Author: jsingh5

Anita Sarkeesian- The GameGirl?

I was told growing up that violent video games can make you more aggressive. I never really paid much attention to the people who said those things, but after attending Anita Sarkeesian’s symposium on digital media ethics, I realized the world of video games is full of hostility. Granted its not the content of the game that drives people to be so hostile, it seems even worse to me that gender roles in the video game world have led to such aggression.

Anita Sarkeesian runs a non profit organization know as Feminist Frequency, which focuses on the video game culture in regards to women. She also makes YouTube videos that speak to this matter and much more. The gaming industry is a multibillion dollar industry, which is even bigger than Hollywood. The demographics of this video game domain have shifted from straight white males, into this wide spectrum of diverse people. Some men are threatened by this and because of her role as an advocate of this change, she has been the recipient of their aggression. Everything from trying to remove her YouTube channels to creating fake naked photos using her face has been done to her. She has even received multiple threats to her and her family’s lives because of her speaking out.

I have never really considered a very avid gamer. Still, video games have been around for most of my life, yet I had no idea that there could be so much of a division of male and female roles in video games. I mean it was very obvious when I was younger that there was this sort of unsaid mentality that video games were pre-dominantly for boys. As I grew older, however, I started to see more of a female presence in video games and I just assumed this transition would be positively. Instead, we see that video games constantly subject women to the role of the damsel in distress, while male characters were typically the protagonists.

Something that really struck me was how her relationship with videogames and computers could be complicated because of systems like GameBOY. Just having the name ‘boy’ in the system’s name gives it a bias. Another thing she noted was the stigma that Wii’s were a system for girls. This stigma alienated women from gaming. As an owner of both the Gameboy and the Wii, it really never hit me that these two game systems can actually be representations of how genders are separated through video games. This is important to Sarkeesian because these roles in video games serve as a window into our culture and what can be deemed a social norm.

I find myself both impressed by Sarkeesian’s dedication and agreeing with the points she has brought up. It is people like her, who are willing to take the risk and stand up for what they believe in that make the most change.

Questions:

Do you believe that there are gaming systems, other than the Wii, that are geared towards being more feminine? Ones that are more masculine? If so, which ones and why do you believe this?

Is there a relationship between the view of women in the video game realm and the way they are viewed in real world? If so, what is this relationship and how can it be changed/improved?

Advertisements

Lambdamoo: Imagination and Anonymity

The first time I ever logged into Lambdamoo, I had the same expectation I had with any other video games: If it wasn’t Madden then it was not relevant. It was to my surprise that I actually found it to be enjoyable. You see, what sets Lambdamoo apart from most typical video or online games is that it is entirely text based. There are no images, no sounds, and no pre-determined arrangement of objectives that need to be completed. Lambdamoo works so that you are not given a set scene, but rather you get full creative control to envision the game in any way that you choose.

The game was pretty difficult at the start. It took me some time to figure out how to properly type in the commands, and figuring out how to exit the closet was an even trickier task. After about 20 minutes of frustration, I finally got out and started to feel my mind drift. The screen may have told me what was going on, but it was my imagination that truly painted the picture of what was going on in my head. The experience was truly different from the typical online or video game because there were no set guidelines or restraints. This is, while being frustrating at times, really helped to enhance the experience. The Anonymity of the game also expanded on the gaming experience.

Lambdamoo is allows you to communicate with others anonymously with no objective. In the modern age of gaming, through outlets such as Xbox Live or World Of War Craft, people are given the ability to play and communicate with friends or random people to complete a given task. Now, with Lambdamoo, there is no set task. People are just present and any interaction can be whatever we make them out to be. This can be both helpful and harmful.

The problem with Anonymity is that some people use this as a way to express a more crude and offensive side to their personality. According to Solove’s article The Virtues of Anonymity, we see how “people can be free to express unpopular ideas and be critical of people in power without risking retaliation or opprobrium.” This can lead to offensive things being said, which creates a harmful environment.

Now, Solove’s article also states that , “The loss of anonymity might make many people more civil, but it might also chill a lot of valuable expression.” While it is true that anonymity may cause problems, it also allows for this creative expression that we see in Lambdamoo, were two complete strangers being able to interact in any way they choose. The fact of the matter is that, as Solove states, we must find a balance between too much anonymity and not enough anonymity.

Questions:

Does Lambdamoo provide us with enough Anonymity to be civil? Does it give to much anonymity, thus creating a harmful environment?

Do games such as Lambdamoo, that have a high level of Anonymity, provide users with a “better” gaming experience? Does it make the gaming experience “worse”? If so, why do you believe this to be true?

Is Texting the new Talking?

Our generation has established its place as the texting generation. Everyone has a cell phone and 9 out of 10 times if you need to get in touch with someone under the age of 70, you will be shooting them out a text. Texting allows us to communicate with others instantly and simultaneously. The sheer convenience of being to take out this little gadget in your pocket and message all your friends and family in a matter of seconds just adds to the appeal of texting. Many people have joined the texting movement, and I actually have friends who can text 50 words a minute. What really shocks me is that some of my friends may be very avid texters, but when it comes to face-to-face conversation they just don’t have much to say. This makes me wonder, is texting really benefiting our society by making communication easier? Or is it serving as a substitute for actual, physical, communication and thus taking away from out interpersonal skills?

A Utopian viewpoint on the matter would focus on the texting’s as a means to connect with others. Texting allows us to maintain relationships in an effective and relatively easy manner. Calling or physically talking to someone involves taking out a chunk of time from our already busy day. Texting gives us the ability to send out messages when we can and pick up conversations at random points throughout the day when we have free time. For example, maybe you are talking to a friend about a serious matter while on your way to class. Now, if you were just talking or calling the person, you would need to halt all communication and pick up at a later time when both parties are free. With texting, you have the ability to just pick up the conversation the moment the class ends and you are free.

A dystopian view on texting is more geared to the social aspect of it. While texts are consisted of your own thoughts and words, there is this kind of sense of security that comes with texting. We do not have to worry about how people will react to our texts, since we cannot physically see their reactions. This makes it easier to communicate thoughts, because there is a sense of security in not having to address peoples’ reactions to our thoughts directly. Now, this becomes problematic when we start getting to comfortable with only communicating via text. The dystopian theory would be that this comfort with communication that does not take place in person would make us less comfortable with physical communication. This lack on physical communication will lead to a lack of interposal skills and that would mean that this medium of texting, in an attempt to bring people closer together, will actually be driving people apart. This video better expresses the idea:

Now as yourself, which view point better expresses the idea of this texting culture. The Utopian or Dystopian views?

If you agree with the dystopian view, how would we combat this on going shift away from interpersonal communication?

Blog Post 2

The age of Facebook has finally started to pass, and from its ashes a new form of media has taken its place. This new social media is Twitter. As someone who is fairly active in social media, the appeal of Twitter is very apparent. The problem with Facebook is the fact that there is a certain social norm for the way people post. People who constantly post and rant via Facebook are looked at as out-of-the-ordinary. Why is this the case? Well, Facebook is a way to interact with a large pool of people in a way that shows off who we are. There is this sort of ‘formal’ feeling in presenting our personal information, activities, occupations, pictures, etc., to the public. It is almost like an online resume of who you are and what you do, and while it is okay to post opinionated posts, it can be seen as annoying if one is constantly ranting via Facebook. The typical user does not want to hear all the nitty-gritty details of people’s opinions, especially if they don’t really know them that well.

So, if people want to rant or talk about anything from political issues to what they had for lunch, where do they go? To Twitter!! Twitter is a designated space where there is less focus on presenting personal information and more focus on just letting our random tid-bits of information. It is a good way for people to say what is on their mind. There is also this notion what my friends call ‘Twitter Therapy.’ This is when a person uses twitter to vent on things that may be on their mind, and a lot of the time they feel better after!

Twitter also differs in Facebook in the sense that it focuses on shorter updates, having a text limit for tweets. While some of us may find this method of shorter text intervals convenient, others see harm in it. With short bits of information that are being updated every few minutes, we see the way information is presented changes, and thus the way we receive information changes. It is Nicohlas Carr that describes this new way of receiving information as a “swiftly moving stream of particles.” Since this stream is giving us new information constantly, he believes it is taking away from the brains ability to form strong neural connections. This negatively affects the brain and how we take in information. He tries to come to the point that this will actually make us dumber. Now, maybe the method by which we receive information has changed, but that does not necessarily imply that this change is a bad thing. For some, a constant exposure to various sources of information may actually be a more effective way to process information.

Regardless of the opinions on Twitter, good or bad, it is safe to say that twitter is going to be around for a while. It is a growing form of media that is both easy and fun to use!

Blog Post 1

Growing up I always considered myself a pen and paper kind of guy. I loved writing letters. One of my favorite feelings in the world was getting a new letter from my family or friends. As time moved on, however, my life got busier and I found less time to write letters to my close friends. This was pretty tough for me, considering one of my best friends Rupa had moved away. We wanted to keep in touch, but letters took too much time to write and too long to reach their destinations. At this point I was in the 6th grade. My mom suggested that we use an AOL account to keep in touch. Now, back then I thought the computer was a magic box full or mysteries and was just too complicated to truly understand. One of my first memories of using the Internet was setting up an AOL account. I remember how amazing it was to pick my own username, so naturally I picked something along the line of Jmoney1234. After setting up the account and adding my friend Rupa, I sent out my first e-mail. Minutes later I got a response and I was in total shock! It felt the same as getting a new letter; only it was instant and much more convenient. The accessibility to my friends who lived far away is what really drew me into the Internet. The major aspect of new media that I saw in my AOL account was the freedom of it and how personalized it could be. It was so unique because anyone could make an account and it was so comforting knowing that I could still stay connected to my friends. Even today, I still keep in touch with all my friends that live far away via email, so while the media is a growing entity, some things just never change!