Opinion: Why David Cage should remove “Detroit” from the title of his next game

Detroit become human

With the current generation of consoles being three years in their life span, we expect to see the best games.  The games that not only push boundaries graphically, but also the boundaries of story-telling.  One of the industry innovators, David Cage has announced his game for Playstation 4, and it is called “Detroit: Become Human”.  While you can’t question Cage’s pedigree in game making, I believe you can question the name he gives his game.

The game is set in Detroit about 50 years from now when the city experiences another revolution like that of the automobile, except it is with creating androids.   The plot follows multiple characters who are all androids who seem to develop human emotions, but are second-class citizens.  I have no doubt the game itself will be good, but one of the most important characters of a game is the setting, and I don’t think they will be able to get a good representation of Detroit.

Ever since the Playstation 2 era, open world games have tried to depict real world locations.  Whether it’s the GTA series depicting a city like New York, or “Infamous: Second Son” depicting Seattle.  The main difference between these games, is that they are approximations, and don’t have the city in the title.  With Detroit in the title, it comes with certain expectations.  The city sees renovations in the future setting, but will it be familiar enough for players to navigate?  These are the kind of questions you get when you name a game after a city.

One of the problems is developing an interesting world.  In “Infamous: Second Son”, the location of Seattle was vibrant and beautiful.  The development team at Sucker Punch, who are based in Seattle, had a lot to work with, they didn’t have to go on trips to research the layout of the city, they lived there.  They even included real-life locations in the game.  David Cage’s studio, Quantic Dream is based in France and has only seen the studio in trips.  While you can do extensive research, I don’t believe you can truly capture the vibe or people of the city with a few trips.  The problem with this is that there are compromises that must be made when rendering real cities.

When it comes to the real cities in other games, I often find that because I’m not from there, there is no connection to that world.  There have been some games based in Detroit, such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution.  The depiction is fairly accurate, but it allows a lot of room for exploration because it’s the game itself is more focused on gameplay than setting.

I believe David Cage will regret including the name “Detroit” in his title.  It’s not so much as a knock against the city, I just don’t believe Cage will be able to give a satisfying representation of the city.  Quantic Dream will struggle trying to create an interesting environment that feels alive and feels like a character in the story.

Nier: Automata – What Machines Dream Of

Protagonist

If you had told me in December that one of my favorite games of the year was going to be Nier: Automata, I would have looked at you like you were crazy.  As the amazing games continue to pile on, Nier: Automata stands above them all.  The game takes place thousands of years in the future, where earth was attacked by alien robots, and humanity was forced to seek refuge on the moon.  To save themselves, humanity built androids to battle the robot forces, and make earth habitable for humans.  This is where the player comes in, as you take control of the female android, 2B.  2B is one of many android’s part of the YOHRA group, tasked with rescuing humanity.

As you progress through the game, you are accompanied by a scouting unit named 9s.  As 2B, you are tasked with missions, you start to find out things are not as black as white as they seem.  9s seems to have an intense curiosity to understand machines, and 2B is only driven by her objective, her emotions are cold and calculated, a true soldier focused on the mission.  This may be a sequel, but in the timeline, it is so far removed from the original Nier that playing that game is only necessary to understand some Easter eggs and other small references.

What really stands out, though, is the structure of the story.  The director, Yoko Taro, creates a story that has you coming back for more, with five main endings (roughly three playthroughs, depending on some choices), and 21 extra hidden endings.  While the game refers to these as endings, it’s more accurate to think of these as chapters.  The first two “endings” are very similar, but the second “ending” gives a lot of context to the events of the first playthrough.

The story tackles large questions of ideology, and how complicated human emotions can be.  The world explores what happens when these machines find remnants of human society, and try to emulate what they did.  Whether it’s robots who have formed a death cult, believing they can “die and become gods” or a village of pacifists who don’t understand the emotion of fear.  Nier: Automata goes places in ways that I never anticipated, and in the final stretch of the game, I couldn’t put the controller down because I was so compelled to see the conclusion.

Accompanying this story, is an easy to learn, but deep combat system.  The player has chip-sets that they plug-in to give their character abilities.  It plays like a 3rd person action game, like the Devil May Cry series.  The gameplay is very tight and responsive, with a lot of variation on weapons and weapon abilities.  For those who struggle with these types of games, there is even a very easy mode where the game can almost play itself entirely.

While the world is post-apocalyptic, there seems to be an intense beauty in this world.  The world map isn’t very large, but is compact, with plenty of unique and beautiful locations.  Whether it’s the serenity of a lush forest, or the bright and colorful amusement park, Nier: Automata finds a way to keep the players in awe.

My only complaint with the game, and what keeps it from being a 10, is the side quest system.  Most of the side quests are glorified fetch quests, and playing them seems boring.  The other part that’s bothersome is that the game is not very clear when side quests become unavailable.  I missed some side quests on my first playthrough because I decided to do a main story quest, and some quests became unavailable.  This is especially frustrating because the side quests have such a good pay off and provide interesting ideas or concepts in this world.

Overall, Nier: Automata is the complete package.  It has plenty of content, with an amazing story, and fluid combat.  The characters are memorable, and develop a strong emotional attachment to the player.  This all culminates with a near-perfect recipe, with one imperfection that was too glaring to ignore.  Despite this, don’t be surprised when this game comes up in Game of The Year conversations at multiple outlets.

Digital Media and Social Relations Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography

 

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2011). Babies and toddlers should learn from play, not screens. Science Daily.

This article talks about the AAP’s policy statement from 1999, which was the first guide to media use on children under age two. Dr. Brown, who is on the AAP council on communications and media, offered some of his thoughts on how the new policy is answering some questions about digital media and young children under the age of two that could not be answered before due to lack of research and information.

 

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016). Family Media Plan. (n.d.).

Explained what a Family Media Plan was, and how families should utilize it when deciding to come up with their own plan.

 

American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Public Education. (2001). American Academy of Pediatrics: children, adolescents, and television. Pediatrics. 107: 423-426.

This is the 2001 statement from the Committee on Public Education. It describes the positive and negative health effects of television on children. Aggressive behavior, substance abuse, obesity and decreased school performance are all considered. More focused on television than overall digital media use.

Chassiakos, Y., Radesky, J., Christakis, D., Moreno, M., Cross, C., American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Communications and Media. (2016). Children and adolescents and digital media. Pediatrics. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-2593  

This technical report talks about the new policy statements from the AAP. As well as identifying how media use is drastically changing from back in the day. Touches on what media is most popular and “gamification.” Runs through info about each of the age groups and how they use their media.

 

Choudhury, S., McKinney, K. A. (2013). Digital media, the developing brain and the interpretive plasticity of neuroplasticity. Transcultural Psychiatry. 50(2). 192-215.

This article is heavy with more scientific information that talks about young people becoming desensitized, depressed and attention deficient because of cyber technology. It brings the historical pattern of technology related anxiety and how our society doesn’t always know how to deal with new technologies or how to control it.

 

Domahidi, E., Scharkow, M., & Quandt, T. (2012). Real friends and virtual life? Computer games as foci of activity for social community building. Conference Papers — International Communication Association, 1-35.

This source talks about the idea of real world friends playing in a virtual world. It challenges a lot of the research that I gathered and gives life on a different perspective on digital media. The conference papers fail to acknowledge a lot of the consequences of too much digital media but it was still a useful source to shine light on the positives of digital media in our society.

 

Jung, Brian. (2011).The Negative Effect of Social Media on Society and Individuals. Chron.

This website provided a few examples of how people can be negatively affected by social media.  It provided findings from a study at Cornell that showed how the causal connections we form online prevent us from putting energy into our real life connections.

 

Kahn, A. S., & Williams, D. (2016). We’re All in This (Game) Together. Communication Research, 43(4), 487-517. doi:10.1177/0093650215617504

This source explores the social skills gained while playing online games. The communication skills that can and cannot transfer over to real life applications of communication and team problem solving.

 

Molyneux, L., Vasudevan, K., & Gil de Zúñiga, H. (2015). Gaming Social Capital: Exploring Civic Value in Multiplayer Video Games. Journal Of Computer-Mediated Communication, 20(4), 381-399. doi:10.1111/jcc4.12123

This source covers specifically online multiplayer games and how they affect people psychologically. The article mentions the idea of Substitution Theory and explains the logic behind. Concerns of such theory are mentioned and the varying degrees of the theory.

 

Moreno, M., Chassiakos, Y., Cross, C., American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Communications and Media. (2016). Media use in school-aged children and adolescents. Pediatrics. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-2592

This policy statement and recommendation list is again from the American Academy of Pediatrics but it addresses the 5-18 year-old age group. It brings up some of the positives of digital media, like being exposed to new ideas, but also touches on the negatives on physical and mental health and well-being. Mentions the challenges parents have on monitoring their teenagers and children’s media use throughout the day. At the end it again lists off recommendations to the pediatricians, families, governmental organizations as well as the industry.

 

Nadworny, E., & Kamenetz, A. (Eds.). (2016). Real Parents, Real Talk about Kids and Screens.

Showed the results of a study done on parents who have kids. Revealed how long the average parent with kids spends in front of a screen. Also touched upon the concerns some parents have regarding their children and technology.

 

Nakamura, Lisa. [TedxTalks].  (2011, Oct. 11). TEDxUIllinois – Dr.Lisa Nakamura – 5 Types of Online Racism and Why You Should Care.

This was the Ted Talk that talked about the “GayBoy” experience.  This experiment is what connected the contagion theory to online communities.  In this video, it’s easy to see how fast toxicity can spread through an online community.

 

Radesky, J., Christakis, D., American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Communications and Media. (2016). Media and young minds. Pediatrics. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-2591

This is the policy statement and recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics that addresses infants and toddlers as well as preschool media and learning. Along with this, the statement talks about the health and developmental concerns that they have found through their research. By the end it lists off specific recommendations for pediatricians of these infants and toddlers, families of the children, and the industry providing the technologies.

 

Rapp, A., Beitelspacher, L.S., Grewal, D. (January 27th, 2013).  Understanding Social Media       Effects across seller, retailer, and consumer interactions. Journal of the academy of  Marketing science, 41, 547-566.

This website introduced me to the contagion theory.  This theory is the idea that through animosity, people are more likely to partake in riotous or negative behavior.  This applies to online mediums and how it’s easy for things like racism and homophobia to spread.

 

Redmond, Dustin L., “The effect of video games on family communication and interaction” (2010). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. p. 11614.

The bonds between family members can be strengthened by playing video games with each other. Experiencing a new environment in a video game can bring families together.

  

The effects of passion for MMORPGs on interpersonal relationships. (2012). Conference Papers — International Communication Association, 1-24.

This sources talks about the positives of real world friends and also acknowledging the consequences of too much exposure. It talks about the Substitution Theory without actually calling it that. Suggesting that the theory is a general consensus throughout digital media studies and research.

 

Vandewater, E. A., Rideout, V. J., Wartella, E. A. (2007). Digital childhood: electronic media and technology se among infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Pediatrics. 119(5). doi:  10.1542/peds.2006-1804

This was a study done in 2007 to see and describe media access/use among US children aged 0-6. The goal was to assess how many young children fall within the American Academy of Pediatrics media-use guidelines at the time. Info with more numeric back to it are provided with this article.

 

Wera, Julien.  (2008, April 1).  Online Community Management: Communication through               Gamers.Gamasutra.
This article gave me insight into what it takes to manage a community.  It is written from the perspective of someone who has experience in managing communities.  It discusses how to promote positivity and the minutia required to speak to community members.  It talks about the fragile relationship between players and developers that the manager has to nurture and grow.

Digital Media Technologies and Social Relations

Overview of Project

Our group is doing research for Common Sense Media group.  We looked at how social relations are affected and more specifically, family relations, friend relations, effects on children, and relationships in virtual communities.

Overview of problem:

Although digital media use has improved may aspects of citizen’s lives, too much of one thing is never good and digital media should be included in that statement. Over using digital media technology impacts the social relationships we have with our family and friends once we start prioritizing screen-time over face-to-face interaction. As children are growing up in this electronic age, where this media is almost everywhere they look, and this is impacting their development and overall life outcomes.

 

Child Development

Digital media can be seen as a huge tool when it comes to early childhood learning, but that doesn’t mean setting a child in front of a television is the answer. Too much interaction with digital media is seen to have more negative effects than positive on children under a certain age. Once those children get to an age where they are able to understand the content and context in which the information is being given then it has the ability to have an effect on their overall individual development.

In 1999 the American Academy of Pediatrics put out reports that said too much screen time has more negative effects on children than positive and although there was no evidence to back up those claims at that time, the evidence is being discovered in today’s research. According to the AAP, in 2007, 75 percent of children were watching television and 32 percent were watching videos/DVDs for around an hour and twenty minutes, on average. While this same research showed 27 percent of five to six year olds were using a computer for at least 50 minutes a day. This study was one of the first to show comprehensive information on the overall extent of digital media use in young children living in America. But it was also the first to have a call for more research on the developmental impact of these media.

        The urge to set children in front of a tablet or television screen these days is huge, and is seen at home, in the car and even at the grocery store. Although this seems to be the societal norm, this is not the way children should be learning. In a 2011 AAP survey, it showed that 90 percent of children under the age of two watch some form of digital media and these young children watch television for around one to two hours per day. “The concerns raised in the original policy statement are even more relevant now, which led us to develop a more comprehensive piece of guidance around this age group,” said Dr. Brown, a member of the AAP Council on Communications and Media.

Some of the key findings in the AAP 2011 study of two-year-old children and the effects of digital media exposure include: Unstructured playtime is important, children learn best from human interaction, children learn more from live presentations than televised ones, television viewing before bed can cause poor sleep habits, and heavy media use can cause language delays once in school. This report said that young children need free play time where it is completely up to them as to what their brain sees, does and acts. This is beneficial for brain development, more so than electronic media because children learn to creatively think, develop reasoning and problem solve through this unplugged play. According to Dr. Brown, “In today’s ‘achievement culture,’ the best thing you can do for your young child is to give her a chance to have unstructured play, both with you and independently. Children need this in order to figure out how the world works.”

        Dr. Aric Sigman, a British psychologist, surveyed 30 scientific papers on television and computer screen viewing. Dr. Sigman, who is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Member of the Institute of Biology, found evidence that too much television causes short-sightedness, disrupts hormonal balance and leads to increased risk of cancer and premature puberty. This screen time also slows down the metabolism which is linked to increase in obesity and type 2 diabetes. Dr. Sigman’s advice is there should be no television for children under three, children three to five should have less than a half hour, while older children should have no more than an hour. But in today’s world is this even a possibility. Dr. Sigman’s recommendations have been criticized by other experts due to the unrealistic actions it calls for, but the research still holds significance. Electronics, digital media and television are not only imbedded in homes but in the school systems, cars and eventually future workplaces for these children.

The AAP has put out the “Media and Young Minds” policy statement that targets children from the age zero to five and gives recommendations for pediatricians, families and the industry. This policy statement urges parents of children 18-24 months to avoid digital media use other than video chatting. And if it is introduced, only high-quality media use with parental control.

“I learned from my research that although there are a lot of positive effects from digital media use in children, they don’t learn just from placing it into their hands and too much is when those positives begin to change into negatives. Overall, children are going to learn from the way their parents interact with any device or media platform more than they are going to learn from just messing around with it.” – Kendra Gill

Friends/ Relationships

The creation, strengthening and loss of friendships are all part of digital media but it is important to recognize that different types of digital media affect the way people interact socially.  Video games like Massive Multiplayers Online can create friendships and strengthen one’s team related skills but also damage friendships outside of the alternate reality they play in. Social media generally creates friendships in reality where online video games can create friendships that often only exist in the virtual world.

It is important to note that people who meet and create friendships within virtual worlds can still become friends in reality and interact on online communication devices like Skype, TeamSpeak3 and Discord, but generally speaking friendships online do not go past talking to each other online using text and voice. This lack of face to face communication can have consequences in “the real world”.

The consequences of lack of face to face communication but still very real friendships in the virtual world is reinforced in the Substitution Theory. This theory suggests that real life friends and community interactions become replaced by virtual communities. Thus creating a disconnect between pre-established friendships and decreased connections with parents.

Studies dealing with online gaming (Steinkuehler & Williams, 2006; Cole & Griffiths, 2007; Williams et. al, 2006) revealed that MMORPGs might be a place for a informal sociability, but socially less useful than offline relationships Given the fact that the sociability of people is generally limited  offline relationships could suffer.

The causes behind substitution can vary. It can happen when an individual has a hard time interacting with people face to face and finds it easier to communicate with someone when they are not in person. It can also happen when someone is bullied in school and wants to escape to a world that is not as harsh as the one they live in. Family issues may also be a reason for people to escape to these fantasy worlds to escape troubled friendships in the real world.

Addiction can often be a consequence of such habits. In general, media research in the context of addiction and games suggests that excessive playing can lead to social isolation and dissolving relations with friends and family. Research is unclear if addiction creates isolation or if isolation leads to addiction but what is clear is that the two are related when it comes to online interactions.

“In doing research for this topic I discovered that this topic was very relatable to me. Maybe not on an extreme level but relating as to why I went to video games. I personally am able to validate certain talks of addiction and Substitution theory in my own life. In doing research it has made me look at the way I play video games.” – Ethan Fogle

Virtual Communities:

Contagion theory is something that proposed with the anonymous nature of a large crowd, people are more likely to be violent.  While this is not necessarily a negative thing, it can lead to negative behaviors in virtual communities.  In a Ted talk, a professor talked about how racism exists in the communities of video games such as a halo.  A famous UFC fighter shared his experience of playing video games online and constantly being called the “n-word”.  An even more egregious example is a study the professor performed.  A player changed his gamertag, the name people see when you play online, to “GayBoy”.  What followed was a torrent of homophobic language, and a show of prejudice.  So, we link this back to the contagion theory.  While many of the people shown in that video may not have actually been homophobic, if one person starts the negativity, it can be easy to pile on that and join in the behavior.  As parents and friends, there becomes a need to know what kind of communities do you let your loved ones get involved with.  Does this community promote growth and positivity?  Does it allow for real life interaction and promote healthy social habits?  These are all aspects of a community that need to be examined.

A very popular community in the gaming industry right now is the Destiny community.  It has spawned multiple sub-communities within itself that do good work.  According to a former community manager, Julien Wera, a community can be split into two parts; networks and meta-communities. “Not all networks are meta-communities, but all meta-communities are networks in some way… It can be hard to tell the difference between a community, a network and a meta-community, but again, it’s all in the “community spirit”.” There is a meta-community called “Dads of Destiny” where fathers who game, and have limited time due to their family responsibilities, can talk and find others who share their schedule of play.  There is even a real life meet up event where people who play the game can socialize with other players and even meet the more famous players who have large followings in the community.  This is not the case for all communities, though.

While Mass Multiplayer Online (MMO) games are great at cultivating these online communities, their games can rely things that promote unhealthy behavior.  Destiny, for example, is based on a “carrot on the stick” system where players are constantly playing the game to get good gear.  The gear drops randomly, and can sometimes a player receives duplicate items, or items that are useless to them.  This encourages them to keep playing and keep playing, trying to get something that is completely based on luck.  To put it simply, games of this nature are like a slot machine that can take 30 minutes to 2 hours (at the extreme) to pull.  On the surface, you can see friends having fun earning cool looking gear, and sometimes that’s all it is; dig a little deeper though and it’s essentially a group of addicts who are all enabling each other.  Yea you can win, but you could also get nothing, which begs the question: Can the good of a community outweigh the negative behavior that the realm they exist in?

All communities require managers.  In an online environment such as games, this means being the communication line between players and developers.  The community manager takes feedback from players, and analyzes it to see what the problem is, and relay it to the developers.  On the other side of the coin, the manager is also letting the players know what is possible development wise, and relaying what the developers can do about it.  To cultivate this community, Wera says a manager must do four things: Know your community, communicate, be honest, and finally, don’t underestimate your community.

“After researching the nuances of virtual communities, I saw a larger part of the negative side of communities.  As someone who considers themselves part of one, it’s easy to tell others about how great it is and only mention the positives.  I think you need to ignore negativity a lot, but also look at the negativity critically, and see where it’s rooted in.  Sometimes the negativity is just random piling on or trolls being trolls, but in other cases in can reveal a much larger issue.” – Eric Sinks

Immediate Family Relationships:  

Technology has provided society with a number of advancements in everyday life. People are able to do a plethora of things on the internet that was not possible just a decade or so ago. Consumers are able to shop online, get their news online and communicate with friends, family, and even strangers. However, as with most things in life, there needs to be a balance. As the years go by, it’s becoming clear that technology is adding a new dynamic to our lives and relationships. Most notably it’s creating new dynamics in familial relationships.

 One familial dynamic that’s being tested are the relationships between parents and their children, specifically children who are in their teens.  An article by NPR shared a study that looked at nearly 2,000 parents who have kids. One of the findings that came from the study showed that these parents spend about 9 hours and 22 minutes in front of a screen each day. The study classified “in front of a screen” as texting, checking the weather, Googling, etc.

 In the same article NPR states that they gathered around 20 parents. They discussed these new technological challenges the parents are facing with their kids. Some of the parents mention privacy and safety as a concern. While others asked how should they monitor screen time at home. The latter question is one that family therapist, Kristen R. Qualls, has been asked often in this age of technology.

 She says that parents struggle to regulate their children’s use of devices that grant them access to the internet. She goes on to mention that a power struggle can occur when parents don’t learn how to be gentle yet firm when handling their child’s access to electronic devices. When this power struggle occurs a rift can form in the family. This rift can cause both parents and kids to dislike each other. She notes that when this happens her sessions revolve around rebuilding trust and reestablishing the connection between the parents and the child.

 Not all families go through such hardships when dealing with technology. Electronic devices also allow families to bond in ways they usually would not. According to a dissertation, adolescents who play video games tend to be closer to their families compared to adolescents who play no video games. Although video games are more often than not played solo, gamers actually prefer to play with their family or friends. The interviews in the dissertation contribute it to the fact that family members are getting the chance to interact with each other in a new environment.

 To help alleviate some stress that may come from questions on how to regulate their children’s use of technology, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends coming up with a “Family Media Plan.” The plan would help regulate when, where and how much time one’s family should use their electronic devices.

 Qualls mentions that this is the most ideal way of mending relationships in the family. When everyone is starting to feel distant from one another, creating a plan is the way to go. She says that when confronted with this problem from her patients she highly recommends structure. She said that adults have to model the behavior first for the children to follow. The behavior includes limiting time online, have electronic-free time, and communicate the desired electronic-free time. In addition to this she recommends always unplugging regularly, putting the devices away in a spot that’s not next to your bed and drive with your devices out of reach while in the car.

“From doing this project I learned that,like with all things in life, digital media in moderation is fine. When used too much, digital media can start changing family dynamics for the worse. The struggle between the parent and child can start to become too overwhelming and can potentially cause a rift in the family. When used in moderation technology can be used as another way for families to spend time together and interact with one another. These interactions can strengthen relationships within the family unit.” – Emmitt Lewis

Policy recommendation:

More knowledge should be put into people’s ear and flashed before their eyes about the harm that too much can do, but also how to make this advanced technology a tool for everyday life and not just an outlet when you’re bored or upset. For the ones that already have digital media flooding their lives, it is up to you to show the next generation how to effectively and beneficially use the digital media that we have been given. If taught to use technology and digital media as a tool for learning and furthering one’s goals, they will continue to grow and use these electronics for the better and not just for entertainment value.  

A PSA campaign about the effects, both positive and negative, of digital media use should be put into the radio wave, on television screens, and everywhere online. Our hope is that a PSA campaign will get the information out there to people that digital media should be used as a tool rather than mindless consumption. And that too much digital media consumption has serious effects on friends, families, children, and communities. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) put out a Media Use Plan along with the, “Media and Young Minds” policy statement and the, “Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents” secondary policy statement that address the use of digital media and calls for action from pediatricians, families and government organizations. Reinforcing this information from the policy statements above and giving it to the public through a PSA will hit home that this is a real issue in today’s society that can be improved.

 

Policy Analysis:

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) put out one of the first aids in helping families get on the right track with their media use. www.healthychildren.org/MediaUsePlan was launched in October of 2016 and is a tool for parents to monitor what their children are doing throughout the day and how much time is spent in front of a screen. This is not only a tool for the children, but also the parents because after all these children are learning from how their parents are using these digital technologies.

Along with this Media Use Plan came the, “Media and Young Minds,” policy statement. Led by Jenny Radesky, MD, who has made a life commitment to researching learning and advocacy for children, the council on communication and media really focuses on the parent being the “media mentor.” Rather than just giving children a device, sit with them and teach them how to use it in a constructive way that will benefit them and not just simply entertain all the time. Radesky appeared on the AAP Media Panel Discussion on Children and Media in 2016 and said that, “Literature continues to show that too much media in early childhood is associated with behavioral, developmental, sleep and obesity outcomes that can be prevented.” Although there are many different factors that come into play when talking about children’s developmental outcomes there should always be time in their day to let their own creativity and brain activity take the lead. Introducing media at a young age, even as young as 18 months, will allow children to grow up with accurate demonstrations of digital media literacy and will provide them with the right knowledge to continue to use these medias in a positive way. This policy calls out pediatricians to start the conversation early with the parents of their families. It also calls on these families to avoid media use with children that are younger than 18 months, and to limit and monitor technology time throughout the day for ones that are over a year. Finally, it gives some responsibility to the industry to make sure that the products they are creating are age-appropriate and that they are formally and scientifically evaluated before being deemed educational.

When age starts increasing and adolescents start to make their own decisions about the consumption of digital media, recommendations change understandably. Media use is highly personalized and interwoven into the lives of these children today and so too should the guidelines for digital media use. Megan Moreno, MD, who also appeared on the AAP Media Panel Discussion on Children and Media was the lead author of the second policy statement issued by the AAP. “Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents,” focuses on children and teenagers from the age of 5-18. This policy statement is build off of the past ten years of evidence that show digital media negatively affecting sleep, obesity along with school and academic outcomes. These recommendations again call on the pediatricians to promote the understanding of the benefits and the risks of digital media use. They touch on the family’s role to continue to monitor screen time using the family Media Use Plan while engaging in co-viewing media with the child. Lastly, it calls on the researchers, governmental organizations and the industry to continue with their research while prioritizing longitudinal and robust study designs and interventions including the reduction of harmful media use and preventing/addressing harmful media experiences for these children and teenagers.

Conclusion:

Digital media can be used as a tool with developing children, making new friendships and building communities. But there is a point where too much is not a good thing. Prioritizing screen time over face-to-face interaction causes more problems in the long run with mental and physical health. The use of technology will benefit more than hurt our world once the generations come to learn that it is a tool for learning and interacting, rather than for entertainment value and a boredom cure. Also bringing people’s attention to the fact that more research and information needs to be conducted about the effects of digital media. A PSA being put onto the radio waves, with the hopes for an appearance on television, that explains the need for people to understand these effects, would be the best way to reach the most people for the best price.

 

Annotated Bibliography

 

 

 

The Hollow Empire

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(An image of the shutdown Packard Plant, located in Detroit.  Picture used from Canadian Business and Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre)

We always seem to be the “comeback” city, never the city that made it back

In recent years, Detroit has been known as the “comeback city”.  Maybe it’s the heroics Matthew Stafford pulls to bring the Detroit Lions (some) victories, or maybe it’s the mentality we got from the auto industry surviving the 2008 recession, or maybe it’s some ineffable feeling that resonates throughout the citizens of Detroit.  Regardless of the answer, we seem to always be the “comeback” city, never the city that made it back.  It’s easier as a society to pretend things are going good than face the problems after all.

 

We can look back to the 1967 rebellion, and see that the city is still not in a good place.  I plan to focus on the fallacy of how building sports arenas are good for the city, specifically the new Little Caesars Arena and the proposed venue for a Men’s League Soccer Team.

“If every sports team in Chicago were to suddenly disappear, the impact on the Chicago economy would be a fraction of 1 percent,” (Michael Leeds, a sports economist at Temple University). Next year, the Pistons and Red Wings will be playing in downtown Detroit, which is set to become the only city in the United States where all four major sports teams will play within a few blocks of each other.  This sound good on paper, and it’s easy to sell to the people.  It’s scary to citizens, though, because these sports arenas are not guaranteed to last.

“If every sports team in Chicago were to suddenly disappear, the impact on the Chicago economy would be a fraction of 1 percent”

 

Look no further than the Pontiac Silverdome, a sports arena that has long since been abandoned and it’s still not demolished, and the Palace even saw renovations a few years ago, just to be abandoned by its team.  According to Roger Noll, an economist at Stanford, “the cities of Oakland and St. Louis are still making substantial annual payments on the debts that remain for now-obsolete stadiums that were built to lure the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams away from Los Angeles in the 1990s.”

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(Photo of the Pontiac Silverdome, abandoned)

 

The thing about sports arenas are that they usually involve some sort of funding from the local taxpayers, the argument being made that this stadium will provide employment and largely benefit the city.  Noll says that in most cases, though, the owners of the stadium can afford these arenas without taxpayers help, but it wouldn’t be in the best interest of the business.

These sports arenas constantly leverage the people of the city and only make the rich richer.  While sports fans around the state celebrate new arenas, the people, and businesses around them suffer.  The Little Caesars Arena will only keep this city in the “comeback purgatory” and do little to bolster the economy.  The Illitch family and Tom Gores will continue to prosper, while the people surrounding the stadiums slowly move away, adding to more vacant homes in the city of Detroit.

Podcast that goes with this project:

 

Decisive Moment

In class, we were asked to write about a short story that happened in our life.  We were given a few minutes to write it down on a note card.  We were then asked to edit and review this story throughout the semester.  After the first draft, we were given the option to either keep going with that story, or maybe pick another.  I decided to pick a new story, but here is my first draft from class:

 

Dear friend,  Over the break, my friends and I visited the Detroit Auto Show.  It was a last minute decision made the night before while watching the Pittsburg/Kansas City game.  Troubles arose in the morning when my friend Jonas, who was picking me up, parked in front of the wrong house for 15 minutes.  Then, when we went to Belle Tire, the air pump was out of order.  We arrived at my friends Zack’s house with minutes to spare, and it was smooth sailing from there.  The Auto show was great, and there…

 

As you can see in this draft, my ideas weren’t very thought out.  There were some redundancies, and basic grammar mistakes.  Based on the limitations of this exercise though, these things can be expected.  When there is a limited time, I just tried to write as much as possible to get the whole story.  In reflection though, I felt that this story wasn’t that important to me, it was recent so it was easier to remember.  When given the option to change stories, I took that route.  I wanted to tell a story that had more of an impact on my life, so I picked a new story.  I chose to write about the first time the band I was in went to a recording studio:

Life is made up of important decisions.  Things like what you’re going to wear today or maybe what roads to take when going somewhere.  These decisions make us who we are, and some stick out more than others.  About five years ago, I had to make a very important one.

During my senior year of high school, I was in a band with some of my friends.  We had been writing music for a couple of months, and playing in a bar once a week.  As we were in the middle of practice one day, I noticed on Facebook that a recording studio had an opening because someone cancelled, and they were willing to let people record for cheaper.  So, we decided to check the place out.

The producer at the studio seemed nice and everything there looked very professional.  If we wanted to record, we would have to make the payment on the spot though.  It was $250 to record, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but for high schoolers who had part-time jobs that barley paid minimum wage, it would be hard to get that money together.  Luckily, I had enough money to pay for it, but I had to decide: Do I trust my friends to pay me back?

Most people have a pretty good idea of how their friends handle their money, and I knew I wasn’t dealing with the most responsible group.  Also, paying for this recording would significantly drain my funds.  The band made it clear though that they would understand if I didn’t want to pay for it, and I wasn’t pressured into my decision.  I decided to go for it, and it paid off in more ways than just one.

Everyone paid their share, but there were so many good things that came from that.  Recording in studio was one of the best experiences of my life.  We had a lot of fun and recorded a lot of music, the rest of the band even got in on some group vocals for one our songs.  The producer gave some good tips and really helped us clean up some of our songs.  We never finished an entire album, and the band even broke up before we could start selling the songs, but the experience of recording was well worth it.

 

As you can tell, this version is much more thought-out.  While working on this version, I wanted the focus of my story to be about my perspective.  The first draft was just a retelling of the event, and I didn’t delve into emotions.  This version is much more personal,  and flows better than my original story.  I feel this project has showed the importance of editing and review.  By going through multiple iterations, I have been able to see what a really polished story can be.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be longer, but be concise with your ideas.

Digital Ethnography Project: Destiny The Game

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For this project, Kendra and I decided to look at the community of Destiny the game.  In this podcast, we discuss how the community has grown and talk about why it has stayed so strong over these past three years.  Kendra was the “fresh set of eyes” of this subject and I was more of an “expert” on the subject.  You can listen to the podcast here.

 

Experiencing Schizophrenia through Second Life

Second life is a virtual world in which you can experience many things.  This exercise today brought me into a building that was emulating a taste of Schizophrenia.  Never having used second-life, I didn’t know what to expect. It was much realer than I thought.

It constantly had voices talking to you, telling you to kill yourself, that you’re worthless, and negative things of that nature.  With the ability to have more than one voice active, I felt more immersed in this experience than I had initially.  It was haunting as it was something that hits a little close to home.  I liked how real the voices felt.  They didn’t seem phoned-in, or over-acted to the point that it wasn’t believable, it was taken very seriously.

The one thing I didn’t like was that the voices seemed to loop after a short period.  While this may be true to someone who suffers from schizophrenia, it was a little immersion breaking towards the end of the experience.  (Note: I went through all the interactions fairly quickly, and then spent some time walking around back through the house)

I think this is a very strong experience, held back by the technology.  As someone who has spent a lot of time in virtual worlds, I find it is harder to get a sense of immersion from the third-person perspective that second-life uses.  While this may be the case, the sound effects were scary real, and I think this can be a good experience for someone trying to understand Schizophrenia.

Remix Picture

I chose this image because it represents two important things in my life.  It includes a picture of my dog, because I love animals.  I have always had one in my life, along with a cat as well.  The bass represents my love of music.  I’ve played instruments for all my life and I am very passionate about it.

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My Digital Auto-biography

Social Media

As I’ve grown up, I’ve also grown up with a lot of social media.  My digital life began later than most, because of my strict parents, I didn’t start engaging with social media until about 2009.  I had a facebook, but I didn’t use it much.  My first truly active presence was on MySpace, mostly to rebel.  I enjoyed sharing my taste in music and my friend Tom.

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I then switched my focus over to facebook for a few years, but eventually found twitter.  This is where my most personal digital presence is.  As a fan of the video game industry, I follow a lot of writers.  I mostly retweet news in the industy and about games.  Also, I enjoy all sorts of humor and have a lot of memes on my twitter feed.

Gaming

To understand my digital life, I think it’s important to understand the digital medium that I interact the most with.  Video games are a huge part of my life and a large influence on how I interact on twitter and other social media sites.

My interest in video games began at an early age when my parents purchased a Nintendo 64.  It was supposed to be for my sister and I, but I was the one who played it for the majority of the time.  This helped create social connections with kids on the street as we would talk about strategies on how to beat games.  There was even the famed “my uncle works at Nintendo” stories kids would say and just make up random things.

This system even has some of my favorite games of all time.  With classics like Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64, this has more than nostalgia going for it.

My gaming habits stayed relatively similar throughout the Playstation 2 era, spending multiple hours with friends playing games together on the couch.  This brought it what some call the golden age of the 3D-platformer.

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This era is easily my favorite system of all time.  I think it has a lot to do with the time it came out.  We all have that nostalgia for the days of our youth, how things were  much easier when we were kids and we didn’t have a lot of responsibilities.  I think this system reminds me a lot of those days.

The most important era of platforms was very important to how I interact with friends.  The Playstation3 and Xbox360 generation standardized online gaming with consoles, and with it brought a new way to interact with friends.

While I started this generation with a Playstation3, I eventually switched over to Xbox360 because that’s where most of my friends were playing.  Now, you could talk to your friends over the internet and easily play games with them.

With this generation, I was also discovering websites that were dedicated to gaming news.  This peaked my interest in the writing side of the gaming industry.  I started listening to podcasts and reading articles daily.  The thing about this generation though, was that is was longer than most console generations because it existed during the economic recession.  More importantly, it lasted long enough that about half-way through the generation, my interest in the writing industry died down, and I stopped keeping up with all my podcasts.

My ongoing gaming journey is currently at the Playstation4.  While my gaming habits have stayed relatively same, I have discovered a completely new aspect to the gaming world; being part of a games community.  Three years ago, a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (say that ten times fast) came out called Destiny.  The important thing to know about this game is that similar to something like World of Warcraft, you can interact and play with random people.

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As someone who is a little anti-social, this made it easy to meet new people and interact with them.  I keep up with streamers and follow a lot of the community leaders on twitter.  It brought people together in a way I didn’t know could happen.  It involves keeping up with popular YouTuber’s and reading articles on patch notes.  While I still enjoy other games, this is by far my most played game of all time.

This generation also helped renew my interest in the gaming press.  It actually happened by accident some could say.  For a few months, I was working a 6 p.m-2 a.m shift at work, and spent most of that time with my headphones in.  After an update to my phone, I noticed they added a podcast app, where I found some of the podcasts I used to listen to were still active.  After that it just kind of snowballed, and I’m usually reading articles everyday that deal with the games industry.  I have high hopes for the industry and hope to be part of it in someway.