Drake Saarinen

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Wiki Article #1:

Abstract: BioShock

The Original BioShock was released in 2007 by 2K games, and company based in Novato, California. It was ported to the OS X (Mac) platform two years later in 2009, this time by Feral Interactive. The game itself is a mash between horror, FPS (first person shooter), and action adventure. The protagonist (Jack) finds himself in a new world under the Atlantic ocean set in the 1960s. Soon after arriving it is abundantly clear that danger lurks around every corner, but the player and Jack are pulled in by the games narrative to find out more to find out what has happened and see if there is some way out. Katy Meyers looks at the way the player uses anthropological techniques to understand the setting and the people in it. She suggests that through the uses of three of these major techniques the player's choices in the game are effected.

Summery: Anthropology of Social Behavior in BioShock

Katy Meyers is expanding on the ideas of Bronislaw Malinowski and his conclusion that when an anthropologist is trying to understand a place or culture he/she must first understand the: behaviors of the people, what people say and what they do, and what their written rule and ideals about society are. He argues that once one understands these traits of the society in question it it much easier to interpret archaeological finds both in the present and the past. Meyers expands on this by applying Malinowski's ideas to BioShock. She tells that the player is actively doing all three of these practices even if he/she is not aware of doing so. She explains that the world in the game is so rich and engaging that the player is drawn to learn more and more with what little chunks of information the game gives you at a time. The player is drawn to learn more and piece together what he/she can to grasp what is happening and why.
First she looks at why the people in the game are doing what they are doing. Why are so many people trying to kill you, why are people over the radio trying to convince you what to do, why is the environment to destroyed. She says that the player makes his/her own assumptions about what has happened and why, and the only way he/she can do this is by directly interacting with the people and objects in the game. Next she explains that the player comes in contact with many different people and audio diaries. Through observing and interacting with people in the game the player makes more assumptions about the world and how it got in the condition it has fallen into. She also notes that many of the characters want something from Jack most want to stop him, and the ones that want to help him want something from him. These conflicting interactions force the player to choose a side, the good or the bad. The Third point she makes is that the ideals of the society have a great impact on its peoples and just about everything that happens there. In the case of BioShock Rapture (the city in which the game takes place) is based on the idea of objectivism. Objectivism is defined as a social system where each person is able to control his/her own life. There is no government or religion, or each other. The player can see that the system had broken down, but it also makes him/her realize more of why people act the way they do in the city. Meyers claims that the player used these three aspects of the society to form decisions and assumptions about the world and the people in it. She also says that these assumptions ultimately make the character decide how to play the game in the form of critical decisions in the game that drastically change the story.


Kay Meyers really defines the social and cultural importance of the game not as how it affects our society or lives. Rather she explains how the game affects ours. Her article is about how subconsciously were use anthropological techniques to better understand the world we live in or one that we are visiting. She concludes that the way we: examine the parts of a society or culture, deal with conflicts and interactions, and the choices we make are all tied together. All effect one another in some shape or form. This reflects in real life in that again these are tied together all have influence on the choices we make on a day to day basis.


While Meyer's post generated no debate in the comment section. I think there is room for counter points. I personally mostly agree with what she is saying, but I can see where some counter arguments can be formed. First one could argue that the game really doesn't offer a variety of choices most are black or white. It pretty much fall to a black or white choice, be good or bad. While I do believe that the environment and people do affect the player’s choices. I can’t help but wonder if the lack of variety in the choices itself makes the player less engaged in the game. For instance, what if i don't want to be completely bad or good. If I am forced to either kill or save someone, but am denied the option to detain them or interview them further to learn more. The game is essentially forcing me to make a rash decision. However I believe that her counter point would be that. The reason that you have to make such rash choices in the game is because of the environment. In a world such as Rapture there is no middle ground. There is only good and evil. This forces the character to categorize each person he meets into one of those two categories. This again supports her argument that the way a society is held together and acts has great influence on the choices a person makes both in the virtual and physical world.

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Wiki Article #2:

Using this week’s assigned readings as a starting point, give a succinct explanation of what Anonymous, SOPA, and PIPA (Protect IP) are:

  • Anonymous
The Anonymous is an online activist group that consists mostly of young men/women. They model their moments and ideals from the movie "V for Vendetta" and often wield a Guy Fawkes mask which is a symbol of their iconic anonymity both in the real world and the digital one. These men/women are technologically savvy and have a great understanding of how the internet works. This knowledge of the internet allows them to deploy a deep level anonymity (hence the name). They are activists (often referred to a hacktivists) of the people and wish to see controlling governments all over the world relinquish their control to allow the common people more liberties and rights. They are a unique group in that most (not all) of their actions take place on the internet. These actions take form in DDoS attacks (essentially a large number of infected computers are used to flood a system beyond complicity forcing it so deny access to normal users), steeling of information, and mass communication efforts. They are known for assisting in the shutdown of many government sites, as well as the stepping down of government officials in various countries.
  • SOPA
The Stop Online Piracy Act was a bill introduced to house of representatives on 10/26/2011. It was never passed but was "postponed until revisions could be made". The bill was intended to stop online piracy and to crack down on those who committed piracy. It was to deal with copyright infringement as well as protect content creators from having works stolen. The problem however was that it did this in a very black and white way that may have been okay for large companies to regulated, but essentially made it impossible for start ups to form because they would have to invest so much money and time into upholding SOPA standards. Money that startups could have used for a number of other reasons. Furthermore SOPA doesn't actually allow for copy right materials to be taken down, all it does is deny access to said content.
  • PIPA
The Protect IP Act or Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 was proposed to congress on 05/26/2011, but was never passed. Essentially what it proposed was to sensor links to stolen content which were copyright. It did this first by detecting if the site with the stolen works was in the US or outside of the US. Once categorized as foreign or domestic the link was then dealt with accordingly. Again just like SOPA this act doesn't actually remove the content or site. It just makes it so people within the United states or those using a search engine based in the US will not be able to view the site or content. All this does it remove the ability of the anything goes mentality of the internet as we know it today and does almost nothing to actually stop piracy.

How do groups of hackers, like Anonymous, relate to movements to protect online privacy:

When it come to "hackers", like Anonymous they do have allot to offer in terms of the fight to protect online privacy. For one their claim to do what the do in the name of helping the small people. They try to give a voice to people and let the government and law makers know that people want to be heard and that people want to protect the internet and leave it the way is has always been, free and mostly unregulated. They do this by what the medial likes to refer to as "E-Terror" as explained before they have been know to take sites down and steal documents / information to protect these interests. It is quite obvious when you think about it. Their name is Anonymous the only reason they are anonymous is because of the internet and the way it currently stands. With the implementations of big data and other data mining operations taking place by intelligence groups I think it is important we realize we don't have much privacy left. That being said I believe Anonymous has some good intentions in that they want to protect the internet as a common resource for all people and that people should have the option to be anonymous on the net just as it has pretty much always been since its creation in the late 80s.

How do these readings relate to and illuminate the recent events surrounding Edward Snowden:

When it comes to the Snowden I think it is important that to define who he is and what he did. We have an ex government high ranking official who is accused of treason and espionage. A crime that was placed on him for exposing a crime the US government is doing that is unconstitutional. When its a crime to expose a crime I think the priorities of the state need to be closely looked at. What he did was release documents that expose the US intelligence agencies for collecting "Big Data" on its own citizens. The government reacted to this by saying all this was being done in the name of Anti Terror. He and many Americans believe that what the government is doing is unconstitutional. What they are doing is everything from GPS tracking to listening in on phone calls and everything in between to "prevent terror". People who support the government in data collection argue that if you have nothing to hide then there is nothing wrong with the government spying on you. People on the other side of the coin say that is beside the point, and that people are entitled to their privacy.
When it comes to privacy on the internet it is a huge issue when it comes to big data collection. This is where the government gets most of its information and data. They do so by monitoring everything from search history, typing patters, who you communicate with online, what you buy online, where you are planning on traveling, and many more things. These are all then used to extrapolate and theorize who that person is, what they do, where they go, who they talk to, so on and so forth. There is almost no privacy anymore on the internet. They might even know things about you that you don't even know about yourself. This is an interesting idea to think about. Back to Snowden, he believed that this was not right and that the people should know about this. He says the government has gone too far and that people need to have some privacy, by exposing these things the government charged him with a crime.
With the proposal of new bills that seek to destroy net neutrality and privacy on the internet I think there needs to be a movement to stop the government and ISP monopolies from trying to change the internet to something that is highly regulated, controlled, and easier for them to monitor its users.

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