An Infinite Regression

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Video Games and the Mass Media – Assignment 2

The video game industry has fast become a major player in the entertainment industry, making up to $24.75 billion dollars in revenue in 2011 (Entertainment Software Association 2012). With video games taking up such a large portion of our society’s leisure time, many have come to question if there are substantial negative impacts on those who indulge in them, especially youths. This issue has become more and more prevalent as video gaming becomes more widespread in today’s society, not to mention the tragedies of events such as the Columbine school shootings of 1999. But are video games actually causing an epidemic of violence and anti-social behavior in today’s youths or is it merely a miscommunication of wrong information spread by the mass media? In order to answer this question we need to analyse the effects that video games have on youths and examine they are reported on in popular media.

The media of today is quick to blame the video game industry for violence in male youths, often increasing the stereotype that video games are played solely by children and teenage boys. However data gained by Entertainment Software Association shows that the average age of video game players is 34 years old, with the most frequent video game purchasers being 40. The number of gamers over the age of 50 makes up 26% of the total gaming population which is 1% more than those under the age of 18. Also women make up 40% of gamers, with women over the age of 18 representing 33% of the gaming population. It should also be noted that the average gaming adult has played video games for 12 years. Two of the most important facts that came from this study is that 93% of the time parents are present when games are purchased and 64% of parents believe that video games are leaving a positive impact on their children’s lives (Entertainment Software Association 2012).

The video game industry has gained a very bad reputation in today’s society due to misconceptions spread by the mainstream media. Ferguson (2007) argues that in times mass panic and moral outrage regarding youth violence, he uses the Columbine shootings as an example, that there is a desire among policy makers and the general public for answers. He says that“…it has become tempting for the public and scientists alike to place responsibility for these crimes on external determinants rather than on the individuals who commit the crimes.”After the Columbine shootings, violence in virtual media and popular culture became the 2nd most discussed cause of the Columbine shootings in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times whilst only 1% of news stories focused on the accountability and ethical character of those responsible (Ferguson 2007).

Video games have thought to have been linked to violence in youth in recent years, with the conservatives and families often speaking out in the media against video games. However much evidence contrary to this has continually come to light only to have little to no recognition by the public or the mass media. In Fergusons and Kilburn’s (2009) study titled ‘The Public Health Risks of Media Violence: A Meta-Analytic Review’ the concluded that there was not a causal or correlational link between violent media and aggression, also posing the question“Why the belief of media violence effects persists despite inherent weaknesses of research is somewhat of an open question.”Similarly Kutner and Olson (2008) stated that any correlation between video games and an increase in violence in children is non-existent and is not supported by any current research. They also conclude in saying that“After all, millions of children and adults play these games, yet the world has not been reduced to chaos and anarchy” and that any links drawn between the two are “drawn from bad or irrelevant research, muddleheaded thinking and unfounded, simplistic news reports.” Other articles have also come across similar findings; often stating that “there was no evidence in either study to support a direct link between video game exposure and aggressive or violent behavior” (Cruz, Ferguson, Ferguson, Fritz, Rueda, Smith 2012) and that “…the research results on the effects of violent video games have been inconsistent and equivocal” (Sternheimer 2007). It has even been ruled by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia during Brown v. EMA/ESA that exposure to violent video games do not cause minors to act in an aggressive manner.

Even though video gaming has received such a poor reputation in the mass media, studies have shown that playing video games may actually be beneficial to those who do. A group study conducted in 2012 shows that video games can be used in a clinical setting to help improve both physical and psychological results. Video game usage helped improve the outcomes of 69% of psychological therapy cases and 50% of physical therapy cases (Carroll, Cham, King, Klem, McNamara, Primack and Rich 2012). It has also been shown that video games can be used as a form of cognitive training which can lead to improved memory and critical. These effects were documented to have lasted up to three months after the end of the trials (Buschkuehl, Jaeggi, Jonides and Shah 2011). Another test concluded that video game playing can be beneficial for adults diagnosed with clinical depression. The study showed that those who were playing video games showed a significant reduction in depression levels. The study also showed a 57% decrease in measurable depressive symptoms and a 55% decrease in anger levels (Fish, O’Brien, Russoniello, Pougatchev and Zirnov 2011, Russioniello, O’Brien, Parks 2009).

Judging on the evidence presented it can be argued that video games not only do not pose a risk for the mental health of young people but in fact may have the potential to help improve the mental state of youths both emotionally and psychologically. These studies also show that video game representations in mass media are often misconstrued and manipulated to suit the viewing audience, often reporting on false information as well as increasing the social stereotypes of video gamers.

Reference List

Buschkuehl, M, Jaeggi, S, Jonides, J & Shah, P 2011, ‘Short- and long-term benefits of cognitive training’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, viewed 13 September 2012 via the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Carroll, M, Cham, C, King, B, Klem, M, McNamara, M, Primack, B & Rick, M 2012, ‘Role of video games in improving health-related outcomes: a systematic review’, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 42, no. 6, viewed 13 September 2012 via the American journal of Preventive Medicine.

Cruz, A, Ferguson, C, Ferguson, D, Fritz, S, Rueda, S & Smith S 2012, ‘Violent video games and aggression causal relationship or byproduct of family violence and intrinsic violence motivation?’, Criminal Justice and Behavior, vol. 35, no. 3, viewed 13 September 2012 via SAGE Publications.

Entertainment Software Association 2012, 2012 sales, demographic and usage data: essential facts about the computer and video game industry, viewed 13 September 2012, < http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/esa_essential_facts_2010.pdf>

Electronic Software Association 2012, Industry facts, viewed 13 September 2012, <http://www.theesa.com/facts/video-game-research.asp>

Ferguson, C 2007, ‘Evidence for publication bias in video game violence effects literature: a meta-analytic review’, Aggression and Violent Behavior, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 470–482, viewed September 13 2012 via Science Direct.

Ferguson, C & Kilburn, J 2009, ‘The public health risks of media violence: a meta-analytic review’, The Journal of Pediatrics, vol. 154, no. 5, viewed 13 September 2012 via Science Direct.

Fish, M, O’Brien, K, Russoniello, C, Pougatchev, V & Zirnov, E 2011, ‘The Efficacy of Prescribed Casual Video Games in Reducing Clinical Depression and Anxiety’, viewed 13 September 2012, < http://www.theesa.com/facts/research_0211_3.asp>

Kutner, L and Olson C 2008, Grand theft childhood: the surprising truth about video games and what parents can do, Simon & Schuter, America.

O’Brien, K, Russoniello, C & Parks, J 2009, ‘The effectiveness of casual video games in improving mood and decreasing stress’, Journal of CyberTherapy & Rehbilitation, viewed 13 September 2012 via East Carolina University.

Sternheimer, K 2007, ‘Do video games kill?’, Contexts, vol. 6, no. 1, viewed 13 September 2012 via Sage Publications.

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WikiLeaks: Good or Evil?

An issue raised in our tutorial discussion this week was about WikiLeaks and if it is actually doing good, or if it is detrimental to society?

I personally believe that it is doing a great thing for society. Without sounding like a tinfoil hat wearing nut, I believe that anything exposes the secrets that a government hides form it’s citizens is doing the right thing by the people. Governments have too much power nowadays and undoubtedly hide secrets from the general public for their own gain., which is unacceptable. Even general stats like civilian deaths in war zones are often hidden and it’s up to “white knights” such as WikiLeaks to help shed light on these.

Without things such as WikiLeaks there would be nobody to question to government, and if you’re not questioning the government then you’re just letting yourself become ruled.

As for the “treason” laws that are being used against Julian Assange, it’s ridiculous that the US is even trying to try him for treason against a country he isn’t even a citizen of. I guess it’s just another example of the US extending their long arm of the law to suit themselves.


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Internet Politics and You – How the internet can be used for political reasons

This weeks lecture actives revolve using the internet for political reasons. Whether it’s Anonymous hacktivists, signing an e-petition or wikileaks; the internet can be used very effectively to spread a political message.

The first activity was to sign an e-petition about something that was somewhat political related. Luckily for me I’ve actually already done this many months ago when our internet freedom was placed under threat by the SOPA/CISPA/PIPA bills that were going looking to be passed through US Congress. Essentially they gave the US Government a lot of free reign with copyright infringement that could potentially cause a lot of legitimate websites to be shut down and a large majority of innocent users to be wrongfully imprisoned under these new US laws. The petition that I signed (Link) is hosted by Avaaz and as of this post currently holds 803,913 signatures. (Avaaz 2012) Also Google hosted their own petition about PIPA which, according to them, has over 4.5 million signatures (Link). (Google 2012)

The second activity asks us to respond to a professional blogger at a major news site. I’ve chosen to respond to the blog post from the Guradian (Link) about Julian Assange and his recent speech at the Ecuadorean embassy that occurred recently. This campaign against Assange has turned into nothing but an attempt to smear Assange’s name in order to discredit Wikileaks and any documents that may appear on there. The US Government are afraid of their secret documents getting out to the public via Wikileaks and are doing everything in their power to silence him for good.

The third activity was to find out what Barack Obama was doing today. Coincidentally for me today Barack Obama was doing an IAmA (basically an interview) on Reddit (Link). Here I would be able to ask Barack Obama about his stance of freedom on the internet. Sadly I only found it when it was over. However another user did ask essentially this exact question. Obama’s response was:

Internet freedom is something I know you all care passionately about; I do too. We will fight hard to make sure that the internet remains the open forum for everybody – from those who are expressing an idea to those to want to start a business. And although there will be occasional disagreements on the details of various legislative proposals, I won’t stray from that principle – and it will be reflected in the platform. (Reddit 2012)

Our fourth activity is to find out what the Australian Government’s plans are in relation to internet censorship. The Austrian Government has announced that it is planning on introducing “mandatory ISP-level filtering of Refused Classification (RC) rated content.” Which essentially means that the government plans of blocking thousands of webpages and placing them on a black list. The filter itself will not filter inappropriate content from children, not will it prevent criminals from accessing and distributing sexual abuse material. (OpenInternet 2012)

For our fifth activity we are required to discuss what place censorship has in a democracy. I guess this is all a matter of a opinion and is definitely swayed by which way you lean politically (left or right, conservative or liberal). As for myself I believe that censorship in democracy should be non-existent. Free of speech should always be available to everyone. Implementing censorship is a slippery slope that can easily be abused by those in power (look at China for example).

Our sixth activity is too look into the National Broadband Network (NBN) that is being rolled out throughout Australia. The NBN will reach my house in 2015 and should hopefully bring significantly faster internet speeds to my area as well as throughout the nation, which will be good considering that Australia has terribly slow internet in comparison to the rest of the world. (NCNCo 2012)

The seventh activity was to find out who our local, state and federal representatives were and to send one a message. Mine are as follows:

Local: Steven Huang
State: Mark Stewart
Federal: Graham Perrett

The eight activity was to find out when our local member last made a speech in parliament via the online Hansard. I actually found the Hansard really difficult to use; although I did find some speeches from Mark Stewart, although it did not specify where the speeches were done (Link). I was able to send Mark Stewart a message via his Facebook account about his last speech; which also covers the last activity.

Sources

Avaaz 2012, Viewed 27 August 2012, <https://secure.avaaz.org/en/stop_cispa/>

Ben Quinn 2012, ‘Julian Assange statement at Ecuadorean embassy – as it happened’, The Guardian, 19 August, Viewed 27 August 2012, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/blog/2012/aug/19/julian-assange-statement-ecuadorean-embassy-live>

Brisbane City Council 2012, MacGregor Ward, Viewed 30 August 2012, <http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/about-council/governance-strategy/councillors-wards/macgregor-ward/index.htm>

Google 2012, End Piracy, Not Liberty, Viewed 27 August 2012 <http://www.google.com/takeaction/images/sopa-012112-v12.jpg>

Google 2012, Viewed 27 August 2012, <http://www.google.com/takeaction/past-actions/>

Queensland Parliament, Mr Mark Stewart, Viewed 30 August 2012, <http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/members/current/list/bio?member=Stewart+Mark>

NCNCo 2012, About NON Co, Viewed 30 August 2012, <http://www.nbnco.com.au/about-us/index.html>

NCNCo 2012, NBN rollout map, Viewed 30 August 2012, <http://www.nbnco.com.au/rollout/rollout-map.html>

OpenInternet 2012, Learn More, Viewed 30 August 2012, <http://openinternet.com.au/learn_more/>

Parliament of Australia, Mr Graham Perrett MP, Viewed 30 August 2012, <http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Parliamentarian?MPID=HVP>

Reddit 2012, I am Barack Obama, President of the United States, Viewed 30 August 2012, <http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/z1c9z/i_am_barack_obama_president_of_the_united_states/>


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Should your parents be able to follow you online? – Week Five Lecture Work

An interesting point someone made in last weeks lecture was the concept of cyber parenting; your parents following your online activities. The internet is a place that the parents of our generation (generation Y) never grew up with and can be a little skeptical and unsure of how it works and the people who frequent it. It is not uncommon for parents of children to have their home computer in a common room in their house such as a lounge or media room. Some parents may even use the services of many “nanny programs” that track online history and flag or block certain sites that may be deemed detrimental to their child. These sites are usually the general pornographic and illegal material but can also be extended to social networking sites or online games that are played with other people (i.e. Runescape, EVE, etc).

However there is a great video of what’s been termed ‘Facebook Parenting’ which is mainly when parents will add their child as a friend on Facebook in order to keep up with their lives. The video (Link) shows a father of a teenage girl who has complained about her parents on Facebook, however they catch wind and in return her father makes a video about it and posts it on her Facebook. It’s a little bit more exciting than that but I’ll let you see that in the video. It’s also interesting to see the response of teenagers on this topic as well (Link).

The idea of your parents being able to follow your movements via Facebook is a touchy subject with a lot of youths, however they can only see what the user decide to show them.

It’s a bit of a touchy subject with a lot of fine lines and thin ice surrounding it. But the issue is mostly up for argument within family circles, as each family is different in how they police their child’s online usage.


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Reddit discusses new advances in technology, both past and present.

Reddit user ‘michaelti‘ posed the question in an AskReddit thread simply titled “What are your legitimate, realistic predictions for the 2020’s?”. His suggestions included:

  • ~60% of new cars will be electric
  • Holograms begin to appear in Times Square
  • All phones are smartphones
  • More tablet computers and less desktops
  • First private flights into space
  • NFC catches on and more people pay with their phones
  • Mac OS X 10.15 “Catfish”
  • 3D with glasses won’t catch on
  • No 9th generation consoles yet (still on PS4)
  • Global life expactancy begins to accelerate
  • Stock market recovery from 2015 crash

User ‘ifeelazy‘ posted a link to a website called FutureTimeline.net which contained many predictions of the future.  This is what they have for 2020:

  • Generation X is reshaping global politics
  • Internet use reaches 5 billion worldwide
  • The 5G standard is released
  • Texting by thinking
  • Complex organ replacements grown from stem cells
  • Progress with longevity extension
  • Ultra High Definition Television (4320p) is available in domestic homes
  • Holographic TV is going mainstream
  • Africa and the Middle East are linked by a trans-continental bridge
  • Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) has been significantly expanded
  • Completion of the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link
  • The UK has expanded its offshore grid connections
  • Smart meters in every UK home
  • Public smoking is banned across every US state
  • Glacier National Park and other regions are becoming ice-free
  • BepiColombo arrives in orbit around Mercury
  • Video games with truly lifelike CGI

However user ‘pizzlewizzle‘ disagreed; stating that 2020 is only a mere 7 1/2 years from now and most of the items on that list were idealistic. Many of the users were quick to rebut with recent leaps in technology that is really quiet eye opening when you think about it.

CelebEX sums up many of the technological advances in the past 8 years:

“Most mobile phone users now have a computer in their pocket capable of doing pretty much anything you can desire, and if it cant do it now, you can download via the airwaves in under 30 seconds, and app which CAN.

Major steps forward in electric powered cars… ok, they are not quite there yet, but we have taken HUGE steps forward, and within another 8 years, theoretically, we will have fast, powerful, gas/petrol-less cars, capable of keeping up with the best of the rest.

Holographic technology takes a huge step forward

Biggest and most advanced exploration of Mars begins.

The first big commercial wave of the tablet era begins.

Skype.

Social Networking.

CD, DVD, and even downloading media files is rendered obsolete, by the ability to stream movies straight to my TV, music straight to my laptop, and store none of it myself.

Cloud storage takes a significant leap forward

I can stand infront of my games console and control the lot by waving my hands or talking to it. <– in reality, its poor atm, but its a stepping stone.

….Ok…so these are just a few things, and a lot of it isnt exactly revolutionary… a lot of what has happened in the last 8-10 years have either been great advances in things that already exists, or its a decade that has produced the first little steps in what will be able to be significantly built on, especially within the next decade…

Im not saying breakthroughs like flying cars or hover boards (how cool!) are around the corner, but some serious advances that we will more than likely just take for granted will come.”

As well as user ‘Henkkaaaaa‘:

2000-2009:

  • Personal computers broke the 1GHz barrier (2000)
  • Wikipedia is launched (2001)
  • We had our first space tourist (2001)
  • 911 happens (2001)
  • Euro enters circulation (2002)
  • Myspace is launched (2003)
  • Web 2.0 (2004)
  • Facebook is launched (2004)
  • First one gigabyte SD card (2004)
  • YouTube is launched (2005)
  • USB flash drives replace floppy disks (2005)
  • Twitter is launched (2006)
  • Pluto becomes a “dwarf planet” (2006)
  • Apple debuts the iPhone (2007)
  • Amazon releases Kindle (2007)
  • Google street view is launched (2007)
  • Major advances in CGI (2008)
  • Water is discovered in Moon (2009)

Source

Another notable prediction was made by ‘jarretwold‘ who made a neat list; some serious, some fun:

The Good

  • Full genome sequencing becomes as cheap as an STD test. Your medical treatment becomes preventative based on statistical likelihood of illness.
  • Google’s car self-driving efforts pay off, as the first mixed mode (drive yourself or have it drive you) vehicles roll off of the assembly line.
  • Rapid research in GM crops begins to address climate change.
  • The first FDA licensed 3D printers arrive in medicine. Used to print prescription medication.
  • Modest method patent reform happens
  • Progressive states enact legislation directing judges issue treatment first before punishment for non-violent drug offenses.
  • The widening political divide snuffs itself out, and a push back toward moderate politics begins.
  • First asteroid mining mission lifts off.
  • Multinational, earth orbit, debris field cleanup mission begins.
  • Batteries are finally improved. You don’t have to charge your cell phone battery for days at a time.
  • Further dramatic advances in medical imaging/analysis pinpoint targeted treatment and cause of mental disorders.
  • Medical advances provide even greater life expectancy.
  • Video games are even MORE awesome than they already are.
  • Half-life 3 gets a release date.

The Bad

  • Food scarcity rises dramatically, affecting first world countries for the first time.
  • The first GM crop mishap occurs, becomes an invasive species
  • The middle class ceases to exist
  • A distinct and widening age gap begins to appear between the rich and poor.
  • Longer lives lead to compound increase in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • All other patent reform methods fail.
  • US/China fight their first proxy war.
  • root zone fragmentation occurs due to legal and moral disagreements between countries
  • People begin to reminisce about dubstep.

The Ugly

  • Surveillance becomes ubiquitous.
  • US Courts start enforcing criminal penalties for downloading pirated anything. New felony and misdemeanors added to state law over “lost sale doctrine”
  • Litigation is automated as courts start accepting online filing.
  • Significant 1 in 1000 years, natural disaster event occurs. Likely massive earthquake/tsunami on the west coast.
  • Climate change accelerates. We can do next to nothing with present technology.
  • European Union fails. Eliminates gains from recovery after The Great Recession.
  • Global pandemic fails to occur, but causes widespread localized death in China.
  • QWOP becomes a widely loved, retro game.

It’s really interesting to think about how far we’ve come technologically and in such a short amount of time. I certainly hope that some of the things on this list come up by the time 2020 comes around, guess we’ll just wait and see.


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Week 3; A Virtual Library in a Virtual World

I want to diverge a little from the topic today and really focus on something caught my eye in the article  ‘Mind Control & the Internet’ by Sue Halpern. The thing that really got my attention, and I’ll quote straight from the text:

“You could plug into a computer’s memory banks almost as easily as you put on your shoes. Suddenly, your mind would be full of all the information stored in the computer. You could instantly make yourself an expert in anything from Spanish literature to particle physics…. With biochips to hold the data, all the information in the MIT and Harvard libraries might be stuffed into a volume no greater than that of a sandwich. All of Shakespeare in a BB-sized module…. You may see devices like this before this century ends”  (Halpern, 2011)

Let me first say, I know this kind of tech is decades away from fruition and even longer before it becomes commercially accessible, but I am excited for this. It probably wont happen in my lifetime though, or if it does I’ll be old and senile.

The thought of being able to connect your consciousness into the internet sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi movie (The Matrix anybody?) but I would welcome this tech with open arms. It would essentially eliminate the need for any formal education; as you could simply just download any knowledge you need. This would also essentially get rid of the problem of student debt and the social class based system that our education system encourages.

However, knowing humanity’s track record of ruining nice things, it would only be a matter of time until someone uses this technology, for lack of a better word, for evil. The amount of ethical issues surrounding introducing this technology are plentiful, more than I’d like to cover in this post.

I’ll just say that I’d love to see this tech come to life, but it no doubt will be shot down by the ethically concerned.