Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Are video games the problem?

Few things annoy me more than the "violent video games" argument, which has been volleyed back between Republicans and Democrats since the early 2000s. Although I do think that parents should moderate which games their children are playing, I don't think that running someone over in a car in Grand Theft Auto is a sign that a person is secretly a psychopath, and I certainly think that uninformed politicians should stop making it a talking point. It's hard to explain why games are fun, and it's even harder to rationalize why fighting or war-based games can be appealing, but I stand by the fact that they don't create murderers. Now, if there was a game where the player was required to dismember or violently and purposefully murder a character for the sake and pleasure of doing so, I might concede that games have gone too far. Following the standard that "video games create murderers," you might wonder how the 1965 release of the popular board game Operation didn't create a generation of doctors.

Ultimately, people need to take responsibility for their interests and actions, and video games have simply become the latest bogeyman. Plenty of people love horror movies, but few people dismember corpses in their basements based on the latest thriller. Likewise, an interest in detective stories has not led the vast majority of fans to recreate their favorite macabre murders.

Now, the question still exists, if empathy games promote empathy, why shouldn't video games promote violence? I argue that this is for the same reason that good books inspire a love of reading. Excellent, moral books inspire feeling deep within a reader that inspires them to act. In a similar way, empathy games make one think about the thoughts and feelings of others. On the other hand, "violent" video games tend to be about strategy-- not feeling. You act based on goals, which inspires a different kind of thought process that has nothing to do with emotion, and that's not a bad thing. It's just different. The opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy-- and the opposite of empathy games isn't violent video games, it's active hateful games.

Do you think this is a [*************] game?

In class, I played Spent, and it was so interesting that I showed a friend over the weekend. Spent is a thought provoking game because it shows the player the hard decisions that a less fortunate person is faced with on a daily basis. The idea of an empathy game that gives you a look into another way of life is powerful, and it made me think about how reading a book can help the reader to understand a different point of view. This also happens through documentaries and movies, so why not with games? People love playing games, and I think they can be the next frontier of meaningful communication. In playing Spent with my friend, we were able to talk through choices and implications, and it really made us consider the way other people live their lives.

You have the Audacity to ask me to edit sounds?

Here is the link to my Audacity project. The assignment was to work with a transition-- Alan's example was life- from birth to death. I thought a lot about transitions and the idea of seasons popped into my head. There are sounds that are distinctly associated with certain times of the year, and these sounds evoke memories that are dear to the listener. For spring- I thought of running water, in the form of melting snow and rain. For summer, I thought of waves, which evoke memories of summer at the beach. For autumn, I thought of crackling bonfires and wolves howling-- a nod to my love for Halloween (and my belief that we should change the name of the season from "autumn" to "Halloween." Finally, for winter, I used the sound of footsteps crunching across a snowy field. Backing all of this, I chose a light classical track that matched up conveniently well with my clips, and I worked the clips in by fading them in and out. I had a great time finally cracking the Audacity code, and I'm proud of my result!

Where the idea began

The process!
Collaborating with Cairo:

After looking through the projects being developed by the students in Cairo, I have chosen to work with Merna, whose empathy game in on the topic of single mothers in the patriarchal Arab society. I am already impressed by the work that Merna has done toward her game, and I look forward to seeing how it progresses!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Spring Break Was Nice....

....and now we're back!

I'll be honest with everyone, I'm at a point in my semester where I have stress piled on stress piled on stress. Looking for jobs, and working on my thesis consumed every moment of spring break, so I apologize for running on Empty.

Regarding last class, I'm very happy with our conversation on the topic of games. I think people's favorite games tell a lot about them, and we had a great discussion about what we like and look for in games. It's interesting to me how many people get addicted to mobile games, and the different reasons they give for getting pulled in. Eni, in particular, mentioned Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, a game that I also was sucked into a while back. It's crazy how even silly-seeming games have the power to pull you in.

When I was a child, video games were so important. I remember hours of playing Animal Crossing on my Nintendo DS with friends (with or without multi-player options), and bonding over the husbands and children we had in Harvest Moon. Kingdom Hearts is still my favorite game, and I have many fond memories of taking turns playing with my best friend. What strikes me about games like I've mentioned, is that they're still relevant today. The slightest mention of one of these games can turn into a full-blown nostalgia-fest with the most unexpected people, and I treasure these conversations. Although I was never a gamer, I understand why these bonds are important.

On a small scale this past weekend, my dad and I bonded over a hidden pictures-esque game he found on the Play Store (the name of which escapes me). We had a great time playing through and finding the hidden items, and it was a cool experience to bond over a multi-generational game taken to a mobile platform.

In class, I had the time of my life playing Little Alchemy 2, and it seems like others did as well. It was amazing to combine different elements and see what could be built, and remains an apt analogy for our class. Katherine's progress in the game was admirable, and I still can't figure out how she created life! I may have to go back and play some more, when I have time (hah-- what's "time"?)

I'm happy that I was able to participate in the studio visit with Remi Kalir and Keegan Long-Wheeler. As you will see in my first DDA response below, I am not well-versed in video games. I enjoy them, but I haven't played in years (although I'm coming out of retirement for Kingdom Hearts 3-- FINALLY). Our conversation regarding the importance of games made me ponder how they might be incorporated into the classroom to evoke responses from students. We live in a time where everyone is so jaded that we cannot take fun for granted, and I believe it should be integrated in every way possible. I'm excited to see the games that Professor Maha Bali's students in Egypt are working on, and I look forward to communicating with them!

DDAs: 3/13 through 3/19/18

My caption sums it I've said, video games are fun and important and cool but am I a gamer? Not whatsoever.

As Hailey and I have discussed, there's really no way of making eyes look normal in this kind of picture. But "artsy" was my goal so.....

In conclusion, I'm nervous for this week. Sound editing is not really my thing, so we'll see how it goes! I have a lot of admiration for people who do it well. Last semester, I was quite impressed by Brooke, and I can't wait to see what this semester brings!

Monday, March 5, 2018


I love digital art. I've been interested in the digital world for as long as I can remember, from, to, to my discovery of YouTube when it was a relatively new platform. I have always been interested in the different ways that people express their art, and I appreciate that GIFs are finally being given the recognition that they deserve.  

One of my favorite types of digital art are YouTube videos. I've loved YouTube for years and years, and it's my default for entertainment and news. I have a collection of favorite makers, some of whom I have followed for years, and I've learned so much. For example, one of my passions is makeup and, as a young girl, I used to watch Michelle Phan and Julia Graf, and that's how I learned to do makeup! It's also cool to me that, despite the fact that time has passed and much has changed, I could still find the videos I loved so long ago. By growing up in the digital age, digital art became my culture and I am grateful for it. 

GIFs are interesting to me because process GIFs, like the ones we worked on in class, aren't that different from videos. They show steps in a process and, if you're a visual learner, they might be even better for you than YouTube videos, which tend to have a lot of talking and explanation. 

Show your work:

Here are my syndicated blog posts. I seem to have10 from this semester.

Here is the link to my DDA responses, but for some reason nothing will load. Alan, thoughts? I've certainly been participating :) I haven't been as responsive as Kevin (@dogtrax) with his 51 tweets since January 1st, but I'm a top runner with 14 responses. 

Watch me go on TAGSExplorer at the above link! It's amazing to watch the course interactions mapped out. Netnarr really is a complex organism. Do you see me right in the center of it all? Let's play "Where's Waldo."

As for my place on the leaderboard of Makes, Hailey I'm coming for your title!

GIF a Process Make:

Showing off one of my favorite processes! I'm re-doing my nails tonight, so I will try to remember to take pictures in order to re-do this make. I'd like it to reflect the process a bit more, rather than just showing the components.

GIF if all Together: Digital Art / Digital Life Make

I had so much fun with remixing this GIF! I love reaction GIFs and the reactions I included are some that made me laugh quite a bit!

DDAs: 2/27 through 3/5

In a recent development, I am no longer able to embed my tweets here because I have made my Twitter account private-- at least for the time being. I am applying to teaching jobs and I don't want potential employers looking through my social media. Obviously there's nothing bad, but I can be silly with my friends and I need to attempt a professional persona ;) I'll make it public for the sake of Twitter chats and class events and, from now on, I will post screenshots of tweets. 

I love to share these photographs because I was quite proud of them. I've never seen such a beautiful rainbow!

This was so much fun! I made a QR code that links to my Twitter. I didn't know it was so easy to make one, and I'll keep this in mind for future projects. Of course I had to include glitter, it's my favorite!