The Digi-Cult

A New Religion for a Digital Age

Archive for the ‘Groups’ Category

Does this really need to be seperate?

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on December 9, 2008

So a friend of mine sent me this link to a BBC story about a Muslim oriented virtual world.  Think Habo meets The Sims.  I love the idea and the execution of it all, don’t get me wrong but I’ve got one question:

Does this need to be seperate?

I understand the whole idea behind starting a Muslim only community, but to me making such a separation seems strange to me.  Adding a prayer mat to The Sims would have much the same effect.  If you’re playing any other online game you could create a community for Muslims who play their characters according to Muslim customs.

Now I admit, this could be all my perception, and the whole reason I wrote this was to start some discussion.  I was raised Irish Catholic and have tried on various religions over the years.  Currently I’m undecided.  I just don’t see the big deal about religion and flaunting it or seeing it as a dividing factor.

The creators of Muxlim Pal say that the game is for those interested in Muslim culture, but to me, it seems like an excuse for people to cut themselves out of society and create even more of a mystique around themselves.  The developers also mention that Muslims don’t live a life all that different from non-Muslims.  If that’s true, then why create a seperate game?

I’m not saying this is bad or anything, please don’t get me wrong.  I just question this continuing need for “cultural diversity via separation” that I’m seeing everywhere.

Discuss people!

Posted in Buzz, Digital Culture, Groups, H/S Buzz, Hardware/Software, Interaction, Video Games, Web Buzz, Websites | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Digital addictions

Posted by 1forfun on November 8, 2008

                               My roommate rcellecently decided she was going to switch her major from English to addictions counselling, and was told jokingly by a friend that to be an addictions counsellor she had to have an addiction of her own, and she does: her cell phone.

 

 

 

And then I thought about it, and I’m really no different. I’m really attached to my cell phone too, though not in exactly the same way. She is afraid of missing a call greenpatchkidnap1or text, but for me, the phone is a security blanket, a lifeline in the case of unusual circumstances. But the addiction doesn’t end there.  We have two tv’s in our living room, one hooked up for movies and video games, and the other hooked up for cable. There have certainly been times where we have been watching a show on tv, one of us is playing a video game, and we both have computers  open and next to us. This all comes back to Sherry Turkle’s article Can you hear me now? In which she discusses the idea of tethered self, the idea that we are so incredibly tied to our technology. With social networking sites  and email, there is always something to update, and conversely always something to check for updates. I’m not sure what the attraction is in always being updated on the goings on of people I rarely talk to. I spend hours on facebook using various applications to kidnap my roommate, or send her plants and fish, while she sits next to me on the couch.

I guess what I’m really wondering is why all these seemingly pointless and excessive interactions have such a hold over me and others, and why I can’t seem to stop-despite how I’ve tried. Not to mention the fact that very rarely do I actually get anything productive done while online.

If anyone has any thoughts, or would like to contribute their own technological addictions, I’d love to hear it.

Posted in Digital Culture, Groups, Interaction, Websites | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Rise and Fall of the Casual Gamer

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on September 25, 2008

In recent years the gaming industry and the media in general have developed a new name to describe what they believe to be a new market: The Casual Gamer.  But who or what is “the casual gamer” and is the phenomenon as new as we’re being lead to believe?

Diner Dash has become a standard in Casual gaming, and a favorite among gamers

The current market for casual gamers focuses on short games,  divided in to small, task oriented segments without much character or story development.  They feature linear plots where the game goal is often spelled out in the opening sequence.  These games also feature simple controls and repetitive action.

Now if many of our readers think back to childhood they’ll remember playing videogames that can be described in just this way, only, these games were cutting edge.

You see, it’s my theory that casual gamers have always existed, but due to technical limitations these gamers were satisfied by the same games as the hardcore gamers.  Who doesn’t remember the repeated button mashing of the original arcade fighting games?  Or the redundancy of the highly pixelated enemies in your favorite shooter?  These things appealed to both types of gamers.

Quarter circle forward, Punch is no longer the winning combination

Quarter circle forward, Punch is no longer the winning combination

As the technology and the market developed the games became longer and more involved, leading to
monstrous several hundred hour long, multi-disk RPGs and longer, as well as more complicated stories for shooters and even fighting games.  In addition to longer, broader stories, the controls and mental skills needed to play the games became more complex and taxing.  The argument is made that this is where the casual gamer was lost.

However, I beg to differ.

The casual gamer still played these games, but often, didn’t finish them.  They played until they were bored or stuck, and then traded them in for the newest game to suit their fancy.  How do I know this?  Why that’s easy.  Until late in high school, I, was one of these people.

I had many friends who I swapped games with, though I hardly remember any of us ever finishing one.  We played games because it was fun;  when the game stopped being fun, it was time to move on.  We often found ourselves drawn to games meant for users several years younger than ourselves, because the simplicity of the games made them fast and fun.

Then the industry gave us a new name and shoved us in to a box.  The casual gamer was suddenly separate and inferior in some ways to the hard-core gamer.  We needed to be pandered to and given games that were simple.  At least, that’s how my hormone addled mind saw it at the time.

Now I understand that the companies were cashing in on the boredom of the casual market.  If you give the casual gamer 10 games they can finish quickly and happily, they will play them all, and ask for more.  You can even charge them large amounts of money.  Even better, you can draw in new gamers (the bored housewife, the girlfriend of a gamer, the businessman looking to blow off steam) by illustrating that these games aren’t the life sucking games the hardcore gamers sink days and days in to.  These games are short: you can finish them in a weekend and then go back to the real world on Monday.

The Wii is the gaming platform that made "casual games" acceptable for all.

The Wii is the gaming platform that made casual gaming acceptable again

So what does this mean for the gaming industry?  Initially it meant a sort of heated segregation between those that were capable of playing harder, longer games and those that weren’t.  But then Nintendo brought us the Wii and all bets were off.  It became cool to play casual games; so long as it was just for a laugh.  The former “casual game” became the rest stop for the hardcore gamer looking to rest their thumbs and just goof off. Once again the casual game, and the casual gamer, are reabsorbed in to gaming society.

So why then do we still have this term, “Casual gamer” hovering around?  Partly because of habit, partly because it provided an effect way to measure the time investiture in a game, but mostly because of marketing.  “Casual gaming” opened up gaming to new markets, and in order to keep these markets, the marketers feel they need to keep the term.

Fair enough I say, just don’t call me that to my face.  I’m no different than the rest of you.  😛

Posted in Digital Culture, Geekdom, Groups, Interaction, Video Games | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Convention: Why do we gather in a digital age?

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on September 18, 2008

As the traditional Convention season comes to close and the forums fill with reviews of previews and pictures of amazing displays of fandom, I pause to reflect on the phenomenon of the convention of itself.

Why is it, that in our digital age where a series of keystrokes can link people across great distances, we still choose to gather face to face to share our common interests?  Why when we can purchase exclusives merchandise online, we still choose to browse merchant-stalls with hundreds of other people?  What is it about this physical gathering that still draws us together, despite high ticket prices, transportation issues and the poor personal hygiene of fellow con-goers?

I came to two conclusions after much pondering, though these may not be the only ones and I hope to see the comments brimming with conclusions provided by our readers.

My first conclusion is simple and superficial: Bragging Rights.  Conventions provide a place to earn and display medals of fandom, whatever that fandom may be.  Being there when exclusive announcements are made, meeting the most influential people in the industry face to face, and being the first to own the newest merchandise are all outward signs of a persons prowess among the fan community.  The physical act of migrating to the convention location and financially investing in attending is a substantial notch in a fans belt, one that is envied by other fans.  These acts provides prowess among the fan community and are one reason many people go to conventions.

The other conclusion I came to is far more philosophical.  The convention allows people to prove that they exist.  In a digital world where many fans interact through screen-names and must take with a grain of salt all they see and hear, the concrete world of the convention provides a much need dose of reality.  It is at the conventions that they can PROVE their fandom through their bragging rights and by doing so, prove they are who and what they say they are.

Conventions provide more than a place to socialize with other like minded individuals, they provide a proving ground for fans.  A place to assert their identity, as well as expend and develop it in a place of social safety.  This is the true allure of the convention.

Tomorrow: Wintereenmas and Gaming as a Social Religion.

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