Global Networks

GameWreck: So Far, So Good

I’ve been following various YouTube channels for a few years now, mostly to do with DIY crafts, fashion, makeup and hair. It’s a good resource for finding out about niche things you don’t know how to do. What I wasn’t aware of until this year was how much of a presence gaming had online, specifically on YouTube and Twitch.

Gaming videos on YouTube typically fit under the label of a “Let’s Play”. Within that category there are walkthroughs, which provide advice for other gamers on how to complete a level or gain a skill within a certain game. The sheer quantity of channels means there is a wealth of walkthroughs to choose from even across the most niche of games. Playthroughs are distinctly different in that they are more specifically about the player’s experience of the game. Because of this, playthroughs can be more entertaining and comedic than walkthroughs. The most prolific YouTube celebrity, PewDiePie, basically just markets his personality now rather than his actual gameplay after building up years’ worth of loyal subscribers.

What was interesting to me about all the Let’s Play channels I encountered was the nascent confidence each player had in regards to any game they attempted to play. This was not a quality I shared with them, something that became immediately obvious in my rather loud, over-excited and somewhat frantic commentary in the first game (Agar.io) I played since Pokémon Yellow version on my Gameboy colour. GameWreck is about making gameplay and gaming accessible to non-gamers while reminding experienced gamers where they came from. Everyone was new to games once. Because I did not grow up playing games, I don’t approach gameplay in the same way as those who did. I am completely comfortable putting videos of me struggling through games, trying to figure out basic moves, because I know this is a situation many people can relate to, if not in games than in other aspects of life.

Video and computer games are a constantly growing industry, something I was aware of due to the sheer quantity of my friends who game but did not fully understand until I started this channel. Because of GameWreck I have a new appreciation for the programming, graphics and concepts that go into making a game and I can even contribute to a conversation between friends about certain game aspects. I also have an appreciation for the PC versus console debate and have plans to build a PC in the near future to further facilitate the channel’s content and quality. I ran into limitations wherein my MacBook Pro was not compatible with a number of games I wanted to play and short of spending $200 on a game capture card I could not make do with the Xbox my generous friend has loaned me. Nevertheless, I hope to purchase a game capture card in the future in order to have guest appearances playing co-op with me for upcoming episodes.

In conclusion, I was not a gamer before GameWreck. I still don’t think like a gamer but I play games more now than I ever did before. This digital artefact has opened me up to a completely new world both online and off and I can’t wait to continue through the iterations and see where it takes me.


A Mother’s Sense

I showed the above promotional video to my mother and we had a conversation about the Internet of Things and what that meant for us as humans with families and responsibilities. The Internet of Things is simply about taking ordinary objects, giving them sensors and connecting them to the internet so they can upload a relentless stream of data. Sen.se Mother is an early iteration of an IoT object because the object itself is not integrated online but relies on a detachable cookie to transmit the data to the Mother ship, which then communicates with the tablets/smartphones for human interaction. We found the concept generally removed a lot of parents’ and children’s responsibilities, rendering the devices largely useless much like in this article.

For more information, see the Sen.se Mother website.

Ctrl Z is a lie!

This week I was supposed to learn things about cybercrime and cyberwar and to say it went over my head is a big understatement. (I’m 5 foot flat, most things go over my head.) So I’d like to begin with repeating something that doesn’t get repeated enough. On the Internet, there is no Ctrl Z. Sure, you can type something into the WordPress post editor, accidentally delete 1000 words and hit Ctrl Z and suddenly the last hour of your life wasn’t a complete waste. What I mean is, once you press “Publish” those 1000 words are on a server forever. Even if you change your mind and delete the post minutes later.

It’s cheaper for Facebook, Google, Twitter, et al to save every piece of data you ever give them than to filter and remove what might not be important now. The Ashley Madison hack is proof of that.

The Censorship Pyramid

Hacktivism has its roots in phone phreaking, hacking into the phone network to make prank calls, access corporate networks and generally just look around. When PCs started linking to the phone line for Internet access, this playful exploration transitioned to hacking.

Interestingly, the first mention of the word “hacker” in its modern context was in a 1963 MIT student newspaper article about students hacking the telephone system!

WikiLeaks is probably one of the most noteworthy examples of hacktivism. The editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, upholds the hacktivist credo of “information wants to be free” by allowing anonymous users to share information, footage, audio recordings, etc. with their dropbox for online consumption. Censorship is a method of maintaining traditional, hierarchical structures in society. WikiLeaks is one way of trying to collapse that hierarchy. Below is a visual interpretation of Assange’s censorship pyramid, his interpretation of the media landscape. Please note the emphasis on volume increase from the top down.

pyramid graphic displaying different degrees of censorshipFor more information on WikiLeaks check out this blog post from Lara Vickers!

Twitter has no qualms about messing with Egypt, what if we wanted a revolution against the Big Business of the West?

But first, some basics on social media networks for revolutions:

Infographic displaying information about social media networks for revolutions

The Guardian published an article about Google and Twitter creating software to enable voice-to-tweet when the Egyptian government shut down access to the Internet. At face value, this may appear to be an altruistic attempt to aid the protesters and contribute to the restoration of balance in a turbulent nation. As independent businesses and corporations, these tech giants have no issues meddling in third world affairs. They aren’t held back by government regulations or ethics. So why meddle in the first place? I found the comments of this article to be full of some very relevant concerns when it comes to online activism.

Why are these Western corporations so intent on pushing Egypt towards the brink? What’s their angle? How will Google, Twitter, and Facebook benefit from a Muslim Brotherhood victory in Egypt, from the collapse of its tourism industry, from the persecution of its christians by islamists, and the opening of its borders to jihadis from Yemen, Gaza, Sudan, and allah knows where else? What do these corporations stand to gain from sowing chaos and toppling regimes in the Middle East?

And more to the point, why aren’t they keeping Big Brother off our backs so that we can have our own Tweeter revolutions against Western governments in hock to Big Business? If they’re really so keen on helping Arabs win their “freedom” and not after some other hidden agenda maybe they should start by proving their good faith by resisting Yank and British government snooping and privacy violations? When the companies are gaily giving away all our personal data to government snoopers and shutting down Wikileaks, it’s a bit difficult to swallow their goody-goody act in the Arab world.

The closed appliance phenomenon

I’ve been running into some problems with the making of GameWreck because of the devices I am using. More details in the video below.

I decided to do a bit of research into this to catch myself up. The main reason game developers don’t port to Macs is there is not a big enough market. For a long time Macs used Motorolla processors instead of Intel or AMD. They have since switched to Intel but the consumers buying a Mac don’t do it for the games. They have other expectations. This is probably a product of the programming strategy behind Apple devices: they would rather do all the thinking for you.

Yes, there is always Bootcamp to run Windows through a Mac. But that beges the question: why are you buying a device that doesn’t support what you want to use it for? This is where the vitriol “That’s what happens when you buy a Mac,” comes from.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what you want from a machine before you buy it? Maybe the machine should just be customisable enough to get by with any requirement.

Have this video as a parting gift: