Digital Games can be Social Experiences

Professor Mark Durkin from the University of Ulster suggested:

“For customers, the constant and often simultaneous use of laptop, MP3 player, smart phone and TV, especially by our young people, has serious implications in terms of attention and focus, he says.
“Of note is the fact that such stimulating multi-tasking makes the necessary recovery time needed by the brain for consolidating daily thoughts increasingly absent.
“Time once available for reflection, thought and consideration is being eroded by the constant noise of electronic devices demanding our attention.

“In actuality, society has become enslaved by what we still view to be liberating technology.
“What needs to be realised is that the technological capability that purports to enable the ‘social’ in ‘social networking’ simply creates a sleepy virtual environment populated by discrete interactions that are often narcissistic, superficial and ephemeral.
“As a society we are actually connected only in our collective belief that the Internet ‘connects’ us socially”.

In the 1950s, this would have been about rock and roll music.

The article is mainly about how businesses cannot interact using internet-based social marketing in a half-hearted way. And I think h’s inferring that this alone is where the enslavement appears. By the same token we are enslaved by the television (it forces us to turn it on and watch it if we want to see our favoured shows), we are enslaved by the kettle (we are forced to turn it on and wait for it to boil if we want a cup of tea) and we’re enslaved by the very air around us (which we are forced to breathe or else we die). As Professor Durkin is a Professor of Marketing at the University of Ulster and professionals in marketing education are reeling from the effects of the Internet, technology and social networking, it’s not entirely surprising to see this reaction. It’s not possible to just teach the 4 Ps “Marketing Mix” and hope that’s enough to educate tomorrows marketing experts. It fails to take into account the social effects (unless you count individual and mass communications under Promotion).

Personally I find that technology is liberating. Yes, we become complacent about it and maybe dependent to a degree but we can re-learn if the technology is not available. But technology is liberating, it is social and it can cause interactions which were not present before. For example, check this video out.

From single user devices, we find that multi-user devices are better at enabling interactions. Especially at 0:07 when Jacob ditches the Nintendo DS.

Are either of these individuals enslaved or has the technology advanced to the point where they can share an experience.

Here’s forty shillings on the drum, For those that volunteers do come

I’ve been on a little bit of a Napoleonics obsession recently. Part of it starts from reading the Bernard Cornwell ‘Sharpe’ novels and then following up by downloading the entire collection of TV movies from iTunes. At £14.99 for 15 episodes (each 140 minutes), it’s a bargain to me. And I’ve loaded them on computer, streamed to Apple TV, watched on iPad. I even got a hold of the soundtrack!

In addition to that, I’ve bought a wee raft of books to go along with the obsession and a quick internet search brought me to an evil place of lust. I’ve not bought that lustworthy gadget and I doubt I will, but isn’t it a thing of beauty?

It’s not entirely a new development as I have always been a fan of Jane Austen period dramas and they’re obviously set during the same sort of time period. It’s therefore no surprise that an examination of the period would lead me to the officers of the stories – Colonel Brandon, George Wickham, Captain Frederick Wentworth, Captain Harville, Captain James Benwick. Some of them refer explicitly to the wars (such as Wentworth, from Persuasion) but most dwell on the officers at home.

I always thought that getting interested in the Napoleonics was something that good gamers did when they got old and grey and, to be honest, I was right. I am old and grey and I’m now, after all these years, interested in Napoleonics. Not in the miniatures stuff of course, but in the preparation of a game set around the time of the Peninsular war.

The problem with “military campaigns” is that there is a rank structure. Every game with rank structure, from Twilight 2000 to Star Trek, suffers a little from this. There are orders to be followed, missions to be completed and it’s important to be able to run a cohesive unit. Disasters in this have led to numerous in-jokes such as “Uh oh, he scanned the planet” (referring to the use of active sensors on a stealth mission) and others.

Some games get around this by giving the player characters an uncommon degree of independence – SLA Industries system of BPNs overcomes this extremely effectively with the illusion of choice. The method I intend to use would be to provide the players with relatively senior roles and “specialist” reputations and skills – not unlike Major Hogan, Major Nairn and Major Munro of the Sharpe TV series. There’s something awfully romantic about the period and when you add in the necessary degree of independence, that enjoyed by Hawkeye (in The Last of the Mohicans, set in 1757) and you have an epic story in the making – and epic stories is what this is all about. There will be death, but there will be great heroism.

I’ve played with the idea of a small group of disgraced nobles who had enough money to buy a commission being shipped around Europe doing dirty work for various rulers, receiving treaties and mission papers, purchasing graces to win back their reputations and garnering their own wealth. The opening of the campaign is delivering a bribe to the Russian court, which goes slightly awry and leads them to be named the SOBAKI (‘dogs’).

So, what do you think?