An entry for the EDC Week 3 playlist and a Cyborg sideline.

For any serious gamer there are few seminal titles more influential than Halo. The flag ship FPS (first person shooter) that accompanied the launch of Microsoft’s XBOX gaming console in 2001 was a major reason that the platform became so successful and has become one of the most popular gaming devices in the new millennium.

Anyone who’s played Halo: Combat Evolved will recall the haunting theme tune that accompanied the main menu and provided background to many of the cut scenes,  large scenic segments and the ending credits. Thoroughly rooted in the past , the early parts featuring chanting monks provided an atmosphere of both mystery (thinking armor clad knights and the crusade) and reverence to a game that was all about vast empty space and a strange, quasi religious experience involving alien covenants and rites of passage for the main character. The later parts of the score inject urgency, power and flight.

Given that many humans would love nothing more than to emulate the Master Chief (the main character and hero of the story) its interesting to note the it is never revealed throughout the entire series whether he is truly just a man of extreme martial ability or, more likely, an augmented meta human gifted with godlike bionic capabilities to achieve his incredible feats of survival and combative prowess. However, the price paid for such a ‘gift’ seems to never be really acknowledge but it is somehow projected? But no doubt,  if such a possibility existed then I dont think there would be any shortage of volunteers! A lesson for would be cyborgs perhaps?

The Histography of Cybercultures – Is Visual the only way to experience technology?

Jonathan Sterne’s chapter in the recommended reading  Critical cyberculture studies. (pp.17-28. (ebook)) has been somewhat of a revelation since reading it. In a world obsessed by image, visual stimulation and sight based impact its clear to me that we are effectively missing most of the potential messages and mediums to explore, experience and provide expression with technology. As technology grows ever more capable and inventive we really do need to try and involve more senses in the delivery of ideas involving cyberculture.

Image result for blind robots


How Video Games Satisfy Basic Human Needs – Facts So Romantic – Nautilus

How Video Games Satisfy Basic Human Needs – Facts So Romantic – Nautilus

How Video Games Satisfy Basic Human Needs

Posted By Simon Parkin on Jan 04, 2017

“Mass Effect: Andromeda” | Image from IGN / Bioware / YouTube

Grand Theft Auto, that most lavish and notorious of all modern videogames, offers countless ways for players to behave. Much of this conduct, if acted out in our reality, would be considered somewhere between impolite and morally reprehensible. Want to pull a driver from her car, take the wheel, and motor along a sidewalk? Go for it. Eager to steal a bicycle from a 10-year-old boy? Get pedaling. Want to stave off boredom by standing on a clifftop to take pot shots at the screaming gulls? You’re doing the local tourism board a favor. For a tabloid journalist in search of a hysteric headline, the game offers a trove of misdemeanors certain to outrage any non-player.

Except, of course, aside from its pre-set storyline, Grand Theft Auto doesn’t prescribe any of these things. It merely offers us a playpen, one that, like our own cities, is filled with opportunities, and arbitrated by rules and consequences. And unless you’re deliberately playing against type, or are simply clumsy, you can’t help but bring yourself into interactive fiction. In Grand Theft Auto, your interests and predilections will eventually be reflected in your activity, be it hunting wild animals, racing jet-skis, hiring prostitutes, buying property, planning heists, or taking a bracing hike first thing in the morning. If you are feeling hateful in the real world, the game provides a space in which to act hatefully. As the philosophers say: wherever you go, there you will be.

For these researchers, incredibly, enjoyment is not the primary reason why we play video games.

For the British artificial intelligence researcher and computer game designer Richard Bartle, the kaleidoscopic variety of human personality and interest is reflected in the video game arena. In his 1996 article “Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs,” he identified four primary types of video game player (the Killers, Achievers, Explorers, and Socializers). The results of his research were, for Bartle, one of the creators of MUD, the formative multiplayer role-playing game of the 1980s, obvious. “I published my findings not because I wanted to say, ‘These are the four player types,’” he recently told me, “but rather because I wanted to say to game designers: ‘People have different reasons for playing your games; they don’t all play for the same reason you do.’”

Bartle’s research showed that, in general, people were consistent in these preferred ways of being in online video game worlds. Regardless of the game, he found that “Socialisers,” for example, spend the majority of their time forming relationships with other players. “Achievers” meanwhile focus fully on the accumulation of status tokens (experience points, currency or, in Grand Theft Auto’s case, gleaming cars and gold-plated M16s).

Our disposition can often be reflected in our choice of character, too. In online role-playing games, for example, players who assume the role of medics, keeping the rest of the team alive in battle will, Bartle found, tend to play the same role across games. “These kinds of games are a search for identity,” he said. While players sometimes experiment by, for example, playing an evil character just to see what it’s like, Bartle found that such experiments usually lead to affirmation rather than transformation. “Basically,” he said, “if you’re a jerk in real life, you’re going to be a jerk in any kind of social setting, and if you’re not, you’re not.”

In a 2012 study, titled “The Ideal Self at Play: The Appeal of Video Games That Let You Be All You Can Be,” a team of five psychologists more closely examined the way in which players experiment with “type” in video games. They found that video games that allowed players to play out their “ideal selves” (embodying roles that allow them to be, for example, braver, fairer, more generous, or more glorious) were not only the most intrinsically rewarding, but also had the greatest influence on our emotions. “Humans are drawn to video and computer games because such games provide players with access to ideal aspects of themselves,” the authors concluded. Video games are at their most alluring, in other words, when they allow a person to close the distance between how they are, and how they wish to be.

“It’s the very reason that people play online RPGs,” Bartle said. “In this world we are subject to all kinds of pressures to behave in a certain way and think a certain way and interact a certain way. In video games, those pressures aren’t there.” In video games, we are free to be who we really are—or at least find out who we really are if we don’t already know. “Self-actualization is there at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and it’s what many games deliver,” Bartle added. “That’s all people ever truly want: to be.”

Not every game, however, allows us to act in the way that we might want to. The designer, that omniscient being who sets the rules and boundaries of a game reality, and the ways in which we players can interact with it, plays their own role in the dance. Through the designer’s choices, interactions that we might wish to make if we were to fully and bodily enter the fiction are entirely closed off. We may be forced to touch the world exclusively via a gun’s sights. There is no option in many video games to eat, to love, to touch, to comfort, or any of the other critical verbs with which we live life.

The crucial role of the designer in deciding the rules of how we can be in their game can be vividly seen in Undertale, a critically lauded roleplaying game from 2015 which subverted its genre by allowing players to befriend the game’s monsters, not just stab at them with swords. The game’s creator, Toby Fox, is reticent to overstate to what degree a player’s choices in his game reveal their personality. “I think a person saying, ‘I love Undertale,’ tells you more about the person than the routes they took in the game,” he told me. Nevertheless, he remains fascinated by the question of why people play the way they do. “I hear things like, ‘I got to the last boss and stopped playing because it was too much pressure,’ or ‘I kept breaking all the pots in that character’s house because I hated the fact that he told me not to.’ That’s valuable information about a person, I think.”

The opportunity for self-expression in role-playing games such as Mass Effect and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, where you must make moral choices in how to act, is clear, even if those choices are often embarrassingly simplistic and binary. (In Mass Effect, for example, the game places your character on a sliding scale between the virtuous “Paragon” and the villainous “Renegade” according to your choices thus far.) But for Fox, competitive games also allow for expressiveness. “In high-level Super Smash Bros.,”—a fighting game in which players assume the role of various Nintendo characters and attempt to knock the color from each others’ pixels —“you have some players that love to play proactively and aggressively, and there some players that play super methodically,” he said.

One’s choice of character in a fighting game may reflect one’s personality (a lithe, offensive avatar versus a slower, more defensive type, for example) but Fox often sees players use characters in ways that reflect their individual play style, rather than that which is encouraged by their chosen avatar’s strengths. “One of the best ways to beat Jigglypuff”—a pink, marshmallow-like character loaned from the Japanese monster-collecting game, Pokémon—“is to play very defensively,” he told me. “But Mango, one of the best professional Super Smash Bros. players often refuses to play that way against Jigglypuff, even if it means losing. Why? Because if he’s going to win, he wants to win being honest to himself. The way he plays is representative of who he is.”

This sort of anecdote suggests that self-determination, the theory that seeks to explain the motivation behind choices people make without external influence and interference, holds in video games as in life. The authors of a 2014 paper examining the role of self-determination in virtual worlds concluded that video games offer us a trio of motivational draws: the chance to “self-organize experiences and behavior and act in accordance with one’s own sense of self”; the ability to “challenge and to experience one’s own effectiveness”; and the opportunity to “experience community and be connected to other individuals and collectives.”

For these researchers, incredibly, enjoyment is not the primary reason why we play video games. Enjoyment is not the primary motivation—“it is rather,” they wrote, “the result of satisfaction of basic needs.” Video game worlds provide us with places where we can act with impunity within the game’s reality. And yet, freed of meaningful consequence, law abiders continue to abide the law. The competitive continue to compete. The lonely seek community. Wherever we go, there we will be.

Simon Parkin is the author of Death by Video Game: Danger, Pleasure, and Obsession on the Virtual Frontline, and has written essays and articles for various publications, including the new, the Guardian, the Times, MIT Technology Review, and the New Statesman.

Tags: #mscedc
January 25, 2017 at 06:33PM
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Week 1 Summary

(Image: Deviant Art)

So it really feels like I’m getting out of the staring gates very late indeed and wel after everyone has passed the first corner. Being away from my normal environment for a week with a heavy dose of international travel has thrown me quite a bit particularly with the EDC’s alternative method or participation and assessment. Additionally it appears that any of my fellow students are the proverbial ducks and are producing some rather incredible lifestream content by the minute. My aim this week (we’re already in week 2) is to catch up and match the standard (if I indeed can!)

Having dived into the first set of videos, some recent conversation and picking up a similar theme from some of the tweets and comments throughout the course Im developing a rather strange sense of….darkness?

Much of the sentiments revolving around some of the initial content has been quite dark. Dark in the sense that future technology, in it various forms and imaginings (whether it be stoic, blood spattered androids on roof tops in the driving rain, cyborg humans suffering devastating breakups or even disappointed desktop travelling desk toy bots), is overwhelmingly seen to ultimately end up in a melancholy way. Even my discussions with colleagues around the ultimate use of tracking by internet companies was negative. I even watched Snowden (2016) on the plan back from Lisbon which was even more unsettling.

Im now perplexed by the different ways that the use of technology and the advantages its brings is only really separated by time and familiarity. All our fears of killer AI cyber punks developing from our creation of smart robot assistants in years to come may just end up being as boring as the television now is. When it first appeared TV was portended to end whole societies and family structures. And it seems to go with a lot of new ideas that way. Thanks Phillip K. Dick, your work is now complete here!

Even one of first readings is titled ‘Whats the matter with ‘technology enhanced learning?’ (Bayne (2014)’. Heres hoping the themes turn more positive soon 😉

Article: Why paper is the real ‘killer app’

Article: Why paper is the real ‘killer app’

BBC Capital

Why paper is the real
‘killer app’

By Alison Birrane/23 Jan 2017

With apps taking over our lives, there’s a movement afoot as people yearn for simpler, technology-free times.

Every January, Angela Ceberano sets goals for the 12 months ahead. And on Sunday nights, she plans and organises the coming week.

Sometimes, I just want to get rid of all the technology and just sit down in a quiet space with a pen and paper

But instead of spreadsheets and fancy smartphone apps, the Melbourne, Australia-based founder of public relations firm Flourish PR, uses notepads, coloured pens and a stack of magazines. With these, she brainstorms, makes lists and creates two vision boards: one to manage her private life, and one with her team.

Sales of stationery have boomed in no small part due to the popularity of ‘bullet journaling’ (Credit:

Ceberano is anything but a technophobe. A digital native with a strong social-media presence, she splits her time between traditional and new media, and between Australia and San Francisco, where some of her start-up clients are based. For certain tasks, she just prefers the simplicity, flexibility and tactility of the page.

“Sometimes, I just want to get rid of all the technology and sit down in a quiet space with a pen and paper,” she says. “There are so many apps out there and I feel like no one app gives me everything that I need. I’ve tried and really given them a go, doing those to-do lists of having your priorities or brain storming using lots of different apps … [but] when I get a pen and paper, or when I’m using my old-fashioned diary and pen, it just feels more flexible to me. I can always pull it out. I can focus.”

Tactile sensory perceptions can stimulate parts of brain that associated with creativity and innovation (Credit: Getty Images)

She’s not alone. A quick scan of social media illustrates a quiet return to the humble charms of stationery and lettering. Many people are using cursive writing and colouring in to help organise their lives or work on certain goals — whether it’s fitness, finances, or fast-tracking their careers. And, despite the proliferation of apps, other back-to-basics ideas have gained popularity online.

The science behind it

Science suggests these traditional types might be on to something. While technology can certainly provide an edge for certain tasks, neuroscience is gleaning that digital overload is a real and growing concern. A 2010 study by the University of California at San Diego suggests we consume nearly three times as much information as we did the 1960s. And a report by Ofcom in the UK says that 60% of us consider ourselves addicted to our devices, with a third of us spending longer online each day than we intend. So are we doing too much, and are our screens too distracting? Possibly. For instance, many studies indicate that multitasking is bad for us and makes our brains more scattered.

People who doodle can better recall dull information

Other findings show that pen and paper have an edge over the keyboard. Research by Princeton University and the University of California at Los Angeles, published in 2014, showed that the pen is indeed mightier than the keyboard. In three studies, researchers found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. Those who took written notes had a better understanding of the material and remembered more of it because they had to mentally process information rather than type it verbatim. And, another study, published in the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology, showed that people who doodle can better recall dull information.

Jotting it down

Certainly, the concept of goal setting without technology isn’t new. It’s the way anyone did anything pre-Internet.

Amy Jones started selling goal-tracking art after a visual aid helped her pay off $26,000 in debt. Each swirl on her canvas represented $100 paid off (Credit: Map Your Progress)

The difference now is that there’s a return to traditional techniques by the digitally savvy. Many are successful vloggers, work in tech, or are experts in new media. And this latest trend has helped boost sales of stationery like Moleskine and Leuchtturm1917 notepads, the companies say. For its part, Moleskine has seen double-digit growth annually over the past for years, according to Mark Cieslinksi, president of Moleskine America. Leuchtturm1917 marketing manager Richard Bernier says it was about June 2016 when sales went viral, due in no small part to the popularity of bullet journaling, a popular form of list-making, amongst the online community.

The new self-awareness

So, with the proliferation of technology specifically designed to aid productivity and efficiency, what’s the enduring appeal of simpler tools? For starters, a notepad will never run out of batteries or have a screen freeze half way through a task. You can’t accidentally delete something. It won’t ring, or ping or pester you with constant social-media and email updates. And you can sketch, draw a diagram or stick-figure illustration — sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words — which isn’t as easily done on a smartphone.

For Amy Jones, creator of Map Your Progress, which involves goal-tracking through art, creating a visualisation helped her pay off $26,000 in debt. Inspired by the visual aids used by her mother, who worked in sales, Jones drew up a huge canvas of swirls, each representing $100, and hung it on the wall. Each time she paid that amount off, Jones, who lives in San Diego in the US, coloured one in with a brightly toned hue. The result? She paid off her debt in half the expected time and created an impressive artwork.

“I was surprised by how effective it was, at how satisfying it was to colour those things in,” Jones says. “I could take each one of these swirls and see the progress blooming in colour on my wall, then that motivated me to make different decisions. And so I was more aggressive about paying off the debt than I would have been otherwise.”

New York-based digital product designer Ryder Carroll created the Bullet Journal, a method of note-taking and list-making, out of a personal need (Credit:

After posting about her success on Facebook, the idea took off. She started selling her designs, known as Progress Maps, online in 2015 with customers in countries as far flung as Australia using them to stay focussed on goals such as clearing debt, losing weight or training for a marathon.

“There’s almost a little bit of ceremony to it as well. People get really excited. They look forward to colouring in that swirl. It becomes something more than just swiping your finger on an app, or filling in a cell on a spreadsheet. It’s more of an experience.”

Similarly, New York-based digital product designer Ryder Carroll created the Bullet Journal, a method of note taking and list making, out of a personal need. “What you see now is the culmination of a lifetime of me trying to solve my own organisational problems, all of which stem from being diagnosed with ADD when I was very young,” he says. “A big misconception is that we can’t pay attention. But in my experience, we can pay attention, except you’re paying the attention to too many things at the same time. So I had to figure out a way to, in short bursts, capture information and also figure out how to be able to listen.”

Of the Bullet Journal, he says, “it was designed for me, but it was also designed for my kind of mind, which had to be flexible. Sometimes I use it to draw, sometimes I use it to write, sometimes it would be for planning, sometimes it would be for ‘whatever’ and I wanted a system that could do all those things.”

‘Getting your hands dirty’

Writing it down also sparks innovation. Being innovative and creative is about “getting your hands dirty” a feeling that is lacking when you use technology or gadgets, says Arvind Malhotra, a professor at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School.

A return to traditional techniques by the digitally savvy has helped boost sales of stationery (Credit: Getty Images)

“Research has also shown that tactile sensory perceptions tend to stimulate parts of brain that are associated with creativity. So, touch, feel and the sensation you get when you build something physical has also got a lot to do with creativity,” he says.

In almost all the high-technology companies, those that make digital hardware and software, whiteboards are still a dominant method for creative stimulation and collaborating

“My own research on fast prototyping reveals that even in the digital age, innovation is sparked when you complement the digital with physical,” Malhotra says. It’s the reason many technology firms love whiteboards, he says.

In almost all high-technology companies, whiteboards are still a dominant method for creative stimulation and collaborating (Credit: Getty Images)

“Nearly 80% of the physical workspaces I have observed, that are considerably creative in their output, use whiteboards,” he says. “What is really interesting is that in almost all the high-technology companies, those that make digital hardware and software, whiteboards are still a dominant method for creative stimulation and collaborating.”

Back to basics

For Ceberano, being able to switch off her phone, step away from the computer, sit down and focus is key, along with the flexibility to create her own systems.

Organisation apps will always represent “someone else’s format,” says Angela Ceberano, founder of Flourish PR (Credit: Flourish PR)

“You can get caught up in this stream of technology and actually it’s always on someone else’s terms,” she says. “With those apps, the reason I don’t use them is because they are someone else’s format. It’s not they way my mind thinks,” Ceberano says. “So when I’m there with a pen and paper, I’m putting it down in a way that is very organised in my head, but probably wouldn’t work for somebody else. … I think people are just trying to take back ownership over the time that they’ve got and also the way that we’re controlling the information that we’re taking in.

Tags: #mscedc

January 23, 2017 at 11:37AM