Intro to New Media Studies, Spring 2008


April 28th, 2008 by · No Comments

I know this is supposed to go on the Wiki..but to be honest, I have no idea how to do it! So I’m posting it here and then I’ll add it to the wiki when I figure it out )

As technology advances, huge strides are being made in the video game industry with games like Wii Sports, Madden 2008, and Guitar Hero 3. Players are becoming less like a player of a game in front of a television and more like they are the tennis pro, the football star with the shoe contract or the rock star rocking out on stage.

In 1968, Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider had an unusual vision of human/computer coexistence. In a statement, found on page 73 of our textbook, he said, “In a few years, men will be able to communicate more effectively through a machine than face to face.” The books goes on to say that Licklider and his partner offered an example where they were able to accomplish something in two days that would usually have taken two weeks, just by using a computer. It looks like Licklider was right.

Lets take the new Nintendo Wii for instance. My roommate recently got one and so I was able to observe man-computer symbiosis first hand. In real life, what would take you months to master, such as playing tennis or rocking out on the guitar, only takes a few games on the Wii. After two games, you are starting to learn the way tennis is scored and your backhand is improving. After about five songs using three notes on Guitar Hero, you can push it up to using four and then five. It isn’t always easy, however, which shows the real man-computer symbiosis that goes on.

My boyfriend happens to be an amazing bowler. He can do this thing where his ball will ride right on the edge of the lane, about a cm from the gutter, and then right before it gets to the pins it curves and takes them all down resulting in a strike. Well, it turns out that those skills can be translated into Wii Bowling. He is able to do the same maneuver and nail down strikes.

On the other hand, I am a horrible bowler. Just absolutely awful. Turns out, I’m just as bad at Wii Bowling as I am at real bowling. My non-existent bowling skills transfer into the game.

“The computer is not merely a tool used to accomplish tasks,” said Sherry Turkel, “but an object that enters our individual and social lives; how we interact with computers influences our outlook on the world and our perspective on ourselves.”

Its no big secret that everyone wants to feel like a winner. Maybe this is why boys are so big on Madden. No one wants to be the loser which brings in trash-talk, ridicule and maybe even a little shame. The person losing gets frustrated and usually throws a fit, cursing and blaming their poor playing on the player. Madden ‘08 is based strictly off of the players and teams statistics from the previous season so to blame it on the virtual player is really displacing the blame from the person operating the controller. After all, who is a Madden player when compared to a Pro-NFL player featured on the game? Its like comparing pee wee league with high school varsity. They don’t compare. The player complains because they are “immersed in the game” as Turkle mentions on page 505. They want the “promise of perfection.” When they fail to be perfect, they respond with frustration and anger.
The Wii allows the player to further identify with the game and become immersed in it due to the creation of a Mii. The Mii is a highly customizable character that can be made to resemble yourself. My mii is slightly short with brown hair and green eyes. She’s me, but virtual. So when I’m operating her, and she’s losing at tennis, I’m losing at tennis. Turkle, on page 509, states, “You have to do more than identify with the character on the screen. You must act for it.” With the creation of your mii, it is impossible to not identify with the character on the screen, especially when your movements are her movements. If your eye-and coordination is horrible, then hers is too. It is actually kind of creepy to think about in depth, but it is also very cool.

Bad things can happen when you identify too closely and are too immersed in the game. Last year, a Chinese man actually died after a three day session of gaming. Before that, two parents left a baby alone for hours when they became immersed in World of Warcraft. The infant did not survive. Stanford recently did a study on Video game addiction and found that men are more likely to become addicted to games.

“New research from Stanford scientists shows that the part of the brain associated with reward and addiction was more activated in males than in females when both genders played a game whose object was to acquire more territory,” reported Zerg Watch, a site devoted strictly to gaming news. “Most computer games that males like to play involve territory and aggression, explaining why men seem more likely to get hooked.”

Some signs of video game addiction are: Preoccupation with the game, tolerance, loss of control, withdrawal systems when not playing, lying to family or friends about time spent playing, committing illegal acts to keep playing, relying on others to finance playing. Video game addiction is now serious enough to have rehab programs which focus solely on the addiction. There is a center in Amsterdam which offers residential treatment. There are also online treatment programs, kind of ironic, and programs at McLean Hospital in Massachusettes and in Richmond, Canada.

For some, gaming can be good. I know lots of us are in the camp of, “Get outside, play there” but what happens when its raining? With games, you can be playing your sports while indoors. Most gamers get the same adrenaline rush from scoring a goal with a controller that they get from scoring a goal with their foot. With Wii, you could even score the goal with your foot. Something else positive, is that with games like Wii sports, a handicapped or paraplegic person is not limited by their disabilities. They can walk, run, bowl, play tennis, box, etc. just like the rest of us. Plus, games are being used for the elderly, for children with education and as a way of losing weight. Doesn’t that make games worthwhile alone?

To show some examples of what I’ve talked about, I’ve videotaped some friends gaming. Let’s observe…

Ahh! My video won’t post so I’ll try to Youtube it!!!

Original post by ghart

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