CATS – Log Book – Entry #6 (15/11/13)

In today’s session of CATS, we finished off a three part series of lectures on Contextualising Digital Culture. The first was on the “History“, the second was on “New Media“. This lecture was spent discussing the Future of digital culture. Unfortunately I was unable to attend this lecture due to a conflict between our cats session and a Games Design exhibition held in Hull (Platform) however I was able to download the presentation and go through it on my own and pick out bits that I found useful.

First off we have been presented with a question “What is the future of the Virtual Revolution?” and the three key themes within, Cyberculture, Gamification and Social Media. These three key themes can then be broken down even further. Cyberculture is the culture that has emerged from technology, I also learned that there is a relationship between science and cultural/media studies. With the Cyberculture there stems off a cyberpunk fiction:

“A genre of science fiction set in a lawless subculture of an oppressive society, dominated by computer technology” – OED

I think that this links into our Games Design studies very well as this basically sums up a few games, Dishonoured to name but 1

“A fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body” This is sounding like it will be useful for my games design sessions.

All this is leading us to the question, “Where does this leave us? – Absence of human body/AI” The example we was given in the presentation was Google’s driverless cars. What is this doing to our identity, with Virtual Worlds and Networked Living what kind of impact will that have on our identity as an individual. Well with things like Avatars and Artificial Intelligence people are just sinking and hiding in the void that is technology. Moving on from the Cyberculture aspect we looked at Gamification and the use of game techniques, styles and mechanics within a different context for example to solve problems.

“The application of typical elements of games playing (E.G. Point scoring, Competition with others, Rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.” – OED

Many online services use these techniques now to make things more entertaining for the user, the more entertaining something is the more we want to use it. For example, Gamestation, before it closed down made a rewards card for when you bought or traded in items at the shop, they then took this card and used gamification and made an achievement system in this card, you had to complete certain goals or objectives to unlock these achievements and by unlocking these achievements you would earn reward points which you can in turn use to purchase items from their shops.

The next thing to look at was “The Rise of Social Media” and to consider the ethical implications in relation to the use of social media. For example Blackberry, blackberry developed a system much like text messaging except it was free called “BBM” or “Blackberry Messenger”. It is believed that this was used during the “London Riots in 2011”. The police where looking at Facebook and Twitter to try and find out information about what was going on, but they ignored BBM and it is believed to be the main method of communicating during the riots.

Another ethical issue to consider is Apple’s use of Foxconn to produce the iPhone. Workers at Foxconn have been exposed to long hours as well as monotony of labour, that coupled with poor working conditions means that there have been 17 suicides at the plant to date.

After this we where told to watch 2 TED Talks on the Future of Social Media and the Future of Gaming by Sherrie Turkle and Jane McGonigal.

Here are the Talks:

This was a talk by Jane McGonigal and, for me, was excellent. I feel that she is right, having mentioned about the 10,000 hour rule in one of my previous blog posts and that you need to put 10,000 hours study and practice into a subject or area and you will become an expert in that area, and then for her to say that millions, if not billions of people are expert gamers and virtuosos in an area that not only relates to the virtual world but that skill will also relate to a real life skill and practice, if we can find out what this area is we will have a resource of potentially billions of experts to work in that field.

This talk was by Sherry Turkle and was completely the opposite of the other talk we watched. She says that technology is taking over our lives and that humans are losing the capacity to talk to each other and spend time alone for personal reflection and that future generations will only be able to function when they are connected, she said something very powerful that just shows how the human mind has changed because of technology.

“I have a feeling I want to make a call.”

And this has changed to,

“I want a feeling I need to send a text.”

This is summing up human interaction, people no longer go to the pub to catch up, they just log into Facebook or Twitter Etc…

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