Learning Through Play (Microessay #3)

Terence Gogarty

Professor Jong

ENGL 398D

A teacher awarding a student with a gold star for achieving a high mark on a test is nothing new. This reward not only congratulates the student on their academic performance but also serves as an incentive for them to maintain this performance in the future. However, why does this system not engage every single student? How come not all students are motivated or driven to earn these rewards? With the introduction of video games to the learning process, it is apparent that this reward system is due for an update. Not only do games create new incentives for achievement, but they also introduce new systems for learning and cause reflection for previously established measurements of students’ abilities.

James Gee claims that by having students participate in this ‘edutainment’, teachers are now able to effectively measure what he calls ‘collective intelligence.’ (Mackay) He posits that humans are not meant to function in a solitary environment, but rather collaboratively. By having students play certain games, they are able to exercise this ‘collective intelligence’ analysis can be done on how they interact with their environment and others players. While some games do not explicitly teach educational skills, it is argued that these games teach equally important ‘non-cognitive’ skills such as discipline.

The general consensus seems to be that games should not be viewed as a replacement to education, but to rather complement it and to aid in analyzing the learning patterns of students. For example, Constance Steinkuehler conducted an experiment studying the educational merit of video games and seems to have found a correlation between poor academic performance and lack of motivation. She conducted this experiment using a group of boys who read, in an academic setting, read several levels below their grade. However, these same boys excelled at reading texts within video games they played. When presented with these texts, they actually read above their grade level. Her conclusion was that because these boys had a choice when it came to their reading material, they were more motivated to overcome challenging passages. This calls into question the validity of the standardized tests that are being used to measure these levels and whether the results are truly indicative of the ability of the students.

When a game has been specifically designed to be used as an educational tool, it can be beneficial for educators. When a student plays with a game, it will log every single input. By having a game quantify every aspect of the student’s interactions and actions, this can provide the teacher with a more clear view of their understanding of the material. If the student is struggling in a certain area or is not absorbing the intended purpose of the game, the teacher will receive automatic feedback and will have an opportunity to correct these errors, thereby expediting the learning process.

While these developments seem to resemble the early stages of a reformation, the questions remains on how these new methods of learning are translating to overall academic performance. At the moment, there are fews studies which analyze this aspect and instead focus on the broader effects of edutainment. Studies on the effects of brain training games on transferable skills have not been positive. They found that the skills acquired and improved upon in one game did not necessarily translate into another game. In fact, the initial improvement was attributed to practicing repetitive actions. (Malykhina)

Despite initially praising the potential educational benefits of video games, Mark Griffiths fears of the negative reinforcement that certain games promote. In his article from 2002, he commented that the most popular games were typically violent and that games which did not promote prosocial behaviour had the potential of leading the player/student to developing ‘negative behaviours and emotions.’

Outside of the classroom, the implementation of game mechanics into learning tools is widespread. Duolingo, the number one language learning tool on Apple’s App Store, uses many of these mechanics. A person’s progression through various language-learning stages is measured in ‘XP’, their score is ranked amongst their friends on a ‘leaderboard’, they can spend in-game currency on outfits for their avatar and they are given a ‘life bar’ of three hearts. In addition to providing an accommodating and familiar environment, these game mechanics provide incentive, or motivation, for the player to progress through the language learning tutorials.

HabitRPG is a self-improvement tool that applies a progression and reward system, similar to what is found in an RPG, with the goal of having the ‘player’ develop positive habits. While not resembling a game in the typical sense, the player will engage with a user-friendly task manager wherein they take various habits from their life and apply them to the game’s progression system. A certain number of points will be applied to a habit that the player would like to maintain and if they carry out this habit in real life, they will earn in-game ‘gold’. Gold acts as currency in HabitRPG and can be spent on indulgent habits, such as eating unhealthy food, watching a movie, etc. In order to ensure the repetition of positive habits, players that neglect to play HabitRPG will cause their ‘in-game’ character’s health to decrease. The philosophy of this tool seems to be to empower the player by having them view themselves as the hero in their own game in order to help them break patterns of procrastination and develop self discipline.

While still nascent in its development, the progress of edutainment at this point in time makes the future look promising. Fair points have been made in regards to lack of proven results, but it is undeniable of the effect that it has on the dynamic between teacher and student. As the world progresses towards automation, it is difficult to imagine an educational system that neglects the use of interactive media.

Sethi, Chitra. “Can Videogames Reshape STEM Education?” ASME. 1 Sept. 2012. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

Olson, Samantha. “Storytelling In Video Games May Improve Social Skills, Emotional Capacity In Kids With Autism.” Medical Daily. 12 Apr. 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

Mackay, R.F. “Playing to Learn: Panelists at Stanford Discussion Say Using Games as an Educational Tool Provides Opportunities for Deeper Learning.” Stanford News. 1 Mar. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

Malikyhina, Elena. “Fact or Fiction?: Video Games Are the Future of Education.” Scientific American. 12 Sept. 2014. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

Griffiths, Mark. “The Educational Benefits of Videogames.” Education and Health 20.3 (2002): 47-51. SHEU. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

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Exploits and Rules: Min-maxing in Guild Wars and Apple

One phenomenon of rule exploitation often seen in video games, especially class-based fighting massive multiplayer online role-playing games, is the concept of min-maxing. This is a method of exploiting the game’s rules in a way that allows the player to maximize some abilities of their in-game character at the expense of nearly everything else, leaving them exceptionally powerful in specific circumstances. This method is often used for “farming” or collecting many of the drops of specific monsters, usually for the purpose of resale on in the game’s player market. While this is sometimes seen as unfair to other players who do not min-max their characters, it is not usually considered cheating as the min-maxing player is not directly harming any other player, and min-maxing is inherently allowed by the game’s rules as it is maximizing some of the affordances granted by the rules while simultaneously minimizing the constraints of the same rules for a specific purpose.

 

One game that I have used this method in is Guild Wars. Guild Wars has a few different character classes that have the capability of min-maxing themselves into being nearly indestructible solo farmers against some extremely powerful enemies. The class I had most experience with is the Elementalist, which is essentially a wizard that uses elemental magic to attack his enemies. The “build” or setup of skills and equipment that my character or “toon” needed was very specific, and is known by others as the geomancer, as it uses mostly earth elemental powers for defense. By using the mathematical advantages that these powers gave, such as reducing monster hits by a fixed percentage, a damage-reflection spell that redirected the hydras’ attacks back to them, and life-regeneration auras, my toon would become near invincible to specific types of enemy monsters. Using this specific build, I was able to hunt the enemy monsters known as Hydras, but nearly any other monster would be able to easily destroy me. Fortunately, there was a particular area just outside of a town, Augury Rock,  that mostly spawns Hydras and few other types of monsters. While I used an Elementalist, other classes could do likewise, such as the video included below of a specific build of a Monk class toon doing the same Hydra farming that I did with my Elementalist.

 

 

Guild Wars has a roaming collector in the game known as “Nicholas the Traveler”, who every week appears in a different location on the map of Guild Wars to collect different items, for which he gives player presents. Since these presents have a chance of being quite valuable high-end gear, Nick has become quite popular with players, but some players do not have access to all of the areas that are required to travel to in order to collect the items that Nick is collecting that week, while others simply are not that good at defeating three headed fire-breathing dinosaurs like Hydras to collect a large number of their drops. This is where my min-maxed Elementalist came in.

 

When Nick’s weekly collection included the Dessicated Hydra Claws, I would outfit my Elementalist for farming mode and spend a few hours killing Hydras, ending up with many of their drops, which I would then sell to players looking to trade them to Nick. Using this method, I was able to collect the funds for my own guild hall, high end armour and weapons, and basically made enough in-game gold to never have to worry about in-game finances again.

 

While the actions of the item farmers did not directly affect other players, there were indirect effects. Nick changed locations on Mondays at 11 AM eastern time, and at his new location he would have a new list of items that he was collecting for that day. At around 11:30 or so, whatever items that Nick was collecting would have skyrocketed in price on the player market due to the increased demand. This would entice the farmers to go to work collecting the same items. At around 1 pm, the farmers would be making their wares available on the market, where the increased supply would have made the prices bottom out again. This pricing flux would continue for the rest of the week as supply and demand varied, until Nick finally would move on from the spot and have a new list of collectibles the following week.

 

While market fluctuation in an online game is hardly a danger to other players, no doubt that some players grew frustrated that the actions of the item farmers caused such massive fluctuation in market prices on some items. One way in which farming was seen as unfair is that not all players can be farmers. Farming requires access to a variety of skills and equipment that are often only available after hundreds of hours have been put into a character, and thus not available to many casual players. But while in real life almost everyone is affected by an unstable marketplace, in an online game where the market is tangential and completely optional to the game’s primary focus of players killing monsters, utilization of such exploits does not directly affect other players. Nevertheless, farming was seen as an irritant to many casual players.

 

While it seems counter-intuitive, min-maxing is not just a phenomenon that occurs in videogames. The main idea of min-maxing is encoded right in the name: the desire to minimize any expenditure of resources into unneeded traits or skills, in order to maximize the traits and skills that are useful for the player’s goal. A similar thing occurs in large corporations, who wish to minimize their expenditures into things they see as not helpful, such as taxes, and maximize what they find most useful to their goals, which is making profit for their shareholders.

 

Apple Inc. is often held as a great innovator of products. In spite of the fact that they did not invent the MP3 player, smartphone, or tablet, Apple’s products are often held as the first of these device archetypes that really hit home with buyers and enter the public consciousness, and as a result, Apple has become one of the most profitable companies on the planet, and the one with the highest market value (Forbes). One thing that Apple did invent, according to the New York Times, is the “accounting technique known as the ‘Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich,’ which reduces taxes by routing profits through Irish subsidiaries and the Netherlands and then to the Caribbean” (Duhigg and Kochieniewski).

 

Like the Guild Wars farmer, Apple has found a way to use established laws and rules in such a way that it can take advantage of the specifics of these laws so that it can minimize its tax costs, and thus allow more profit to be generated from its sales. Similar to Guild Wars, it could be argued that Apple is not directly harming people by doing so, but while Guild Wars players have an optional and limited dependence on the player market, the real world’s market is not quite so tangential. The New York Times estimates that if Apple paid a standard corporate tax rate, Apple “likely would have been $2.4 billion higher last year” (Duhigg and Kochieniewski), and would have gone into the coffers of the US Government, and presumably spent toward the benefit of the american people.

 

Min-maxing does not involve any consideration of ethics or well-roundedness in its design. My Elementalist may be a nearly all-powerful force against the Hydra’s physical and fire attacks, but any other type of enemy spellcaster can erase my Elementalist’s advantages and destroy him easily. He is not a well-rounded character at all. Likewise, Apple and companies like it utilize this system of laws not to be more caring and well-rounded corporate citizens or to help pay for the infrastructure and areas that they exist in. Rather than aiming to be well-rounded, the concept of min-maxing is the complete antithesis of well-roundedness. Apple is extremely formidable when it comes to its own goal: making profit. In other areas, Apple’s weaknesses become much more obvious.

 

No doubt an extra few billion dollars in the tax pool would assist a government to better attend to the needs of its people, but the primary goal of corporations such as Apple is not to better support the government or to help people. The primary goal of any corporation is to make as much profit as possible for their shareholders. To that end, corporations enhance their profit-making ability while all other abilities are made much lower in priority. To this end, Apple manages all of its investments in Reno, Nevada, where the tax rate is cheaper than at Apple’s California headquarters. Apple funnels its iTunes profits from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East through its Luxembourg offices rather than pay higher taxes in other areas. These policies are in addition to the “Double Irish with Dutch Sandwich” method discussed. These methods have proven successful for Apple, and have thus been emulated by many other companies like Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and Dell (Duhigg and Kochieniewski).

 

The United States tax code is supposed to be “based on the concept that a company ‘earns’ income where value is created, rather than where products are sold” (Duhigg and Kochieniewski), which in the case of Apple where most of the design, marketing, research and development, and executive command is located in the United States, which should mean that most of the value is created in the US, and therefore taxable in the US. Yet, Apple’s dream team of accountants find “legal ways to allocate about 70 percent of its profits overseas, where tax rates are often much lower” (Duhigg and Kochieniewski).

 

Apple’s own comments about the matter include stating the fact that it has “conducted all of its business with the highest of ethical standards, complying with applicable laws and accounting rules” (Duhigg and Kochieniewski), which is technically true, just as it is technically within the rules of Guild Wars for me to make an indestructible Elementalist. Also like Guild Wars, it is not just any company that can take advantage of the “high-end” rules of finance. A locally owned store likely cannot divert profits through an Irish subsidiary company, as they likely lack the financial means to procure such a subsidiary in the first place.  Just as not every Guild Wars player is advanced enough can be a farmer, not every company can be rich enough to purchase other companies in far-off areas of the globe to take advantage of these legal loopholes.

 

While I maintain that the Guild Wars farmers do not directly harm other players of the game, and that any damage done to the market is limited to a few items, and that players are not dependant on the market in any case, it nevertheless irritates non-farmers that other players have managed to take advantage of the game rules in such a way that grants them an advantage. To appease the larger base of casual players, Guild Wars’ developers Arenanet, regularly make adjustments to the game to reduce or “nerf” the farmers’ ability to farm. From altering the ways that skills and spells work to simply reducing the number and likelihood of drops from certain monsters often targeted for farming, they have a vested interest in keeping the more numerous non-farming player base happy. In the case of Apple, however, such nerfs are not as easily forthcoming.

 

The market in the real world is not tangential: all of us are dependent on the financial market of the world to exist in some form. While most of us are not Wall Street tycoons directly profiting from the market, the market affects the price of houses and cars, personal taxes and salaries, right down to how much bread and milk cost at the local grocery store. Furthermore, where Arenanet has a vested interest in keeping the majority of its player base happy, the powers that be have less control over worldwide corporations. There is no world power than can override what large corporations do. Individual countries have a degree of control over what a corporation does within their borders, but even there the power that governments have is far from complete. There is often multiple individuals with different goals within the government, some of them no doubt making personal shareholder profit from Apple’s actions, and therefore unlikely to pursue any change that would prevent Apple from making so much profit. Large corporations also have strong lobbying powers, and can threaten to simply move most of their operations to another place, in effect threatening to put many employed individuals out of work if the government does anything to change the status quo. So while a vested interest from an entity with complete control over the situation such as Arenanet over their game-world, there is no such entity with such a vested interest in the real world. Where the damage to a comparatively unimportant sideline market is limited, damage to the real world financial market can be felt by hundreds of millions of people across the world who are affected, directly and indirectly from such actions.

 

Ultimately the reasons for min-maxing both in games and in real life is the same: the desire to reach a goal. When we think of our heroes, it is usually because of a single thing that they were particularly good at. Edison was great at business, and is remembered for being a grandmaster of innovative success, in spite of the fact that in reality he often copied designs he saw elsewhere, and merely was the first to successfully market the inventions.  For example, Edison is held as the inventor of audio recording, when in fact a recording from 28 years prior to Edison’s first known recording has been found (Rosen).

 

It is success that we measure by, and most often that is directly inferred to be financial success in the capitalist society that we live in. Well-roundedness, being a nice person or a good corporate citizen ultimately mean very little in the grand scheme of measuring success. My farmer Elementalist’s goal was financial success, just as is Apple’s. Being fair about it is of secondary importance.

 

Works Cited

ArenaNet. Guild Wars. NCsoft, 2005. PC Game.

Duhigg, Charles, and David Kocieniewski. “How Apple Sidesteps Billions in Taxes.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 28 Apr. 2012. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/business/apples-tax-strategy-aims-at-low-tax-states-and-nations.html>.

Rosen, Jody. “Researchers Play Tune Recorded Before Edison.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 Mar. 2008. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/arts/27soun.html?ex=1364356800&en=14b6cec0c2c873bf&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all&_r=0>.

“The World’s Biggest Public Companies.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <http://www.forbes.com/global2000/list/#page:1_sort:6_direction:desc_search:_filter:All industries_filter:All countries_filter:All states>.

 

Final Project | Paralyzed | Unity Game

(Link to Paralyzed the Game => http://paralyzedgame.blogspot.ca/)

Video Game Description:

 For my final term project, I created a spaceship indie action video game, “Paralyzed,” which is developed in Unity3D. In this game, players control a badly damaged and largely immobile ship while enemy invaders are attempting to attack their ship. The main objective of the game is for players to defend themselves from these enemy attackers. Moreover, other challenges for players to overcome include blinding or deafening threats, meaning players sometimes cannot see or hear when enemies are approaching. These threats showcase that the ship is, in fact, damaged, causing players to feel vulnerable while playing the game.

The challenges of operating this ship is representative of what many disabled people in the real world endure every day. Non-disabled people in the real-world have the luxury of returning to their fully functioning abilities, but these blinding and deafening threats are meant to showcase that video games are more difficult to play when taken-for-granted abilities (i.e. sight and hearing) are taken away from players. This challenging gameplay caused by blinding and deafening threats is the reality for many disabled players for every game they play.

Imagine that you are unable to play your favorite video games because you are blind, deaf, or have another disability. Richard Moss notes that after gamer Carlos Vasquez became blind, he was devastated that he could no longer play video games the same way ever again; however, Vasquez noticed that he could still listen to gameplay sounds in order to play video games, but not to his best (or non-disabled) abilities (Moss). Jamin Warren of PBS Game/Show says many non-disabled players do not “realize it, or take notice, until it happens to [them],” showcasing that these players do not consider the trials and tribulations that disabled players must endure every time they play a video game (Warren). The purpose of my game is to further promote awareness of the challenges disabled gamers must overcome to play video games that are designed for non-disabled gamers. Thus, my game could encourage video game developers to create video games that are designed for disabled gamers, promoting social change in the video game industry.

As a game developer myself, I installed certain features into my game, such as audio and text, in order to help players get through the different stages. I find it perplexing that most game developers do not add features specially designed for disabled gamers. If game developers are able to add complex features into video games, such as stretching/shrinking game display screens based on players’ preferences, and being able to adjust the brightness of the screen, it should be feasible for them to add features to help disabled gamers play their games. For example, game developers could install colorblindness options, indicators for deaf gamers, and sounds effects for blind gamers.

In conclusion, my game will spread awareness to non-disabled players about the challenges disabled gamers face when playing video games. This awareness could cause a shift in the video game industry to create new content, features, or entire games designed for disabled gamers.

By: Lauren Hamilton

Warren, Jamin. “How Are Games Biased Against the Disabled? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios.”
YouTube. Google.com, 14 Aug. 2014. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=IyASY5wv_Qo

Moss, Richard. “Why Games Accessibility Matters.” Polygon. Vox Media Inc, 6 Aug. 2014. Web. 25 Mar.
2015. http://www.polygon.com/features/2014/8/6/5886035/disabled-gamers-accessibility

Player Narrative, Machinima, and Modding- Micro Essay #3- WK 14

Allison Figueroa Rojas

Carolyn Jong

April 11th 2015

While reading “Real-time preferences: Machinima and Game studies,” by Henry Lowood, I was enlightened to know that the bases of this phenomenon is really to learn more about the meaning players attach to play and how interesting and aesthetically engaging this from of media art is. The subsection titled ‘Game-based Filmmaking and New Game Cultures’ was key for me because as an avid film watcher and film student this notion of bringing together video game which I’ve recently been getting into more and more, fascinated me. The concept of merging   film and animation with a game technology platfrom is a well constructed medium. There have been many film inspired and based on video, for example “Gamer” which is a science fiction film about online gamers controlling humans in the “utimate game,” testing the performance of the online player and transferring it to the fates of those who are on the field; once the online individuals character dies so does the person in real life a darker end because if your online player isn’t very good at combat then your finished. Films based on video games like Resident Evil, a survival horror third-person shooter game created  Japanese gamer developer Shinji Mikamiand remade into film by Paul W.S. Anderson. A series of films I’ve personally loved due to the strong female lead are great examples of how games inspire film, though with big box office numbers they bring in the mainstream audience, the films have received criticism for being over rated or not staying true to the origins of the game, but there is so much one can do to keep everyone happy.

Moreover in game-based film making the notion as Lowood mentions, that players can transform themselves into actors, directors and even “cameras” to make movies (556). This gives players from all over the world that may not have the economic means to produce big projects to get exposure and show off their skills as well as add their personal take and have fun with the tech availability, and this can all be done from home. This also opens up a community based culture that gives support and attention to new projects and fresh talent thus forming virtual communities that incorporate game tech and people whether in your city or across the world. Its a manner for story-telling which is the core of Machinima, this also leads to modding. Something i wasn’t very familiar with until i read about it and watched videos online to get a sense of what it was all about. Later in class we spoke about how modding communities and teams are “pools of talent” that don’t get paid for the work they do but rather get show cased through the online communities but also give them a step in, a way to build portfolios and be recognized for the work they do. Although it raises the question of “when do these individuals get compensated for their work?” They may not instantly get the compensation deserved for the time and skill that was put into the project they set out to make but Lowood made a point that many admire the spectatorship not to say that they can survive by these means but its the desire to share skills that became the cornerstone of the creation of a player community. Communities like Twitch where players do get paid is another from players get exposure and do get compensation with live streaming players can have millions of followers and subscribe to them, this isn’t necessarily in the same line as modding or Machinima but it’s just an example of the type of communities out there. Where an individual wants to get noticed if they want a step in the industry door or just want the “high performance play” its a public space where one can connect with others and ultimately everyone wants to share their creations or experience these available developments.

Works cited:

Lowood, Henry. “Real-Time Performance: Machinima and game studies.” iDMAa Journal 2.1 (2005): 10-17. http://idmaa.org/?post_type=journalarticle&p=586

Resident Evil.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.11 April 2015. web April 11th 2015. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resident_Evil>

Play versus Performance

In some ways, a player is always performing, whether for himself or others. Even within games that have no plot, gamers may build their own stories and narratives. One may take any of the NHL games and come up with his own narrative or story. The performance aspect in this pushing the player to further his progress in the game, and making his/her narration or story telling a motivation to push the boundaries of the game. When people finish a game they usually stop playing it and get on to another one, yet in some cases, people try different levels of difficulty or challenge themselves with rules that were not established/programmed in the game already. Some of these challenges may entail not dying, and if doing so starting the game over. In first person shooters this could be applied by using a single weapon in order to beat the game or in anything else. Whether it comes to speed, running or modding there is of course a love for a particular game that motivates people to push the game and their experience as far as they can. But it could be possible that people push these boundaries to continue the narrative that they initially started at the beginning of their experience. The goal of players in modding and changing games could simply be to re-experience the feeling that they had when they first played. In making something new out of already existing content, players can in fact learn to renew with their first time experience of that specific game. What is exciting about the modding and networking communities is that this love for a medium can be shared and explored with others. People can start games and stop playing them after short amounts of time because they do not enjoy the experience. Now, with modding and such, people who dislike the the original games have a chance to experience games again through a different lense. In Real-Time Performance:Machinima and Game Studies” the author wrote about Quake, and such games. On older consoles the narratives were usually kept short and at times it was harder to make-out the stories. This required the player to build on the story and make his own when there were gaps to fill. With the evolution of the media this is pushed further as people can now create these worlds and provide a tangible result with regards to expectations that were not fulfilled, or simply to further their love for a game.

Platform and Accessibility

The question arose as to whether or not having more platforms to play on is beneficial or a hindrance to players or people. It is true that people may save money in playing if they were to buy only one console instead of different platforms for play different games. But there is truth in the fact that certain platforms are better suited to certain people’s needs. For instance, one might be more comfortable with the layout of a Playstation controller over that of the X-box. It is true that different controllers could be made for different players; in this case which players should be prioritized, who would be the judge of which players need a more ergonomic controller over others? Further, how is it possible for everyone to agree on the same thing? We live in a dystopian world, and although some people agree, there will always be people disagreeing and fighting. It is unfair that people with disabilities cannot play certain games. However, if companies attempted to accommodate everyone, how long would game development take considering all types of disabilities and players and having new products out in a reasonable amount of time? Above all how much money would they have to spend to do so? If too much money is spent then games will not be profitable and these companies will shut down or have no reason to produce new material. We unfortunately live in a capitalist system where people want money in exchange for their work; even if this line of work is pleasant people still need to be rewarded.

Platforms are not all that bad, and comparing companies may help to show the necessity for multiple platforms. Nintendo makes games that are more family oriented, less violent and appropriate for children; but Sony has violent games that might not be to everyone’s taste and not suitable for all ages . There are obviously some flaws in the system and the need for more unified concepts, more consoles and games should be adapted for people with disabilities. Companies should be criticized, but it should be understood that gaming is a choice and that people should not be judged for their tastes or gaming preferences or interpretations. Ultimately, it maybe a good solution to have consoles designed for people with disabilities, yet it should be agreed on that these people may still choose to play the other consoles even if they are less suited to their needs. Being colorblind myself I sometimes have a hard time playing multiplayers because I cannot see the colors properly but I have found my way around that and can now play these games without feeling disabled.

Francis P

Rethinking Play and Games- Micro essay #2 wk2

Allison Figueroa Rojas

Prof. Carolny Jong

April 10, 2015

After playing Flappy Bird and reading Mattie Brice’s, “Our Flappy Dystopia.” the general idea was that this game was considered a “rip off”  and “billed as theft” from Super Mario Bros. after receiving grand popularity and of course money, thus the game had to be taken off from the app store. Along with much critique from media sources towards gamer creator Dong Nguyen was bullied by capitalist companies that have the means to do so and as new comer, non-white male with a new game that is booming they ask themselves “but how?!, he copied our ideas and  is profiting!” Now its seems that every new game is rip off and up and coming game developers have to almost walk on egg shells not to be called out by bigger names. Yet most forget that almost every game out there, i mean i would not consider myself a “gamer” but from my experiences and from what this course has tSuper_Mario_Bros_1985aught me, everything is borrowed at some point, inspiration is taken and new ideas grow from there, and it almost makes you want to say “so what?” Not to disregard the immense amount of time, work and skill its takes to create a game (even though Flappy Bird was made in 3 days) but anyhow most things are recycled so for Nintendo Super Mario Bros. that has been a business platform since 1985, it is not hard to say that though “Flappy bird” does have similar green pipes as their competitor there is a bigger issue underlining this situation. I mean one could also say “Angry Birds” by Rovio Entertainment also shares similar aesthetics qualities,  although they have Flappy-Birdtheir own issues with leaked  information that had a tracking software that generated a personal record for each user that would store information from their political affiliation and sexual orientation to their marital state, now that’s creepy but the bigger and underlining issue here is money. Even though Flappy Bird is coming back to the app store ’bigger and better ” and by that i mean with merchandise. This notion that due to its quick popularity and financial growth the threat clearly displayed itself even though the green pipes situation seems like a minor cover up to the taboo issue of money hungry companies and as Brice puts it, “Why mainstream spaces have a tight lid on these issues is simple: they would be at the very center of critique. There is something unspoken, that of COURSE we’re all run by money. But to say it out loud is taboo, and it’s seen as rudely airing someone’s dirty laundry.” Thus this concept that individuals in the business of games are valued by “their monetary values” does have an affect on the success and failure of a minority developers “It says who gets listened to, who gets noticed, and who is valued.” As mentioned earlier Flappy Bird didn’t get wiped off the game board  so clearly something in the right track is happening to the notion of who can succeed in the industry.

Works Cited:

Brice, Mattie. “Our Flappy Dystopia.” Alternate Ending. 10 February 2014. 

http://www.mattiebrice.com/our-flappy-dystopia/

Flappy Bird (Nguyen Ha Dong [Dong Nguyen] 2013) http://flappybird.io/

Sense of Belonging within Gaming Communities

While reading the article Real-Time Performance: Machinima and Game Studies written by Henry Lowood, this particular quote caught my attention: “After Doom, intense multiplayer competition, documentation of gameplay through demo movies, and watching others play were inextricably linked. Spectatorship and the desire to share skills were the cornerstones of the creation of a player community eager to create and distribute gameplay movies. The result was nothing less than the metamorphosis of the player into a performer” (Lowood).

Indeed, this sounded very familiar to me and this quote made me think about the relationship we have with walkthroughs and “let’s play’s” videos primarily on YouTube. It then made me wonder about the following questions: why are these videos so successful and popular?  Why are we drawn to them? Is watching walkthroughs as satisfying as playing the game itself? As the article has mentioned, it is clear that machinima enables the performers to connect with the audience through their personalities and the audience, in return, finds pleasure with these videos because they are educational, they are entertaining, and they are connecting with other players as they passively participate within the virtual community. That being said, all of these questions lead to a common goal which is the sense of belonging we all seek deep within us. Whenever there is a trend that is surfacing on the Internet or that is consistently mentioned within a virtual community, there is an innate need to keep ourselves updated with what is going on. For example, the emergence of memes in the Internet is important because it categorizes people: you either are part of the current trends the whole community of the Internet is aware of or you are considered as the “black sheep” of the community. However, because we constantly want to belong somewhere, we are passively participating and interacting with the virtual community by watching videos, recognizing trends, reading comments on videos, reading forums about different topics…all of these aspects and activities are ways of feeling in-touch with the community we want to associate ourselves in.

Those who perform in machinima also seek a sense of belonging within the community they want to address to. According to Patti Pente, who wrote the article called Niche and Community Online: Artists’ Tactical Media Activities as Pedagogy, she points out an important aspect about online communities:
“Niche, derived from the Latin word nidus, meaning nest, suggests a place to grow. Ideally, the nature of a niche online community is hurting; in such relations, we, as members who have similar interests, feel confident and secure in our assumptions that we control who we are and what we do online. Niches are specific to the member’s interests, and satisfaction comes from the educative relationship that develops from the local sharing of knowledge.” (Pente, 68). When we belong to a community, our identity becomes performative. We are constantly readjusting ourselves in order to meet the expectations of other members. Machinima and walkthroughs/playthroughs are then performers’ outlets to transform into an individual they want to be perceived to the outside world. This then becomes an interesting relationship between the performer and the implied audience, because they both want to seek their sense of belonging through each other. This feeling becomes their aim and it drives them to participate within gaming communities to get to where they want to be: it motivates them to be more creative, to be more educated with the subject in question, and to be more involved with the community…

WORKS CITED

Lowood, Henry. “Real-Time Performance: Machinima and Game Studies.” iDMAa Journal 2.1 (2005):10-17. <http://idmaa.org/?post_type=journalarticle&p=586>

Pente, Patti. “Niche and Community Online: Artists’ Tactical Media Activities as Pedagogy”. Educational, Psychological and Behavioral Considerations in Niche Online Communities. IGI Global: PA. Print. 67-80