Discovery Channel – Gamer Generation

The Discovery Chanel hosted a two-part video series – Gamer Generation. While these videos are a bit dated, each still provides a useful overview of the industry, media effects, and video games research. Of particular note, Dr. Weber’s study Does playing violent video games induce aggression? Empirical evidence of a functional magnetic resonance imaging study is featured in the fourth video (starts at 7:20 and extends into the fifth video). Embedded videos shown below the fold.

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That Time of the Year

Finishing up my first week back at UCSB and this comic is all too accurate. Cheers to a new year!

A Future for Augmented Reality

This video comes via the folks at Ethical Technology. Creators May-raz and Lazo offer a glimpse into an augmented reality future that allows individuals to monitor and interpret everything from environmental to nonverbal cues. Taken at face value, having access to these capabilities seems exciting. However, there are potential issues. In Sight, the slimy protagonist uses augmented reality capabilities in an attempt to seduce his date. Creepy, but an interesting premise that highlights some of the potential drawbacks of an imaginable future.

Sight from Sight Systems on Vimeo.

Avatars & Facial Tracking

Sony Online Entertainment is beta testing a new feature for EverQuest II, SoEmote. This sort of technology has been around for a while, but to my knowledge, this is the first time it has been incorporated into an MMO (and a popular one, at that). This is likely an interesting feature for players, even if the audio is a bit off-putting. The audio fonts are pitched as a feature for role-players, but is this something they even want? I’m not terribly familiar with EQ2, but voice chat (outside of instances and raids) never really took off in WoW (even then 3rd party software seems dominant). For me, the face-tracking feature is far more interesting. I’m often put-off when my character’s head movements and facial expressions are different from what I expect them to be. SoEmote seems to do a nice job capturing, and replicating, facial movements (be sure to watch the video in full-screen, check out all those points of reference on his mouth, eyes, and eyebrows).

I digress… What has me most excited is the opportunity this feature offers researchers. One can easily think of several studies that test immersion, nonverbal cues, realism, etc. According to Kotaku, SOE will demo SoEmote at E3. Exciting!

Link List – Games, Cognition, & Virtuality

So far, I think this blog has struggled to find a voice. Maybe I’m plagued by this problem in areas beyond this blog. Who knows…

Anyway, here are a few links (and a video!) that have been thinking about this week. Maybe you will enjoy them, too.

  • The Dunning-Kruger effect and multiplayer video games. Interesting idea that could easily be tested. While the article mostly considers competitive play, it could be interesting to assess this among collaborative or cooperative play (raid groups, anyone?).
  • A few links here each discussing how “downtime,” or periods of boredom, in MMOs might be what fosters socialization. Read the blog post from TAG first, and then read Kelly Boudreau’s response post. I’m not convinced that SWTOR really offers the chance for socialization in the same way that EQ, or vanilla WoW did. SWTOR seems to allow for easy grouping, but nothing that really seems likely to spur long-term relationships. Maybe I’m wrong.
  • ArsTechnica has an interesting post comparing arcade culture in the USA to Japan. I’m linking this mostly because I’ve been thinking about the literature on media effects and agression resulting from playing video games. If video games really make us violent, one would expect arcades to be a very dangerous place. =p
  • Nature did a great news article on four possible futures for fMRI research. Check it out!
  • Finally, there is a growing discussion among some academic circles that says we are all foolish idiots for thinking/talking about the Internet in terms of Cyberspace, or digital exceptionalism. Read John Carter McKnight’s post and then watch this talk (embedded below) from James Bridle. This talk is full on interesting ideas, but Bridle really nails the idea when he says “Space is a really bad metaphor for the Internet” (start at 4:30).

Technology is the Competition?

I’m generally not one to link TED talks, but Sherry Turkle’s TEDxUIUC talk is worth watching. In sixteen minutes, Turkle outlines the second half of her latest book, Alone Together (this book is a terrific read, and absolutely worth the purchase). While I do not always agree with Turkle, I tremendous respect for her, and her work. This video demonstrates some of the things I think Turkle gets right.

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The Raid: A WoW Documentary

The last few posts I’ve put up have been a bit lengthy. Hopefully a shorter post, along with a relevant video, will help round-out the type of content this blog offers…

The Raid is a documentary that observes raiding in World of Warcraft. A shorter version of the film was previewed at Blizzcon 2010 and the full film premiered on Gamebreaker.TV in August of 2011. Embedded below is a full video of the premier night. The documentary starts at 26:08.

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Attention and Media Research

The following is an adaptation of a paper I wrote at the request of my advisor. This paper is an overview of attention and mass communication research. As such, findings from cognitive science and neuroscience literature are discussed as a means for coming up with meaningful media research questions. Accordingly, much of this post is actually a brief review of literature and methods. A shorter section is devoted to research opportunities (expect more of this in upcoming posts).


Attention is one of the oldest and most studied areas within the behavioral sciences (D. Anderson & Kirkorian, 2006). While modern inquiry dates back to the mid 1800s, attention can be traced back to Aristotle and Lucretius (D. Anderson & Kirkorian, 2006; Potter & Bolls, 2011). Accordingly, one might reasonably expect that there is a universally shared definition of what exactly attention is. As early as 1890 it was assumed that “everyone knows what attention is” (James, 1890, p. 403). However, this simplistic characterization does little to further our understanding of attention.

Decades of inquiry have yielded multiple, and sometimes competing, conceptions of attention. This paper will contemplate modern attention research, considering why the study of attention is important, both generally, and within the field of communication. Common methods utilized to study attention will be considered, as well as ways in which attention is typically operationalized. Finally, this paper will discuss new directions for interactive media research.

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The Role of Need For Closure on Motivations to Assess Credibility When Information Seeking Online

Some long-form thoughts on Need for Closure and credibility. Nothing submission worthy, but something I’ve been thinking about (read as, these ideas need further development, and considerable improvement).


The Internet is often regarded as a tool for widespread information distribution. A popular perspective suggests that individuals access the Internet to seek and share novel information. Accordingly, some scholars have considered the important role the Internet plays in facilitating everything from cultural production to personal and political freedom (Benkler, 2006; Jenkins, 2006; Lessig, 2000, 2004, 2006). But this idea is not universally accepted. Scholarship challenging this viewpoint worries that individuals selectively expose themselves to information, utilizing the Internet to confirm existing beliefs while filtering out dissenting information (Anderson, 2006; Johnson, Bichard, & Zhang, 2009; Sunstein, 2007).

In an attempt better understand the extent to which these conflicting perspectives are actually occurring, this paper considers the impact of need for closure (Kruglanski & Webster, 1996) on motivations to assess credibility (Metzger, 2007). The resulting hypotheses suggest that information seeking on the Internet is dependant on individual motivation. At times, individuals seek novel information, while other times opting to seek confirmatory information. Finally, implications and opportunities for future research are discussed.

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Gamer Girl Manifesto

This should probably be the gamers manifesto…