I spent the weekend as Media at Shadowloo Showdown, and wrote on my experience there. Check it out on my other blog! I found the idea of a scale free network operated within the event environment interestingly enough; the way the venue was setup didn’t create one central hub of activity, rather people were spread out and formed their own little networks within the network. This is rather unique to most other gaming type events where you usually have one big stage that demands everyone’s attention.
The first piece of content we’ve produced is also online, check that piece out here! I worked with friend and Journalism student Joshua Clark who did the write up while I focused on filming and taking photographs. I’ll be working on a video over the week from the footage I have, and hopefully have it up by Saturday.
Doing that meant I didn’t have any time to work on Uni assignments over the weekend so prepare to have a handful of blog posts put up this week.
A friend put it perfectly in a tweet just the other day:
@CleighMoores Games and internet culture are my life. It's a medium that needs to be lifted up, talked about, shared and broken down.
— Harrison Engstrom (@HarrisonTheFan) October 2, 2013
I feel like this encapsulates my feelings towards both of those things. As you’ve probably seen in my past blogs I really like the culture of the internet, even the dark bits of it. It makes for a psychology that’s so chaotic yet colourful and beautiful at the same time. Hence why I enjoy YouTube Poops so much; they offer a succinct, humorous, and accessible way of defining the environment of the internet.
I feel the same toward gaming for similar reasons, yet quite different reasons. Modern video games are a truly magnificent amalgamation of past mediums. Elegantly weaved together they don’t only tell stories of characters, but of entire worlds, and galaxies. They offer a space to explore, not simply a narrative to obediently follow along. Video games create a space for a player to have their own take on the world, or completely submit to it’s rules in an act of roleplaying.
During my continued adventures in learning about video game study I came across this ongoing debate. I was immediately curious because I love – seriously, LOVE – diffusing conflict using the power of raw logic. I won’t be able to ‘solve’ it per se considering how ill knowledged I am when it comes to the field, so it’s something I’m very interested in following. For now I’d like to map out my understanding of it.
I had a read of this extract but I must say it was a bit confusing. I’m not entirely sure what Manovich was getting at apart from his suggestion that Narratives and Databases are at odds with one another. I gather Manovich is discussing these things in terms of storytelling and narrative, and how “New Media” prefers a more non-linear approach to it via databases and user input. Even then it doesn’t seem to coalesce into any particularly strong ideas.
I did like the bit about video games though, and the fact Will Wright was quoted, and a thought that came from that section was how competitive video game players learn the game’s algorithms to try and beat their opponents. Quake in particular is a great example, being a legacy competitive game, where the game’s core mechanics were so familiar to the players they could manipulate them in ways that seemed superhuman to more casual players. Similarly Brood War was infamous for some of it’s poor design aspects – such as maximum selection limits, and micromanagement – that when perfected, were a sign of true mastery.
…but yeah, still confused about that reading there.
Ian Bogost opens up his presentation here with a fantastic anecdote about his son playing Animal Crossing. The part that stuck with me was when he says his son asks for more money because he has too many items to fit in his small virtual house. It can be argued that Animal Crossing does promote materialistic ideas. I thought this was a great way to open his presentation because with that I realised that video games aren’t simply novels to be read, but can shape or reflect ourselves as players. Another example he uses is a game that was designed to help teach employees at an ice cream store how to properly serve customers and what effects their work has on the business.
I just realised how similar the school recess bell is to Pavlov's Dog. That's funny and a little eerie at the same time.
— Jake (@CleighMoores) September 22, 2013
To confirm this I feel we must measure the amount of saliva produced by children upon hearing the recess bell. #Science
— Jake (@CleighMoores) September 22, 2013
I laughed at first when I made this correlation, but I suddenly found it a little disturbing. It came to me when I walked past the primary school I walk past every day to and from the train station. The recess/lunchtime bells were probably put in place to indicate the time of day put aside for eating your daily sustenance and getting some exercise, but the subsequent psychology behind it seems a bit off to me. What it mimics is a classical conditioning experiment (see Pavlov’s Dog) that conditions us as schoolchildren to expect food at the sound of a bell. It creates routine, something young minds can easily grasp, yet I still find the idea strange because it’s the same bell sound throughout primary school and high school (years Prep & One through Twleve), at least it was for me.
The same goes for the start and end of the day bell. It makes me wonder what difference it would make if there were no omnipotent bells and the teachers would simply call class to an end and dismiss the children themselves. There would definitely be a more personal touch to it, and the students wouldn’t expect to have their daily routine dictated by an inanimate sound. We don’t have bells in offices or workplaces to indicate lunch times, however we do have them in prisons and military installations (to my knowledge). Perhaps this should be amended, this tradition from an era past. The school bell sounds awful too.
I’m not a psychologist and I have no empirical evidence of any statements I make, here I just attempted to explore the consequences of abusing the virtual platforms and personas we access daily.
It’s really a pet-hate. It did cause me to think about the psychology behind it though.
First off I’d like to say I’m a bit bummed I missed out on the symposium last week where some of the discussion was based around hypertext narratives and video games. I had just returned from a 4 day trip to Sydney where I was doing some work attachment with Oceanic eSports (check out the photo album from the weekend here) so Tuesday was a bit of a write off since I was required to upload media etcetera etcetera. I always have something to say about games as a medium though so despite missing out I’ll be sure to have something about video games up soon. Before that thought, I had an idea that stemmed from my newfound distaste for the traditional blog… Continue reading
The Oyster service mentioned by Adrian on the main subject blog this week looks, in short, fantastic, but I might be biased because I am invested in the subscription based model for these kind of things.
For the sake of fairness I am currently subscribed to both Adobe Creative Cloud (student version which is fabulous value for all you looking for software for cheap) as well as Rdio, sister to Spotify (but FAR better looking and designed). Why did I choose to take these routes rather than buy outright? It’s mostly value. Music for one thing is an absolute staple in my life and I can say with confidence I’m listening to music anywhere between 6-12 hours a day on average. Continue reading