English and Computing in the Arts
Nichols, Noble, Vanderspek
In 1966, television audiences were first introduced to the science fiction series Star Trek. Fifty years later, the series lives on. Why? What is it about this series that has made it so popular, influential, and such a cult phenomena? Some might suggest that Star Trek has reflected the historical forces and ideas of the late 20th century in ways that help general audiences better understand the issues. With that in mind, our students explored Star Trek’s social commentary on subjects such as race, war, gender/sexuality, genetic engineering, the roles of power and technology in our culture. Did it and does it teach us about certain truths of the human experience?
Star Trek’s guiding principle, called the Prime Directive, prohibits Starfleet personnel from interfering with the internal development of alien civilizations (this included not interfering during time travel). The Prime Directive applied especially to “civilizations which are below a certain threshold of technological, scientific and cultural development; preventing starship crews from using their superior technology to impose their own values or ideals on them.” If we impose the Prime Directive on our world, we must ask:
What is the appropriate role for the Prime Directive (non-interference policies) today?
When should help be given? Are there ways to help without culturally interfering?
Exhibition and Project Documentation
A.A. and A.M.
To believe in progress, is to believe in a better world. With media being a main reason as to why people talk and think about gender and race the way they do, it is important to further criticize where representation loses its value. Through media bias, characters in television, and the impact of social media, there is much to say about the insufficient progress that has been made. We feel seek to generate a conversation around representation. Our society has been built upon stereotypes and wrongful representation for decades, so we only hope to shed light on the issue of underrepresentation that is frequently overlooked.
Considering the notion that art provokes thought and emotion, our piece seeks to make the audience question the world around them. Through the eyes of two young individuals that have grown up in a society where this issue is prevalent, we hope to immerse our audience into the experience of the underrepresented. When entering our project the user will sit and watch Full House and try to change the channel; they are unable to. This in a way puts the viewer in our position and the way we feel. We are unable to turn the channel.
The symbolism here is, the overrepresentation of white people in television and how we are unable to find a person of color in the media that accurately presents us. The user will then enter our actual coding project where abstract images paired with text from our research. The significance of our art direction is directly inspired by the contrast of over and underrepresentation.
As teenagers in this generation, we realize the power our voices have. Identifying as a Mexican American male and a Filipino American female, we consider ourselves underrepresented. We, along with an abundance of other individuals of various ethnicities, are often deemed as invisible in the media or associated with negative or stereotypical connotations. Further we have found that minorities are even less visible than women, but it is even less if one is both. We want to serve as a voice for the people in our society that feel underrepresented like ourselves, and to continue to challenge representation.
We hope our audience realizes how the lack of representation in the media, translates to the lack of representation in society. Despite the negatives that remain, media today has made it easier to generate conversations about gender and race which leaves our society one step closer to progress. Through our art, we hope to make a personal connection with our audience members. Whether you feel underrepresented yourself, or are now coming to the realization of the issue, it is our hope the message comes across clear enough to make the audience question the world around them.
Should the media control the ways gender and race are perceived?
A.D. and J.W.
Conflicts of Intervention
Our project was to create an interactive decision-making media piece in which people, for a moment, step into the shoes of the President. In this project, we wanted to link the world’s past experience with intervention and the responsibility nations have to preserve peace and safeguard life. With immigration, the refugee crisis, wars, plague, the 2016 presidential election, and other current events capturing the attention of the media and our thoughts, many of us rush to judgements and jump to conclusions about what will happen, what should happen, and what should have happened with regards to the choices our leaders and representatives make. We wanted to learn about what people think versus how they would actually act if they were given the task of making such impactful choices.
Should you or should you not? That was the question on our minds. We found many parallels between U.S. and United Nations’ intervention policy and Star Trek’s Prime Directive–the most prominent of which is that getting involved can cause unintended second and third order effects. The lesson we learned: whenever contemplating whether or not to get involved, you must always consider every possible outcome for any course of action. You can not know whether you have made the right call or not until after you have made it, and the wrong move can turn those you mean to help into your victims.
Using a program called Processing, we have coded a sort of “choose your own adventure” interactive media experience. For the experience, we wrote short, realistic scenarios (regarding immigration, the refugees crisis, war, etc.), then prompts to ask the player to pick one of two options they have to make. Our game design is heavily inspired by minimalist and high contrast black and white artwork. The minimalist game screens are meant to keep our players from thinking too deeply about the artwork, allowing them to focus more heavily on the themes we discuss. We chose a mostly monochrome art style because it did a good job of representing some of the thoughts we wanted to convey to the audience: The start and instructions game screens are stark black and white, much like how we want our players to see the decision-making process. In contrast, the outcomes of decisions players make during the game have a great deal more gray, more like what the actual decision-making process is like.
After playing our game, we hope the audience will understand that the world of international relations and politics is not so black and white as the media may sometimes portray. When choices about countries, economies, and refugees are made, there are reasons to choose or not choose any course of action. We want our game to begin black and white, and end in gray.
How and when can we justify intervention in other countries? How will we ever know what is right?
J.R. and I.H.
Gender Norms, Stereotypes, and Their Relation to Sexual Orientation
Our project was created with the message that ideas surrounding masculinity, femininity, and sexuality are deeply rooted in our society and have influenced gender norms that can damage our youth.
We created an interactive media piece to engage our audience with the negative impacts of societal gender norms and stereotypes on children. Using Adobe Photoshop to create original artwork and Processing to program choices and animations, we produced a piece that works with these ideas.
The original photoshop work is 8-bit style that allows us to keep it simple and not distract from our ideas while still portraying common and stereotyped scenes. Our code is simple and interactive for the audience to understand and follow the story of their character of choice as it unfolds.
Our individual research is reflected throughout the game. Isabelle investigated gender norms and the negative impacts of stereotypes on boys and girls and specifically how children growing up are influenced. And Julia investigated how perceptions of gender stereotypes in terms of masculinity and femininity shift when sexual orientation is accounted for and the repercussions of this. To portray these messages, we designed our media piece so that you choose to play as either a boy or girl and are faced with different choices throughout life.
In each “stage” of your life you are faced with 2 choices, one that is stereotypical and conforms to societal gender norms of your character and one that defies typical gender norms. If you choose the non-stereotypical choice, you are berated by peers who force you to conform. If you choose the stereotypical choice, you are praised by peers but your own happiness declines.We think it is important for people to realize the impact their influence has on their children and peers. In the end, you are told their stories and see that your character was stereotypical and had conformed to gender norms but was unhappy. We then pose a question that connects with their character and relates to the way people are influenced by the gender norms in our society.
Attending High Tech High Media Arts and living in California makes us very privileged; most everyone is open minded and accepting. However, the rest of the world is very different and people forget sometimes that not everyone is the same as them. We hope that through our interactive media piece, people will be more mindful and accepting of everyone’s differences.
Do we or do we not interfere with one’s gender expression for the sake of a unified gender?
N.A. and S.S.
The Vetting Process
Our project portrays the stigma against Syrian refugees as well as how difficult the process of being accepted into the United States really is. We represent these ideas with an interactive experience based in outer space. The viewer decides the fate of alien refugees by either accepting or denying them access into their galaxy. The user will accept or deny alien refugee ID cards based on the appearances of the aliens (for example if the alien looks scary you would deny them). After you deny and or accept the aliens, all the ID cards pop up on the screen for you to roll over and read each life story, which in reality is a real refugees experience.
The purpose behind our project was to make our audience aware of the judgement Syrians and Muslims face, and how hard it is to be accepted into the U.S. as a refugee. Only 2,647 Syrians were accepted into America out of the 4.5 million seeking asylum. Many of them denied strictly based on the fact that they were Syrian and easy targets for the terrorist group ISIS. Young boys whose families had died in the war were most likely denied because of the growing fear they may be affiliated with ISIS.
As part of the interaction, we will be persuading the audience to deny or accept certain candidates based on appearance, planet of origin, names, and other factors that are irrelevant to the vetting process. The point of this is to understand the stigma and bias others feel when accepting refugees from Syria and other Middle-Eastern countries.
S.S. and S.H.
Sexual Assault on College Campuses
We created an interactive art experience that seeks to expose the recent college rape culture. The project works a follow along story that brings the user through a metaphoric situation about sexual assault on college campuses. At the end, we hope the viewer is able to understand the real concern behind our topic.
This subject is extremely important as we are both heading off to college soon. One in five women in college are sexually assaulted which is frightening. How schools deal with sexual assault varies, but we believe this information should be available to the public and the students at the school. This could play a role in our decision making process of what school we decide to attend. This art experience is only the first step for us in sharing knowledge and standing up for women’s safety.
The meaning behind our entire project is that we want our audience to see how that in many, if not all, cases of sexual assault on college campuses, nothing is done. Our story is really a metaphor so the user realizes how blind we are as a society and how common it is for this to happen to students. We want others to become more aware of what is happening on college campuses and find ways to connect to this subject. We are aware that this topic is taboo because so many cases are controversial due to the lack of evidence or the women willing to speak. Whether or not the person looks into the topic, we want them to feel the frustration of trying to let their voice be heard while trying to tell others, just like actual victims have to deal with in their everyday lives.
U.H. and N.P.
Murder is Murder
For our project we are presenting hand-drawn images in the format of a walk-through interaction to display the tragedy of wrongly executed people due to capital punishment. Capital punishment is the act of legally killing a person for punishment of a crime. Sometimes these people do not turn out to be guilty of the crimes they are convicted of but are killed anyways. This is problematic. The message we are trying to get across in our project is that capital punishment is a moral breaking practice.
Our work reflects our research on the unethical practice of the capital punishment as it can result in innocent people being put to death. We find it involves unethical government decision-making. Our project also reflects our own views of the ways capital punishment is cruel and inhumane.
In our project we created characters and put the audience in the shoes of the executor. This gives the audience a new undesired position which might alter their view on capital punishment.
In doing this we want to provoke audiences to think about different perspectives. A big influence in making our project was reading about examples of people wrongly executed by death and the impact it must have on their families. We want people to see this as a representation of evil in our society.
Should we or should we not kill as punishment?
H.C. and P.C.
Bias in the media has been a growing problem for several decades and consequently, anti-media sentiments are rising to the surface on both sides of the political spectrum in the United States. If the public reaction to the recent election cycle was not convincing enough, recent Gallup polls reveal a steady decline in public trust amongst news media organizations such as CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, New York Times, etc. We became interested in researching this topic in the wake of countless accusations of bias targeting these organizations as well as having personal experiences reading editorials disguised as news articles. We found that in order to be competitive with other news media organizations, one must report on the most interesting stories in the most exciting or dramatic ways while tailoring material to their audience and fabricating credibility by claiming to be objective. As a result, we do not think it is realistic to expect objective journalism; biases tend to change the way that everyone, including reporters, perceive reality and more importantly, the way that they report of current events. However, we do believe that it is reasonable to expect journalists to be honest about their biases and to make it clear to the consumers that they are reporting the news through a biased lens as opposed to an objective lens.
In Bias Quest you play as an undecided/independent voter during a heated general election cycle between the presidential candidates, Apple and Orange. Your goal is to learn as much as you can about Apple and Orange so that you can make a logical decision as to which candidate you would like to vote for. However, the Apple News Network (ANN) and Faux News Channel, parodies of CNN and Fox News, fill antagonistic roles by claiming to be objective while clearly showing favoritism towards one candidate and slandering the other. Ultimately, this leaves the player feeling confused, frustrated, and disenfranchised by both of the candidates. We wanted to share these feelings of confusion and frustration with some of the individuals who may not have experienced it during the previous election cycle. To accomplish this goal, we are placing the player in a heated political environment where they have no preconceived biases in favor or against either of the candidates.
As for the aesthetic design of Bias Quest, we worked hard to achieve an artistic style reminiscent of the classic role-playing games such as Earthbound and Undertale. Many of the game design elements we implemented into the game originated from similar role-playing games. These elements have been specifically chosen to create an interactive environment that the player can become emotionally attached to throughout the course of the game. We believe that the emotional connection will help to make our message about bias in the media more personal and memorable.
To what extent should the media interfere with the development of an individual’s worldview?
A.R. and A.R.
Our main goal is to have viewers perceive indigenous people as people, and to express some of their struggle. Our art piece is an interactive experience where the users see the humanity of those that are often overlooked for reasons including: cultural difference, lack of same type currency, and long formed discrimination. We wanted to bring a face to global issues with land, environment and life resources. We highlight people and their land because they are tied to one another in this context.
The message we direct towards the audience is that indigenous people play a large role in safeguarding the environment. We want our audience to feel the passion indigenous groups have towards the environment.
For centuries civilizations and corporations have exploited indigenous tribes, causing many disappear. Though indigenous tribes are few, they are still exploited by corrupt corporations and modern civilization. The world’s indigenous cultures seem to always lose -land, people, and life sources.
The inspiration for our art work stemmed from the images we viewed on Jimmy Nelson’s website which focuses on indigenous cultures worldwide. The original images were vivid, full of color, and expressed the ways we felt about this project. We edited the images into a black and white theme with variable color. The color highlights elements of the photo that, we feel, link the people with their environments. We did this to further our point that indigenous people persevere and safeguard the environment. We used many photos from different indigenous group around the world to show how many cultures experience similar struggles.
Should corporations continue to interfere?
B.M. and C.C.
Body Shaming in the Media
Our project focuses on body shaming comments left by users on Instagram and their relationship with the body image of women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average American female body is 5 foot 4 inches and 166 pounds, while the average body of models portrayed in mass media is 5 foot 11 inches and 107 pounds. Today, social media is stripping individuality and creating unrealistic expectations of the female body. As social media makes it easy to connect with people you do not know personally, it removes the relationship between people from reality. This creates an environment where people feel more comfortable saying negative things to other users without feeling guilt. It does not however remove the sadness and shame those who receive the comments feel.
We hoped the audience would be able to connect with the piece very clearly. We found it best to use the Instagram layout as the basis for our design with its wide use. People can instantly connect with our project. In order to make the audience empathetic to the subject, we also chose to use our own bodies in the piece. We stand in place of the Instagram photo so that the user understands that there is always a real person behind the pixels posted. We stand in front of a camera that shows us on the user screen real comments pop up all over our bodies. The hurtful and often times vulgar comments were found on Instagram and were written by actual users about other people and their bodies. These comments, while not directed at us, still have a large impact on how we feel about our own bodies.
J.HS. and K.G.
Once Upon A Time…
Our project is a story based around a princess named Reese who wants to become king. The story follows along Princess Reese as she learns to overcome the oppression of her father and the kingdom to fit social standards, by slaying a dragon.
We use multiple symbols throughout the story. The dragon, for example represents the oppression of women and how people are too afraid to stand up to it. Reese, our protagonist, breaks through stereotypes; she is a young, strong, intelligent, and eager to challenge the rules of her society. She is the role model that we are proud to create. She represents the ways that anyone, regardless of gender, should feel obligated to express themselves how they please. The sword represents the strength to cut through the normative stereotype that women can not do what men can.
The story is aimed towards children, because we feel as though people should be taught at a young age that gender roles should not play a large role in modern society. We created an interactive story that includes music and rollover scenes for simple and easy storytelling. We also incorporated aspects of both of our research papers to provide a new creative perspective on gender roles and the oppression of women.
We hope to illustrate, that anyone regardless of their own gender orientation, should be free to express themselves by disregarding social constructs. Our goal is to show that in order for our society to progress we must first let go of stereotypical gender roles. These social constructs are set to limit and oppress people. By erasing the correlation of gender associated with masculinity and femininity we hope to show our audience that what matters most is to believe in themselves and not make decisions out of societal norms.
Our influences for the project stem from our own passion towards gender equality and feminism. We both believe in raising boys and girls the similarly and letting other people feel free to be able to express themselves as well. We want to emphasize the importance of influencing children to be considerate and accepting of others to create a better society.
No one should not feel obligated to conform to societal standards of gender roles unless that is truly who they are. Our goal is to open the conversation to becoming a more gender-neutral society rather than conforming normative to labels.
What does it really mean to be masculine or feminine? And should we or should we not intervene?
B.H. and C.G.
Prime Directive and Police Brutality
This project works with police brutality and its influence on American society. We created an infographic design portraying different actions that occur in police decision making and show the audience real life examples of when, where, and why these actions occurred.
What influenced us the most were the choices individuals make that cause police brutality and the choices the officers make to solve the situation. Not only do we want the audience to be aware that police brutality is a threat to society, but also understanding the officer’s point of view in these types of situations. We want our interactive piece to take on the perspective of the split decisions officers make everyday.
We are sensitive to the fact that this is a difficult and controversial issue.
From the interactive art design, our goal is to have everyone understand that not every decision is the right one. People make mistakes, but should these mistakes cost lives? And only of a specific group of people? Why are African Americans the main target?
How does one make the right choice? Should race at any time be a deciding factor?
A. L. and Z.M.
Design the Next Generation
In the context of ethical debates over the implications of current scientific and medical genetic manipulation, we expose the practice of making a designer baby. Designer babies are babies that can soon, perhaps within the next few years, be genetically engineered with selected traits. Dr Tony Perry, pioneer in cloning at the University of Bath, has announced precise DNA editing at the moment of conception in mice which proves it is only a matter of time before we begin with humans.
Our message is that to create a designer baby is not only ethically questionable, but it may even have unforeseen negative implications. So many things could go wrong in the process. The child could be more susceptible to cancer for example.
The baby could be shunned and made an outsider. Or the opposite could happen, the baby could be held to a higher standard and treated superior to a natural human, closely related to the eugenics projects in the early 20th century. These are social as well as physical issues.
We created a game in which you make your own designer baby with desired traits. With each selection, we give a warning of possible issues of the certain trait some from our own extensive research, and some fabricated. At the end of the game, it is your choice to create the baby or not. If you choose to go ahead and create the baby, then you lose the game. You made the wrong choice to make the baby where an undesirable effect could happen.
We seek to change the minds of those in favor of creating a designer baby to turn against it as history has shown, it may create undesired hierarchical effects. We were influenced by research on designer babies and the science of genetic engineering.
How are Girls Supposed to Look?
This project works with the ways society views women. Often young women are affected by the ways their bodies are “supposed” to look. We hope to illustrate the ways women view their own bodies with societal pressure. What type of pressure do you put on your own body and others? Our project seeks to uncover the kinds of drastic measures girls want to make on their bodies because of what they see is “beautiful”. There is not only one kind of beauty, but this is not the message society gives us.
For our project we conducted interviews of girls from different age groups and asked them questions surrounding this subject. We hoped to give the audience a better perspective on how girls actually feel about themselves.
Our main influence for this work is being a female in our society, especially in this specific generation. We are expected to look like top models, but be “thick” at the same time. In our generation, it impossible to be naturally beautiful. We see women in magazines and on runways with little to no fat. However, should we really be teaching our young girls that this is the only kind of beauty there is? It is rare to see a plus size woman on TV called beautiful.
Our focus was to show the effect society has on young girls, and to show older generations how their commentary impacts future generations. We want to make more people aware of the ways young girls are insecure about themselves with societal pressure. People should think twice about what they say about women, and how they treat them.
We also want to challenge the way girls criticize each other. There is no such thing as a ‘perfect women’. The comments others make impact the ways women and girls view themselves.
Do you comment on the way women look based on a societal view of perfection?
B.C. and G.W.
In this project we seek to provoke awareness and empathy to developing countries and how they do not receive Western medicine and health care. We want the viewer to grasp what medical care is like outside of the United States, and how our nation has not stepped in to help. We are attempting to show that message through this interactive media piece, where the viewer will have the capacity to experience directly what medicine and health care is like in both a developing country, vs. the United States.
We will indicate these all throughout the entirety of the piece. One side of the screen is a boy that lives in Syria; this character represents the living conditions and the medical treatment in those developing countries. The opposing side is an adolescent white girl who illustrates for the viewer what living conditions and medical care is like in the United States. This will not just incite mindfulness, but it will also provide the viewer with an empathetic standpoint; they will understand what it means to not have prescription and medicinal services in underdeveloped nations, and vice versa when the resources are available. We hope to stimulate awareness, and shed light on a topic that often goes unnoticed. The topic itself is definitely one of importance seeing as this is a humanitarian issue; humans are being disregarded, and are not being given the essential medical attention that they deserve which should be corrected as soon as possible.
D.O. and M.J.
Whack ‘Em All
My partner and I want to show the audience the importance of diversity, culture, and respect. We embrace cultural diversity and individuality. In no way are we trying to negatively represent or disregard any culture. So our idea was to somehow incorporate the cultures by placing them in an object that represents everything. To stay in touch with the Star Trek theme, we made a galaxy with recurring earths floating across the screen. Each earth has a symbol or pattern inside of it that represents a different culture. Patterns and prints from across the globe represent different cultures on the floating earths. In our interactive art piece, you click earth with a light bulb and the cultural overlay and color disappear. The light bulb serves as a metaphor for not only imposing ideas upon others, but modern technology’s role in globalizing the world.
Our interactive art piece is a visual representation of globalization and the ways we might be moving towards a homogeneous world. In our video game, we made a strong visualization with the effects of the Prime Directive to different cultures. In our game it represents the ideologies of more advanced cultures as well as modern technology imposing on other cultures.
Should we continue to interfere with other cultures?
C.D. and D.S.
In the United States, an issue that is often brought up is the large amount of undocumented immigrants who have and continue to illegally settle in the U.S. The deportation or removal process of undocumented immigrants is a long process where often family members are forced to leave the U.S. Although there are people who support the expulsion of undocumented immigrants, we take an opposing stance. Millions of families will be torn apart. Families be left without a father, mother, spouse, or friend. In these cases families are left with a significantly lower family income, children face emotional distress as well as weakened education opportunities without support.
Through our project, we hope to convey how deportation affects Latino and Hispanic families. For our project, we created two interactive infographics to work together as one. One outlines a specific journey of deportation that many undocumented immigrants go through. The second piece is a roll over collage allowing the audience to click on different people to read their personal experiences that relate to deportation. We hope to raise awareness to how deportation affecting millions of families on a daily basis.
S.C. and C.L.
Fashion in Society
The purpose of our project is to critique the gender norms society has created with regard to levels of masculinity and femininity derived from the fashion industry. We explore the ways in which fashion has evolved over time to demonstrate how trends change and become socially acceptable. The message we seek to convey is that the fashion industry has a huge impact on society, often in negative ways. We also try to express that even though the fashion world has influenced us to judge people based on their appearance, fashion ultimately does not define a person. We exhibit this message through a series of images in an interactive collage. The purpose for these categories is to demonstrate the ways society categorizes people based on the way they look.
Far too often stereotypical misconceptions are made at first sight. And often the judgements placed on individuals have a negative impact on the way people view themselves. You are judged on the spot, not by your character, but by the way you present yourself to the public eye. If a male were to wear light pastel colored clothing or something that is more tight fitting, most of society would deem him too feminine. If a female we to wear baggy clothing she would be deemed too masculine and if she were to do the opposite, wearing clothing that is too tight or too revealing, she would shamed. Having both experienced and witnessed these misconceptions and seeing the impact they have on the one being judged, we recognize the importance of this issue. If companies were to use the media in a different way, to portray a more positive and attainable standards, they could eliminate a lot of the challenges with self image that many people have today.
What is acceptable and what is not has varied over time. This is one of the reasons we included a brief history of fashion trends through the decades. Viewers can navigate through collages that incorporate the variety of trends and how they have changed. Our goal is that by the end of the piece, the viewer will have a new understanding/perspective on the way that individuals automatically categorize and perceive people, based on how social constructs.
Should companies interfere by creating new fashion trends to support current social issues, or is it the job of society to change their perspective regardless of the fashion industry’s decisions?
J.W. and G.S.
DrugCo: The Game
The main message of our game is to critique the drug industry and their practices. Drug companies, as of late, have been raising the prices of important medicines, depriving many of treatments they need. This greed is one of the root causes of price inflation in the drug industry and has already lead to many people not receiving treatment. To convey this message, we created a game where the player assumes the role of the newest CEO of DRUGCO, a fictional company. Our game was designed to keep the player greedy and to want to just make as much profit as possible regardless of what the consequences might be.
All of the elements of the game are designed to encourage the player to try and do anything to win, from the music, the instructions, and how the game is set up. One of the largest game mechanics, other than the clicking, is the ‘red line’ a red line rising from the bottom that represents the rising demands of business, and the pure focus of profit. Only touching the red line is an instant loss, making sure that the player will try their hardest to stay above it.
At the end of the game, the player is told what the effects of their actions were, and in essence, a message about the negative effects of this corporate greed. We find it leads to situations like this, where people cannot get medical treatment due to the financial costs. Corporate control of medicine is a complex topic, one where there are many interconnected factors at play. It would be difficult to discuss all of these factors, so we decided to focus specifically on how the pure focus on profit can lead to this kind of situation, especially with little safeguards to stop it. This is partially communicated by the ending messages for winning and losing, but also by the news feed scrolling by on the side of the screen. Despite how negative the news events are on the side of the screen, such as massive public protests and government investigations, they ultimately have no effect on gameplay.
This core message -that the pursuit of profit by these companies is negative to the public- was fine tuned to align with our research on corporate and governmental control of medicine. We felt that with recent events, it would be better to take a closer look at the corporate side of things, and so we began working on a game where the very mechanics reinforced this narrative.
How should the government and corporations interfere with medicine prices?
Women in Media
In this project we seek to provoke awareness and empathy to how developing countries do not receive Western medicine and health care. We want the viewer to grasp what medical care is like outside of the United States, and how our nation has not stepped in to help. We show this message through this interactive media piece, where the viewer will experience directly what medicine and health care is like in both a developing country and the United States.
We will indicate two perspectives through our media piece; one side of the screen is a boy that lives in Syria; this character represents the living conditions and the medical treatment in many developing countries. The opposing side is an adolescent girl in the United States who illustrates for the viewer what living conditions and medical care is like in the Western world. We hope this will not just incite mindfulness, but also provide the viewer with an empathetic standpoint -to understand what it means to not have prescription and medical services in underdeveloped nations, and vice versa when the resources are available. We seek to stimulate awareness, and shed light on a topic that often goes unnoticed. This topic itself is a humanitarian issue; many are disregarded and not given essential life saving medical attention.
When developing the art piece, we hope the interpreter receives the feeling of empathy, rather than sympathy. By allowing the interpreter to view and follow the two extremely different lifestyles, that of an underprivileged Syrian boy, or a privileged American girl, the interpreter is automatically more attached to the art piece, as they are making themselves apart of either story. They are no longer just viewing the piece, but instead following it step by step as they get more intimate with the character, and really, the lifestyle of their choosing. We hope the piece provides the viewer with a new sense of understanding for what many developing countries presently have.
M.F. and L.C.
As curators of our project we hope you, the audience open your eyes and hearts to the vast racial disparities in our judicial and prison system. We would like you to understand the hardships people of color go through in their everyday lives, along with how unfair it is that as a whole they are often labeled criminals.
In this project, we created a game that works as a metaphor for the obstacles people of color go through in their lives. Our game has three stages then an infographic at the end that will share facts on our topic. When deciding on how we wanted to portray our facts into a game we went with a game that was light and one where the audience didn’t know what the game meant until the end.
Essentially we want to put the audience in someone else’s shoes. A sense of frustration is something we look for in our audience when playing our game, to represent the similar frustration people of color develop over their lifetime. At the end of our game we incorporated the infographic for our audience to see the shocking facts that reflect the inequalities of people of color. The last element that we included into our game are the stages that can never be won, no matter how hard you try, you still have to go through all these different obstacles.
In the end, you don’t always win.
L.S. and J.O.
British Colonization of Africa
Our project deals with the ethics of colonization and its lasting effects on countries today. We decided to focus on British imperialism in Africa as it is one of the more obvious examples of colonization.
The game begins where the user is in charge of expanding British influence into Africa. You have a choice to colonize Egypt, Somaliland, South Africa, Nigeria, Gold Coast and Sierra Leone. You then choose what you want to do with the colonies. To more accurately replicate history, you can extract resources, enslave natives, support natives and peacefully trade. Each of these options places a visual representation on the selected colony and effects the British and Native happiness bars differently. Some impact it more, enslaving for example affects the happiness a lot more because it has more devastating effects to the natives and more benefits for the British.
To make the player want to make more decisions that represent the world, we made it so the “Support Natives” and “Peacefully Trade”, options that help the natives, have a negative effect on the British happiness bar and very little positive effect on the Native happiness bar. The idea here is to either win or lose the game when the British happiness bar reaches its maximum or minimum. We purposely made it so the Native happiness bar does not affect the gameplay because in history whether the Natives were happy or unhappy did not affect the British.
Our personal interests in history heavily influenced this project. Colonization and imperialism were a huge part of history that shaped our world today. We believe that colonization was wrong to begin with, but was made worse with greed of super powers.
We hope people understand that our art choices were made simple so you could focus on the message rather than the art itself.
What would the world look like today without European colonization?
M.M. and S.E.
War On Drugs and The Prime Directive
Our interactive design reflects how the War On Drugs affected people both physically and mentally. The war on drugs was a program set into full force in 1986 with the goal to stop all usage of illegal drugs. This was meant to keep communities safe. Little did the world know, the government would instead cause the biggest financial recession since the great depression. This was not the only negative repercussion, the War On Drugs also increased the death toll among minorities which is still a prominent issue today.
Our interactive design shows powerful images with descriptions that give viewers insight on how the war affected U.S. society. Our goal is to ultimately have the reader gain knowledge on how the war affected communities, people of color, and the ways it erased social progress made prior to the movement.
L.N. and S.F.
US Prison Systems
In our interactive design piece, we want our audience to see what factors contribute to criminals in prison. By looking further into the challenges many prisoners face such as drug addiction, low income jobs, and mental health, we hope to reveal inequality in the justice system. People of color often face injustice in longer sentences and frequent arrests.
By looking at crimes and penalties each criminal has received, you as the viewer will have the ability to further examine the situation and the sentence.
Our interactive design is scattered with symbolic images each standing for various problems inmates have. Statistics about mental disabilities, unemployment rates, lack of education, absence of medical care, and drug related issues follow each symbol. We also showcase actual prisoners and their stories. The truth of their crimes and sentences reflect injustice.
T.T. and M.F.
Racial Injustice in Modern Day America
This piece points to the ways that racism is still alive within the U.S.
We feel that American citizens need to take this as a serious matter. The recent presidential election influenced our work with racial injustice that seemed to rise. Many Americans are still treated negatively based on race. With this piece, we want to teach the younger generation to reflect on the past. We did this by taking different aspects of racism and simplifying them into very direct images in a video collage.
We brought current racist actions into light with a variety of visuals to illustrate racial injustices in the U.S.
We hope to open minds and hearts to this discussion as a way to widen our path to a country of equals. Although this is a critique of American society, we seek to give our audience the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone.
What would America look like today if racism in reality didn’t exist?
P.S. and K.G.
WHAT THE HELL FRANCE?
Our initial idea for this project was to make an interactive piece that told the story of how Muslim women were discriminated against in France relating to their hijabs. In this project, we hoped to have viewers of the piece wear a hijab and look into the camera while informative videos played in the background. The idea was to have people step into the shoes of the many who are discriminated against.
Unfortunately, during first round of critiques, this project idea was shut down. So we were faced with the challenge of creating another project. So we decided that instead of having someone put on a hijab, we would have someone remove something of great importance to them. We hope that this experience will closely relate to the experience Muslim women go through in France. With this, we now have a sort of galleria that showcases the different pictures of Muslim women who were abused for wearing their head pieces.
We want to show people at this exhibition the type of violence and harassment Muslim woman go through a daily basis while wearing a piece of religious clothing, very much tied to cultural identity, in France. We hope people walk away from our project with an understanding that something should be done to help women cope with all of this violence.
Is it appropriate that the French government interfered with the Muslim culture in France?