay in the circle!

Written by Yoji Amashiro
Photography taken by Yoji Amashiro