Author: victoriagfernandez

I am currently entering my Senior year at Loyola University Chicago, pursuing a bachelors degree in Advertising and Public Relations, with a minor in Marketing and Spanish Studies.

Gender Socialization in Regards to Video Games

Anita Sarkeesian’s started her website “Feminist Frequency” in an attempt to create feminist media criticism. She later went on to create a YouTube video series “Tropes Vs. Women” that focuses on stereotypes concerning women. She actually began her talk at the Digital Ethics Symposium this past weekend by showing one of these clips, “Damsel in Distress” which emphasized stereotypes on women in video games. This Damsel in Distress that Sarkeesian talked about centered on the idea that women are unable to be heroes and are instead dependent on males to be their heroes. On video games, women are so often placed as simply just sexual beings. Sarkeesian actually stated in her talk that the video game industry makes millions of dollars each year and is surprisingly bigger than Hollywood. All in all, placing women in these roles on video games indicates a larger social problem. While video games are portrayed virtually, they represent a very ‘real’ world. They indicate that our society views women as sex objects and ignores the fact that there is so much more depth behind just our image.

Sarkeesian also points out that many people often have the mindset that if a woman does happen to make it in a male dominated field, like business or engineering, she must have cheated to get there. This typically known stereotype is similar to the relations between video games and women. Video games are not typically seen as ‘for women’. In fact, society basically tells us that games are just not for us. Sarkeesian’s parents did not allow her to have a Gameboy in that Gameboys were for boys. I can definitely relate to this in that I grew up around two brothers, where a large part of their childhood and teenage years involved playing video games that I was never invited to play. I was a girl so I just wasn’t skilled at video games, according to them. Instead I was given Barbie’s and EASY-BAKE ovens to play with, because those are what girls are supposed to play with. But in reality, there is a large community of female gamers who the video game industry fails to take into account.

However with every opinion especially those regarding controversial topics like feminism, there is an opposite opinion. Because of Sarkeesian’s strong opinions and all the ways in which she made/ continues to make these opinions public have resulted in her receiving death threats. In fact, an actual group of gamers who use the hashtag #gamergate has formed in response. This group of hashtagers hold the idea that the world of gaming should be exclusively men. Basically, it is a group of sexist men who are the very reason women are portrayed as sexual roles in video games in the first place. These men believe that games are only for guys, which is the reason that Gameboys have the word boy in it rather than girl.

In my opinion, everything that Sarkeesian touched on directly related to the concept of gender socialization or in other words, the process by which society tells us how females and males ‘should be’. Society tells us how we should ‘do’ gender, and in turn, certain things are assumed to be primarily for girls while others are primarily meant for boys. Video games is one of those things that seems to always be targeted to men, however, I was extremely shocked to the fact that there are men out there who felt the need to send her death threats just because she expressed her opinion on a situation. I think these death threats and groups of gamers who have formed against her are the reason in which security is such a significant part of Sarkeesian’s everyday life. It’s a horrible thing to feel unsafe, and something that nobody deserves to feel, especially as a response to trying to encourage gender equality through a simple online video.

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Guest at LambdaMoo

I have always been familiar with online/phone games that include some type of virtual world where the users are able to become some sort of character. However, I have never before heard of a game that allows users to interact with one another using purely words. When told in class that there were to be no visuals in LambdaMoo, I was a big confused by the concept of the game. To be honest, I did not really expect LambdaMoo to be very excited; I was definitely not looking forward to having to play the same. This assumption was primarily due to the fact by the background information I had about LambdaMoo, often described as a very basic and simple game. I figured it was just a game I might have enjoyed right when it came out, but that it was just old news now.

When I logged in, I had the mindset that it was a competition, in that most of the games I have played in the past I was always trying to win or be the best ‘character’. However, right from the start of entering Moo, it became clear that interacting with the other characters was vital in making it anywhere. If it weren’t for the help commands and the tutorials, I probably would have been completely lost in the game. A lot of the time I spent on the game was trying to think of which phrases I should enter or what wording to use. I felt like I just kept being thrown into random places: a closet, a garage, and at one point I even asked someone to get me a drink from the kitchen.

One thing that interested me while reading Julian Dibbell’s experience on the site, was when he stated “If a character “says” or “does” something (as directed by its user-owner via the say or the emote command), then only the users whose characters are also located in that room will see the output describing the statement or action,” so basically, if my character were to do something in a certain room, only characters in the same room would know about it. Dibbell also stated that a character could not leave a room unless there was an exit door for the character to go through. This made me think of the game as much more similar to the physical world as other online games in that characters were not able to just go through doors etc.

I’m the type of person that gets very engrossed in whatever is the new popular online game or phone game. For instance, right now I am currently addicted to playing the Kim Kardashian game on my iPhone. The game involves a visual and written virtual world, where users design a character and then spend the rest of the game trying to work up to be the highest level of celebrity—the ‘A-List’ celebrity. I think what sort of lost my appeal in Lambda Moo was the fact that I did not feel I was really working for anything. I personally did not understand the appeal that the users found in the game, but at the same time, I know there are many who don’t understand the appeal of any of the games I play either.

I continued to ask myself questions while I played the game comparing it to other games I had played. Was I supposed to charm these other characters? If I do charm them, do I get some sort of reward? Am I supposed to become friends with them? Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that LambdaMoo is not meant to do anything but just exist. There was no end goal, no crown to be given, no ‘A-List’ celebrity or similar title.

Pros and Cons of Social media: Do They Balance Each Other Out?

Everyday, technology and the new media outputs they include continue to grow and continue to surprise us with the vast amount of opportunities they offer. The utopian viewpoint on new technology is that new technology will allow us to grow as a society. According to Turner’s article, How Digital Technologies Found Utopian Ideology, “scholars have pointed out that new technologies as diverse as telephones and airplanes have always generated utopian hopes.” However, there is also the dystopian idea that new technology has caused more negative than positive and has caused our society to become completely dependent on a virtual world rather than a real one.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jan/28/social-networking-benefits-validated/?page=all

“Texting, blogs, Facebook, gaming and instant messages might seem, to some, to be just more reasons to stare at a computer screen….” This article explains how social media offers much more than that.

At first, people dreamed that technology would solve the world’s social problem, but it seems that when it comes to technology, the notion that our society is too attached to it, always seems to be brought up.

Through my Media Diet Project, I have really begun to notice how disconnected I am to the world around me. I’m sure my other classmates have noticed this too. It seems as though people in our society would rather check their twitter feed, than respond to the person standing in front of them. But was this always the case?

As a child, social media was a foreign concept to me. I had absolutely no knowledge of twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. In fact, I’m not even sure whether all of these social media outlets existed when I was younger. I didn’t need a cellphone, because I had no apps to post pictures, statuses or posts onto. My two little cousins, ages 8 and 10, both have iPhone 5’s and have over 1,000 followers on Instagram. At first, I was a little embarrassed that an 8-year-old girl was more popular than me on the Internet. But I soon realized that it was normal for young girls to have thousands of Instagram followers, and that most of the time they had no idea who was even following them anyway. This is just the way children and teens are in this generation. They spend more time filtering their Instagram picture or answering online surveys and less time doing what I did as a kid; playing outside, enjoying the company of their friends, and imagining what the future would be like.

I can definitely see how our societies extreme dependency on posting every move made on social media can be seen as following the dystopian viewpoint of new media. Although social media and the ability to instantly talk to someone through a computer screen seems impossible to live without, it is something that has significantly reduced face to face communication. It has allowed our society to become overly dependent on what technology has to offer and has turned us lazy.

However, unlike many, who fail to realize that the growing world of technology and social media also has many advantages, I feel that social media and its growing popularity among our generation expresses utopian ideas. Social media has allowed us to find information more quickly, talk to people who may not have any other way to communicate with us, as well as contributes in the reason we meet a lot of the people in our lives.

Do you think the pros and cons of social media really balance each other out? What do you think society would be like without social media there to cure ‘boredum’?

Capturing Attention in 140 Characters or Less

As far as social medias go, Twitter is one that most people seem to be familiar with. It is especially popular among high school and college students in that it provides an outlet to stay connected with other students. We all use twitter differently; we all have our own way of tweeting. Some of us tweet quotes, some tweet experiences, some tweet only to talk to other people. In the past, I’ve never thought too thoroughly about what I was tweeting and why I was tweeting it. I never stopped to think about the difference between a thick and a thin tweet. I never really spent more than 5 or 10 minutes deciding what my 140 characters would be. However, this week, I had the opportunity to really think about what I was posting and why I was posting it. I posted two ‘thick’ tweets that expressed more than just what I ate for breakfast. The first thick tweet I chose to make was a quote concerning doing what you love, with an article about motivation and the ability to lead a creative life. Both the quote and the article I hyperlinked immediately spoke to me in that it directed mainly to generation y, and the power of living a creative life.

Discussion question #1: When you really think about it, what kind of tweets attract your attention?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patrick-mott/the-power-of-twitter_1_b_1654969.html
This article explains the power of twitter and how it’s not merely an outlet to express our thoughts and observations, but it is beginning to be a tool to help us find jobs and make money etc.

Rich’s article, “Literary Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?” relates to the way that I use the internet the most in that I often spend much of my time online reading. For example, in both of my thick tweets I linked online articles that I had read. I spend a lot of time reading online books and online articles rather than actual books simply for the simplistic nature of doing so. These articles inspire me to write my own online articles and to read more and more to maybe gain insight with each piece I read.

I found the article “Is Google Making Us Stupid,” by Nicholas Carr to also somewhat relate to the way in which I use social media and the Internet. I often use twitter to direct me to interesting facts, or articles, or listacle, all things that would technically fall into the category of “reading”. According to the article, Maryanne Wolf, a developmental psychologist at Tufts University believes the way in which we read online differs from past ways of reading in that the web relies on efficiency and immediacy above all this. She claims this may be weakening our capacity for deep reading, and our capacity to make rich mental connections that form when we read deeply without distraction. When I read this, at first I was a little bit offended. I began to think about how often I read online and whether this was weakening MY ability to read deeply. I think that this claim does hold some truth in that the Internet does primarily focus on providing information quickly and in the smallest amount of characters (ex: Twitter). However, I also believe that as time goes on, so does the way in which we do things. I think that although we may read differently, and we may be slowly changing the way in which we think, that it is inevitable.

Discussion question #2: Can we really grow as a culture, as a society, if we continue to do things the same way?

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Cultural Changes Due to the Current Technological Revolution

 

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Growing up, technology was nowhere near as significant in my life as it is in today’s generation. I never felt the need to have a cell phone as a child, and I didn’t even receive a cell of my own until I entered high school. Computers were never a huge part of my life growing up either. The only times I did use one was for the intention of some type of educational game or any online game in general. The Internet as a whole was just something that did not fascinate me as a child. This is most likely because the power of the Internet was just beginning. As I started to get older, the Internet and its popularity among my generation began to increase. People began to get their own emails, using MySpace, instant messaging each other etc. It started the trend of meeting people solely through a computer screen. 

When I think back to my childhood, it actually shocks me how different my life was as compared to now. I never felt the need to check my phone, because I didn’t have one. However, now, the Internet seems to be one of the largest parts of our lives. We use it here on campus; we use it for work, for school, for homework, even for this blog post. It is something that has formed its way into daily life so much so that it is hard to imagine a life without it. Nowadays, new media is a vital part of even the youngest generations. It seems as though every child has a brand new iPhone 5s or some type of smart phone. Children know how to work technology before they reach double digits in age.

Discussion question #1: Although when it comes to technological dependence, most people only think of the negatives, what are the positives to it?

Clearly, the media has been around for many years, and has been an essential part of daily life. However, it has not always been the way that it is today. The advancement of media over recent time has completely changed the way in which we live. With social medias like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we have been able to live a complete life on the web. We are able to view people’s inner worlds with the click of a button, people we may have never seen in real life before. To me, this is definitely an important advancement within new media in that it has allowed for so much change that wasn’t even imaginable in the past. There is definitely a point in which the Internet can be overused and depended on, however, we must also praise its benefits.

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Discussion question #2: Imagine a world without the internet, do you think as a culture we would be able to develop relationships with each other more easily?