Games can lose their integrity.

One of the world’s most popular game genres is known as “Role Playing Games” (RPGs). In RPGs, the player chooses a character (sometimes known as an avatar) that they wield control over. Once the rules and guidelines for success are laid out, the player is responsible for making decisions that will further develop his/her character. Some say that the popularity of this genre of game stems from the autonomy and freedom that players experience when playing in the world of the game. Of the myriad of RPGs, one that has gained a high level of acclaim is known as “Maplestory”. Maplestory is a free online role playing game developed by Nexon a South Korean company. It was released May 11th, 2005 and it is recognized as one of the most successful 2-dimensional RPGs of our time. The game is known for its cute animations, riveting backgrounds and trademark soundtracks. The point of the game is to defeat monsters, cultivate a specialized fighter, complete quests and outrank your competitors (fellow players). However, the game has been criticized in recent years due to one primary reason: the fundamental challenge(s) of the game have been eliminated.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NEXON_logo.gif

Credit to Wikimedia Commons.

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The Grasshopper Inherent? No! The Grasshopper Apparent

Exploring the Grasshopper’s Way of Life [1] (wikimedia)

Imagine the world we live in today. It has poverty, malnutrition, crime, trash, disease, and war. It also has artists, hard-workers, activists, and thinkers. Now, imagine a world with just the positives. In fact, try to imagine a utopia where resources are infinite, your actions have no effect on other humans, and the only impact that you can make is positive.  (All negative impacts are automatically fixed, and there is no human loss because everyone heals and lives forever.) This utopia is a world that YOU should dream of living in. Confused? Let me explain.

The world we live in today requires us to have a job, and earn paper with artificial value (this is money for those who did not get it) to survive and live happily.  Without this and without inherited wealth, we are forced to struggle daily until our deaths for basic food and shelter. Most people who have survival as their goal usually get a job. Those who really understand this concept also understand the benefit of an education. Education gives us the tools we need to survive in this world. One could argue that education allows us to find better jobs, which mean better food, shelter, and a higher chance at survival. (This somewhat supports Louis Menand’s theory 1 about selectivity (selectivity as a test for better survival) in his article “Live and Learn”) All of this shows that our world makes simple survival rather difficult. This is precisely the problem that the utopia proposed above would eliminate to improve everyones life.

In addition to this assurance of survival, this utopia has other benefits. It is a place where you can be what you want to be. A place where you have no restrictions and you can do what you want without consequences. Most importantly, this is a place where the beliefs of Thomas Hobbes from Leviathan simply do not exist since in this world, nobody can get hurt. Without this harm, people have no reason to be unified, and can live in their own self-interest freely. The only asterisk in this world is that it would have be somewhat inspired by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in that anything that an individual creates that benefits the world will automatically be distributed to rest of the world (for mutual benefit). To be clear, everyone works for their self-interest, but if they find something that benefits others they share it in the spirit of Rousseau. With all these positives and the freedom to do what you want (John Locke’s belief in the Second Treatise of Government that freedom is the most important value), it is hard to imagine a world that could be any better. This is the world in which the grasshopper from Bernard Suits The Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia would dream of living.

To readers unfamiliar with Suits grasshopper, it is a rather sad story. The grasshopper believed that life should be all play, and that he would only do stuff if he felt that it was play. As a result, the grasshopper decides to not work hard (which is not playing) and decides to play. This leads to his eventual death. The grasshopper, however, believes that what everyone calls work is in many cases play (the grasshopper inherent) since they like to do it (a builder likes to build and this is his way of playing). In the world today, the grasshopper would not survive since there are requirements and mandatory work needed for survival. However, in the utopia, the grasshopper would survive since all necessities are provided for and he could play all day long. In this world full of freedom, self-interest, and play, everyone would be a grasshopper because there are no obligations and there are no restraints. Any action anyone would take would be due to their interest and their own perception of play. This is the world where progress would be made due to self-interest and self-enthusiasm. No company, person, or government could influence people to do work (in theory they may not even exist) and all work would be beneficial in a sense to everyone else (Rousseau’s ideology). By now, I hope you dream of this world as well; a world of grasshoppers apparent.

An Imagination of Utopia [2] (wikimedia)

Football: Is It Worth The Risk?

Over 115,000 fans pack Michigan Stadium for a football game

Over 115,000 fans pack Michigan Stadium for a football game

Football is one of the most popular sports in the United States at all levels. NFL and NCAA teams pack massive stadiums week in and week out, while teenagers play for their school teams and in recreational leagues. In the 1950s and 1960s football quickly became a national phenomena and is arguable the most popular sport in the country today. NFL regular and post-season games consistently have the highest TV ratings of any sport.

However, over the past couple of years football has started to run into a major problem, which is the safety of its players. Concussions have recently become a major issue in many sports, but none more so then in football. It is estimated that there is about a 75% risk of concussions for males who play football, which is higher then any other major sport. It is also estimated that Continue reading

Split or Steal?

(featured image from http://www.challenge.co.uk/shows/golden-balls.html)

I have always found game shows particularly interesting to watch. Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire are all shows that we’ve heard of and chances are, watched – each with its own unique twist in promoting competition between the contestants. Most of these shows keep me entertained through the viewer’s relationship with the contestant (if you were to favor one over the other, for example, and cheered them on while shouting at your TV) but then there’s also the interactions among the different players of the game that keep me hooked. Game shows can bring out both the best and worst of those who play on them and specifically one game show, Golden Balls, actually reminded me of a topic we’ve just recently covered – the state of nature and social contracts.

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Like A Girl

As a result of Title IX, women have benefited from more athletic opportunities and more justifiable facilities. Also, women have received more athletic scholarships and as a result more opportunities for higher education that some may not have been able to afford otherwise. Title IX also increased the salaries of coaches for women’s teams. Despite all of the positive changes that have come from Title IX, there is still much work to be done in reaching full equality between men and women in the world of sports.

In the book The Playing Fields of Eton by Professor Mika Lavaque-Manty, there is a full title that explores some of the challenges women encounter in sports. This chapter entitled “Being a Woman and Other Disabilities” compares being a woman to having a disability in the sports world.  The title of the chapter alone, as the two are paired together, gives off the connotation that society views women in sports as being similar to those with disabilities. In society, men are stereotyped as being stronger, tougher, more competitive and more aggressive than women. These stereotypes create the ideas that men are naturally better than women at sports and that women cannot perform up the same standards as men.

This reminded me of a controversial Dove commercial that has gotten a lot of public attention recently. This commercial aims to get the general public to stop using the saying “like a girl”. In it, young kids that are asked to perform “like a girl” throw a ball as hard and tough as they can, while older children asked the same thing purposefully throw a ball less far than they normally would. This implies that, as kids grow up, society teaches them to believe that girls cannot perform as well as boys, and even girls have started to believe it. This has become a giant obstacle for all girls to overcome in sports.

It is implied that women’s sporting events are less intense and less exciting then men’s games. As stated in this chapter, there are a lot fewer spectators at women’s sporting events then there are at men’s. It is also said in this chapter that, “no women’s sport is what universities call a “revenue” sport”. Unfortunately, this has a lot of truth to it. It is obvious that a lot of the revenue at the University of Michigan comes from our men’s basketball, hockey, and football team. As a women’s lacrosse player here at the University of Michigan, I can say that we definitely do not get as many fans as any of those sports, especially as a brand new program. Plus, we were only able to create our program because of the revenue that these other sports have created for the university. However, women’s sporting events here at the University of Michigan are exciting.  As an example, we have one of the best softball teams in the country, ranked number 11. Our field hockey team is also ranked number 11 in the country. These sporting events obviously would be exhilarating to watch because these teams are competing against the best as they fight for the Big Ten Title.

Women's basketball game with many empty seats.

University of Michigan women’s basketball game with many empty seats.

Packed arena at a men's basketball game

A packed arena at a men’s basketball game

The fight for women’s equality in the sports world has been going on for a long time and in1974 Billie Jean King created the Women’s Sports Foundation. This foundation was created in order to fight for gender equality in sports. The mission of the foundation is to “advance the lives of girls and women through sport and physical activity”. They support and encourage girls to become more involved in sports and excel at them. Women athletes deserve more credit than they are being given as they do the same amount of training and hard work as men do. Women athletes are driven to succeed and are determined just like men.

WSF-GGG-Logo-General-web600

It is important to try to change the idea that women are not competing at the same high level as men do as well as the idea that these events are not exciting to attend. Society needs to make a change at the way that everyone perceives women’s sports. Although women’s and men’s competitions are different, it does not mean they are any less competitive or intense. Women compete just as hard as men and we should work to eliminate the saying “like a girl”.

What is it really?

Have you ever thought about what college really is?

In my Organizational Studies class, we read Robert Birnbaum’s piece, How Colleges Work. In it, Birnbaum elaborates on the idea that the collegiate system is an anarchical system, a model that can also be described as an “organized anarchy.” Defined by three characteristics, the system has problematic goals, unclear technology, and fluid participation. Much like some authors like Homer and A. Bartlett Giamatti, Birnbaum connects his argument to a sports match and games. Intrigued by the comparison, his piece proposes an interesting way to think of what college really may be, whether it be an anarchy or other type of dominant power.

“Imagine that you’re either the referee, coach, player, or spectator at an unconventional soccer match: the field for the game is round; there are several goals scattered haphazardly around the circular field; people can enter and leave the game whenever they want to; the entire game takes place on a sloped field; and the game is played as if it makes sense.”

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Fortune is a Football Team

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Russell Wilson celebrates the Seahawks Super Bowl XLIX win

This past February, as you may have known, the Seattle Seahawks played the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLIX at Metlife Stadium. I, being from New Jersey, and not wanting to pass up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, found a way to get tickets to this game. As I sat next to my brother and watched the Seahawks score touchdown after touchdown in their 43-8 rout of the Broncos, I couldn’t help but wonder, “How did they become so good?”. The Seahawks were a well oiled machine, on both offense and defense. It was one of the most lopsided super bowls in recent history. However, if a casual football fan was asked why these Seahawks played as well as they did, not many people would know. Their team is not star-studded; there are probably only three players that non-football followers could point out, even after the Super Bowl. So why and how could they be this good? Could it possibly be just good fortune? Continue reading