November 9th, 2010
08:25 PM ET

Answering the Call of Duty

On Tuesday's News Stream, we talked about the "millions of gamers" rushing out to buy and play Call of Duty: Black Ops.

I am one of those gamers.

By day, I produce News Stream.  At night, I squeeze out whatever time I have to venture online and play games.

And I'm not alone. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. There is a generation that grew up with Nintendo, took PlayStations to college, and are now carrying a passion for games into adult life. But finding time to actually indulge that passion is harder than ever.

It's the irony of growing up: With greater spending power comes greater responsibility. We can afford the games we coveted and saved money for as children; we just don't have time to play them.

Thankfully, there seems to be a strange sort of solution at hand: Games are getting shorter. Alright, that's a blanket statement that is not entirely true. There are still epics like Grand Theft Auto and Mass Effect that have long campaigns. And more games have online multiplayer components that in theory never end. But games with short single-player campaigns are becoming ever more common. The last three games I finished were Medal of Honor, 007: Blood Stone and Halo: Reach. Each took less than ten hours to complete. The last Call of Duty game, Modern Warfare 2, took less than five hours to finish.

Judging by the number of friends I see playing online at 1am, carving out time for games is still a battle no matter how short they are. So if you'll excuse me: I have a game to play.

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Filed under: Games • General • Personal musings
November 9th, 2010
02:59 PM ET

What makes a video go viral in China?

It's a good question: the ingredients for viral video success in the world's largest internet market aren't what you might think.

Admit it, we've all spent hours online checking out videos sent to us by our friends. I'm thinking the cutesy "Charlie Bit My Finger", the classic "Evolution of Dance", or even the video that put some sex appeal into the last U.S. Presidential campaign "Crush on Obama". Most people will have clicked onto YouTube to get their viral video fill.

But just a glimpse of the front page of Tudou.com, one of China's foremost video-sharing sites, and you get a glimpse of a different kind of online community.

The CEO of the company, Gary Wang, doesn't like to compare his site with YouTube too much. He told News Stream "On YouTube it's more often about dancing babies and cats and dogs and that kind of stuff, more cuddly subjects. In China, there's a fair amount of unsatisfied feeling".

That's clear to see when you look at a number of videos on sites like Tudou.

I'll give you an example. There's been huge outcry online against a police official's son in China's northern Hebei Province. He allegedly tried to flee the scene of a fatal car accident last month crying out "Sue me if you can...My father is Li Gang!". That's become a catchphrase for abuse of power among China's estimated 420-million netizens, and there are poems, music videos, raps and cartoons posted online all using that same ironic rallying cry. Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei has even uploaded his own contribution.

But it's not all anger. There's a lot of love on China's video-sharing sites too. One grassroots fundraising campaign has so far raised around $3000 for a grandmother forced to deliver heavy water bottles by bicycle in order to care for her disabled son.

As Gary Wang succinctly put it, in China "the Web 2.0 phenomenon is actually becoming a lot more powerful than it probably is in the U.S."

Something to think about next time you're watching Keyboard Cat.

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Filed under: General • Titans of Tech