Multimedia for Social Change

Jason – Dipity Timeline by jlipshin
April 30, 2011, 11:12 pm
Filed under: mm4sc, Reflections

Check it out here.

Jason – Exciting, exciting news! by jlipshin
April 20, 2011, 2:21 pm
Filed under: mm4sc, Reflections

So I just found out that Liz and I received the provost grant!!!! Very excited to put the funding to use and create some awesome media projects with IDEPSCA. 🙂

Games 4 Change by hsivakum
April 20, 2011, 9:37 am
Filed under: Reflections

I suppose since we’re discussing video games I’m left to reprise my role as class cynic. Once again, I found it hard to believe most of what was being said. The paper lists four needs of organizations that games fulfill:

• Engagement and Outreach

• Constituent Learning and Training

• Direct Experience

• Relationship Building

Of the four, I definitely understand how games play a role in engagement and outreach. But I feel that is literally the only true role they are good for. I think that games function best for an organization as a means of enticement, as an interactive and entertaining commercial. I sincerely question the ability of games to provide meaningful learning, training, experience and relationship building. If someone is attracted to an organization, then there are substantially simpler and more effective and more concentrated ways to accomplish all those things. For example, I know that the army has successfully used a game to increase recruitment. Yet I have not heard of them using games to train soldiers or build bonds simply because games are ineffectual in comparison to traditional methods in those regards. I view games more as a means of stirring up a preliminary interest rather than a way through which one can sustain or develop an interest. I do agree to some extent with the idea of games as a social actor and think the example of a game that combats female stereotypes is a powerful one. But at the same time, one of the defining aspects of games is that they are almost never meant to be accurate or realistic representations of society the way many books or films are. Games for the most part receive the same amount of respect as Saturday morning cartoons since that’s what many of them amount to. Ultimately, I think games are mainly used as a way to kill time and that there is an inaccurate trend of overestimating the impact or influence of games. When they are used by organizations or for purposes beyond merely entertainment, they should be used simply to generate buzz or interest instead of being molded into highly substantive experiences since that goes against the very nature of games.

Liz – Project Update and Reflection on Mobile Activism Research by Liz Krane
April 20, 2011, 9:26 am
Filed under: Reflections

Project update:

This is the last week of Aprendamos, and the projects are pretty much done! Right now the students are taking cameras home to take pictures of the aspects of their community that they discussed in class, and hopefully they’ll relate it to the posters they drew:

I wish we got to use MapLib in the classroom or at least a desktop program to let them annotate their maps, but we didn’t have time. So instead, we did the project in pieces:

  • drawing the posters
  • writing descriptions of them on notecards
  • typing up the descriptions on the computer
  • taking pictures of the parts of their communities that are represented in the posters

And then we can put those pieces together and still put it on MapLib for the students and their parents to see.

Mobile Activism Research

Ubiquitous Information – Mobile Phones in the Classroom

This research studied mobile phone use in primary and secondary school classrooms in New Zealand, and the key finding was that students enjoyed using the phones and thought they could be useful, but only if used in a very structured way.

Here’s something that reminded me of the elementary school we’ve been going to:

“Students saw the biggest advantage in using the internet via the mobile phone being that sites were not blocked by the school system. One of the features most appreciated by Year 12 was the ability to view YouTube videos” (33).

The complete lack of internet access in my class was definitely a problem, but even Jason’s class had difficulty using the internet just because of all the blocked websites, YouTube in particular.

I wonder if using cell phones would solve any of those problems. There are some major roadblocks for us, though. I doubt the parents and teachers would approve of using cell phones in class.

The study found that even a lot of the students themselves didn’t think cell phones could be useful for education, and that they were just for text messaging. That was a surprise to me! In fact, the older students in the study all decided they preferred not to use the cell phones by the end of their semester. The younger students all loved using the cell phones, on the other hand — perhaps because they didn’t have as many preconceptions about what cell phones are useful for?

I defnitely think IDEPSCA can get more use out of cell phones, though. They’re already using Mobile Voices (which we all got to learn about last week!), but I know they want to find more uses for it in more of their programs. For Aprendamos, at least, I think using cell phones could be interesting if used sparingly, or maybe just as a way for students to engage in learning after class is over.

Jason – Timeline Worksheet, Week 14 by jlipshin
April 20, 2011, 9:26 am
Filed under: mm4sc, Reflections

My class filled out this worksheet (made by Grecia and myself) to help them brainstorm their Dipity timeline projects.


Hopefully, it will all get done by the last day of the program (this Thursday!).

Jason – Games for Change, Week 14 by jlipshin
April 20, 2011, 9:03 am
Filed under: mm4sc, Reflections

Although the “Games for Change” white paper was interesting and informative on many levels, I have to say that I also found it to be incredibly vague. I understand that the purpose of the paper is mostly to just provide a cursory mapping of possible practical directions for the field in terms of production of the games and their distribution to the appropriate audiences, but I also think that a crucial element that is missing from this discussion is a real interrogation of the specificity of games as a medium. To be sure, the paper repeatedly makes claims for the importance of this specificity in the context of social advocacy (especially in relation to more established genres like documentaries), but it really doesn’t go into what the specifics of this specificity might mean for authors and players in games for change. The paper makes a couple, really interesting points about performance and identification in gaming (ala Jenkins, the ability to try on alternate identities and points of view in a low-risk environment), but I kept on wishing that they would frame game literacy in the terms of systems level thinking. In fact, Ian Bogost, in his book Persuasive Games, explicitly connects the necessity of systems level thinking in gaming (seeing the relationship between multiple, dynamic processes and managing that complexity) to an understanding of the way complex systems work in the “real world.” For instance, in his analysis of Molleindustria’s McDonald’s Game, Bogost underlines the ways in which the game’s procedural rhetoric allows the player to cull an understanding of the complex relationship between private/public interests and global economies of production and consumption inherent to the interworkings of the fast food industries.  At another point, he uses Chris Crawford’s 1990 title Balance of the Planet to demonstrate how a game might provide a more sophisticated model for understanding the interrelation and friction between political, economical, and ethical values in environmental issues. Clearly, games for change online provide more opportunities for direct advocacy and scalable outreach (although I’m not quite sure why the authors frame this as an opportunity specific to gaming…), but I also think that the game form provides a political potential beyond its status as an easily disseminated object that lives online. This is, of course, not to say that games by virtue of their capacity for systems level thinking are always already politically progressive (on the contrary, one could imagine an authored system that was politically reactionary), but I would argue that the capacity to track multiple interests, causalities, and feedback loops is a necessity if one is to understand the political context within which an activist can participate.

Tina’s Week 14 Reflection by tinalzeng
April 18, 2011, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Reflections

So the theme of this post: get help when needed.

It’s getting quite stressful during this time of year and scheduling is a nightmare when there is much to be accomplished.
I’ve learned that I can’t possibly do everything and that I need to delegate work in order to stay sane.

Here’s an update  on ABC…

Video of James Rojas is up and running on our Facebook page!
Activity is low so far so I’m definitely going to be working on getting more eyes on our page by writing a small blurb about us.
I think I need to solicite James’s help in getting the word out via Facebook.

I typed a transcript up of James’s interview and is now sitting on the editor’s desk for approval. Unfortunately, she is out of town for vacation for a week so I’m afraid my deadline will be pushed back.

I’m not getting much help with editing footage from Alhambra High School so the man on the street interviews didn’t happen. Hopefully on the ABC meeting on Thursday I’ll be able to solicite some help from Efren, the other member of ABC.

Reflection on Games for Change…

I’m going to comment on the overall design of Darfur is Dying. I think that when the insert of a text blurb was needed to explain something, it was too long to digest and all it took was one click to get back into the game. What I think may be more effective would be to insert informational blurbs in a more design-savvy way. This could be using a better typeface, background color, length of message and when and where the message is conveyed. Users can easily avoid reading if the design of the message is poor and if avoiding reading the message is too easy.

Aside from some improvements on design, I think perhaps another way to  raise not just awareness but actual concern for Darfur is for the user to start with a character within a family and to be able to play characters in different roles. For example, to be the mother or the child. Or even, what is it like to be a helper in a refugee camp? The gravity of the situation in the game didn’t get to me as I felt like it should have.

I’ve finished playing several series of Call of Duty and can say that I’ve been intrigued to learn more about wars after playing. This is because the game is centered upon a storyline and is effective in visual storytelling. This should be an area that is high focused upon when developing games for change: to tell the story that change is needed before it is possible.