Author: edimauro2014

Anita Sarkeesian- Gamer villan or hero?

After much discussion in class and online, I was able to finally hear Anita Sarkeesian speak at the Digital Ethics Symposium about the representation of women in the gaming world. Now I actually hate video games, I just never really understood the appeal. I don’t know if that is because I grew up with my lazy brother playing hours and hours of video games in our basement like he was in a cave or something. It drove me insane. So initially I have always had a negative view of video games, and now with the additional aspect of female sexual objectification, I knew that I was going to agree with most of the points Sarkeesian brought up. I was pretty excited to learn more about the issue and honestly get a little riled up on the topic. Sarkeesian began her talk with an overview of her organization “Feminist Frequency.” She described the shift of the gaming industry, from gaming almost exclusively catered to the demographics of white males, to now a more diverse and inclusive environment. Again having such a negative view of the gaming world already, I had no idea this shift was occurring, and why certain people are so upset about (isn’t it always the more the merrier?). Now Sarkeesian has become the scapegoat for the people deeply angered by this change, and believe that she is solely responsible for the shift in the gaming world. These angry and aggressive group of mostly white males have combined to form some sort of cyberbullying group to harass her and try and take down Sarkeesian and other women like her that are finally speaking out on the disturbing portray of women in video games.

During this entire talk when Sarkeesian was giving us examples of women being objectified and I kept thinking how is this just now becoming relevant? How has the gaming community and other women let these roles and situations go on!? After hearing Sarkeesian speak I came to the conclusion that the reason is Sarkeesian herself, and her persistence, bravery, and passion on the project. This woman is a serious badass. She has to deal with harassments, sexual exploitation, invasion of privacy, death threats, and even bomb threats!!! This is crazy to me, that a group of men are so angered by a shift in the gaming world they seriously think that the removal of Sarkeesian will just make it go away! I honestly do not know how she is able to do what she does each day with the amount of malicious, aggressive, and violent backlash she has to deal with. It makes me sick. She went into detail of all of this showing us the harassment she receives on a daily basis. As well she discussed certain conspiracy theories and how people seriously believe that she is brain washing the gaming community….. the examples she showed us really did make it seem like she was depicted as the “villain” of the gaming community.

I really enjoyed at towards the end of the talk that Sarkeesian gave somewhat of a solution or at the very least hope to this insane cyberbulling phenomenon. I had never really thought of this previously but cyber laws and rights to individual on the internet need to be in placed and enforced to make sure situations like gamer gate do not happen. Cyber crimes I feel are overlooked most of the time because it happens in the virtual world but it does not mean the victims are less real than if it happened outside the virtual world. Cyber crimes and victims need to be taken more seriously by the law and government. As we learned throughout our semester, media is developing and evolving at an incredibly rapid rate and so we must implement concrete laws for the virtual world in order for us to be part of a fair, equal, open, and safe media world.

Escaping the Real World

The whole idea of LambdaMoo was super interesting to me first because I had never heard of it before our class, and it was already on all of our laptops.  Secondly I was so interested because of how much I enjoyed it. I felt like a real gamer, hunched over my laptop weaving my way through this virtual home. I totally understand how people can spend hours a day on this. The whole software of LambdaMoo seems super dated, I was so used to images and high def graphics when on the computer. But LambdaMoo made me think much more about what I was doing and where I was going within the game. It took me some time to understand how to communicate with other users and interact with actual objects. During my time on LambdaMoo I got seriously lost and confused and stuck in the closet AGAIN. I began communicating with another user who helped me get out of the closet and even gave me a code to a compass of the house to help me navigate better. Although the user continued to follow me throughout much of my LambdaMoo adventures, which was slightly stalkerish, which is elevated by not being able to see all the users your interacting with and who are even in the room with you. My favorite part of the game was the intro descriptions that you were given after entering a different room or area. They were very detailed and helped me imagine the room or area as if I was staring at it on the screen. Although I had never perviously heard of LambdaMoo, after playing I began to understand the attraction to virtual worlds and being able to explore. It truly becomes an escape from the actual world.

WEEK 10 DISCUSSIONS AND SUMMARIES

1. Summaries

Rushkoff, “Identity”

In this chapter in Rushkoff’s book he addresses the subject of anonymity in online spaces. When the internet was first developed, the idea of “usernames” and online identities was thought to be a way for people to interact without prejudices – that hiding behind an ambivalent name would prevent people from judging each other and keep the space more open and free flowing. This idea, however good intentioned, has backfired. Having an online identity makes it so that people can hide behind a fake name and let their most negative sides show. By going online and having no consequences related to your own name makes it so much easier to attack and harshly comment on different place on the web. In places like Iran where the internet has harsh restrictions, being able to have usernames with no consequences can be useful for the freedom of speech. However, in America where speech as completely free people do not take any responsibility for their words online. We must learn to keep in mind that nothing on the internet is “off the record” and instead use the ability to be our true selves as a liberating tool. We have to own the words we put into the digital sphere.

Cherny, “The Modal Complexity of Speech Events in a Social Mud”

Cherny’s article centers around the idea of MUDs, which are “multi-user dimensions.” These multi-player virtual world games, are mostly text based. Cherny gathered her findings from a text-based participant-observer on a MOO (object-oriented MUD). Through the use of LamadaMoo, she observed social interactions and participant’s speech in the community. LamadaMoo is the oldest MUD today starting in the mid 1980’s. It is an online community where users are randomized a character and name, which then allows you to interact in that specific virtual world. Cherny analyzes specific written words of communication in LamadaMoo called “says,” body actions (Scratching of one’s head), and internal feelings or attributes called “emotes (An eye roll, which communicates feelings of annoyance). Cherny analyzes what these actually mean for communication, user’s interpretation of them, and the effects. Cherny specifically discusses the differences between each emote and specific intentions that MUDs provides. Cherny gives readers a detailed and specific description of some of the “real worlds” created by MOO conversations and how they relate to real life outside of the virtual world.

 

Dibbell, “A Rape in Cyberspace

The article “A Rape in Cyberspace” describes the author Dibbell’s experience with a virtual world LambdaMOO, a MUD (multi-player computer game) in existence since the mid 1980’s. In this game, the characters or avatars are able to interact automatically with each other, objects, and locations in the community, as if it their second world. In the article, Dibell talks about a cyber rape that was done by Mr. Bungle, an avatar of the virtual world that he had committed on two other members of the community. Mr. Bundle executed this rape by using what is known as the “voodoo doll,” which is when one character is able to attribute actions to other characters, without those characters permission or knowledge. The reason why this article was so significant was that it crossed a boundary between the real world and the virtual world. Although the crime was a cybercrime and not a real rape, the emotional pain felt by the victim’s was real, so that raises the question, does that make the incident real too? The event also raised questions regarding how the site should overall be governed, in that it seems highly unfair that virtual worlds can have these “super users” like Mr. Bungle who can control the game due to their high level of knowledge concerning technology. Three days after the incident occurred, the users of LambdaMOO arranged an online meeting, in which Dibbell was part of, under his screen name, in order to talk about what should be done about Mr. Bungle. Ultimately, the users of LambdaMOO could not decide on how to handle the situation, so one of the members, who was particularly skilled in the virtual world, enacted a virtual form of the death penalty to use on Mr. Bungle’s character.

2. Discussion questions

  1. Although the crimes Dibell described in his article “A Rape in Cyberspace” never actually included any acts of physical force/exertion, and only occurred in a virtual world, do you think that since it caused real pain to the victims that it should be counted as a real crime as well?
  2. Do you think there are more productive ways for the users of LambdaMOO to make decisions regarding its community, in other words, how do you think the community should be “governed”?
  3. What would the benefits be for participating in a MUD or MOO? Would it only be beneficial in terms of socializing? Could it ever be useful in terms of education or careers?
  4. Cherny’s analyzed the differences of language of the virtual world. Could there be a time when the language expressed is misconstrued to another character? Would it then require us to learn a separate language, just for the virtual world?
  5. Going off of Rushkoff’s article would you be more inclined to post or share your personal opinions or beliefs online if your identity or name is not attached to it?

3. Main ideas

  1. Virtuality Vs. Reality: The line between the virtual world and reality is becoming thinner and thinner as technology continues to innovate. Before the virtual world was an escape from reality and now the virtual world has a different language, rules, and customs that it too has become a separate reality to some. These readings help us to discover if the virtual and real world are really that separate? And if real rules and laws apply to the virtual world.
  2. Cloaked identity in cyberspace/privacy: Anonymity in cyberspace is a significant concern for community. It’s often difficult to find a balance between privacy and security.  Cyberspace appeals people in that it allows them to share ideas and engage in conversation and debates with people that live on the other side of the globe. A lot of the times on cyberspace, people remain anonymous just for the sake of staying private, but sometimes people take advantage of this and that’s what creates issues. While anonymity seems to be a basic right for any of us to have, it also allows users of cyberspace to perform ‘virtual’ criminal activities with a very low chance of being caught for it. The problem with anonymity and cyberspace though, is that it is very difficult to decide how to handle the situation. How can we monitor cyberspace, so situations like “a rape in cyberspace” do not have to happen again without eliminating anonymity completely? How can we regulate anonymity legally and fairly?

4. Additional readings

  1. Tacy, Chris. “For Now, ‘Community’ Is Just a Web Buzzword.” For Now, ‘Community’ Is Just a Web Buzzword. New York Times, 2 July 1997. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.
  2. Eisen, Andrew. “CCP Investigates Eve Online FanFest Panel for Mocking Suicidal Player.GamePolitics News. ECA, 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2014
  3. Albrecht, Matt. ““A Rape in Cyberspace” Gets Remade for the IRL Era.” Kill Screen. Kill Screen Media, Inc., 4 Mar. 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.
    1. “There is no longer an expectation that being on the internet will allow you to escape from the physical world’s Harassers”

After class:

When we finally got the chance to interact with a MUD I believe the class got a much better understanding of the virtual world if they didn’t perviously have interaction with it. Through LambdaMoo we were able to interact with the separate language, morals, technology, and actions that we had been talking about throughout our class. Since our whole class got to participate we were able to see the similarities and differences between our experiences and theirs. Through this week we are able to better understand a internet identity and if it similar or completely separate. This week asks us the question does our media identity define us?

Social Networking….. Friend or Foe

I truly think social networks are beneficial, and creates a utopian in our society. Think about it all the different people and groups we can continue to keep in contact with and see and share whats going on with each other’s lives. There is your hometown friends, family members, college friends, classmates, teammates, sorority sisters, colleagues, acquaintances, mutual friends, and random strangers met in bars. It helps us keep connected where ever we are. As well it is an excellent strategy for marketing for events, causes, etc.

The dystopia aspect of social media is it the surface “fakeness”or “shallowness.” Social media is missing a certain genuinely. It is true you that one can contact thousands of people on social media, but one can also portray themselves as anyway they want to be. Social media is filled with filters, edits, hashtags, likes, favorites, locations, etc. I’ve done it. You can make the most heinous, sweaty, pale, picture of yourself look like a million bucks. I call it the media makeover, let’s be real no one whats to see themselves in a unflattering light. Likewise with post, or pictures, users are going to be posting pictures of them having fun, and doing cool things such as traveling, exploring, trying new restaurants, going out with friends, attending a sporting events etc. You’re only posting yourself at your best, which might not necessarily your most true self. This is similar with likes or favorites or retweets. The more you get of them, the popular or the more friends you might have. You can now actually BUY FOLLOWERS aka buy your friends to get more like our your posts. For users the more likes or favorites you get the cooler the photo is, so if a photo has a lot of likes the user automatically believes that the photo is cool, without much thought or personal opinion.That is the epitome of ingenuine.

Again I feel that our society as overall benefited from social media, and that is completely changed our society. At this point I think it would be very difficult for our society to function without it.

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Consciously Tweeting

 

I agree with Carr, that our society  is over saturated with information and because of this, much of that information can get lost. Which is why I believe twitter can actually be useful to the general public.

My twitter career began as a Junior in High School purely as a time waster, and for the expression of my over dramatic teenage mood swings.  Today I still use twitter as a time waster sometimes, but in a must more productive way. The main reason I enjoy twitter is its philosophy of “short and sweet,” it gets straight to the point, which then gives you the ability to decide if you want to explore more on the subject. Twitter also became very helpful when I was a abroad, I kept me up to date on US News, sorority events, Loyola News, and even hometown gossip without feeling totally overwhelmed.

My feed on twitter is mostly filled with my friends, sorority sisters, fashion designers, fashion editors, and CNN (Have to have a little hard hitting news). One of the designers I follow (Who I actually interned for over the summer) tweeted a link to the NYTStyle article about the behind the scenes of her fashion show, which was very interesting and took me to many other NYFW articles and tweets. I started following NYTStyle and  Vanity Fair. I searched one of our article writers, Nicholas Carr. I found many tweets linking the article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Through NYTStyle I went to the New York Times twitter and found an interesting tweet that linked an article to the privacy of the iOS8. I composed my own thick tweets, adding those links in the hopes my followers will be as interested as I was.

Through my composition of thick tweets I finally felt like I was using Twitter in an adult, profession, productive way, instead of just writing any random thought that popped into my head. Dibbell says that the length of the tweet doesn’t matter, its the form of a tweet. Because of the 140 character limit, it makes tweeters much more attentive and aware of the organization and word choice they use to get ones point across.

My twitter is on Private, which lead me to attach screenshots of “thick tweets.”

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Growing with Media

My first interaction with computers started as I’m sure many other 7 year olds in the late 1990’s started… with computer games. I remember playing “Freddi the Fish” on our family computer with my brother intensely staring at the screen over my shoulder. My early memories with of our family computer are actually more social compared to how I use the computer now. Other people were participating in my computer experience, making in much more interactive. I was always playing, drawing with Microsoft Paint, and playing minesweeper with my friends and family.

My first interactions with the the internet didn’t become practical until specifically the third grade when each classmate was assigned an historical figure to make a presentation on. I remember during “library time” our teacher showing us how to research using Google, AskJeeves, Yahoo, and Dogpile for our projects. With these search engines our teacher told us how using specific keywords would help us gather better results.  I was assigned Amelia Earhart and I believe that one of my sources for my presentation was Wikipedia which now a days no teacher will accept as a credible source.

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Our school also offered computer classes taught by the librarian which our class went  to once a week starting in the third grade. This tech class taught us proper computer skills such as how to print, how to save, Microsoft Word applications, and also included typing exercises. Later in the year the librarian gave us orange plastic covers to cover the keyboard, to prevent us from staring at the keys and keep our heads up as we type. As well it was imperative that we  use all ten of our fingers, not just the index. She would read out sentences for us to type, I remember being specifically horrible at this and to this day I use my index finger for the majority of my typing. These once a week classes turned into three day a week classes. Like Karl Marx said an “ideal citizen would be cutting wood in the morning, gardening in the afternoon and composing music in the evening” But now the “ideal citizen” has grown to using the computer and internet for almost every activity; weather it be work, communication, learning, or discovery. Those computer classes and exercises we took in elementary school have formed us into the ideal citizen.

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