Author Archives: jaggerjax

Final Project: We ♥ Video Games

Here’s Allison and Jackie’s final project: We ♥ Video Games!

Each person drew themselves and wrote review(s) for their own games. Jackie created the site, and Allison did most of the reviews (her characters are in pink, while Jackie’s characters are in purple).

Hope you enjoy it!

Review of Digital Media Technologies

Of the four technologies that we used for our MS51 projects (web, audio, video, and Sophie), with the exception of Sophie, I thought that video is quite possibly the most difficult medium to work with. Although Allison and I did something really simple for our Wikipedia video project, I could imagine how difficult it would be to edit a more complicated video so that it was precisely the way we wanted it. To me at least, the more senses that we use when we are exposed to a medium (such as audio or video), the easier it is to notice things that are off (for example, if the sound does not match up to the visuals/movement on a video).

As for my preferred medium, I think that websites and Sophie (if it worked correctly) would be ideal for presenting content digitally, since they both allow videos to be embedded into their content, as well as allow the viewer to experience interactive, non-linear content. Instead of having to listen through an entire podcast or watch a movie from start to finish, with websites or Sophie projects, you can create content that allows users to choose what they wish to read/watch/listen to based on their interests.

Ownership & Copyright

An interesting game from MolleIndustria regarding copyright:
http://www.molleindustria.org/freeculturegame-eng

As we read in some of our Game Studies readings, the process players go through when they play a video game (the discovery of the algorithm of the game) can be educational and convey something meaningful to the player. In the “Free Culture” game by MolleIndustria, your goal is to keep ideas floating around in the free culture domain (the inner circle) and distribute them among the green people, so that they can absorb the free culture ideas and then generate more ideas. As you’re playing, a copyrighting machine (marked with a ‘c’) attempts to suck up all of the ideas from the inner circle, thereby preventing the green people from absorbing free culture ideas. As time passes, the green people eventually turn gray and become “passive consumers” and leave the inner circle.  What you may learn (or realize) from playing the game is that copyright really slows down the creative process, since ideas in the free culture domain cannot be used to create new ideas when they have all been copyrighted.

A semi-related issue I dealt with regarding copyright on YouTube:
So as you may or may not know, I’m part of a taiko (Japanese drumming) group, and most of the songs we play are “public domain” (in the world of taiko). Others are songs we’ve either created, or in a few cases, songs that our senior members have brought and taught to us from their study abroad experiences in Japan with other taiko groups. One of those groups contacted me through YouTube last semester inquiring which group played a song in a video recording of our performance (at last year’s Hawai’i Club Luau). Long story short, taiko groups in Japan are really intense and protective of their songs– we’re not allowed to perform their songs without their permission… which is a little ridiculous considering people do covers of songs all the time.

Long Lost Post on Authority

In “Audience Atomization Overcome”, Jay Rosen explains how the internet weakens the authority of the press (mainstream media). Using a graph to represent the “Three regions of the ‘Uncensored War‘” (previously dominated by the press), Rosen conveys that because the public is able to connect horizontally (with each other) to discuss the news and what is important to them, we no longer need to look upwards (to the press) to receive all of our information or mainstream opinions. As Clay Shirky explains in “Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable”, with the advent of the internet and blogs, getting something published and available to the public “has stopped being a problem”– anyone can easily share anything they want (digitally) with the rest of the world.

In Rosen’s article, Hallin (the author of The Uncensored War who created the graph Rosen borrows for his article) responds to the numerous comments other readers have made on the site:

“Many of those who posted seem to believe that what is on the internet is closer to ‘real public opinion’ than what is in the mainstream media, but I’m not sure we really know this.”

While it’s true that, say, the most popular/frequent search queries made on Google say something about humanity (perhaps our general wants or concerns), we can’t say that everything we find on the internet represents “real public opinion”. If anything, the internet allows niche opinions and news to be published (a.k.a. the “Long Tail” of media).

Turning the Algorithm Loose (for the most part): Alice and Kev

On turning the algorithm loose in a game…

Check out Alice and Kev if you haven’t already. It’s a pretty heart-wrenching story (for those of you with hearts…) using screenshots from the Sims 3. It’s an experiment on homelessness in the Sims (removing all of the belongings of an abusive, mean-spirited Sim father and his kind-hearted daughter) and a documentation of the characters’ interactions in the Sims world. It’s interesting to see how the two characters interact based on the personality traits and life goals they are given in the beginning of the game.

Alice and Kev

Gamer Theory: comments on content and form

The content:

In Gamer Theory, Mackenzie Wark compares the actual world (gamespace) to the world of video games by analyzing games such as Katamari Damaci, The Sims, Civilization III, and SimEarth. He starts off by describing the game world as a place similar to Plato’s cave (from “Allegory of the Cave”), in which the images (“shadows”) that gamers see are not truly representative of the real world. We know that the “real world” is out there and that it’s different from the world of video games; however, the closer we look the more similarities we see between the real world and video games. Although we may have considered video games to be a tool used merely for entertainment/educational purposes and existing in its own digital realm, I’m starting to believe that video games can have a larger (and perhaps moral) purpose as well as an effect on our perception of the actual world.

Through the lens of the gamer, life (gamespace) is a game made up of algorithms with plenty of unknowns/variables.

“The game is true in that its algorithm is consistent, but this very consistency negates a world that is not.” (card 32 of Gamer Theory, Chapter 2: on the Sims)

Wark conveys that although life may be perceived as a game through these lens, the actual world lacks the consistency of its “algorithms” when compared to video games. While for the most part, life is filled with many goals (and subgoals) that we must achieve in order to succeed (by the average person’s standard of success), simply achieving all of these goals won’t necessarily lead to success. Similarly, bad things happen to good people, even when they perform actions that deserve rewards and supposedly will lead to success.

The form:

After taking a User Interface class, I learned that if an interface wasn’t intuitive on the first try (i.e. you need to read a manual to use the interface), it probably isn’t a good interface. Anyway, while the implementation of comments/reader feedback was brilliant and the cards reminded me of our earlier readings on the beginning of the internet/computers, having the text split into so many cards made the reading seem very segmented, and perhaps less book-like. The search box should have been made more visible, so that readers would notice it and use it to look for cards they had read a while ago and wished to quote based on key words they remembered. It’s a very interesting way to represent the text, but I think the cards could have been longer than a paragraph each or at least separated by topic to have more purpose.

Sophie Project – Gamic Action, Four Movements

Here is my Sophie Project!
http://pages.pomona.edu/~jbw11925/ms_51/Gamic Action – jaggerjax.pack.s2

Some things I’ve learned about Sophie:

  • Don’t use templates! Or only use them to a bare minimum, because they cause lots of errors to appear.
  • While it’s cool that you can insert videos so easily, the lag (while playing the embedded video) is horrible.
  • If Sophie worked properly, I could see it being used to create books that have interactive annotations, comments, and references on the same page as the text. Also if we wanted to created books directed towards different audiences, I could see Sophie being used to “hide” certain parts of the text depending on the reader’s interest (or previous actions on links).

Gamic Actions and Procedural Rhetoric

In “Gamic Action, Four Movements”, Galloway describes video games as actions which can be categorized into four quadrants: diegetic machine acts, non-diegetic operator acts, diegetic operator acts, and non-diegetic machine acts. While I’m worried that I’ll never be able to play video games the same way again (I’ll always be analyzing the game and its actions), overall I agreed with Galloway’s points.

Together, all of these diegetic and non-diegetic machine and operator acts contribute to the process and algorithms of the video game. As the game/machine runs (and as the operator plays the game), the player takes part in a process which argues something about the way the world works. For example, in The Sims, the more items you purchase, the more you have to work (because you always want to purchase new items). While we might think that buying an item will improve our quality of life, in order to purchase the item, we have to work harder to earn money. By playing The Sims, the operator (player) may realize that buying new items/luxuries won’t actually make your life easier, and instead causes added stress.

I'm glad I didn't end up as a furry.

I thought the Cumberland reading was really interesting, mainly because it addressed many of the things I experienced during adolescence. I used to love watching Xena: Warrior Princess and I used to read fanfiction for my favorite video game/manga/anime characters (yes I’m one of those people). At one point during my Neopets days, I used to be a fan of a furry artist who also drew furry Neopets… ‘Nuff said.

Anyway, I agreed with Cumberland’s point that the supportive online community of female fanfiction readers/writers encourages the creation of more slash/fanfiction works. Cumberland poses the question, “in what way does the openness and anonymity of cyberspace allow women to appropriate power over their own imaginations and bodies?” Since fanfiction content is so easily accessible on the internet, and because of the anonymity of viewing/accessing fanfiction websites and forums, more women are able to view and contribute to fanfiction works than would be possible without the internet. We don’t feel judged by entering a questionable website in the same way we would if we stood in the erotica section of Barnes & Noble or entered an adult video store. While everything is public on the internet, to each website visitor, the act of accessing a website is something individual and private (on your own personal computer screen). This sense of anonymity promotes the expression of our (mostly socially-unacceptable) desires in ways which could not happen so easily IRL, where social norms and pressure prevent us from behaving “abnormally”.

On the effect fanfiction has on the original works, I think that when the audience creates derivative fan works, they feel even more invested in the original work (as if they’re contributed something to the series/story). That said, I think creators should be glad when they have fans willing to create derivative works– it only adds to the original work’s popularity and increases the size of the potential audience.

This poor dog is the subject of Star Wars fandom.

On Digital Remains… (Or, an anime you should watch.)

So, today it was brought up in class that at a high school where a lot of suicides occurred, many students felt that the Facebook pages of the deceased students were the only links they had left to their former friends/classmates.

I thought that the idea of being linked to something/someone that has left the physical world and only remains in the digital world was really interesting… and it reminded me of one of the best anime series I’ve ever watched: Denno Coil.

From Wikipedia:

Denno Coil is a Japanese science fiction anime television series depicting a near future where semi-immersive augmented reality (AR) technology has just begun to enter the mainstream. The series takes place in the fictional city of Daikoku, a hotbed of AR development with an emerging city-wide virtual infrastructure. It follows a group of children as they use AR glasses to unravel the mysteries of the half real, half Internet city, using a variety of illegal software tools, techniques, and virtual pets to manipulate the digital landscape.

Basically, it’s like Digimon (the main characters are still elementary students), but MUCH COOLER! In the world of Denno Coil, there is a digital layer to everything, so when things disappear in the physical world, there are still digital remains. It doesn’t seem like many people in our class watch anime, so I might be saying this all in vain… but you guys should watch it.

Densuke, the Adorably Ugly Cyberdog Mascot of Denno Coil

(You can watch all the episodes here: http://www.animecrazy.net/denno-coil-episode-list/)