Friday, 4 December 2009

Media Effect Theories Relating Violent Video Games to Violent Behaviour

From the Hypodermic Needle Theory otherwise known as the silver bullet approach to the Uses and Gratification Theory and the Limited Effects Model researches concerned with determining the link between media content and behaviour in viewers goes back in time -to the early 1930s perhaps. As it relates to Video games, these theories have been hailed as well as flawed in interpreting the social behaviours of game players.

In the first book uniting empirical research on and public policy options for violent video games; 'Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents' by Anderson, Gentile, and Buckley updated the traditional General Aggression Model to focus on both developmental processes and how media-violence exposure aggravated the likelihood of aggressive and violent behaviour in both short- and long-term contexts. Anderson et al. describe the reaction of the games industry to scientific findings that exposure to violent video games and other forms of media violence constitutes a significant risk factor for later aggressive and violent behavior. They argue that society should begin a more productive debate about whether to reduce
the high rates of exposure to media violence, and delineate the public policy options that are likely be most effective Anderson and Dill (2000:1) developed facts after a study that real-life violent video game play was positively related to aggressive behaviour and delinquency. Also, the study said graphically violent video games increased aggressive thoughts and behaviour.
However, sceptics built up a contrary school of thought which held that the approaches used were flawed and
suggested that gamers who prejudiced . Mackay (2002: 48) described those studies as weak and inaccurate.
According to Karen Sternheimer, sociologist at the University of Southern California games like Grand Theft Auto and Gears of War do not in any way cause youthf
ul players to commit real-life violence. 'Politicians and other moral crusaders frequently create “folk devils,” individuals or groups defined as evil and immoral. Folk devils allow us to channel our blame and fear... Video games... have become contemporary folk devils because they seem to pose a threat to children,' she said.

*This graph shows that as video game sales increased, the total number of violent crimes went down drastically.

Anderson, C. & Dill, K. (2000) : 'Video Games and Aggressive Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviour in the Laboratory and Life.' Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 78, no.4

Mackay, H. (2002): 'Media mania: why our fear of modern media is misplaced.' Sydney: University of New South Wales

Duke Ferris (2009): 'Caution Children at Play: The truth About Violent Youths and Video Games.' Available at (Accessed on December 4, 2009)

Violent Game Don't Cause Youth Violence Sayd USC Siociologist' (2007). Available at (accessed on December 4, 2009)


One of the methodologies of studying digital gamers according to Ricard Bartle's 'Four Suits' is the 'Spades.'
Originally, the Spades is a kind of trick taking card game originated in the United States at about 1930. But in Bartles context, it refers to players or gamers of digital video games who derives gratification from discovering a game's secret and hidden mechanics.
The vice of cheating in games has some what become a cultural practice. In recent times, game developers and their security companies have watched in agony as peripheral game industries grew producing information about games rather than games themselves. Sophisticated video game weapons that could take months of hard play to unlock can now easily be decoded in a matter of (how fast is your Internet connectivity?). There are even products sold that offers services to aid game cheats succeed, check out,, and countless others. has articles on top cheat codes, 'Fatal Frame cheats and secrets,' 'Resident Evil Cheats, Secrets and Unloakables for PS2' amongst others.
The question is why would people cheat on a game, doesn't that elude the whole concept and experience of gaming? I'm not an enthusiastic gamer- so what do I know?
Wikipedia explains it further though:

'Cheating in video games involves a player of a video game creating an advantage beyond the bounds of normal gameplay, usually to make the game easier. Cheats include advantages such as invulnerability ("God mode") or an infinite amount of some resource such as ammunition. Cheats may also create unusual or interesting effects which do not necessarily make the game easier to play, such as making enemies tougher, or giving characters (including enemies) different appearances, such as large heads. Cheats often take the form of 'secrets' placed by game developers, usually to reward dedicated players.

Cheats may be activated from within the game itself (a cheat code implemented by the original game developers); or created by third-party software (a game trainer) or hardware (a cheat cartridge).Examples of cheats in FPS games include the aimbot, which assists the player in aiming at the target, giving the user an unfair advantage, and the wallhack, which allows a player to see through solid or opaque objects and/or manipulate or remove textures, and ESP, with which the information of other players is displayed.'

References: (2009): 'Resident Evil Cheats, Secrets and Unlocakable.' Available at (Accessed on December 4, 2009)

Picture Souce:

Wikipedia: 'Cheating in Video Games.' Available at
(Accessed on December 4, 2009)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The Commercialization of the Internet

Vincent C. (1995), in his article- 'A Cultural Transition: The Commercialization of the Internet': "A cultural transition has clearly taken place on the Internet. Even in the past several months, there has been a staggering increase in the number of commercial sites on the Net. In the past several years, Internet usage has expanded from almost exclusively academic and military interests to encompass a much broader scope. The Net is fast becoming a more visible factor in our society. Magazines such as Newsweek contain weekly "cyberspace" sections, while popular television shows like the Simpsons boast their own web sites. The effects on the medium have so far been mixed. The Internet is still developing as a means of communication, and the original network was not designed with the interests of corporate retailers in mind. Some have chosen to exploit the weaknesses of systems such as Usenet in the name of business. Others have made genuinely useful services available in exchange for prominent advertising. The driving force behind these cultural transitions has been the World-Wide Web, introducing a much more graphical, esthetically pleasing means of conveying information to the average user. Future developments such as the adaptation of HTML 3.0 will undoubtedly add momentum to the change. The advent of secure electronic money and URL content labeling will also have a sizable effect on the business climate of the Net."

According to Barry L et al, commercialization of the Internet has advanced. "The Internet has now become almost a "commodity" service, and much of the latest attention has been on the use of this global information infrastructure for support of other commercial services. Products are available to facilitate the provisioning of that information and many of the latest developments in technology have been aimed at providing increasingly sophisticated information services on top of the basic Internet data communications."

Barry Leiner et al (2003): 'A Brief History of the Internet'. Available at (Accessed on 25 November 2009)

Vincent Christopher (1995): "A Cultural Transition: The Commercialization of the Internet." Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Available at (accessed on 24 November 2009)

Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC): 'US Online Advertising Revenues, First half 1999-First half 2009 (millions).' IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report: 2009 Second quarter and First Six Months Results, October 5, 2009. Available at (Accessed on 25 November 2009)


Last year, a note was posted on my facebook page calling for writers and poets to send in inspiring works of poetry for a book called 'Poetry for Charity.' The idea was that the best poems would be selected for a book and it would be sold globally-proceeds would go to different charities for children. It seemed like a great opportunity for me to take those hidden poems in my journal and make a child happy. There weren't any terms for payment but people didn't seem to care, I for one didn't even think about the monetary value- the idea was fascinating enough. I submitted a poem: "Game of Hearts" to an email and weeks later the book was out. It was amazing to see the writers all the way from Afghanistan, France, Kenya, the UK and the US, Australia, etc some of whom were accomlshed and recognised poets. I was proud to be a contributor and that was enough payment because I probably would never have had the particular idea myself. "Poetry for charity is a new project which aims to bring together several writers from various regions of the world using the facebook social networking website, with a common aim of donating their poems and spoken word pieces to be added to a collection. All the revenue raised from the sale of the book would be donated to 3 different charities for every edition of the collection. The first “Poetry for charity, Volume one” features the work of 34 writers from different continents and backgrounds and volume 2 has 68 writers contributing to the collection.Through poetry for charity we have been able to encourage a new breed of writers, and support worthy causes." (2009): Lulu marketplace. Available at (accessed on 23 November, 2009)

Monday, 9 November 2009

Citizen Journalism

, CEO of Pelago made a very interesting case for Citizen Journalism in his web post. He said:

"The first was the trend toward perfect information, or simply access to exactly the right information at the right time in the right form. This is an incredibly exciting trend, because it represents a shift of power to the individual, who will become literally enlightened in virtually every context. This trend was and is visible everywhere on the Web. With the advent of the Web, massive amounts of content suddenly became “finger-tippy.” Not only is more content becoming available, but the manner in which it is organized is evolving."

In Nigeria, Citizen Journalism is directly changing democracy and indirectly improving the lives of people. So many things in the society has been taken for granted or ignored because of the poor media coverage and the easily influenced legal system- but since media houses opened their pages and air space to citizens to make input using mobile phones, video cameras, tape recorders and other multimedia gadget to capture life in their area, so many societal ills and vices that were swept under the carpet has been unearthed and the culprit brought to book. These included police brutality, ritual killings, poor health care and amenities, etc that were supposedly on paper eradicated. The citizens have been equipped with some power to bring back in some way a level of "fear of the law." Government officials and people with power have become a little more cautious than before because anybody walking by may have a hidden camera in her/his sun shade or something more high tech to expose their "hidden acts."

pictures from:

Pervasive Journalsim?

Something about Pervasive Journalism brought to mind the issue of Artificial Life and the concept of robosapiens which was mention in the last post. Amazingly, apart from the contemporary scholars like Stellarc, who also belonged to the school of thought which believed that man has always been coupled with technology making them prosthetic bodies ( 10 November 2009), Marshall McLuhan in his 1964 book "Understanding Media: the extensions of man" also made reference to technology being an extension of humans just as clothes were an extension of the skin and the wheel was an extension of the feet.
With this, Pervasive Journalism could be said to be a way where man comes in contact with his inseparable half, technology. According to Kramer et al "This pervasive recording of events demonstrates the emergence of a quality of ubiquitous and pervasive journalistic practice. On the one hand we are beginning to observe a new quality of journalism
emerge. On the other hand we witness how this could lead towards a culture where people observe each other constantly and therefore build a newer “panoptic” quality of surveillance society."

*Picture taken from News and Technology lecture presentation by Gavin Stewart for the course Media and Cyberculture- 10 November, 2009.

*McLuhan M (1964): Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.



Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Some informationalist perspective of cyberculture

When I first started reading about Artificial Intelligence, AI, the thoughts that kept playing around in my mind were thoughts of movies like the cyborg in Minority Report and the robots with feelings and thoughts in IRobots. I also thought about the little boy that wasn’t really human in the Spielberg's movie “Artificial Intelligence” and it made the whole concept fascinating because of how Sci Fi movies have painted the picture, it couldn't possibly be real. However, the concept of AI became a bit scary especially after seeing what Stellarc formerly known as Stelios Arcadiou had done with the Internet and the human body.
According to his website -, Stellarc, who among other things is the chairperson in the Performance Art Department, School of Arts, Brunel University West London, UK , developed the “FRACTAL FLESH, as part of Telepolis through a touch-screen interfaced Muscle Stimulation System, enabling remote access, actuation and choreography of the body. Performances such as PING BODY and PARASITE probed notions of telematic scaling and the engineering of external, extended and virtual nervous systems for the body using the Internet. Current projects include the EXTRA EAR- a surgically constructed ear as an additional facial feature that coupled with a modem and a wearable computer will act as an Internet antenna, able to hear RealAudio sounds”. He also claimed that the human body is both a zombie and a cyborg that has always relied on one form of technology or the other to exist.
Most recently, the IDriver made headlines when the Appirion firm made up of researchers in the artificial intelligence team at the Free University of Berlin launched this new technology which has the ability to convert the iPhone into a controller pad just like a video game pad, capable of directing a two ton minivan. To add to that, I have read about Japan’s first teacher robot that can show about 7 different human emotions ( and even robots that cook rice. I couldn’t help the thoughts that humans might be evolving again, this time from homo sapiens to robosapiens. It was both disturbing and yet consoling to know that I was not the only one to have come up with that thought. one of the people to buy into this ideology is Michio Kaku, American theoretical physicist who shares some of my uneasy opinions concerning AI and the future of man.
According to the professor, in about 50 to 100 years from now the computer silicon chip that has been responsible for the laudable achievements in computing today would come to an end and would be replaced with the birth of quantum computers. These proposed kind of computers has the abilities to break complicated codes and even operate with the speed of the human thought. Kaku said it might not be long before robots would relegate humans to the background or even keep them in zoos and they would be in charge. “Robots with human-level intelligence may finally become a reality, and in the ultimate stage of mastery, we’ll even be able to merge our minds with machine intelligence,” he said. Thus he has proposed that a chip called ASIMOV should be implanted in robots from now so that when they begin to propose a threat like wanting to overtake humans, the chip would disengage and shut them down.
Now that is a freak show even Spilberg didn’t see this coming.


iDriver - iPhone remote controlled car: Available at (Accessed November, 2009)

Michio Kaku on Artificial Intelligence: Available at
(Accessed November 2009)

Friday, 30 October 2009

Technological Convergence: Samsung-Q1-ultra-mobile-pc-3.

Picture Gadget (2007): Samsung-Q1-ultra-mobile-pc-3 Availabe at (Accessed October 2009)

Technological convergence and Mediamorphosis

One of the ways of thinking about the changes in media today is by thinking of convergence and technological convergence seems to be the most popular of them all (others includes; Professional, Cultural and Institutional).
New media technologies are able to provide the user with various features in a smaller amount space. Iphones for example can download files from the Internet, take very clear pictures, record videos, play music/ videos and connect to other gadgets via Bluetooth. It’s amazing what one can do with just one device.
It has become very uncomfortable now to carry around a stereo (no matter how small it might be) to listen to the news or the weekly top ten songs, while at the same time tucking a newspaper under your arm while on your way to the cyber cafe. Preferably just buy a mobile phone that is digitally and media compliant to perform all those news media functions. Roger Fidler, an ex-journalist and newspaper designer who has become an authority on online and digital publishing development described that kind of technological convergence as mediamorphosis.

Since the early 1990s, communication sages have been
predicting that in the next decade so-called information
super-highway networks will routinely bring an ever
expanding universe of interactive information, entertainment,
shopping and personal services to nearly everyone through
some form of what futurist George Gilder has called a
teleputer- a new device that would blend attributes of
television and telephony with a personal computer
(Fidler, 1997, p.6).

However, there is a lot of work that needs to be done on these new media technologies. For one, the almighty Iphone has major pitfalls of its own that disrupts easy communication. One of the most recent complains are poor signals (a major requirement for the phone) and the screen’s insensitivity to touch after a period of time.


*Fiddler, R. (1997) Mediamorphosis: Understanding New Media. Pine Forge Press

*Truman Lewis (2008): Signal Problems Plague iPhone 3G . Available at (Accessed on October 2009)

*CBS (2007): A Closer Look At The iPhone Available at
(Accessed October 2009)

Saturday, 24 October 2009


"New Media" a simple yet tricky term got me mulling over it all through Friday evening. I mean, I’m studying New Media and Internet Technologies so one would expect that I should know much about the subject but when Mr Conway asked the question: “…what happens to new media when it becomes old?”
Hmmn, honestly, never really gave that a thought. What happens to me when what I’ve studied goes extinct? After deliberating the issue with my sister, she said after a short pause, that New Media would always be New Media.
That made a lot of sense because New Media is not just the IPhone or the Internet and when those evolve into something more high tech, it would still be New Media and the IPhone would just be old like the Newspapers and soon the televisions. According to Gavin (Lecture MED 506-6. 23 October 2009), it’s the form the content takes that actually makes it New Media- “the hard drive of the technology”. As long as "communication is mediated through a computer" (Lister et al 2003), there would always be New Media.
Televisions for example are neither old nor new media because there are still analogue TVs in use around the world. However, I believe it’s in transition and has been for decades. TV would probably change further to become entirely digital and even more sophisticated (become more interactive). There will probably be better consumer choice even possibly deciding whether or not to allow interruption by advertising.
There would always be New Media because of the insatiable hunger for better, faster and easier means of communication and they would have evolved from what we have now.


Picture Source:
Martín Lister et al (2003): New media a critical introduction . Available at (Accessed October 2009)

Sunday, 18 October 2009

"a new political era of computer-mediated democracy"

Like never before, people around the world have now found ways to systematically use the Internet to gain freedom of speech. Through reports, blogs, online communities, online movements etc, dissatisfied citizens who cannot exercise their right to speak because of government sanctions on the print or broadcast media have used the cyberspace to make their government sit up and the international community pay attention till there's a positive change.
The following links help to show example of computer-mediated democracy

For one, next time the Iranian government prepare for elections they would be more careful knowing the world would definitely be watching this time around. The people, through cyberspace and the Internet have made the government sit up. If you watch the grusome death of Neda captured on video during a protest rally on youtube.

Young Nigerians around the world are joining a cause hoping somehow their united voice can finally make the government provide citizens with constant electricity supply. Already this group has more than 22, 000 members on facebook alone- they're also on twitter. This would never have been actualised outside cyberspace in such a short time. Also young people who naturally would have suffered in silence for fear of getting jailed are now lending their voice and uploading pictures- speaking up against the government (some anonymously) and making authority get uncomfortable.

Alejandro (2009): Iran, Internet and Democracy. Available at (Accessed October, 2009)

RIP NEDA- graphic story! Iran protest! girl shot by militia. Available at (Accessed October, 2009)

The Light Up Nigeria Movement (2009): Available at (Accessed October 2009)

Andy McSmith (2007):The Big Question: Does the Internet liberate or undermine democracy?Available at (Accessed October 2009)


One of the myths of cyberspace talks about how the "technology of the Internet is bringing about prosperity and well-being based solely on a weightless, 'knowledge-based' economy."
Although, I respect the opinion that there is little or no reality in this statement because of the large number of under privileged people scattered across the world who cannot afford Internet services (especially when feeding and living is hard to afford) which to this extent, the weightless, 'knowledge-based' economy" on the Internet cannot directly an effect on their well-being.
However,indirectly over the years, through the 'knowledge-based' economy, people who have access have been enlightened about the plight of these under-privileged people. Through uploaded web photos or videos probably by tourists or missionaries, people have been moved to take action and improve the lives of these people by donating money or sending relief teams to improve health and general well being of millions around the world- some of whom have never even heard of the Internet before.

According to BBC (2003), Kofi Annan the former United Nations chief, supported the fact that "technology was able to improve the lives of millions of the Earth's poorest people." He believed the Internet could “help poor nations leapfrog into the future if they can get assistance to harness the new technology.” Already in Nigeria, moves have been made to get all villages wireless Internet connection.

BBC (2003):How has information technology changed your life? Available at (Accessed: 16 October 2009)