Fake it to Make it

I decided to pick the game Fake it to Make it. First, you’re greeted with some upbeat, casual music. You’re not really given any context to what the game is about. You just pick one of four characters who you want to “guide” you through the game. I ended up picking the first girl. Each character looks different, with one being white and the rest of them being people of color. Since I don’t have any context of what the game is about, I’m assuming that the characters’ looks must have something to do with the game. Then, you enter your first name. You then are directed to a “what do you want to purchase” section. You’re given a hint that it’s easier to meet a smaller financial goal and that you can (should) try to buy the apartment or car (bigger purchases) later. Because of this tip, I decided to buy the music equipment for my band, which was $200, compared to the $400 for the first apartment and the $1000 for the car.

Then you begin the game and try to make money to reach your goal. The way you make money is by creating news sites. Whenever people click on ads on your site, you make money. Basically, as long as you get enough traffic on your site, then you’ll be fine and will continue to make profit. You’re then given some context into what kinds of advertisements you provide. The ads are targeted at Americans because you get more money from Americans clicking on the ads than when people from other countries click on the ads. This is about fake news and therefore, the news doesn’t have to be particularly true. This is because fake news “takes less time to create” and “spreads better” than real news does since you don’t have to deal with fact checking and what not. This also makes sense because with fake news, you can be as dramatic as you want.

The first thing you have to do is create your site and make sure that it has a credibility rating of at least 30. You can enter a site name or you can generate a random site name. I picked the random name generator, so my website is now called QED Weekly. You then pick a logo, a domain, a theme, a monetization, and then you review and submit it. I decided to add a custom domain and hosting because I think it adds a lot of credibility (+20) and honestly, $10 per year and $10 per month isn’t too bad. I picked the OnlineVoice theme which added a +10 credibility for $20. After this, I had $10 remaining and a score of 30 out of 100 for credibility.

Next, you have to add articles. The advice given is to “copy from other sites” which I found interesting, since that is a perfect example of how fake news circulates. One article will pop up with a very minimal amount of truth attached to it, and then other fake news sites will take that article and change it just enough to be counted as a different article, and then the article continues to circulate within the media. The articles all have a believability score as well as a drama score. Obviously, I tried to find an article with both high believability (so people wouldn’t think it was fake news) as well as high drama (so people would share it). I decided to pick one with a believability score of 15/20 and a drama score of 16/20. I then picked one with a believability score of 15/20 and a drama score of 15/20. You then have to plant this article to make sure it has at least 100 shares. After picking the articles, you pick a user based on the political affiliation of the article and then a group to start sharing the article in. Once you plant the article, you can see how the article is doing in terms of being shared. If the post is doing well, you see the number of shares and views continuously increasing and you also see comments from some of the viewers. For me, this article ended up doing pretty well which means I picked a good article and also put that article in the right group. The people seeing the article were “angered” and “disgusted.”

The next goal was to plant an article that triggers happiness. I picked an article about cute children’s quotes which had a believability of 15/20 and a drama score of 10/20. At first, I picked the same political guy and put it in a group that was about cute animals, despite that my article was about children’s quotes. The article didn’t do well and no one paid attention to it. I then created a user and made her join popular groups specifically about parenting, and the article did much better when it circulated through those groups. The next goal was to inspire fear in people, so I made sure to pick an article about how there’s something we do that damages our health “every day.”

Then, I had to write my own article and make sure it had a drama score of 20. You pick one topic out of the ones given to you. You don’t actually write the article, but rather pick different elements that either add to the drama or the believability of the article. Then, you again have to assign the article to a user who belongs to a certain group. The article was believed by some, but then there were some people who made the comment “how stupid do they think we are?” Nonetheless, as long as the article continues to be circulated, I did my job correctly.

Basically, there were many goals given to you to help you reach the main goal of having a credibility score of 100 and also making however much money you intended to make. Sometimes you’re asked to write and plant an article that triggers certain emotions, such as fear, happiness, sadness, etc. Other times, you’re asked to write more specific things such as writing about how taxpayer money is being wasted by the current president. One obstacle I encountered while playing the game was running out of money. Sometimes I would forget that the longer I took to write an article, the more expensive it would be because I still had to pay to run the website. Because of this, I ran out of money a few times and had to be bailed out by the character guide I chose. The game also gave me some different insight into making money off of these advertisements. Even when my article was doing well, I was barely making any money off of it. Any time one of my articles didn’t do well, I lost so much money that I would again have to be bailed out by my guide. By the time I was finished playing the game, I was nowhere near reaching my monetary goal and was just very indebted to my guide.

I found this game to be quite interesting as a whole. Firstly, I found this game to be especially relevant right now. There are so many people who claim that fake news sincerely affected the results of America’s presidential election. Fake news has never been more influential and more talked about than it is right now. Playing this game and actually creating the fake news was both entertaining and interesting for me. It was strange to actually think that the two main components are believability and drama, because sometimes, you could post a really ridiculous article (low believability) but it will still do fairly well if it has a high drama score. This is because apparently, no matter how ridiculous an article might seem to you, there will always be at least some people who believe it, and even more people who will share it. All it takes for fake news to spread is people talking about it and clicking a simple button on facebook or whatever other social media the news is spread on. This changed my perspective of fake news by making me understand what actually goes into these websites. This game made me feel like the people making the news are specifically making it so that they can make money –not because they are trying to spew made up facts to confuse people. Truthfully, it made me hate fake news more than I did before, but I also thought of it humorously because it showed people believing the most unbelievable of articles.

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Choice: Texas

First, the game instructs you to choose one out of five female characters. Two of the characters look caucasian and then one is black, and the other two are what I would consider miscellaneous (but could also be caucasian). The game directly says at the beginning that it’s an interactive fiction game and it’s meant to address “reproductive healthcare access in the state of Texas.” This makes me immediately think that the game is going to show how difficult it is for women to get reproductive healthcare because Texas is extremely conservative and it is known for making it rather difficult for women to have access to reproductive healthcare. I think the fact that it says that the game works as you “attempt to navigate” the state’s healthcare system is very telling of Texas’s nature because that makes it seem like it’s going to be really difficult since you are only “attempting” to navigate rather than successfully navigating. I also like that it clearly says that it’s based on “extensive research” and all kinds of demographics and analytical data that is an honest representation of the problem regarding access to reproductive healthcare in the state of Texas. This makes the game far more credible than just spewing out random, unwarranted and inaccurate statistics.

I chose to start as Latrice because she was first. Knowing that the game based its choices and scenarios off of extensive research, I felt immediately that their choice to include a black woman as well as other white woman was to show that access would be different depending on the color of the woman’s skin. Therefore, I inherently expected it to be more difficult for Latrice to get access to healthcare as opposed to Leah.

The scenario we are met with is one where Latrice is asked if she is pregnant. Despite that she takes birth control, she has been very stressed lately and had missed a few doses. She then explores the idea of her being pregnant. We get a little insight into Latrice’s life regarding her mother, her niece and nephew, her sister, and her boyfriend, Roy. Latrice ends up being pregnant. Then Latrice tells Roy she’s pregnant and he asks what she what she wants to do. We are then given the choice to either tell Roy that she wants to keep the baby, not keep the baby, or be unsure. Based on her being financially able and that she didn’t necessarily seem completely opposed to having the child, I decided to say that she thinks she wants the baby. We are given another choice again even though she backs up why she thinks having a child could be a good idea and Roy questions her because he thought she “didn’t want” kids. I chose to say that Latrice is sure. Roy is very understanding, which is nice. She has a family dinner and then announces her pregnancy to her family and they ask her about her and Roy getting married. We are then given the choice for Latrice to say whether she thinks or doesn’t think that they should get married. I chose yes because truthfully, society has clearly drilled into my mind that it’s easiest and makes the most sense to raise a child with someone you’re married to. She ends up getting really stressed throughout the whole experience of being pregnant, making her wonder if having a kid is the right decision.

Because I wanted to see what would happen if she decided to have an abortion, I chose to have an abortion at this point. She is then given an important meeting that makes her unable to attend the appointment at the clinic and she can’t reschedule the appointment. I decided to keep the appointment and to miss the meeting. Then, at the appointment, Latrice is given the choice to get a medical abortion or a surgical abortion. She is told her absence was noticed in the meeting and her client wasn’t happy. She ends up snapping at the client who is upset that she didn’t attend and her boss hears it. I again chose to have the abortion because I wanted to know how it would play out. She takes the pills and endures some hefty nausea. Her sister comes over and judges her for getting an abortion because it’s against her personal values. Her mother ends up being admitted to the hospital and at the hospital, everyone makes up. Overall, Latrice’s experience really wasn’t horrible. I was expecting her to have some sort of horribly inefficient or poor experience with the doctors at her clinic because she’s a woman of color, but this was not the case. I feel like I just learned a lot about her and her life.

I then chose to play as Leah, who became pregnant from being raped by her colleague. When given the choice to talk to her parents, pastor, or sister, I chose to talk to her sister, Sam, because she seemed reliable. Also, I too would go to my sibling if I needed help. Sam is helpful and ends up making the appointment for her. I decide to quit because I could not imagine working with someone who did that to her. She then goes to Austin to her sister to get the abortion and Sam is extremely supportive, which is so heartwarming. I again confirm my decision to have the abortion. Though some complications arise, Leah has a good sister that is so willing to help her that she offers for Leah to stay with her in Austin and get a job there. This made me happy that she had family that was so supportive in this horrible scenario.

I then played as Leah again and this time decided I’d choose to keep the baby. Leah tells her mom she’s going to keep the baby. Her mom is somewhat upset, but still sort of supports her. Her dad however is less supportive. Hearing her dad question whether she was truly raped was offensive and saddening. I already like the abortion scenario better because her sister was so understanding and was not even remotely upset with her, unlike her clearly disappointed parents are. I then decided to give the baby up for adoption, just to explore that option. I chose to have a closed adoption so she wouldn’t be reminded of her incident with Larry and she can move on. It’s nice that the adoptive parents are willing to pay for her care. I end up confirming my choice to give up the baby.

I found this game to be genuinely interesting, however it was different than what I had expected. This game shined a more positive light on the Texas reproductive healthcare system than I had anticipated upon beginning the game. I expected the characters to have to endure extreme difficulty to successfully get an abortion. However, the clinics proved to not only be effective, but also quite easy to navigate. This actually made me feel more hopeful about Texas and the current state of their reproductive healthcare system. I’m glad to see that there are efficient and helpful clinics in place to help women who are in this situation.

Raid Gaza (2008)

I picked the game Raid Gaza for two reasons. The first reason is that out of all the assigned games, this was the one that spoke to me the most. What has been happening, is happening, and seems to be continuing to happen in Gaza is horrific for a number of reasons. People die in ridiculously large numbers –all for a piece of property. Innocent people are dying purely to prove a point. This very fact shows the dehumanization of these people, which is terrifying. The second reason I picked this is because I think this game is especially relevant to situate in a socio-cultural context as per the assignment instructions. The message is very clear, therefore I think it’s the best example for this particular assignment.

The first thing you see when you begin the game is a quote from the Prime Minister of Israel: Ehud Olmert. Olmert’s quote explains how the ideal outcome is to have the number of Jews “maximized” and the number of Palestinians “minimized.” These people are literally being quantified, as if they aren’t people at all. In the background of the game is an arcade-sounding song that makes you think that the game will be easygoing and lighthearted, despite its actual dark subject matter. Once you start playing the game, the instructions given to you by a fictionally portrayed Olmert is literally, “Just, you know, click on these squares right here and build things you can kill them off with, OK?” This quote proves how lackadaisical the attitude is in terms of killing the people involved. The next set of instructions are to “eliminate as many Palestinians as possible” under the limited time constraint of five minutes. You get the choice to build an airport, a missile pad, a headquarters, and barracks. You’re also told not to spend all your money at once. I chose to build one of each and found it to be very efficient. I was able to shoot missiles, fly planes which dropped bombs and killed in mass numbers, and build tanks. Then, after I’d run out of money, I’d “call for aid” at the headquarters which was free. The aid then makes jokes about how we should have called and asked for money sooner and jokes that their money is to be considered “humanitary aid.” I was then given $5000 to continue flying bomber planes, sending missiles, and making tanks. Then, when I’d run out of money, I’d call and get more aid. It was a disgustingly simple cycle. It was basically like I had an unlimited source of money, meaning that I could essentially kill as many people as I wanted because my weapons were stronger (I had tanks and planes while the Palestinians had a weak missile every so often and that’s it) and I could continue to get the money to afford these weapons whenever I ran out of funds. The civilians of Palestine are helpless because I have superior resources. When you shoot the missiles and drop the bombs, sometimes you get “bonus points” depending on where you hit. For example, I received bonus points for hitting a “UN school” and a hospital. I found this to be so heartbreaking, not only because I received more points, but because people out there participating in this fight actually think like this.  I was receiving more points because I had just killed a mass number of children and sick human beings, just like people are praised when they drop a bomb and kill mass amounts of people because it’s just emphasizing their point even further. When the time is up, you’re told the statistic that in 2007, for every Israeli killed by a Palestinian, 25 Palestinians were killed by Israelis. Rather than this quote being labeled as disgusting or any other negative word, it is followed by, “Not too bad, huh?”

I think the game itself is saying that Israel is in the wrong and is going about the situation completely wrong. Now, I am not using this assignment as some sort of political platform for me to say that the Israelis are completely wrong in what they are doing and the Palestinians deserve the land. Therefore, I am choosing to interpret the message as more along the lines of emphasizing the wrongness of this entire situation because people are dying in such large numbers because they are being dehumanized. The people are thought of as collateral damage. The people hearing about the situation know that this is happening, but are so desensitized to it that they are able to ignore the situation as a whole. This proves the point that in this ridiculously damaging fight between Israel and Palestine, the lives of people are being completely demeaned and dehumanized. It’s not like it’s only soldiers who are dying. I received bonus points because I was able to successfully bomb a hospital and a UN school. This shows that killing civilians is not even frowned upon, it’s expected and celebrated. Innocent people are caught in the crossfire between these two nations and no one is stopping it.

The game clearly utilizes the game features to emphasize that it’s wrong to be dehumanizing these Palestinians. First of all, the music in the background sets a positive mood despite the harsh reality of the game. This immediately sets the game up as a satire or a political point against the Israelis and their demolishing of the Palestinians. Then of course there is the quote to set up the Israeli Prime Minister as a powerful enabler in this whole situation. It shines a negative light on him and emphasizes the game’s point that he is thinking of people in terms of numbers (minimizing the Palestinians and maximizing the Jews) which is incredibly wrong. The most interesting part of the game is that it doesn’t tell you anything that isn’t true. Any quotes that are used are cited at the end so that you know it is using the truth. In my opinion, the game is a blatant satire and critique against this whole situation, but I like that the game does not ever directly say that they are against this battle between Palestine and Israel. It’s all told to you indirectly within the game, so it’s up to you to understand the message. This is a lot like the McDonalds game that Ian Bogost talks about. It’s an “anti-advergame” (Bogost). As you play the game, you realize that the only way to win is to kill more Palestinians than Israelis, which you can recognize is inherently cruel. To win, you have to utilize your resources, proving that there is a clear imbalance in terms of resources between the Palestinians and you, the Israelis. I found this game to be well-done in showing its message without telling you the message directly.

 

Works Cited:

Bogost, I. 2008. Persuasive Games. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (pp. 28-46) ISBN: 978026202614-7.

Street Fighter

Street Fighter (Capcom 1987) is one of the original arcade fighting games. While today there are many fighting games, Street Fighter (Capcom 1987) was one of the first of its kind. It established many of the conventions that we see in fighting games today. It is also a great example of a game that has come a long way in terms of game and series progression. It was initially made by Capcom as a typical arcade game in 1987. However, it soon adapted to other game consoles such as the Playstation, the Xbox, the Wii, and more. The game has done so well that there is even a new one coming out in 2017 called “Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers” (Capcom 2017).

The top of the machine states “Street Fighter” in big letters. The artwork is of Ryu (your character) and then other enemies off in the distance. There are some images of Ryu kicking or punching the other characters as well. Lower on the machine is the screen and then the controls. There is an option for one player and for two player. There is a nob that allows you to control where Ryu moves and then there are controls to decide whether you want Ryu to kick, punch, or act out other various attack moves.

After inserting the coin to play the game, you pick your country, and then you are introduced to your character: Ryu. The first battle is with an opponent named Joe. To fight, you use different variations of punching, kicking, and dodging. the goal is like like any other fighting game -try not to get hit and try to hit the opponent – with the added element of a timer of 100 seconds. The faster that you are able to defeat your opponent, the more points you receive. next round: If you win then you are told that you won, but that there are people like you all over the world. Every time you defeat someone, the same message is displayed. For each opponent, you’re in a different part of the world. For example, in round two you’re in Mount Rushmore, and in another round, you’re in front of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Japan was doing extremely well in the 1980s. There was a significant boom in the economy, so consumers were paying very high prices for whatever they bought. The unemployment rate was very low (4.9%) so more people had money to spend. In terms of culture, Japan’s entertainment industry was becoming more well-defined. Anime and manga became more firmly established in Japanese culture. With this came the establishment of Studio Ghibli which is an extremely well-respected animation studio made by Hayao Miyazaki. There were also other games that started being distributed, such as Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., and more. Nintendo was more firmly established and proved to be much stronger than the American company Atari in the realm of video games. In terms of politics, Japan went through many prime ministers during this time. Some leaders were good and helped the economy to continue booming, while others were scandal-ridden and were exposed for having sex with a geisha. Despite the instability of Japanese leadership during the 80s, this was still thought of a good time for them economically and politically.

Game Archive 2015, Street Fighter, video game, Arcade, Capcom.