Posted on May 7, 2019
For this final project I thought it would be appropriate to look at surveillance culture since it is such a prominent part of our lives and I felt like we had not directly talked about it in class. The idea originated for a similar project that I had done for another digital studies class of mine that was based on surveillance. However, for Hacking, Remixing and Design one of the very notable themes and discussion topics, was that social networks, websites, apps, wearable trackers (i.e. FitBit) and pretty much any other form of technology that we use, collect so much personal data and information, without us even realizing. So on the same path, this subjective project fights back that type of data collection and more specifically the type that surveilles people whether legally or illegally through CCTV cameras or hidden microphones.
I decided to create a website in order to make it look like an e-shop where actual products are sold following the idea of an electronic store (e.g. FitBit, Apple, GearBeast, etc.). I also wanted to make the website look more futuristic, modern and minimal to portray this idea that a) the product actually exists and b) aesthetics and design play a crucial objective in selling a progressive tech product. As DiSalvo et al. discuss in Adversarial Design, the visualization and the aesthetics of design “express a cultural moment” where “designers are challenged to make sense and manipulate that information for social and cultural effect”. Unfortunately, I do not have the exact designs of what I would like these products to look like, which is why I used photos from smart glasses, smart watches or contact lenses that someone else has electronically created, but the idea behind them is what mattered most. I concentrated on the “political design” behind these products that was directed towards the invasion of one’s privacy, the ability to take that power back and stay protected against biases that very much so exist in the system.
Furthermore, I wanted to focus on the multiple representations of what this technology could be, as there is not just one thing that goes into hacking, and specifically in this case; hacking the system. Therefore, bringing on both a technical change, with the technological part of it (the eye contacts, the glasses and the watch) and a social change along with it, since these products question the validity of the surveillance culture we are all so much apart of. This allows the consumers and buyers of the Idtct products to experience the “values of openness, accessibility, and decentralization” (Jaime Lee Kirtz, 2019). In a way these three tech objects/products try to overcome hegemony and work towards exposing the “1984” and “Black Mirror” ideals that are present in our society, maybe not to that extent but at least to some level. It also attacks racial biases that exist in the surveillance culture. People who sit behind these cameras, especially in governmental institutions, focus around racist pre-conceived notions that they have especially about people of color and automatically assume the worst brining automatic disadvantages to those people.
This idea was inspired from a smaller project I had done for a previous digital studies class of mine that focused on surveillance tech, surveillance culture and new technology and systems that are being created around the world. The contact lenses, glasses and watch are (supposedly) all able to detected CCTV cameras, any other type of camera, hidden microphones, bugs, hacks on your computer and phone, etc. As for the technology behind it I have thought about the idea of having the three products detect radio frequencies, or hidden networks and then notify the users either by sending alerts to their phones or immediately popping up on their smart watch. Then a new map would appear using AI on the glasses and contact lenses or on one’s phone and watch, that would redirect the user to take a new path undetected by the cameras, or pinpoint the location of the hidden microphone, hack, etc.
I came up with the logo Idtct because I thought it was catchy and familiar to people from Apple products. but also because the users literally “detect” the cameras and other surveillance systems. The idea was to contradict the Apple whose products start with a lower case “i” and continue with an upper case, whereas Idtct starts with an upper case letter and continues with the lower case ones. I then added the slogan “Products made for YOU” and the subtitle “Privacy, Protection, Defense” in all capital letters to emphasize that that is what the products we sell do. I used a really fun website to create the logo and the merchandise to make it look even more realistic, as nowadays anything sold and anything that is commercial is accompanied by its own personalized merch used as a marketing technique.
After suggestions, I included the idea of being able to see what others have said about the Idtct products. It was really entertaining making up comments and feedback clients and famous people or influences would have left for the products and come up with ideas of where and why they would use them.
Additionally, I included the option for people to send in their prescriptions so Idtct would be able to include them in their contact lenses or glasses so consumers would be have the ability to wear Idtct eye wear at all moments and not have to struggle with wearing normal prescription glasses on top of the Idtct products or not feel comfortable with purchasing the Idtct contact lenses.
I also asked friends to go and comment, without me knowing what they would say, to make it look even more real.
The page “About Us” includes the motto of the store also made from the same site I created the logo and the merchandise and included extra dramatization related to surveillance. Rhetorical questions that would arise concern in anyone that is reading them, especially in those who are about to purchase a product. The fact that they are already on the site means that they are paranoid enough or have a good enough reason to be there, so phrases and questions like: “Are you tired of being spied on?” “You Always Get To Know When You’re Being Watched, Listened To, Recorded And Spied On!”, will only reassure people that they need an Idtct product in their life. The Idtct logo is purposefully that big so it can attract attention but also precede the selling sentences like “No more tracking of your location or movements” and “Stay protected against racial discrimination and biases!”.
Carl DiSalvo, “Design and Agonism” from Adversarial Design (2012)
Jaime Lee Kirtz, “Beyond the Blackbox: Repurposing ROM Hacking for Feminist Hacking/Making Practices” from Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology (2018)
“Jual HiQueen Bluetooth Smart Watch Phone Mate SIM FM Pedometer For Android IOS IPhone Samsung Harga Spesifikasi.” Bandingkan Harga, profile.wimiu.com/jual-got-it-free-shipping-t8-smart-wrist-watch-sim-phone-mate-bluetooth-camera-for-iphone-android-samsung-intl-harga-spesifikasi/.
Whitney Phillips and Ryan M. Milner, Introduction and Chapter 1 from The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online(2017)
Anne Balsamo, “Design” from International Journal of Learning and Media (2009)
Stan Ruecker and Jennifer Roberts-Smith, “Experience Design for the Humanities: Activating Multiple Interpretations” from Making Things and Drawing Boundaries: Experiments in the Digital Humanities (2017)
Kari Kraus, “Finding Fault Lines: An Approach to Speculative Design”from The Routledge Companion to Media Studies and Digital Humanities (2018)
“Is Excessive-Tech Lenses the Future for Contact Lenses?” TechOverall, 10 May 2018, techoverall.com/is-high-tech-lenses-future-for-contact-lenses/.
Basu, Victor. “Every Thing You Need to Know about Smart Glasses.” Medium, The Startup, 14 Nov. 2018, medium.com/swlh/every-thing-you-need-to-know-about-smart-glasses-eb3d2e0a62de.
Ward, Jason. “Smartglasses as Smartphones, Your Social and Privacy Concerns Won’t Matter.” Windows Central, Windows Central, 14 Aug. 2017, www.windowscentral.com/smartglasses-may-replace-smartphones-if-they-overcome-these-barriers.
Posted on April 23, 2019
Anti-smoking advertisements were never a thing back home. The first time I saw one of those cringe-worthy, chillingly, goose bump-creating ones, where people dramatically tell their surgery stories due to smoking, was in the US. Before the ban was placed on those sexist, misogynic cigarette advertisements, spending in the US alone, went to over $1 million per hour in 2016. However, indirectly the film industry plays a huge role in the advertisement, product placement and therefore consumption of cigarettes and smoking.
Many remixes nowadays focus on the unexpected and unforeseen. For this hack, apart from the aforementioned, I also wanted to add the theme of mockery and sarcasm. A lot of the examples that I had researched before this project definitely had a sense of parody and joking commentary, invoking laughter to the audience. For my hack I wanted to maintain the “aura of the original” forms of media that I was using as the “dominant” in my remix, as Eduardo Nava puts it, which in this case was to opt for a more retro “vibe” but also to “challenge” that same aura by adding a twist of surprise and . So I knew from the very start that I wanted to create something in which the media and material that I included juxtaposed each other by creating a sense of unexpectedness and irony.
For some reason, as soon as the hack was assigned, smoking came straight to my mind, probably because of other projects I had done in the past related to the topic and because I felt like the Internet Archive would have a lot of available material. My first thoughts were to use those gruesome advertisements I mentioned earlier and include some type of voice over that didn’t match the video material but followed their mouth movements or gestures. But I figured what a better idea than to include Greek movies since smoking is such a big part of the culture? Deciding to find old Greek films turned out to be an even better solution since actors and actresses use to smoke all the time and it would be cool to combine two cultures from different time periods together.
Once I had the general idea in my head of what I wanted to do, I knew that the overall effect I was aiming for was to have this remix maintain the stylistic features of an advertisement with a vintage spin on it. Therefore, it would be the perfect contrast and antithesis to the more modern anti-smoking ads that are now on TV. After some research on the Internet Archive I found out about these cigarettes called Life, basically the epitome of irony for something that kills you, so it worked perfectly with what I was trying to do in my remix.
The process definitely took a long time, as I had to meticulously go through the films and a plethora of cigarette ads to find the best parts that actually showed people putting the cigarette in their mouths and inhaling and exhaling the smoke in order to make it even more dramatic. I had to slowly look through them click by click trying to find the best parts where the focus lays on the characters smoking. Fortunately smoking on Greek TV was “a huge thing” back in the late 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, allowing me to collect clips way longer than 10 minutes.
The old Greek films inspired this vintage and nostalgic theme for my remix, as they very much so reminded me of home and the “good old days”. To my advantage, it worked out great because they portrayed exactly the juxtaposition that I wanted to create out of this remix, the naive and unaware past of people related to smoking; that cigarettes do not harm. This juxtaposition also falls right in line with the title of my remix, “Smoking Doesn’t Kill” and the song “Walking on Sunshine” (1985) by Katrina and the Waves. In a way it is as if the ad/remix is telling a story that in contrary to what all those films and Life advertisements illustrate, the lyrics of the song stand for, in this case, a guileless person who is unaware of the side effects of smoking; “walking on sunshine” aka walking towards death (if we want to be on the more dramatic side).
As I had only used iMovie once before, my skills were definitely not advanced enough to create something “mind blowing” –if you may. However, I took advantage of whatever was offered on the software and had fun with it, without going overboard as I still wanted to maintain a “serious” commercial theme. The first part of the remix (the colored static) I found on the Internet Archive as part of the Life commercial. I thought that the imagery and sound matched perfectly with what people have in mind when it comes to “old” television programs or films.
The Smoking Kills photo that follows originated in the early 2000s when cigarette companies had to start putting the label on their packaging. The black static image that follows works as a small spot of anticipation of what is to come. Then comes the unexpected image of the label “Smoking Doesn’t Kill”.
Using PhotoWonder (an application) on my phone, I created the Smoking Doesn’t Kill image and chose the soft blue color because ironically, I felt like it created a sense of calmness and reassurance of the statement that truly, smoking doesn’t kill. This also makes a judgment on false advertising that takes place on a regular basis in our daily lives and is only further enhanced with social media. This is the part where “Walking on Sunshine” starts playing as the soundtrack of the remix and with it the rest of the clips where people are smoking play onto the screen. The unexpectedness falls in line with the new intro and the fact that a happy song like that would normally not match the text and the following clips. Without realizing it at first, the combination of the song and the clips gave it a movie trailer vibe, further proving that a remix’s end-result can create the unexpected even for its’ creator. Another unanticipated thing that happened and worked out to my benefit was the fact that the lyrics from “Walking on Sunshine” happened to match certain moments and clips from the Greek films making it even funnier if you let your imagination figure it out!
The “beginning” of the ad/trailer right after the Smoking Doesn’t Kill fit perfectly with the atmosphere as it really is the opening scene of one of the movies and the man in it is even smoking a cigarette and then puts it out by stepping on it.
When it came to the clips from the Life cigarette advertisements I decided to delete the background sound from only two of them because they only contained random words but for the rest of the clips, it worked out great as the ad music itself repeated words like “life”, “life is great”, etc. I chose to mix the Life advertisement clips and the Greek film clips in order to a) not be too repetitive and boring and to b) give it a twist between a movie trailer and a Smoking Doesn’t Kill commercial.
The placement of the clips was not all in random especially when it came to the transitions between the Greek clips and the Life clips. Right after the intro of the Greek clips I also wanted an intro for the Life cigarette, which is why I chose the clip of just the packaging focusing on the irony of the cigarettes being called “Life”. The second clip from Life, ends with a man smoking and then transitions to a Greek woman franticly saying something while smoking, which I thought, could speak for itself like some scene in a movie.
The third Life clip portraying a man and a woman by the pool, is preceded by a man smoking a cigarette while talking on the phone. I used the Cross Zoom effect on iMovie to make it look as if the Greek man was thinking about the pool scene and then the same effect to transition out of it to show yet another couple.
The fourth Life clip is a man and a women smoking a cigarette at a dinner table at what seems to be a party scene and the next clips transitions into a Greek man dancing while smoking making it seem as if the couple was watching him dance.
The fifth Life clip, follows a close up of a Greek women smoking that could also be thinking of the scene where the man and women (in the upcoming Life clip) are romantically really close to each other while enjoying a cigarette together.
The sixth clip, is the same couple carelessly smoking away while the same Greek man is in the two clips before and after the Life one, having what it seems to be like, a harder time than the couple.
Finally, the last Life clip, works great as a closing scene for this remix on its own, as the focus falls back on the Life cigarettes, but also because the three Greek film clips preceding it are concentrated on the actor and actress smoking. The “scene” slowly closes off by placing the focus on the cigarette brand and its packaging, while the song Walking on Sunshine has just come to an end, allowing for the Life theme song to close off with the last words of “Life!”, making it look even more like an ad.
Overall this remix worked out to be or act as many different things. The process alone was very interesting. Looking through all the material made me realize and also confirm certain beliefs around smoking. The fact that every other scene from just five different Greek films included smoking, speaks a lot to the Greek culture. Especially, back in the day when people were less aware of its effects and risks, smoking played (and still plays) a huge part of the culture. The only difference today is that it won’t be as present on television programs as it was in the past, but is definitely still very much apart of it. As for the American Life TV commercials it was interesting to see that once again the cigarette market focuses on male-female relationships and of course on the portrayal of the male as the rescuer/knight of the female, always being there to provide her with a cigarette. Whereas the women in these commercials, were always the ones in bathing suits or in sexualised pieces on clothing, laying out their bodies for them to be focused on by the cameras, while the men stared along and “made the move” on them, as if the women were the catch and the bait was the cigarette. I really enjoyed seeing how this remix at times “unfolded” on its own while I was making it, where bits and pieces sort of fell into place unexpectedly and ended up creating something new and unpredicted within the context of a remix. Basically, the remix did what it was intended to do; unfolded into something new and unforeseen both as an end-result but also within itself matching with things that were broken down and unrelated to each other, to end up fitting perfectly and creating a new “product”.
The remix can be found on Vimeo by clicking on this link! Please use the password: DIG401 to access it.
Bibliography, Sources, Credits
GIF (top of this post) from Giphy: https://media.giphy.com/media/n60s5QpOQymac/giphy.gif
“Nicotine Marketing.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Mar. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine_marketing.
Navas, Eduardo. “Remix Theory » Remix Defined.” Remix Theory RSS, remixtheory.net/?page_id=3.
“Walking on Sunshine”. Katrina and the Waves. Release date: April 26th 1985Films:
«∆έκα Μέρες στο Παρίσι» (Deka Meres sto Parisi ), 1962. Director: Orestis Laskos, Writer: Giorgos Lazaridis
«Θου-Βου Φαλακρός Πράκτωρ – Επιχειρησις Γης Μαδιά<» (Thou-Vou Falakros Praktor – Epicheirisis Gis Madiam) , 1969. Director: Thanasis Veggos Writer: George Lazaridis
«Κακός, Ψυχρός και Ανάποδος» (Kakos, Psychros kai Anapodos) , 1969. Director: Errikos Thalassinos, Writer: George Lazaridis
«Λατέρνα <ια Ζωή» (Laterna mia Zoi), 1958. Director: Sokratis Kapsakis, Writer: Goerge Javellas
«Μια γυναίκα, <ια Αγάπη, <ια Ζωή» (Mia Gynaika, mia Agapi, mia Zoi), 1971. Director: Odysseas Kosteletos , Writer: Panos Kontellis
Life Cigarette Commercials (date unknown)
Posted on April 2, 2019
Have you ever thought about what happens to those Christmas lights you’ve had to throw away every Christmas when you realize they don’t work (hopefully before you’ve wasted an hour of your life hanging them around the tree)? The traditions of decking out everything with fairy lights started in the early 20thcentury, having completely taken over the world by the end of the century. In the 50s and 60s, technology wasn’t as advanced and the series circuit that connected the lights would completely “die” if even one light bulb was ruined, making them completely useless. With recent technological progress, the electric current is able to shunt through a different point in the circuit allowing the whole set of string to continue to operate even if a few light bulbs do not work. This also means that you can fix the same set of lights by replacing the ruined light bulb(s) or by using a voltage tester to figure out where the voltage current got interrupted. Either way this has become a fixable problem. However in recent years, just like any other electronic, it is much easier for us to replace the lights than to fix them, to the point were Christmas lights end up measuring to a large amount of waste of 20 million pounds per year, causing environmental issues as well. What people once enjoyed doing themselves, i.e. being able to fix your own computer/phone screen, car, etc. is now much easier to replace than to fix, making it all and more impersonal and obviously wasteful.
For this hack, we chose to follow a type of critical play repair where the concepts of innovation, education and sustainability have been combined to create this example of circuit for children who are learning physics and more specifically are being taught how electricity and electric grids (as it is in a form of a house) work. In the words of Tolstoy that are used in Steven Jackson’s Rethinking Repair (2014); “all working technologies are alike [and] [a]ll broken technologies are broken in their own way”, which in the case of our repair/hack, we cut up a broken string of Christmas lights, which in its normal, functional, expected state all Christmas lights work the same and are used for similar things, but in its broken state we used it in a/our own special way to create something it was not meant to do. The individual light bulbs from the set still work if they are cut off from the specific circuit that hasn’t all blown up, and still function when given electricity. Instead of throwing them out, children can be taught the value of recycling by re-using objects that by many would be considered garbage, to educate themselves in an easy and fun way! And what better way than to explain to a child how electricity works by assimilating it to the electrical grid found in everyone’s home.
We created an electrical circuit by using copper tape and 9V batteries, we attached the light bulbs that we had cut off and then removed the black plastic cover around them to reveal the little coil hairs that run though the wires. After drawing out a simple child-like drawing of a house on cardboard paper we tried various methods of attaching the bulbs to the house. It was interesting to see how while we were the ones planning out what is suppose to be an educational tool or toy for a young child, we were also the ones that had to re-learn and remember certain things that we were taught in elementary school about how electricity and circuits work. Furthermore, it is a great way for a child to get educated on electricity, recycling and repair when he/she is crafting, through a hands-on, physical experience, which definitely makes it more engaging, enjoyable and easier to understand and remember.
We definitely had to go through a reparative process as we faced a bit of a struggle when it came to figuring out what the issues we were having were (why the circuit was not properly working at times) and the bumps we found along the way. For example: making sure we hadn’t blown off the light bulbs when testing them individually since they cannot take the strength of a 9V battery, double taping the copper tape and placing the light bulb in between for some reason did not make the circuit work, then the tape could not carry the electricity through a square corner (probably because we had to use two different pieces to form the corners) and we had to figure out a different way which ended up being wrapping the copper tape around the wires that we used in the Makey-Makey to help with passing on the electricity and even making sure the ends of the light bulbs were firmly attached to the copper tape and the board.
The aforementioned can also indicate how different pieces, whether old and broken ones or other ones that normally belong somewhere else or are used for something else, can be recycled and re-used to create something completely new, that can teach the children that will be using this tool the same way it tough us certain things. Something that used to have a decorative purpose and lost its intended function can easily be repaired into something unexpected instead of being yet another piece of waste. As Jackson further mentions; “attention to maintenance and repair may help to redirect our gaze from moments of production to moments of sustainability and the myriad forms of activity by which the shape, standing, and meaning of objects in the world is produced and sustained” (234). As I see this and this tool/hack, this means that we can give a new meaning to repair one that does necessarily entail fixing what is broken into what it used to be, but fixing the broken as a whole different thing.
“Christmas Lights.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Jan. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_lights.Steven Jackson, “Rethinking Repair” (2014)
Steven Jackson. 2014. Rethinking Repair. MIT Press.
Posted on March 19, 2019
When the first idea about a video game sparks in the mind of a game maker or game designer his or hers ultimate goal is to bring to “life” this world that they have pictured, with their rules, their characters, their illustration, etc. Basically, game makers want the user(s) to play the game the specific way they have imagined it being played, anything out of those lines is in a way forbidden. Interestingly enough, in the movie “Ready Player One” (2018) directed by Steven Spielberg, one of the main ideas behind it is redefining the norm in video games and doing the unexpected to become the winner. In order to unlock the final stage of the game and find the last key to will grant a winner, the protagonist has to “think out of the box” and re-consider what he has been told his whole life –there is only one way to play this game, just drive straight. By realizing the secret to unlocking a new level he drives all the way backwards where a new platform opens up which leads him to finding the key he had been looking for. A game played by million of users all fighting for the same thing and all playing it the same way was won by the one person who went against the norm, and redefined the boundaries of it.
Similarly, after years of playing Mario Kart on pretty much any type of technology that it can be played on, I decided to test the freedom that designers had placed in the hands of the gamers. On a newer version of the game, e.g. playing it on the Switch, if not all, most of these hacks that I proceed to tamper with have been fixed, illustrating that it only becomes harder and harder to play a game the wrong way or differently than what the game makers had originally planned. Testing videos games and seeing what they can and cannot do allows the player to also test his or her freedom on the game and develop an idea behind why the game makers have created it in a specific way. What was their goal? Is the video game all it suggests it is by playing it by the rules or is there something more behind it when you do not follow those rules?
So, I decided to test this on an older version of the game, the 2008 Mario Kart on the Wii, where I ‘explored’ four different main techniques of the game, which players normally take for, granted. The first idea was to test what would happen if two players (my friend and I) would drive in the opposite direction on a simple and easier course, i.e. has no obstacles in the course/road itself, “Luigi Circuit”. The first biggest ‘hack’that we ‘fouled’ the system with for this first idea, was that the system did not count the laps allowing the game to go on forever (we were playing one course on lap 1/3 for 10 minutes!). This is something that has been fixed in the newer versions of the game by automatically flipping the player to face the right direction if he or she has started driving the wrong way. The second observation as a result of our hack, was that the person who is number 12 (on the screen) is actually first between the two players, (the player in 11thplace is second) so the numbers are being counted backwards. The third observation shows that when you crash into the other players (computer automated), who are racing coming towards you (as they are moving in the right direction), you are basically able to run through them as if they were ghosts, whereas normally if you bump into them you are thrown off the side of the course. The fourth hack was that speed ups along the course make you go faster on the wrong direction even though the arrows on them are pointing toward the opposite way of where you were going (but the right direction of the course). Finally, the fifth observation was interestingly the fact that there were only a very limited amount of items available that you could win when running through a magic box and those were the mushrooms and the bullet, so basically anything that speeds you up, excluding all items that can attack an opponent i.e bananas, shells, etc. This all goes to show that the system recognizes the hack of the players who are driving in the opposite direction, yet still does not flip them around (like in the newer version) but recognizes it enough to greatly limit main characteristics of the game i.e. laps, items, etc.
The second idea of a hack was to similarly drive in the opposite direction but on a harder course with obstacles. The one showed below is “Hooper Cave” which includes water slides and falling off heights. Once again, in a newer version of the game the player would be automatically switched to face the right direction, but in this case you do not even get the chance to test out the lap count because as soon as you fall off or come head to head with an obstacle you are simply not allowed to go anywhere else.
Idea No.2 – Driving in the opposite direction on a difficult course with obstacles. (Video slightly trimmed) https://youtu.be/C-SRskqiI9Y
The third hack idea was again racing on an easy course “Moo Moo Meadows” with no obstacles, to test what would happen if we drove in the right direction but backward. The first observation was that even though we were driving in the right direction the little cloud character with the arrow sign kept popping up. This time around, the game counts laps but does not speed you up nor plays the music faster when you cross the finish line (which happens normally). The third observation is that speed-ups push you the opposite and wrong direction. Weirdly the fourth observation is that the items are still limited even though you are going the right direction and just delaying your race time by making it harder for yourself by driving backwards. Finally, when you press the A button on the Wii remote which is in charge of changing the point of view of your screen to show you what is behind you, the cloud character disappears.
Idea No.3 – Driving in the right direction but backwards on an easy course. (Video also slightly trimmed) https://youtu.be/H2G7t2d-hPc
The fourth hack idea was to see what would happen if we did not start driving when the race started. In the newer versions of Mario Kart, the game automatically pushes you forward and forces you to start. In this hack the game just went on normally with players crashing on to us and bumping us off the side of the course until a while later when the Wii systems realizes that the remotes are not being used, popping up a notification to exit the game.
Idea No.4 – Not driving at all. (Video slightly trimmed)https://youtu.be/1R8IOx-zGCY
It is interesting to see and test the freedom a player has and compare the versions of the same game over time as to figure out what the game makers and designers have altered, corrected and modified. For this 2008 Wii version of Mario Kart I wonder what the logic behind some of the observation was as a result of “hacking” the game by forcing it to do something it is not suppose to. Where the game makers even aware that this could happen? Probably. So were they careless enough to think that someone would not try and test the game? But if they did modify certain things that were mentioned as my observations (i.e. limited amount of items) then that means that the system is able to identify the fact that you are not following its “rules” and therefore manipulates the game to not give you the full experience. But, if the game makers are able to do that then why not change the whole thing from the beginning and not allow the player to continue going in the wrong direction or driving backwards? Were the developers and designers not as skilled as the ones now or was it a flaw of the technology? I am assuming that as the makers of the game developed it over the years they picked on those flaws one by one to make it perfect and ideal to what they had in mind, following their rules and their goals of how the player or players is or are suppose to complete the game. The only thing left to hack the newest version of Mario Kart is by psychically hacking the software and immediately unlocking all of the courses without having to take the time and skills to unlock them by racing. I am certain that the next version of the game will have dealt with this issue.
Posted on February 14, 2019
Have you ever played a game of “Never Have I Ever…”? Was it possibly on a random Friday night during a pregame? Where you with a group of friends who ended up screaming, yelling and making weird sounds every time someone had to take a sip? Well, whether or not some of the above sound familiar to you; typically, a game of “Never Have I Ever” is played with a close –at least to some extent– group of friends or people, with the intention of ending up drunk and possibly ridiculed or just a funnier, quicker way to find out something about someone. Whatever the end-results are, most times you leave the game knowing at least one piece of information –if you may, about one of your friends that you were previously not aware of.
After taking a Surveillance Culture class I got to see first hand how much information you can find on someone by conducting a ”spying” project. For the first time I truly realized what it means to be able to literally find everything about someone. The same weird facts someone can find out from participating in a “Never Have I Ever…” game can also be randomly found online on some old and forgotten Facebook post, Instagram photo or even MySpace announcement! It was really shocking to see how much information we are basically feeding the entire web with or without our knowledge but always because we willingly decided to participate in some type of activity, whether that was as simple as even purchasing a smart phone or a computer to posting your current location on Facebook, to playing games on your phone.
Nowadays, applications and software track everything we do. Imagine a “Never Have I Ever…” game that is available online or in an app form, that basically tracks all your answers and keeps files on you. Normally, the questions that are asked on a “Never Have I Ever…” round are very personal and can reveal a couple of things about an individual’s personality or what type of person he/she is. This specific version of the game that I have made-up, has been coded with python using the Wing software with a list of question options written on a txt file. The code also simultaneously updates a file (named responses) that holds all of the answers each player gives, also saved as a txt file. (See photos attached below)
Now imagine the same game, but so much more complicated and detailed. For example, a simple “yes I have” answer or a sip of a drink, to a simple “never have I ever been to the beach” question, can lead to this secret game system collecting everything about you that relates to the beach. Everything from photos of you from your vacations in August, to your drunken college photos from your Spring Break in Mexico, to a photo your aunt posted of you and your cousins butt-naked on the beach as a 3-year-old. This can easily be a tool, companies or agencies use to categorize people and obviously make certain choices based on the information they have. In a way, this works as one of the categories of play that anthropologist’s Sutton-Smith characterizes as “play as power” (Flanagan, 2009, 4). A game like “Never Have I Ever…” that is usually thought of as an activity played by a group of people who have chosen to participate in this specific game that in their minds operates as a secret circle of friends who are in a mutual understanding of having fun in order to get a laugh out off it, get drunk and find out more about each other in an alternative way other than normal conversation. The questions are directed to each individual player (as you are asked to add the number and names of players in the beginning) and includes pre-approved questions in order to include all aspects of a person’s life and keep the players engaged by not allowing time to pass by as would happen if the players had to come up with a question on the spot.
So in a way, this form of play that is supposed to act as a “form of bonding, including the exhibition and validation or parody of membership and traditions in a community” (Flanagan, 2009, 5) that takes place during an original game of “Never Have I Ever…”, has now taken a twist into acting as a tool for spying that can be used as a “power play” when given to the wrong people with specific intentions. This particular type of play breaks what play is actually supposed to create; “[an] act of bonding and belonging; [a] practice of real-life functions; and [a] “fun,” being with friends, and choosing freely” (Flanagan, 2009, 4). It actually works as an imitator of the whole online world and the ability of everything we own that has been created by some mega-tech company to collect as much information as possible about an individual. It also works as an indicator to show how much we trust what we think is only a close group of people (i.e. the misconception many have where they think that they truly know everyone or at least most of the people they have on their social media accounts) with detailed information about our lives; who we hang out with, where we meet up, what coffee we picked up this morning while reading a specific book at the specific Starbucks location you choose to include with the photo you upload on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
A “Never Have I Ever…” game does not consist of any specific hard rules other than answering truthfully because that is what you have agreed on doing by even choosing to participate in it. Ideally, the actual version of this type of never have I ever would have a central database that collects your information and shares it across every download or online platform that it is played on. In the future, it could possibly process the saved answers and then give follow-up ones that increase the level of difficulty depending on what the person previously answered and how personal or impersonal the question was. It can even have the ability to call-out a person when they give a different answer to a question they had once answered another time they played this info-collector “Never Have I Ever” version.
Posted on January 31, 2019
Make Your Life a TV Show.
What if our life was like a cartoon? Like a Tom and Jerry but with humans. Growing up, I remember what made most kids laugh during cartoon time was when one of the characters did something very amusing and comical, or got into fights or in trouble, falling and hurting himself or herself, etc. All of these actions, were and are always accompanied by some type of sound effects, whether it’s a yell, a “boom” or an “ouch”. In live television, audiences are usually “monitored” or told what to do and when to do it with the help of stage managers who hold up signs that read “laugh”, “clap”, etc. If you think about it, we have also incorporated a few of those “sound effects” in our lives. For example, when we hurt ourselves we usually mutter an “ouch” sound or a “grunt” sound instead of just yelling or making any other noise. Even toddlers and young children learn with noises and sound effects; children’s books that incorporate images, sounds and touchable material or games (small laptops, interactive toddle tables, etc.) that with the help of buttons and symbols emit noises, in order for the child to interact with the game and make real-life connections. One can even argue that we have associated so many things with sounds that this connection has developed into a form of culture. This sound that we use to express the situation we are in have become something so normal and present in our lives that we do not normally differentiate it in the specific moment it takes place. The appropriate sounds go along with the corresponding event or action and everyone knows how to “follow the rules” of this “sound game”; as Huizinga mentions in Nature and Significance of Play as a Cultural Phenomenon (1955), “the need for it is only urgent to the extent that the enjoyment of it makes it a need”.
In Hack #1 the aforementioned is basically enclosed in one packet. The idea behind it is that every time something happens to you, or you say something that can be accompanied by a sound, the computer (or ideally some other smaller unnoticeable device) will emit the accompanied sound. Therefore, when you break a glass, the computer would make a glass shattering sound, when you say something funny, people are going to be heard laughing and applauding, or when you fall down, you would be able to hear “boom” and other crashing noises. Imagine if your house was able to make sound effects (when you choose to do so), as if you were apart of a Looney Tunesepisode or a haunted house game, in which case you could also entertain your friends, guests or even children by dubbing things around your house with this device. The game can go both ways either you set it so that when the person does something the sound is followed by the act, i.e. you fall down the stairs and the computer makes “negative beeps” or a “game over” sound, or you can also set it for when someone touches a specific object than a sound in produced, i.e. you touch the door nob and there is a “roaring” or “boo” sound.
For this specific MakeyMakey, I chose five different sounds. The first one is when you fall or hurt yourself, which is accompanied by a “bonk” sound like a clown’s honk. The item placed to make that sound is a banana peel (redirected to the upward-facing arrow), as that is a classic item of choice in cartoons that a character will slip on by accident or if it has purposefully been placed there by someone else. The next sound is when someone breaks something and produces a “glass breaking” sound; connected to a glass (redirected to the right-facing arrow). The third sound that this MakeyMakey can produce is similar to that of a doorbell’s but is used for when you have had an idea or an ‘epiphany’ and the object connected to it is no other than a light bulb (redirected to the downward-facing arrow), a very generic item/object associated with new ideas in both cartoons and real life. The fourth sound I have included is followed after someone has said or done something shocking and the sound effect is multiple people gasping. For this ‘showcase’ I am using a printout of the famous painting The Scream,by Edvar Munch (redirected to the left-facing arrow) that is very commonly associated with the expression of shock. Finally, the last sound is laughter for when a person has said something funny and it is connected to the laughing emoji (redirected by the space button), a symbol very current in our lives. For this particular “laughing” sound effect I chose a more hysterical one in order to evoke a more comical tone from the audience and/or participants.
This game-activity, and I call it as such because it is not a game that necessarily includes rules, moves or order (apart from the cultural ones mentioned above). It is a more theoretical example of what Roger Caillois characterizes as mimicry in The Definition of Play and the Classification of Games. We mimic cartoons and “television life” but cartoons and television also mimic us. We are accustomed to adapting and mimicking what we see on our screens and that reflects on a lot of games and play, whether its board games like Pandemicand Monopoly or playing with dolls, superheroes and trucks. It is also mimicking a “child’s initiation game of illusion” (Caillois 148), certain movements, items or symbols reflect sounds that cultural language expresses through sounds we make with letters. This game/play also mimics spectacles and basically any form of theater including, as previously mentioned, live television, where we also find a lot of sound effects accompanying actions and movements to convey something more intensively. As Caillois also describes, this simulation of reality vs. animation, cartoon and theater that is provoked through the combination of a real life person being ‘accompanied’ by sound effects in a real, daily-life situation, slowly turns away from the paidiaelementand moves towards the ludus element. In a way it “reflect[s] the moral and intellectual values of a culture as well as contribute[s] to their refinement and development” (Caillois 141), as it depicts cultural sound elements found in our television programs, movies and theater that we have incorporated in our daily lives giving them further meanings.
Materials and other software used for this hack: