Easiest ways to help the planet

While this post is technically a day late, I thought it would be a good time to right a list of everything you can do on a daily basis to help protect the Earth. Whether you chose to believe in global warming or not, there is no doubt that our planet is not in a good state: Ocean temperatures are rising, coral reefs are being bleached into obscurity and the amount of pollution we are producing is not a maintainable standard of life. Therefore, in honour of Earth Day 2017 here is a list of how to be kinder to our planet.

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Recycling

This is probably one of the easiest ways in which you can lessen your impact on the Earth. In 2015, the EU made it mandatory to separate out all recyclable waste from normal rubbish, and for the most part it is pretty easy. But why is it good for the environment? For the most part, rubbish that is not recyclable just ends up in a land fill where it can be burned, but is usually just packed into the ground. Everywhere has their own method of dealing with it, but these are the most common solutions. Obviously, land fills are bad news: They are dirty, contaminating and not to mention a complete eye sore for anyone who happens to live near one. It’s not nice to look at and it is just using our earth as a dumping ground for all of our unnecessary stuff.

Recycling on the other hand allows us to reuse the things we need to throw away: In most cases, recyclable products such as plastic bottles, paper and tin cans can all be melted down to create new tin cans, new water bottles, and in some cases even make handbags, notebooks and shoes. By doing this, we can create a maintainable resource as we do not have to continually cut down trees to make new paper, nor do we have to make room in our countryside for unnecessary landfills. It is kinder on the planet, and a more resourceful way of making our products so that we don’t have to worry about the future of our planet every time we buy a bottle of water.

For more facts about recycling and it’s benefits, have a look at this!

Reusable items

Something that links on to the above point is the use of reusable items: Water bottles, coffee cups, thermos flasks…the list can be endless and for most part of relatively cheap alternatives to buying one every day. Plastic water bottles are surprisingly expensive, especially when you can drink the tap water for free in almost every part of the world. Why spend £1 every time you need a bottle of water, when you can spend £5 and have a bottle readily available to fill up throughout the day as and when you need to. Personally, I drink a lot of water anyway but when it’s hot or I’m out and about a lot seeing friends or running errands, having a bottle of water on hand in my bag is a genuine money saver and life saver.

You can also do the same with reusable coffee cups: Most disposable ones are not recyclable, so if you buy a Starbucks or Costa coffee every morning on your way to work, then it is definitely worth investing in a nice, sturdy, washable travel mug that you can reuse each morning. You can pick up pretty good ones for about £3 or less on ebay, and they can come in so many pretty colours your main concern will be choosing your favourite!

Diet

It has long been known that red meat has been linked to climate change, but how so? Well, aside from the animals rights side of things, raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water. In a report by the Worldwatch Institute, 51% (at least!) of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. Furthermore, most deforestation is caused by the demand for animal rearing land, where large areas of the rain forest are being cut down to make room for even more farmed cows to be raised and slaughtered. With less trees, more CO2 is released into the air and thus causes a rise in climate change, as trees take the CO2 and convert it into oxygen during photosynthesis.

Therefore, if you care about the environment, it is advised to leave meat, especially red meat, off of your plate. This however is also not considering the impact that even fish, chicken and pork have on your health and the overall impact it has on the environment: Chickens may not be as gaseous as cows, but they still take a huge amount of land, water and food to raise them so that they can become food themselves. Over fishing is now a problem across the world, with many ecosystems being negatively effected by the amount of fish that we are taking from the sea. Many other species of marine life are also being killed by mistake, including whales, dolphins, turtles and sharks, all because we as a species have such a high demand for fish meat.

Needless to say, cutting out meat from your diet is a huge way you can combat climate change without even trying to and in this day and age where more and more people are realising the positive impacts a vegetable diet can have on their life and their environment, there are so many new and exciting replacements out there that can make going vegetarian or vegan a very easy and straight forward process. I, for example, have been vegan for about a year and a half now, and have saved around 2,269,326 litres of water, 1,526 sq. metres of forest, 4,960 of CO2 and 545 animal lives. Even if you don’t care all that much about animals, you can’t deny that just by cutting out meat from your diet you are combating huge amounts of climate change.

Have a look at this website to see how much you can save by switching to an animal free diet.

A few extra tips

Next time you buy a kitchen appliance, get one that is Energy Star-approved, and only plug in electrical equipment when you use it often: Don’t leave them on standby, or leave your phone charging all night long.

Skip the pre-rinse when using a dishwasher and only run it when full as this can save up to 7,300 gallons of water a year!

Buy local, plant-based food to cut back on the distance it has to travel from farm to plate, as this will in turn reduce the amount of emissions caused.

Doggy bags or composting are the way forward: only order or make as much food as you can eat in one sitting to prevent waste. If you happen to have leftovers, store them in a reusable glass or stainless-steel container and compost any inedible scraps. Compost can then be used to grow your own vegetables and thus teach you how to be self-sufficient and with less chemical pollution in our soil and our air.

Organise a clothes swap with friends or work colleagues, or even donate unwanted furniture and clothing to charities. This way your trash doesn’t end up in a landfill anywhere but rather can become another person’s treasure. Most cities have clothing bins, but most charity shops are happy to take any unwanted clothing, furniture, books and china (provided they are all clean and still usable!). If there is no chance anyone else would want it, why not get creative and turn those old jeans into a storage box, or that old knitted jumper into a comfy pillow or even a throw? The possibilities are endless!

As you can see, there are many ways that you can help lessen the impact we have on the environment, and with scientific and technological advances being made every day, we as a society should be focused on moving toward a sustainable and healthy way of living so that generations after us can enjoy all of the wonders that this world has to offer.

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Do you guy have any environmental friendly tips too? I’d love to hear some other ideas!

T xxx

Cosplay or copycat?

We have seen from some of the previous blogs that copyright law steps in when there has been blatant copying of one game in creating another game, but what about taking the characters themselves out of the game and into the real world?

Cosplay is the practice of dressing up as a character from a film, book, or video game, and is usually focused on those characters from the Japanese genres of manga or anime. it is a common practice at many comicons that the vast majority of those attending take the opportunity to dress up as their favorite characters, with many conventions now holding competitions for the best look-a-likes.

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A couple cosplaying as Wonder Woman and Batman. Other examples can be seen here

But if you were to dress up as your favorite character, this is not necessarily a cheap feat. If you are really going to do the character justice you need a lot of supplies: clothing, make-up, wigs, weapons, accessories, footwear, extra padding, armour details…the list can go on and on especially if you are trying to recreate a character from comics or video games. Now in the wonderful digital age in which we live, the internet has made all of the above easily accessible. The main question however will be whether or not you can afford to buy it all: If we decided to stick it out with our Dark Knight above, this could set a person back around £250. You’ll look awesome, but probably won’t be able to afford any other clothing for the foreseeable future.

So why not make your own?

I’ll admit it right now: I love a bit of dressing up. Any chance to wear fancy dress and quite frankly I’m sold. However, I am also really, really, really tight-fisted when it comes to my money and so could never justify to myself spending a lot of money on an outfit I’ll most likely only wear once (twice if i’m really lucky!). Creating your own costume is easier and usually cheaper than buying one ready made, especially if you are dressing up for a bit of fun at a convention or as a party troupe. However some of these cosplay competitions are a big deal for those who compete: While cash prizes are rare, the opportunity to win trophies, photography sessions and even meet-and-greet passes with the convention guests, are all big prizes to those fans who compete. In order to win once in a lifetime opportunities such as those awarded at these competitions, your costume must be on point: My Wonder Woman t-shirt, blue skirt and silver bangles will not be enough.

But does making your own count as copyright infringement? In short, no. If you are creating a costume purely for your own enjoyment then it would most likely not be covered by copyright infringement, as you are not causing any financial risk to the original owners. I could take this time to try and explain the implications of design rights within the fashion industry but that would be an entirely new blog post!

What if you made one for a friend?

Now this is where things could potentially be a problem. If you enjoy making the costumes, you may have a friend who asks you to create a costume for them of a particular character as the entire feat is too complicated for them. Based on the financial risk to the original owners, whether this could be copyright infringement rests heavily on whether or not they pay you for the work, and, almost more weighty, is whether this becomes a business for you. If your friend offers to pay you for the materials and time to make the costume, then it could be seen that you are taking money away from the original owner of the character and the costume. While this is extreme, it could become a more pressing issue if you were to do this for lots of friends…so much so that you would say that it is your work and it clearly had a commercial gain to it all.

Final verdict?

When it is clear that your hobby has now become a commercial enterprise, it is probably best to seek a license to use the image from the original owner (such as DC, Marvel or Square Enix for example) in order to protect yourself from a very nasty infringement claim being brought against you. While this may seem like a bit of an effort, it is best to cover your back rather than risk bankrupting yourself over something as minor as a winged cape.

Other than that, craft to your heart’s content my fellow geeks! I shall see you at a convention near you.

T xx

 

Freddy Fazbear and his F**Kboys

One indie game of high popularity in recent years has been Five Nights at Freddy’s. This is a rather simple point and click horror game, where the player controls a night watchman with the aim of surviving numerous nights of increasing difficulty by not being killed by the animatronic machines that come ‘alive’ at night. With its use of jump scares and simple controls, this game has a very active and loyal fan following and as such there have been some fan made versions of the game.

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^^ Freddy Fazbear ^^

One game in particular, Five Nights at F**kboys, may not be suited to the original game’s current audience. This version of Freddy’s involves Freddy trying to have a wild night of debauchery and partying, with many of the characters wearing inappropriate clothing and one character performing inappropriate acts whenever you see him on the surveillance cameras. It is also recommended to do a shot of alcohol before each level, so that as each level gets harder, the player also gets more intoxicated, and this supposedly makes for a far more enjoyable and entertaining experience. The crude and adult themes throughout this version are obviously not suitable for the relatively younger audiences that were drawn to the original Freddy’s game and yet they can still easily access it under the impression that it is made by the same developers.

So what can developers do?

By issuing proceedings against this type of copyright infringement, it allows developers to have control over how their work is used, especially when it comes to the audiences they are trying to protect. In this sense, control is therefore maintained by the developers and their game is protected from negative infringement. In more tactful situations however, negative imaging is exactly what the copier wished to do in the hope of tainting the reputation of the original game to such an extent as to render it unappealing to consumers.

The problems?

It stands to reason that developers can not always issue proceedings against people who infringe their work: the cost alone can be substantial, and for companies and developers just starting out in the industry this cost can be crippling. However it could be argued that the main reason why the developers wouldn’t want to issue proceedings is because of the impact it would have on their overall image. If a developer does nothing but condemn those who copy their work, they are in some way dampening the appeal of their game: FNAF has bee so successful because of the massive fan base that has built around it, and this is mostly due to the ability of fans to create their own interpretations of the games which help to add story and experience to the FNAF world rather than just as one lonely game.

Most games involve some form of player communication in the form of either online multiplayer modes of gaming, or simply through the online forums that fans create in order to discuss the game, their tactics and share their own experiences of the game. These online forums create pathways through which people can gossip about the game developers and in a world as digitised as ours, news spreads very quickly: The second word gets out that there is a new upgrade, a new map or a new way of beating the game these forums are flooded with information and distributed to hundreds upon thousands of people. This clearly raises the issue of what litigation can do to a company’s public image. The main concern of any solicitor when advising a client on this issue should be ‘What would the fans make of this situation?’, since while they do not make the final decision as a legal judge would, commercially speaking the voice of the fans is the only voice that should really matter to a video game designer: If the entire fan following (or to some extent even a small majority of them) feel that the designer is ‘attacking fans’ with legal proceedings, then the entire community basis on which the game rests becomes unstable and, for the most part, will begin to falter before completely dying away. In some respects, video game fame is fleeting, since technology and software is changing so dramatically that it can almost be impossible to keep up with. As a result, it is probably better for a game developer’s brand to be left on a high rather than risking becoming labelled as ‘the company that sues its fans’.

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^^ One of the faster characters, Foxy ^^

What can be done?

It is clear from simply reading the comments on gaming forums that gaming fans are a loyal and fierce breed of fans. It could also be argued that people on the internet appear to have feel more confident online and as such seem more likely to speak their mind, and most certainly will not hold back on comments or remarks if they feel justified. This in a way acts as a secondary level of enforcement without the need for expensive court procedures or solicitor fees, as the fans do the hard work for the developer when it comes to protecting a game’s image and reputation. If the fans come across work that is infringed, some may flag this with the streaming service itself for breaching without consent of the author, while others may even bully the infringer until the material is taken down. From looking at fan made games as well, it would appear that most fans are happy to state that their game is a copy (even if only to a small extent) of a game already in existence. It is perhaps this admittance of copying that makes it acceptable within the eyes of the entire fan base as it shows others that they are not infringing to make a profit or for any other malicious reason, but rather to add to the experience that the original already created in order to make it a better experience for the fan base as a whole. In this sense, copyright infringement when it comes to games could be seen as an altruistic act that is done more out of love and admiration for a developer’s work than out of mere thievery and deceit. This in turn therefore means that when a person does infringe the work but tries to claim that this is all their own original creation and that people should pay them for it, the fan base may take that as a personal assault on their own gaming subculture, and as stated at the beginning of this paragraph, decide to oust the immoral infringer themselves in order to protect their own interests in the game as a fan.

The conclusion?

FNAF is an example of a game that is more or less defined by its fan base. The idea that fans can add to the FNAF experience means that the literal copyright infringement can be overlooked if the work in question still maintains its integrity. In this sense, perhaps copyright infringement is simply a fall back position: It is not a concrete law that must always be adhered to, as it is essentially up to the original author whether or not they see the infringement as damaging to their own brand. In the case of Freddy, and his many many renderings, impersonation really is the sincerest form of flattery.

 T xx

Video game censorship

When it comes to video games society seems to be obsessed with the content, but not necessarily whether the story is well-structured or the characters realistic. There is always a concern that any video game that hints at violence will do one thing, and one thing only: Make the people who play them violent. In today’s society, even the legal system is concerned with the question of how much government should protect its people from offensive material. According to reports, more than 85% of video games on the market contain some form of violence. The controversy surrounding topics such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Manhunt have made the games almost infamous for the violence and aggression that they show throughout game play.

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The ‘No Russian’ starting level of Cal of Duty: Modern Warfare where the player is asked to gun down an entire airport.

However there could be debate over what exactly is deemed ‘offensive’ material: Are guns necessarily offensive, when places such as America deem it a fundamental right to be allowed to own them in your home? Is violence offensive, when sport shows such as MMA and cage fighting get higher ratings when they show more bloodshed? Is sex offensive, when series such as Fifty Shades of Grey, Twilight and Game of Thrones draw in huge numbers of viewers with drawn out sex scenes and naked women? It can be drawn from simple common sense that the majority of these answers are based on individual preferences, as what offends one person can be relatively innocent to another and it is this balance along the spectrum that government needs to be wary of.

Naturally, there are games that are a no-go for anyone: Games that promote rape (such as the Japanese released  Rapelay) or make a mockery out of current social tragedies (such as V-Tech Rampage) very clearly should not be allowed in the public domain as they are quite obviously only there to incite offense and upset, and not to provide a gaming experience. But with many games around today, violence is very much integral to the overall story that the game is trying to tell, with many containing an option to commit no violence throughout all of it. In the newly released Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, it is possible to simply run away from the majority of monsters and trap them in rooms so as to avoid having to shoot them point-blank with a shot gun.

The majority of games that have violent characteristics contain these features because they are based on (although admittedly they are exaggerated) real life situations: Call of Duty is a game built around war and so violence is unavoidable, while Outlast and Resident Evil are games inspired by horror and survival. In many action and adventure games such as the ones mentioned above, part of their whole appeal is the use of large guns and multiple explosive devices, if nothing else but to progress the story on with a rush of adrenaline and excitement to keep the player wanting to play more. The undeniable success of games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto show that the demand for these types of games has risen over the years, but it seems somewhat pessimistic to assume that this is because video game players are becoming more aggressive, more violent and more masochistic.

Anyone who has played a video game understands the thrill of a video game: For that time of game play, you are transported into a different world, living a different life with different goals. People who enjoy reading say that they enjoy the imagination of books and the ability of a good book to transport you to a new realm, so why can the same not apply for video games? Video games have become an integral part of our society and in 2016, the majority of people under the age of 30 were too busy running around outside trying to catch Pokemon through the Pokemon Go mobile app game to even think about violence or crimes.

Furthermore, it could be seen as condescending that the government simply assumes that video game players are mindless beings who are easily influenced: An average person won’t go out and steal a car just because they played Grand Theft Auto. If someone wants to commit violence, the fact that they play video games is irrelevant. Research has shown that while video games can increase levels of aggression, it also stated that this can only be problematic in situations of already heightened aggression due to personality type, family life, social factors and other such factors. Due to this, if a person does feel the need to express their frustrations or their fetishes in a violent manner, surely allowing them to do so in a virtual manner is a better solution than having them attack someone in real life. Perhaps that is why video games are as popular as they are, because they allow people to experience different walks of life without any consequences of their actions: Most people wonder what it would feel like to commit crime but are stopped by the fear of getting caught and, most effectively, going to prison. Therefore they play these games to see what it could be like, without having to actually step into the real world to do so.

Final thoughts?

It is clear that while video games may possess aspects that people find offensive, it is also clear that there is a huge demand for games that allow people to experience things that they never would in everyday life. Government needs to keep this all in mind when deciding just how much ‘protection’ they need to give to its people, as to some members of society these video games may be the only release they get that doesn’t involve actual harm or violence to other people.

T xx