Casting for the Future

Mad love for some FLUX producers on this next piece.

Casting for the Future

I am extremely proud of the work done by Lauren, Jerek, and Jake on the video piece—I don’t think they’ve ever done anything like this before. I know that it was a very arduous process for everyone who put time in on this story, but few people in this school—I think—would leave Eugene for a 3 hour drive to the coast on a Friday morning; shoot everything they need for the video in one day (all they had to work with); and, still have the energy to edit the whole video in a weekend. Nuts.

Please, please, please, check out the accompanying interactive flash component that went along with this story. Nick and Rebecca did amazing work on this!

FLUX MM Stories (Fall 2011)

I’d like to give a shout-out to my fantastic FLUX multimedia producers, who’s work is finally published on the @fluxstories website. Last term was incredibly difficult for the team, mostly because we were all new to the FLUX staff. Also, there were 4 of us. This term (winter) I’ve increased the staff to 12 (including me). Yeah. It has made a difference. Regardless of the struggle, I’m very proud of the work they did.

Sponsors INC.

by Sasha Riddle

Finding Companionship with Mother Nature

by Amber Wilmarth

Learning Without Sound

By Lauren Geschke and Iris Bull

View the interactive environment here.

Flux ‘n Stuff

Here’s a quick update on life, just for the sake of blogging:

  1. FLUX is rockin’ this term (we hire new staff members every quarter), mostly because I got to make the hiring decisions this time around for multimedia. I can’t wait to showcase some of the amazing work my producers are crafting together—I’m really quite impressed at how well they are collaborating. Many of them have never worked on a publication like FLUX before—one is even a biology major—and yet, all of them are stepping up to the challenges that come with a new territory and new toys.
  2. I forgot to feature my big project last term for FLUX. Here it is! You can read more about the story here.
  3. For this term, I made a personal, “executive” decision to not produce anything for my portfolio with FLUX; instead, I’m working to help build the portfolios of 11 others. I’m also organizing a revamp of how FLUX defines multimedia—I hope that after I’m gone, there is a foundation for more interactive media publishing. Video is cool, but Flash is also cool (and not dead).
  4. I’m working on a music video and a documentary in lieu of traditional school work. The documentary is on the 16mm film collection in Knight Library at the University of Oregon. We’ll see what comes of it.
  5. I applied to the Communication and Society masters program at the University of Oregon last week. I have felt amazing ever since getting the application in. What can I say—I wear stress like a rug.
  6. This website got quite a remake over the last month—I bought a domain name, reorganized everything, and published more content. You can now access some of my work samples.
  7. In January I was hired by Chris Birke as a research assistant. So far, it has been fun!

Can a national category for cinema comprehensively define a film?

The central cultural beliefs in a film are an experiential nexus that permeates its narrative codes of ethnicity, social class, and family dynamics…If ethnic filmic presence depended on an audience’s conscious recognition of values, then only explicit surface labels (name, country, religious symbols) would pass muster. …it is severely limiting, for both an ethnic group’s identity and an audience’s experience of it, to assume that ethnic identity stems from a one-to-one correspondence between filmic sign (visual, verbal, aural) and the particular culture.

Lourdeaux, L. (1990). Italian and Irish filmmakers in America: Ford, Capra, Coppola, and Scorsese. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. (pg. 14)

Thoughts on Today

Your best friends make you realize that you’re not doing enough of something, not that you’re too much of something. Case in point: I need to blog more. Thank you, Matt.

Recently I’ve been working a lot, which seems to impede my work here, but about a week ago I took a rare vacation. I spent 3 days in Seaside, OR with my second family, the Paulls. I would have photos to share with you had my memory card of 4 years not decided to quit at the beginning of my trip. Needless to say, the Pacific Ocean was beautiful, and the coastal beach very warm and sunny. I may never decide to have children, but it is a delight to go to the beach with kids who almost never get to (because they live in CO). I also got to canoed, and played in the sand.

A few days later I flew out of PDX, and eventually landed in San Jose, CA sometime after the sunset. I then took the last bus to Santa Cruz, and then walked from the bus stop to the cheapest place to sleep in the area, a dilapidated hostel. Yes, I could have called a cab instead of walking a mile on strange streets, but then I wouldn’t have tasted the night life of the town and met the local vagrancy.

The next morning I walked to a bike rental shop and met up with a kind shop owner who opened his shop early for me so that I might rent a bicycle for the day. Shout out to Electric Sierra Cycles; my day would have been very lackluster without their help. I rented a bike because in Eugene, OR all you need is a bike to get around. A friend of a friend told me in advance that the campus of UC Santa Cruz was “on top of a hill,” so I assumed I would be able to get around fine without a rental car.

Maybe I should back up a bit; I was in Santa Cruz not for the gorgeous coastline, but because I wanted to scope out the Digital Arts and New Media program at UCSC. I’m looking at grad programs all across the country, and this one is has an emphasis on interdisciplinary learning. It is also known for its welcome study of video games and new media both technically and culturally, which is why the program interested me.

In advance I contacted 1/3 of the faculty listed on the program’s website in an attempt to meet with anyone who could tell me more about what the program is really like. Thankfully, I was able to arrange a meeting with 2 faculty during my short stay (a random Thursday), Jim Whitehead and Noah Wardrip-Fruin.

So, I thought it would be simple to pick up a rental bike at 9:30am, meet Jim at 10am, and then chat with Noah sometime after that. Google Maps didn’t indicate that there was a mainstream bus line that circulated on campus, or just what an ascension of 400 feet would look like on a bike, so I assumed that it would only take me half an hour or so to bike 2 miles (the distance from the bike shop to the Engineering 2 building). Little did I know that the Californian to Oregonian translation for “on a hill” is “on a mountain range.” Also, I had a cruiser bike, so I couldn’t fully extend my legs when I pedaled; it made biking on level streets more difficult than I was used to. To make a long story short, I managed to get about halfway there in 25 minutes. At this point, I was dripping with sweat and exhausted. Deranged looking, I walked up to the nearest bus stop where 4 college natives sat waiting. I struggled to make sense of the route maps, but before I could turn for help to one of them a bus rolled up to the stop. All of them promptly got on, and I frantically tried to match the bus’ number to one of the route maps. The driver poked his head around and gave me a questioning look.

“Does this bus go around campus?”

“Sure does,” he replied.

I then proceeded to roll my bike to the rack on the front of the bus. I struggled to properly secure the bike; the driver had to use hand motions to help me figure out. All in all, pretty humiliating. Thankfully I had 2 one-dollar bills floating around in my purse.

“You know the fare is only $1.50?” the driver asked.

It was worth it.

I sat next to the nicest looking person I could find, and it turned out we were headed to the same place. I ended up being a little late to my meeting with Jim, but luckily I had the presence of mind to tell him the night before I might be tardy.

Jim was immensely helpful in explaining the kind of computer-related projects coming out of the DANM program. As department head for the computer science department he was able to speak well to the interesting research going on in some of the labs, and the kind of work the graduate students are doing. I asked him about the importance of knowing computer language going into the program, an area of knowledge I hope to grow in my graduate studies, and he told me it would be helpful if I knew Java and the C programing languages. I got the impression, though, that in a 2 year program like DANM a student doesn’t have time to waste learning those languages. Just like spoken languages, it takes some time to master them. If I wanted to gain any proficiency I would have to start right away, and I think those of you who know me also know how impossible that would be in terms of my schedule. Unless, are there audio tapes for C++?

Anyway, the program was beginning to sound more like something my significant other should look into. He is a CIS major who is very interested in things like video game level design. Really, I’m more into the critical analysis of video games as an expressive medium. I want to study new media from a theoretical point of view, and explore how one can communicate stories more effectively through game play. What if there was such a thing as a documentary game? What would that even look like? That’s what I want to think about. The learning of program language is simply a necessary extension of that mission (IMO).

Noah and I spoke over tacos. I have no idea where he ended up taking me, but it was tasty and I was grateful for the food (after all that frantic biking and what not). Our conversation confirmed what I was coming to realize, that DANM might not be the right program for me. At this juncture, I’m not entirely sure if I would fit into the structure of the 2 yr. MFA program, as I will likely need about that much time to grow my programming skills. Also, the only technical expertise I have is in filmmaking, which isn’t necessarily a new medium. Not that there aren’t interesting, innovative ways to apply film. It’s just that I’m not sure that I can imagine a capstone project that I could launch into within a year that would fit the guidelines of what they are looking for. Many of the current MFA students and 2nd year MFA students have tangible projects they are working on that seem to be an extension of skills they had going into the program. For that matter, my portfolio of work doesn’t demonstrate any proficiency in the “new media” art or work they are likely looking for in applicants. From our conversation, it sounds like I need to be looking more closely at Ph.D programs, or MFA programs that are more closely related to skills I want to develop further. A Ph.D program will give me more time to develop computers skills, and allow me to focus more on critical theory and study around new media, rather than developing a project.

Noah also recommended a swath of schools around the country I hadn’t thought of before, and that I look to the places where faculty I admire are based. So, I’ve started that list by going through captivating literature I’ve amassed this last year and writing down the names of authors I need to research further. Interestingly, many of the names I’ve come up with originated from articles written during a Ph.D program or Masters stint. Hint, hint? Overall, I feel quite invigorated. Almost enough so to start studying for my first GRE test coming up in September. …Almost.

After meeting with Noah I decided to simply enjoy the rest of the day as an ol’ fashioned tourist. It was at this juncture that I actually appreciated my bicycle the most; riding out of campus from the DANM Research Center was hands down my best experience there. The bike trail was gorgeous, and well kept. I coasted down the whole way, onto Bay St., and then to the boardwalk. I stopped by the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum to appreciate the local historical landmark.

I leisurely coasted to the boardwalk, and was generally unimpressed with the fanfare and rides. There is definitely a part of me that remains suppressed without my better half around. Sometimes I think it’s my inner child, although, I was definitely attracted to almost every fried-on-a-stick concoction for sale. The most ridiculous, of course, being the “Dessert Chimis”— seriously? These would either be delicious or terrible; for $4.45, though, I wasn’t willing to find out. I was also amused by all of the intricate machines, manikins and animated figures.

Laffing Sal stood out to me; I couldn’t decide which appealed to me more: that she mocks short people, or women, best. Perhaps both. Her title card read:

“Between 1930 & 1950, almost 300 Laffing Sal animated figures were sold by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. The giggling, gyrating woman with the gap-toothed grin was used to entertain and draw in visitors at the entrance to fun houses, dark rids, roller coasters and midways at amusement parks of that bygone era. Using the original laughing soundtrack, this Laffing Sal is one of the few remaining original characters known to exist today.”

After walking aimlessly about the boardwalk for about 45 minutes, I decided to return to my bike and cycle back into town. I returned the bike, and then walked to find diner. The Saturn Cafe was recommended to me by the same friend of a friend who had misled me about campus, but fortunately she was spot on about this eatery. I recommend any burger on the menu (I went with a veggie option), and the mint chocolate chip milkshake was a real winner, too.

The next morning I flew out of San Jose (remembering to arrive at the airport hours ahead of time) and went onward to Bozeman, MT. I spent the night there with a best friend who attends MSU for the film program there. My short time there was intoxicating, though. I’ll be back.

Now I’m back to the grind in sunny Eugene. FIG season is warming up, and classes begin in a month. My vacation was much too short.

Agency in Solitary Play (Pt. 3)

Note: This was written as a research paper for a class that focused on new media and video games. Consider this a rough-draft for a larger paper I would like to write on the concept of agency and gameplay.

Read Pt. 1 here; Pt. 2, here.

The individual is confronted with two types of video games, games that allow avatar customization, and games that do not. In the early years of game design, programmers were forced to rely on abstract representations of self to provide a significant level of agency in game; that preference for abstraction persists. The popularity of old games such as Pac-Man and Battlezone, and more contemporary games such as Minecraft and Super Meat Boy is a testament to the ability of abstract games to explore themes,

“of a greater inner unrest inspired in man by phenomena of the outside world.” (15)

For a player, “being” a spaceship, tank, or even a ping-pong paddle can provide a person with a sense of agency.

“In a specifically agential sense, [these] avatars reduplicate and render in visible form their player’s actions — they complete an arc of desire.” (16)

Abstract games provide agency to run when being chased, to fight when being attacked, and to rescue that which has been lost. Contemporary games borrow from this principle; they allow for players to explore representations of identity in increasingly greater detail.

While current in-game representations of the player are imperfect, games that simulate

“first-person perspectives, graphically sophisticated bodies, and camera movement suggesting corporeal presence [underscore] an obsessive concern with the avatar’s function as acting stand-in for the player.” (17)

Of the many boundaries that exist within games, the relationship between player and avatar has the largest effect on a player’s ability to reconstruct her identity in a game. (18) Abstraction aside, the individual longs for a sense of immersion and engagement — of deep play — to experience presence in her alternate reality. (19) The more closely an avatar resembles the player, the easier it is for players to subconsciously transfer concealed emotions to fictitious characters;

“While using an electronic medium in which subject and object, what is real and imagined, are not clearly separated, the player loses his identity, projecting himself inward, becoming the ‘other,’ and identifies with the character in the game.” (20)

The more we feel that we are our avatars, the more control we have over the game play. We are given rules and perimeters to follow; we are given objectives, and subsequently rewarded for completing them — this kind of agency gives us a semblance of control unobtainable IRL.21 To the individual,

“…avatars are not an escape from [the] ’self,’ they are, rather, a longed-for chance of expressing ourselves beyond physical limitations, they are a post-modern dream being materialized.” (22)

Avatars can more readily provide a reaffirmation of the self in ways that activities and exploration IRL might easily fall short. By extension, the exploration of the self in solitary game play allows the individual to explore themes and aspects of identity unavailable in either virtual or IRL social spaces,

“Online video games promoting widespread social play generate strict social hierarchies with strong normative guidelines, often only peripherally related to game goals. These hierarchical groups—guilds, fellowships, kin- ships, etc.—tend to restrict video game object-value relationships much as simulations do, and, as a result, either protect or prevent (depending on your point of view) individual players from fully accessing a video game aesthetic. If so, then the primary function of video game social play is to control and deny the experience of self.” (23)

Instead, the social extension of identity reaffirmation is best found repopulated online in the form of online game communities.

Online and offline, in game-specific communities, the individual can seek refuge (or experience rejection) with her avatar, that through play connects her to others who have share similar game experiences. How the game stimulates each player is inherently different (and ultimately, unimportant (24)), but this only helps create a more diverse online community. Ultimately, all communities are brought together through like-minded ideologies, shared interests or shared spaces; game communities function similarly. These communities manifest in many ways, including (but not limited to) online forums, wikis, IRL conventions, and collaborative blogs. (25) Online, the individual can be safely reaffirmed in her alternate identity, or she can extend her presence from the virtual world to the real one. If she meets others offline (IRL) she is affirmed more intensely, as her body and mind experience a merge of virtual and IRL identities. (26) Alternately, it is possible for her alternate identity to be rejected. Unfortunately, these experiences IRL are not frequently studied in psychological or sociological texts.

It is worth mentioning as a temporary aside that identity rejection in virtual spaces  is more frequently experienced by females and racial minorities by means of  discriminatory acts and hate speech, in-game. Such instances are just now being documented by web blogs such as fatuglyorslutty.com and Gambit, a project initiated by students at MIT. (27) In addition, the rejection of Jared Laughner, the man behind the recent shooting massacre in Tuscan, AZ, in online game communities was well documented by the Wall Street Journal and other game community members. (28) In terms of how identity rejection affects immersion, presence and agency in games, no definitive analysis has qualitatively tackled this. However, it is expressly obvious to this researcher, by means of watching videos and reading written accounts by players targeted by perpetrators of bias, that these interactions in game at the very least negatively affect the self-esteem of the player IRL.

Jane McGonigal’s recent book, Reality is Broken, attributes a lack of agency for the individual to an unsatisfactory reality; we feel disconnected because we are disconnected. However, she confines her understanding of experienced agency to the shortfalls of the industrial complex, and attributes the powers of agency in games to social gaming, or “games that do good.” This analysis of agency in creating happiness IRL is ultimately short-sighted. McGonigal’s poster game for social play, World of Warcraft, has both social and solitary play built into its framework. (29) Any analysis of game play that ignores or invalidates solitary play is ultimately ignoring the reality for many gamers: the individual can be pleasured in game without human interaction. To write off individual play as strictly entertainment, that might be classified much like reading a book or watching a film, also ignores the various levels of agency granted to the wary adventurer, looking in games for self-fulfillment, individual accomplishment, and identity exploration.

(15) Worringer, Wilhelm. 1953. Abstraction and empathy; a contribution to the psychology of style. New York: International Universities Press, 15.

(16) Bob Rehak, “Playing at Being,” in The Video Game Theory Reader, ed. Mark J.P. Wolf and Bernard Perron (New York: Routledge, 2003), 104.

(17) Alison McMahan, “A Method for Analyzing 3-D Video Games,” 69.

(18) Bob Rehak, “Playing at Being,” 104.

(19) Alison McMahan, “A Method for Analyzing 3-D Video Games,” 69.

(20) Miroslaw Filiciack, “Hyperidentities,” 91.

(21) McGonigal, Reality is broken: why games make us better and how they can change the world, 49-50.

(22) Miroslaw Filiciack, “Hyperidentities,” 100.

(23) David Myers, “The Video Game Aesthetic,” in The Video Game Theory Reader 2, ed. Mark J.P. Wolf and Bernard Perron (New York: Routledge, 2009), 57.

(24) Clive Fencott, “Presence and the content of Virtual Environments,” (1999). Available online at <http://web.onyxnet.co.uk/Fencott-onyxnet.co.uk/pres99/pres99.htm&gt;.

(25) Taylor, T. L. 2006. Play between worlds: exploring online game culture. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

(26) Taylor, Play between worlds: exploring online game culture, 1-20.

(27) Gambit. Gambit Hate Speech Project. http://gambit.mit.edu/projects/hatespeech.php.

(28) Alexandra Berzon, Jon R. Emshwiller, and Robert A. Guth, WSJ Online, “Postings of a Troubled Mind,” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703791904576075851892478080.html (Janurary 11, 2011).

(29) I recommend checking out an analysis of how time is spent in WOW: Nicolas Ducheneaut, Terra Nova, “‘Alone Together’ in World of Warcraft?” http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2006/02/alone_together_.html.

Read Pt. 1 here; Pt. 2, here.

Bibliography

Fencott, Clive. “Presence and the content of Virtual Environments,” (1999). Available online at <http://web.onyxnet.co.uk/Fencott-onyxnet.co.uk/pres99/pres99.htm&gt;.

Filiciack, Miroslaw. “Hyperidentities,” in The Video Game Theory Reader, ed. Mark J.P. Wolf and Bernard Perron (New York: Routledge, 2003).

GAMBIT. Gambit Hate Speech Project. http://gambit.mit.edu/projects/hatespeech.php.

Grodal, Torben. “Stories for Eye, Ear, and Muscles: Video Games, Media, and Embodied Experiences,” in The Video Game Theory Reader, ed. Mark J.P. Wolf andBernard Perron (New York: Routledge, 2003).

McGonigal, Jane. 2011. Reality is broken: why games make us better and how they can change the world. New York: Penguin Press.

McMahan, Alison. “A Method for Analyzing 3-D Video Games,” in The Video Game Theory Reader, ed. Mark J.P. Wolf and Bernard Perron (New York: Routledge, 2003).

Myers, David. “The Video Game Aesthetic,” in The Video Game Theory Reader 2, ed. Mark J.P. Wolf and Bernard Perron (New York: Routledge, 2009).

Rehak, Bob. “Playing at Being,” in The Video Game Theory Reader, ed. Mark J.P. Wolf and Bernard Perron (New York: Routledge, 2003).

Stearns, Peter N. 2001. Consumerism in world history: the global transformation of desire. London: Routledge.

Taylor, T. L. 2006. Play between worlds: exploring online game culture. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Turkle, Sherry. 2011. Alone together: why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York: Basic Books.

Worringer, Wilhelm. 1953. Abstraction and empathy; a contribution to the psychology of style. New York: International Universities Press.

Agency in Solitary Play (Pt. 2)

Note: This was written as a research paper for a class that focused on new media and video games. Consider this a rough-draft for a larger paper I would like to write on the concept of agency and gameplay.

Read Pt. 1 here.

Virtual spaces, as a new medium for human activity, allow the individual to break free from traditional conceptions of how identity is constructed and maintained. In the past, identity was understood as a static state of being limited to our physical and mental traits; however,

“Changes in the surrounding world have given us tremendous freedom in shaping our ‘self’ — unlike our ancestors, who had little opportunity to break out from their social caste or to change their residence.” (9)

On the Internet, and in other virtual spaces, the individual has found a place to create alternate selves — alts, avatars, agents — and these personas provide her with the agency to manipulate the preconceived self;

“…we have an opportunity to painlessly manipulate our identity, to create situations that we could never experience in the real world because of social, sex-, or race-related restrictions.” (10)

She can create an alternate identity that mimics her physical features IRL (in real life), or more popularly,

“…take advantage of a game’s possibilities to improve [her] representations, making [her] smarter, prettier, and stronger.” (11)

However, how she decides to explore her identity depends a great deal on the level of anonymity granted to her in the virtual space.

Facebook is the largest virtual space to which individuals flock to manipulate their identity. Browsing through photos and public profiles of any one of the 500 million users on the website exemplifies the massive level on which people today are reconstructing an online identity for themselves and others. (12) Facebook’s mission is to empower individuals in being more expressive and connected, (13) but the website’s focus on obliterating a person’s anonymity ultimately forces the individual to look into a metaphysical mirror. This mirror is no different than one the individual may use in real life; it amplifies those labels and personality traits she is forced to carry in real life. Facebook forces the individual to reconcile the differences between her perceived identity and her beliefs, but not in an exploratory way.

“In games where we expect to play an avatar, we end up being ourselves in the most revealing ways; on social networking sites such as Facebook, we think we will be presenting ourselves, but our profile ends up as somebody else — often the fantasy of who we want to be.” (14)

We end up too self conscious to experiment with our identity, as Facebook only allows a single person to officially host one profile. In this way, video games and other virtual spaces that preserve anonymity ultimately serve the individual as a better means of exploration and adventure.

Read Pt. 3 here.

(8) McGonigal, Reality is broken: why games make us better and how they can change the world, 38.

(9) Miroslaw Filiciack, “Hyperidentities,” 93.

(10) Miroslaw Filiciack, “Hyperidentities,” 91.

(11) Ibid.

(12) Aden Hepburn. Facebook Statistics, Stats and Facts for 2011. http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/facebook-statistics-stats-facts-2011/.

(13) Facebook. “About.” http://www.facebook.com/facebook?sk=info.

(14) Turkle, Sherry. 2011. Alone together: why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York: Basic Books, 153.

Agency in Solitary Play (Pt. 1)

Note: This was written as a research paper for a class that focused on new media and video games. Consider this a rough-draft for a larger paper I would like to write on the concept of agency and gameplay.

The existential individual lives in an algorithmic reality. She is governed by rules. The context of her life is defined by social and physical barriers. This individual is guided by roadways and stairways, standardized tests, career paths, and media streams, to name a few. People in her physical environment define her by her occupation, her purchases, her extra curricular activities; she is only empowered to seek happiness through extrinsic rewards. (1) For her, life is less about living, and more about owning; she is encouraged to purchase that which defines her. Her agency, her capacity to act in the world, is provided through consumerism; she is restricted to live within the images of others. These artifacts construct her identity; they codified her, the consumer, with recognizable images and meanings. (2) With them she seeks like-minded peoples and communities, and she is, in part, accepted by others because she is a familiar artifact herself. But this catches the individual in a paradox; how can she be an individual when she is like everyone else? At the risk of being an outcast, she becomes what others want her to be. She role-plays, and society allows little else. (3) In real life, the individual is left with little agency to adventure outside ideas of the preconceived self, and the very notions of discrimination and racism verify this truth. Counter to the individual’s pursuit of liberty, she cannot be whoever she wants to be. She can only become someone society is familiar with, or else risk rejection from that society. So, how does she reconcile her identity? Reading literature and watching cinema, as agential experiences, has long provided her with various narratives to explore different themes;

“A stirring narrative in any medium can be experienced as a virtual reality because our brains are programmed to tune into stories with an intensity that can obliterate the world around us… The experience of being transported to an elaborately simulated place is pleasurable in itself, regardless of the fantasy content.” (4)

These mediums, however, are designed to be passive experiences; they are only a one-way transmission medium. (5) The level of immersion we derive from books and films is shallow, and they lack an interactive quality.  The individual cannot interact with characters on a screen or in a book, only observe. As a medium to explore identity, they fail to provide her with any real agency;

“The only necessary condition for experiencing ‘agency’ and interactivity is that our actions make a difference.” (6)

The only space that allows for such agency is virtual,

“Digital media, video games included, enable us — for the first time in history on such a scale — to manipulate our ‘selves’ and to multiply them indefinitely.” (7)

If reality is a depressing space, then this alternate reality is a play space. (8) A place the mind can wander under a cloak of anonymity. The existential individual can now escape from one game into another; virtual spaces and video games can provide alternate realities that allows greater freedom for her to explore aspects of identity and ideology that are difficult (if not impossible) to explore in real life.

Read Pt. 2 here.

(1) McGonigal, Jane. 2011. Reality is broken: why games make us better and how they can change the world. New York: Penguin Press, 47.

(2) Stearns, Peter N. 2001. Consumerism in world history: the global transformation of desire. London: Routledge.

(3) “Role-playing is one the [sic] social life’s basic elements, and is used in our everyday functioning.”
Miroslaw Filiciack, “Hyperidentities,” in The Video Game Theory Reader, ed. Mark J.P. Wolf and Bernard Perron (New York: Routledge, 2003), 92.

(4) Alison McMahan, “A Method for Analyzing 3-D Video Games,” in The Video Game Theory Reader, ed. Mark J.P. Wolf and Bernard Perron (New York: Routledge, 2003), 68.

(5) Torben Grodal, “Stories for Eye, Ear, and Muscles: Video Games, Media, and Embodied Experiences,” in The Video Game Theory Reader, ed. Mark J.P. Wolf and Bernard Perron (New York: Routledge, 2003), 142.

(6) Grodal, “Stories for Eye, Ear, and Muscles: Video Games, Media, and Embodied Experiences,” 142- 143.

(7) Miroslaw Filiciack, “Hyperidentities,” 88.