Ginger Rage: Cyber Bullying

The Rant…

Today I remembered just how maddening being bullied can be. Being bullied doesn’t have to be physical violence or blatantly offensive names; anything that belittles, embarrasses, or purposefully hurts in any way counts. So when someone uses Facebook comments to try to turn friends against you, it counts. So here is my take on it: social media is, among other things, a way for people to communicate in a safe environment. There are those who are socially inhibited or inept who find some measure of relief through the disinhibition being behind the computer screen affords. There are those who play games as a means of escaping the havoc of their offline lives, and experiences brief respite. Creepers, trolls, flamers, and stalkers make any situation- media or not- unsafe and downright frightening. In my example (my day… it was no bueno), when I find out that someone is attempting to turn my best friend against me, by using words (that were NOT meant for her) against me, I become afraid to say anything; to express myself. What’s more, I can’t see what is being said, or how much I’m exposing myself when it’s done with cyber stalking. So, rather than hiding, like so many others, I’m doing something about it. I’m giving her all the fodder she needs. There is a level of maturity that comes with being responsible technology users. While having freedom of speech is a right, it is also a privilege. Just because we have it, doesn’t mean we should abuse it or use it to hurt others. Just because you THINK there are no consequences to your actions, doesn’t mean there aren’t; you never know when it’s going to come back to bite you in the ass. So many of our pop culture favorites speak to this: Spider-man, “With great power, comes great responsibility,” the force in Star Wars, Thor and the abuse of his power on Asgard before his daddy reamed him… the list goes on. Just cause you can, doesn’t mean you should.

What we can do, however, is speak out against it. In the links below, I’m including a small variety of media which give examples of cyber bullying (from sexual harassment in video games to in school bullying), point to resources for prevention, and some research on the subject. Remember when you’re reading these links, that I’m in no way saying I agree with any of the bullying, regardless of whether I agree with the values or opinions of those who are being attacked. Bottom line: attacking is attacking is attacking. NO ONE DESERVES IT! Also, this is, by no means, an exhaustive list so be sure to check for yourself for more info. I hate to think Darwin’s survival of the fittest is at work with bullies too… but sometimes it’s really hard to endure being the good guy; so let’s stand together.

The Solution…

Feminist Blogger Is a Victim of a Vicious Videogame Retaliation

Ill Doctrine: All These Sexist Gamer Dudes Are Some Shook Ones

Cyberbullying: What School Administrators (And Parents) Can Do

Don’t Stand By: Stand Up Campaign

Cyberbullying Research Center

Cyberbully Movie (by ABC Family)

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Game Review: Smite

First, let me start by saying that I’m a League of Legends (LoL) fangirl. I tell you this because when I say Smite might motivate me to leave LoL, it should have impact. Smite has all the things I like about LoL, but takes care of a few of the things I don’t; including the excessive number of trolls and flamers that Riot bans people for reporting. More on that another time. For now, let’s talk Smite!

I’ve always been interested in mythology; no secret there. I have written before about Joseph Campbell and his words of wisdom, not the least of which include the hero’s journey and the universality of myths as truths. Smite uses gods from a variety of mythologies (e.g., Greek, Hindu, Chinese, Egyptian, etc.) and turns them into mages and melee fighters. In teams of 5v5, you set off down the three lanes, all full of towers and minions (and yes, there are jungles too) all leading to your goal; the Minotaur. Take down the fierce golden Minotaur, and you claim victory for your team. Simple as that… in theory.

The view is third person, so it feels more like World of Warcraft than LoL in that respect. Movement is very familiar if you play WoW as well: WASD for running, number keys for abilities, and the mouse guiding your direction of travel. Like with LoL, you use favor (aka IP) or gems (the in-game currency that has to be purchased with actual money) to unlock gods and a variety of skins. There are some gods who excel at defense, some at magic use, and some at melee fighting; as in most any MOBA. And, of course, you can purchase a wide variety of items to passively buff any number of stats on each character. One of the great things about Smite (at least as compared to LoL) is the ability to have your items and abilities auto leveled for you. This means those who are consumed with trying NOT to nerf their team can focus on other things. As you’re entering the game, you simply unmark the boxes for either or both when you’re ready to customize your toon.

Since I’m sure you’re well versed in MOBAs by now, I’ll talk about particulars only briefly. The graphics for this game are phenomenal. The detail to the characters both in character select, in the animations for the skins, and in game play is breathtaking. The sounds for the game aren’t spectacular, but they’re not overwhelming either. The characters have their taunts and musings, and the voices are well done, but they are by no means meant to make or break the game. Something auditory, however, that I did find amusing/helpful was a verbal cue for team notifications. In other words, when someone is trying to warn you that the right lane that you’re trying to push is about to be ganked, a voice says, “Right lane under attack!” and whether you look at the map or read the chat log, you know what’s coming. To be honest, I prefer that to a “PING” any day. Especially when people are spamming the ping… but I digress.

In my opinion, the significant advantage this game has over LoL is the immersion. Because this game is done in third person point of view, the game is far more transportational than LoL is. There is no overhead view; you are IN the battlefield. This, of course, makes map awareness vital, but allies and opponents are labeled well from the third person view as well, so as long as they’re visible, you can easily weave your way through the jungles and lanes. Team fights are also facilitated well by the ease of map awareness and the point of view change. Another bonus (or frustration depending on how you play) is the immersion in fights. As a ranged character, every ability is a skill shot; you HAVE to aim your shots and be in range. However, you’re given an arrow to line your shots up with (making my life SO much easier). As a melee character, you can also see where your ability is going to hit (you can walk around with your ability range lit before you take the shot… VERY handy), but when you’re auto attacking, you have to stay oriented; much harder to do when you aren’t look on from above. 

From a psychological perspective, the social aspect of the game is definitely present; there are chat tabs that you’re constantly exposed to in the lobby (much like you are with WoW), and this is where you friend chats pop up as well. Anyone who has managed tabs on a web browser, can manage these. Though the game is in closed beta, current players have been given invitations to send to friends, and you can always request a game key directly from Hi-Rez (mine took only a few hours to arrive). Either way, the ability to play with friends is definitely a motivator for some to play this game. If your friends aren’t on the game (or you want to get REALLY good before you invite them… ahem…), there is still the team play socialization that facilitates cooperation, planning, leadership, and social adeptness. This game has levels, favor, and types of game play which become available only after reaching certain levels as a player; all of these become reinforcers and promote achievement based game play motivation. The increased immersion, thanks to the third person view, makes escapism and transportation easier and more fulfilling.

Whatever your reason for playing MOBAs, this game covers it well. If you’re a player who likes a laid back, stress free game there are solo training matches where you go one on one, and all characters are available for play. You don’t get favor here, but you get to try before you buy and you can get a feel for the game before you wade into the waters as a noob in the pvp realm. Once you get really good, there are ranked games with more game play styles being released soon. Now is a great time to start playing. If you like MOBAs, my guess is you’ll love this one; it’s not out with the old, in with the new. It’s, “Now here’s something we hope you’ll REALLY like!”

Desperately Seeking Future

This is the portion of the show where we contemplate what our dream social technology would do. I’m not great at dreaming big (the hazard of being a realist). I am, however, great at explaining why I like what I like; we start there.

First and foremost, my favorite social media is Google; all of it. The reason being that there are so many ways to connect, types of uses, and useful media all under one roof. That being said, Google doesn’t work under one application (at least on my phone), so moving from one to the other can be challenging. Google, as a company, seems to be mindful of ways in which the internet COULD be used better, rather than just coming up with more options for current use (although Google+ did kinda do that).

I love Skype because it allows me to see and hear friends who are far away (same reason I enjoy Google Hangouts). I like Twitter because it allows me to connect with people I don’t otherwise know via networking and like-minded communities. Most of my new friends come from Twitter. Twitter, for the record, is also where my secret venting account is. Control over who sees you ginger rage is good. Facebook allows me to keep contact with friends from long ago, keep up on current events (because that’s where they get posted… sadly), and keep in (distant) touch with family that is, well… family. StumbleUpon and Pinterest allow me to explore sites and places on the interwebs that I would likely never find on my own, as well as connect with people who are like minded. Foursquare feeds my competitive side while I’m out doing chores I would be doing otherwise, helps me connect with people in my community who frequent similar places, and gives great access to great tips and discounts. I love texting because it allows me to have instant access to my friends and let’s me word things deliberately. Email gives me a similar outlet, but I tend to use it more formally, and typically when I don’t need an immediate response. I love Pandora because it let’s me discover new music for when I’m studying or gaming, as well as let’s me customize a playlist of music I don’t necessarily own. Dropbox allows me to share things that I don’t want everyone else to see. Gaming let’s me socialize, achieve, and escape. And I love the skills I develop from gaming as well. Finally, WordPress, of course, gives me a place to share my passion, as nerdy as they tend to be. 😉

So, now that I’ve nearly exhausted my list of social technologies I love already, what can be better? Having them all in one place. While the cell phone is nearly that (and allows for immediate and mobile access to boot), I’m talking about an all in one, open source (Apple and Microsoft give me a headache with their exclusivity and partnering), simply designed but fully customizable, social technology that allows for all of my contacts, venting, exploring, connecting,  sharing, etc.

Oh… and here’s the kicker; the reason it’s a dream: I want it to be ad free. No sponsors begging me to allow them to control all of my doohickies… none of that.  I know it’s a lot to ask. But this is MY dream, right?

OOH! And since we ARE dreaming… I want it all to be in an AR contact lens that allows me to drive and still wear my vision correcting lenses. 🙂

Gender Bender Project

It doesn’t get any sexier than the amazing Yara Sophia.

Tyanne Olson (Olson, 2012) does a great job of creating a comprehensive transmedia portfolio which seeks to challenge the social construction of ‘gender’. She uses Twitter (@gendertweet) to target in-group individuals by sharing insights, photos, and creating a community for the safe identity verification of those affected by marginalization. Facebook is used as another way of connecting with the in-group and providing socialization, support, and links to related articles, blogs, and alternate social media outlets. Tyanne also uses Pinterest as a creative element; its purpose is to resonate with in-group and general populations via visual stimuli. To round out the transmedia goodness, she uses Time Magazine to reach the general populous, branching out to begin a reformation of marginalizing social norms.

Tyanne’s project works because she has a targeted audience and uses specific media to reach them (i.e., those affected by marginalization and the general population). She is conscious of the needs of the in-group and provides support for them, allowing for a safe community which facilitates the trying-on and verification of an identity which may be easier to come to grips with in a virtual community first. She also provides a clearly defined identity for the project, which immediately allows the viewer/participant/community member to understand where they are (e.g., what sociomental space they’ve stumbled into) and what is being addressed.

For more information click the links below:

Facebook Page

Twitter Feed

Pinterest

References:

Olson, T. (2012).  The gender identity project [PowerPoint presentation]. Retrieved from:

Portable Media: What Will These Crazy Kids Come Up With Next?

Mobility means the ability to take something outside of it’s typical physical limitations. It means not having to adhere to a specific locale. But this doesn’t have to only refer to our ability to carry something with us, it can also mean the movement of metal property from one sociomental space to another. Messages may travel from one person to the next; this network of consumers (who are simultaneously producing content) becomes a very powerful, very intimidating thing (Shirky, 2009).But the fact that we can also carry physical connections to our networks means we are able to distribute our mental property at any time, to any one in the world.

Mobile technology can become a powerful tool. When we forget the latest and greatest features, and get back to the basic operations, remembering it’s very basic functions and putting them to work creatively is when we are empowered by them (Shirky, 2009). Indigenous people are using social media to communicate their struggles, pass on tradition, and overcome oppression (Wilson & Steward, 2008). People find it their personal mission to deploy social agendas via portable technologies (Chayko, 2008). Chayko observes that the ‘have nots’ are falling further behind as technology swiftly progresses. However, I would argue that the ‘haves’ are more aware, willing, and able to take part in supporting those agendas than ever before. That being said, the uses for these mobile technologies need not be so profound.

Cell phones may be used as tools for writing (Pertierra, 2005). Excellent examples of this are cellphone novels. Though most of it’s popularity comes from Japan, cellphone novels are a great way to create, distribute, and receive feedback on novels in microbursts. Those subscribing to a story can elect to read them on the internet, or have them sent via SMS text at varying intervals. This would be a great addition to the Whisperer’s Web portfolio. Being able to share the gossip that is created via SMS novels would allow for the gossip to spread, be immediately responded to, and allows for a whole different level of improvisation and socialmental connection to others in the group.

In my opinion, the really fantastic thing about portable media is the way it demolishes physical boundaries and pulls the world into a much smaller sphere. Connecting with people all over the world- listening to their plights, building foundations of trust based on universal truths, and greatly reducing the effects of prejudices- in order to accomplish anything the most creative person could dream up… it is something magical, motivating, and scary as hell.

References:

Chayko, M. (2008). Portable communities : the social dynamics of online and mobile connectedness. Albany: SUNY.

Pertierra,R. (2005). Mobile phones, identity, and discursive intimacy. HumanTechnology1(1), 23-44. Retrieved from: http://www.humantechnology.jyu.fi

Shirky, C. (2009). How cellphones, Twitter, Facebook make history [Web video]. TED Talks. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_iN_QubRs0

Wilson, P., & Stewart, M. (Eds.). (2008). Global indigenous media: Cultures, poetics, and politics. London: Duke University Press.

Collective Intelligence in Gaming

What collective intelligence looks like as a gamer

As Holland touched on, gaming is an area in which tangential learning has become something of a researcher’s playground. Barnett and Coulson (2010) sought to understand player interactions in massively multiplayer online games (MMOs). They looked at factors such as socialization, transference of skills from virtual to real world applications, immersion, and group achievements. They note that MMOs have been used as tools for teaching, and players who develop social skills via gameplay (e.g., forming groups, effective communication, etc.) are able to then use those skills in out of game settings successfully. Specifically, with regards to collective intelligence, when a gamer gets onto a game, and comes away with skills such as socialization and effective team participation or leadership, that is a credit to the group as a whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

But it isn’t just MMOs that create this kind of tangential skill learning. First-person shooters (FPSs) also allow team coordination, the dissemination of knowledge between players, and real world applicability (Frostling-Henningsson, 2009). Players in this study reported feeling a greater variety of experiences (which they then share with other players… collective intelligence), and were found to be most motivated by the socialization and communication factors inherent in the game. Diane Carr (2011) found that gamers make game choices or have genre preferences based on their own experiences and the experiences others have shared with them. She calls it “peer culture”.

While these games typically don’t change much (some patches are created to accommodate game play or gamer preferences on the whole), people continue to play. In my experience as a game review, replayability is one of the most important factors, and typically the most replayable games are the ones that have a social component. Because, in games like League of Legends (my personal favorite MMO), the game is the same over and over, but the people you play with, the things you learn from them, the experiences you gain via the combinations of players/characters/teams, are what keep you coming back for more.

References:

Barnett, J., & Coulson, M. (2010). Virtually real: A psychological perspective on massively multiplayer online games. Review of General Psychology14(2), 167-179. doi: 10.1037/a0019442

Carr, D. (2011). Contexts, gaming pleasures, and gendered preferences. Simulation & Gaming36(4). 464-482. doi: 10.1177.1046878105282160

Frostling-Henningsson, M. (2009). First-person shooter games as a way of connecting to people: “Brothers in blood”. CyberPsychology & Behavior12(5), 557-562. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2008.0345

Two Sides of the Same Coin

As I consider the chapters for this week’s post- the paths of the waves of information contained in each, and how they are relevant to me- it occurs to me that these Chayko and Shayo et al. are discussing different sides of the same coin. 

Chayko (2008) explains the parts of the whole. The individual phenomena that are a result of the post modern ‘information highway’ that is the current technological explosion. She discusses how post modern work and personal relationships may be similar to, or an advancement of, more traditional relationship development. She also presents reasons for these developments (e.g., how social media functionally support close emotional bonds in which physical spheres need never be the same). She is able to articulate how we process this new technology, and how it is able to work its way into our social norms. In other words, Chayko presents us with the ingredients to our virtual society 7-layer dip.

Shayo et al. (2007) may be described as the sum of its parts. In other words, explaining that we’re headed for a virtual society, where it comes from, where it is headed, what the challenges that come from it are, and what we can do with it. They have effectively zoomed out from Chayko’s perspective. Understanding that virtual societies need specific support and have specific roots, but facilitate a vast array of activities within work and social organizations and communities, allows us to help mediate these developments.

In my life, personally, I have experienced astounding changes in the way I approach school, relationships, and even work. Being able to attend Fielding is one example of how virtual organizations and communities work. Last semester I worked on a project with my friend Crystal. I met Crystal via classes at Fielding, we began skyping and building cognitive resonance. When the opportunity to begin a team project came up, we took it, having found that we get along very well, and even have complementary strengths. Using only virtual tools (e.g., Skype, Google docs, SMS, and Prezi), we were able to create a presentation that we were both very proud of. In previous posts, I’ve discussed my long distance relationship with my best friend. I successfully directed our court in the 3 Barons Renaissance Fair with the help of several types of media, thus creating a virtual community with which to share information, documents, immersive storytelling opportunities, and more.

Chayko (2008) recognizes that cyberspace is a place that we go to; not unlike the library, zoo, theatre, or school. We have learned- and continue to learn- to use a variety of media to achieve the desired results, to nearly every task we undertake. In my opinion, it is important to understand all sides of this coin; to comprehend the pieces, causes, results, and uses to the virtual society and sociomental spaces that are created by web 2.0 and all of it’s co-conspirators (i.e., mobile phones, applications, email, etc.) if for no other reason than the dissolution of borders and prejudices.