Author: gabriellalowry

Anita Sarkeesian and an End to Cyber Discrimination

For most of my 21 years of living I have had a younger brother who loved video games. Growing up and being so close in age to my brother, we had a lot of the same friends and spent a lot of time together – we always got along and had a lot of the same interests. I remember being so frustrated that our friends would come over to our house and only want to play Mario Kart or Madden 2006 in his room with him while I was forced to sit and watch, typically just leaving the room out of boredom after 20 minutes. I never thought it was fair that they would rather sit in silence on the floor of Jake’s room than want to do something “actually fun” that I enjoyed. As a young girl, video games were a source of alienation between my only sibling and myself. I gave up entirely on trying to spend time with him if he had any friends over and found other ways to entertain myself, other friends (always girls) who detested video games like I did. As I grew older I began to even wonder if the gaming world was still relevant at all. After attending Anita Sarkeesian’s speech at the Digital Ethics Symposium however, I began to shift my view on this world I had always rolled my eyes at. The gaming world is still alive and active, and it is at the expense of many women that it continues to do so.

Sarkeesian is fighting for what women have been striving towards for hundreds of years –  an end to objectification. It is honestly baffling to me that it has taken so long for this issue to begin to receive publicity. It is common knowledge that since the earliest years of “gaming” the culture has been strictly a “mens club” atmosphere, with little regard for the outlook of females and a way for men to live out their cyber fantasies. The fact that Sarkeesian receives death threats and verbal attacks from the anonymous online gaming community can and will not be stood for. As we discussed in class, anonymity is one of the biggest hinderances in the progression of positive online digital spaces. People use their shield of their online identity to say completely sexist and discriminatory things that they would never even think to publish off line. The issue becomes no longer a “gamer” related problem and becomes so much more of a women’s issue and a human rights issue. So many of these games have blatant graphic and offensive content against women and goes beyond the simple “damsel in distress” idea that Sarkeesian’s critics claim they support. The threats and opposition that Sarkeesian has received as a result of her speeches and work against this sexism only makes other women more afraid to speak out as well. The gaming community has a mob-like mentality that is extremely intimidating and needs to be stopped. The fact that modern technology has come to far yet age old gender issues still stand is extremely ironic to me and I can only hope that more women will have the bravery that Sarkeesian has to speak out.

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An Afternoon in Lambda Moo

Despite all of the technology that we have today, Lambda Moo still shocked me when I logged on. It was so simple, so black and white and basic that it took me a while to fully grasp what I was getting myself into. I’m immediately put into a coat closet? Is this a scene from Narnia? As I continued to navigate throughout the virtual world the different codes and keys became more familiar and simple. I began to make a mental map of where I had been and felt the need to keep exploring deeper into this digital house and world it existed in. The game reminded me of The Sims, a childhood favorite of mine, however I began to question what the “point” or strategy of this world was. Was I supposed to make friends? Keep traveling about? Was something going to happen if I didn’t? However, despite my inquiries, it appears that the point of Lamba Moo isn’t to win anything or aspire for a goal. The world of Lamba Moo is much like the real world and serves as a platform to simply exist and it’s up to the individual to make something of it. You can converse is a space unlike any place in real life because you are shrouded by an overall shield of anonymity by the text based platform. The world exists only as you imagine it and is a chance to escape somewhere very simple. Lambda Moo is such an interesting idea to me and really connected me to a time before the internet became as complex as it is today and back to the creative yet simple digital world that first existed.

Three cheers (or favorites) for twitter!

Twitter is my social media of choice and has been since I was 17. Facebook is fine for it’s purposes but I always thought the concept of Facebook status’ was extremely agressive and wasn’t anything I was interested in. Then twitter walked into my life. I’ve always loved writing and am the first person to say I have an opinion on just about everything. Twitter gave me that outlet that I needed to express myself and connect with others that wasn’t an overbearing feed such as facebook that cried for attention. I like having a place to share pieces of my life, my interests etc. , that’s not seeking “likes” or welcoming responses from my 900+ friends. Twitter is a little haven. I use twitter multiple times a day to connect with brands, read the news, see photos, and joke with friends. It’s a social media tool that I feel like people either completely love or don’t understand, it can be used for so much. My #comm200 tweets reflected two topics I was discussing among friends today and I thought I would share. The first has to do with one of my favorite fitness brands that, I learned through twitter, has taken huge steps to revamp their campaign this fall. Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign features intense ads of famous women in athletics (this also includes ballerinas and models who practice extreme training) and their determination. As an advertising major, this campaign inspires me. It’s something I want to share with others and twitter gives me that outlet.

My second tweet was a quoted retweet from The Skimm, my favorite email based news source. It streamlines news in a daily email to keep things simple and keeps me updated on what’s going on in the world. I’m all about Skimm, I think it’s an extremely useful resource, and I hope my twitter followers see it as the same.

At the end of the day, twitter is a key component in navigating and ruling social media today.

My first days online

The first computer I ever used was a large desktop that my parents had in their bedroom. My dad used to work in animation so he had it to work on the programs that he needed for work and the classes he attended to improve his digital animation skills. It would take up to 15 minutes to get the big buzzing machine to turn on and there was only a weak internet connection that you needed to plug in every time for use. I rarely went on it because it was so difficult for me to use and my time on the internet was often spent at friends houses who had smaller computers, playing games and chatting online on AIM. My idea of media was very limited and I had no idea what really lay beyond the simple games that I would play with my friends after school. 

I remember my mom first helping me create an email address when I was in the fifth grade so that I could email my cousins who lived in San Francisco and learn about the world online. This was what some might call my first time using a form of “social media” even if it was just a simple correspondence with my elementary school cousins. I was thrilled to be able to connect with people outside of my little bubble of a life I had at the time and delighted in any chance to send an email. It’s honestly shocking to me now how little I even think about sending a quick email, when I get upwards of 30 per day now about different topics. I used to be so thrilled to see new messages in my inbox while today I see all of the junk mail piling up as being a nuisance. The world online has transformed my life today and it is astonishing to see where it began all of those years ago in my parents bedroom.