Work or play?

 How do we distinguish work from play? In my opinion, if you are receiving money for doing something then I would call it work. Even if one receives a significant amount of joy from their work, I would still label it work not play. That is simply because I believe that getting paid to play falls under a category of work. In reference to video games, I find that the gold farmers are most definitely workers. They put in extremely long hours of tedious gaming for very low pay. As far as I’m concerned, these gold farmers are hard working people.

            However, gold farmers are not the only people that bring up the issue of distinguishing between work and play. In the second line of the post I said that if you are receiving money for doing something then it should be classified as work. However, I certainly did not say that you MUST be paid for something in order for it to be classified as work. Internships for example are jobs in which people get paid with the experience that they gain from their work. I would like to examine video games as internships. Being able to sit in front of a computer or television for an extended amount of time, giving it their entire focus, is a quality that many jobs would love to have in their employers. In that respect, extreme gamers could be thought of masters of focus. They have the ability to give their undivided attention to something for a long period of time. The only problem, is that jobs haven’t really been able to find a popular direct application other then gold farming and video game testing. If there were a way for someone to play a video game that would some how translate to work, then companies would probably go through a renaissance.

            Games like Google’s image labeler, embed work into play. In some way, they do take advantage of the players because they don’t pay them for the help that they provide Google, but at the same time, for some odd reason, Google image labeler is kind of fun. And very addictive. The thing about Google image labeler that makes it unique is that while people play the game for fun, it is really helping out Google because it allows them to avoid having to attach tags to every picture manually.

            So how do we distinguish between work and play. I have come to the personal conclusion that if you are paidfor something then it is work, but what if your not paid for it? Can it still be classified as work. I also think that this topic brings up a very important idea. If people work so much more efficiently when they enjoy the work, then why don’t more companies spend more effort on making work more fun. After all, it would probably fall in the best interest of the company because the workers would definitely be more productive. Google, has taken a leap in the topic by changing the atmosphere of some of their work spaces to make them more friendly and cool. In my opinion, that is a step in the right direction, but I would love to see it go further. I just think it would be such a good idea for a company to somehow find a way to get work done through play. The production rates would probably go through the charts, and the overall well being of that specific work force would probably be significantly higher because people would be enjoying their jobs. I know it is a very broad idea. But innovation usually starts out broadly. My only hope is that some day, when I enter the work force, there will be more fun job opportunities, because clearly, it is possible.

 

Virtual Marketing

 For this blog I will be responding to the Julian Dibbell article because it was absolutely awesome, and I wish more people knew about it. The entire text can be summed up in a quote by one of the gold farmers. He said: “I have this idea in mind that regular players should understand that people do different things in the game," he said. "They are playing. And we are making a living." I do find it to be very interesting that virtual items are becoming marketable, and apparently quite valuable. But when I look at the big picture I can’t help but wonder: Wasn’t this one of the main goals of the internet? – to not only expand communication, but also give another dimension to our economy? After all, there is only one thing separating something that we buy at a store and something that we purchase in a virtual world and that is the simple fact that anything purchased in real life is by all means real, tangible, and usable by us, not our avatar.

            Although at first I was surprised to see that virtual items are being sold for real money, but then it occurred to me that it is no different then purchasing baseball cards, action figures, Barbie dolls/accessories and tons of other real popular toys and play items. Other then the fact that an object purchased in the real world is composed of real matter, is there anything that separates and virtual game or accessory from a real one?

            The only thing about the article that bugged me was the fact that to a large extent, these gold farmers seem to be hated of by the gamers who frequently kill them and then post videos in which they ridicule them and make offensive remarks. But at the same time I do understand that the gamers may begin to feel as though the game that they love is becoming nothing more then a prophet scheme to promote cheating. After all, it only leads to people getting further in the game with out putting the work in. So, would it not be profitable for the game companies to improve their regulation of the game so that 1. They themselves could pull in more of the revenue and 2nd  so that they could control the sales of the accessories to ensure that people do not use them to get an extremely unfair advantage.

Gaming?

 

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, a car racing game published by EA sports and 2002, allows the players to compete in a variety of events with one or two players. The only event in which multiplayer is not allowed is the world tour event. All of the other races are can be multiplayer or one player against the machine controlled cars. The picking of the car and track is the non-diegetic part of the game, while playing and racing is the diegetic part. One can do a regular race, run away from the cops, or even be a cop that is tying to catch other cars.  The machine acts in the game are any cars controlled by the computer, and the cars and tracks that are picked in the world tour mode.  The operator acts would be the user controlling/driving the car.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a wide ranging action adventure game in which the user plays a rising criminal, who completes missions for crime bosses, kills, steals, kills, steals, kills some more, runs over some people, steals some more money, drives cars, bikes and planes and much more. It was created by Rockstar games and was released in 2004. I would have to say that one of the amazing things about grand theft auto is that unlike need for speed, it does an amazing job of immersing the player in to the game and limiting non diegetic actions. The music in the games comes from the cars that the players drive to make it seem as though the character is listening to it as well. The only real non diegetic actions are out ability to save, the map, cheat codes and the labels that sometimes come up on screen. The machine acts in the game are vast. There are numerous cars and people roaming the game around the player. Also, the player interacts with several machine controlled bosses and criminals throughout the entire game. The operator controls the main character, and has the freedom to go anywhere and pretty much do anything. If you get caught by the cops you pay a fine, If you get killed you respawn and lose your weapons. The operator can also start and interaction with just about anyone in the game.

            The thing that I find interesting about these two games is that Grand theft auto encompasses much of what Need for speed brings to the table. In grand theft auto, the player can race, run from the cops, and even become a cop by stealing a cop car. The only thing is that, because grand theft auto is not specifically a racing game, the car graphics and controls are slightly weaker, there are fewer cars, there are no race tracks, and there are no racing specific modes. One might think that the racing provided in the game would be sufficient game play to stop users from buying racing specific games, but it is the subtle differences, the need for a storyline, and the label that brings forth the need for a racing specific game. I also find it interesting that the addition of a complex story line in grand theft auto seems to reduce the amount of non diegetic activity. In need for speed, before every race, the player must choose the race, and then choose the car and its color and the number of opponents. The player engages in a lot of non-diegetic activity before fully immersing themselves into the game. However, in grand theft auto, all of those choices, such as which car to drive and which mission to attempt are all incorporated into the game play as if we are actually encountering them in real life. 

Murray

 I was very confused about the authors reasoning behind why an interactive drama should be considered to be in impossible. I think one of her reasons was that if the story cannot be changed by the player, and if they are just completing the goals that the story entails, then it is not a story-game but simply a background story to go along the with the game. So does that mean that a story-game must have a story that can be narrated by the player? As you can see the whole idea of why this story-game idea can’t work has my head spinning. What I cannot grasp however, is why a background story to go with a game doesn’t qualify the game as a story-game. It’s a game with a story…

I don’t really understand much of what the author is saying about cyber drama, because the concept is rarely brought up. I understand what a cyber drama is but I still have no idea about why they are so appealing to the gamers. My only theory is that the relationship to tetris and chess may be symbolic. This leads me to my question.  Are cyber dramas popular because they are simply a more expanded, more complex, and more high tech version of past popular games.

            I am also once again confused by the idea of the dramatic agent. And I say this because, I don’t quite understand the difference between the dramatic agent and a normal agent. Is dramatic agency, simply agency in the virtual world? If so then this goes back to the ideas behind narration an the database. This is because if the gamer is narrating the story by moving the character through the open space, then wouldn’t the character be and agent to the narrator? And wouldn’t the narrator be an agent to the games story?

social networking

 Although these articles did bring up some important and often interesting facts about social networking usage, I found none of them to be surprising. Kids use facebook and myspace more then adults, and girls use it more then boys. But why? Is it because older people are more resistant to change? Or is it that these sites simply have a significantly larger degree of attraction from younger people?

 

With regards to the news feed and web sites like twitter, it is clear that the internet is becoming a haven for stalking. But is it stalking or just the fact that the influx of information being pumped into the internet about our friends and family only provides us with an addiction? The fact that the majority of social networking web site users are kids is no coincidence. The lower level of intelligence of kids then adults simply makes them more prone to an addiction to something that is socially unacceptable.

 

Also, as noted by Thompson, there could be some positive effects of the social net working sites. They keep us connected. They allow us to maintain, renew and make friendships. The social networking sites, while invasive and addictive, do work to help keep us networked. It is due to that fact that I can’t help but wonder what future dangers social networking sites may present.

 

 

Freedom of chat

 A clear message from the readings was that, their needs to be greater legislation to prevent computer crimes. One of the main problems however, is that we are yet to establish our perceptions of the online virtual world. There are so many new additions to the Internet each year, that both law and understanding can’t even keep up with the. It is due to that that the Internet hackers and trolls currently consider the Internet to be a free for all worlds with slim regulation. Several ethical questions come up when discussing what laws should be set in stone to prevent danger, corruption, data loss, or worse: online rape.

            First of all, I myself find the entire concept of “internet rape” to be despicable. However, due to the severity of the past accounts, it is clear that something needs to be done. But how can we regulate law on the Internet? The only real effective internet regulation comes from privacy settings such as firewalls and passwords, censorship, and invasive tactics used by the individual websites staff.  Countries do regulate the internet. For instance, China has censored google.com to prevent certain information from being accessed via searching.  Censorship is just not what America is about. What our country needs to do, is make an addition to the first amendment.

            At the time of its inception, the press was the most prominent form of media, thus explaining why freedom of the press is outlined in the constitution. But times have changed, and our laws our not up to speed with our current lifestyle. The fact that a women can pose as someone else and cause a girl to go through enough psychological pain that she hangs herself in her closet, should be enough of a message that change needs happen. Much like how yelling out fire in a movie theater is a violation of the first amendment, internet threats and impersonations and so forth, also need to be catogrorized as unlawful to prevent the internet community from becoming an unsafe environment.

            Also, with the integration of our real and internet lives, their needs to be better protection of the information that we are so easily willing to post online. Websites like facebook and secondlife, may seem good natured, but their success and addiction do not come without consequence. Our contact information and address are often posted somewhere on the internet, and it needs to be protected by law.

Cyberliving

 Sorry for the lateness of this post, but for some reason my computer wont allow me to post so I had to do it from my roommates. Don’t worry professor, even though I wanted to add in some responses to the class discussions, I refrained and well save it all for my next post.

As we begin to process of integrating our real tangible lives with our cyberlives, numerous conflicts come to our attention. Words, whether spoken or written can have an enormous effect on the outcome of any situation. In America,  we have the right of free speech which in 99.999999% of situations means that anything we say is legal. The question I have is: Should that exact law be applied to the computer universe.

In the article “Malewbolence,” the author discusses the effect of trolls (online assholes) who bring down blogs or online forums by pointing out stupid spelling errors or mistakes etc. Well if speech laws have not been written for computers then can’t the web creator remove the trolls from the blog or better yet even create a program to do so?

My last question is one that deals with the moral view integrating our two lives. As Norman Wiener would surely agree, technology is changing us. So should we really be engaging in these “second lives” or lambdamoo etc. that mimic our real lifes by creating false, free, and inherently dangerous virtual realities. We have already seen some negative aspects such as suicides or stalkings but maybe that’s not even the tip of the iceberg of whats to come. Should we allow are selves to have a second life? Is on not good enough?

Heroes

 Although this specific form of transmedia was touched upon during this week’s fantastic presentation, I’m going to discuss the transmedia convergence involved with the show Heroes. As a participant of the website and an avid heroes viewer, I find that I can definitely shed some light on the awesomeness of the Heroes universe. First of all, if you don’t watch the show, at least check out the website. Its filled with games, trivia, blogs, graphic novels and much more. The website takes the viewer outside of the show and into the Heroes universe.

            One of my favorite things about the website (which they unfortunately no longer have) was a side story called “Heroes origins.” It was an online graphic novel that didn’t necessarily run parallel to the main show, but it did encapsulate part of the story and even an occasional cameo from one of the main characters voices. However, what I loved about the show was that at the end of each season, they would hold a vote to elect on of the characters on the graphic novel to become a real character in the next season of Heroes. During the time of its inception, I just thought it was a cool idea-a way to get the fans involved in the shows production. Now, as a history of new media student, I can analyze the idea.

            The idea to have the viewers vote for a future character on the show gives the viewers a chance to not only narrate their way around the website, but also to help narrate the show. Besides the fact that I find it to be a smart marketing move to allow the viewers to have a say in what is being presented, I think that the idea can definitely shed some light on the power of the internet. The transmedia convergence of the Internet and television brings a wide array of new possibilities to the table.

            Allowing television viewers to interact with the show definitely helps to captivate the interest of viewers. Just take a look at the blog posts on the website. There are thousands if not millions of people consistently posting and engaging in intense discussion and debate about the show. People share ideas, predictions, Heroes gossip etc. And its not just for the computer obsessed either, the website is a social template for interaction.  I myself don’t necessarily engage in the blogs, but I have read them, and the users seem to be very interactive and interested in the conversations, which only add to the fact that transmedia convergence is becoming very successful.

            The Heroes website is not limited to blogs and the past graphic novel. There are also several games that provide prizes such as clues and riddles for upcoming episodes. The website site is very cool, and I know that there are several thousand other media convergences just like it out there. I encourage everyone to the open their minds and try this stuff out because one day, this could be what our kids are doing. 

Computer TV

 First of all, Will Brooker is the man. As I said in one of my earlier posts, the convergence of mediums is inevitable. It would be so much easier if we could just use one screen as both a television and a computer, and hey while were at it lets throw a fridge in there too (kidding…but not really).  Okay it’s an exaggeration but a possibility nonetheless. What a cant grasp my hands around is why are we yet to have this mysterious box? We most definitely have the technology, but perhaps we are just economically dependent on the current system.

            In reference to the Dawson’s Creek website link to Capeside.net, it seems as though the show tries to take television past 2 D past 3 D and into virtual reality. It is as though they want us to watch the show so that we can pick which characters we want to be. My question is: is shows keep doing this, and try to immerse the viewer into the show itself, what effect will this have on television as we now see it? Will the art of strictly watching and receiving television deteriorate to make way for interactive TV?

            As a constant Hulu viewer, I found the article about watching online shows to be very interesting, but I didn’t find that it really explained anything that I had never really thought of. However, one thing that the article did get me thinking about was how the websites like Hulu probably will not be very different from TV at all. In fact, it may replace TV. As of right now, Hulu is free, which is why there is all the buzz about it. But soon, watching shows online is going to cost a fee, just like Television. Thus, the only real difference that I see is the accessibility. We don’t have to watch the shows in the specific time span. So my question is, when watching tv online costs money, will it simply replace TV?

Transmediation

             In my last post I questioned the point of transmediation.  I still am not quite sure as to how it would have any major effect on the success or publicity of the story, but then it occurred to me. I had heard of a lot of the matrix side stories and video game secrets long before we had the discussion, so obviously transmediation can be a successful way advertising or telling a story.

            It also occurred to me that transmediation does not have to be as diverse or as complicated as that of the matrix series. Transmediation can be as simple just having a basic website to go with a movie, or even just a videogame. All of the extra graphic novels etc. can definitely make a difference and draw in some consumers, but it is not necessary.

            This picture displays the basis for transmediation storytelling in which a story is added to or spread out between different forms of media. The more that I think about the topic, the cooler it seems. Imagine having not just a video game, but an interactive movie that could be played/watched using your phone, computer, television etc. but having each medium add a different piece to the puzzle. Not only would it be a genius marketing scheme, but also it might also actually be pretty cool.

            As shown in the image above, the matrix did a very good job using transmedia story telling. Although the main story was told via the movies (which were awesome), they spread out secret events or even small references across the breadth of games and websites that they use to tell the story. I dont know about you guys, but I see an interesting future here. Its no coincidence that nearly every film that comes out these days also has a website to go along with it.  The websites add another element to the story being told. It gives the viewer (user) a chance to get the “inside scoop” by interacting with the story and participating in games, trivia or online comics.

            So far, I haven’t really been able to find any philosophic significance for transmediation, but as I said before, I think that it is a very good marketing tool. It is a good way to draw in consumers prior to the narration of the main story, and its also effective in drawing the story on as long as possible to make the most money.

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