CATS Logbook – Session 4 – Contextualising Digital Media 1: Digital Culture/Modernism

Our 4th CATS session was based around Contextualising Digital Culture. This was introduced as the first part of a multi-part series of lectures.

The first part has a very large focus on modernity/modernism. The first part of the lecture explored the key terms and the definitions for these, which are as follows:

Modernity: The experience of modern life.

Modernisation: The process of change that causes modernity.

Modernism: The reaction to the experience of modernity in the cultural sphere.

We discussed how modernism can encompass positives and negatives an we also discussed how modernism is viewed as a means of defining what is modern and what is not.

After this, we discussed the parameters for what makes modernism what it is. Modernism came in around 1880 to 1960. It was seen as a breakaway from the traditional styles of art at the time. This was not just prevalent in art. It spread to areas such as literature, music, design and photography. We then discussed the factors that define modernism and concluded that the factors which define modernism are as follows:

  1. Industrialisation
  2. Social Changes
  3. New Technologies and Scientific Advances
  4. Political Changes

We were then shown many examples of each of these and how they left an impact on games.

1. Industrialisation

More cities were built and many different types of work and jobs were made available to people. Mass production became existent and this meant that people could get hold of products much easier than before. New and better materials for manufacturing not only became available, but also cheaper. The Industrial Revolution began in England in the 18th Century and eventually spread to America. The 19th century was to be one of great inventions and discoveries pertaining to technology and the century is particularly known for giving birth to the ideas of Fordism and Taylorism, which radically changed how people worked and consumed.

The legacy this has left on games is that games are able to be mass produced. Products are developed with the consumer in mind and the industry pays a living wage which allows the creators of the content to become the consumers of the content.

2. Social Changes

This period also saw the further development of modern cities. People found more time for leisure and new types of leisure activities became mainstream. People had more money to spend and this came just in time for the rise of consumerism. The entertainment industry also became a very big thing during this period with the advents of the television and the very beginnings of video games in the 60s and early 70s.

3. New Technologies and Scientific Advances

The scientific and technological advances of the time were all fairly major. The advent of electricity is arguably most important, as without electricity, we wouldn’t have a lot of what we have today. With this came a plethora of inventions and advancements in technology and science which has left its mark on games. Photography arguably is one of the biggest of these as it has enabled the capturing of a moment for later reference. Advances in travel also played a major part with advents such as car, air and rail travel.

The legacy that this has left on games is the idea that technology is used as a force for change and innovation. Vincent Miller, who is a digital culture theorist, suggests that there are three reasons why new technologies are developed:

1) Fulfill a need or solve a problem.

2) Bring about a certain condition in the future.

3) Create a profit of some sort of personal gain.

We can clearly see that where these three points can be achieved, there will always be that enthusiasm and need/want to develop new technologies. This can be seen in detail when looking at games as there is constantly new platforms and sequels to games/new games introduced into the market which is more capable than the predecessor.

4. Political Challenges

The 20th Century saw many political challenges. Among these were the prevalence of strong nationalist feelings, the Russian Revolution, World Wars 1 & 2, Facism and Communism. This extends throughout the century to include the Vietnam War and to some extent continues to the 21st with the Iraq war, the war in Afghanistan and uprisings in Egypt and Syria.

The legacy this has left on games is very wide. Technology has been subject to great advancements and acceleration within the last century due in part to things like war and conflict and this has in turn led to the developments of technology capable of playing games. It has led to the popularity of the Real Time Strategy and First Person Shooter genres of games. It has also led to the use of game technology to train soldiers. This does however raise ethical issues, such as the depiction of violence in these games and in particular, children’s exposure to this.

To conclude the session, we summarized what makes up modernism.

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3 Responses to CATS Logbook – Session 4 – Contextualising Digital Media 1: Digital Culture/Modernism

  1. Pingback: CATS Logbook – Session 5 – Part 1 – Session 4 Additions | Sanctuary Games

  2. Pingback: CATS Log Book Entry 4 (25/10/13) | PHASEgaming

  3. Pingback: CATS Log Book Entry 4.5- Session 4 revisit (1/11/13) | PHASEgaming

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