Author: blueserg32

Anita Sarkeesian: One Brave & Controversial Woman

The CDEP Symposium certainly was very interesting and quite informative. I came out liking and also gaining more knowledge on Anita Sarkeesian and what she goes through because of her “controversial” statements. Being a person that loves to play games, not a gamer, I came out with a different perspective on games that I played previously. I played them to have fun, not really paying any mind to the hidden controversies that they may hide. I also came out with a perspective of just how vulgar and disgusting some individuals can be on one woman who expresses her opinion and yet at the same time plays those very same games she talks about; she doesn’t judge or criticize the people that play but rather the game itself and how women are portrayed in them.

Anita started her talk by talking about a game that was in development, Dinosaur Planet, for the Nintendo 64 (one of my favorite consoles!). One of the main protagonists was a female, named Krystal- she was a strong hero that was capable of fighting even the strongest of foes. The game was in development, but unfortunately never got released on the market. The game designers joked about making Krystal a damsel in distress rather than a hero and soon enough the Star Fox game came along and Fox ended up being the hero and saving the would have been heroin. Fox had now gotten all of her attributes and even her own weapon while the only thing that Krystal was given was more provocative clothing.

Anita was able to shed some light on just how the female protagonist would have been given the lead but was canned and was made into a character that needed all the saving from the villains and the man would be there to help aid her in escaping. She was rather the prize for the male for being able to beat all of the enemies rather than being her own brave self. Back then, the white male was the main audience for game designers and they had to modify things that would be pleasing to that audience no matter what.

Nowadays, however, there has been a major shift in the gaming industry, but it has certainly been a slow shift. The concept of female characters still being portrayed just  like Krystal was is an issue and many women do voice there opinion on that. They voice out that the female character should not be subjected or portrayed liked that but rather with an equal role. Anita still plays video games and does not bash the players who play them but rather the games way of showing the female. Many of those gamers and those involved in Gamergate, though, see her as a threat- as she said they made me into a folk demon or rather “a Disney villain”. People attack her and threaten her by the things she says; they defame her by putting her face on porn pictures and by making fake accounts with her name to bring this negative light.

These people are relentless and do these harsh acts because of what she says. Rather than listen to what she has to say, they go in for the attack. Going back to the whole talk about Krystal and her portrayal, Anita does not say that the game is wrong and that all who play it think the same way about women but rather that women in video games seem to be belittles- they are given a certain role to fulfill. Those cowardly males that don’t bother to even acknowledge her voice simply think that the way to get rid of her is to frustrate her, give her a bad reputation, and to send negative information to everyone. Anita, however, does not let this get to her; yes it is brutal but she learns that even though this all goes on, she is still able to say what she would like about the gaming industry. She is not defaming the gamers or those who play video games, but rather critiquing the industry itself.

Questions:

In class, we spoke about what if that person that is behind that computer screen was brought out to a street corner. Personally, what do you think they would do? Would they still rant and use vulgar language to talk about Anita?

What is your personal view on how women are portrayed within the gaming industry? If Krystal had stayed the main protagonist in that would-be game, would people have received her with open arms or with hostility?

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What is this LambdaMoo thing?

Exploring LambdaMoo and what it had to offer was certainly an experience. I did not know what I was in for until I went in and explored it. I have to say that this seemed to be very important and quite vital in the advancement of technology and digital media spaces. It was not like Facebook or Instagram; rather it involved very active participation-one must become involved with the text. This place served many and it allowed people to have the ability to control the decisions of things rather than it just being on the screen- one could type in a short phrase or word and depending on what was said, the system would comply. If the system did not recognize what was said it would say it does not understand and comparing it to something like Google in which one typed that same phrase, Google would lead you to many different things that relate or pertain to it. This had a set limit of what it could do and what it could not, but what it did offer and (experiencing it myself) was that LambdaMoo keeps you entertained- it keeps you wanting to stay on longer to see what more is in store.

Reading is quintessential when using this interactive space, having a couple of options readily available for one to type in or if not one could type something else with perhaps having a chance of it working. It has the possibility of being a story in which you decide what happens next, a news source in which you can get news information that had occurred during the times it was active, and also some other things.  I explored the news part of it and honestly was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of information that came onto my screen. I gave up with it and decided to instead do the story part of it. That part was a bit exciting and also creepy. The creepy part I guess was just that I was interacting with LambdaMoo; it would respond to me both if my decisions were clear or not. It gave me this sense that I was not the only one making a decision. As the story progressed further and further, it got more exciting just seeing what my decisions ultimately led to. A picturesque garden, to a dog house, to the kitchen and so on. One other thing that caught my eye was the fact on how detailed everything was. Everything, at least in the story, was given lots of little details that made me feel that I was, in a sense, there in that location. It was surreal just how vivid it all came out to be. Being able to interact with the text was just a whole different experience as to technology and digital media now. You give an input and you get an output, but with LambdaMoo you give an input and you may get an output or multiple or even none.

Overall, my experience with LambdaMoo was eye opening. It is pretty weird but fascinating how this simple text space could allow one to interact in ways that are hard to believe. You get a different perspective on the term interactive with media now and before. Interactive before allowed one to actually become heavily involved in what they were doing and gave one more power to make the decision to click on a phrase or choose another to have a different outcome while now it is more of just getting one specific thing. Our interactions fail in comparison to the interactions that people had before. Heavy text-based sites are not something we would invest a heavy amount on now rather we prefer something a little bit lighter and to the point. LambdaMoo, though, does help to provide at least a little taste as to what it was to be on an interactive site before.

Questions:

  • Personally, what feelings arose when you started using LambdaMoo? Did you feel weirded out? Intrigued? A bit like someone was right there with you?
  • Do you think that LambdaMoo had a strong influence with the new digital domains people socialize and talk and utilize for everyday use? Do you notice any elements of LambdaMoo still relevant today?

Social Utopia? Network Dystopia?

This is quite an interesting topic for a blog post. So many implications comes from new technology; some good, some bad, and some just plain bizarre. New technology now more than ever is flourishing in our society exponentially and as the numbers increase, ideas on how these new technologies are affecting our society has caused major contrasts. For the purpose of my blog post, the one “new” technology I want to focus on shall be social networking sites. These have caused and still continue to cause major controversy.

Social networking sites have come under fire for the services they provide people with and what consequences result from it all. These networking sites have formed a dystopian implication for many different reasons. As outlined in an article written by Brian Jung, some of these negative consequences that have risen because of social networking sites are: cyber bullying, lack of productivity amongst people, and lack of privacy among other things. Social networking has media it much easier for people to post whatever they please online; some of this being able to access personal or embarrassing information with just a click or attacking someone from the privacy of one’s home.

One of these implications that really stood out to me is cyber bullying; truly a coward and disgusting practice some people do to help boost themselves or to help achieve something by bring another down. The case of a local14 year-old girl, Rebecca, who took her own life because of cyberbullying by girls in her school is a prime example. This all started because of one girl who did not like that Rebecca was talking to a boy she was interested. She would say horrific statements to Rebecca and other girls would tag along in the cyber torment until Rebecca could no longer handle the torture and took matters into her own hands. Not only does this highlight cyberbullying, but also how young these people are that use these websites to torment another. They are so young, novices (yet at the same, now experts with regards toward social media) but they can do heavy damage to one another without any remorse. The power of words and posting to a public site with a click of a few keys and the “post” button and that is all that is needed.

New technology has shown us the dark side of what could ultimately arise from it and how low people can go when using these sites. It allowed these young girls to not pose a physical threat to another one of their peers, but rather a social threat which hits a lot harder especially with the younger generations.

Social networking has had so much negativity formed around it, but at the same time it does also focus on positives. Social networking sites have provided an essential link with people; allowing one connect with another much easier and faster. It has made communication increase amongst many different people from around the world. One may have a friend in New Zealand, a grandmother traveling around Europe, and an uncle in Bolivia but with the aid of social networks connecting has never been easier. Alongside being able to attain information for malicious purposes, one can access vital and current information as well. A tweet that reports on what is currently happening in the Middle East or a post on Facebook with regards toward any major news the president has said with any action that is needed can keep people up-to-date within seconds. It has become much more efficient to stay relevant to the conversation at hand.

From a utopian perspective, social networking sites aim to get people connected with lone another very fast and without any issues. It tries to make everyone be in unison with one another without any interruptions and with the most current topics trending at the time. It wants to give us that perspective of everything being united by a click or chat message with friends. With social networking sites, though, utopia cannot exist with dystopia. Both of these two coincide with one another provide us what is now our social networking sites, providing both positive and negative consequences. This seems to reign true throughout many different social networking platforms and Danah Boyd said in her piece, “As you build technologies that allow the magic of everyday people to manifest, i ask you to consider the good, the bad, and the ugly”. We control how social networks function, what they show, and how relevant they are. We have to manage it and tie it in to things that help us and not harm us as people intertwined in the massive craziness of social networks.

With this, I leave you guys with 2 questions:

1) Do you guys personally believe that social media sites hold both a utopian and dystopian implication or does it seem to lean towards one more?

2) Personally, when you think of all the major social networks out there which do you think seems to hold the most controversy?

By: Sergio Valenzuela

#Twitter #OMG #Lessismore

To be quite honest, this was one of the hardest assignments I have had to do (a bit of an exaggeration but it was a challenge!). Now, writing was not the challenge at all, but rather having to create a Twitter account and to TWEET was!  I never truly understood the purpose of it and what satisfaction one would get from tweeting something so petite. Another thing that kind of stopped from ever creating a Twitter was that many of my friends that had it only used it to update dumb things like “I am eating pizza. #thegoodlife #pizza  #OMG”. It just had no meaning to me and that heavily influenced me.

The assignment required us to make it and still skeptical of it all, I made one. At first, it truly had too much going on and it turned me off. I stepped away from it and didn’t go back until I after I got out of work and then decided to go back on it. I was still not feeling it but I gave it a shot and actually created and filled out my whole profile (not done still, but it’s a process.)! Soon, things started to jive smoothly and I got a somewhat hang of it; being able to follow major companies, famous individuals, and also my friends.  The real task soon started to loom by: YOU NEED TO TWEET AND NOTHING TRIVIAL! I was a bit confused on what exactly it needed to be (no direction, just whatever you please) and that was a bit hard since I didn’t know what but soon I focused on my recent study abroad trip to Italy and boom CREATIVITY.  But that is not the worst part of it all.

140 CHARACTERS!!! What is that?! That truly did affect me a lot since I do love to express myself a lot. It was a hassle; I kid you not, I spent a good 25 minutes trying to shorten the large novel I had written into something Twitter appropriate. Numerous cuts on words, spacing, and an occasional “I GIVE UP” but I pushed through and finally got my first tweet up (with the help of David Silver): https://twitter.com/SergioD325/status/512463946910298112

Now, my opinions on Twitter have shifted but I am still not too keen on it. It just doesn’t seem to come naturally to me and it still has negative views in my mind, but what I will say is that I do give it credit where it is do. Twitter has focused on having one express oneself within a limit; this helps to utilize and ponder what words will help to express yourself and message in clean, clear, and concise way. Words are essential and need to be really good because once that limit is reached, you have to go back and think about it. Something that really captured my attention and kind of gave that realization about Twitter was what Julian Dibbell said in his piece. “And just so, too, by forcing users to commit their thinking their thinking to the bite-size form of the public tweet, Twitter may be giving a powerfully productive new life to a hitherto underexploited quantum of thought: The random, fleeting observation” (Dibbell).  He speaks the truth in which tweets are about anything and come from anyone; some of them are really random thoughts with no significant meaning , but then there are others that hold much more that what is on the surface (due to it having a hyperlink or perhaps even some creative hash tags).

Twitter in all, has its true tweet masters who praise it and cherish it for what it has to offer. It allows one to express oneself by being able to share with the masses and not boring them at the same time… well, at least sometimes. The complexity of it has certainly increased in the sense that one must think extremely carefully on what goes where (everything else is pretty much set by someone else).  Twitter is a key factor in the social media realm and holds much weight regardless of the little tweets it may give off. I will try to keep up with it; not guaranteed but it was fun to think of 140 meaningful characters. I know now that truly, #lessismore and being concise is struggle but can be a quite beautiful and captivating way to express yourself.   

By: Sergio Valenzuela 

Chapter 1: Baby steps using the Computer & Internet

My early memories of ever using a computer are from when I was in middle school. I remember one day a couple of students and I got called to partake in this engaged learning program that they had. It involved us logging into a computer and playing games that would help us with our mathematics and grammar. I remember that my first time ever being on a computer was truly an amazing one. Ever since then, I would always look forward to going to the program to use the computer and win the games to score points and play the actually non-educational games that the software offered. Soon though, they decided to cut out the program from our school completely and I had no opportunity to go back on a computer since my family did not have one at the time. I went on a hiatus from the computer for some time up until my high school years.

In high school around my sophomore, I got involved with the computer and also for the first time, the internet. Now, I was used to using a computer for games, but the internet was a whole new story. The way I got more involved was actually quite funny, my friend asked me one day if I had a Myspace and I said “What is that?” and he laughed and told me about it and I said that I never had one. He took it upon himself to create one for me and all and one day in school gives me my username and password for it so I can use it and stay connected with others. I never really got the hang of it and so I would log on and mainly just to change the music for my page (literally the only thing I knew I could do!). Soon after, I started to familiarize myself with more of what the internet had to offer. It was fascinating, but I think one of the most memorable moments of mine was when I got to use AIM. This site had allowed me to keep in contact with my friends in such a rapid way (I did not have a cellphone in high school… well, at least not one that could text!).

Using AIM to instant message my friends allowed me to never lose touch. The new media characteristic of Information Track Patterns, specifically conversation, played a key factor for me. I no longer had to use the telephone to communicate with a friend or wait until the next day that we were in school to talk; we could just sign on and send messages to one another! It was a point in which new media had started to become hooked into me; I would log on daily and just chat with friends. Having this instant messenger account also allowed me to venture into the many other social media sites, like Facebook, to stay in contact with even more people and this brings me to right now.

New media is certainly dominating our lives whether it be on mobile devices, our laptops or our tablets; it is everywhere. Before, I could go weeks without checking anything, but now it certainly is harder. Personally, I have thought about disconnecting myself from it all. When I travel to Central America that is what I do since Wi-Fi and connections to servers are a hassle, but it is a struggle since so much revolves around new media.

New media is essential. It helps to improve communication with friends and family, but one must utilize it wisely. Otherwise, it consumes one and then the person-to-person skills end up becoming nonexistent.

By: Sergio D. Valenzuela