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LGBT in video games was a great topic. I really think our group was fortunate to get this topic because there is so much information on video games and race and gender sterotyping. Plus, video games are fun and it was awesome to see just how many different kinds of games there are out there. Not to mention some of the most outrageous games ever created like “Ethnic Cleansing” and “Raplay”.

From the get-go we started throwing ideas out at each other and decided what the general flow of the presentation was going to look like. Every group meeting we had involved us all gradually narrowing and refining our information. We went a couple different ways to begin with and eventually decided to focus on race, gender and the LGBT community in video games. This was because of the sheer amount of information and possible routes we could have gone with. Our thesis was constantly being developed and re-done until we felt it fit exactly what was being presented.

If I could have done anything differently I think I would have started filming the presentation earlier, with a chance to actually act out some scripts and involve everyone in the group on camera. It was difficult for me because the team was traveling during the last two weeks and I admire my group members for the hard work they completed and their patience. It might have also helped to talk about some of the LGBT characters in video games, like those in this video.

Always On

 AMST_475_Digital_Log_Spreadsheet. As much as  I would have liked to provide the chart in the blog I couldn’t figure out how to do it so this is going to have to suffice. I guess being “always on” doesn’t mean we always know how. Since school is not an option and the other part of my life that takes up a considerable amount of time (baseball) doesn’t allow any form of media usage while I am participating, I guess the next logical place to look would be the social part of my life, the time that I am with my friends outside of school and the baseball field.

It’s easy to sit back and watch other people in their social realms and critique what they do while at the same time being completely oblivious to my own actions. Just last weekend I went out to dinner with my parents and we saw a couple sitting at a table together, both had their phones out and both were entranced by what the screen had on it and seemed to be oblivious to the fact that a real, thinking, breathing, LIVING person was next to them. It made me sad to see that but what happened fifteen minutes later? I’m on my phone trying to get PAC-10 baseball updates of the other teams while my parents are on their respective devices doing whatever it is that parents do on their phones. How crazy that this social disconnect has become a second-nature!

I’d like to think that my media usage and “always on” nature isn’t as much as some or most of my demographic. The fact that I play a sport definitely has something to do with it but since I gave my life to Christ I feel a more of an urge to be personable. The “always on” phenomenon produces and “addiction” like we talked about in class. Watkins mentions that “…playing the game incessantly interferes with their social lives and personal relationships” (Watkins, pg. 141). Now this acknowledges the fact that games are the interference in personal relationship. But the way that I see it and how my eyes have been opened is that the overwhelming spread of technology and information is that interference, not just games. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he states “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2). The worlds communication has shifted to “constant yet on-the-go”, “routine rather than remarkable” and “more everyday than occasional” (Watkins, pg. 49). I try not to use my devices whenever I can, as I like to be in the present moment, with who I am with rather than “present in abscence” as Watkins calls it. This fact might justify my “always on” -ness but that doesn’t mean I don’t find myself connect to a screen regularly throughout my day.

This site provides lists of possible consequences from an “always on” hyperactivity kind of life. With this data in mind it makes me think more and more about my usage and that of the worlds.

Generation fb

Generation facebook… what a terrible name for the generation I have been thrown into. I suppose it fits, with some 500 MILLION people worldwide logging on almost everyday. I think the article Generation Why by Zadie Smith said it best when she writes

“The last defense of every Facebook addict is: but it helps me keep in contact with people who are far away! Well, e-mail and Skype do that, too, and they have the added advantage of not forcing you to interface with the mind of Mark Zuckerberg—but, well, you know. We all know. If we really wanted to write to these faraway people, or see them, we would. What we actually want to do is the bare minimum, just like any nineteen-year-old college boy who’d rather be doing something else, or nothing.”

The whole time I was reading the article I thought to myself “I don’t even like facebook, I’d much rather go to these people’s houses and physically talk to them, actually be able to see them and interact”. Smith hit the nail on the head with this article. Technology has become a part, an integral part, of our lives, but it has also allowed us to become distant. Shapeless “profile pages” and text on a screen. If this is what the future will be like I want no part of it. In a quote from The Young and the Digital by S. Craig Watkins, “Young people use social-networking sites to…communicate, forge cultural identities, and connect to their world and the people around them” (pg. xv, emphasis mine). Now, another quote from Charles Ess, found in Digital Media Ethics “…it is only when I encounter the Other as Other… that I move to a more complete understanding of the Other” (pg. 110). It would help to state that what Ess is talking about is the interaction between us, Americans, and the “Other”, anyone from a different cultural background. When we accept that there are other ways in the world to do things and accept the Other’s beliefs and norms, etc. then we come to more of an understanding. However, Ess goes on to say “Online venues thereby help us avoid the sorts of culture shocks and ontological shocks that follow upon our encounters with one another as embodied beings – and thereby make it easier to ignore differences…thus raises the risk of ethnocentrism and imperialism” (pg. 113).

When we don’t physically SEE or SMELL or TOUCH or INTERACT with outside cultures, how are we really going to accept them and “forge cultural identities” and “connect with the world”?! This is exactly the point of Smith’s article. Zuckerberg has taken the job of making pathways of access around then world so that countries all over can come to not accept each other more and more. This is what Facebook has done, what we have allowed it to do. This article on Mark Zuckerberg provided the following quote which aptly amplifies my point of the creation of ethnocentrism and imperialism: “By giving people the power to share, we’re making the world more transparent.”… and less different, making people think we are all the same right?

The Social Network Mark Zuckerberg might come back at that and ask “Is that a question?” It’s up for you to decide.

LBGT’s in video games

At first glance, this topic seemed to be a bear. “I don’t know if I’ll ever find enough information on LBGT in video games to make a big enough contribution” I thought… well, I was wrong. For some time now developers for all different platforms have began to pump out games that are slowly making the LBGT (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgendered) more visible. The level of heterosexism in such a system, or the degree in which LGBT characters are censored for qualities that would not be censored in heterosexual characters, often breed the thoughts that the LGBT identity is usually wrongfully classified as being sexually explicit. As we are now seeing, games such as Fable III, Dragon Age, The Sims, and numerous other games are allowing. has a list of some of the LBGT characters in a variety of decades and game types, truly broadening the spectrum of gender based video games. Lastly, women have always been seen as “not the video game type” but in the 1990’s a movement began, with games like Tomb Raider and Resident Evil, to portray female protagonists, therefore unlocking a new demographic to advertise video games to… females!

Digital Division

We have grown up in it. The constant hurricane of 3G, 4G, wireless, Andriod, laptop, netbook, tablet, touch screen, flat screen, plasma, LCD… the list can go on. What we have been thrown into is a world where technology has allowed the countries of the world to connect with each other. It’s amazing that a father serving in Iraq or the Middle East can talk to and see his family back home in the U.S. via webcam. With all the cool upgrades and new gadgets being introduced buy the day, it’s hard to focus on the very real and ugly side of technology.

The digital divide, according to the DME text, is known as “the disparities between what are sometimes called the ‘information rich’ and the ‘information poor’(pg.126)  The world needs more than just charity. Anyone can give another, less fortunate, person a computer or smart phone. What the world needs, if the notion of the digital divide has any chance of shrinking, is effort. Writer Logan Hill, an author in the TRT text states that “the digital divide isn’t just about personal computers; it’s about training, access, education, content, telecommunications infrastructure, and more” (pg. 15).

Let’s go a step further into the digital divide, since we know now that “access” isn’t going to solve anything by itself. E-waste, as defined by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, “is any unwanted electronic device and frequently contains hazardous materials, predominantly lead and mercury, and is produced by households, businesses, governments, and industries.” (

Now after watching the video, “Ghana: The Digital Dumping Ground”, it’s safe to say that my view of e-waste and the digital divide got blown up. The video visits Ghana, China and India, where massive amounts of old electronic devices are shipped and dumped, mainly coming from the U.S. and more industrialized countries. A part of the video even talks about how “Ghanaians welcomed what they thought were donations to help bridge the digital divide. But soon exporters learned to exploit the loopholes by labeling junk computers ‘donations’”, leaving the locals to sort the mess (Ghana: The Digital Dumping Ground). People all over the world, and even in our own backyards, have realized that just having access to the technology doesn’t close the gap. The e-waste and consequential effort in Ghana and China and India to make or break-down the devices shows and proves that “access” isn’t the key. To teach others to use the devices, to have areas where they can go, and now, to dispose of our own mess without just throwing it on someone less fortunate, provides ample room for improvement and a chance to finally shrink this ever growing digital divide.

It’s not an “either/or” in Copyrights

In the debate on whether or not copyrights limit creativity we heard from a side that stated yes, they do limit creative freedom by stifling the availability of copyrighted material in the public sector. The main cause of this? The outrageously long life of the copyright. The other side tried to prove that copyrights have no affect on creativity, rather, it helps people create because they are forced to improve and think of newer and different things. Personally, I felt this was a difficult topic to debate, especially from the side of trying to prove that copyrights don’t limit creativity. However, after research and the debate I realize now that this is definitely an inclusive matter. We even saw a little of how this topic could be both during the debate. It was argued, not that the copyrights are bad, but that the lifespan of the copyrights are the creative roadblocks. According to Charles Ess, the author of Digital Media Ethics, “Indeed, we should go on to see if there might still be other legitimate alternatives… to make sure that our thinking is not unnecessarily (and unfairly) limited.” (Ess, pg. 141)

In the case of copyrights I think that both sides are correct. One should respect the original reason for the copyright, to give authors rights and credit to their work for 14 years. After that time the work would move into the public sector, available for all to use. Now, in this day and age it is still quite necessary to have copyrights; with emphasis on protection of newly created work and a financial benefit leading the way. Copyrights do not limit creative freedom because they spawn a desire to upgrade or innovate new items or ideas. What does limit the creativity is the protection of such copyrights. In the case of Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corporation, we find case law that states “exact photographic copies of public domain images could not be protected by copyright in the United States because the copies lack originality.” I find this as a response to the question of “what is original?” This gives everyone a starting point to create their own original works from others which have entered the public domain. 

Is Technology Just A Tool?

Based on chapter 4 from the book “Digital Media Ethics” written by Charles Ess, technology is viewed as not just “a tool”. To make a comparison, lets take an actual tool, like a hammer. A hammer is a hammer whether you’re in Egypt or the United States or Antarctica. It serves the same purpose.


 Ess purposes that technology is not like that. The fact that the people across the world use their views and beliefs when creating the technologies means that the purpose it was created for may not be the same purpose someone in a completely different society will use it for. That’s precisely why technology is not just “a tool”.

“So social media is a tool, and it’s not evil, so I say let’s use it for all it’s worth. But that’s not to say that there are no dangers. A big concern for some… was this: “Well, using Facebook, users might see…that doesn’t align with our values.” churchmarketingsucks

I believe that Facebook is just a tool. It serves the same functions or possiblities of function here in the States as it does all around the world. However, in the case of “The Facebook Flat” from the NY Times video about the progressive young adults in Egypt,  the youth in the video have used this tool to create a movement unlike any we have seen before. Most the youth in Egypt have facbook accounts, showing how connected to the world they are. This cosmopolitan description does change the framework of Facebook that allows it to be used for social purpose different from those of other cultures. The “tool” that is Facebook has just be found to serve another use in the global society, the ability to unite and display movements for a wanted cause. The technology has a certain place in the protestors views. “Facebook and Twitter is what started this revolution… it’s the most important thing or element we have here.” -Yusuf Bagato, and Art Student in Cairo. This statement shows just  how the protestors are framed in regards to the technology, it is essential to their movement.

The CopyWrong Mess

It is foolish to think that “mash-ups” or remix’s will just altogether stop or be controlled. In fact, it should be celebrated and encouraged. I believe that the use of our past, in an effort to shape our future, is what culture is all about. I don’t know about everyone out there but when I see or hear a “mash-up” or remix I get so interested and go look for the original. In a way, the new age culture keeps refreshing the past to those newer generations. Girl Talk has to go looking for songs that are past their day in an effort to create new and innovative pieces of art. At a forum in 2007 on the Protection of Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, the Prime Minister of Yemen Ali Mujawar stated:

“Culture is the most powerful and important thing that does not succumb to the laws of the market, but which spreads with the surging winds of globalization, especially among people who have a cultural heritage.”

Isn’t it safe to say that our culture has allowed the “surging winds of globalization” to take more of every culture around to the entire planet? It’s true that only 16% of the world’s population has internet, but that doesn’t mean only 16% are “in the know”. Digital media reaches much farther than just the internet.

Let’s switch gears for a moment. I believe finding the right answer to a question is useless. It ends all thinking and passion for the topic. Instead, we – You and I – should be looking for the right question to ask; the question that inspires us to search for more and stirs a deep longing inside us to learn and learn. So I ask why. Why, in the case of the Maori culture, do the Maori people not get to copyright their words and culture, names for heavens sake, whereas Walt Disney (and later the Disney Corporation) can rip of plenty of things that aren’t theirs and then copyright them; going so far as to have the law changed to help them?

“…the general rationale for copyright in this tradition regards creative work as an artifact that has been invested with some measure of the author’s personality or that reflects the author’s individuality. Out of respect for the autonomy and humanity of the author, that artifact deserves legal recognition.” (pg. 75, “Digital Media Ethics”)

Are the Maori not authors of their originality? Of the individuality of their words, symbols, tattoos? I guess what I’m stating is that I am all for keeping the public domain free however, if you, Big Business, are going to make the rules, they should apply to everyone for the benefit of the world, not just your big ass pockets.

The American Public Perspective of WikiLeaks

Now that we know just a little more about what WikiLeaks is and what the American government has to say about it, let’s dive into the United States public perspective of these recent events. CNN has extensively covered this issue regarding WikiLeaks and their whistle-blowing posts, dedicating many articles to what happened and who could be affected. In a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted by phone from December 17-19, 2010 to a group of 1008 U.S. adults, it was found that “77 percent of Americans disapprove of the online organization’s release of thousands of confidential U.S. government documents concerning U.S. diplomatic and military policies” (CNN Poll).

In CNN’s Opinion section, writer Parag Khanna believes that WikiLeaks will lead to a massive increase in worldwide diplomacy where practically everyone could become a diplomat. The technological boom and rise of sites such as WikiLeaks urges today’s diplomats to be quicker on their feet, gathering and analyzing information faster than they’d probably like in order to get information to policymakers. 

After watching some videos from CNN news correspondence on WikiLeaks, CNN states that it’s in the business of providing the nation with “news that is available to us”. I believe the pulse of the nation, according to CNN, is that the way the information came out was dirty and controversial, but the information itself is necessary and of a great benefit to the people. With that being said, we aren’t the only country in the world affected by these posts. Lets now look into the international perspective of WikiLeaks.