Extra Credits Review

Jordan McNeal

Alisha Geary

English 2010

18 July 2012

Extra Credits:

Spectrum Crunch

Introduction to the Spectrum Crunch

The spectrum crunch is increasingly becoming more and more of a problem for cities in the United States. The country is quickly running out of useable air space in the radio spectrum. This could harm the mobile, TV broadcast, and radio industries as well as hurt the economy and put a hold on furthering the development of the internet.

Description of Extra Credits

About Extra Credits

Extra Credits is a show on Penny Arcade created by Digipen University’s professor James Portnow, Pixar employee Daniel Floyd, and Nintendo Retro Studios employee Allison Theus. The show focuses on informing the gaming community about techniques or issues in the gaming community. This particular episode was about informing about the spectrum crunch.

Summary

This episode was made to be an informative piece to raise public awareness for gamers about the spectrum crunch. The episode was broken into three parts. It first discussed on why the spectrum crunch is happening, briefly describing that since the explosion of smartphones, our data consumption has greatly increased. The demand for future consumption can’t be met because of destructive interference. Then they described how the crunch will affect everyone. The internet will stagnate and mobile prices will rise exponentially. Finally, possible solutions to solve the problem, which resulted mostly to being publically aware of the issue (Portnow).

Thesis

            Extra Credit’s “Spectrum Crunch” does an excellent job of raising public awareness. They paint a clear picture that this is a problem that will affect the gaming community. The video tells the gaming community what they’ll probably miss out on, such as cloud gaming or improved multiplayer. It then tells the audience to raise awareness of the issue to everyone else, because this issue will affect anyone who uses a phone, likes to watch TV, or listen to the radio. However, because this is such a great public awareness ad, the message may be a bit watered down.

Discussion

Informative Public Awareness

Extra Credits is very skilled in displaying information about a complicated issue in a simple manner. The spectrum crunch is a difficult topic for many to understand. It usually requires a rudimentary understanding of how waves work, what the electromagnetic spectrum is, and how destructive interference works. Extra Credits briefly talks about the electromagnetic spectrum and destructive interference, however sweeps these requirements away and found a way to make their video understandable for the average viewer.

To have a successful public awareness piece, the piece needs to obtain a large audience to spread out to. The piece also needs to have a good understanding of what makes their audience interested. Extra Credits knew their audience, the gaming community. They made the problem a relatable problem for their audience by stating the potential problems the spectrum crunch has on video games.

If the spectrum crunch persists, then there will be no cloud gaming in the future. This will be a problem for any gamer that wants to have a beautiful gaming experience without the cost for their personal expensive gaming rig. Online mobile multiplayer gaming would be impossible, we’ve already seen the depletion of online mobile multiplayer with the Playstaion Vita. The Vita has access to 3G networks, but can only play games asynchronously. This means that unless if the game is turn-based (like chess), it can’t be played online without direct access to a LAN (Lowe).

After painting a picture about the potential problems for the gaming community, they then gave instructions on how their audience could further spread their message. They asked their audience to discuss how this problem could affect everyone who has a mobile device, a relatable problem for almost everyone. If the problem is not solved then carriers are going to try and chase away many consumers from the internet. Phone bills will sky skyrocket as well. Extra credits paints a pretty clear picture that the spectrum crunch will affect everyone.

A Watered Down Message

Unfortunately, because Extra Credits aims for easy understanding, the message is a little watered down. Explanation on how the spectrum crunch is being caused is very brief and would require further research from the viewer to fully grasp the issue. Destructive interference plays a huge role in the spectrum crunch; it is the leading reason why spectrum’s band of wavelengths can’t be infinitely sub-divided. As shown in the picture below, when a wave collides with another wave at the same frequency, they can dissolve and flatten. This process then ends up killing whatever data was being sent through the waves. Because of destructive interference, broadcasters can’t just output an infinite amount of broadcast frequencies. If broadcasters were to try, the waves would collide and there would be less being broadcast than if the broadcasters were to allocate frequencies appropriately. Leaving out that information about destructive interference would leave many viewers to wonder why the spectrum crunch is happening and why the United States can’t just make more spectrum space as needed (Interference of Waves).

Conclusion

            Extra Credits did a great job making an otherwise complicated issue interesting and engaging. Even though they provided a slightly watered down message, the spectrum crunch is something that needs public awareness. This video was an excellent way to raise public awareness and did an excellent job in doing so. It was the video that raised my awareness of the issue, and now I’ve spread awareness of the spectrum crunch to the rest of my group and soon my group will spread awareness to the rest of the class. The video was successful in doing what it was intended to accomplish.

Works Cited:

Destructive Interference. N.d. Graphic. esmog-responders. Web. 20 Jul 2012.

“Interference of Waves.” physicsclassroom.com. comPADRE, 2012. Web. 24 Jul 2012.

Goldman, David. “Spectrum Crunch: The Cell Phone Industry Hits Its Limits.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 21 Feb. 2012. Web. 22 June 2012.

Lowe, Scott. “Sony PlayStation Vita (3G/Wi-Fi) Review.” ign.com. IGN, 13 Feb 2012. Web. 25 Jul 2012.

Portnow, James, writ. Spectrum Crunch. Perf. Daniel Floyd. Penny-Arcade, Web. 20 Jul 2012.

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