Final Post!

My final blog post (sigh). It’ll feel pretty weird not writing on this a couple days a week. I guess we can always look back and reminisce? But, I mean the term is over, which is pretty awesome. My last discussion topic is going to be about our class on Thursday.  PS- best of luck for awards!
    Yesterday we talked about the convergence between work and play. We talked about how not all work is “fun” but, the workers manage to incorporate fun/games/play into their daily job consciously (the google offices creative and “fun” work setting), or subconsciously (playing Tetris or mind sweeper).  
    I guess I’ll elaborate a little bit more, in a more (personal) opinionated way. I wondered what significance “play” has in the work setting in general. To me, the jobs that literally involve playing as part of the job become less fun and sometimes grueling (example: jobs that involve creating, mastering, incorporating cheats, etc). Maybe that was just the vibe I got from the readings this past week, but I can see how although the employees are literally playing, they might need a break to do something else in order to keep doing their job well.
    I thought that the Google workspace cubicles were awesome. The idea of creating a “fun” work place seemed ideal to me. The employees were never tempted to leave the grounds because the area fulfilled all their needs. I think the idea that the individual workers don’t have to leave will make them feel more inclined to actually end up doing productive work because one cant really “play” all day. There will come a point where a person will want to start working through boredom of the particular game/activity they were doing to distract them from work in the first place.
Google Offices RULE

(Surprisingly, Google isn’t the only company that has done this with their work space. Companies like Pixar have participated in a similar idea).

Gamers are weird, sorry.

 The readings for this week were surprisingly really interesting to me. I’m not really sure the articles made me think positively about computer games. No offense, I don’t really see the point. Okay, guilty, I play Farmville, which takes about 10 minutes every 4 days. Farmville has potential to be really embarrassing but I only started playing because I got bored since I dropped my 4th class (I didn’t make that up for the purpose of this blog, ha). But, I legitimately just can’t see the point of wasting 8 and a half hours of time a DAY to play a stupid video game. Not appealing to me in the least. These articles just confirmed my assumptions about gamers and how crazily obsessed they are with the particular game.  (NO OFFENSE! To all gamers that are offended: by all means “love what you do, and love doing it… but it’s just not for meàso, I’m sorry.)

Anyways a couple questions for some reason I’m weirdly interested in the basic information behind these apparently addictive computer/video games.

 

1)    This is just somewhat of an open-ended question, which really pertains to none of my later questions, but, obviously, I’m curious. Do we think that computer games, because they’re so addicting, are more popular than the video/tv games such as xbox, playstation etc?

From now on, my questions will follow the readings. I promise. The next two pertain to the Julian Dibbelli article, “The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer”.

 

2)    Do the “gold farmers” eventually end up getting caught by computer game publishers? How do the gold farms disguise themselves within these magical realms? Also, can gamers distinguish which player is/isn’t a gold farmer?

a.     Do gamers like, or dislike the gold farmers? Because  technically, don’t the gold farmers help the gamer progress in levels, prizes, etc?

3)    What is lost from the game when gold farmers or power levelers enter or exit the game? What is gained from the particular game when gold farmers or power levelers enter or exit the world?

 

The next question pertains to the Nick Yee article, “The Labor of Fun”.

 

1)    Thank you, Nick Yee, for finally seeing my point behind computer games. Why the heck would anyone want to play a computer game endlessly only to end up with arthritis and bad vision? Are these computer games actually “fun” once players get to the addictive gamer state?

2)    Yee mentions that video games will create “blurred intersections” between social, economic and political spheres. I’m just wondering how video games have any role in a political sphere, and even a sphere outside of teens and some creepy (in my opinion) adults?

3)    He also presented this idea that the majority of MMORPG’s are roughly 26 years old. I know this may seem like a stupid question, but do these people have lives? So far from these articles, it appears that these gamers play roughly 9 hours a day, 7 days a week. How do people find time for this stuff? Don’t they have jobs, don’t they have to eat or sleep? When does anyone ever have enough time to sit on the computer or at the TV for 9 hours. The concept seems ridiculous to me. I actually am starting to doubt that statistic. 26 AND STILL PLAYING VIDEO GAMES 9 HOURS A DAY? …insanity. 

Similar or Different Games?

At first, I thought the idea of playing video games in class was going to be incredibly boring (no offense). Surprisingly, I found it to be entertaining and I ended learning a lot about the games (none of which I’d ever played before). I really liked watching other users play and specifically the different types of music that went along with each game. For example, the Monkey Ball game had this floaty, lighthearted ridiculous music essentially setting the tone for the game with the idea of “fun” in mind for the user. However when we got to the Need for Speed game the music was so loud and angry. I’m not really sure what the purpose of the crazy music was, maybe to get the user pumped up to race his/her car? I don’t get that one.. But it sounded exactly like an arcade, so I’m assuming the emphasis was to create an arcade-esque environment for the user.

Anyways, we were told to compare and contrast two games. So I’ll be comparing the two games I knew the least about, FIFA 10 and Need For Speed Hot Pursuit 2. Both games to be honest were incredibly different. But, after thinking about them further, I noticed that they had more similarities than I thought.

Need For Speed (EA Games) is, I think, a lot less complex than FIFA 10. I noticed that in Need For Speed the user was able to select the game setting, the color and the type of his/her car. However, I noticed that you couldn’t change the weather, you couldn’t choose a literal “character” to play with, and the music seemed to continue going, as if a CD were playing.

The coolest part about FIFA 10 (EA Sports), I think, was that it incorporated multiple characters within the game. It wasn’t just the user playing by his/her self. FIFA 10 incorporated the crowd, applause and have of course multiple players on the field. Technically, I can’t really complain that Need for Speed didn’t have multiple characters in the game, because it’s a racing game used for one user. Personally, I think the game would be cooler if you could have multiple users on the same screen. As opposed to the split screen, two users but basically playing their own individual game. Maybe because Need for Speed was created in 2002 (as opposed to FIFA 10, created in 2009) there are less features included about other characters in the game (such as the crowd in FIFA 10).

The biggest similarity that I found between the two games was that neither of them really had a “story” per say. FIFA 10 really didn’t have a story behind it. While I suppose one could argue the story is made as the game is played, I think that the concept of a storyline has to be included before and after the user plays the game. I think the story line for FIFA 10 could be considered the story of the game, soccer, and how it’s played. However, I don’t think there is really a strong narrative that goes along with it. Similarly, Need for Speed doesn’t really have a story line either. Since, I think, it’s mainly an arcade type game there isn’t a need for a storyline. The user is just supposed to be able to sit down and play the game without previous knowledge of the game. Thus, entitling the game as an action based game following the ludologist’s perspective.

 

PS- I hope that in class we start to have more games with storylines I think they’re more interesting and much more fun to watch. Maybe watching the same introduction video game could get boring. But, for the first time viewer, and someone that doesn’t really play video games… I think it’d be helpful to understand the game. Plus, it makes the game seem more like a movie, as opposed to a game, which is much more interesting (to me at least).

 

Video Games and/or... Stories?

The readings this week were really interesting because each of them discussed very different aspects of video games, and new media (in general). The first article “Gamic Action, Four Moments” was cool because Galloway took his readers “behind the scenes” (excuse the cliché) of video games, the technology behind it and each piece, analog and controller that the game sets offered. Also, the second article was equally as interesting because it made me think broadly about the issue of what appeals to the user and why. I think also, the tie between stories and games was cool to read about (also, the connection brought up a great question!)

 

1)    In Galloway’s article he discusses the idea of games having a timeline of “total game-play”. I wondered a few things about this concept: who sets the limit on these games? Is there an actual limit? (because the user could simply “replay” the game…)  Also, how many users actually end up “beating” the game? Is a game more or less popular based off the number of users that were able to “beat” it?

2)    In “Gamic Action, Four Moments” Galloway discusses the idea of play vs. game. I was just wondering if there were more specific ways to define the two being different? Because, based on his explanation of play being a “voluntary activity or occupation executed within certain fixed limits of time and place, according to rules,” seems identical to the idea of a game based on rules (or at least I think so).

3)    In Janet Murray’s reading “Gamy Story to Cybermedia” I began to wonder if there was a stronger link between story and game? I wondered which type of “game” was better, one with a story, or one without?

        For example, the story behind the video game Zelda is that Link (the main character) goes on numerous quests to save/find his/the princess, Zelda. However, with a video game like PacMan there isn’t really a story behind it, its more so, just playing the game freely. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           4) Are video games/computer games considered stories, games or both?What actually differentiates the two?

 

 

  

Does Social Networking Bring Us Closer?

 We talked briefly on Thursday about the concept of “ambient awareness” and in this post I want to go a little bit more in detail about what I think about it, and how I think the internet/ social networking has changed society today.

            It’s claimed that this “ambient awareness” has heightened personal relationships, and its users have become more involved. Conceptually, I can see how some may think that social networking can advance and strengthen personal relationships. Social networks give people the ability to have constant communication through inbox messages, threads and instant messages. Today, users are able to reach their social networks (twitter, facebook, myspace) with their cell phones, enabling the user to be “connected” even when the user is away from the computer.

While this “constant connection” may seem like a way to keep relationships stronger, I think it weakens them. I think the internet almost puts up a wall in a relationship. I feel face-to-face contact is always more personal, more intimate. Some may argue that video chatting is a way to see someone “face to face”, yet in video chatting you don’t even have to be in the same vicinity. A perfect example of what I’m trying to explain is when I skyped my sister two nights ago. She’s currently abroad in Argentina and it was great to see her in the video and we talked for over an hour. Technically, yes it was personal because I was able to talk to her (as opposed to not talking to her at all). However, it wasn’t the same as sitting in a room with her or having the ability to hug her hello and goodbye.

Also, it may sound cheesey but the phrase: “absence makes the heart grow fonder” really seems to pertain to this message about constant communication. With distance, you’re able to think about them and it makes you actually want to talk to the person when you get back. Whereas, if you always have the ability to talk to someone you don’t really appreciate the relationship as much because you don’t know what it’s like not talking to the other person. That’s why I tend to think that the majority of social networks end up actually loosening relationships, just because it’s impossible to stay close with your 2,000 (or however many) friends on facebook whereas, it’s relatively easy to stay close with your 6 best friends from home.

 

Blog-esque sites privacy and popularity

 The readings from this week were pretty cool because they relate to modern day issues. I liked that it was something that I could relate to, unlike video games, which to be honest I know very little about. So, I guess maybe as a girl, applications like facebook or myspace seem more tangible for be, only because I use/used them. (Not so much twitter, I don’t know or understand what that even is…) Anyways two of my questions are from the New York Times article, “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy” and the last question is for the “Social Networking Websites and Teens”.

 

1)    In the NY times article, Clive Thomas talks about how Zuckerberg created facebook, and how some thought it to be too “public” of a site after he extended the social networking process by adding a Newsfeed. Logically, Zuckerberg then made “Privacy” features to the Newsfeed, so technically, not everyone could see your particular newsfeed. My question is, is anything on the Internet really “private”? The vast majority of young teens…55% actually, as shown in the Social Networking article…put personal information up on these sites and think it’s okay simply because they clicked a button that says, “my friends only” or “hide”. But, are they really hidden? I feel that there will always be a way to get around privacy settings, or a way to see somebody’s information.

2)    Later Thomas discusses the fact that “For many people—particularly anyone over the age of 30—the idea of describing your blow-by-blow activities in such detail is absurd.”  But, is it 30 plus really too old? What determines the limit for age in any internet blog-esque setting? Is there an age that’s too young? I feel like, for facebook especially, it’s possible for younger people to get on, whereas it started out as strictly a site for college students. However, now you don’t have to be in college, you could be in middle school or high school…you don’t even have to be in school to have a facebook.

3)    I guess the next question sort-of relates to my presentation from last week (in terms of gender). Within the first few sentences even of the Social Networking Websites and Teens article Lenhart and Madden claim that “older teens, particularly girls, are more likely to use these [blog-esque] sites.” But is this really true? Are sites such as facebook, myspace, xanga and twitter really only for girls? I’d say the sites are pretty gender/age neutral, and that’s why they have so much appeal and such a broad variety of users.

Cyber Trolls

 This is somewhat confusing. I forgot, since I wasn’t supposed to blog postings last week (because I presented), but I already wrote out the questions for the topic. So, I’m going to write my “long response” blog posting on this past weeks readings. 

While the readings were interesting one of them struck me more than the others: The New York Times Magazine article. Why I liked it so much? Because Mattathias Schwartz wrote a series of stories, as opposed to rattling off facts. It was easy to read, and much easier to get involved in. Schwartz gave the reader the power to interpret the stories how they wanted...he allowed them to think freely about the subject.

Schwartz writes this non-opinionated article on different examples of cyber trolls, who essentially badger their viewers. The thing I pulled out of this article was basically that the actual trolls feel no sympathy for their harrassee’s. They’re insensitive and are either trolling because of a personal vendetta, or because they want others to feel as they do/did at one point. The thing I don’t understand is how trollers think its acceptable to treat people the way they do. Jason Fortuny, for example, is one of America’s greatest cyber bullies. But, is his reasoning for trolling justifiable? Is it even morally sound? Schwartz mentioned that he was molested as a child and has had a difficult life since then, which is understandable. But, why make others feel the same, if not worse than you do? It seems uncalled for, to me, for someone to put others down for personal reasons.

I briefly mentioned the concept of trollers having morals. In response, I think it’s impossible to think they do. After I read the story about the chat room that cyber bullies created against the Epilepsy Foundation’s Website. The chat room created simulated images and flashing lights, knowing that both of those things could lead to seizures. While the common troll may find it amusing, I think its completely uncalled for, and immoral. Fortuny thinks that since in his lifetime he’s experienced pain, that others should experience the same…or maybe that he’s just incapable of understanding that humans have feelings/emotions.

Where does this trolling end? Does trolling even have a limit? I can’t see trolling having any limits after the numerous stories that I read in the article. One story really struck me, it was about Lori Drew, a mother posing as a young boy on MySpace, who cyber bullied one of her daughters friends, Megan Mier. Drew trolled Megan so harshly that she committed suicide. Megan was thirteen. In what world is this justified? Even though trolls believe that what they’re doing is acceptable, but things like suicide and depression aren’t okay to force on anyone. Fortuny states that in cyber-worlds “no one is entitled to [a troll’s] sympathy or [a troll’s] empathy”. Where will we ever draw a line for what is acceptable or unacceptable for internet users? Shouldn’t there be restrictions on actions such as these? The “free speech” argument can only go so far.

Leonard & Kennedy

 I really liked the readings this week. All of them seemed to be current with what’s going on in video games today. (Obviously, since the articles were written somewhat recently).

Anyway, the readings made me think harder about each point, but also enabled me to think of a couple questions/doubts. My favorite article was the Game Studies article by Helen Kennedy. I liked it because I have played the Tomb Raider game, so it was cool to see a different perspective on the game, and Lara as a character.

 

1)    My first question pertains to the first article, written by David J. Leonard. He discusses how “The few white players who do appear within NBA Street, NFL Street, and several other games have nowhere near the athleticism or the muscles of the black players. The white player’s dominance comes from their ability to shoot, which comes from hard work and long hours on the court, not good genes.” (“High Tech Blackface”, 2). I was just wondering if the game programs the players like this? Or if the player’s just assume that this statement is true? I know my question is kind of specific, but I’m just curious. 

2)    Later on in Leonard’s article he talks about the “critical literacy that bespeaks to both the power of sports videogames, in their articulation of stereotypes, and the affirmation of radicalized stereotypes is necessary” (“High Tech Blackface”, 4). I’m not sure about how “necessary” these stereotypes are, however, I’m just wondering if videogames are, apparently, racially based how do we break the barrier and change the games to be less stereotypical?

3)    In the “Game Studies” article by Helen Kennedy, she talks about how the character, Lara Croft, has been “ambivalent”. I wonder if this is true for all female videogame characters? Then again, I thought about some of the other female videogame characters, struggling a little bit because my video game knowledge isn’t exactly “up to par”. However, I thought of a couple characters such as Sheik (from Mario Party) and Peach (Mario Party) that aren’t really the “damsel in distress” type character, but more so they get to be the hero, etc.

4)    Kennedy includes a quotes from Nikki Douglas describing how “refreshing” it was to play a videogame and seeing her character as a woman. I’m curious to see how many boys are interested in the idea of playing with a girl character? In other words, would a boy be tempted to play a game with the girl character? Or would he think the character would play worse, or be less efficient? Or would he only desire to play the game for his girl-characters sex appeal? Later on Kennedy talks about how Tomb Raider was one of the first games “featuring a navigable three-dimensional game space”…would this attract more players of both genders? (Simply because of the new technology?)

5)    Kennedy introduces the idea of female gamers being largely affected by the image of their character. Claiming that young girls are “[growing] up even more dissatisfied with their own bodies”: is this actually true though? Who really cares what their videogame character looks like, it’s visibly not real. I’d think there’s more pressure from the media and Barbie dolls then a (some-what) violent videogame, Tomb Raider.

Is my TV show a Reality?

 I guess I didn’t really think about how transmedia narratives affect my lifestyle until recently when we started talking about it in class. Unfortunately, I don’t play a specific video game routinely, and I haven’t read a comic book since the Archie Comics in 5th grade. So, my next option was TV shows, which is something that I can easy talk about and get involved in. I’m not embarrassed to say that I follow a large number of TV shows, all of which (for the most part) are garbage, but obviously so entertaining.

 

The first TV show that I got involved with is the infamous Grey’s Anatomy, which is one of the greatest shows ever. Yes, it’s pretty girly, and pretty unrealistic but I can’t get over the drama and romance within the hospital (it’s too good to be true, and it isn’t..). However, more focused on to how I’m involved in the show. Not only to I own all of the seasons on DVD, but I have posters hanging in my room at home of certain characters in photo shoots and happen to have the facebook application “Addicted to Grey’s Anatomy” (guilty). The facebook application is pretty cool, although I haven’t used it recently, it’s a great way to get more deeply involved in the television show. The application has a homepage, which discusses certain episodes, incorporates quotes from the most recent episode and of course contains: photos, quizzes, trivia and general “Grey’s Anatomy News”. All of these additions to the site, are a fun way to get involved with other Grey’s fans. I remember one day I played, with my three friends (who questionably love Grey’s more than I do), the trivia game and tried to see who could win the highest score. I mean, the application isn’t anything serious but it’s a really fun way to get involved in the TV show. Plus, when each season ends it keeps my mind refreshed on what’s happened previously, and what’s about to happen in the future of Grey’s.

 

The second TV show, which I personally think rules, is Gossip Girl. Granted, the first two seasons were MUCH better than the current season, but it hasn’t stopped me from watching the hilariously dramatic show. Similarly to Grey’s, I have the facebook application. However, Gossip Girl for me is more than the facebook application. [ http://apps.new.facebook.com/gossipgirlfans/?wclc=tqa-1 ] (ßvisit if you dare)

I wish I were kidding when I said that my friends and I through Gossip Girl themed parties, that my best friend and I had code names “B” and “S”(after the two main characters on the show),  that we gave every character from gossip girl a real person from our school, that Tuesday mornings a group of my friends sat in our campus center (cafeteria) and talked about the latest episode of “GG” and what we thought would happen next, that we designated days to dress up as our GG characters, and that we stole almost half of the ridiculous phrases that spewed out of the infamous Chuck Bass’s mouth. Now I’m partially embarrassed that I just posted this on my blog, but it’s totally fine because it’s a perfect example of how I am involved in the TV show I watch, which emphasizes the class discussion on transmedia narratives and how they affect our lives. Also, quick sidenote: Gossip Girl itself is a blog. There's a specific episode in the second season that explains it. While there is one "voice" of gossip girl (the controller of the blog) she gets sent information from everyone at Constance (the school they attend) and even outside the school district. The voice of Gossip Girl just takes, obviously, the juiciest gossip and posts it up on the massive blog, which did I say sends to every member of the school via cellphone? Such a hypermediated society

Please see this example:

background information-- there is an episode that Blair is asked to be in one of her mother's photoshoots. She gets nervous in front of the camera, so her best friend "S" steps in to help her feel more comfortable at the shoot. They start goofing off, to make things less awkward, and this is why their faces look so funny in these pictures. Clearly, my friend and I didn't think it was ridiculous (WE LOVED IT). Also, brief explination we are dressed in our "school" outfits, because the theme of that particular party was Constance: Upper East Side. 

Example A: The Real Picture from the Photo Shoot     

            

---------> Example B: Me ("S") and Bitty ("B") acting

Also (guilty) we demonstrated "B" and "S" whispering about "Little J" (casted as my other friend) to see if she could join the group. It's a complicated, beautiful Gossip Girl world we've created.

Brooker & Selter

 

I was so happy to read both of the assignments for this week because both of them were easy to understand. Specifically, because I’d watched both Dawson’s Creek and some of the ABC shows that were mentioned in the second article. Also, it was cool to read both of the readings because if you were to read “The Television Studies Reader” first, the NY Times article “Serving Up Television without the TV set” acted as a follow up/further extension of the Allen/Hill reading. Also, I was glad to see that both articles seemed to stem off of our previous Jenkins reading, in terms of the further immersion in a film, or television series.
1)    In Jenkins’s description of cultural convergence he states, “Anyone who wants to see what [cultural] convergence looks like should visit my home and watch my adolescent son, sprawled on the living room rug, watching a baseball game no our big-screen television, listening to techno on his CD player, and writing email to his friends or doing homework on his laptop.”  My question is, is this really a cultural convergence? It seems to me that the concept of multitasking with different technologies has become the norm in society these days.
2)    Will Brooker implies that this “cultural convergence” that Jenkins discusses, is selective to the wealthy/ that it “implies a certain privilege”. However, is that actually true? Is the convergence only present in the wealthy-mans lifestyle?  I’m having a hard time believing that the less wealthy have less of a cultural convergence. Sure, the level of technology that the wealthy posses versus the level of technology available for the less wealthy is different. But, does that mean we completely exclude the less wealthy from being able to experience the cultural convergence? For example, you don’t have to be “wealthy” to have a cell phone. Thus, one could talk on the cell phone, while doing homework (exemplifying the cultural convergence, just to a smaller degree)
3)    Brooker talks about how if a viewer has missed a show, then the viewer depends on Internet blogs and e-cards in order to catch up. My question is, how does this play a role in society today, if nearly every television show is on the Internet? For example, for the past two weeks, I missed my usual Thursday night episode of Greys Anatomy. However, in order to be ready for this week, I watched both of the episodes online and now I’m completely caught up.

4) In Stelter’s New York Times article, he mentions how Mr. Wurtzel has “found that most consumers […] prefer to watch high quality versions of episodes via their trusty TV sets. They make distinctions between dialogue-driven comedies like ‘The Office’, which are better suited to laptops and iPods, and special-effects-laden dramas like ‘Heroes’, which look better on a big screen. I just wonder how Stelter is able to make that broad of a generalization about “viewers”. How does one define the distinctions? Isn’t it just a personal preference? (which you’d rather watch on the big screen, or on the computer screen).
5)    “Regardless of the content, the shift is forcing the networks to rethink the long-held axioms of network schedulers and advertisers”: How does this shift play a role in society today? Will the concept of TV switch to computers? Will TVs become less common/less used because of our new ability to watch shows on the internet?

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