prof. e.

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Archive for the ‘videogames’ Category


Posted by prof e on November 3, 2014

Over at Vox, Ezra Klein has written an interesting, 25-paragraph essay Gamergate and the Politicization of Absolutely Everything. For those who have not been introduced to the raging debate swirling around the video game industry, gamergate is a controversy that touches on many of the media topics and themes that we’ve been addressing this semester: media effects and concerns related to sexual and violent content, politically incorrect stereotypes, censorship, and journalistic ethics just to name a few. Here’s Gawker‘s attempt to explain what all the fuss is about. Want more?  Here’s a great article by Erik Kain at Forbes.

Klein’s thesis is premised on the idea that everything has been politicized in the extreme. The gamergate battle lines have been drawn between waring factions. On one side the “young, white, male” demo (that has historically been at the core of the gamer community) and on the other side, feminists (more here). It’s hard to ignore the fact that real differences exist between gamers who like to blow things up and those who like to build things together. And finally, differences exist between those who feel marginalized by the present systems and,…well…those who feel marginalized by the present system. In fact the entire controversy has something to offend nearly everyone. It’s as though the controversy is a kind of ink blot test on which we are invited to project our own worldview and moral objections. As Klein notes, “Video games are the excuse for this fight, not the cause of it.” For those with political biases on the left, it’s about “sexism and online harassment,” but for those on the right it’s about “political correctness and speech policing.”

Klein’s essay ends on a cautionary note that predicts other battles, like gamergate, but with even greater consequences. As the culture wars escalate and battles lines are drawn, the battlefield itself will be the online space where digital avatars battle to the death over controversies large and small. Thankfully, digital wars are not nearly as painful as analog wars. After all, when your digital self is mortally wounded or killed a quick reboot is all that’s needed to get back in the fight.


Posted in interactive media, journalism, media industry, new media, videogames | 1 Comment »

Virtual Tragedy

Posted by prof e on July 29, 2014

The growth of online gaming and virtual reality technology has exploded around the world, but perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in the nation of South Korea. With some of the fastest internet connectivity and a cultural tendency towards all things high-tech, Koreans are experiencing internet addiction at unusually high rates.

Case in point is the tragic story of a young couple who allowed their infant daughter to starve to death while they played an online game in which they raised a virtual child. The irony is striking. Last night HBO aired a documentary, Love Child, which told the tragic story as a cautionary tale to those who are too easily distracted by virtual worlds. Here’s the trailer.

The parents were charged with a lesser crime of involuntary manslaughter because of the nature of their “addiction” and the father served one year in jail. They’ve since had another baby and we can only hope that this outcome will be different.

While this is an extreme example of internet addiction and its horrific outcome, milder forms of the ailment may be present closer to home. If you’re wondering if you suffer from net addiction, you can take this self-guided quiz.


Posted in global media, interactive media, media effects, new media, social media, videogames | 2 Comments »

Violence and Media

Posted by prof e on February 16, 2013

Correlation does not prove causation. That is research-speak that calls into question the claim that watching violent movies or playing violent video games makes the player a more violent person. But despite the difficulty of finding causal links, the events at Newtown and other  scenes of gun violence will likely increase  funding for research that attempts to uncover connections between violent media consumption and violent behavior.

Here’s a video clip that frames the issue…

Even though most gun deaths are suicides and gang-related shootings, it is the mass shootings, such as the ones in Aurora and Newtown, that focus the public’s attention on violent video games and movies.

However, despite concerns about the media’s contribution to gun violence, most of the response from politicians has focused on certain types of guns and large-capacity magazines…much to the chagrin of 2nd Amendment absolutists. There are several reasons that may explain this. The first is because the media-violence link is still not conclusive in the minds of many researchers. And the other reason is something called the 1st Amendment and Freedom of Speech. Attempts to limit speech (content of TV, movies and video games) results in some pretty difficult legal challenges. Even before you consider the competing interests of the 1st and 2nd Amendments this is a difficult issue.

Posted in 1st amendment, media effects, research, videogames | 12 Comments »