Hull School of Art and Design
BA (Hons Game Design)
The Open University
What is New Media?
To define “What is New Media?” we need to establish what is considered as old. The television and mobile phone are examples, however, through digital technology, these are now integral as part of new media. As a community we strive to remember our childhood and now we enhance, develop and improve the technology we used to know and love so that we can bring our memories from the past into our future. Even though we are advancing in the use of media and technology most of us still like to use old media as some new technology can be over complicated.
New Media is a term used to describe modern or futuristic technology that enables us to communicate with each other and gain knowledge of current events. Old media still exists in the form of a Newspaper or Radio whereas New Media is strongly taking over the Old Media. However, I sometimes question certain types of New Media as some forms of it consist of being Old Media revived (sometimes known as Retro). As an example the ‘Phonograph’ (in the shape of a cylinder) was invented in 1877 by the famous Thomas Edison which then evolved to a ‘Vinyl Record Player’ (disc shaped) in 1887 by Emile Berliner. To this day Vinyl Record Players are still in popular demand, but mainly used for display purposes and is now electronic. But we live in a world where electricity is vital, do we always need to have electronic devices or can old media overrule new media? In this modern society children as young as 3 start to use electronic devices such as the IPad, however in some cases it can be good for them as it is educational as well as fun.
Sherry Turkle believes that New Media allows us to be immersed in a variety of different worlds and escape the world that we don’t want to be in. Turkle states that as a community we are ‘Alone Together’; meaning physically we are next to each other but our minds are in different places. I agree with the way she discusses control and how our minds only want to focus on technology as we have more control over a text message than we do with an actual conversation. Turkle said “A conversation happens in real time and you can’t control what you are going to say. Texting, e-mail, posting; all of these things let us present the self that we want to be”. I agree with Sherry Turkle because as a gamer I can relate using characters as an example.
In Sherry Turkles book she believes that “A few powerful ideas elaborated within the AI world have captured the imagination of people who are not in AI but close enough to it and to computers to be responsive to its influence”. Therefore being immersed in games leading to gaining new knowledge and taking that knowledge into reality. She writes not just about the computers and technology itself but the way in which technology changes the way in which we act and how games can change our everyday lives. Machines offer us companionship that real people sometimes cannot offer, we have robots now on phones and consoles that can react to what we say to them; such as Siri and Cortana.
The Business Insider website has a page about ‘Amazing Pictures of Real People and Their Avatars’. This page shows how players want to see themselves and who they want to portray. (For example see fig.1). Figure 1 shows a Man called Thierry Te Dunne; he likes to play as Arenanet, a female character that he created in the game ‘Guild wars’. He plays this game 21 hours a week; that’s nearly a full day of being immersed in a virtual world. Technology gives us the chance to create, edit and delete who we are online; that is why we find it easier to connect online.
You can look stronger or look prettier as a character and therefore that will give you the confidence to do more just like Jane Mcgonigal says “We feel we are as good in reality as in games. In game worlds we are the best version of ourselves possible. When we face obstacles and failure in real life, we feel overcome, overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, and cynical. These emotions just do not exist in games. What about this in games makes it impossible to feel that we can’t achieve everything?” She feels the same way as Sherry Turkle and believes that games can change the world, however, there are good ways and bad ways in which the world can be changed. Our characters confident personalities we pursue online need to become real. Sometimes games let us design the characters look, personality and its skills so that we have more control over the person we would like to be. In most cases games are made to be played more than once so that you can create a different character the next time you play therefore giving you more experience of playing as a completely different person.
Hyper Reality is a form of distortion within images and real life; noticing the difference between reality and fantasy. Disney World is an example; people go there to be happy and be immersed within their favorite Disney films and interact with their favorite characters. The characters are always friendly so they offer companionship and the worlds have music and even smells that make you feel like you are a part of that world.
Jean Baudrillard developed work in mass communication. Within this field of work he developed an interest towards Marshall McLuhan’s thoughts on New Media and social relations. He has a book called ‘Simulacra and Simulation’ which sums up how new media takes over real life by creating a hyper reality for us to live in. ‘Simulacra’ means a depiction of something that has no reality or no longer has an original being; whereas ‘Simulation’ is a real world process that imitates the reality we want to live in. We see signs of simulacra and simulation every day, advertisements usually create a hyper reality as they usually intimidate and persuade people to be like the person in the advertisement or if the person buys that product they will live life that person. (For example see Fig. 2.) This poster links to this theory of hyper realism as the advertisement suggests that if you buy this fragrance you can seduce attractive women, however, the actual reality of that happening is less than likely. In the image it shows stereotypical models that most people are expected to look like in this modern society. Not everyone looks like this and the poster makes the advertisement more dominant by taking away most of the models clothing to sexualise the ad. Not everyone is happy with these advertisements because it stimulates the brain to be depressed through the thoughts of wanting to look like them.
Films and games are a huge form of hyper reality as we have the chance to explore a world that doesn’t exist (as much as we want it to exist in real life). Harry Potter is a good example as many places around the world have tried to imitate scenes from the film in which people can interact. Disneyworld used mirrors to create the illusion of walking through the wall at platform 9 ¾ and they have also created all the areas out of the film such as the castle. Whereas in London they use green screen to make it look like you are flying just like in the film (New Media).
Overall I believe that both theories are great and make a lot of sense in this modern society, however, I really have an interest for the theory presented by Jean Baudrillard as he gives evidence and theories towards the virtual media that we see on television being brought to life in the real world, whereas Sherry Turkle mainly mentions just the virtual and technology side towards it. I agree with Sherry Turkle in the fact that New media can be a good or a bad thing to happen to the world but I believe that having that chance to experience what it is like to live in the world you want to live in is great and it may be a way of escaping reality, however, if we couldn’t escape reality I feel that the world would be a more stressful place.
Overall I think that both authors have a clear understanding of how new media can change the world, one author using virtual reality and the other using the theory of hyper reality.
With new technology being developed every day we get to be immersed in the worlds that we enjoy, however, being in reality is sometimes a good thing we only like to live the good parts of reality and when we are not enjoying reality we play as another character from a different world whether it be a virtual character in a virtual world or you dressed as your favorite
character in a hyper reality made world. Sometimes the technology we use will give us ideas to take into the real world e.g. buying/building props out of a film as inspiration or creating an outfit to make you look like the character such as what the people at comic con do.
Understanding both of these theories by Baudrillard and Turkle inspires me as they both understand that new media can make a better reality for us if we use it correctly. Not all virtual reality is violent and not all hyper reality is stereotypical, some games and hyper realism tasks can educate and give us exercise. Sometimes games can be educational without even knowing and I think that adding this in more games would benefit the world.
Fig 1: Thierry Te Dunne as Arenanet from the game ‘Guild Wars’
Fig 2: Guess, Seductive Homme. Fragrance for Men.