How Tech Has Changed Our Lives: Entertainment

Humans have gone through various means of passing the time. From primitive man’s cave paintings, Rome’s world conquest, Leonardo Da Vinci’s polymath undertakings, Elvis Presley’s rocking and rolling, and now, your teenage neighbor’s profanity-laced DOTA tirade. Below, we take a look at how technology has allowed us to entertain ourselves over the last few decades. It’s really amazing where boredom can take us, eh?

Gaming

While I didn’t grow up during the time of the Atari, I consider myself lucky that I was able to play with the Famicom, Gameboy Color, and their brethren. My young self thought that it couldn’t possibly get better than pixel Mario curb stomping Goombas, Subzero pulling a fatality on Noob Saibot, and Sonic dropping his rings over a freakin’ lady bug. And let’s not forget naming your Pokēmon rival “Buttface.” Good times.

It would be an understatement to say that the landscape of gaming has changed much. Technological innovations have ushered in better ways to create them, giving players hyper-realistic graphics (or cutesy anime, or cell-shaded, or nostalgic; really whatever floats your boat), immersive sound design, addictive gameplay, and highly emotional stories. Sure Aeris dying in Final Fantasy VII (oops, spoiler!) was very heart wrenching, but Sarah’s death during the opening moments of The Last of Us (again, spoiler!) was even more emotional thanks to the great job done by the characters’ actors and the game’s animation team.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Aeris’ death is the saddest video game loss of life ever. Here’s hoping that they release a CGI version of that scene soon.

The gaming revolution also narrowed down the players in the platform department, leaving us with five choices in Sony’s PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox One, Nintendo’s Wii and DS, and The Master Race’s PC. Each of these—save for the PC’s on-a-whim upgrade cycle—boast newer innards with every iteration, giving consumers an even better experience each time.
Also, gone are the days when you’d have to blow repeatedly on a clunky cartridge in order to run your game. For a while back, disc-based distribution was the norm and users had to deal with another problem: disc scratches and faulty optical drives. Thankfully, discs soon found a competitor in digital distribution platforms such as Steam, PlayStation Store, Xbox Store, and Nintendo Online Store.

But with innovation comes a whole slew of other troubles. Getting your fix online mean you need to have a stable internet connection and limitless data allocation to download the gigabytes upon gigabytes of required game files. Hopefully, the recent moves in the country’s telco industry will improve the state of internet so we can all splurge on Steam sales with no second thoughts.

Lastly, the multiplayer aspect of gaming continues to remain strong, and has in fact overtaken the single player experience in some genres. It also contributes to the replayability of a game, and there’s nothing more enjoyable than banding with your friends and pretending to have cohesion in a first-person war simulator. Sorry bots, your time is up.

Listening to Music

We’ve been able to get songs off the internet for a while now and we’ve been listening to music on our phones and portable music players for heaven knows how long. Though it seems that’s all she wrote regarding the evolution of how we consume music, it’s really far from the truth.

Remember vinyls? Those big black discs that spin on a phonograph? As it turns out, they’re making a comeback and luring people back to the past with their generally warmer—though not necessarily better—audio quality. Vinyl sales have been growing steadily over the past year, no doubt ushered in by audiophiles and baby boomers missing the simpler times.

However, that doesn’t mean that the digital music space has been sitting idle on the sidelines. Streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer have established themselves as viable alternatives to downloading and keeping music in local storage. Compared to physically collecting albums and spending significant money in the process, now, for only a few bucks per month, you’ll get access to a very comprehensive international music library that you can listen to anywhere.

Discovering music is also made easier through these online platforms, thanks to ingenious algorithms that figure out what kinds of music you like through what you play. You are then presented with various suggestions from artists that you may not have even heard of before. Moreover, listening to music has taken a very social approach. Not only can you easily broadcast the track you are listening to, you can also collaborate with other users to create your own playlists—the modern version of the mixtapes of yore.

Watching Videos

I don’t know how children are spending their Saturday mornings these days, but when I was a tyke, the first morning after a long school week was spent hunkered down in front of a CRT television and watching cartoons. The afternoons were sometimes spent in the local movie store, picking out which movies to rent for the next week.

Nowadays, I rarely find myself watching TV. Why would I when everything I need and everything I want to watch can be found on the world wide web? Like what happened to music and video games, the internet has assimilated most TV and film content and made them accessible anytime, anywhere. The internet also spurred consumers to be the creator of their own content, something unheard of in the past. Unless you count home movies.

Speaking of home movies, advancements in camera technology has allowed everyone—professionals and amateurs alike—to make better content, visually and aurally. As you don’t want to be watching these high quality materials on a crappy screen, manufacturers have gone ahead and debuted ever-thinner, ever-larger, and ever-advance television panels. Besides being wafer-thin, these also boast higher resolutions (upwards of 8K) and smart functionality, allowing users to easily free themselves from the hassles of signal cables and discs.

Still, there’s something to be missed about the randomness of television. The way you can channel surf and stumble upon something that’s interesting enough at first glance that you’re compelled to stay a while is one thing that the internet—even with all its glory—can’t match.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE July 2016 issue
Words by Chris Noel Hidalgo
Artwork by Theresa Eloriaga

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