Moving

As we (MA DAH students) are really really cool, we had to buy a domain and start creating our own website. So, from now on, you will found my thoughts and stuff

HERE

I love the idea of owning a domain. It sounds like the first step toward taking over the world.

~ Claudia

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Gone Home, or when I played my first computer game

Mike’s lecture and reading suggestions about games reminded me of a videogame I had in my pc since a couple of months ago, Gone Home. I am not a gamer. When I was a child I had a GameBoy to play Pokemon and Mario and a Nintendo64 to play MarioKart, nothing more, and I do prefer RPG by chat when I want to play, or books and TV series when I want to chill out. But Gone Home is something different. I got it after reading a review on one of my favourite blogs, SoftRevolutionZine, because I was curious, but I never felt like playing it – until a couple of days ago. All these discussions on videogames encouraged me to try that “feminist videogame we were waiting for without knowing it”. I am glad I did it.

 
Gone_Home

 
It is not long – just three or four hours if, like me, you are not a videogame expert. In the game, there is only you, exploring your house after a long trip, and you do not know where your family is, especially your sister Sam, who left a note on the door saying “Do not look for me”. Opening every drawer and every closet, reading all you can grab, at the end you understand where everyone is and why. I swear, it is way less boring than it sounds. The atmosphere is disturbing, intensified by the storm which is rumbling outside. Out of the blue, when you find certain objects, Sam’s voice-over starts reading her journal, giving you more information about her life in the past months. The story of your sister is intriguing, as well as your parents’ and your weird great-uncle’s are.

 
 
***SPOILER ALERT***
 
 

***Seriously, do not read if you want to play it***
 
 

In my opinion, this game could be an interesting learning tool. Not just for the development of intuition, but also from a sociological, psychological and historical perspective.
The game is set in 1995. There is a great accuracy on details, like food brands and household tools. The soundtrack of the game is built on Sam’s tape cassettes scattered in some rooms, which you can listen to using stereos. The choice of music is all based on the Riot grrrl movement, especially Bratmobile and Heavens To Betsy.
In addition to other less treated subjects like the relationship between Sam and Katie’s parents and their personal problems, homosexuality among teenagers is the principal theme of the game. It is handled with great sensitivity, but without hiding any side of the matter. The way in which the story between Sam and Lonny is told is extremely realistic, with all the doubts and thrills a girl can have, and with all the issues she has to face in her everyday life, like the mockeries of her classmates and the disapproval or the indifference of her teachers.
To sum up, in a couple of hours you do not just play detective connecting the dots of a family’s story, but you also can be a bit more aware of the daily life of a young lesbian during the 1990s, all from a feminine point of view. Not so bad!
 
~ Claudia

 
 

PS: When I sent this post to my boyfriend to ask him to proofreading it, he sent it back with his opinion on the game, which I would call “The male perspective on a game in which you do not have to brutally kill everyone”:

Unlike Claudia, I have been a gamer since I could remember, and this game managed to amaze me. Differently from any other games I have ever played, there is no enemy to face, no troops to manage, no money to gain, no bosses to overcome or level to finish.
The game appears to have no mechanic at all, but as you go on, you start to realize what it is about. You get more and more immersed in it. It makes you laugh, it makes you worry, it is a very emotional game, and it is quite sophisticated in that. The detail makes it believable, as you can pick up every object, examine it and turn it around. I have even seen a pack of chips with ingredients and nutritional content. That would have just been a pixelated mass of nonsense in any other game. And you can find hand-written letters, scraps of paper in bins that you can flatten and read, typewriters with leftovers and attempts at writing novels, and so on.
In the end, it makes you realize something about entertainment: it is all about the emotions you can evoke in the player, it is all about the experience. And this game lands that flawlessly. I always tended to avoid this kind of game, but I see what the point is now and how I was mistaken in giving less credit to them just because there is less action or stuff to manage.

Virtual reality

Last week we had to read an article about game based learning, and summarize it in a mind map. Here is mine, from the article of David Williamson Shaffer, Kurt R. Squire, Richard Halverson, and James P. Gee “Video Games and the Future of Learning”.

Map Video Games and the Future of Learning

It is an interesting reading, but they seem to me, sometimes, too enthusiastic about the value of video games as learning tools. They are, well, means to an end. I do not have a problem with games, I think that tools are just tools. I am not one of those who think that GTA makes you violent, if you are violent you will find inspiration to kill your neighbor even in a flower floating on the river. Thinking about my experience with virtual reality, specifically RPG by chat, I have to say that they let me find love and friendship during those hard years called adolescence. However, thinking about my experience as a student, I found some very charismatic and inspiring teachers who made me love what I was learning, with great results in terms of assimilation of contents. Is there a way to bring it into the digital world? Ok, I am wandering off.

What our teacher (Mike) rightly pointed out is that the virtual reality gives you agency, whereas the reality tends to take it away from you. It could help you being more self confident, maybe. The web gives you more visibility than ever, so that if a crazy person decides to do something dangerous, they could find other people like them and foment each other. On the other hand, the web is democratic: it gives visibility also to good people sharing innovative, helpful and positive ideas. There is a kind of balance, the world is just a little bigger.

During our discussion on the class forum some people expressed their concerns about the lack of psychomotor and tactile experiences using digital tools in the classroom. To me, it is amazing that now children can study with digital tools and can even play with the XBox with a guy from the US, but it is not enough for their development. I do not want to see, in 20 years, courses on “How not to cut your fingers with a scissors”. And it would be even worse, to me, an app to feel the sensation of the glue stuck on your hand. But it sounds hard to believe that this could happen. Children have tablets but they still run and scream and play in the park, and I think that everyone of us sometimes smells an old book or builds a shelf or works on the engine of their car… To me, the lack of psychomotor and tactile experiences using a tablet is not a problem. It would be a problem if teachers and parents give them nothing more than a tablet.

Coming back to game based learning and virtual realities, my concern about them is nothing more than what I could think about every other learning tool: it is never enough. It is absolutely great to find new tools, but we do not have to forget the human element.

~ Claudia

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There is a kind of a motto, in Italy, “a letto dopo Carosello” – “in bed after Carosello”, which belongs to my parents’ generation. Carosello was transmitted after dinner time, for 10 minutes. This simple TV show only contained short sketches created to advertise goods, a sequence of commercials, but it still survives in the mind of those who where children between 1957 and 1977 as one of the sweetest memories of their life. I am fascinated by how some sketches, some commercials’ songs, can get stuck in people’s mind for so many years, and somehow still make them feel like they belong to an age, while they recollect about it. Sometimes, puns from old commercials come to my mind while I am talking to someone, and I feel both silly and nostalgic.

Ok, all of this was just to write a cool introduction to share with you the first poster I created (all together: “oooooooooooooh!”), to advertise an Italian movie which is scheduled in the IndieCork Film Festival, as this year I am the PRO of the UCC Italian Society.
Poster Human Capital
~ Claudia

Day One

Last time I had a blog my internet connection was 56kbps, my clothes were dark and I was discussing – all by myself – about how unfair life was. Yes, I was one of them.

Now I am 25 and I have a new opportunity to try and write something on a blog, as I started a master’s degree in digital arts and humanities in UCC. This space will mostly be about digital humanities and literature in general, with a special focus on Italian literature. Italian literature is the subject I studied more than anything else – well, it was easy, I am Italian. I left Italy exactly one month ago. Not for the first time, as I spent the last academic year in Cork with the Erasmus programme, but now I am in Ireland for an indefinite period of time.

Why did I leave Italy? This is our Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaking “English” during a conference at Digital Venice, which is, according to their website, an “high-level meeting, hosted by the City of Venice and promoted by the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union with the support of European Commission – DG Connect, that will gather policy, industry and innovation leaders from all over Europe to trace the road to a growing, sustainable digital economy”.

Ok, not only because of that – I just enjoy showing it to all the English speakers I meet. I fell in love with Ireland the first time I came here, when I was 17, and I spent two weeks for a study holiday in a college close to Dublin. I came here again, after my graduation in Modern Literature in 2012, as a gift I gave to myself. I am very fond of this country. Italy granted me a past and a culture, I hope that Ireland could give me a future. I will see. Anyway, now being here is allowing me to meet extraordinary people, to see the greenest green I have ever seen and to enjoy the opportunity to discover and study the intriguing field of digital humanities – whose news, concepts and approaches I will share and discuss on this blog. Wish me good luck, or, better, go n-éirí leat.

~ Claudia