Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Theory & Research: it’s all about the research

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

This week, the focus falls to two things that kept running through my mind while finishing up the NIH’s Theory at a Glance and Wei Peng’s “Design and Evaluation of a Computer Game to Promote a Healthy Diet for Young Adults”, published in Health Communication.  First, I want to discuss theory.

Granted, the name of this serious games course is “Theories of Games and Interaction for Design” and as such, I expected to be exposed to a great deal of theory, however, not this much theory.  I expected to learn about theories associated with game design in general and serious game design specifically, and I wouldn’t say I was surprised when we focused for a couple of weeks on theories of learning: the two really do go hand-in-hand.  The amount of focus, though, on theories surrounding health behavior and change surprises me.  NIH’s Theory at a Glance alone discusses eight different theories focusing on health.  At this point-in-time, I feel as if I’m in theory overload.  What I have to keep reminding myself is that ALL of these theories can apply to different areas, not just health.  The realization is that I need to create a chart listing all of the theories discussed thus far to try to keep them straight in my mind and to have a quick reference when it comes to creating my final project.

Now to shift the focus to Peng’s “Design and Evaluation of a Computer Game to Promote a Healthy Diet for Young Adults”, which discusses the game Rightway Café.  The article itself provides excellent information on the theories associated with behavioral change and games being tailored to meet individual needs.  The discussion that followed, however, about Rightway Café left me questioning the validity of the research itself.  Three points, in particular, were troublesome:

  • 32 of the 40 participants were women
  • the game play lasted for only 42 minutes on average and the game was only played one time
  • the long term follow-up came after only one month

By the end of the article, Peng addresses these limitations, but that is not enough to alleviate the doubts surrounding the validity of the findings.  While the variable of the number of men versus women might be difficult to control, the others were completely within the control of the researcher.  That leaves me questioning why the participants only played the game one time, why game play only averaged 42 minutes, and why the follow-up came after only one month.  For me, these are all red flags and unless further, more thorough research substantiates these results, I would not use this research as evidence in any of my own work.

With all of that being said, I do realize that all research has to start somewhere.  In a case like this, I believe it would be prudent of the researcher to discuss limitations upfront to prepare the reader.  I believe that having that knowledge upfront would have tempered my skepticism and kept me more engaged in the actual results.

Serious games for serious living

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

This fall I decided to apply to the Masters Serious Games Certificate online program offered at Michigan State University, one of the first schools to offer such a program.  I was accepted and started the first course (in a three course program) entitled Theory for Games & Interactive Design this fall.  Needless to say, it has kept be busy along with my own admin responsibilities and teaching.

This weeks readings, game play, and lecture, all focus on theories of health in one way or another.  There were three readings for this week: 1) a chapter by Debra A. Lieberman entitled “Designing Digital Games, Social Media, and Mobile Technologies to Motivate and Support Health Behavior Change” 2) the second chapter of the National Cancer Institute’s Theory at a Glance: A Guide for Health Promotion Practice , and 3) an article by Henry Kelly et al entitled “How to Build Serious Games”, which discusses the game Immune Attack.  For this post, I want to focus primarily on the Debra A. Lieberman article for a couple of reasons: 1) it is the one I found the most interesting and 2) it is the one I kept connecting my own experiences to as I read. (more…)

Death . . . and Social Networking

Monday, September 12th, 2011

First, I never thought I would put those things, “death” and “social networking” in the same sentence.

Second, probably the strangest thing I’ve read of late states “But death, of course, is unavoidable, and so Facebook must find a way to integrate it into the social experience” (Wortham 64).  Yes, Jenna Wortham wrote those very words in her article “As Facebook Users Die, Ghosts Reach Out” found in Stephanie Vie’s edited collection entitled (E)dentity.

At first, I wasn’t sure whether to feel appalled, shocked, bemused, or what when it came to the idea of death and social networking.  The fact is, however, it is something that more and more of us who participate in Facebook and other venues  will be faced with.  How would I feel if someone whom I was close to had died and then suddenly popped up on my Facebook page as someone I should “reconnect” with.  Yea, I don’t think I like the sound of that very much.  Wortham found mixed reactions.  Some people were appalled while others found it helped them to remember the person.  Guess it would all depend on how far removed, either by time or relationship, I was from the person/’s passing as to how I would react.

Bottom line, though, is that Wortham is right.  Social networks such as Facebook have got to find a better way of handling the entire situation.  They are trying, but from what Wortham says, they have a long way to go.  When we make the plunge to locate ourselves in the world of social networking, those connections, that space, remains even if we die.  Last I heard, unless someone specifically writes it into their will that they want their email accounts closed, they continue to exist and there is nothing that can be done to terminate those.  So while getting a prompt to connect to or become friends with a deceased friend may be upsetting, keep in mind that it is all a part of the social networking world we have created.

life as a Orc Warrior / Blood Elf Hunter . . . wait . . . WHAT?

Friday, May 27th, 2011
Picture of Zalon and Pet in WOW

Zalon in the realm of Eitrigg

It’s true.  Some would say I have crossed over into the dark side, now spending more time as a horde character in World of Warcraft (WOW) than I spend as Zoe in Second Life.  And I won’t say that my experiences thus far have been exemplar.  In fact, I no longer get to spend a great deal of time as Vrigka, the Orc Warrior, because Blizzard does not make it clear that they NEVER get rid of characters, even on trial accounts that have not been played in nearly a year.  So when I started my second trial account, I named my character the same as before and “thought” I was entering the same realm, Eitrigg, as before as a PVE (player versus environment) character.  It took a few crashes of the program and lots of emails between myself and the game master before the truth of the matter came to light.  My character had been created as a PVP (player versus player) in a completely different realm than the rest of my class was playing in.  NO WONDER I kept getting players requesting to battle me.  Many seemed quite indignant when I would refuse, going so far as to ask in open chat why I wouldn’t duel them. (more…)

Another CCCC’s nearly over (110)

Friday, April 8th, 2011

It’s Friday morning in Atlanta and the weather is . . . well, what the weather should be in April. WARM, bordering on hot. I’m in Atlanta for the annual CCCC’s conference, also referred to as C’s, attending sessions on everything from online teaching, to using comics in the classroom, and a plethora of other topics.

I’ve been here since Tuesday night when Boss and I arrived after a 13 hour drive from Atlanta, but I was thrilled to not be flying. Wednesday morning started out bright and early with a workshop rhetorically titled “Fuck Tradition”, and before anyone gets offended, you have to be willing to use the word fuck, rather than the more widely accepted and less offensive “eff” or “f***”, if you really want people to understand that you are willing to go out on that limb to “shake things up” so to speak. Had we used one of the more accepted and less offensive choices mentioned above, we would have proven our unwillingness to do the very thing we were asking our participants to do. Simply put, we wanted our participants to think about the way they queer their own teaching and research.

Enough about that. I have attended several sessions already and have a full day planned out for today, to be topped-off by going to the Braves home opener at Turner Park tonight. Does it get any better than that?

So while I am spending lots of time learning new things and questioning some old (like why people continue to teach online courses by attempting to replicate what they do in face-to-face classes in an online environment). Today I get to enjoy two sessions on comics (listening to one now), and then see some of my peeps from MSU present on embodiment and clothing, and assessment.

Here’s to Atlanta.

App Talk (106)

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

It’s amazing, really.  How could a phone eat up so much of my existence on a daily basis.  It didn’t use to.  Well, it did, but not nearly as much as it does now.  And I use to never spend money on apps either.  Guess what, that’s changed as well.  The funny thing is, I rarely find these wonderful little tidbits of information on my own.  I don’t have time to constantly be going into the app store to see what is new.  It’s overwhelming and confusing most of time; there are so many things from which to choose.  So what has changed . . .


new teen illuminatus (104)

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Ok first, no, there are no new teen illuminatus–at least not that I am aware of–but I wanted a catchy title, and what I’m going to discuss is actually what Clive Thompson, in Wired magazine, refers to as teens practicing steganography: the ability to hide a message or image within another message or image that ancient Greek spies used to send hidden messages in ancient times (44).  But what does this mean?

Picture of a hidden image of a heart within an image of two profiles



Seek and Ye Shall Find (103)

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
Image of a WayBack Machine search

It's hard, but it can be done

In my last post, I lamented the fact that I could not find the information I needed for an article I am writing.  Well, with the help of Hamlet Au (SL), I located it using the WayBack Machine found on  But the story does not end here, nor was it as simple as just clicking the link for June 06, 2003.  Here is what I had to do.


Where Will the knowledge be 10 years from now, how bout 1? (102)

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

I am working on a chapter for a would be book. Will the book ever see the light of day? I honestly don’t know, but the article/chapter hopefully will find a home some place. In the process of doing some reading for the piece I am writing, I ran across a reference for a blog posting that I was interested in reading. I did the scholarly thing and went to the works cited, looked up the reference, and dutifully typed the address into my browser, and . . .


The Debate Rages On: Is Second Life a Game, or Not? (97)

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Up until the beginning of December, I would have argued till the death that Second Life (SL) is not, never has been, and is unlikely to ever be, a GAME.  I am still of the opinion that the way most people define game, it is NOT a game.

However, since one of my friends introduced me to the book Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility by James P. Carse, I am beginning to see things in a different light.  When viewed from the definition of an infinite game, Second Life fits the criteria on many levels, the same as real life does.