DRAG AND DROP

This week I was so excited to learn what I consider my first “game” in Adobe Flash.  We learned “Drag and Drop” and I decided to give a nod to “Goldie Locks and the Three Bears”. The basic concept: drag Goldie to one of the three beds displayed until she found the bed that was “just right”.

Drag and Drop

For some reason I kept getting this crazy error message about ButtonMode and static flash and I had no idea what I was doing wrong.  I had my stops in place and my Action Script was perfect, but still this stupid message kept popping up.  So I decided to start over, thinking maybe something was corrupted (crazy I know) or something.  Still the SAME message!  Finally, I had one of my classmates to look at it, after comparing my Action Script to his he could not find anything wrong with it. So, he decided to play it again and it worked!! I asked him to show me what he did and he said that he didn’t he do anything to it.  Go figure.

I love flash but I secretly think it’s conspiring against me to drive me even more crazy than I already am. Oh well, on to the next assignment.

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WELCOME TO THE FIFTH REVOLUTION

Today we bear witness to the Fifth Revolution. This is a revolution that has not only changed the way we communicate but it has transformed the speed of communication and the size of the groups to whom we communicate with.  How is that you may ask? Well, according to Clay Shirky in his book, “Here Come Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations”, because of these “new” social tools that we have (internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc…) our messages can reach massive amounts of people in a matter of a few minutes. He gives countless examples of people “organizing” meet ups without technically belonging to any organization.

With the increase of social tools pervasive actions becomes faster. One such example is that of HSBC and Facebook. HSBC recruited recent graduates and students at Cambridge University in the U.K. promising them penalty free overdraft checking accounts, after getting thousands of new student customers HSBC said they were going to charge the students 150 # (approximately $800 USD) in fees. HSBC basically had the students cornered between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”. Enter Facebook in blue tights and a red cape waving in the wind. After one student set up a page on Facebook entitled, “Stop the Great HSBC Graduate Rip-Off”, complaining about the penalty fees thousands of other students followed suit within a matter of days; informing and instructing each other on how to move from HSBC to other banks. Finally, they decided that once school started they were going to form a protest rally at HSBC in London; which never happened because the bank gave in. The moral of the story? Our new social tools no longer allow us to be a “voiceless purchaser of goods and services”, once wronged by companies, we can now come together as a collective group in a short period of time and take action.

These social tools make it easier for people to take action and to take action quicker as a group. According to Shirky, he believes that, we are going from a world where media is mainly to inform to a world where media is a site where people can share and collaborate together and ultimately take action together. He goes on to state that with social tools it’s easy to share things (YouTube), people can come together to build things (Wikipedia) but the next step he believes, is the ability for people to take action in the world as a group and not as individual itemized consumers.

Clay Shirky

 

 

THE WEALTH OF NETWORKS: HOW SOCIAL PRODUCTION TRANSFORMS MARKETS AND FREEDOM


Earlier in the week I posted three questions that I would have asked Benkler regarding some of the points that he made in his book “The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom”. After class discussions and additional readings I feel I am a little better equipped to answer these questions today.

  • Benkler makes the point that digital communication may be reshaping the way we interact with each other. Would not situations like the one in Africa and the U.K. be a couple of examples of how digital communication is impacting society as a whole? I believe that Benkler would argue that social networks definitely served as a means of connection for these groups; and that they served as a collaborative community disseminating information to each other like file sharing. However, the outcome was positive for one group and negative for the other. I think another example of digital communication reshaping the way people interact with one another  is the case of U.S. Navy sailor Timothy McVeigh (not the Oklahoma City bomber) who was discharged when his superiors accessed his email account and found out he was gay. Benkler suggests that although the navy provided McVeigh with brotherhood, it also made him suppress who he really was as a human being–a gay man. Benkler stated, ” He used the network and its potential for anonymous and pseudonymous existence to coexist between these two social structures.” In other words, he couldn’t reveal his true self to his Brothers in Arms, but via digital communication he was able to free himself.

The next two questions really piggy-back off of each other, therefore, one of my answers will lead me to another.

  • Benkler also mentions how “thousands of volunteers will come together to collaborate on a complex economic project”; can these “peer produced” projects be sustained over time? To this question Benkler would say yes, I would say a very strong maybe but it is very dependent on the motivation of the collaborators.
  • We’ve learned in class and through our readings that there has to be some kind of motivation to keep people involved in peer produced collaborations; with sites like Wikipedia how do we know that people will not lose motivation to keep sites like these going?  With sites like Wikipedia you have to have that “collaborative community”, something so massive has to be patrolled by someone, rather a group of someone’s. Within Wikipedia itself there exists various groups that edit and re-edit the pages because they do not agree on the information that the other group has written; resulting in “edit wars”. They are no longer collaborating instead, they are fighting to get THEIR point across. The end result? The pages become blocked and no one can make any changes.
So would our economic system start to thrive by freely giving information instead of curtailing it? To this, I believe Benkler would say yes!

THE PEOPLE WILL DECIDE

This week I have been working on concept sketches and just ideas in general for my Project #1.  After discussing this with my professor I decided to make an interactive choosemyplateflash project.

PROJECT #1

This project will be a combination of the techniques that we have learned thus far, merging them to create one big interactive project. Our classmates are to critique us on our projects which will be a different turn of events. I am beginning to get use to them critiquing my artwork and such but my flash projects are a different beast all together.

I am feeling a little angst about this particular assignment (not that I don’t feel dread with all the others), hoping that I can pull off making this thing do what it’s supposed to do in the time that I have.  I have moments when I get excited and I think I have it, and then there is the reality when I put my plan in motion and it doesn’t quite work out. Still, I’m optimistic that this assignment (like all of the ones before it) will work the way it’s supposed to…it HAS to failure is NOT an option! In the end, whether it works properly or not the decision is up to my classmates if I will get the stamp of approval or not.

SLIDERS…AND I DON’T MEAN THE SANDWICH

This week we worked on sliders!!! If you don’t know anything about Flash know this: SLIDERS ROCK!!

I actually completed my assignment within 30 minutes which is NO easy task when it comes to Mr. Flash. Sigh.  I wish every week was like this.  The joy that I’m feeling must be how JTR and CG feel all the time (damn them and their fantastic Flash skills).

Oh well, I have to say that I’ve come a long way from that flickering candle I made in bootcamp. Who knows? With enough practice,  research and tutorials may be one day I can work for PIXAR!

A girl can dream can’t she?

THE WEALTH OF NETWORKS

Benkler makes the point that digital communication may be reshaping the way we interact with each other. Would not situations like the one in Africa and the U.K. be a couple of examples of how digital communication is impacting society as a whole?

Benkler also mentions how “thousands of volunteers will come together to collaborate on a complex economic project”; can these “peer produced” projects be sustained over time?
We’ve learned in class and through our readings that there has to be some kind of motivation to keep people involved in peer produced collaborations; with sites like Wikipedia how do we know that people will not lose motivation to keep sites like these going?

THIS IS NOT A GAME!

“Evan Chan was murdered, and we want to find out why.” This was the basic premise of Alternate Reality Game, The Beast.

It has been described by co-designer Sean Stewart (head writer), as a “web-based scavenger-hunt/soap opera.” Running for twelve weeks in summer of 2001, the A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) web game, was the brain-child of Jordan Weisman who had thought about putting together a reality game of this sort for years. Elan Lee served as lead producer and director and Pete Fenlon served as content lead; all three men worked under the supervision of Weisman.

According to Stewart, Jordan’s version was based on the following hypotheses:

  1. The narrative would be broken into fragments, which the players would be required to reassemble.
  2. Because of the structure of the internet, the game needed have collaborative participation.
  3. The game had to be shrouded in secrecy, no one could know who was doing it, or why.
  4. Instead of you going to the game, it came at you. Through such channels as websites, e-mails, phone calls, newspaper clippings, faxes, SMS messages, TV spots, etc.

The most important ideology of The Beast, as with all Alternate Reality Games, or ARG’s , is that the game is to be treated as if it is reality; in fact, that was what any character would tell you, “This is not a game.” The virtual world and reality overlapped blurring the lines of what was real and what was make believe. Stewarts goal was to totally immerse the players in the game, he “wanted people to care, to laugh, to cry — to be engaged the way a novel engages.” According to Jane McGonigal, “No rules were ever published, no prizes were promised, and no game creator stepped into the public spotlight to take credit for what was fast becoming an Internet phenomenon.” Gamers just “stumbled” upon the game and started playing; not really knowing what was real or not.

The designers set out to create this alternate world on the web, and it was there that they told the story of the game and advanced the plot. Which brings me to the goal of the game: to promote the movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence, directed by Steven Spielburg.

Was it successful? Well, I believe the over 40,000 messages generated by the players would say so.  Adrian Hon, co-moderator at cloud makers.org stated, “Ask any player of the game whether they thought the game was a success, and they’ll tell you that of course it was. The game creators got all of the fundamental elements correct: the puzzles were enjoyable, the storyline was compelling and strong and the presence of ‘extra’ features such as offline interaction and continuous development made it something special.”

The Beast set the bar high for all of the ARG’s that followed, and opened the door to games that will “grow beyond the Internet to penetrate into the ‘real world’ with offline interaction.”

IS REALITY BROKEN?

Isn’t reality broken compared to a lot of other things? We can all make some of the same arguments that McGonigal has made for gaming, for whatever we think will improve society. The experience of one gamer will not be the experience of another; the part does not represent the whole.

She talked described ESM or experience sampling method, which states that what we consider “fun” is mildly depressing. She goes on to give examples such as watching TV, eating chocolate, window shopping, etc… But, “fun” is relative. What one person considers fun the next may not.

McGonigal also mentioned various terms used by the gaming community and one coined by a psychologist. She also pointed out that gamers can experience too much of a good thing when she said, “Too much flow can lead to happiness burnout”, regarding people who spend too much time playing games. She talked an Italian word that has been embraced by game designers, to describe the emotional high of gaming; she also mentions “flow” (a specific kind of happiness) a term coined by an American psychologist by the name of  Mihály Csíkszentmihályi.

After reading more of her book, I reflected on some of the questions that I had from my previous blog regarding young people and game play. One of the questions I asked was: Do they really feel a sense of community or connection with others by playing video games? After further readings I believe that there is a sense of connection, but I don’t think the connection is as deep or tightly intertwined as McGonigal has portrayed it. The connection is the interest in the game the gamers are playing, nothing more.  They do not have a real interest in these people’s lives.  It’s just like Facebook, you can have thousands of “friends”, but they are not your true friends; you’re only affiliated with each other online

All in all, I found Jane McGonigal’s “Reality is Broken” to be a very easy and surprisingly enjoyable read.  Though I did not agree with all of McGonigal’s points I did think that she had a very interesting concept. I commend her for wanting to improve society and even people’s lives in general. When I first started the book I wanted to be onboard, but I often times kept thinking, “Is she really serious? Does she really think all of the world’s problems can be solved by gaming?” but it sounds as though she believes through gaming we can create a somewhat utopian society, and that’s just not a reality.

“It’s Inevitable: Soon We Will All Be Gamers.” – Rob Fahey

In her book, Reality Is Broken” Jane McGonigal points out that some U.S. politicians have proposed to start heavily taxing video games, but have they really thought this through? Video games are not tobacco and alcohol. They will not give us cancer or sclerosis of the liver.

What would happen if the government did impose a hefty tax on games?  I think this proposal could actually bite them in the butt; for some kids gaming is what keep them out of trouble.  Maybe they aren’t really good at playing football in reality, but they thrive at it virtually. Instead of constantly condemning, why not really examine why kids are playing the games that they are playing and try to understand what they are getting from playing games? Maybe this virtual world offers them a chance to excel at something whereas the real world does not. Do they really feel a sense of community or connection with others by playing video games?

So all of this makes me wonder, if the divide between gamers and non gamers is getting smaller and smaller is it inevitable that we will have a world of gamers?