Grand Theft Auto Vs. FIFA

 Yesterday's class was my favorite class of the whole year. It is not surprising that a teenage boy enjoys playing and watching video games more than a regular class environment. I wish we could do that every class. Unfortunately, I doubt Professor Anable would allow us to do such things every class and even if she did I doubt Hamilton would approve. Well it's time to reflect on class and the video games we played rather than idealized college credit courses of playing video games. I feel somewhat obligated to report on the game I participated in which was FIFA Soccer 10. Then I will report on Grand Theft Auto San Adreas and compare the two since there is such a stark contrast between them. 


Let's kick it off...


Title: FIFA Soccer 10


Year Released: 2009


Publisher: EA Sports


Genre/Game Structure: Sports/Soccer Simulator


The Diegesis: There are many things that occur within the game. The games take place in a soccer stadium, of the user's choosing, filled with roaring fans. The graphics were not cutting edge but they managed to simulate players and gameplay well. There is continuous play-by-play and color commentary by real soccer broadcasters to make the gameplay and viewing seem even more real. The game is viewed from an overhead camera that follows the ball and is somewhat zoomed in on the players so you don't get a full field view the whole time. The games are action filled with lots of running, diving, kicking and all of the action packed things that occur in a real soccer game.


Characters: The characters are the teams and the individual players the teams consist of that are in the game.


Game/Story Relationship: Each game in itself is a narrative and a story but there are also more story related options in the game as well. You can "Be-A-Pro" and in this option you take a rookie soccer player through his career playing for teams and control his fate as a soccer player. There is also manager mode in which you can control a teams and take them through seasons. You are involved with all managerial tasks like buying and trading players to try and help your team win and progress.


Machine Acts/Operator Acts: The machine controls all of the actions like camera movement and all of the other players that the operator is not currently using. It also controls the commentator's speech and all other ambient noise that occurs and the occurrence of instant replays and fouls. The operator can navigate the options within the menus and controls any single player on one's team.



Title: Grand Theft Auto San Andreas


Year Released: 2004


Publisher: Rockstar North


Genre/ Game Structure: Third person shooter/adventure game


The Diegesis: In this game you roam the streets of San Adreas completing tasks important to the user. You are in a virtual world filled with people, cars, buildings, and everything to make you feel like you are actually in a living place. You have many options in gameplay which include running, jumping, stealing and driving cars, shooting people, and beating them to death. Lovely game right. There are sounds all around you from cars driving by, people talking, and even the car radio when you are in a car. The idea that you can have radio when you're driving a motorcycle is questionable considering motorcycles don't come with radios and you could barely hear them if you were actually there so that could be considered nondiegetic or diegetic sound depending on how you look at it.


Characters: The protagonist is Carl and he is the person you control throughout the game. However, there are a ton of different characters that Carl interacts with throughout the game who live in San Andreas. Also any person who is driving a car or walking the streets is a character as well because you can view or interact with them you just don't always know their name.


Game/ Story Relationship: Almost all of the game is based around a story line minus free roaming gameplay where you can do whatever you want. All of the games missions follow a chronological order where you go from one to the next to advance and eventually make it to the final mission where the story line ends. The majority of what you do in gameplay is related to the intended story line and advancing further through the story. Also as the story progresses the game alters as well because you receive new abilities and are able to travel to new places on the map.


Machine Acts/ Operator Acts: The machine essentially controls all actions outside your player. It controls all of the people walking and driving around and the police and enemies that chase and attack you. It also controls the passing off time and changes in scenery and things of that matter. The operator controls every action that the main character does whether it is running, shooting, or flying a plane.


It is really interesting to look at the descriptives of these two games because they are very different. San Andreas is very focused on story line and relating to characters as they have mini clips helping characterize people and engaging the user in the story rather than just the gameplay. FIFA essentially does not contain a main story line and focuses much more on gameplay than a story, which is understandable considering it is a sports simulation game. Obviously the nature of these games differ greatly in that FIFA is a sports game and San Andreas is a violent  shooting game with crime and killing. FIFA is less single character oriented than San Andreas because you pick a team and control several different players and switch teams frequently; whereas, in San Andreas you have one character the whole time and can customize him however you want from apparel to muscle. San Andreas has many more functions within gameplay. You can do a wide variety of things like racing cars, swimming, playing basketball, and even flying planes. However, FIFA is made for only one function and that is playing soccer. On a different note San Andreas deals a lot more with issues of race and gender, but FIFA does not directly deal with that. Overall they are very different games.


Alright this is my last post of the semester I hope you guys enjoyed viewing my blogs. Have a good weekend everyone.

Video Games

 Welcome back everyone. Thanksgiving was great and it was incredibly nice to have a week long break from work.  Hope all of you had a similar experience. However, my fun was recently spoiled when I became sick today and am currently running a fever but I've been in bed sleeping all day so it's time to get up and do some work considering I'll probably sleep all day tomorrow. I apologize if I am absent from class tomorrow for Pat and Ada are presenting on video games and I'm sure it's going to be great so I'm sorry if I miss it.


The readings this week were very interesting because they centered around video games and as a teenage boy I find video games very interesting and amusing. This may follow the typical asian stereotype, but don't cybertype me. I particularly liked the Murray article because it talked about the connection between the user and the story line of a game. I agree a lot with her points because I strongly believe that the better the story line the more involved you get into a game. I usually buy games according to how interesting their story line is. However, I disagree with her when she tries to argue that games like tetris are a story. How can tetris have a story or a story line? I think the point that puzzle games have stories too is rather weak.


The second article by Galloway was definitely interesting. He is clearly very passionate about the topic of video games and understanding them. However, I'm not quite sure I completely agree with his argument that video games are a higher level of media that even go beyond film and photographs. He even discusses ambient states which may be digging a little to far into the realm of video games. I am a big video game fan but I don't see them as the next level of media. Aren't video games created more for simply entertainment and amusement during free time? What message do video games convey to users if it is a substantial medium?


Alright it's too late for me to be up considering I'm sick so I'm going to bed, but I needed some food, advil and needed to blog. I've got my priorities straight. Good night everyone. Hopefully I'll wake up without a fever and see you all in class tomorrow.

Facebook and Commons (no not the place with the dry chicken)

 Yesterday's class discussion were very good because everyone was very opinionated on the topics considering the topics are so relevant to all of our lives. We discussed a lot about our experiences with social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace and what sort of role they play on society as a whole. We also spent a good amount of time discussing Benkler's concept of the commons and what we thought were classified as commons and what were not.


The Thompson article talked a lot about how social networking sites affect our lives and impacts the number of and intimacy of our relationships. Many people gave their opinion on the matter and the points brought up were very credible. A main point for the argument that sites like Facebook and Twitter increase the intimacy between people and expand relationships was that because you can constantly update your status and share your thoughts, feelings, and actions you can connect more with others and they will know that much more about you; therefore, increasing the intimacy of your relationship with them. Also you might find additional fun facts about them that you previously were unaware of from opinions on wall posts and personal information posted on their profile. 




However, I do not believe this to be true. You can only learn so much about a person through text. In order to fully get to understand and know someone you have to put in actual face time and interact with them to get to see their impulses and mannerisms where they are not taking the time to calculate and hypothesize what they are going to post or put as their status. It is hard to believe that statuses are actual streams of consciousness and that people express there true unadulterated emotions and feelings. I think that everyone writes their status to a specific audience and manipulates it to make it say what people want to hear from them and their somewhat socially created identity so it is impossible to truly get to know someone through a Facebook or Twitter and increase your intimacy with someone else through these ways of communication because it is a somewhat false and artificially created intimacy.


As I mentioned earlier we had a long discussion about the idea of common grounds in class. We only talked about closed commons and not open commons, but the points and arguments brought up about closed commons were interesting none the less. Examples of closed commons that were brought up in class included things like commons dining hall, public libraries, public parks, and even Facebook. Each one of them appeared to be a commons because they provided free access to given members in a community. However, people argued that none of them were commons because there are people in power of them and they can restrict or eliminate access whenever they want. Also people saw Facebook as not a commons because everyone  had as an individual and unique experience so it is not a common universal use. These are all valid points but I think they are a little too precise and I don't think Benkler had that narrow of a definition of commons so that one could basically deem all commons invalid by having an authoritative figure and a non identical experience.


Finally got home after a long and uneventful train ride. Feels great to be here and am excited about the week long break. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.  

What's on your mind?


This weeks readings were particularly interesting because they centered around topics very relevant to me and I'm sure my other classmates as well considering everyone in our class probably has a Facebook account. I personally have wasted many hours into the use of Facebook and would probably get my work done much faster if it did not exist. However, is investing time into Facebook really a waste of time and are things like Facebook more beneficial or costly to society?


My favorite reading was the Thompson article. New York Times articles are almost always good and interesting to read so I'm hoping we'll have a couple more before the semester ends. Thompson focused on the development of social networking powerhouses like Facebook and Twitter. He investigated people's insights on Facebook and Twitter. He also found that there are several benefits to sites like these, in that it helps people increase their social network and stay connected with friends. However, will all of this digital and cyber networking and online friendships take away from actual face time and real world interactions promote more of it?


The other two readings I would like to question are the Pew articles that consisted of a lot of interesting research and data. Many of the statistics were somewhat obvious, like how teenagers use social networking websites more than adults and girls use them more than boys, but it is always nice to have research and data back up your assumptions. However, some of the statistics did raise some questions. I somewhat understand what would account for the deviations in statistics between age groups and gender, but one thing that I cannot quite grasp is the shift in popularity between online websites. In the 2007 Pew article Myspace was by far a more popular social networking site than Facebook, but today Myspace has sort of fallen off the map and Facebook is more popular by far. What accounts for such drastic changes in followers when two sites do nearly identical functions?


Meteor shower this morning around 3 if anyone is awake and up for it. Around an  hour to go so you guys should bundle up and head outside soon.

Class Reflection


In our last class we talked a lot about video games and blackface and how the the two are related. For the first time we had a thursday presentation and I think it may have been our longest presentation so far mainly because of the amount of debating and in class discussion that occurred during the presentation when the presenters asked the question of how one would go about eliminating stereotyping from video games? It was a very tough question that several students took stabs at and many other parallel topics were discussed but no one really came up with a viable solution. Are stereotypes really so ingrained into our society that there is no way of filtering them out? Unfortunately, I believe that that is probably true. I'm not sure that stereotyping or racism will ever be fully rid from this world and that's a horrible truth that we will all have to realize. 


The group's presentation touched on many interesting topics which was to be expected considering that the readings for their presentation were very interesting. I'm personally a big fan of issues of gender, race, and identities in general because they are such provocative subjects so I had to blog about this topic. 


The issue of gender came up in several instances. Once was about how the mass majority of video game characters are male. This could be because the majority of video game players are male and because video game players can usually relate more to characters of the same gender, so producers would have a lot of incentive to make video games with male characters; however, it is uncertain of the exact cause. Another instance was during the John Stewart show where blackface was joking seen as acceptable only when a perfect 10 model is doing it. 


Race was the predominant topic of the class because we had many references to blackface/minstrelsy and had a very long class debate and discussion about the role race played in video games. People argued for instances of cybertyping in video games and others said that video games weren't using stereotypes but rather realistic simulations of real life. It is tough to determine what's the correct answer because there are strong points for both sides. This is why I think it's both because some video games fall into the category of cybertyping like NBA street but other games like madden do not, so its an area of gray rather than black or white.


Hope no one is having bad luck on friday the 13th (fun fact: I was born on friday the 13th). Good luck Hamilton football with their last game tomorrow. #30 Bobby Finan is going to shred.

Cyber Crimes



Although the readings for this week were very interesting because we got to see the dark side of new media, it was horribly disturbing and thoroughly scared me. I am timid to even post on my blog now because I don't know if I will be spotted by a troll and harassed by speaking negatively about them. However, I'm going to muster up the courage to do it and just hope for the best.


The three readings, "A Rape in Cyberspace," "Malwebolence," and "Bad Techno-subjects: Griefing is Serious Business," focused on the mischievous occurrences that go on online. I didn't really know about griefing and online trolls so I was quite shocked to read the articles. The fact that hackers can access social security numbers and personal information is very disturbing. With very intelligent people programming internet sites and designing firewall defenses why haven't there been enough advances in internet security to prevent these things from occurring? Also behind the idea of hackers and trolls that terrorize people and commit actions that torment people to the extent of suicide, why isn't there more law enforcement and policing to make sure people like these are persecuted and reprimanded? Lastly, I was very disappointed to read about the dark side of Second Life since I was previously very enthused about it after using it for the first time. This made me see things like second life in a new light. Are these social simulations of the real world bad because they allow for real life horrors like torment and rape to occur in the supposed to be safe cyberspace?



Being Slai Kenyon


Our previous class in which we spent the whole time interacting with Second Life was very interesting and fun. I have no previous experience with Second Life and only knew about the general aspects of it, so to get to use it for my first time was like a kid with his new toy. Aside from the enjoyment I received from Second Life, it also furthered my understanding of cybertypes because I was able to witness firsthand how cybertyping occurs rather than just read about it.


I apologize for not being able to show you guys my beautiful creations but my snapshots never went through to my email for some reason so I won't be able to share my masterpieces with you but considering you all did the workshop I'm sure you know the gist of what they look like. Designing my avatar to look like me was quite challenging because he was wearing a helmet and had red hair but I did my best with our allotted time and came somewhat close to what I actually look like. I didn't quite see the realm of cybertypes while solely interacting with my avatar, but once it came time to buy skins for our avatar and design a new person, I witnessed how cybertyping can occur and how sexualized Second Life can be.


In transporting from store to store to try and find a new skin to design a new person I came across many different things. The search engine to find a specific store was not very good or precise so I had to go to many different stores and browse a lot of options. Luckily, there are no assistant shoppers in the stores so I did not have to give the classic line: "No I don't need any help thanks...I'm just browsing." In my travels I noticed that it is very hard to find an outfit for women that covers more than 50 percent of your body. The outfits were scandalous to say the least. Similar to the real world all outfits were shown on top ten models perpetuating that if you are to take on a new look in Second Life you should model your looks based on these people and dress and act accordingly. On the other hand the clothes for the men I was looking at in stores contained full body suits and much more conservative dress. There were certainly no sleeveless shirts and short shorts for the guys. This clearly shows sexist stereotypes that if you want to be a female in this cyber world you have to be slutty and sexualized; whereas the men are sharp dressed and radiate success. 


I think it is rather simple to see how Second Life can produce cybertypes. People in Second Life, I assume, try to take on new lifestyles and new personalities from that of their ordinary life. To have a relaxing escape from everyday life and take on an alter ego and life. In taking on this alter ego and trying on a new lifestyle many people do not know what exactly it is like to be another race or another gender, so all they really have to follow as a guideline to base their actions and appearance off of is essentially common knowledge of the 'other' and this usually mixes with stereotypes which then become cybertypes in cyberspace. When people adjust their appearance to make themselves a different person they then base their actions off of how they look and since it is not actually them then they can fall into cybertypes by acting in ways that are stereotypical of a different race or gender. 

Identity Crises


I enjoyed the readings for this week a lot because the issue of identity is always an interesting topic to look at. The first reading, "Lara Croft: Feminist Icon or Cyberbimbo?" by Helen Kennedy, dealt heavily with identity and what the video game character Lara Croft truly stood for. While I was reading this the question that kept on popping up into my mind was why aren't video game designers creating more characters like this? Regardless of whether or not Lara Croft is a feminist icon or a sexualized image her ambiguous identity enables her to appeal to lots of different crowds and serve many different functions. If she is viewed as a sexual image she appeals to horny teenage boys so they buy the game. If she is viewed as a strong feminist figure she appeals to girls who want their sex to feel empowered instead of the stereotypical male action figure who is idolized. I think the video game market should definitely try to produce a few more Lara Crofts even though characters like her who are very attractive females performing very stereotypically male action hero roles do create a lot of identity issues.


The second reading, "Cybertyping and the Work of Race in the Age of Digital Reproduction" by Lisa Nakamura, focused primarily on cybertypes and the role that race and racism plays in internet use. My two cents on the article is that the internet is so widely used by vast numbers of people and many different societies. Unfortunately, there are large numbers of people out in the world who are racist so obviously there will be racist, sexist and all kinds of discriminatory perspectives and interactions. So what's the point of analyzing and trying to revamp the internet when really the main problem lies within the racism within society and racist people who use the internet?


Although the last reading, "High Tech Blackface -- Race, Sports Video Games and Becoming the Other" by David Leonard, was very interesting to read and brought up very interesting ideas I did not agree with what it was arguing. Leonard mainly argues that video games are very racial in that sports games depict black men very stereotypically and that whites enjoy playing these games because it allows them to get a taste of the 'life of a black man' and allows whites to become and control blacks. His arguments are very one sided and he doesn't acknowledge counter arguments and other variables. When he says that the most popular games are the sports that are dominated by black athletes as opposed to 'white' sports games like Tony Hawk he doesn't take into account that the sports dominated by black athletes like football and basketball have a much larger fan base than 'white' games like skateboarding. Also he talks about how black players are more muscular and are far superior athletes. However, the white players in these games also have exaggerated muscles and the ability of the players is a reflection of their play in real life. The games are simulations of real people not racist fabrications of white producers. How would Leonard respond to the fact that white players can do all the same actions black players are programmed to do in various videos games because they share the same programming and skin tone alters nothing in the game? Also how would he respond to the fact that sales of sports games with primarily white athletes like Fifa and NHL are becoming more dominant than sales of sports games with primarily black athletes like Madden and NBA?



Media Keeping People Together


I've been pondering how transmedia narratives directly affect me and at first it was definitely tough because I'm not a huge fan of any specific shows meaning I don't follow a show on websites, newspapers, magazines, books, fan sites, twitter, etc. and this is how I stereotypically view the use of transmedia narratives. However, after thinking about it for a while I decided to narrow it down and look at my interactions with transmedia narrratives on a day to day basis. I realized that my most substantial everyday use of transmedia narratives relates to my long distance relationship with my girlfriend back home because of all the different media I use in order to write and continue my narrative with her. I'm not sure if this is too awkward or too mushy of a topic to share with our new media class, but it has an educational purpose and blogging and academics rank higher  than my personal preferences so here we go...

In order to stay in touch with my girlfriend I use a plethora of different media. All of them serving the function a medium should, that of which is aiding communication. On a daily basis I use what seems like the preference medium of communication for our generation, texting. I also use my phone for it's traditional use to call her. Then there are the media all provided by the computer and the internet. These consist of AOL instant messager, video chat, email, and facebook. All of which are also provided by my phone, minus video chat. Then there is also the age-old medium of pen and paper. This example of transmedia and convergence of communication affects my everyday life the most.


Speaking of current long distance relationships, I have to go rekindle mine with my parents and let them into the Dirty D (dunham for all those who don't know). Hope everyone has a good halloween and stays relatively safe this weekend. Last note go to the Cuffe Classic tomorrow from 10-12 on the new turf field to watch lacrosse play. I'm out...Happy Halloween yall




TV vs. Computer

 The reading this week were great because they were interesting and short and to the point. The first article I read was "Serving Up Television Without the TV Set" by Brian Stelter. This article talks how a lot of people are watching their shows online for free rather than on TV. This makes a lot of sense considering the accessibility and convenience of viewing shows online as opposed to watching them on TV. However, what are the risks involved with this trend continuing? Television has a big economic impact with the sales of TV sets and the revenue broadcasting companies generate from people watching their shows. There is the fear that television will be out gunned by online viewing because of its practicality and the ability to pause, rewind and watch whenever you'd like to. However, there is a knight and shining armor  to save television. Don't dvr and tivo provide all of the benefits one gets from viewing shows online while providing a larger screen for viewers and additional revenue for television companies? I think television won't die out to online streaming as long as it has things like tivo and dvr.


The second article, "Living on Dawson's Creek" by Will Brooker talked a lot about media and cultural convergence. It also centered around his studies in which he tried to analyze the effect of cultural surroundings in relation to the following of a show. However, what actually raised some questions for me was his discussion in the role of fans in a shows production. It made me think about how nowadays all TV shows seem to be marketing to a specific demographic. At what point do shows broadcast to what pleases the fans rather than what the writers are interested in doing with the show? Do producers only care about what will attract the most viewers and give them the best ratings or do they still care about their own interests in producing what shows they care the most about?

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