Week 10: Gaming, Coding, and Hacking

Of all the types and aspects of technologies we have covered so far in this class, these are the ones I am the least familiar with, so it was equally interesting and perplexing for me to learn about. I’ve never participated in gaming culture, so the first readings gave me a lot of insight into why it is so popular for others and how it has grown into such a successful and powerful industry. As a future educator, I love the idea that this platform exists as an inclusive space for people–particularly young people–to connect with each other when they likely would not have in any other capacity. That opportunity for connection is more relevant now than it has ever been given the pandemic limiting or outright getting rid of other chances for socialization. Given my lack of experience with gaming, this criticism might be based in misinformation, but I hadn’t really thought of gaming as the all-inclusive platform that the chapters we read make it out to be. Though there are groups that are able to use video games as a way to make social connections when they struggle to do so otherwise (namely, people with disabilities), I feel like there is still a lot of space for discrimination and marginalization in gaming. From what I understand this is issue is improving, but I feel that gaming has been set up to be a very gendered activity and have heard concerns that female-identifying gamers deal with a lot of misogyny when playing popular multi-player games. Still, with the increase of consumers taking a more active role in driving the gaming industry, there are opportunities for this to change in a positive way that were not there in the earlier days of video games. The “Convergence Culture” article connects to what we discussed last week about the democratization of social media and expands on that to explain how consumers have found ways to shape the tech and media industries that have becoming an increasingly more significant part of our lives. I find it fascinating that tech and media industries are both “top-down” and “bottom-up” structures when it comes to development and marketing. It is just about impossible to operate independently of these corporations, so it is expected and understandable that individuals are seeking to take some control back by having a hand in the market. Of course, there is an extreme side to everything, and in this case that side comes in with hacker culture. As we saw in the video, not all hacking is malicious (the white hats versus the black hats that were discussed in the Crash Course video), and a lot of hackers target large corporations that might be inconvenienced but won’t go under due to the interference, but there is a concerning prevalence of hacking that targets people whose lives can be ruined by it.