A reflection

Despite the findings of my research paper, I was notably impressed with the ability of video games to educate. The primary reason I chose not to include Medal of Honor: Frontline in to this group of educating video games, I feel, was because it was so outdated. The primary cause to this point, I feel, was my own bias towards the outdated graphics, the rudimentary objectives and the god-awful aiming system I found so captivating nearly a decade ago.
Yet, this game, I felt was the beginning to what I learned in this class. While the game, itself, was not representative of the direction society is taking itself, I feel this class demonstrated the change in society as well as the current trend. From electronic museums, to charting the use of the word “the,” to a website that catalogued every change or edit to the bible since its original penning, I can, with ease, say that I was witness over the pas semester to the change in direction of how my children, grandchildren and grand-grandchildren will be learning. Truly, there will be no more speak and spell.
Five years ago, Hitachi claimed the world’s smallest microchip, with dimensions of .15 millimeter x .15 millimeter. The innovations I’ve personally seen and explored in this semester lead me to be very excited about learning and, especially, what role our generation will take in the annals of digital history. Will this countless amount of innovation be portrayed simply on one website or, in 50 years, will computers simply plug right in to our brains and tell us everything it is we need to know. I’ve enjoyed imagining and exploring with all of you and I hope you have with me. Thanks for a great semester!

Proposal for future research

As Gee’s six-year old noted, “the bad guys become the good guys.” In the most recently released version of Medal of Honor, titled, “Black Ops,” already cited as completely unrealistic (Elliott 2011), the multiplayer option exists to play as US forces or Taliban in Afghanistan. The game is groundbreaking in that, previously, no game has ever been produced during the same time period of the conflict (KENRECK). Previous versions of war games have depicted Vietnam, WWII, WWI, etc but have all been produced years following the conflicts. This current day game allows for players to play as the Taliban and, essentially, kill soldiers. The problem comes heretofore in that, in current times, these very same things are happening. Four thousand deaths are attributed to the Iraqi War and that number is currently being broached in Afghanistan. War Veterans, regardless of what conflict they served in, will synonymously chime in that war is hell. At what point can the seeming invincibility of soldiers or the glorification of video games be considered enough? The United States Army uses “America’s Army” – a video game made and produced by the US Army – as its number one recruiting tool (Hsu).
A proposal for future research would be to investigate a comparison between actual war experiences and the emotions triggered alongside such things as compared to video game experiences. Alongside this, the psychological toll of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom could well be our generation’s Agent Orange, cites Dr. Sally Satel (Satel 2005). The wounds of the thousands of soldiers coming home from war takes form not always in missing limbs and dismembered lives but scarred minds and damaged psyches. It is notable in my research to point out to my detachment to the horrors of war. Research, is therefore, commendable on the link between post-traumatic stress disorder and the playing of video games. If soldiers that couldn’t perform in the field get a second chance to save themselves or their brethren, healing, perhaps, could begin to emerge.

Kenreck, Todd. “From Real Drug War to Video Game.” In-Game. Web. 23 Mar. 2011.

Hsu, Jeremy. “For the U.S. Military, Video Games Get Serious | LiveScience.” Current
News on Space, Animals, Technology, Health, Environment, Culture and History | LiveScience. Web. 23 Mar. 2011. .

Satel, Dr, Major Gregory Burbelo and Nate Zinsser. “AEI – Soldiers, Psyche, and the
Department of Veterans Affairs.” Welcome to AEI. Web. Collection of studies. 19 Apr. 2011. .

Project Statement: Pixellated Culture

I went into this project thinking of all potentials for a video game blog. At first I hit some speed bumps when I tried to come up with an idea that was different enough, making reviews and videos quickly out of the question to avoid being called a copycat. Thus Pixellated Culture combined my penchant for all things history, literary, and video game.

One of the first things I noticed when creating this blog is how hard it really is to get out there. There are a lot of blogs just on Blogger, let alone getting WordPress and Omeka in the list. I was unsure how to get into this. Thankfully Blogger’s random button convinced me I’d get traffic and off I went.

Right now, Pixellated Culture, while not a booming success, is a success by my standards. I had wanted only 10 page views per post, and have averaged that and more. This surprised me as I’ve done little marketing of the blog outside my Twitter feed. I do regret not being able to market more, which is probably the only thing I would change if I had to do this again. This whole project has made me think about the status of video games as part of a scholarly agenda and what kind of audience wants this type of blog.

What surprised me the most was the google searches that led to my blog. Unfortunately, those who read my blog appear to be RSS -and- Follow-phobic, as my blog does not have any actual follows through these things, meaning those who do read the blog either follow my twitter links or go out of their way to type the address into the bar. These same people also don’t comment. I consider this a good and a bad thing. It’s bad because I would love my reader’s input into what I cover or if they think I’m crazy, but it’s good in a no trolls on my blog way. Perhaps no news is good news.

This project also made me realize the international application of the internet. Most of this class was spent focusing on American usage and ideas, with the potential for these ideas to go across the board. I’ve had many hits from across Europe. The U.S. is certainly my prime audience right now with a majority of my hits coming from within the U.S., but I have readers in Finland, Hungary, Denmark. Unfortunately, I can’t tell if I have multiple readers in these areas or if it’s just one, but I now have to keep an international base in mind since video game releases vary. This isn’t much of a problem with modern video games, as most developers prefer to release world wide on or around the same day, but they might not have access to all the online games I do.

This blog has also made me consider what is a game. Recently, I decided to do a post on flash games, with the flash games all being on one particular site that I frequent. Hopefully, I can gage the response from that so I know how soon and if my audience wants to talk about those type of games or if they are of a more “hardcore” sector.

One of the last things I noticed as a trend was that my literary posts tended to get more traffic than my historical posts. My post on Bioshock (second post) garnered more hits than my post on Fallout 3 (first post), which could be handwaved by saying it was order. But my post on Silent Hill (fourth post) garnered more hits than either Metal Gear Solid (third post) or Assassin’s Creed (fifth post). What this tells me is that while my audience is interested in the historical aspect (they still read those posts) they prefer looking at the literary aspect, the story aspect. I find all this to be an interesting look into the current gamers’ mind, but can in no way call this conclusive. I will maintain the project in the future, as this topic still remains in my interest and I feel like I can’t let my readers down now.

Rollout: The Project Gemini Chronicles

I am nearly finished with my digital project, The Project Gemini Chronicles. I am pleased with the outcome of this project, but of course, there is room for improvement.

Here’s what this project features:

  • Primary source documents, uploaded to Scribd by others
  • Slideshows for all but one of the missions (still working on obtaining photos for Gemini 9)
  • A YouTube video on each mission page
  • Curated links to other resources via Delicious

If I had more time and resources, here’s what the next steps would be:

  • Through FOIA, I would have searched for even more primary source documents, scanned them, and uploaded. This way this site would be a comprehensive destination for Project Gemini primary source documents.
  • More video content
  • More comprehensive copy

The site, in its current version, is complete and should be considered a framework for future expansion. Curating the content was very time-consuming, but it was a good experience.

This site accomplishes its intended goals, which I posted about in January:

This project will make accessible historical information that is difficult to find over the vast sprawl of the Internet. NASA’s work interests many people, and I feel this site would do a service to the general public by making this information easier for the public to find. Perhaps it could even be used as a teaching tool in classes.

I feel, as a result of my work, this does serve as an effective portal. Those interested in learning additional information that is beyond the scope of this site are able to find additional resources in the curated links.

I learned a lot as I went through this process, the biggest surprise being just how long a project like this takes to put together. But I can’t think of anything I would do differently. I am proud of this project, and I hope you enjoy it as well!

Medal of Honor: Frontline – June 6, 1944

“And when he gets to heaven, to Saint Peter he will tell: One more soldier reporting sir – I’ve served my time in hell.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
It’s June 6, 1944. I’m Lt. James “Jimmy” Patterson. The game throws me right in to the action as the camera zooms in to my boat, which is carrying me towards the beach. The beach destination: Omaha beach. Of the five beaches considered for the game’s first level, wide cited as the, “centerpiece of the game… it showcases the audio and visual presentation better than any other level” (Gamespot 2002), Omaha was chosen over Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword.
Before I am even granted control over my body, as I’m relegated to craning my neck to check my surroundings (breaking-edge for 2002), I’m witness to the soldiers in front of me praying, puking and everything in between in anxiety of what’s to come. As my Captain screams orders at us, “meet me on the beach,” a plane overhead shells the boat with a bomb. Everyone who is on the boat is either killed or thrown overboard in to the carnal, calm waters of Normandy Beach. I still haven’t been given controls over Patterson and am witness to several of my fellow soldiers being mowed down as I swim towards the surface. Speaking objectively, at this point in the game, I’m bored. I’m not allowed to do anything or kill those bastard Nazis but am instead watching as my avatar swims (slowly, at that) to the surface to try and meet up with the captain. Gee would cite this as my desire to engage in the Self-Knowledge Principle, stating that, “the virtual worls is constructed in such a way that learners learn not only about the domain but also about themselves and their current and potential capacities” (Gee 64). I want to know how hard this game is going to be, how dexterous I’ll be with a gun, how fragile my character will be and how easily I’ll be able to make sense of objectives.
I surface. The deafening quiet of the ocean is replaced with the whizzing sound of bullets and the yells of fellow soldiers attempting to progress onwards and upwards towards the Nazis. Before I’m cognizant of my first objective, meeting with the Captain, I hear a “thud” sound as a stray bullet tags me. Ow? I have a life bar and I’ve lost, at most 5%. I could only hope to fare as well should I ever personally be shot. Sense of invulnerability enabled, I casually stroll over to the Captain who informs me it’s my mission to provide cover fire for four injured men to escape the murderous sights of Nazi machine gunners. I loll over to the first, second, third and finally fourth man, providing lackadaisical cover fire. I’m hit a number of times but, even after rescuing my fourth prisoner, I’ve only just dipped in to my yellow health meter (0-20% = flashing red, 21-60% = yellow, 61%- 100% = green). I’m doing just fine and am not too concerned. My lazy self is caught unaware as I’m hit with a falling bomb. Little to no health is suddenly a concern. A few unfortunate machine gun shots later, I’m dead. I restart the level on hard mode, rather than easy – time to unleash my inner gamer. There is no thought to Jimmy Patterson’s mortality, his family, his friends, his highschool sweetheart, etc. There is, however, extended eye rolling at the long loading scenes, the tedious introduction and the repeating of the same cinematic and beginning objectives. Gee cites my attitude as the Psychosocial Moratorium Principle, stating that, “learners can take risks in a space where real-world consequences are lowered” (222).
Hard mode is suddenly different. Each time I get shot, my health bar begins to drastically dip. I run and take cover. Gee states that, “playing through the invasion of Omaha Bach in medal of Honor gives one a whole new perspective of what the battle is like… [it] puts the player right in the midst of the action, pinned to the ground, surrounded by deafening noise and wounded, sometimes shell-shocked, soldiers, and facing the near certainty of a quick death if he/she makes one wrong move” (145). Soldiers rescued, despite my best efforts, I’m still at around half health. I stumble upon what I assume is a medical canteen, which gives me about 20% more life. Not too shabby. I escort an engineer who cuts the wire obscuring allied forward progress and sprint quickly to the cover of the Nazi Bunker’s wall. From that point, my Captain (somehow still alive) tells me it’s my job to take out the two machine gun nests rested on the hill above us. I run over to the nearest machine gun, shoot the six Nazis guarding it, commandeer the controls, take aim at the machine gun nests, take them out and then quickly turn to the four Nazi soldiers that were shooting me the entire time from a trench and quickly disperse with them. Nazis dealt with, I’m greeted with a loud banner across the screen that displays, “all Nazi soldiers eliminated” (if only). I run to the nearest door to access one of the bunkers and my invasion in to Normandy is over.
Reflecting, the experience can’t help but be portrayed to the likes of Captain America. I, Jimmy Patterson, just single-handedly saved all my fellow soldiers and eliminated just about every single Nazi on the dreaded beach. Gee supplements this, stating that, “ as in most shooter games, your character can take a great deal of damage before he dies. It takes a number of bullets to kill him, and he can find health kits throughout the game to replenish health. While he faces tough enemies, the fact that he can dish out a great deal of damage with special weapons and sustain a good deal of damage makes you, the player, feel like quite a superhero” (161).
Craig Anderson and Brad Bushman, with blanketing statements, assert that, “effects of exposure to violent media result primarily from the development, rehearsal and eventual automatization of aggressive knowledge structures such as perceptual schemata, social expectations and behavioral scripts” (Anderson and Bushman 356). The two also state that the average Youth between 8 and 18 spends more than 40 hours per week using some sort of media, alluding to the sway video games and electronics take over the young populace (354). Despite this, playing through Medal of Honor: Frontline, the only overwhelming feeling I got was of entertainment. Never at any time were the two worlds confused or meshed together. Frustrated with the second level, I even sought cheat codes to make my passing of the game a touch easier and more expedient (for purposes of writing this paper, I swear – cheaters never prosper). The detachment I felt from the inhuman crimes being committed was palpable. Never during my playing did I, despite entering in to the virtual world through a first-person shooter, entertain the notion of my historical setting.
This phenomenon was noted by Gee. In alluding to Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, Gee allowed a six-year old to play the game. While playing as Dark Sonic, presumably the evil version, the kid noted that, “the bad guy was the good guy” (145). Notably, this embodies the belief that video games measure themselves apart from the reality of situations. In Return to Castle Wolfenstein multiplayer, when characters are divided up in to Nazis and American soldiers, there is little to no remorse of sniping an American engineer placing a mine, etc (161). The feeling, I found, was best discovered through third-party witnessing, rather than interaction.