Video games have been under public scrutiny for as long as they have existed, and have wrongfully become the scapegoat for various kinds of violence in our country (despite numerous studies that say video games have actually decreased violent tendencies). Our aim for this remix video is to stand up for video games and argue that violence in video games does not necessarily correlate to violence in real life.

We plan to use a super-cut style with clips from news reports on the issue, excerpts from various violent or nonviolent games, and people actually playing the games. The footage of this interactivity, which supposedly makes them more persuasive in causing people to be violent or aggressive, will also help emphasize video games as digital media. We also plan to utilize some aspects of a music video by playing hard rock, grunge, punk, or equally aggressive/angsty music over the footage from the lighthearted games. The current rough outline for our idea would be clips of traditionally violent games, a transition into the news clips condemning these games, and another transition to the fluffy clips and hard music.

Much like the super cut above, our video will rely on the juxtaposition of music and clips, although ours will have have the same music through the gaming clips and clips from a variety of games.

In order to reinforce the idea that video games are a form of digital media and keep our video relevant to the class, we plan to draw our inspiration primarily from the Galloway reading, Gamic Action. In this chapter, Galloway says that “if photographs are images, and films are moving images, then video games are actions” (4).  The same interactivity makes video games playable, makes players supposedly more violent, and places the games in the realm of digital media. The “cybernetic relationship” (7) between the players and the games is not something that should be feared or frowned upon, and certainly does not make users more violent in real life.


Facebook: Benevolent Big Brother

The central idea of a panopticon, either as a prison or general concept, is that the possibility of being watched at any time will cause an uncertainty or even paranoia in the potential subjects. In theory, this uncertainty will make the subjects behave as if they are constantly being watched, and will therefore monitor their own behavior.

Digital surveillance by websites such as Facebook can easily be compared to the Panopticon, since it is a few algorithms designed to adjust newsfeeds for each individual user. However, the key difference with websites like Facebook is that there is no uncertainty in whether or not they are watching; they are. According to the Facebook Data Policy, they collect data based on interactions each user has with the site, how users interact with each other, users’ “networks and connections,” any companies owned or operated by Facebook, and “information from third-party partners.”

Almost every interaction with the site is monitored, including how much time is spent on pages.

According to the Data Policy, almost every interaction with the site is monitored, including how much time is spent on pages.

While Facebook is not being secretive about how much they are watching, it is still not widely known just how much information they are gathering. I, like many others, would never have made it through the dense Terms of Service or even glanced at the Data Policy if not required to. Unlike in the panopticon, Facebook wants to watch us constantly without changing our behavior in order to provide relevant data to advertisers and make our newsfeeds as customized to our preferences as possible. The act of liking posts is especially powerful in adjusting newsfeeds and advertisements, as I have become acutely aware of. After following Matt Honan’s example of liking everything for 48 hours, I realize just how much of an effect liking can have.

At first, my main qualm was liking the posts of people that I had not talked to in a few years, or content that was just generally annoying. Thankfully, it did not take long for that issue to sort itself out. Within a few hours, I began seeing fewer and fewer people and more… not people. By the end of the experiment, I saw only posts from the LAD Bible (“one of the largest communities for guys aged 16-30 in the world,” according to the site), The View, and 4Music.

I'm kind of glad I am not a guy aged 16-30.

I’m kind of glad I’m not a guy aged 16-30.

I had never heard of any of these entities before this experiment, and I definitely do not like any of them. Likes are used by Facebook to screen content and show us what we do or might enjoy, and my rampant liking certainly confused my poor newsfeed. In general, after taking part in this experiment, I am more cautious of the information I will provide on Facebook, but am also thankful of the services Facebook provides in exchange for the genuine data I give. Now I face the daunting task of getting my account back to how it used to be.

“Home | The LAD Bible.” Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.

Honan, Matt. “I Liked Everything I Saw on Facebook for Two Days. Here’s What It Did to Me | WIRED.” Conde Nast Digital, 11 Aug. 2014. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.

GIFs from Transylvania

Despite (or because of) its many flaws, The Rocky Horror Picture Show remains one of the most popular cult films of all time, and is therefore prone to incessant GIFing. After nearly 40 years, abysmal critic reviews, and a depressing sequel, Rocky Horror continues to adapt and flourish in social media, especially Tumblr. But what exactly makes this movie so memetic?

A meme, according to Shifman, is “a shared social phenomenon”  with three distinct qualities: “propagation from individuals to society,” reproduction (through remix or imitation), and diffusion (18). Rocky Horror not only possesses these qualities, but has been able to maintain them since it gained an audience circa 1976. As a cult classic, it relied almost entirely on the few individuals that originally saw its potential at midnight screenings and then spread the word. Imitations began soon after it became more popular, with audience members frequently dressing up to view the movie. In the digital age, remixes, or “technology-based manipulations,” (Shifman, 22) are more popular across social media and refresh the aging film by connecting it with current events.

This remix is based on a Kim Kardashian photoshoot from 2014.

Finally, although there are plenty of screencaps and still remixes, the vast majority of Rocky Horror’s diffusion has been through GIFs (graphic interchange format). These short, infinitely looping animations can be created in numerous photo-editing softwares, such as Photoshop, simply by uploading and cropping MP4 files. GIFs can be used to show witty lines, expressions, even whole scenes in GIFsets. However, the most common usage is reaction GIFs, which can be used to increase social presence and eliminate miscommunications often associated with less media-rich forms of communication.

Social presence, which Baym describes as “how interactants perceive one another,” especially in nonverbal cues such as facial expression (52-53). Reaction GIFs, such as the one I created below, provide a facial expression (even if it is not the interactants’), as well as the implication that the statement should be regarded as a joke. I had my heart set on making this GIF since the first time I heard my professor’s name.

When your professor keeps bringing up Left Shark

When your professor keeps bringing up Left Shark 

Reaction GIFs generally have a normal statement, or caption, along with a GIF that relates to the sentence itself (usually the caption comes before the reaction). Text can be actual dialogue or from the GIF maker for increased customization, although text at all is not necessary.

Frank-N-Furter is definitely the most GIFed character

Reaction GIF have been used to enrich websites and conversations that would take place in medium with low-richness. Media richness is a term coined by Daft and Lengal in 1984 to describe a mediums “information-carrying capacity,” (Baym, 53). As seen in the video seen in class, media with low richness is prone to miscommunications and misunderstandings. Reaction GIFs help to “convey feelings and emotions,” (Baym, 53), and therefore increase the richness of various social media sites.

Altogether, The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s memetic qualities plus GIFs’ spreadability and richness make a vast social trend that has thus far lasted 39 years, with no signs of stopping.

Works Cited

Baym, Nancy K. “Communication in Digital Spaces.” Personal Connections in the Digital Age. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2010. PDF.

Shifman, Limor. Memes In Digital Culture. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2014. PDF.

GIF sources are linked in their respective captions


Netflix Revolutionizes Movies On-Demand

Retrofuturist visualization for the release of Netflix's streaming feature.

Retrofuturist visualization for the release of Netflix’s streaming feature.

In 2007, ten years after its foundation, Netflix revealed a feature that would not only give them an edge over Blockbuster, but would also alter the future of movie and television watching: video streaming. However, rather then being hailed for the revolutionary idea of being able to watch movies instantly on any computer, Netflix faced widespread skepticism after their announcement. Many people simply did not believe that Netflix would be able to follow through on their claim, and a lot of critics saw the initial bugs in the feature (such as issues downloading required software and incompatibility with popular web browsers) as signs that the system would inevitably fail.

Despite Chief Executive Reed Hasting’s assurances that the company “will nail this,” the majority of critics remained extremely dubious. In his essay in Re-newing Old Technologies, Tom Gunning offers a partial explanation to their disbelief by pointing out the “uncanny” (2003) quality found in most new technologies, . Although Gunning limits the sense of uncannines to “technologies of communication… or of representation” (2003), the unfamiliarity and accessibility of streaming gave it an almost mystical quality. To many, the idea of watching free, instant movies on a personal computer was simply too good to be true. Even Freud recognized the “reemergence of earlier stages of magical thinking” (Gunning, 2003) in relation to unfamiliar, and thus uncanny, new technologies.

However, this fantastical mindset translated to doubt of the company’s service, leading many critics, such as Quentin Hardy from Forbes, to be especially critical of any bugs with the service. Hardy claimed the feature only “sort of” (2007) worked, and other negative reviews of the brand-new system led to the discourse around Netflix’s announcement to be similar to that of a fad technology or product. However, even though the streaming system was not perfect in the first try, the idea of streaming movies was too brilliant to ignore. Even Hardy allows, “In its ideal form, it is a very impressive product” (2007). Although the system initially had a few bugs to work out, Netflix’s streaming is apparently impressive enough to earn over 50 million subscribers.

Hardy, Q. (2007, January 16). Netflix To Stream Live Movies For Free. Retrieved January 25, 2015, from

Thorburn, D., & Gunning, T. (2003). Astonishment, Second Nature, and the Uncanny in Technology from the Previous Turn-of-the-Century. In Rethinking media change the aesthetics of transition. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.