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Can Video Games Become the Next Great Spectator Sport? | PBS Idea Channel

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As our South Korean friends can confirm, video games can most definitely be a spectator sport. But will they ever catch on in a huge way in the USA? Pro leagues already exist. To know if they'll ever reach the levels of March Madness and Superbowl Sunday, we need to take a closer look at traditional sports spectatorship to figure out the real reason we watch. It's more than just winning and losing: there are characters, rivalries, histories, and a host of other background information that coalesce into an amazing story, and we're dying to know the ending. Could eSports ever achieve this level of storytelling? Watch the episode to find out and tell us what you think!

What Do Hot Sauce Labels Say About America? | PBS Idea Channel

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Peppers are the essence of hot sauce, and hot sauce is the essence of spicy. You might be a hot sauce lover, but how much thought have you given to their labels? If you've ever taken a second to examine them, you might notice some patterns and similarities amongst them. What does this say about Americans' attitude towards hot sauces, or even towards food in general? 

What do MP3s and Magic Spells Have in Common? | PBS Idea Channel

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The MP3 seems to be everyone's favorite musical file format. But, there's something you might not know about the Mp3 - it has a lot in common with the magic spell! Both spells and music were born from a freely available folk culture but are now sold as commercial goods. There are thousands of artists and witches trying to figure out how to make a living in an age where their products can be infinitely copied. And with commercialization, the morality and legality of sharing these once open cultural products has become quite complicated. How should we, as responsible consumers, handle this new digital age? 

Does Pop Culture Need To Be "Popular"? | PBS Idea Channel

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What is "Popular Culture?" Despite what the term may lead you to think, it is not just media that is numerically popular! Tom Waits most certainly is part of popular culture, regardless of his lack of billboard hits. So what are the qualifications for "Pop Culture?" And where does the internet come into play in all this? 

Is the Discovery of Global Warming Our Greatest Scientific Achievement? | PBS Idea Channel

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Global warming exists, but how do we know that? It may seem like a simple process of just looking at the temperature from year to year, but it is so much more than that! Our understanding of the global climate comes from a compendium of data including measured and tracked temperature, humidity, wind speed, and barometric pressure, spanning over 100 years of observation. To study this massive amount of information and be able to surmise that the increasingly extreme and bizarre weather patterns are a result of human influence is truly an incredible accomplishment. 

What is a tweet worth? #ALSIceBucketChallenge | PBS Idea Channel

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By now, everyone online knows about the Ice Bucket Challenge. While it has been incredibly successful in terms of dollars raised, lots of the videos failed to mention donations, and many people questioned the value of the campaign. Are these videos "slacktivism," helping only superficially with a cause? What value do our social posts really have? 

Is Google Knowledge? | PBS Idea Channel

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"Google it" seems to be the quick and easy answer for every question we could possibly ask, but is finding facts the same thing as knowing? Having billions of facts at the tips of your typing fingertips may not necessarily be making us any smarter. Some people even think it's making us stupid and lazy. Whatever way we process the vast sea of data available, the question remains: is the act of googling the same as knowledge? What the episode to find out, and tell us what you think!

Are Olympic Competitors Geniuses? | PBS Idea Channel

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While we often think of genius as an intellectual category, can we use it for Olympians? We normally associate the word "genius" with intellectual accomplishments, but athletes are geniuses at pushing their bodies to new heights, making the impossibly difficult seem easy and effortless.

There's No Such Thing As Offline?!? | PBS Idea Channel

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From Facebook to bank accounts, you always have some sort of online presence, whether you're actively engaging in front of a screen or not. Because of this we may need to re-evaluate the very word online.

Is Buying Call of Duty a Moral Choice? | PBS Idea Channel

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Can the choice to engange in video games be compared to the use of firearms? Many action-oriented games include the use of weapons, and of those digital objects, many are in fact licensed by real-life arms dealers. Which means that when you buy a video game, you're also putting money in the pockets of those gun manufacturers. That's fine and dandy if you're a fan of guns, but if you are someone who considers themselves anti-gun, this creates quite the moral quandary. 

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