Category Archives: Digital Essay

Mobile Development

Mobile gaming indeed has come a long way since 1997 when Nokia embedded the game Snake in their phones. For mobile gaming to reach a broad audience in the U.S., developers would have to wait for more advanced technology to leak into the infrastructures of the mobile industry. As Mia Consalvo brings to attention in her piece “Slingshot to Victory”, early post 2002 games were just the start of an evolution away from the previous single-player games that were preloaded onto mobile phones like Tetris and Snake. Games could now be downloaded onto the users phone but this also meant the user would have to cough up some dough for airtime of the download. Further, developers began to face difficulties in negotiating technological standards as devises varied, as well as working out payment options for each mobile company. (Consalvo, p. 188) Eventually, the explosion of smart phones happened and the iPhone and iPod Touch made a splash on the scene. By 2008, consumers could tap into a humongous Apps Store created by Apple and begin downloading trying out various games. With relatively flat data fees and games becoming cheaper from popularity, developers were finally able to reach a broad audience for mobile games. Thus the iPhone became a platform for mobile gaming, and one of its game changers was Angry Birds. The developer, Rovio, was still able to achieve success even though they offered a free, but limited, and full version of the game. I agree with Consalvo’s argument that “price isn’t their only concern – a game must be “good” in some way to succeed – and what makes a mobile game good is quite different from traditional console games” (p. 190). Angry Birds is simple in nature, of course not as simple as the pre 2002 games, but still easy enough for any user to pick up and play whenever they please.

This new landscape creates a nice relationship between mobile game developers and consumers. Now developers can employ techniques similar to those of Rovio for platforms like smart phones and tablets and also become successful. Other formats were showing positive feedback too – “Launched in early 2006, Mobagetown…is a mobile-only community game site that signed up 2 million members within 9 months of operation in Japan” (Chan p. 18). From his piece “Convergence, Connectivity, and the Case of Japanese Mobile Gaming”, Dean Chan asks how the cultural economy of convergence operates within the world of Japanese mobile gaming. In his finding comes the game Mogi which mobile and PC gaming converges to “create a community of high-tech hunter-gathers whose activity is set in an economy based on the bartering of virtual objects and a sociability based on text messaging” (p. 20). Though Chan determines a puzzling layer of complexity between how the players use their physical location and virtual knowledge, he does expose an interesting facet of convergence. The combination of gaming and social networking is what made Mobagetown strong. The familiar mainstream framework of the social aspect gave the user a more for your money feel. Related to this idea is a mobile game company called Slightly Social, developed by Canadian Brad Mills. His goal was to generate a creative workspace where the developers could make games that tie a social network like Facebook to mobile games. It would be interesting to see if his company did anything as similar as Mogi, where PC and mobile worked in unison and played different roles.

The U.S. and Japan, as well as many other countries, should consider themselves lucky for the advancements technology has brought to mobile gaming. Though developers may have had a rough start catering to a broad audience, they’re struggles were probably minimal in comparison with India’s gaming industry. Their gaming culture is different from the United States’ in that theirs didn’t stem from a “hacker Culture”. As Dr. Adrienne Shaw discovers, some companies in India fund their individual projects from the money they receive from programming videogames for American and Japanese companies. Still though, these companies have a hard time competing in the global market and a lack of development of original titles results in no real independent game development culture in India. Shaw argues though, that mobile phone are “cheaper, smaller, and more widely used than PC’s”, which are more valuable than strictly gaming devices. (Shaw p. 189). The success of the Nokia N-Gage, which was a flop to the rest of the world, made industry reps “focus on developing mobile and social networking games (accessible on phones)” (p. 189). The joy for developers is how easy the games are to make and distribute in comparison to console and PC games. Aside from the seemingly never ending road blocks the Indian gaming industry sees, I agree with an argument that Shaw concludes with. She argues, “The lack of a clearly conceptualized market and game culture, for example, may in fact be a great benefit to game development in India. I find it fascinating too that the limitlessness in a construction of India’s gaming audience can translate to their gaming industry existing in a different realm than most traditional models of marketing.

With technology on the rise in the early 2000s, it became evident that for a mobile game developer to make a difference and reach a broad audience they had to take certain things into consideration. Two of the most important being simplicity and convergence with a social network. The “combination of gaming and social networking is likely to become increasingly vital for mobile gaming, especially given how social networking systems are becoming more prolific” (Chan p. 18). As the Indian gaming industry develops, other countries might learn a thing or two about how to divide a market in better ways than demographics do.

Chan, Dean– Convergence, Connectivity

Shaw, Adrienne–How do you say gamer in Hindi copy

Consalvo, Mia–Slingshot to Victory

http://slightlysocial.com

 

 

Twitter and Neo- Journalism

In Collette Snowden’s Article, “As it happens: Mobile Communications Technology, journalists and Breaking News”, she makes it apparent that mobile devices have put the tools used to be a journalist in the hands of hundreds of thousands of inexperienced people. Previously devices, equipment, and transportation only available to members of the press made the act of journalism exclusive to those educated in that field. Presently, the advent of mobile technologies and the relatively cheap nature of possessing such technologies, makes it easier for your average user to produce content on the spot. Whether it be through a video, pictures or even live postings of events as they are happening, people have a tendency to report the things they see daily no matter how boring or menial they are. Snowden also mentions the fundamentals journalism and how they are being challenged by wide spread use of mobile technologies.

It is hard for professional journalists to mobilize and get to where the story is happening as it is happening. Not only does it cost a lot of money to get them on scene, film the event, and keep them their for continued coverage but it also requires a lot of time. In news time is of the utmost importance, without attention to it news wouldn’t be new. If the reporter were to show up at the scene of a story and begin to report on it a few hours after another reporter had started covering it, that story would no longer be news. What is becoming more prevalent is the use of user generated content to drive news stories because it is easier to take accounts from citizens where the event is than to send a journalist out to cover the story.

So if we are beginning to see more and more user generated content in mainstream news how does this affect the way in which these news agencies maintain credibility? Journalism is an honor driven career path that derives credibility from a set of moralistic standards that are learned. Without this system it would be hard to decipher as an audience member what was truth and what was fiction. Journalism is becoming more and more of an amateur sport and it is becoming exceedingly more difficult to define the lines between fact, opinion, and speculation.

Gerard Goggin argues that camera phones are widely changing the face of social interactions. The camera phone is used to share image files over a tele-communications network or to the internet. Goggin argues that camera phones are more or less always on ready to capture the next horrific beast, ripping up the New York City. Much like Snowden’s arguments, when events happen many peoples first reactions are to grab their phone and get some footage of that event.

Goggin also argues that camera phones allow their owners to record events for later viewings and extend the reach of place into the digital realm. This concept of place and time that he speaks of are typical binders to such content, in other words events are bound to space and time however when recorded onto a portable device the event is no longer limited to its space or time, it can be viewed virtually anywhere at anytime. In the context of news gathering, this process of content collection and distribution further distances the distinction of what is credible and what isn’t. He also makes the argument that camera phones create context, however I beg to differ. I believe camera phones and journalistic practices carried out through the general public take away from the context of the event being recorded.

Twitter is a good example where content is delivered but not necessarily the context of said content. On twitter users can post short one hundred and forty character blurbs about anything from views on the current political climate to whatever happens when Jaden Smith tries to turn his brain on.

Many news agencies today source a lot of their content for their shows from twitter accounts, most of the time it comes in the form of reactions to certain events, but every so often the tweets are first hand accounts. If anything this should not be considered a proper news source to shape opinions and present arguments. The very structure of twitter forces the user to be ambiguous with their statements through the maximum one hundred and forty-letter count. Even the hashtags meant to organize and remove some of that ambiguity, become rather ambiguous themselves. To me this takes away not only credibility from the author of the story but also the news agency as a whole. Twitter also gives users the ability to post pictures. If these pictures are picked up by a news firm and are of a sensationalist nature there will be little to no context behind the image. Say you view an image or video online of two people fighting taken and posted by an eyewitness to the event. The online viewer would first ask “well why are they fighting?” and that question is nearly impossible to answer because there is hardly available information and the recorder is more than likely to have just witnessed the event and not the context behind it.

Ben Curtis

An example of this is the image above of a child’s toy laying in the rubble of a bombed out building in the Israeli Hezbollah conflict. The Image is very moving and reveals a lot about the conflict itself in the sense of causality. However, the photographer, Ben Curtis, has received a lot of criticism about the possibility of the image being staged. He has denied that he himself staged the placement of the toy but does not deny that it may have been placed there by a civilian. The context of this image is key to its meaning, these accusations destroy its cultural significance in relation to the story. Before the accusation the audience infers the context, which would have been that Israeli missiles have been targeted at civilian homes.

On the converse there are a few applications of twitter that are of more trustworthy sources than the common person. The hacker group that calls themselves ANON revealed  a twitter group promising the truth. Durring the Boston bombings and search for the culprits the anon twitter feed gave users a vital live feed of what was happening (police scanners/reports and other such things). It became the only source that I trusted on the subject because the mainstream news websites only featured events like the bombings  itself or speculation as to who it was and no actual updates on the event.

In conclusion apps like twitter can have a place in journalism for very specific needs and should never be the basis of a news agencies findings. Otherwise the news is no longer news at this point it  becomes non credible speculation.

 

Works Cited

Snowden, C. (). As it happens: Mobile Communications Teachnology. The Mobile Medis Reader (). : . (Original work published )

Goggin, G. (2006). On Mobile Photography . Cell phone culture: mobile technology in everyday life (). London: Routledge.

(2013). Jaden Smith : Words of Wisdom : .

Mobility In Games

Mobile Technologies and Gaming on the Go 

Mobile technologies have given mobility to an array of activities that were previously available to us only in one location. There were designated areas for people to use the phone, surf the Internet, and yes, play video games. In this essay, I will explore some of the ways that mobile technologies have shaped gaming. No matter what you may think of gaming, it has now also been mobilized and no longer has its limits to the living room or the family desktop. Interaction between person and console is no longer localized and can be a widely shared activity. What does this change? What does this mean?

         To begin with, I would like to reflect on the game “Zombie, Run!” and it’s factor of mobility. The game allows users to run from imaginary zombies through the city. It is an incentive that prompts the runner to complete tasks and missions. In doing so, they are encouraged to run good distances in a fun manner. I assume that if there was never a factor of mobility for “Zombies, Run!”, then the game would have been a Wii Fitness game. Having this game app on a mobile device such as your mobile phone changes the rules and limitations. This means that social interaction is mobilized once again. Because of this mobilization, people can interact with one another in new ways, particularly through gaming. For example, I could gather up a group of however many friends I would like and start a fitness run. We could all escape the deadly zombie invasion together and work on our legs all at one time.

985780af-4a51-49e1-bd0e-e92b4ef9b4b4

While I am on the topic of large groups, I would like to turn to the reading by Mia Consalvo, titled Slingshot to Victory. Consalvo makes the point through referencing the mobile game app “Angry Birds”. The game became extremely popular on it’s iPhone platform and I would argue that mobile technology had everything to do with it. Without mobile technology as a stepping-stone, the game may have never gotten as big as it did. Consalvo made a point that was worth taking note of. She stated, “One of the challenges for iPhone game developers has been pricing” (Consalvo, 190). Mobile technologies grant access to games at much cheaper prices than those offered through large consoles, and even still consumers are often reluctant to purchase games on their mobile devices. “Angry Birds” would not have been as successful had its pricing been higher. Cheap games on mobile devices are more likely to gather customers. “Zombies, Run!” may not be the cheapest game on a mobile device, however it attracts the attention of those who may want to exercise and offers a low price for them to participate in what could be a group activity.

The reading provided by Katz and Accord titled Mobile Games and Entertainment made another strong point about mobile games. “Games are naturally occurring learning environments.” (Katz and Acord, 30). The reading offered many statistics on who plays mobile games, where the games are played, how old players are, where most game players are located, and so on. What all of this said to me was that many people like to play mobile games. Why? I truly believe that games are a mental stimulant. I think that video games get brain waves to flow. This is not my most politically correct statement, however it is a valid opinion. There is now a greater access to such technologies because of mobile gaming.

In conclusion, I would like to point out that people now have the ability to interact with one another through mobile gaming. It is a shared experience that can take place on a global scale. You can enter into a game room online and play with/against someone who is opposite you geographically. The playing field is now opened to virtually everyone. This is due in part to marketing skills and pricing. It is also a result of general love for video games. I think that the added mobility is a positive thing and a genre that serves its purpose to provide accessibility to everyone. Below is a link to a live Angry Birds game that displays such connectivity.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzIBZQkj6SY

Citations

Consalvo, M. (2012). Slingshot to Victory. Moving Data: The iPhone and the Future of Media, 184-193. Retrieved from https://mobmed14.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/consalvo-mia-slingshot-to-victory.pdfKatz, J. E., & Acord, S. K. (2008). Mobile Games and Entertainment. Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, 403-415. Retrieved from https://mobmed14.wordpress.com/readings/

Katz, J. E., & Acord, S. K. (2008). Mobile Games and Entertainment. Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, 403-415. Retrieved from https://mobmed14.wordpress.com/readings/

Image retrieved from http://cdn.marketplaceimages.windowsphone.com/v8/images/985780af-4a51-49e1-bd0e-e92b4ef9b4b4?imageType=ws_icon_large

video link retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzIBZQkj6SY

Journalistic Content

Everyday a majority of people awake to the sound of our phone alarm, or alarms, set a few hours before we have to leave for work, class or a meeting. We press snooze a few times before actually getting up to face what we have to do that day. We automatically check various social networks and past text messages from while we were asleep. We use electronic calendars to keep important dates and we barely watch TV for news. We get everything from our phones, tablets, phablets, and laptops. We don’t sit down and have coffee with the morning paper. We rush out the door with Starbucks in one hand and a mobile device, opened to Zite, in another.

Zite, a personalized magazine app, was founded by Mark Johnson and Mike Klaas and launched in March 2011. Zite is currently owned by CNN in August 2011. 100,000 downloads were achieved during Zite’s first week. The app lets you customize news that would be of interest of you. They stream from multiple websites and come together onto one platform for better reading. The pictures below show what I prefer when it comes to news.

ImageImage

We live in a world where we like to have our choices of designs and colors. Using mobile media apps are even customizable. We can share what we like, what we want, and say what is on our mind through any platform even if we are using the same app. This speaks to identify and how we perceive ourselves. Ganito states, “Colour, expression and space are important aspects of performance as communication and performance as construction of meaning. Thus, mobile acts are also moving acts, that is, they change according to the cultural context of appropriation.” People like to be able to customize their mobile technology to allow it to speak to them.

Breaking news isn’t just limited to journalist and news anchors. Mobile technology has turned everyday citizens into journalist by having access to the Internet and a camera. Instead of turning to the local paper, people can look at multiple sites with the same coverage, different opinions to gather news. Snowden highlights this point in As It Happens. Snowden explains why news is being accessed quicker and published faster than before. The people that are performing as journalists have a way to secure an audience because of technical and qualitative imperfections of user-generated content. Many of the breaking news are not calculated and are merely of someone using the camera or video function on one’s phone or write a post about something that is happening in the moment. This chapter enlightened what mobile media could be used for when it came to the Boxing Day Tsunami. Professional media coverage cannot always be there and using resources of images and videos of citizens while traditional reporting couldn’t be accessed. Goggin wrote about mobile blogging, or moblogging. This combines blogging away from the desk and on the go and connecting mobile users to the world of the Internet on the go. Nokia’s Lifeblog was one thing that created a person’s digital life online.

Zite collects information from various websites based on what a person selects as one’s interest. Popular sites such as CNET, Huffington Post, The New York Times and Salon.com are all under a particular category. Being an iPhone user I would like to know about updates for the device and the Apple brand itself. One of my options for Zite is searching “Apple News” and saving it. I could possibly find everything I need to about Apple from the last few hours.ImageImage

Choosing Zite to focus on wasn’t a mistake. I could have used Twitter or Tumblr to focus on how people report with their own mind. Instead, Zite shows what people want to see and read about just like Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and any other social networking site, you always pick your own content that speaks to who you are. This is how we identify ourselves. Zite is not just one newspaper but also all of them combined.

Ganito, Carla. (2010). “Women on the move: the mobile phone as a gender technology.” In Comunicação & Cultura, 9, p. 77-88.

Goggin, Gerard. (2006). Cell Phone Culture: Mobile technology in everyday life. London: Routledge. Chapter 3, 41-62.

https://angel.co/zite?utm_source=crunchbase&utm_medium=link&utm_content=profile&utm_term=zite&utm_campaign=crunchbase

Gamification of Experience

(Zichermann, 2011)
Since the question “Is there an app for that?” was first uttered, after the iPhone’s App Store was released in 2008, more people are using their smart phones to gamify their experience.  The demand for more game content in unorthodox places – industries not classically thought of in relation to games – is a result of successes that have occurred post the development of the app in our social consciousness. In other words, no longer is the classic modality of game making and marketing only confined to the genre loving, story oriented or achievement absorbed “player.”  Because of the iPhone’s App Store success, game developers have extended their reach, and their thinking, to include many types of people and the different industries that appeal to their disparate interests.

This trend toward marketing games, or game culture, to a broader audience couldn’t have expanded as rapidly as it did without the aid of a versatile invention like a smart phone. The number one example emphasized by Mia Consalvo, in her work called Slingshot to Victory,  being the iPhone. Consalvo maintains (2012) the implication that experience is being more gamified throughout her work. She does this by showing that the iPhone and subsequent creations offered in the App Store, like Angry Birds, have “redefined the audience for games, created new forms of gameplay, and changed how games are marketed and sold.” (Consalvo, p. 185) Two aspects that helped games like Angry Birds become accessible to a broader audience were its price and its simplicity. Consalvo claims that one of the aspects that helped non-traditional gamers embrace Angry Birds’ simplicity was the fact that it was offered in both a free, limited version and a paid version that only cost 99 cents. (p. 190) She points out that the way in which Angry Birds achieves its simplicity is with its polished design, an ability to be played in shorter moments, and has mechanics that can be picked up without much prior game literacy. (p. 190-191) These shorter moments of gameplay, which she describes as interstitial, can be played at moments formerly defined for the drudging or mundane tasks, like standing in lines, riding on public transportation, or waiting. In this respect, games like Angry Birds have started to replace or fill in our passive moments of experience with a game.

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 9.16.30 PM

 

(Rovio, 2009)

Whereas Consalvo’s arguments seems to reflect this trend toward the gamification of people’s experience due to mobile technologies, Katz and Acord seemed to fall short (2008) in recognizing how important mobile technologies are becoming to our culture. Not only do they take too broad of a stance, statistically, by defining entire countries by one core mobile gaming habit, they also seem to see games, and their use, as defined by strata. (Katz & Acord, p. 407) The firm, defined lines of hardcore gamer versus casual gamer versus social gamer are becoming blurred only five years after Katz and Acord’s work because of media and cultural convergence resulting in gamification of many types of people.  Since the development of the App Store in these last few years, the average person, as opposed to just the average gamer, is becoming more gamified. Depending on a person’s interests, attributes of all three Katz and Acord strata can be found in the experience of many. You can find hardcore Candy Crush players in non-traditional gamers, devoted first person shooter gamers casually playing Angry Birds in their down time, and a variety of people engaging with social games in many other aspects of life through Facebook. However, Katz and Acord should be lauded for recognizing that gender is not playing virtually any of a factor when it comes to which types of people are playing games (p 414). Men and Women alike are embracing game culture. Although, I feel this is occurring primarily because so many games these days are masked by the form of an app that is perceived to enhance a process, hobby or habit already maintained by people.

For instance, recently I downloaded Zombies, Run!, a zombie themed fitness app. Zombies, Run! ties into a website called Zombielink. With an account based service, users of the app can track their fitness through Zombielink by playing a Farmville-esque game using tracked stats compiled by the runs after they are completed. What this sets up for non-traditional gamers is a meta relationship with their current habit of “fitness” that results in a game, as opposed to outright describing the app from a marketing standpoint as a game for fitness. Additionally, the app guarantees the unlocking of achievements over time with subsequent runs. This is an example of what this looks like:

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 7.55.48 PM

 

(Alderman & Six to Start, 2011)

This feature is very similar to the achievement and rewards system that was developed for, and seen more commonly with, Foursquare. In the Foursquare app, users can “check-in” to locations. With the locative aspects to Foursquare comes various types of achievements on an achievement page, which is as follows:

Foursquare

(Foursquare, 2009)

As people “check-in” to locations, they are essentially playing a game that rewards with constant use. Some of these rewards are not restricted to digital rewards only. After the release of Foursquare, businesses adapted over time a policy of rewarding “players” of Foursquare who received “King” status. King status means you are the person who checked in the most at that location. To businesses, they see it as away to encourage repeat patronage. Examples of types of rewards that I’ve seen at locations were free coffee at a coffee shop and gift cards for products if a person can prove they’ve checked-in more than others.

In conclusion, many people are being gamified as games are being produced to align with their current habits. With increasing subterfuge, more and more companies are hiring game developers to produce meta apps, apps associated with their products, that gamify their product by adding features like Foursquare’s “check-in,” for example. Additionally, more and more game developers are not restricting their game development to producing content only for those who are classically defined as gamers. The problem with Katz and Acord’s argument was primarily due to a short sighted view of who can be gamified. Mia Consalvo’s argument that apps, such as Angry Birds, are making traditional games simple and cheap is more on point to the convergence that’s occurring between gaming and non-gaming culture resulting in a more gamified culture. Games like Angry Birds are making it simple for non-traditional gamers to play games. By asking “Is there an app for that?,” in many examples, the question should be translated to read: “Is there a game for my current habit?” The answer to this question usually results in some kind of game for anybody to embrace.

 

References

Alderman, N., & Six to Start (2012, February 27). Screenshot of Zombie Link [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.zombiesrungame.com/standupphilosopher/achievements/

Consalvo, M. (2012). Slingshot to Victory. Moving Data: The iPhone and the Future of Media, 184-193. Retrieved from https://mobmed14.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/consalvo-mia-slingshot-to-victory.pdf

Foursquare (2009, March 11). Screenshot of Foursquare app on iPhone [Photograph].

Katz, J. E., & Acord, S. K. (2008). Mobile Games and Entertainment. Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, 403-415. Retrieved from https://mobmed14.wordpress.com/readings/

Rovio (2009, December). Screenshot of Angry Birds [Photograph].

Zichermann, G. (2011, June 9). TEDxKids@Brussels – Gabe Zichermann – Gamification [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2N-5maKZ9Q

Political Activism via Technology

Introduction 

According to Snowden (2012):

“The use of mobile communications technology is now so widespread that it has disrupted the conventions governing the public distribution of news and information.” Similar to Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation the printing press helped spread his message to reach wider audiences. Technological advances change how people interact with information, whether it be a video of police brutality or people using Twitter (an online Mobile Blog or Moblog) to organize revolutionary efforts.

How Technology Links to Journalism

Without camera phones users would not be able to record different events happening around them. Goggin understands how pictures and video helped cellphone companies develop standards of multimedia messaging as well as multimedia synchronization with internet applications. This functionality allows users to send videos to one another, or post user generated content to twitter or YouTube. Users interact using technology through blogging by becoming “citizen journalists.”

According to Goggin (2006) who cites Nokia 2004c: “Blogging is all about communication — we are interested in other people’s lives, but at the same time we want to share our own experiences and thoughts with the others. Having a multimedia diary of your life is a unique starting point for sharing the items that make up your life memories.”

Whether that life experience be participating in a revolt or simply your child’s first steps, any event can become news for consumption essentially making anyone with a camera phone and the internet a “journalist.”

I appreciate how Snowden identifies traditional journalistic practices as “inadequate.” With the rise of user generated content via the internet journalism has moved more toward a web/media based occupation. So instead of reporting writing and editing a story, “neo-journalists” have to be familiar with photoshoping their images, using final cut to edit the the breaking news video they took with their phone or other mobile device. Along with having knowledge to running his/her own WordPress or blog to publish content.  “the capacity to adapt quickly and creatively to developments in technology has become a requirement for professional survival in journalism. Multi-skilling is now demanded, rather than desired.” (Snowden, 2012)

How Journalism Links to Politics

“Breaking news material frequently appears as an event occurs close to or occasionally in real time as the event unfolds.” (Snowden, 2012) “The proliferation of user-generated content, individually produced, widely distributed and free available has also disrupted the capacity of government and corporations to control or censor the reporting of news or information about events.” (Snowden, 2012) A perfect example of user-generated content that became uncensored  was the video that leaked showing American soldiers torturing prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. I’m sure the government wanted to keep it a secret that they were violating Human Rights as established by the Geneva conventions. When this story broke many different organizations were pressuring the U.S. government to act in accordance to it’s values. A short video that wasn’t suppose to leak can generate a lot of public outcry and I am willing to bet that the government would have got mainstream media to censor the images if the information wasn’t leaked by independent news sources.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guantanamo_Bay_files_leak

How Technology Links to Politics

http://www.wired.com/2013/04/arabspring/

(The link below provides an interactive timeline of different events that have happened in the Arabian struggle)

http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2011/mar/22/middle-east-protest-interactive-timeline

Arab Spring is a series of events consisting of peaceful and non-peaceful protests and demonstrations in various Arab North African countries, where brave citizens oppose oppressive governments. What the world is seems the be amazed at is the strategic and successful of the internet in organizing protests and delivering information.The wired.com link talks about how the protests use the mobile blog twitter and the social network Facebook to their advantage in staging protests and deliver other protesters and the world content mainstream media may not cover, or even have access to.

iPhones as Political Action Devices

Leistert criticizes the iPhone’s revolutionary capabilities, based on a couple factors. The fact that Apple’s platform lacks open source software which would allow hacker culture an easier capabilities to modify the function of the iPhone. I generally have to disagree with this sentiment because iOS (The Operating System for Apple Mobile Devices) is written in Objective-C code which itself is open source, available to all to understand and use.  With knowledge of the capabilities of Objective-C one could still modify the code of the device. Also in terms of the App Store being closed to revolutionary apps, there is an App Store called Cydia, where any developer can submit his/her application for use. The whole idea that the iPhone is “closed-source” is negated by the fact that Cydia and the jailbreaking community exists to extend freedom into the device.

http://www.saurikit.com/

The only point made that is true is that you void your warranty by attempting to remove the iPhone’s battery. However the iPhone has password authentication that cannot be bypassed. There are glitches with it, but the idea is that if you cannot put in the correct passcode, or the phone is stolen you can “brick” the phone which means erase all data as well as the operating system off of the phone making it usable. I think this feature would be in the interest of activists with sensitive information on their device. It may not be as easily done with an iPhone to perform the features essential for a revolutionary person, however as a person who knows about phones everything that was said that cannot be done with the iPhone pretty much can be.

iPhone Problems:

Closed Source,

Centralized Application Distribution

Lack of Autonomy from Producer (Apple, or Cell Phone Providers)

Solutions:

iOS is closed source, but can easily be modified and has been. Closed source is simply in terms of something being legal, if you are in revolutionary groups I doubt something be legal is of consequence to you. Jailbreaking or unlocking an iPhone is modifying closed source code, yet is it freely available on the internet without issue.

Cydia is an alternative Application Distribution Platform

iPhones can be used on GSM & CDMA networks, can act as routers as well as send bluetooth messages. All of the problems provided by the article don’t really take into account that each problem can be easily fixed if the group had/wanted to use the iPhone.

Conclusion:

Modern journalism is a result of actions by random individuals that happen to be at the right place or the wrong place at the right time. The camera’s introduction to the mobile device assists in citizen journalism and empowers the ordinary man or women to become their own source of news media. This effect transforms news into a medium that is not solely under control of corporations or the government, democratizing how we view information. The information we view can influence political discourse, and the information we share can assist in the political action we take. Any cellular device, iPhone or Android can be used in sharing information to revolutionize our world.

Works Cited

Goggin, Gerard. (2006). Cell Phone Culture: Mobile technology in everyday life. London: Routledge. Chapter 8, 143-161

Leistert, Oliver. (2012). “The iPhone’s Failure: Protests and Resistances.” Moving Data: The iPhone and the future of media. New York: Columbia University Press. P. 238-248.

Rheingold, Howard. (2008). “Mobile Media and Political Collective Action.” In Katz, J. E. (Ed.). Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. P. 225-239

Snowden, Collette. (2012). “As It Happens: Mobile communications technology, journalism, and breaking news,” in N. Arceneaux & A. Kavoori (Eds), The Mobile Media Reader. New York: Peter Lang. P. 120-134.

The Impact of Twitter on Journalism | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios. (2012, November 15). YouTube. Retrieved April 20, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nl9xI-kAE8A

Mobile Gaming in a Smartphone Society

The advancements in mobile technologies have plated a huge role in the developments of many facets of modern society, but one of the most interesting is that of the gaming world. Mobile devices have afforded the popularization and normalization of gameplay among the general public in ways that used to be reserved for more intense “gamers”, though this broader audience consumes mobile games differently than people consume console and desktop games.

Mia Consalvo discusses this trend in a piece she wrote titled “Slingshot to Victory”, using the example of Angry Birds to show how iPhones have redefined the gaming audience. Consalvo writes that, “with the opening of the App Store in 2008, the iPhone began transforming smartphones into agents of play, reconfiguring how its users relate to mobile tech” (2012).  Phones had come with simple games on them for many years, but Apple’s App Store and its contemporaries marked a shift in which games could be developed and downloaded easily. Furthermore, the touch screens that were becoming more commonplace allowed for easier gameplay that could be integrated into people’s normal day-to-day lives (Consalvo, 2012).

Consalvo’s choice of Angry Birds as her guiding example is useful because it was arguably the first time that a mobile game had gained such widespread popularity and cultural acceptance. She argues that much of this has to do with the way the game is played. “The title has minimal story and basic graphics … [it] is accomplishable in short bursts, has multiple paths to success … [and is] basic enough for almost any user to pick it up and play successfully” (Consalvo, 2012).

Angry Birds’s design is both simple and sleek.

I agree with this argument because I have never considered myself a typical “gamer”. But when Angry Birds was released and gaining popularity, I found myself playing it all the time. Whenever I had more than 30 seconds to myself, I could easily pull out my phone and attempt to beat a level. The short structure and simplistic gameplay allowed me to do so without the people around necessarily knowing what I was even doing. Playing a game like Angry Birds looks, and more importantly, feels, very similar to using one’s phone in any other way. The phenomenon is difficult to put into words, but playing a mobile game and playing a video game feel like two very different things, and playing a mobile game has come to be accepted in mainstream culture.

I think a big part of it is those short bursts that Consalvo describes. Playing a mobile game can be integrated more easily into one’s daily activities. Instead of setting up a console to play games that require sitting in front of a television, mobile games an be played while standing in line at the grocery store or while riding public transit. However, she also notes that the majority of mobile gameplay is done in the bedroom (Consalvo, 2012). This may be true, but the popular conception is that mobile games are played on the go, and it is that belief that perpetuates that mainstream acceptance.

However, I think it can also be said that certain games are more likely to fit into this acceptance than others. In his article “Convergence, Connectivity, and the case of Japanese Mobile Gaming”, Dean Chan argues that increased mobile gameplay adds to the complexity of the blurred lines between physical and virtual presence (2008). In doing so, he makes several attempts at answering the question of which games are more likely to be played by a widespread audience. First of all, he notes that free games, especially now that data rates are not as high, have a significantly better chance of gaining popularity (Chan, 2008). I agree with this because people generally put a different value on mobile games than they do other games. A console video game can cost upwards of $60, but it is expected to be a full gaming experience. Because many mobile players think of their games as ‘something to do’ in order to pass shorter periods of time, they are not willing to pay for them. There is this idea that they could just as easily check social media or use their phones in some other way. Therefore, it should be free or at least comparable to any other app they would regularly download.

However, Chan also states that branded games have a better chance of being downloaded because general users will recognize the name and use that as a reason to play the game, citing examples such as Pac-Man (2008). I don’t agree that this is always the case. Angry Birds did an excellent job of branding itself, merchandising itself through clothing and toys, but it still started as a mobile game. And many of the most popular games, such as Temple Run or the recent 2048, do not have big brands as a draw. But they are also not advertised through the same means as traditional games; they rely mostly on word-of-mouth.

That word-of-mouth is something particular about mobile games. I think that they allow for a special kind of interaction and conversation among users. Most of the games that become popular are played by a individual people, with no virtual interplay. The interaction takes the form of more traditional conversation: sharing high scores, levels reached, and goals to be accomplished. In my personal experience, it is not uncommon for people to play these games while sitting next to one another, allowing for real-time updates. I think that social aspect also adds to the mainstream acceptance of mobiles games. The research might say that games are more likely to be played alone in the bedroom, but the popular understanding is that they are played on the go and can offer a form of connection among players. And with that understanding in place, I think it is safe to say that mobile games will continue to be played, though maybe without much change, for years to come.

 

Works Cited

Apple. (2014). App Store. Retrieved April 20, 2014, from App Store Games: https://itunes.apple.com/us/genre/ios-games/id6014?mt=8

Best Andriod Apps Review. (2010, October 17). Angry Birds Android Game Flies into Top Spot. Retrieved April 20, 2014, from http://www.bestandroidappsreview.com/2010/10/angry-birds-android-app-top-rated-game.html

Chan, Dean. (2008). “Convergence, Connectivity, and the Case of Japanese Mobile Gaming.” Games and Culture. 3(1): P. 13-25.

Consalvo, Mia. (2012). “Slingshot to Victory: Games, Play and the iPhone.” In Snickars, P. and Vonderau, P. (Eds). Moving Data: The iPhone and the future of media. New York: Columbia University Press. P. 184-194.

Farcas, D. (2013, November 10). Super funny!!! Asian guy playing video games in nyc subway. Retrieved April 20, 2014, from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWO9HfcsI1Q