Recently in News Response Category

I spent a bunch of this week at the Games 4 Change 2010 Festival and thinking about the potential for games, mostly digital, to effect change in the world.  Luminaries at the conference (uncited in case I've botched their eloquence) have called games the "art form of social discourse" and "unique as a medium that enacts formal discourse and cultural interpretation with the audience."  Certainly, games are a medium of interaction and engagement, and often model rules that we believe the world to work by.  Playing games can be a powerful way to consider alternative ways of looking at the world within the safe space "of just a game."

As I was preparing for the conference, a friend forwarded me this letter or comment from the Atlantic Monthly's site, and it couldn't have been more timely.  An excerpt (beyond the cut), though it's short and you really should take three minutes to read the whole thing:

Kotaku picked up a video interview of Will Wright made for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  I try not to worship Will Wright, but I think he gets just about everything right in this interview.

  • "We've gotten disconnected from the idea of play.... I don't think it's games so much as play.... we still think of play as a sort of useless, time-wasting activity.  When, in fact, play is a fundamental educational technology."
  • On Serious Games: "I think there's an environment they're emerging in, a certain garden, ecosystem ... in which they have to look serious first." "They could be a lot more fun than they are ... lot of them are maybe too specifically targeted." 
  • He offers Rod Serling's Twilight Zone and Dr. Seuss as examples of serious messages couched within a rich context or a playful presentation.
  • Perhaps motivation is a better goal than education, for games.  They'll educate anyway, but it's too serious a goal for most designers, who would do better aiming to motivate instead.
The Kotaku comments also have some good links to other material, including some TED talks.  It's a wonderful antidote to the representatives of the GIF Theory that you find on any Kotaku thread about one of the big three consoles.

Recent Readings

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This week's readings are all over the place.  After a talk by Clay Shirky, I read up on him; I missed a conference that I'd have liked to have gone to; and I followed up on some old topics of interest.

Remix culture

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Weblogg-ed News posted about a recent Lawrence Lessig essay about the "Read-Write Web" in the Financial Times. The article caught my eye because it disusses Anime Music Videos, and I like AMVs. But I stayed, and read the article to friends, because the article is really good. It uses AMVs as a case study for looking at trends in copyright on the web. As technology increasingly enables people to not only consume media but to remix, retell, and share it, the potential is vast --as is the loss we face if we successfully prevent such creativity.

Lessig also makes a few points I haven't seen others making so directly, including the fact that we do this anyway. We retell stories to each other, we recreate movies to our friends as we complain or rave about them, and we fuse media constantly in our daily life in an effort to refine (or communicate) the effect that consumed art has upon us. Have you ever put on somemusic at a party with your friends because it created the mood you wanted? Have you put stickers on a notebook because they made you laugh, smile, or made some comment about what you were sticking them on? These are retellings, and the only real difference between them and an AMV is that technology has allowed the AMV to be more polished and more widely available.

Lessig ends the article with a great question to Wind Up Records, which recently forced an AMV community to remove all videos with Wind Up Records music: Now that you've succeeded in stopping thousands of kids from spending hundreds of thousands of hours to make fantastically creative content that promotes your work for free, do you really expect to sell more records next year?

I can cite personal example after example where his point applies to me. I found the Faithless song Mass Destruction in an AMV and almost immediately went to the iTunes Music Store to get it. I've bought several albums because friends put them on mixes and I wanted the rest of the album.

This is in my hypertext blog because I think the problem is a hypertextual one... how do you give credit (in any sense) for transclusion? What sorts of currency navigate the links formed by transclusion, and how do we formalize that exchange? For years it has been a clear sign that someone Doesn't Get It about the web if they demand that you get permission to link to their site... and yet that's what cracking down on AMVs is. Heck, in a larger sense, by linking to those posts I am adding them to my own narrative in a (very diluted) form of transclusion, just as I was remixing Lessig's article as I read bits of it to my friends. I don't think these acts --discussing, linking, remixing-- differ in form but rather in scope... and I don't think the difference in scope changes the message.

An article in CNet looks at how corporations are beginning to adopt easy web-publishing tools in their businesses... and how they're not. The article almost avoids clueless sensationalism.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the News Response category.

Hypertext is the previous category.

Play Log is the next category.

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