Thursday, October 28, 2010

Social Network Gaming: The New Social Evil...?

Alexandra Tobias
Alexandra Tobias
According to CBS News Florida woman, Alexandra Tobias, has pleaded guilty to murdering her three month old baby. She told police she shook the baby, smoked a cigarette to relax herself and then shook the baby again and as a result the baby may have hit his head. Now I can easily start off with: "The baby didn't hit his head, you hit his head against something." Even if it was an accident, the baby's head didn't magically strike something. But this all happened because she was interrupted while playing a game of "Farmville".

I'll go on record saying I don't think she meant to kill the baby, she's 22, probably a new mom, maybe had some mental or post -partum issues, I don't know, but when does a video game take precedence over your child? But my main question of the day is, "Who's going to be the first to blame Farmville or SNGs (Social Network Gaming)".

Okay, I'm not a game head. I've beaten my share of console games: 007 GoldenEye, Max Payne, Halo and the Diablo computer game on the Mac, but that's about it. (Still working on 007 Nightfire). But I've never gotten into it heavily, never did online gaming and certainly not Facebook games. I was huge into role play gaming in my youth and College days. Not the computer crap, but real RPGs where you use your imagination and not a joystick. In fact I won an MVP prize during a Mayfair Games promotion for their horror game "Chill" (Chill...? OMG, I just dated myself) and created two of my own which have gone unpublished. (But will probably be published in the next few years).

The first Face Book game I ever heard of was "Mafia Wars". Nothing against the game save for people I didn't know annoying me asking me to join their virtual mafias, as if I didn't have a real life. But I understand a lot of people love online gaming and Social Network Gaming. And nothing particularly wrong with that...until it's taken too far.

I know that sounds odd, but when I was a kid religious groups blamed role playing games, mainly, "Dungeons and Dragons" (now published by Wizards of the Coast) for a rash of teen suicides and murders. The spin was, "Role Playing games make you kill people." Reality was some religious people and groups didn't like RPGs so they blamed the murders on the games versus the person that did the crime. Some of you reading will say, "Nathyn, that's an unfair assessment." Um, no it's not. Religious groups didn't like RPGs so they ignored the fact that in those cases, people involved usually had consumed drugs or large amounts of alcohol or were already suffering from a mental issue. These groups simply jumped on the idea that these games would make you kill yourself or others.

I played RPGs for a good ten years or more an no one died. Figure that one out. We all lived through countless imaginary battles with super powered criminals, sorcerers, evil Shadowrunners with hi-tech weapons, vampires, werewolves and even a demon or two. But my friends, most of them young black men of worth, didn't use drugs, didn't typically consume large quantities of alcohol and most of us, even if not religious, still had a healthy respect for God. Hm. Interesting.

In our modern day society we just can't accept that people are flawed, unscrupulous and sometimes just bad. It's reminds me of the Bill Cosby joke about cocaine, where he asks a guy what's so great about it and the person responds, "It's brings out your personality." Cosby's retort: "But what if you're an asshole." Sometimes people simply fall into that category. But in a society where we aren't allowed to say what's good and evil without fear of offending someone, we often end up blaming inanimate objects for crimes and offenses. How many people have you heard angry at Myspace or Facebook because someone used it to cheat on them. Myspace or Facebook weren't the problem, your cheating, skank of girl or boyfriend was. 

I don't know. I just saw the article and wondered. I'm sure Ms. Tobias is probably more upset about the child's death than anyone. Not to mention she could spend a large part of her young adult life (considered the best part of life by many) in prison over this. Let's hope this is a fluke and not a trend of gamer parents too busy with virtual life to take care of real life.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Juan Williams and Why Fox News is Like Parker Lewis...

Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press
If you don't know by now (and if you don't know you must have been in space for the past few days) ex-NPR news analyst Juan Williams lost his job at NPR, only to gain a better job with FOX News to the tune of 2 million dollars. God I wish I could have this kind of luck in the job market. But honestly what's really going on? On Thursday, February 04, 2010 John Stewart gave one of the best breakdowns of Fox News ever, saying he believed, "Fox News is the most passionate and sells the clearest narrative of any news organization, if that's how — are you still referring to it in that manner?"

But how accurate is this? Very. The only problem is most other news organizations are all too ready to buy into the narrative. FOX News holds itself up as the David, a (small?) "fair and balanced" news agency against giant liberal Goliaths. But isn't this really more like wrestling? I mean you have sports and you have sports entertainment. FOX News is "News Entertainment."

The belief, if you're liberal, it that FOX News is an evil news organization that twist the news and feeds on hate and fear. If you're conservative, you believe that FOX News is one of the last bastions of sanity in the news/information arena. But really it's all a narrative that is too profitable to not take part in. View it like a rap beef. FOX is "Fiddy", NPR is "The Game". They come up with a reason to beef and after money is made on both sides they become friends again. (Or in the case of FOX and NPR causal enemies).

The firing and hiring of Juan Williams makes supporters rally for both sides. That equates to waking the dormant viewers (FOX) and listeners (NPR). But if you wanted to take down FOX News or anyone for that matter, you report the bad things they've done minus spin? These things should speak for themselves right?  Well it's not profitable.

Remember the Bill O'Reilly and the Sylvia's Resturaunt incident? It would be very easy to simply report the story accurately. O'Reilly's whole point was that African Americans were just like everyone else. His podcast even stated the only things many white people know about blacks mainly comes from television. But the spin was that somehow O'Reilly made a racist statement. But "Bill O'Reilly Discovers Great African American Dining Establishment" probably wouldn't move papers or get viewers. (Maybe a few, but not as much as a good negative spin story).

Of course people who watch FOX News see that the other news outlets intentionally spun the statements out of context. So it appears that FOX, again, is the underdog in a never ending battle. The other organizations seem to have a vested interest in being the Jokers to FOX's Batman.

It's no different than Whoppie Goldberg and Joy  Behar walking off the stage during the 11/14/2010 O'Reilly visit. And of course the older, wiser Walters, explaining how that should never happen. It's all Schitck. It's all for ratings. You think Behar or Goldberg didn't know that there would be a news blitz about it the next day. Who walks off their own show? Maybe Jay Leno, but who else? I wouldn't be surprised if it were all planned. You know if O'Reilly is on "The View" or even John Stewart goes on the "The Factor" it's all ratings. You know there will be fireworks and you come away disappointed if it doesn't happen. Not much difference than Kayne West at an MTV award show.

FOX News is like Parker Lewis because it can't lose. FOX cements itself as the underdog and other networks jump in on the "narrative". Everyone understands the game and plays their part. Only the viewer believes it's all a battle of good versus evil when it's really two sides of the same profit making coin.

Fact is Vivian Schiller is full of it. Her excuses don't explain away others on NPR who do the same type of things Williams did only...not on FOX News. But it makes her look real good to her/NPR's backers and makes Williams and FOX News look real good to theirs. Again, in this story, FOX appears to be the champion of free speech, standing up for the little guy and mom's apple pie. And everyone  makes money so no one's really too upset at the end of the day. Am I wrong? I mean everyone in question is doing well financially because of this whole thing right. And if Vivian Schiller gets the axe, won't she too pop up at some news outlet? Probably MSNBC.