Tag Archive for FGU

Hand-held Gaming: An In Depth De-tech-tive Analysis

Digital-Community-Digital-Citizen-Ohler-Jason-9781412971447In his book Digital Community, Digital Citizen, Jason Ohler (2010) presents a way to analyze technology and Digital community, digital citizen media that can help us not only “see” the technology, but understand how it is best used, why we use it, and why it came about in the first place. In this post, I will analyze hand-held game consoles (e.g., PS Vita, WiiU, 3DS, GameBoy, etc.) using the first step in Ohler’s De-tech-tive process; investigate. Though mobile phones are often considered hand-held gaming consoles, I will not be including them in this specific analysis, though most of the “de-tech-ted” concepts apply to them as well. When specific differences arise, I will default to specifically considering the PS Vita (as it is in front of me right now).

Physical Characteristics

Most handheld gaming consoles are small (conducive to being held in hand during play) and made of a combination of metal and plastic. They traditionally have a directional pad, buttons, bumpers, thumbsticks/joysticks, and most recently include touch screens (the Vita has a touch screen on the front and the back of the console). Typically, these handheld consoles are made overseas (e.g., Japan).

Enhancements/Reductions

The-future-of-mobile-and-handheld-gamingUsing the notions of enhancement and reduction as described by McLuhan, I would say that handheld gaming devices amplify our eyes and our fingers. I would also say that our reasoning, reaction time, and attention to detail is amplified. Our ability to multi-task (such as it is) is diminished because of the immersive nature of gaming, and the reduction in space between our faces and the game screen. There is less space for distractions or other tasks to “intrude”.

Predecessors/Future

Handheld gaming consoles replace board games, card games, and toys. Depending on the game being played, they may also replace books, movies, and television. Because of the immersive nature of handheld gaming, I would say the future holds augmented reality games. In fact, some already exist, but the technology continues to develop further and further. Eventually, we will have things like Google glass that doesn’t require us to hold anything, and we can move about in a continual state of gaming reality.

Social Contexts

tumblr_lpaupuEFFU1qzpbdsThe social cues that contributed to the implementation of this technology undoubtedly include boredom and anti-social awkwardness. The inability to go without a stimulus, or the desire (but fear of) social interaction are both resolved to some degree when using handheld gaming consoles. Where things like a long car ride or waiting at the doctor’s office  may facilitate impatience or anxiety, the ability to distract oneself with a game is a relief. Additionally, socially phobic or awkward individuals are able to experience social interactions, and in some cases become more socially adept via connected interactions (Chayko, 2008; Cole & Griffiths, 2007).

Biases

Handheld gaming consoles favor young, socially inhibited, perceptive, motivated, achievement driven, impatient, and/or active/over-active individuals. Because handheld screens are small, those with better eyesight thrive. Additionally, those with quicker reflexes, better joint movement, and more acute perception of surroundings are more successful in-game. Along those lines, gamers are motivated by a variety of things including socialization, achievement, and immersion (Yee, 2006). As such, handheld consoles are biased toward those who are driven by these motivators. Those who have a hard time focusing, sitting still, or enduring stagnant conditions are more likely to play handheld consoles.

Benefits

339918-playstation-vita-vs-nintendo-3ds-which-gaming-handheld-reigns-supremeThe benefits of handheld gaming consoles are entertainment, the development of hand-eye coordination, socialization through connected gameplay, an understanding of social norms and social cue interpretation, and tangential learning in a variety of subjects (e.g., auction houses to learn economics and math, farming to learn resource management, etc.). More subtle benefits that may be overshadowed by arguments against gaming may include staying home rather than loitering or vandalizing places outside the home, a safe environment for the expression of frustration or aggression (e.g., yelling at the game rather than getting into a fight), and becoming immersed in creative worlds which encourage independent and unique participation (e.g., fan fiction role-playing).

Impacts

Handheld gaming consoles, in most cases, allow us to connect to others in-game. they also provide more ways to message (e.g., Skype, instant messaging via gaming networks, etc.). In this way, we are connected to each other, and those we haven’t met before but who have similar interests. However, when we escape into what Chayko (2008) calls our sociomental space, we disconnect from those around us physically. What is happening to/around us “in real life” becomes second to what is happening in our immersed state.

Handheld gaming consoles allow for the benefits of video game play, while providing convenient and consistent access. Understanding the uses for, benefits of, and challenges with handheld gaming consoles, may help us specifically target behaviors to either be replicated or extinguished. This is a technology which should be accepted and embraced, so long as it can be managed and used in functional and positive ways.

Nintendo_3DS_and_PS_Vita

References:

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

Cole, H., & Griffiths, M. D. (2007). Social Interactions in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Gamers. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(4), 575–583. doi:10.1089/cpb.2007.9988

Ohler, J. (2010). Digital community, digital citizen. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press.

Yee, N. (2006). Motivations for play in online games. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 9(6), 772–775. Retrieved from http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/cpb.2006.9.772

The Tetrad of Power

As discussed last week, Marshall McLuhan was a very insightful man. His theories on media (though they were renewed from someone whose theories had heavily influenced him, Teilhard de Chardin), have been- and continue to be- very influential on media enthusiasts and scholars. That being said, a call for a “scientific basis” (“McLuhan’s Laws of Media,” n.d.) was consistent. This post will briefly explain the tetrad and give an (attempted) example of its use.

TetradThe tetrad is McLuhan’s response to the call for his theory to be formalized (“McLuhan’s Laws of Media,” n.d.). Though the theory itself is not empirically derived, the results of analyses using the tetrad are (“Media : McLuhan/LawsOfMedia,” 2008). The tetrad describes the way media-which had been created by people- affects people and, in turn, communities of all sizes. It relates ways in which the media changes behaviors, reverses behaviors, renews behaviors, and eliminates behaviors.

A fun exercise (I think it’s fun…) is to attempt a tetrad of your favorite media. By media, of course, I don’t mean necessarily electronic. I mean a tool that is used to enhance our ability to communicate (much like McLuhan’s definition of technology). So a pencil, a phone, a typewriter, etc. In this case, I’m going to consider the eReader (I personally use a Nook, but there is a hack that allows the Kindle app on the Nook, so I read both on one eReader).

Enhances: An eReader accelerates and improves our access to books. It also enhances our ability to publish by allowing online, do-it-yourself publishing.

Reverses: An eReader, meant to make reading more convenient (e.g., libraries on a single device, no holding pages open, etc.), has made it so easy that you can access your content from a variety of devices. However, the ability to do so means choosing which device you want to material on, synchronizing bookmarks and highlights, and so on. In the end, having one book to keep track of is easier.

Kindle-e-reader-006Retrieves: eReaders bring us back to reading books. Where we had moved on to digital entertainment and audio books, eReaders allow people access to a variety of classic, new, self-published literature which motivates them to re-discover reading. The effect is reminiscent of the introduction of the Gutenberg press.

Obsolesces: The eReader makes the use of paper printing unnecessary. Not that its use has been done away with, but with the eReader, paper itself is no longer needed for printed literature.

The tetrad impacts media psychologists by giving us something to gauge existing media changes with, as well as a way to make educated guesses about emerging media. By understanding the uses for, and implications of, media and technologies, we can look to the past to see the future with regards to effects, developments, uses, and more. The more we contemplate how the media and technologies around us affect us, the more we understand about ourselves.

References:

McLuhan’s Laws of Media. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.horton.ednet.ns.ca/staff/scottbennett/media/index.html
Media : McLuhan/LawsOfMedia. (2008). Retrieved from http://deoxy.org/media/McLuhan/LawsOfMedia

McLuhan: Prophet or Fortune-Teller

karsh-portraitLargely regarded as the father of media, Marshall McLuhan is known for his theories on media’s effects on society as well as individuals. Though he is still highly regarded, there are those who don’t understand and those who don’t buy into his seeming prophetic interpretations of how media has and will influence us. This paper summarizes briefly some of Marshall McLuhan’s theories using examples from modern technology, and takes into consideration oppositional perspectives.

(Re)Tribalization

McLuhan (2014) articulates a difference between nationalization (i.e., separation; segregation) and tribalization (i.e., group think) as triggered by the prevalent media of the time. Before print, as Burke (2013) points out, we were dependent on travelers for news in the form of songs and poetry. Everyone knew everything about everyone, elders were sources of information, and well known events were time markers. The “tribes” worked together to survive whether it was legal matters, history, or current events. With print, McLuhan determined that people became more independent when the need arose for privacy to read books. They were able to withdraw from the group and learn information pertinent to their own survival. Capitalism facilitated greed and competition. However, with electronic communication, people are once again depending on others for information and sharing what information they have. Collective intelligence exemplifies the new tribalization. Shirky (2010) discusses civic value in contributions online; another example of McLuhan’s tribalization in action.

mcluhan_quoteNaysayers may contend that due to the proliferation of social media and their typical uses (Boyd, 2008; Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007; Java, Finn, Song, & Tseng, 2007), though we do cross national boundaries, we connect more with specific people for specific reasons and are no longer forced to associate with those whom we do not want to associate with; regardless of proximity. In other words, nationalism is created through interests rather than geographical boundaries. In fact, McLuhan might have considered this the reversal part of the internet tetrad.

Medium is the Message

Medium is the message means that what is important is not the content of the message itself, but the environment it is presented in. Taking the example of tribalization, what was printed did not matter to the shift to nationalization; what mattered was the affect of print on society. Likewise, what matters in retribalization is not what is shown on tv, presented on the internet, or played on the radio. It is the fact that the mediums themselves have shifted our focus from ourselves to our tribe (in this case, a global community) and from our ears to our eyes.

136038McLuhan’s example of a car being the message and the environment in which the car survives (e.g., the gas stations, the roads, etc.) makes this clear. He says when you change the grounds, you change the car. We know that when you change even the type of road your car goes on (e.g., paved to dirt or unbeaten), you necessarily change elements of the car. You can’t have a car made for paved road functioning well on on an unbeaten path. It must have a different chassis, different tires, a different engine, and so on. The message doesn’t matter. It changes as the medium changes. Shirky (2010) presents a good example of this as well. He explains that with the proliferation of the internet the content we produce changes to fit the abilities of the technologies. Another example is the change from finite amounts of space for categorization (e.g., libraries) to the infinite space we have for those same types of connections with the internet (e.g., tags) (Shirky, 2005). Our message- or content- changes with the medium. We tend to think too linearly and traditionally; an echo of McLuhan’s contention that we strive to produce yesterday’s message with today’s medium.

Those who do not agree with McLuhan may note that the message does matter, and while it changes based on the form of presentation, some messages are universal and eternal (Campbell, 1988). Some stories, regardless of how they’re told, transcend time and medium. In fact, the details of the story change across cultures, but the overarching themes remain. Though a story might be considered a medium, in which case it may serve to support McLuhan’s theory, it seems likely that McLuhan himself would not consider the story the medium but rather the message.

Conclusion

80678659_4603781_1259360083_xorThough McLuhan’s theories seem to accurately represent the ebb and flow of behavior with the tides of medium, there are those who would say the same of him as they would of fortune tellers and astrologists; the notions are vague enough that they can be made to fit any situation. This may also attribute to the constant “misinterpretations” of his theories. If this is true, why would it benefit media psychologists to understand these theories?

As a media psychologist, understanding McLuhan gives us another tool to look beyond bias and preexisting notions of how mediums should be used, to richer uses (e.g., augmented reality). We have the tools to create today’s message with today’s medium. We also have the tools to understand how the mediums have an effect on us as individuals and a global tribe. By standing back away from the specificity of the message, and seeing the larger picture of the medium and the network in which all mediums interact, media psychologists can not only help to articulate how we’ve transitioned from medium to medium in the past, but help us understand and foresee changes ahead.

References:

Boyd, D. (2008). Why youth <3 social network sites: The role of networked publics in teenage social life. Youth, Identity, and Digital Media, 119–142. doi:10.1162/dmal.9780262524834.119
Burke, J. (2013). The day the universe changed: Episode 4 “matter of fact.” YouTube. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D3elWaqgbo
Campbell, J. (1988). The power of myth (1st ed.). New York: Doubleday.
Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook “friends:” social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4), 1143–1168.
McLuhan, M. (2014). Marshall McLuhan Speaks — Centennial 2011. Marshall McLuhan Speaks. Retrieved from http://marshallmcluhanspeaks.com/
Shirky, C. (2005). Ontology is overrated: Categories, links, and tags. Clay Shirky’s Writings About the Internet. Retrieved from http://shirky.com/writings/ontology_overrated.html
Shirky, C. (2010). How cognitive surplus will change the world. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/clay_shirky_how_cognitive_surplus_will_change_the_world.html

Digital Connections in a Digital Landscape

RuinsDigital citizenship is a blanket term describing challenges and shifts that result from communities being geographically far more widespread and driven by electronic communication and connection. As with any stereotypical Western community, we consider individual needs in social contexts. The landscape of digital citizenship has undergone monumental change, as have the social groups served by that citizenship (Ohler, 2010). In this post, I will consider the transformation of one such group- extended family- as well as the transformation of the face of digital citizenship, and finally what these changing landscapes mean to media psychologists.

I remember getting two very sad phone calls as a child. The first came in second grade from my “boyfriend” Ryan. He called to tell me he was moving to Washington DC and he wouldn’t be coming back from Christmas break; I cried for days. The second call came when my best friend, Erin, moved to Hawaii. I got what we now affectionately refer to as “snail mail” letters from her a few times, but there is only so long a 6th grader can keep that up. Both of these examples involve people being separated across country, but even a move across town used to mean never seeing someone again. Telephones were (and are) amazing ways to keep in contact with loved ones, but if you lost the number in a move, or the number changed you were out of luck. Add this to the cost of out-of-state and long distance charges or collect calls, and it became nearly impossible to sustain geographically dispersed relationships. Luckily, media has helped us overcome these tribulations.

With each new media development, our ability to stay in contact has improved. From phones, to local bulletin board systems using 2400 baud external modem connections, each progression was a step closer to social media and constant contact. Now we have clouds, social media, and Google search to help us remember or find phone numbers. And that’s only if we want phone numbers. Email addresses, URLs, social media accounts… they all facilitate the (re)connection of loved ones. One simple search (along with a, hopefully, recognizable avatar), and you can reconnect with the entirety of your past (and yes, I reconnected with Erin). snail-mail-suzikThis climax of intense media availability resolves with relationships that have shifted from physically centered connections to relationships that are more sociomentally centered (Chayko, 2008). We get to know others more fully, and make connections with them based on interests and emotions, rather than appearance. Suddenly, distances aren’t so insurmountable, and we find ourselves connecting with others across the globe. As we ride off into the sunset at the end of this narrative arc, we take with us every friend and family member we’ve ever cared to reconnect with, thanks to evolved digital mediation.

With the proliferation of constantly developing media that connects us in a variety of ways, the responsibilities and rights so cherished and fought over throughout history (Ohler, 2010) shift and evolve as well. Online anonymity gives way to disinhibition, flaming, and dishonesty (Joinson, 2007). It also, however, allows us to explore who we are and what we value (Burke & Stets, 2009). Validating identities- if we can wade through the cyberbullies and hackers- helps meet some of our basic needs on the individual level. But the civic traditions of our ancestors haven’t been completely lost on us. Social norms and constraints motivate us to participate in a global community where collective intelligence (Jenkins, 2008) and critical value (Shirky, 2010) push the limits of what we could have created in the times of the Spartans, Romans, Italians, or Revolutionaries (Ohler, 2010).

Media has allowed our communities to expand almost infinitely and, as my hero’s uncle aptly said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Ancient civilizations trudged through the fight for participation in their communities. That fight was punctuated by the creation of media. spider-man-ethicsTheatre, text, movies, and so on allowed them to spread communication further, thereby spreading influence (Ohler, 2010). The climax of this narrative is the culmination of seemingly endless forms of communication to the farthest reaches of the Earth (and beyond), and a people who are more altruistic while simultaneously becoming aggressively antagonistic. How can we overcome the antagonists? How does civility overcome disinhibition? That’s where media psychologists come in.

As media psychologists, we have the tools to create our own critically valuable footprint in the sand. By understanding the way people do and are likely to act given the constantly evolving media, we are able to educate others (using the light side of the “Force”), help them learn what it means to be a digital citizen, and how to share with others the rights and responsibilities inherent in membership.

As global, digital, and local communities evolve, adapt, and merge, our power as citizens follows proportionately. With that power, we have a responsibility to protect ourselves and others, allowing all citizens the chance to get what they need from the communities while creating opportunities for others to simultaneously do the same. If the world comes to an apocalyptic, riotous, cannibalistic end when technology defies us so, then, must we flourish, support, and defend in times of connection.

References:

Burke, P., & Stets, J. E. (2009). Identity theory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Chayko, M. (2008). Portable communities : the social dynamics of online and mobile connectedness. Albany: SUNY.
Joinson, A. (2007). Disinhibition and the internet. In J. Gackenbach (Ed.), Psychology and the internet : intrapersonal, interpersonal, and transpersonal implications. (pp. 76-92). Amsterdam; Boston: Elsevier/Academic Press.
Ohler, J. (2010). Digital community, digital citizen. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press.
Shirky, C. (2010). How cognitive surplus will change the world. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/clay_shirky_how_cognitive_surplus_will_change_the_world.html
Jenkins, H. (2008). Convergence culture where old and new media collide. New York; London: New York University Press.

Critical Thinking: The Final

Critical thinking and argumentation are vital to advancing scientific fields such as psychology.

psych researchCritical thinking informs how we think and the conclusions we come to as the result of that thinking. It mandates that we overcome personal biases and the biases of others, thoroughly research all possible vantage points of the topic in question, and apply reason to the information we are exposed to (Browne & Keeley, 2007). The field of psychology facilitates critical thinking by setting standards for not only the methods used in observations and experiments, but in how the results are reported, allowing those reading the report to analyze the method and results of the research  for themselves (Cozby, 2009). Some say that critical thinking allows us to develop cognitive practices that lend themselves to a better understanding of the materials presented to us (Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2013; The Creative Thinking Co., 2013). Others suggest that critical thinking is a skepticism we must apply to all information encountered (Shermer, 2009) and that in order to understand the validity of the material we must know more about the biases it encompasses (Driscoll & Brizee, 2013). In the case of psychology, both seem to be true. Psychologists are encouraged to review research performed by peers for the purposes of understanding the information better, determining whether it was done in a way which results in valid and reliable information, and which avoids bias in both obtaining evidence and reporting the results (Cozby, 2009).

conversateWhen creating an argument, we start with our current thought on the matter, then search for evidence which both supports and negates our position, with the realization that someone knows something more and/or different than we do. Arguments use the elements of critical thinking (i.e., humility, research, and logic) (Weston, 2009). Arguments allow us to fully understand a topic before taking a stand, and to communicate information to others in concise ways when we do. Arguments expose fallacies, give us insight into possible further research opportunities (this is especially necessary in soft sciences where we are constantly making strides to further research in order to bridge gaps), and transcend communication barriers beyond just the format of the presentation (Weston, 2013). Arguments allow us to augment our own way of thinking and they allow us to share our critical thinking with others working toward the same end. An example might be media psychology students researching possible side effects of violent video games. By applying critical thinking to their research after having sorted through a variety of sources and presenting their arguments to each other, they could both discuss their analyses of existing data and uncover a variety of possible new avenues for research.

Both critical thinking and argumentation are essential tools for psychologists. Psychologists must know how to research, analyze, apply, and communicate information obtained (Cozby, 2009). Those presenting the information (e.g., publisher, editor, author, etc.) may or may not have done as much research as the person receiving the information may prefer, or they may have changed the information (either purposefully or accidentally) during their reporting of it. The media used affects the delivery and reception of information as well (e.g., many if not most photos are photoshopped (“The PhotoShop Effect,” 2006)). By allowing peers to analyze our arguments, we open ourselves up for exposure to new information, viewpoints that we may not have considered (despite our best efforts) and suggestions for refining our methods in our practice of argumentation and critical thinking (Wertheimer, 2000)

Critical thinking is an applied method for determining our thoughts on a matter. It requires us to conduct thoughtful research while applying logic to our findings and maintaining a willingness to change our thought processes where they are unsupported. It is about finding the truth. Argumentation is a skill which allows us to present that thought, and the evidence that supports it, to others in a concise, persuasive manner. In order to further any scientific field (e.g., psychology), students, researchers, and professionals must carefully consider how the information obtained fits in with preexisting information, how it may alter what is already known, and what future steps can be taken to continue progress. The more information is critically considered and effectively argued, the easier communication is and the closer we come to reaching the closest thing we have to truth.

betterworld

References

Browne, M. N., & Keeley, S. M. (2007). Asking the right questions: a guide to critical thinking (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Cozby, P. C. (2009). Methods in behavioral research. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Driscoll, D., & Brizee, A. (2013). Purdue OWL: Evaluating Sources of Information. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/553/3/

Foundation for Critical Thinking. (2013). The critical thinking community. Retrieved from http://www.criticalthinking.org//

Shermer, M. (2009). Michael Shermer. Baloney Detection Kit. Retrieved from http://www.michaelshermer.com/2009/06/baloney-detection-kit/

The Critical Thinking Co. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.criticalthinking.com/

The Photoshop Effect. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YP31r70_QNM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Wertheimer, M. (2000). A brief history of psychology (4th ed.). Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt College Publishers.

Weston, A. (2009). A rulebook for arguments. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub.