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Media Convergence in Online Gaming Sphere

An overview of globalization and culture

Globalization is a process that has been observed to influence many dimensions of the life of humans. It is also a compulsory process that transforms the contemporary human future. Sine the beginning of the 90s, humans created a new world whose most significant characteristic is the internet. The internet is what was called the environment and later cyber space. The new world started as an inter-academic space whose control was in the hands of the economy and policy. However, the environment has changed rapidly over the years and is now a competitive field for people who have tried in various fields such the cultural growth.

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Internet comparative studies in media and communication are one of the new approaches to the cultural researches. There are many books that are the products of these researches. The researches are an interdisciplinary learning in the general framework of sociology, communications and are aimed at the understanding of complex associations between culture, communication and media. This article therefore aims at looking into the relations.

Though globalization shapes the future of humans and influences many features of human life, there can also be active influence of men on it. It is obvious that the world has such a huge passion in the change but it also plays a big role in the process of change. Cultural aspects of the process of changed have come to the attention of those that many researchers and scholars ranging from economic, political to industrial and cultural dimension thinkers. Modern researchers are concerned with the influence of the change on culture and the influence culture has on change on the other hand. The paper studies the influence of globalization on culture and the influence of culture on globalization and hence the manifestation of cultural and sociological media convergence in online gaming.

Discussion

Elliot (8) writes that in the last two decades of the 20th century, the aspect of self and that of identity were the heart of intellectual debate in the field of social science and humanity. This was triggered by the mushrooming of growth in post structuralism, studies of culture and feminism. Sociological forces though have also contributed to the debate in the concept of self. Globalization has continued to weaken traditional practices and culture.

In this case, the self has become exposed in a variety of ways. There is for instance increase in the individualization of people’s social lives and a propagation of roles. People also identify with various objects and their personal outlook and social lives have become a matter of choice. The result is a postmodern self orientation in many aspects of humans. Research has been done on the developments in history, anthropology and communication among other things. Most of the up and coming scholarships are subjective to symbolic interactions and the approach of sociology to the self.

Definition of online gaming

Online gaming involves games played over computer networks which are often referred to as the internet. Games have been played using whatever new technology there was. Before the introduction of the internet, there were modems and even hard-wired terminals before that. Rapid globalization and hence the expansion in the networking of computers has seen to the expansion of online gaming. This reflects the growth in the general access to the internet technology.

There is a range of online games starting from text-based ones to complex graphics games in the internet world that incorporates many players at the same time. For several of the online games, there are online communities. Online gaming has therefore become some sort of social activity that goes beyond a single player.

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Flash and Java are becoming increasingly popular. Consequently, the internet has undergone revolution. Websites can now make use of streaming audio, video and other sets of user interactivity. Flash provided the internet users with entertainment that was available on demand. This is what ultimately led to sites that offer games to the users of the internet. Online games available on the internet include World of Warcraft, Lineage II and Final Fantasy. For users to access these games, they have to subscribe and pay a monthly fee. There are, however, other games for which no fee is charged. Others still give the players an option to either pay or not.

In 2001, there was a ‘dot-com’ explosion. Several sites which relied on revenue gained from advertising were faced with hardship. Online gaming has also seen a decrease in profits but the sites offering gaming activities have found an alternative in using gaming content as a promotional tool which they use to direct internet users to their other sites (David).

Online gaming and the manifestations of the media convergence

Ananny says that that when users of the internet blog, they make appropriate use of the technology. They also practice the rituals of communication and uphold social relationships. They do this in ways that are a reflection of their personal views on the role played by public communicators. According to this scholar, expertise in new media has resulted in growth in critical commentary skills and also in healthy social relationships. The users of the internet are creators and communicators or sellers of public information.

The internet users think that by making use of the internet services, they mirror personal identity, professionalism in the public domain as well as their position on the society. In addition, users of the internet keep an eye on how other people are represented on the net. These are features of modern literacy in the civic world besides personal publishing.

An example is given by Askwith where he says in ‘Reading Lost as transmedia narrative’ that Lost is a representation of one of the most “demanding and complex dramatic narratives” that have ever been aired on television. The narrative is also paving way for transmedia storytelling. It is being used to distribute narrative content to a variety of media stages. Lost has been enacted on videogames and played across the world.

In the 1970s, listening to music in film was an important part of the film. 1n the 1990s, music for video games encountered a problem when those involved in the production of music disagreed over things like licensing and royalties. Music is however now incorporated in video games. It is a way through which the industries wish to communicate the discourses of quality of games is met. Besides, this makes it possible to aim at new demographics. The music industry also exploited avenues of promotion through the new media technologies.

Austin on the other examines the authorship in computer games. He says that in order to locate the authorship in any video game, we need to attribute it to the team of artists, programmers and designers who participated in the creation of that particular computer game.

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The choice of the player however plays a role in determining the experience of a player in a game. The difference between the audience or players of online games and producers of those games is nevertheless made vague by the availability of tools that make it possible for the players of a game to modify it to their satisfaction (Austin). Game designers are responsible for creating frameworks which determine the experience of players in a game. The players on the other hand interact with and interpret the framework, distorting it at some point. This points out the pattern of content in video games as a mirror to the history of relationships between the designers of games and the players.

Moreover, the open-source environment which the internet provides allows the content of online games to be constructed by the users and players. It attracts poachers who change content in the cyber space which makes the behavior of the internet users in an unpredictable way. Such activities make online games less enjoyable for genuine players. The actions by the hackers are performative and influence the actions of a wide range of other populations (Bakioglu). Narratives created by other users who are active users of the game sites are generated.

Works by Henry suggest that growing annoyance and cynicism among the public concerning the professionalized and exclusive nature of the mediated reality has influenced people to alternative media formats. The mass media is rapidly growing and yielding to a more interactive media environment. The new media is controlled by an interesting combination of big multinational corporations and proletariat initiatives. An example is the acquisition of MySpace by NewsCorp in 2005 (Deuze).

The company gives registered users a chance to virtual community that is similar to Cyworld, a South Korean network. The participation of the media now involves the elite and the masses. In the process of interactions between the population, media production and broadcasting has now become more obvious. External forces can also participate and this allows the users access to both the internal and external corporate contexts in the industry.

Jenkins talks of convergence culture as typifying the new media environment that is consumer-driven. Media companies have found new ways of increasing the speed of broadcasting media content across the broadcasting channels in a bid to expand on the opportunities for revenue, expend the market and reinforce the commitment of viewers. On the other hand, consumers are also learning how to use the various media channels to take over the control of media flow. Online gaming is one of the ways through which this is achieved in addition to its ability to enhance user interaction. The approach that Jenkins uses is aimed at creating a link between two diverse but equally significant points of view on the way we respond or interpret the role that the media plays in our lives (Jenkins, 37).

The first of Jenkins’ approaches points at the media’s role in forcing us to back away in a private information environment. Here we are in control over the information we watch, listen to or keep. The new media technology actually gives us the power to control the flow of media. This we do through the remote control and the joystick, the computer mouse and other software. Deuze (6) is of the opinion that convergence culture in the new creative industry serves to monitor and not report, manage instead of filter information. These are the perspectives he uses.

The latter shows that the media environment currently has people increasingly participating in the production of a universal media. Such media includes wikipedia and JanJan. This kind of participative media production and on the other hand the individualized media consumption is now the characteristic of the emerging new media (Deuze, 6). Our behavior towards the media appears to involve participation, collaboration and partnership in the creation of the same.

Deuze however goes onto add that though these new technologies enable interaction and encourage participation, they are also structured to enhance establishment and growth of a global corporate system of the media that is in no way transparent, participatory or interactive. The media industry in America for example is controlled by only five corporations which include NewsCorp, Time Warner, Viacom, Bertelsmann and Disney. The same actually control the media in almost all other countries across the globe. It is not abhorrence though for the corporations to consolidate and diversify choice and competition in the media content production and broadcasting. Convergence culture is thus a means through which revenue is increased and the media industry expanded. It makes it possible for people to contribute to the messages and products of the industry.

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The convergence culture in the media and communications industry has consumers as partners in development. The industry therefore depends on the online consumer communities. Researchers have advised that in order for the media industries to keep their head up, it is necessary to re-envision forms of storytelling which will hold the attention of consumers. The industry also has to respect and acknowledge the creation of content by consumers. This is evidently a new relationship in the field of public relations, advertising and journalism. The media industry is a cultural industry that is responsible for the creation and spread of culture (Deuze, 8).

Case study

If we consider Counter-Strike as a case study of the computer games available on the internet, the game presents a modification for Half-Life. It was released in 1999. The game emulates terrorism where the actions involve planting bombs and taking hostages and assassination of important figures. The game is popular online game even now. It has encouraged team play among the virtual community. It is also the official game of the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL). Deuze (12) writes that the company is home to two teams based in the US every year.

Counter-strike is not merely a game. The game is the work of two friends (Jess Cliff and Minh Le) that were not happy with the gameplay of Half-Life. In computer games, the creation is similar to that of newspaper news according to Deuze. The games involve maps and scenarios where the players can access freely. Minh was involved with the animations and modeling and coding. He however left the players to their devices in handling the map.

The game has a long history going down to adoption by Valve Software and release for Xbox game console which took place in 2004. The game keeps evolving. The authorship of the game involved several parties like the developers of the software, fans and consumers.

Deuze says that online team play influences the developers of games to focus on involving other parties in playing and creating the game. Convergence culture owns images of the products that are supplied by manufacturing industries. The participatory culture involves combination of techniques of sales and auctions, reviews by consumers and recommendations by consumers.

Cripsin Porter and Bogusky started as a tourist shop and later became an advertising agency. It is now a popular innovative advertisement agency and creates participation among its competitors, customers and audiences. The agency started out by campaigning against smoking. It contains interactive games, television shows and mobile phone ringtones. All the contents of the site are linked together in an anti-smoking campaign. One its works involves campaign for Burger King’s SubServientChicken.com. The agency has become known for employing different techniques to create buzz for any product through the internet.

Conclusion

The media has become commercialized and this is a matter of debate concerning the changes in the industry in the last few years. In Europe, the media has undergone significant changes, some relating to increase in competition between the print media and the public service. Besides economic value, there are other value forms in the media and cultural industry.

The involvement of a big population of the world in the new media technology has become a challenge to the media ownership. Online gaming has in itself influenced the legal, cultural, political, innovative and critical ways of sharing. Youtube in the emerging culture has provided the avenue for amateur producers and audiences to control the flow of media content. The YouTube culture now determines the sharing of media texts, their viewing and exchange. The users of the internet gaming and other programs have established a learning community that is unaffected by the original culture and which instead spreads its own culture.

References:

Ananny, Mike. Blogs as relational spaces for developing civic literacies.

Askwith, Ivan. Reading Lost as transmedia narrative.

Austin, Alec. Authorship in interactive media: Collaboration, interaction, and user-generated content in the games industry.

Bakioglu, Burcu. Textual poaching of digital texts: Hacking and griefing as acts that create performative narratives in Second Life.

Deuze. Convergence culture in the creative industries, 2006.

Jenkins, Henry. Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York: NYU Press, 2008.

Nye, David. Electrifying America: Social meanings of a new technology, 1880-1940. Boston: MIT Press, 1992.

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