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During the first half of the last decade, there was a heated debate regarding what type of critical approach best suits the study of video games. Those who argued for approaches traditionally associated with narrative studies were primarily interested in video games as a new frontier for storytelling. The opposition claimed that video games are not systems for storytelling, and that applying literature and film theories to video games dismisses the interactive nature of video games as games. The argument was bitter, but ended abruptly with no clear results or consensus. Yet are narratology and ludology, the two proposed critical theories, so disparate that the use of one means the exclusion of the other? This paper suggests the possibility that narratology and ludology share more in common than critics have thus far realized. Both games and story share themes of conflict, and in focalizing on the antagonist of single-player video games it becomes possible to trace the development of conflict and how it functions in the video game medium. In analyzing antagonists and the conflict they embody, it becomes apparent that narratology and ludology are not so incompatible in their methodologies and assumptions. Finally, because video games themselves are a multifaceted medium, it is only appropriate that critics use multiple theoretical approaches in their analysis to broaden critical knowledge of how the medium functions.
This document builds a model, the Resilience Engine, of how a given sociotechnical innovation contributes to the resilience of its society, where the failure points of that process might be, and what outcomes, resilient or entropic, can be generated by the uptake of a particular innovation. Closed systems, which tend towards stagnation and collapse, are distinguished from open systems, which through ongoing encounters with external novelty, tend towards enduring resilience. Heterotopia, a space bounded from the dominant order in which novelty is generated and defended, is put forth as the locus of innovation for systemic resilience, defined as the capacity to adapt to environmental changes. The generative aspect of the Resilience Engine lies in a dialectic between a heterotopia and the dominant system across a membrane which permits interaction while maintaining the autonomy of the new space. With a model of how innovation, taken up by agents seeking power outside the dominant order, leads to resilience, and of what generates failures of the Resilience Engine as well as successes, the model is tested against cases drawn from two key virtual worlds of the mid-2000s. The cases presented largely validate the model, but generate a crucial surprise. Within those worlds, 2008-2010 saw an abrupt cultural transformation as the dialectic stage of the Resilience Engine's operation generated victories for the dominant order over promising emergent attributes of virtual heterotopia. At least one emergent practice has been assimilated, generating systemic resilience, that of the conference backchannel. A surprise, however, comes from extensive evidence that one element never problematized in thinking about innovation, the discontent agent, was largely absent from virtual worlds. Rather, what users sought was not greater agency but the comfort of submission over the burdens of self-governance. Thus, aside from minor cases, the outcome of the operation of the Resilience Engine within the virtual worlds studied was the colonization of the heterotopic space for the metropolis along with attempts by agents both external and internal to generate maximum order. Pursuant to the Resilience Engine model, this outcome is a recipe for entropic collapse and for preventing new heterotopias from arising under the current dominant means of production.
Scholars have identified that journalists have a strong occupational identity, leading to ideological conceptions of the rules of the field. However, while journalists are often the first to embrace technological change, they often do so in different ways than most people. With the arrival of digital technologies, journalists are often faced with practices that run contrary to long-established ideology, and they often carry traditional practices over to new media. Using the theoretical lens of Giddens’s structuration theory, this research identifies traditional journalism structures that encourage or discourage journalists to interact with their followers on the social network Twitter. Using constant comparative analysis to interpret 23 interviews with contemporary journalists, this study identified multiple dualities between the use of Twitter and traditional newsgathering. It also recognized a cognitive dissonance among journalists who use Twitter. Though they can see advantages to using the platform to engage with followers, particularly other journalists and members of their audience, journalists do not seek out Twitter interaction and often avoid or resist it. Finally, this dissertation suggests three walls that block journalists from engaging in the Internet’s facilitation of personal connectivity, engagement, and a true community forum with followers. Although a wall of objectivity has somewhat been broached by Twitter use, walls of storytelling and routine and traditional news values continue to hold strong.
Most new first-year composition (FYC) students already have a great deal of writing experience. Much of this experience comes from writing in digital spaces, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. This type of writing is often invisible to students: they may not consider it to be writing at all. This dissertation seeks to better understand the actual connections between writing in online spaces and writing in FYC, to see the connections students see between these types of writing, and to work toward a theory for making use of those connections in the FYC classroom. The following interconnected articles focus specifically on Facebook--the largest and most ubiquitous social network site (SNS)-- as a means to better understand students' digital literacy practices.
Initial data was gathered through a large-scale survey of FYC students about their Facebook use and how they saw that use as connected to composition and writing. Chapter 1 uses the data to suggest that FYC students are not likely to see a connection between Facebook and FYC but that such a connection exists. The second chapter uses the same data to demonstrate that men and women are approaching Facebook slightly differently and to explore what that may mean for FYC teachers. The third chapter uses 10 one-on-one interviews with FYC students to further explore Facebook literacies. The interviews suggest that the literacy of Facebook is actually quite complex and includes many modes of communication in addition to writing, such as pictures, links, and "likes." The final chapter explores the issue of transfer. While transfer is popular in composition literature, studies tend to focus on forward-reading and not backward-reaching transfer. This final chapter stresses the importance of this type of transfer, especially when looking back at digital literacy knowledge that students have gained through writing online.
While these articles are intended as stand-alone pieces, together they demonstrate the complex nature of literacies on Facebook, how they connection to FYC, and how FYC teachers may use them in their classrooms. They serve as a starting off point for discussions of effective integration of digital literacies into composition pedagogies.
I will be investigating the merit of participatory culture in online literary roleplaying. While looking at an affinity space within participatory culture, I will be examining the importance of narrative within a roleplay board, the value placed in writing ability and habitual participation, and the gaining of social capital within the affinity space of players through the scope of two forms of participatory culture: expressions and collaborative problem solving. I will also look at the limitations of literary roleplaying before talking about the potential of roleplaying to be used as a tool for students in the classroom. Throughout my investigation, I pool information from online roleplay forum boards as well as Tumblr blogs. Drawing from these examples, I hope to not only show the value and merit of online roleplaying as a form of literature, but also demonstrate its potential as a curriculum guide for educators.
Interactive Storytelling at the Disneyland Resort: Analyzing the Story through the Lens of Video Game Theory
Walt Disney dove into his first theme park project in 1955 with Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California in order to have a safe, clean place he could enjoy with his daughters. However, he knew to make his park a success, he would need to do so without sacrificing the elements of storytelling that made him famous. What sets Disneyland apart from other theme parks such as Six Flags Magic Mountain or nearby Knott‟s Berry Farm is an intense attention to detail for storytelling and the creative integration of the most innovative, immersive interactions possible for the guests. The key to the overall company‟s success is storytelling, therefore the key to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts lies in their dedication to providing the best overall experience for their guests by immersing them into a story they can easily engage in. The Walt Disney Company has, in recent years, made extra efforts to make the experience of the guests more interactive (Malmberg 144). The demand for this type of interactive experience has increased since such media forms as contemporary commercialized video games became popular to the mainstream, acclimating audiences to more engaging experiences. Park visitors now desire the freedom to move within a certain setting in order to create their own story and to have forms of control over their interactions with the environment.
Interrupting institutional discourse: circulating themes within the Adult Basic Education/Literacy system
The Adult Basic Education/Literacy (ABEL) system in America can suffer critique. In a system that is staffed mostly by volunteers and plagued by funding woes, the experience of adult learners as participants within the institutional structure can be easily overlooked. Adult students are described as transient and difficult to track. Even so, and maybe because of this characterization, leaders within the local ABEL discourse make it their mission to reach these students in order to assist them to a better quality of life. However, there is more than one discourse circulating within the system. A discourse of outreach and intervention is one strand. The complex relationships education centers engage with more powerful government institutions causes another, more strident political discourse that constrains and influences the discourse within ABEL education centers, down to the classroom level. Within the vortex of motivations and needs created by institutional discourse, an institutional critique may give voice to those who experience the discourse in a way that hinders their education. This paper pursues critique, not through direct reconstruction, but through the encouragement of alternative discourses as additional institutions enter the system. AmeriCorps is presented as an institution that allows for more democratic participation through its distinct organizational features. The features that emerge in AmeriCorps projects offer hope for alternative models of participation within the highly politicized ABEL discourse.