Debate or Relate: the contexual essay

My digital artefact, Debate or Relate is an online flashcard game I created with my peer, Remy, that is played on the public domain of Instagram. We took inspiration from card games such as We’re Not Really Strangers and Cards Against Humanity. Our game works by Remy and I prompting question cards relating to significant topics, social issues and events. For the players to participate, they comment their opinion and perspective on the topic and have discussions with other players about it.

While there are already platforms where conversations on topics occur such as Reddit, we believe Debate or Relate is unique as we also post information cards containing factual and reliable information relating to the topic in order for the users to gain a deeper understanding of the matter.

Additionally, due to Instagram’s features such as anonymous question boxes on stories and direct messaging, there is an element of anonymity and privacy that users may prefer to utilise, rather than stating their opinion publicly. The goal is for the users to develop empathy and compassion for the issues while also listening and appreciating the opinions of others. We also aim for the users to gain a deeper understanding of societal issues and topics in order to be an informed member of society, which is our social utility. In order to create content for our DA, we observe current news and media to see if there are any trending issues and topics that are widely talked about. Once we find a topic, we then use Canva to create a question card and find factual and reliable information on the matter that does not contain any opinions or biased information. The purpose of including information cards is to help inform and further educate the user on the topic, not alter or sway their perception on it. As we create and plan our content in advance, here is a look at our future content we have prepared.

We prep our content in advance in order to adhere to the FIST principles of Fast, Inexpensive, Simple and Tiny. By doing this, our content is always ready to post at any time, leaving little room for inactivity. Once we post the content, all we have to do is create a commentator card and post it which usually takes no more than 5 minutes, depending on the length of the response and if we choose to include more than one comment. As a result, Debate or Relate adheres to the FIST principle. 

An important learning moment we have had is that quality always trumps quantity. Although our game has less than 40 followers, there have been insightful and large conversations made on certain question cards which emphasises quality over quantity. To elaborate, on the question card attached below, there was a large discussion between three people who had differing perspectives. Reading this conversation was extremely beneficial for myself as a mediator as I could see that my aim of instigating conversations on important topics was occurring, without the need of a large following.

Looking at our engagement, there is usually little to no likes or 1-3 comments on each post to the public eye. Although, there is a large amount of users who direct message us their perspectives and thoughts on question cards and there is usually a good amount of interaction on story posts. This includes story polls and anonymous question boxes that we post when question cards are uploaded. These story and direct messaging interactions highlight that perhaps some users do not feel comfortable posting their opinions publicly and would rather their answers to be anonymous or private. As a result, this has shown us that story features are extremely useful and we will keep implementing them within our digital artefact.  

In order to gather feedback from our users, we used story features such as polls and question boxes. A question we asked was what topics they wanted to see us post. This is crucial for our DA since we want to project future subjects that are not only relevant but also something that our users desire to discuss and engage with. The responses we received sparked our curiosity in investigating new themes and issues. We believe that by considering and applying this feedback, we will not only have continued acceptance of new topics but also greater user participation.

When we asked our players if our discussions and the information cards on the topics have been helpful in deepening their understanding of the topic, 100% of voters said yes. This demonstrates our social utility as it is evident that Remy and I’s main goal of our players learning and becoming more educated on important topics is being achieved through our game.

Here is some more feedback we received from utilising Instagram’s story features. 

Additionally, feedback from my beta video stated that we should push our game onto more platforms such as Tiktok

We ended up attempting to do this by creating a video advertisement for people to hop onto our Instagram game and also tried to stimulate conversations on TikTok. 

While these TikTok videos had a decent amount of views averaging 500, it didn’t bring any new players onto the Instagram game and no one responded to our questions attempting to start discussions. This became another important learning moment for us as we realised that we should put our focus solely on Instagram so we ended up ditching TikTok altogether. 

Evidently, the experience of being a game creator and mediator has been a fun and unique journey. I aim to keep continuing Debate or Relate as I believe it has not only deepened my knowledge on important societal issues, but also the players which is extremely beneficial and rewarding.

The game we created: the contextual essay

Debate or Relate is an online flashcard game created by myself and Remy, where we prompt questions that are discussed by the players. The video linked below addresses the complete details of our game including the processes we experienced and how my analysis helps inform the digital artefact.

As a stepping stone in analysing my game, I’ve created a field journal documenting my experience throughout this process.

Since we last pitched Debate or Relate, we have adjusted the iteration of the game considerably in terms of elements such as adding information cards and aesthetics. Although most notably, the analytical framework of the game was changed the most. While I was critically analysing the game, I determined that my previous framework that included game discourse and participatory media did not suit Debate or Relate like I had assumed. Instead, I have built an analytical framework around the concepts of contextual analysis, spectrum and interactivity which are simply outlined in my previous blog post. Here is my complete and in-depth critical analysis of Debate or Relate. 

  1. Contextual analysis

The context of a game involves the circumstances in which a game is produced and played as texts are the products of their time, place and situation (Moore 2020). This post-structuralist approach is crucial to an analysis of a game as if we miss the larger context in which texts are created, we may miss elements that are essential to understanding it. Remy and I created this online conversational card game in the midst of 2021 due to the crazy socio-political circumstances of current society. With significant events such as the Greater Sydney lockdown bringing along topics of the Covid-19 vaccine as well as other social issues such as the climate crisis, women’s rights and Black Lives Matter, we believed these important topics needed a space where they could be discussed in a mediated, informative manner. Additionally, there is also a great deal of misinformation, division and misunderstandings among our society at the moment with different perspectives and views on certain topics. Our aim is to bridge this gap and create a game that can help people gain empathy and be more open-minded about others and their viewpoints. Essentially, the context of Debate or Relate is the sole reason why it was created. Hence, it is imperative for players to understand the context of the game in order to completely understand it (Fernandez-Vara 2019).

  1. Spectrum

Depending on the individual, play can either be a competitive human pursuit within a set of activities or an outlet of expression and a manifestation of human emotions. The concept of spectrum refers to exactly this, where games fall on a spectrum between the two poles of Paidia (playfulness) and Ludus (formality) (Moore 2020). Further explanations of these concepts are defined below.

Paidia: “[Paidia] incorporates implicit socio-cultural rules that guide a player’s actions and behaviour but do not lead to a ‘winning scenario’.” (Frasca 2003 cited in Jensen 2013)

Ludus: “[Ludus] is entirely structural and is play that is explicitly bound by rules, characterised by regulation and strategy.” (Moore 2020)

On the surface, Debate or Relate predominantly aligns with the post-structuralist concept of Paidia. This is due to its lack of formal elements such as set rules and a ‘winning’ element as an identifiable goal. Despite this, Debate or Relate can still adhere to the elements of Ludus. This is evident within the debating nature of the game, where players may feel inclined to ‘win’ a debate they have with another player when discussing opposing perspectives on a topic. Additionally, the way certain questions are structured on the question cards we create may also contribute to this. To illustrate, if a card contained the question, “is climate change real?” that may be seen as a ludic question as it promotes a sense of urgency for the player to win the debate. On the other hand, questions along the lines of “do you agree or disagree with this statement” may encourage a more paidic perspective where the player may simply want to just offer up their thoughts. 

  1. Interactivity

The concept of interactivity is a technique of participation within games according to Raessens (Raessens 2005). This characteristic is described as

“A summative perception of the degree to which a user participates in a communication process with substantive interactive features of a technology.” (Gleason & Lane 2009 p. 5)

This description accurately highlights the interactivity that occurs within Debate or Relate on a social media platform. This is due to the nature of the game where players interact with the question cards by responding to them with their own opinions and perspectives of the topic at hand. These interactions may be done by commenting, liking, sharing and direct messaging us their opinions. Additionally, the players can interact with other players by creating a conversation about the topic and discussing their views. By the users playing this game, it aligns with Bruns’ ‘produsage’ theory where users are no longer just audiences of a text, but also producers. While we create and prompt the question cards, the players are the predominant producers of Debate or Relate as they comment their opinions, connect with other users and participate in discussions which is the predominant goal and purpose of the game.

Furthermore, interactivity, according to Richards, has the potential to aid learning more than passive learning (Richards 2006). To elaborate, interactivity is important outside of a game situation since it increases learning. As a result, the interaction component of our game can help people learn about important social issues and themes, which is the public utility and main purpose of Debate or Relate.

Reflecting on my experience

All in all, this was an extremely informative, yet enlightening experience becoming a game creator, media and player. By critically analysing my game with the framework that consisted of contextual analysis, spectrum and interactivity, I was able to further deepen my understanding of not only my game and its elements but also game media in general. My analytical framework also assisted me with producing content for Debate or Relate, expanding my knowledge and expertise in relation to game production. 

References

Bruns, Axel (2006) Towards Produsage: Futures for User-Led Content Production. In Ess, C, Sudweeks, F, & Hrachovec, H (Eds.) Proceeding of the 5th International Conference on Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Communication. School of Information Technology, Australia, pp. 275-284.

Fernandez-Vara, C. (2019) ‘Introduction to Game Analysis’ New York: Routledge, Second edition.

Gleason, JP. & Lane, D. (2009) ‘Interactivity Redefined: A First Look at Outcome Interactivity Theory’ In annual meeting of the NCA 95th Annual Convention, Chicago IL. Vol. 24, pp. 1-26.

Jensen, G. (2013) ’Making Sense of Play in Video Games: Ludus, Paidia, and Possibility Spaces’ Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture; 7(1), pp. 69-80. Available at: https://www.eludamos.org/index.php/eludamos/article/view/vol7no1-4/7-1-4-html accessed 21/09/2021

Moore, C. (2020) ‘BCM215 Game Media Industries – Media Archaeology’ [online video] available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJa2mh4xEJs&ab_channel=ChrisMoore accessed 21/09/2021

Moore, C. (2020) ‘BCM215 Game Media Industries: Participatory Media Culture (Full Lecture)’ [online video] available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGIEO-NkJHM&ab_channel=ChrisMoore accessed 10 October 2021

Raessens, J. 2005, Computer games as participatory media culture, In J. Raessens & J. Goldstein (Eds.), Handbook of computer game studies (pp. 373-388). Cambridge, MA: MIT PressRichards, D. (2006) ‘Is interactivity actually important?’ Computing Department Macquarie University, pp. 1-7.

Online debating and discussions: the research report

For the past few months, I have been performing autoethnography on the media niche of online debating and discussions in order to gather data on the audience experience. While this niche typically refers to online forums such as Reddit, along with this platform, I have also been observing the online discussions that occur within social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. In order to conduct autoethnographic research, I have been performing participant observation within the niche which is the process of researchers learning about the activities of people through observing and participating in the same activities (DeWalt & DeWalt, 2002). 

Through actively being part of the niche by being a commentator as well as a spectator, I was able to formulate my own personal experience by being a participant of the online debating and discussion niche. With my participant observation and personal experience gained, I have been able to implement this knowledge within my digital artefact, Debate or Relate. Through studying my media niche, I was able to create my very own online discussion and debating space on the platform of Instagram. The specific details on how my autoethnographic research helped me create this and how it has been progressing are outlined within my video embedded below. 

By conducting autoethnographic research through participant observation, I was able to identify three major epiphanies that have helped me deepen my knowledge on my media niche, while also helping me create content for my digital artefact. These epiphanies are outlined within my previous blog posts, Much to talk about and Much to think about. While my methods included observational research and participant observation, these epiphanies formed the basis of my methodologies as I was able to analyse them and build a framework on my data with academic research to generate even more knowledge on my niche. Here is some more further research and its relation to my digital artefact. 

  1. Unpopular opinions are actually popular

My autoethnographic findings have discovered the popularity of unpopular opinions and how participants are able to connect with one another by sharing the same opinions. As people may be reluctant to share their unpopular opinions in real life, this may not be the case when it comes to online discourse as

“Anonymity online obliterates real-life identity boundaries and enhances free and open communication, thus promoting a more enlightened exchange of ideas.” (Papacharissi 2004 p. 267)

This discovery is also connected to Habermas’ concept of the public sphere, which is defined as a space where “private people come together as a public” (Habermas 1989 cited in Kruse 2017). While the public sphere was originally envisioned as a social coffeehouse, today’s public sphere occurs on the internet, notably on social media. People can “challenge discourses, share alternative perspectives, and publish their own opinions” (Loader & Mercea 2011 cited in Kruse 2017) over social media as the internet is readily accessible and anyone can transmit information. I see my digital artefact, Debate or Relate as its own public sphere as the participants are having discussions on significant topics and are challenging mine as the mediator and one another’s views. 

  1. Generation Z are too “sensitive”

Another insight I had explains how my observations in the online discussion niche have led to many people assuming that Generation Z is overly sensitive and takes various topics too seriously. This hypersensitivity has given rise to the concept of cancel culture, which some perceive as a senseless sort of social media mob rule. On the other hand, many people see it as a crucial instrument for social justice because it involves publicly demanding accountability and boycotting.

Furthermore, McLuhan’s communication theory may help to explain why some people believe Generation Z to be hypersensitive. McLuhan’s notion that the “medium is the message” is clear in my observations, which reveal how this enlightenment was primarily confined to the platforms of TikTok and Instagram. Considering social media allows Generation Z to communicate and express themselves, it’s possible that these platforms seem to contribute to the so-called hypersensitivity. This could be attributed to Generation Z’s ability to constantly access and consume media related to specific events, issues, and themes on social media, leading to an intolerance for what they consider unethical. Applying this to my digital artefact, I created a question card on this issue. Whilst no one commented on the actual question card, we received multiple direct messages and anonymous responses to the question and everyone had differing views. These answers definitely made me see the topic in a different light and my own previous opinion on the topic was altered as a result.  

  1. Participants are becoming more aware

Based on my observations, I’ve noticed that online debates and discussions can help people become more knowledgeable, aware, and educated about specific topics, situations, and events. When a participant is unaware of or uneducated about a topic, they are more likely to ask questions about it, expanding the conversation and increasing their knowledge. This is also due to the fact that these online forums expose users to thoughts outside of their personal associations, allowing for the acceptance of diverse viewpoints (McKenna & Bargh, 2000 cited in Wojcieszak & Mutz, 2009). 

​​My experiences also align with the concept of deliberative democracy, which holds that if individuals talk about politics with others, they will become more knowledgeable, tolerant, and introspective, resulting in higher-quality opinions. Even if they are greeted with opposition, they are able to think on the diverse viewpoints of others and reevaluate their own preconceived notions (Wojcieszak & Mutz 2009). Participating in online conversations and debates appears to be advantageous for further learning and knowledge enhancement, as my autoethnographic data gathered via participant observation reveals. In order to apply this epiphany to my digital artefact, I implemented information cards, which is further discussed in my video [1:10].

My final thoughts

Critically analysing and observing the online discussion and debating niche has provided a new outlook on my perceptions towards these communities. A large amount of my previous assumptions and beliefs about the niche were challenged, and I was able to attain various ethnographic skills which are further highlighted within my video above [2:57]. Not only did I obtain a proper insight and comprehension of the niche by conducting autoethnography by observing and being an active participant, but I was also informed and educated on major subjects, issues, and events. This was achieved through being an active commentator and observer as well as through the creation of my digital artefact. All in all, this experience was extremely beneficial as I gained valuable skills and knowledge that will assist me in my day to day life.

Reference list

Cresswell, JW. (2016) ‘30 Essential Skills for the Qualitative Researcher’ Sage: Los Angeles. 

DeWalt, KM. & DeWalt, BR. (2002) ‘Participant observation: a guide for fieldworkers’ Chapter 1, p1-4, Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, available at: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=p1wcO3UNXQ4C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false&gt

Kruse, L., Norris, D., & Flinchum, J. (2017) ‘Social Media as a Public Sphere? Politics on Social Media’, The Sociological Quarterly, pp. 1-3.

Moore, C. (2020) ‘BCM241 Media Ethnographies – Qualitative Research and Ethnographic Skills Part Two’ [online video] available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28QmGs1ItF0

Moore, C. (2020) ‘BCM241 Media Ethnographies: Research Ethics and Ethical Research’ [online video] available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGXyTv4ZzR8&ab_channel=ChrisMoore

Papacharissi, Z. (2004) ‘Democracy online: civility, politeness, and the democratic potential of online political discussion groups’ Temple University, USA, Vol 6.2, pp 267-268.

Thomas, M.J.W. (2002) ‘Learning within incoherent strcutures: the space of online discussion forums’ Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, Vol 18.3, p. 351-366.Wojcieszak, M. & Mutz, D. (2009) ‘Online Groups and Political Discourse: Do Online Discussion Spaces Facilitate Exposure to Political Disagreement?’ Journal of Communication, Vol 59, pp. 40-56.

Beyond the screens

Within my last blog post, I discussed the network society paradigm and how technology has allowed for global communication, resulting in phenomenons such as the attention economy. With the development of global information flows, networking and technology have encompassed all new levels, with advancements we wouldn’t even dream of having a decade ago. This leads me into the the concept of the Internet of Things or IoT within the module of future networks. 

The Internet of Things

According to Week 11’s lecture, the IoT was first coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton at the MIT Media Lab as means to conceptualise the evolutionary effect of the internet and its future as a result of technological advancements (Mitew 2020). Ashton stated

“The IoT integrates the interconnectedness of human culture — our ‘things’ — with the interconnectedness of our digital information system — the ‘internet’. That’s the IoT”

Kevin Ashton 2015 in an interview with ZDNET

Additionally, the IoT also refers to the physical devices and technologies that are connected to the internet and can collect and share data. In conjunction with this, an IoT object also has constant connectivity which leads to each IoT objects having its own unique identity, capable of engaging with and registering changes to its location and state (Mitew 2014). These smart devices results in society becoming smarter and more responsive, thus merging the digital and physical universes. One of the fist IoT applications was adding RFID tags to expensive pieces of equipment to help track their locations. Since then, the IoT has expanded vastly and rapidly as technological advancements have allowed billions (approximately 11.3 billion currently) of objects to become an IoT. An IoT device can range from a phone to a lightbulb, as long as the physical object is connected to the internet and can be controlled or communicate information. For instance, a lightbulb can be transformed into an IoT device if it can controlled by a smartphone application such as Apple’s Home app. 

Furthermore, seemingly regular physical objects such as a child’s toy or a streetlight can also be part of the IoT as they can be connected to smart devices and sensors. On a broader scale, the IoT can be applied to things such as transportation networks, or smart cities. The IoT can help reduce waste, improve efficiency within energy use and can be useful for improving the way we work and live. The visual below displays what a smart city could possibly look like.

The implications of IoT

Essentially, the IoT allows for endless possibilities and opportunities to occur that we cannot even comprehend. Although along with this, the IoT also brings a great deal of challenges and issues that may be deemed as unethical and daunting. One of the biggest issues that the IoT is predominantly associated with is security. As the IoT applications help provide a digital environment for global connectivity that simplifies lives by being sensitive, adaptive and responsive to human needs, security cannot always guaranteed (Alaba et al. 2017). As a result, the privacy of users may be compromised and the data from the users may be leaked if the user signal is interrupted (Alaba et al. 2017). 

Virtual assistants such as the Amazon Alexa and Google Home have been at the front of the IoT security issues due to their invasive nature. These virtual assistants are powered by artificial intelligence and can respond to voice commands, play music when asked, perform keyword searches, order items, turn on lights and appliances and can even sustain conversations (Chung et al. (2017). After CheckPoint Research conducted an investigation into the Amazon Alexa, they found that there were serious security flaws in the object. According to their research, 

“In just one click, a user could have given up their voice history, home address and control of their Amazon account.”

CheckPoint Research

As these virtual assistants can listen to every single word and conversation you have in the house, they collect a great deal of data about you that could be easily invaded if gets into the hands of a hacker. Here’s also a clip that can help Amazon Alexa users limit and prevent hackers from accessing their data and invading their privacy. 

Another implication of the IoT is the invasion of privacy. The more IoT objects we have, the more data can be collected. For instance, any IoT object we utilise can hold some sort of data about us, from smartphones to even TVs. This leads to the concept of big data, which can be collected from the IoT through chips, sensors and the internet. Big data is extremely valuable to manufacturers and large corporations due to the patterns we create as users. These include our small, everyday actions that seem meaningless to us such as what shows we watch, what apps we use and what ads influence our buying behaviour. If these corporations access our data, they can recognise how we behave and ultimately even control our behaviours.  

The last implication of IoT is the issue of digital fatigue. We are so engrossed with technology and our devices that we forget what’s important in life. In current society, so many of our daily activities involve some type of technology, further contributing to the mental exhaustion and disengagement that occurs when we use too many digital devices. To illustrate, the Samsung Smart Fridge has the ability to monitor our habits and food items that are in the fridge, even having the capability to create shopping lists. Since this object is part of the IoT and has its own software, it has the potential to be hacked and attract a botnet. As crazy as this sounds, it is definitely a possibility. If you ask me, having to be worried about our fridges being hacked sends out a pretty important message in itself. 

Lay off the smart devices and look beyond the screens.

Reference List

Alaba, F., Othman, M., Hashem, I., Alotaibi, F. (2017) ‘Internet of things security: A survey’ Journal of Network and Computer Applications, 88, pp. 10-28.

Chung, H., Iorga, M., Voas, J., Lee, S. (2017) ‘Alexa, can I trust you?” Computer Long Beach California, 50(9), pp. 100-104

Mitew, T. (2020) ‘’The internet of things: from networked objects to anticipatory spaces’ [online video] available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCktdyl8Lss&ab_channel=TeodorMitew

Mitew, T. (2014) ‘Do objects dream of an internet of things?’ Fibreculture Journal, (23), p. 1-25.

It’s reflection time

As a result of writing comments and leaving feedback on various BCM215 digital artefact betas of other students, I gained skills in critically analysing and examining their tasks through the lens of a tutor. As well as this, leaving feedback also made me reflect and think about my own digital artefact, and ways on how I could improve and adjust it. 

Here are the comments I made:

Comment 1: Andrea’s beta

Comment 2: Carla’s beta

Within each comment, I made sure to highlight what aspects of the beta I liked and if they had followed the task instructions. I also suggested some valuable academic sources that were specific to the student and their project. As well as these sources, I also described how they would be useful for the particular student and how they could utilise them within their research. I believe this was helpful as these sources may help them further their research and game analysis. Although, I could’ve improved these comments by also including actionable suggestions the students could implement within their DA and game analysis. Additionally, it would have also been a good idea to comment on the video and blog post structure to examine if it was logical and if it flows well.

By assessing the work of others, I was able to review my own digital artefact, Debate or Relate and my game analysis. Although most importantly, giving feedback to other students helped me critically reflect on how I can possibly improve my project. As I wanted to examine the betas correctly, the assessment criteria was present during the creation of the comments to see if the student had met the needs of the task. As this significantly helped me examine the student’s pitches, it led me to also think about my own project and if my pitch had met the criteria as well.


When reflecting on this, I realised that my pitch did not meet all of the criteria and could’ve been improved. To illustrate, while I added academic sources relating to my game analysis, I should’ve added some subject materials such as lectures within my beta. When I showcased my field journal within my beta, I should’ve referenced the Week 3 lecture as this lecture helped me formulate the field journal and informed me of what I should be observing and documenting in order to develop an analysis and build my analytical framework. Additionally, when I was outlining one of my analytical elements, interactivity, I should have referenced the Week 7 lecture as it focused on participatory media culture. While I believe I satisfactorily met most of the assessment criteria, I could’ve improved this. For future reference, I will make sure to read and review the assessment criteria in depth before I complete the assessments.

Reference list

Moore, C. (2020) ‘BCM215 Game Media Industries – Media Archaeology’ [online video] available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJa2mh4xEJs&t=2s&ab_channel=ChrisMoore

Moore, C. (2020) ‘BCM215 Game Media Industries: Participatory Media Culture (Full Lecture)’ [online video] available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGIEO-NkJHM&ab_channel=ChrisMoore

Peer reviewing and reflecting 2.0

By commenting and leaving feedback on various digital artefact betas of other students, I learnt how to formally analyse and examine their progress through the lens of a tutor. As well as this, leaving feedback also made me think about my own digital artefact and research project, and how I could improve it. 

Here are the comments I made on two beta videos:

Comment 1: Rebekah’s beta

Comment 2: Hannah’s beta

While providing my feedback, I made sure to suggest some valuable academic sources for each student. In conjunction with the sources, I also described how they would be useful for the student and how they could utilise them within their research. I believe this was helpful as including these sources would ultimately improve their DA content creation and ethnographic research. As well as this, I made sure to highlight what aspects of the beta I liked and if they had followed the task instructions. For future reference, perhaps I can add more suggestions on what they could improve on. 

By assessing the work of others, I was able to review my own digital artefact and my autoethnographic research. Although most importantly, giving feedback to other students helped me critically reflect on how I can possibly improve my research project. As I wanted to examine the betas correctly, the assessment criteria was present during the creation of the comments to see if the student had met the needs of the task. As this significantly helped me examine the student’s betas, it led me to also think about my own project and if my beta had met the criteria as well.

When reflecting on this, I realised that my beta did not meet all of the criteria and could’ve been improved. This included the inclusion of subject materials and academic sources. For instance, when describing my autoethnographic research, I should’ve cited the week 3 lecture which details the method of participant observation. As I showcased my notes and participant observation within the online debating and discussion niche within my beta, it would’ve been valuable to reference this lecture as well as other materials on observation such as Marvasti and Dawson’s sources. As a result of this, I will make sure to include more subject materials and well as sources on autoethnography such as Wall’s research within my research report and digital artefact submission coming up. 

Reference list

Dawson, C. (2002) ‘How to Carry Out Participant Observation, in Practical Research Methods A User-Friendly Guide to Mastering Research Techniques and Projects’, HowTo Books: Oxford.

Marvasti, Amir B. (2014) ‘Analysing Observations’, The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis. Uwe Flick editor. Sage: Los Angeles.

Moore, C. (2020) ‘BCM241 Media Ethnographies: Methods and Methodologies Part One’ [online video] available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHrzTp7-g-0&ab_channel=ChrisMoore

Wall, S. (2006) An Autoethnography on Learning about Autoethnography, International Journal of Qualitative Methods 5 (2).

My progress as a game maker so far

Since creating this DA, there have been various changes and iterations made as a result of audience feedback and observations made. Multiple polls and questions were posted onto the story so users could provide feedback. 

When I gathered feedback from the players, I asked if they enjoyed the discussions and if the discussions and question cards helped further their knowledge on certain topics. To both of these polls below, 100% of voters said yes. As the game does not have a large amount of followers, this demonstrates that my players are actually benefiting from the game, emphasising quality over quantity.

Another question I asked the players was if they had any suggestions for future topics. These suggestions will be implemented within our next question cards in order to meet their needs. The results are included below.

Following my pitch feedback, here was what one of my peers stated about my project.

After taking this into consideration, I revised my framework and agreed with my peer. As there was definitely a large amount of research required, I ended up narrowing my 3 concepts to a contextual analysis, spectrum and interactivity which has worked out to be a much more relevant and applicable framework.  

On another note, while the Instagram profile only has 40 followers, depending on the question card, there are usually 1-3 responses on each card or sometimes there are full-blown debates from multiple players with different perspectives. This was evident within our prompt, “Can people be gender fluid”. 

This was a major moment for me as a game creator as the discussion was civil and extremely informative for me as a mediator, the active players and the audience who read the discussion. This was also when I knew my DA was heading in the right direction and my goals of creating a civil and informative space for online discussion in a game format was beginning to occur.

How Debate or Relate is going so far

Remy and I have created Debate or Relate, which is our digital artefact where users are able to discuss and debate their thoughts and opinions on important social issues, topics and events in current society. As we create question cards as well as information about the topic for the users to discuss, we instigate the debates and also mediate them. To create our content, we research our 4 categories of Political, Physical, Mental and Spiritual and find topics and questions relating to those categories.

For each question card we create, we also find relevant, factual and unbiased information relating to the topics so people can build their own knowledge and understanding on the matter if needed. This will also help the user formulate their own opinions and perspectives on the topic if they unaware of the matter or do not have enough knowledge on it. The question cards and the information cards are created often and in advance as we keep an eye on current society and pop culture. Here are some examples of our information cards:

After this, we allow one day for users to comment their views and create a discussion. This may be conducted through the comments underneath the question card post, our DM’s or the anonymous question box function on our story. Depending on the question card, the responses range from 1-3 comments or full blown discussions and debates from multiple users with opposing views. Here is an example of a quiet discussion vs a large debate:

Small discussion on imagination vs reality

Large debate on “Can people be gender fluid”

To end off the topic, we then post a grid image of an opinion from a user. Sometimes, this also creates another discussion as people may comment on whether they agree or disagree with the user.

Through conducting this process, we have made various observations about our project. For instance, users tend to regularly respond to stories and the question boxes we upload, as well as privately within our direct messages. Sometimes there are more responses from stories and direct messages than the actual question card on the grid post. Perhaps they like how their answer will only be seen by Remy and I, rather than all of the participants. As well as this, the anonymity function by uploading question boxes on our story is also used regularly for responses. This may also be due to some users preferring to stay anonymous as they may not respond to the prompts if their identity was seen. As a result of this, we will continue to keep utilising the Instagram story function as their answers can be anonymous from the question boxes or privatised from other users through direct messages.

When we gathered feedback from our users, we asked if they enjoyed the discussions and if the discussions and question cards helped further their knowledge on certain topics. To both of these polls, 100% of voters said yes. As we do not have a large amount of followers (only 40 to be exact), this demonstrates that our users are actually benefiting from our project, emphasising quality over quantity. It also highlights that Remy and I are heading on the right path of our digital artefact and our social utility and goals are evident, where users are able to participate in meaningful and educative discussions in order to be more informed on a topic.

I’ve been Debating AND Relating

By undertaking an autoethnographic investigation into the media niche of online discussions and debating, I was able to create my digital artefact, Debate or Relate. This project is based on Instagram which aims to promote and instigate discussions with users about social issues, events and topics in current society. Since creating this DA, there have been various changes and iterations made as a result of audience feedback and observations made. Multiple polls and questions were posted onto the story so users could provide feedback. 

When asked, “Have the discussions/information provided on the question card helped you better understand the topic?” 100% of voters said yes. 

This relates to my first epiphany of the niche, participants are becoming more aware. As the discussions and information cards help further the knowledge of users of certain topics, it coincides with Thomas’ conclusion that online discussion forums can lead to enhanced learning outcomes.

Another question we asked our users was if they had any suggestions for future topics. These suggestions will be implemented within our next question cards in order to meet their needs. The results are included below.

Additionally, some of the pitch feedback we received for our DA was to observe without interference and let rude remarks occur which may happen when discussing controversial topics. While no rude remarks have occurred yet, we decided to take on this advice and not interfere with our participants at all, ensuring the discussion is as real and raw as possible, especially when there are opposing perspectives.

How will Debate or Relate be analysed?

In order to perform a critical analysis on a game I created, Debate or Relate, I have built an analytical framework revolving around the concepts of contextual analysis, spectrum and interactivity. Let’s have a look at what these concepts are, and how I will apply it to my game. P.S click play below if you prefer to listen while you read!

The context of a game involves the circumstances in which a game is produced and played as texts are the products of their time, place and situation (Moore 2020). This post-structuralist approach is crucial to an analysis of a game as if we miss the larger context in which texts are created, we may miss elements that are essential to understanding it (Fernandez-Vara 2019). Not only is context important within game media, but it can also be applied to a range of media and texts, such as utilising contextual analysis to study philosophy. As a result, contextual features such as social-political and techno-economic circumstances of Debate or Relate will be considered while evaluating the context as it will help form an analysis on how context shaped why and how the game was created.

Source: https://www.emypa.com/blog/context-the-spice-that-works-the-magic-in-client-relationships/

Depending on the individual, play can either be a competitive human pursuit within a set of activities or an outlet of expression and a manifestation of human emotions. The concept of spectrum refers to exactly this, where games fall on a spectrum between the two poles of Paidia (playfulness) and Ludus (formality) (Moore 2020). Further explanations of these concepts are defined below.

Paidia: “[Paidia] incorporates implicit socio-cultural rules that guide a player’s actions and behaviour but do not lead to a ‘winning scenario’.” (Frasca 2003 cited in Jensen 2013)

Ludus: “[Ludus] is entirely structural and is play that is explicitly bound by rules, characterised by regulation and strategy.” (Moore 2020)

The concept of spectrum predominantly aligns with game media, although it can apply to any game, no matter the format or genre. I will be comparing spectrum with my field journal in order to analyse whether elements of paidia and ludus are both presented within my game.

This may be through my observation of the players and by identifying the formal elements of the game. Additionally, the contextual analysis of the game may help when applying spectrum as the context will help identify why elements of paidia and ludus are present. 

My last concept is interactivity, which is a technique of participation within games according to Raessens (Raessens 2005). This characteristic is described as

“A summative perception of the degree to which a user participates in a communication process with substantive interactive features of a technology.”

(Gleason & Lane 2009 p. 5)

In order to apply this to Debate or Relate, I will analyse the interactive elements of the game including how the players interact with other players as well as how they interact with me as a mediator. I will also examine how this may affect their play experience. Furthermore, outside of a gaming context, interactivity has been analysed within a range of different texts. To illustrate, Richards completed a study on how interactivity can improve learning within students (Richards 2006). While this study does not relate to games, it may help me with my analysis as an objective of Debate or Relate is learning and informing players about important societal matters. On another note, after performing a contextual analysis of Debate or Relate, I will be able understand why interactivity occurs in the game. As well as this, the concept of spectrum will also help me formulate an analysis using interactivity as the characteristics of paidia and ludus may impact the way interactivity occurs within the game. 

References

Fernandez-Vara, C. (2019) ‘Introduction to Game Analysis’ New York: Routledge, Second edition.

Gleason, JP. & Lane, D. (2009) ‘Interactivity Redefined: A First Look at Outcome Interactivity Theory’ In annual meeting of the NCA 95th Annual Convention, Chicago IL. Vol. 24, pp. 1-26.

Jensen, G. (2013) ’Making Sense of Play in Video Games: Ludus, Paidia, and Possibility Spaces’ Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture; 7(1), pp. 69-80. Available at: https://www.eludamos.org/index.php/eludamos/article/view/vol7no1-4/7-1-4-html accessed 21/09/2021

Moore, C. (2020) ‘BCM215 Game Media Industries – Media Archaeology’ [online video] available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJa2mh4xEJs&ab_channel=ChrisMoore accessed 21/09/2021

Raessens, J. 2005, Computer games as participatory media culture, In J. Raessens & J. Goldstein (Eds.), Handbook of computer game studies (pp. 373-388). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Richards, D. (2006) ‘Is interactivity actually important?’ Computing Department Macquarie University, pp. 1-7.