Essay: Media Archaelogy and Videogames

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[. . .] The author lists a variety of other women who have played an important role in media archaeology. The point is that there is no person whose work is negligible or indeed of more vital importance simply because of their gender.

Like the changes we experience in technology and communications today, there is also a change in our view of society in terms of class and gender. Indeed, the greater accessibility of media by everybody has leveled the playing field in the social and corporate worlds to a greater extent than ever before.

Even in gaming, women and men have equal access. In the online world, one's gender, class, and any other physical attributes are disguised behind the face offered as an alter ego in the specific game. A woman can, for example, be a warrior, a princess, or any of a myriad characters on offer. A male player has the same options. Gaming has become a way to live in a world of fantasy, offering escape from everyday physically-related prejudice and preconceptions.

The author's final point is that gender and variation offers vibrance in a field traditionally dominated by men. Today, such distinctions are becoming increasingly blurred, which is a good thing, because such blurring opens fields of greater inquiry and deeper research in fields that desperately need these.

Specifying the Vague and Acknowleging Continuity

Gitelman (2008, p. 2) notes that the word "media" is used in very vauge terms to refer to a collection of divergent phenomena. Furthermore, the fact that the media has reached digitization today creates a sense of completion in the research consciousness. This constitutes what the author refers to as an "overdetermined sense of reachint the end of media history." It is as if critics do not believe that the media can develop any further than it has so far.

This is where an acknowledgement of media archaeology can help. Recognizing that there has been a continual stream of developments in all sorts of media since the first medium saw the light should shed light on the fact that the media continually develop into new and better forms.

In gaming, this phenomenon is most evident in both the games themselves and the devices used to play these games. PCs are continually upgraded and developed, for example. Just a few years ago, the PS2 was the newest and most used machine to play PlayStation games. Today, no new games are created for this console. Instead, PS3 has become the standard, with the PS 4 taking the place of the previous PS3's status. This does not mean that the PS2 or even the PS1 has become meaningless. Their meaning today offers a platform for investigating the new media. Thus, like human growth and development, the old offers a constant platform for information about the new. The past can offer lessons for the future. This is why it is important to recognize, today, that the media never stop developing and growing. There are always new forms and new ways of accessing data, information, and games. As Gitelman (2008, p. 4) puts it: "Like old art, old media remain meaningful."

In making sense of the old and new media, Foucault (2002) cautions against using the term "media" as a unifying, undifferentiated reference to a variety of phonomena that are by nature diversified. Like Gitelman, Foucault believes in the diversifying effect of media archaeology. As such, media archaeology investigates the differential effects of the "genesis, continuity, and totalization" (Foucault, 2002, p. 138) of media items.

In the same vein, Zielinski (2008) finds himself somewhat dissatsified with the tendency of media histories to retrieve an already incorporated media history that projects the future outcome. In other words, the past is seen through the lense of its outcome, rather than being focused on itself for what it is. The author refers to this as an "anemic and evolutionary model" of considering past forms of media.

The main reason for this is that any history is not as much an accumulation of facts, but rather a revision of the facts, which offers corrective discourse on the subject being studied. An extra dimention can, however, be offered by the act of interrogation. Not only existing, known facts are investigated in this way, but also those facts that have been ignored, displaced, or distorted by time. This mode of inquiry can offer a more realistic view of the media in their form today and how this relates to the forms and apparatus of the past.

By unearting media apparaturs from the past, according to Zielinski, the investigator can provide a highly fertile field of investigation in terms of media archaeology. It can, for example, reveal not only an accounting of the apparatus, but also of the images, effects, intellectual history, and other factors involved in the old media phenomenon.

Counterpoints

In considering all these phenomena, Manovich (n.d.) claims that the idea of the "digital" as one of the identifyingn factors of the new media is a "myth." The author is considering here the factors that differentiate new media from old media. The author suggests that the idea of the digital is far too vague to truly discuss it without its component parts (Manovich, n.d., p. 68). Digitization can mean either a common representational code, a numerical representation, or analog to digital conversion. Importantly, the author also points out that these concepts are unrelated. Each can refer to a different aspect of medium phenomena.

An image that can be copied endless times without any loss of quality is, for example, the result of analog to digital development. In analog imagery, the image loses quality every time it is copied. The argument on the basis of this might therefore be that digitization is the basis upon which "new" media might be identified.

The "myth" attached to this is that there is, in fact, no losses when digital images are copies. Although indistinguishable in terms of quality and clarity, the author poitns out that ther are indeed losses when these images are copied. The concept involved is "lossy comprehension." What this means is that copied digital files are made smaller by deleting some of the information associated with it. Hence, there is a compromise between image quality and files size when the image is copied. There is therefore indeed a loss of quality.

Digital image copying could therefore not be absolutely distinguished from more traditional media simply as a result of copied image quality. More specific distinctions or definitions need to be in place for this to happen. It is therefore important to make clear distinctions in terms of attributes and definitions to distinguish the new media from the old.

Anderson (2011) addresses an extra dimension of historiography in order to discuss how media deals with elements of time. His main claim is that there is a cultural tendency to return to key historical moments and reimagine the events. Because this is such a culturally expressive thing to do, it is important that critics pay attention to it (Anderson, 2011, p. 17).

This can also be done via gaming. Gaming, by nature, is a reimagination of a world or event. Although this is not necessarily applicable to true historical events, games such as "Resident Evil" is a reimagination of the world presented in the film. Depending upon the actions of the user, the events change and reform themselves. This gives the user the illusion of power and of actually interacting with the world created in the film. It caters to the cultural tendency of belief in the fact that events that have occurred can be changed by human intervention. It is a way for the collective cultural consciousness to handle the helplessness involved in horrific events in the past. In the apocalyptic world of the game mentioned above, the player has the power to fight against and overcome the zombies. In film, events such as the Kennedy murder or Hitler's actions are explained by their collaboration with aliens or control by evil forces without their consent or knowledge. It is designed to restore trust in humanity.

This is often what the media, new or old, is designed to do. It restores trust and a sense of humanity in a world in which these are often lost as a result of senseless violence, loss, and trauma.

According to Anderson (2011, p. 19), historically oriented stories are often fictionlized to articulate social and cultural obsessions, concerns, and anxieties. In science fiction, for example, a historiographic work can exist to articulate the ideal relationship of human beings with the past.

Final Words: Investigating Media Archaeology

References

Anderson, S.F. (2011). Technologies of History: Visual Media and the Eccentricity of the Past (Interfaces: Studies in Visual Culture). Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England.

Ernst, W. And Parikka, J. (2012). Digital Memory and the Archive (Electronic Mediations). University of Minnesota Press.

Foucault, M. (2002). Archaeology of Knowledge. Michel Foucault. Routledge; 2 edition.

Friedberg,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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