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Graduation season is well underway, with kindergartners, high schoolers, college seniors and graduate students alike donning caps and gowns to celebrate their achievement. With their diplomas, graduates also get words of wisdom from a commencement speakers and a good excuse to celebrate. -- Lloyd Young ( 31 photos total)
US Naval Academy graduates throw their hats at the conclusion of their commencement and commission ceremony, attended by President Barack Obama at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on May 24 in Annapolis, Md. (Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency)     

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The second collection of images from 2012 once again brought us nature at its full force and beauty along with news and daily life coming from countries like Russia, Syria, Egypt, England, India and Italy. The following is a compilation - not meant to be comprehensive in any way - of images from the second 4 months of 2012. Please see part 1 from Monday and here's part 3. -- Lloyd Young ( 47 photos total)
Tightrope walker Nik Wallenda walks the high wire from the United States side to the Canadian side over the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, on June 15. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

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Another year has come and gone and with it hundreds of thousands of images have recorded the world's evolving history; moments in individual lives; the weather and it's affects on the planet; acts of humanity and tragedies brought by man and by nature. The following is a compilation - not meant to be comprehensive in any way - of images from the first 4 months of 2012. Parts II and III to follow this week. -- Paula Nelson ( 64 photos total)
Fireworks light up the skyline and Big Ben just after midnight, January 1, 2012 in London, England. Thousands of people lined the banks of the River Thames in central London to ring in the New Year with a spectacular fireworks display. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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When TIME named Paul Ryan a runner-up in the 2011 Person of the Year issue, many were familiar with his proposed budget, but few knew that the Wisconsin Congressman stayed fit with the now best-selling P90X workout plan. (Ryan’s father and grandfather both died of a heart attack.) In fact, it was Ryan’s fitness regime — and Herculean strength on all things fiscal — that inspired this workout-themed sitting for Person of the Year. One of these portraits, photographed by Gregg Segal, appears in the Oct. 22, 2012, issue.

Tony Horton, the stand-up comedian turned P90X creator, says the rigorous workout has been boosted from both sides of the aisle. “I think Paul Ryan’s been very good for P90X, as much or more so as Michelle Obama,” he says. “I’ve worked with the First Lady and her Let’s Move campaign. Some of the Secret Service came up to me and said, ‘Hey man, we’re really loving the P90X.’ I’m well aware that they’re using it in the White House.”

According to Horton, you don’t need a lot of equipment to get fit. Ryan likes to use weights, but they aren’t a necessity. “You need the human body, Mother Earth and Sir Isaac Newton’s law of gravity,” Horton says.

TIME asked Horton to suggest a get-fit regimen that could be implemented alongside the presidential campaign but still leave time for careful consideration of the issues. He recommended an upper-body exercise, a cardiovascular interval exercise, a core exercise and a leg exercise. (For further details — and diagrams! — check the Oct. 22 issue.)

Confusing the electorate is unwise, but according to Horton, confusing the muscles is a plus. This involves changing the routine often so muscles don’t get accustomed to any one exercise. To get the full benefit of this regimen, you’ve got to make like the party and diversify. “Do a different push-up every time,” suggests Horton. “Add kenpo karate or jumping jacks or whatever on that second move. On the crunches, modify your position to engage the abs or core directly. You can do squats with your feet wide, your feet narrow. It’s a workout that might also give you a bounce. As few as two rounds of that will release norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin.”

Perfect for when the poll numbers aren’t going your way.

Read more about Horton on TIME Healthland and see more photos of Ryan on Swampland.

Segal is a Los Angeles–based photographer. See more of his work here.

Luscombe is an editor-at-large at TIME.

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I sincerely believe that the user experience community should add game design to its toolbox of competencies. If we’re truly committed to creating satisfying user experiences, then there’s no reason why games, which can satisfy people so richly, should be excluded.

Operating successfully in the games domain means learning a new set of competencies, and I don’t want to oversimplify the challenges of designing high-quality game experiences. However, if you’re in a position to jump in and start designing, then I can at least offer a primer to help you steer clear of some of the most common mistakes.

1. Games Should Be Games First

Trading off the quality of the player experience in favor of some real-world objective is always self-defeating. This is the recurring problem with “gamified” designs, which too often just cynically tack points and leaderboards onto a product that is fundamentally gameless. First and foremost, a game needs to be enjoyed.

Schwab MoneyWise’s It’s Your Life game has a noble mission: to convince people to save more money for retirement and other long-term objectives. It’s Your Life presents players with a number of choices between spending and saving money over the course of a simulated lifetime. At the end, players get a letter grade on how well they did.

A screen from Schwab's It's Your Life game
At each step in Schwab’s It’s Your Life game, the choice that will lead to a winning outcome is pretty obvious.

The problem is that the designers were much more interested in hammering home their message than creating an actual game experience. If you want to win the game, then the right choice each step of the way is to save your money and not spend any of it. Ever. On anything. You can earn an A+, the highest possible score, if you:

  • Skip college,
  • Never move out of your parents’ house,
  • Never get married,
  • Never have children,
  • Never travel or take any vacations,
  • Work indefinitely past the age of 65,
  • Die alone with a lot of money and no one to leave it to.

I’m sure the designers reasoned that someone playing through the scenarios would elect to do meaningful things with their life, but they set up the scenarios so that doing nothing with one’s life while saving vigorously would be the surest way to win. Even though It’s Your Life is packaged as a game, the designers didn’t commit to it being experienced as a game.

2. Play Test, Play Test, Play Test

Games are highly dynamic experiences. The flow of events changes from moment to moment, and each decision a player makes can lead to a multiplicity of outcomes. Most games are also programmed with an element of randomness, so a player never has quite the same experience twice. Multiplayer games throw even more unpredictability into the mix.

As a result, the designer directly controls not the gameplay, but rather the underlying system in which play unfolds. Without actually seeing the game in action, you cannot reliably anticipate how it will work. Mike Ambinder, an experimental psychologist at game developer Valve, puts it in scientific terms: “Every game design is a hypothesis, and every instance of play is an experiment.”

Be prepared to put your game under the microscope again and again, and to adapt the design to make it more enjoyable.

3. Games Don’t Have To Be For Kids

With a large market catering to them, kids have the latitude to be very discerning consumers of games. Marketing campaigns pushing big-budget titles already crowd out one another, so you’ll find that just getting a young gamer’s attention is a tremendous challenge. You can’t assume that kids will want to play your game just because it’s a game.

And these days, kids are the minority of people who play video games. Eighty-two percent of gamers are over the age of 18, and 29% are 50 and older. Grown-ups are sometimes more receptive to playing games outside of the mainstream, and they have more disposable income to spend on games (i.e. if you plan to sell your game).

Only 18 percent of game players in the U.S. are under 18 years old
Kids under 18 represent a small minority of game players.

This is not to say that kids cannot make up a portion of your audience. But if your game is clearly intended for young children — as announced in breathless starbursts, reading “Hey, kids!” and “Super-cool!” — then you will turn off the larger segment of gamers. So, consider targeting your game to an older age group while keeping it accessible to a broad range of ages.

4. Action Can Be Boring

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is an amazing action game. It also took years to make and a team comprising dozens of designers, artists and engineers at a cost of many millions of dollars. You’re probably not making Call of Duty.

It’s very difficult to sustain adrenaline-pumping excitement for long. If you do choose to make an action-based game on a small scale, you’ll find that you’re limited to very simple and short-lived scenarios, such as racing a car, throwing a basketball or shooting a spaceship. Taken on their own, these types of experiences tend to grow tiresome quickly.

You’ll find a lot of creative opportunity in games that make the player think through interesting choices instead of executing twitch responses. The card game Hearts, for example, is all about choices. Which three cards should I pass to my opponent? Should I play a high card or a low card? If I play clubs one more time, will someone else stick me with the queen of spades? Should I shoot for the moon, or will that prove self-destructive? Each choice is evaluated from one trick to the next, depending on the changing conditions of your hand and on new information about what other players have done. Even though Hearts can be a fairly long game, it holds the players’ interest without any laser blasters or lava levels.

The card game Hearts
Hearts creates excitement by presenting players with a lot of interesting choices.

5. Fit The Game Into The Player’s Lifestyle

Think about the real-life contexts in which people will play the game. Start the design process by asking:

  • Who are your players?
  • How much time do players have to give to the game, and how much of that time will your players actually be willing to give?
  • Will your players need to take a break from the game and continue it later?
  • Where will your players be when they’re playing the game?
  • What kind of hardware, software and Internet access will be available to your players?

Unisys developed a series of online games for the company’s sales team to send to customers as holiday greetings. A customer would receive a link by email to an online holiday card with a personal message from the salesperson. The card would then open into the game, branded with Unisys’ logo.

Screenshot of the Unisys mini-golf game
Unisys’ mini-golf game was designed to be a quick, nonintrusive diversion from the workday.

Because the players were receiving these emails at work, the games couldn’t require a significant investment of time to reach the end, so all of them were designed to last less than five minutes. And because many players would be accessing the game while sitting in a cubicle, with their computer speakers probably turned off, the few sounds in the games were not made essential to the experience.

FarmVille cleverly makes itself adaptable to the player’s lifestyle. Players need to dedicate only a few minutes at a time, during which they can plant seeds for crops that take different amounts of real-world time to harvest. Raspberries take just two hours, so they’re useful when the player is able to check in several times a day. Eight-hour pumpkins fit in well just before and after a workday. Artichokes take four days to harvest — better for players who are able to check in only now and then. These staggered growth rates allow the time commitment to be made on the player’s own terms.

Different crops mature at different rates in Farmville
The staggered harvest times for crops in FarmVille allow players to decide how much gameplay they can fit into their lives.

6. Create Meaningful Experience

Players have to invest their time, concentration and problem-solving abilities to the challenges that a game throws at them. There should be a point to these efforts, a payoff for their investment. When the game ends, players should come away feeling that the experience was meaningful.

A great example is the card game Killer Bunnies, in which success is ultimately determined by a card picked randomly from the deck. The player who holds the match for that card (the “magic carrot”) is declared the winner. No player has any control over which card is picked; the selection is completely random. But the gameplay does give players some control over which matching cards they hold. Players compete for carrot cards over the course of the game, and shrewd players will work to hold the greatest number of them before the game is over. The game says a lot about the players’ mastery of the strategy, tolerance for risk and skill at reading other people. Players come away from the game knowing that they had control over their chances of success, which makes the experience meaningful.

Picture of the carrot cards in Killer Bunnies
Players exercise some control over the outcome of Killer Bunnies by acquiring carrot cards, increasing the probability that they’ll capture the randomly selected magic carrot.

7. Don’t Cheat

Because video game rules are enforced inside the black box of the computer’s circuitry, there’s a temptation among designers to take shortcuts by letting the game cheat. Don’t give in to that temptation. Players will be able to tell when a game is cheating, and they will resent it.

Suppose you’re designing a blackjack game that matches a player against a computerized dealer. As the designer, you need to write a script to control the dealer’s actions. You want the dealer to be a little hard to beat but not impossible. One easy way to create challenge would be to let the script choose which card from the deck is drawn next. You would then program the dealer to pick a card that either wins or loses, and put in a randomizing function so that two out of every three times it picks a winning card. This also creates an easy way to allow players to change the difficulty, so that on a harder setting the dealer will pick a winning card four out of every five times, while on an easier setting it will win just one out of every three. How would anyone even know you’re cheating?

After playing the game a few times, you’ll see how. The dealer will do seemingly irrational things, such as hitting on 20 and magically drawing an ace. The deck will not seem random, because certain cards will tend to show up early and others will show up only after those preferred cards have been drawn. After several play-throughs, these patterns will become obvious. When players realize that a game is cheating, they’ll make the ultimate winning move by turning it off.

8. Skip The Manual

The best way to convince people that a game is worth playing is by letting them jump in and try it out for themselves. Presenting written instructions at the beginning of every new game merely creates a barrier to entry at the very time when you want to be most accommodating of players. Instructions can also become a crutch, used to justify unconventional and unintuitive choices in the interface.

The best place to teach people how to play a game is right there in the game itself. Tutorials have become one of the most familiar patterns in games. Ask yourself, “What’s the smallest amount of information the player needs to make the first move?” Then provide nothing more than that; you can get to the second move when the time comes. Playing is learning. If people are interested in the game, they’ll be motivated to fill in the blanks themselves by playing it.

Screen from Kanyu
In Bri Lance’s game Kanyu, step-by-step instructions on how to play are cleverly incorporated into the game’s storyline.

9. Make The Game Make Sense

Players need to understand why things happen in the game in order to feel that they’re in control. In game design, a sensible experience relies on some mutual understanding between the designer and the player:

  • When the player loses, the reason they lost should be clear. If it’s not, then the player won’t be able to get better at the game by avoiding the same mistake in future.
  • When the player wins, the reason they won should be clear. If not, then replicating the victory will be hard.
  • Every effect should have a clear cause. When something happens, the player should be able to see why it happened.
  • The object of the game should be clear. The player needs to know what they’re working toward.
  • The player should always know what actions may be performed. At every moment, visible or aural cues should be provided to let the player know what they can do.

10. Make It Easy To Try Again

Step back and think about the game as a discontinuous and iterative experience. When a player loses, cycling back into the game to try again should be instant and effortless. Even large commercial games with multimillion-dollar development budgets make the mistake of forcing a lengthy loading screen into that anxious period between a player’s loss and a second attempt. Stretching that space of time to the second, third or twentieth go-round inevitably tries the player’s patience. Games such as Braid and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time take a clever route around this problem by allowing players to rewind time to a safe point before their losing moment.

Playing To Your Strengths

These 10 guidelines will help you get started, but plenty of challenges lie ahead as you set about designing and developing your game, and you’ll need to learn how to manage them as they come up. One last piece of advice is to play to your strengths. If you have a background in designing conventional user interfaces, by all means use the skills and techniques that you gained from it. Wireframing, user testing, rapid prototyping, storyboarding, flow diagramming and other core skills all translate well to game design and can help you pull through the inevitable rough patches. When a game design issue confounds you, trust your instincts and ask how you would handle a similar problem outside of the context of the game. More often than not, you’ll point yourself in the right direction.

(al)

© John Ferrara for Smashing Magazine, 2012.

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In the 1970s Staten Island was undergoing major infrastructure changes and a huge population expansion. It was ten years after the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connected the island to Brooklyn in 1964 and, for the first time, to the rest of the city by land.

It also had a reputation for being provincial compared to the rest of the city and still does today. In the early eighties, photographer Christine Osinski was looking for a new home with her husband after high rents forced them out of their Soho apartment in Manhattan. A therapist she was seeing at the time recommended that Osinski look for a cheaper place on Staten Island. “We used to take the ferry in the summer to cool off but never got off the ferry,” she says. “Once we got off initially it felt like a time warp and it was hard to believe it was part of New York City. It seemed remote and had its own unique character—clearly a working class sensibility.” It was a place Osinski could relate to coming from the South Side of Chicago. She grew up in a house she describes as, “similar to the one Michelle Obama says she’s from. It was a brick bungalow in a harsh muscular area with lots of factories.”

The move to Staten Island came a few years after studying for her Master’s at Yale in 1974. During that time, she recalls the all-male faculty in the photo department was initially dismissive of her photographs of people and often saw them as funny. “Once I got to Yale I began to recognize where I was from,” Osinski says. “There was a contrast between me and my working class roots compared to the backgrounds of the other students.”

Osinski says her professors and fellow students thought her pictures were interesting but found the people comical. “Their response to my photos made me begin to question where I was from,” she says. “I began to question why I was photographing what came naturally to me, specifically the middle class. I also began to wonder if I was making fun of them. So I stopped photographing people.”

Years later, she began photographing Staten Island to explore the place where she was now living. “The Island was a goldmine for pictures. Everything seemed interesting,” Osinski says. “Mostly I went out walking for long periods of time. When I began photographing the people were very small in the landscape, but eventually I moved closer and they became the primary focus of my photographs. There were a lot of people outside, people having block parties, at parades and kids hanging out. People were very curious and having the 4×5 camera on a tripod helped me. It was just nice being outside and meeting people. You just never knew what was going to happen. It was an adventure.”

Osinski says she felt Staten Island was undergoing a big shift and that the new construction always seemed so sad to her. “In the photo of ‘Forest View Estates’, there’s not a tree in sight,” she explains. “The materials were cheaper than the older houses and it seemed like a symbol of what people were opting out for. It seemed like it was in keeping with a certain working class idea of what success is. The ‘new’ is what many people seem to strive for because it seems better.”

In her images, Osinski shows duplexes that aspire to be mansions. “Some of it seems funny, like the man building the Grecian columns on the house. It’s like misplaced grandeur,” she says. She depicts cramped new housing developments and homes separated by brick walls decorated ostentatiously with Putti giving a nod to the Old World and a taste of the Island’s many Italian immigrants. “The photo of the animals shows the clash of the old and new living side by side until the old finally gives way to the new.”

After spending 1983 and 1984 obsessively working on the project, she realized that it was almost impossible to make prints. The work was made with an uncoated Linhoff lens on a 4×5 camera, making all of the highlights totally blown out and almost impossible to print properly. Today Osinski is a professor of art at Copper Union where she’s worked for 28 years. But during a residency at Light Works in Syracuse she began scanning some of the negatives and realized with the new digital scanning capability she could finally achieve the quality she had always hoped to have with the work.

“I generally look to photograph the supporting players and not the main characters,” she says. “I tend to look at the minor players and the overlooked places. A lot of my work is about the familiar so that it begins to take on a more unusual presence. It makes you question your assumptions about things you know. Right under your nose there might be something that you’re not familiar with. Maybe taking pictures is an opportunity to make someone look again.”

Now with the unpublished archive finally scanned and in order she hopes to create a new book and is looking for support on Kickstarter.

You can see more of Christine Osinski’s work here.

Paul Moakley is the Deputy photo editor of TIME. You can follow him at Twitter at @paulmoakley.

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In a Republican primary season that saw changing frontrunners, surprise defections and shifting poll numbers, there was one constant the public could count on: Callista Gingrich’s perfectly-coiffed, platinum blond bob, with its signature swoop to the left. The interest in her hair was also constant—a pollster for the Gingrich campaign told the New York Times that the candidate’s wife was asked about the look “at every stop” on the campaign trail.

The interest is predictable at this point, as politicians and their spouses have come under increased scrutiny for their hair choices in recent years. From Hillary Clinton’s ponytails and headbands to Michelle Obama’s pinned back updo for a 2009 event, every departure from a public figure’s normal hairstyle creates a media stir. Which is why Gingrich’s consistency was so remarkable.

George Ozturk of Washington’s George Salon at the Four Seasons, which Callista Gingrich used to frequent, describes her hairstyle as an updated 1970s bob. “Only in this country would a potential president’s wife’s hairstyle get so much attention,” says Ozturk, who has styled Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and King Abdullah II of Jordan, among others. “But it has become so well-known that to change it now would be a big mistake for Mrs. Gingrich.”

Paul Ramadan, a hairstylist at Washington’s Nantucket Hair Salon who previously worked with former Second Lady Lynn Cheney, says that, in general, women tend to get picked on more than their male counterparts for their beauty and sartorial choices. “Callista’s hairstyle is not typical—it could be a little more contemporary, but I think this is how she likes it,” Ramadan says of the heightened awareness of the look. “It’s a nice bob, but Mrs. Cheney and Mrs. [Laura] Bush just blended in more.”

With Newt Gingrich leaving the presidential race, LightBox looks back on Callista Gingrich’s now-famous Swoosh.

More photos: Newt Gingrich’s Life in Pictures

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TEDxBinghamtonUniversity - Suzanne Seggerman - Games are Growing Up

Suzanne Seggerman is an award-winning new media thought leader and public speaker on games and media for social impact. Founding the award-winning non-profit Games for Change (G4C), she has served as an advisor for a wide variety of social impact projects including The President's Innovate To Educate STEM Initiative and Michelle Obama's Healthy Kids Campaign. In thespirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
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President Obama delivered his third State of the Union speech last night before a joint session of Congress in Washington, D.C.

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