Writing Blog Entry 13 – “Relaxation” (10/20/2015)

In chapter 13 of “How to do things with Video Games”, author Ian Bogost examines the role of relaxation in video gaming.  Bogost begins by reflecting on how video games are a truly interactive media – that is, they often require you to process what’s going on in the game and respond in a meaningful way.  Consequently, video games can be mentally and emotionally taxing in a way that television shows, movies, and practically every other form of media can’t.  He does see some promise in games that are more zen-like; that is, they follow the idea of Japanese zen gardens, where there are only a few elements to interact with in a simple manner, allowing the user’s mind to wander as they “play”.  These games, while still requiring the user to provide input, have simpler inputs than most games, and it’s goals are lessened to an extent that one can zone out while playing.




Discussion Q’s:

– Does the strain on your eyes caused by looking into bright screens change the idea of video games being relaxing?

– Will people want to play these kinds of games casually, or would it be more of a treatment sort of thing?


Writing Blog Entry 12 – “Branding” (Ian Bogost)

In chapter 7 of “How to do things with Videogames”, author Ian Bogost talks about how games can be used to influence people’s ideas about something that the game is associated with.  His claim is that games can be manipulated to represent something outside of themselves in a positive or negative light, and can even bestow the qualities of the game onto something else.  He uses Monopoly as his main example; a game created to show the evils of land ownership, Monopoly’s newest version, titled “Monopoly: Here and Now”, uses playing tokens modeled after cell phones, cars, and laptops to brand Monopoly as the game of modern day society.  Through using symbols that we can identify in our society, they relate Monopoly to our society.  Barack Obama did a similar thing in his elections, except that he took the idea and flipped it: by placing campaign ads in video games, he took the qualities of the video game being played and applied it to himself.





Discussion Q’s:

– What kind of branding is most effective in your eyes?

– How can branding negatively impact society?

Writing Blog Entry 11 – “Empathy” (10/16/2015)

In chapter 2 of ‘How to do things with Videogames’, author Ian Bogost explains how video games are prime real estate for helping people to both learn and practice empathy.  The reason that video games can be a great vehicle for empathy is because of its interactivity; allowing someone to take control of another’s actions is a great way of helping them step into the character’s shoes, so to speak.  Bogost gives two examples of games that give the player a new experience to empathize with; Darfur is Dying places you in the body of a young boy, who’s only saving grace against a band of terrorists is to cower out of sight as he tries to find water for his village.  Hush puts you in the shoes of a Tutsi mother hiding in a closet, attempting to keep her baby quiet to avoid being caught and killed by the Hutus.  For players, these kinds of games can help them understand the helplessness and fear experienced by people who were actually in those situations.


– http://motherboard.vice.com/read/empathy-games-dont-exist

– http://www.npr.org/2015/03/27/395039920/how-can-playing-a-game-make-you-more-empathetic

Discussion Q’s:

– Do video games bring forth a unique kind of empathy?

– Why would people be offended at the idea that video games can help others empathize with them?

Writing Blog Entry 10 – “Art” (10/13/2015)

In chapter one of How to do things with Video Games, author Ian Bogost explains why he thinks that video games are art.  Noting first that art is in and of itself a difficult concept to nail down, since what people have considered art over the history of mankind has differed so much, he himself sees video games as a form of art.  He also makes a distinction between video games that are meant to be more tactile and imbue the player with power, such as the Legend of Zelda series (a young boy goes out and finds the power to defeat the evil one), and video games that are focused around an idea and are meant to be more introspective and thought provoking.  Such games don’t always give the player the upper hand; Braid, a puzzle game that takes away death with a time rewind function, doesn’t really have a power distribution, rather you are someone navigating a different world.




Discussion Q’s:

– Are video games geared towards different things (tactile vs. introspective) considered different levels of art?

– do you think it’s mostly digital immigrants who feel that video games aren’t a form of art?

Writing Blog Entry 9 – “How to do things with Video Games: Introduction” (10/11/2015)

In the introduction of “How to do things with Video Games”, author Ian Bogost asserts that not only video games, but new media as a whole, is not inherently good or bad.  Though most people either see new media as a technology that’s causing us to lose critically important parts of our thinking, or as a new avenue in advancing the human race, Bogost claims that media simply influences those who use it, in neither an overall good or bad way.  While morals are not excluded entirely, Bogost views media as a neutral entity that morals, ideals, and values can be expressed through.  He also sees similar things happening with the printing press and television; in each circumstance, they didn’t only improve or only detriment the world, but they did influence and change it.  His goal in writing this book is to practice media microecology (essentially studying media as a whole while focusing in on video games) and see what emerges from his study.




Discussion Q’s:

  • Is it mostly digital immigrants that see video games as a negative influence?
  • When does too much happen?

Writing Blog Entry 8 – “Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism” (10/1/2015)

In this article, author Christine Rosen describes the way that we in the digital age utilize social spaces on the internet, and why we use it the way we do.  Rosen likens the huge popularity of social sites such as Facebook to the way emperors and rulers of old flaunted their power and prestige through large monuments and currency with their faces on it; however, instead of buildings and coins, we use pictures, ‘about me’ descriptions, walls, pokes, etc.  Also, our social connections have become much farther reaching; many times, in games and on social sites, we have friends that we’ve never met in real life.  These connections, Rosen argues, have a tendency to be shallow connections, ones in which neither participant know much about the other besides what they see online.  While these sorts of connections have their place, they also have a negative impact on the social connections we make in real life.




Discussion Q’s:

– Where and when are shallow social connections beneficial?

– Does the proliferation of social media over the internet improve social interaction skills or degenerate them?

Reading Blog Entry 7 – “The People’s Net” (9/29/2015)

In this article, author Douglas Rushkoff narrates the ideas that became integral pieces of the identity of the Internet early on, and how business has (mostly) failed at taking control of the Internet for itself. Rushkoff begins by noting that what drew people to the Internet most effectively in its early days was not simply an access to published information and scientific research, but was centered around the connections that users were able to make with people across the globe.  Soon after the government turned the Internet over to the public, new internet-based communities, social groups, and discussion threads sprung up extraordinarily quickly. Rushkoff then describes the ways in which businesses and money-schemes wormed their way into the fabric of the internet; advertisements, e-shopping, and large corporations all attempted to take control of the Internet and use it to make a profit.  And while ads, e-shopping, large corporations, and other money-schemes are present on the internet in a large way, Rushkoff notes that the vast majority of internet traffic still revolves around open-source projects, internet communities, and the connections that the Internet has allowed us to make to our fellow human beings.



– an article discussing the pros and cons of increased social connection potential.

– a picture depicting how different social medias keep the world connected

Discussion Q’s:

– Is there a difference in the quality of social connections when we use digital means vs. non-digital?

– Why is it that in a world of connectivity, we seem to be much less open to new perspectives and ideas?