Category Archives: Technology

Literature VS Modern Day Society. FIGHT!

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom Free Online Summary Study Guide Christopher Paul Curtis

Reading - A Thing Of The Past?

A few months ago, I purchased a book for one of my friends that I thought she may like; Albom’s ‘Five People You Meet In Heaven,’ in a hope to engage her into a topic that is of great interest to me – literature. Eagerly, I asked of how she was progressing, only to be told that she hadn’t actually started it. (5 months on!)

On another occasion, I have had a different friend confuse Frankenstein for the monster, and not its creator.

I have always read; being seventeen years old and an obsessive reader of all forms of literature, I can’t help but feel saddened by the fact that my generation cannot see literature as an art form; a way of learning from past intellectuals, as well as being enjoyable. I’ve read a wide range of genres and texts, ranging from Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ to currently reading Cervantes’ ‘Don Quixote’; the contextual knowledge and insight into these great writer’s mindsets is – in my opinion – priceless, with regards to how life can play out.

Are Mobile Phones Damaging Our Education?

From constant broadcasts and news feeds, we are being presented with a generation that is more inspired by mobile phones, violent video games – see previous post – and media that should be censored than actual books and novels. In a way, this is partly true. More young teenagers are doing things that only years ago would have been considered highly taboo for their age groups; nowadays, it’s commonplace to see thirteen year old boys using eye-watering expletives, and girls that are obsessed with losing weight when they’re paper thin. (which could be done easily, if only they’d take their makeup off!)

As everyone does, I own a mobile phone, and I do like video games; however, I fail to see why reading has recently been stigmatised to such a degree.It has now got to a point now that changes must be made. An study conducted by scholars at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy (the article can be found here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100618170920.htm) has suggested that children who spend times on computers are much more likely to get poor maths and literacy scores, which I would suggest is down to the lack of time they are investing into studying and exploring topics that interest them.

This problem seems widespread.

How can this be resolved? By taking the phones and the video games away from their owners?

E.M Foster

No. Personally, I feel that teachers, parents, and any other form of teaching assistant / aide should be teaching that new technologies and works of literature are complementary, and not mutually exclusive. The way for children to start reading properly is for society to embrace it, making visits to places of learning common. Furthermore, the exam syllabus that schools use should become more engaging and less predictable – instead of studying Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or ‘Hamlet’, why not Nabokov’s ‘Pale Fire’, or E.M Foster’s ‘A Passage To India’; novels which are both intellectually challenging, whilst having life lessons and underpinning contextual information in them. Teachers should be making more of an effort to integrate and merge new information communication technologies with their teaching methods, to further state that the ideas of reading / learning and being ‘cool’ and ‘modern’ aren’t necessarily that distant from each other as they perceive.

What do you think? How can modern students engage with literature again? Is it possible, or are books already stigmatised? Do you feel that children even need to know how read and write, with modern day functions such as spell checkers and voice-to-character recognition?

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Have True Video Games Died?

A True Classic

Having grown up with games for the duration of my life, I can’t help but feel that gaming has lost its way, and has gone off-track. Long gone are the days when gameplay – not the high-end, multi-million dollar companies who published them – mattered, and carried the game’s reputation. I remember – and still have – hours upon hours of nostalgic fun whilst reliving some of my ‘childhood classics’; ‘Final Fantasy VI’; ‘Secret of Mana’; ‘Pocky & Rocky’.

Even now, 20 years after the release of these Super Nintendo games, they are immensely enjoyable to play; the gameplay is simple, they aren’t complex, and they’re accessible – something I feel most modern video game creators fail to think about when they are brainstorming their latest hits.

The 8-bit graphics were adequate and easy on the eyes. The polyphonic audio was memorable. (I would find myself whistling some tunes around the house!) The games tempted you with new stages and bragging rights against your friends and fellow players; there was a need to keep playing just so you could knock off a friend’s high-score, or get to more difficult stages before them. A great deal of strategy and quick reactions were needed to maneuver your little character round the almost-impossible levels on a rigid D-Pad whilst ghosts, ghouls and all sorts of enemies flew from one side of the screen to the other at wicked speeds. When the players finally finished that one level which they’d been battling on for so many hours, an enormous sense of achievement overcame them.

Pocky & Rocky

Sadly, however, it’s become much less common to see modern video games with TRUE gameplay qualities. In the past 5 years, video games have become much more focused on mindless violence, sex, guns and drugs, and less focused on skill and decent gameplay.

Gone are the cute raccoon avatars that threw leaves at sinister looking matryoshka dolls; instead, being replaced by the Grand Theft Auto-styled ‘catch a whore, throw her in a car and drive it into a the nearest lake’ gameplay. It’s no wonder that children are growing up swearing and being much more violent than they ever used to be when certain game makers are allowing unrestricted access to ‘hyper-violence’ in the form of titles, such as Man Hunt, Mad World, and Call of Duty; one of the more memorable scene included engaging in a game of Russian Roulette, only to graphically behead a Vietcong soldier.

I feel that the video game industry should take a step back and identify what made gaming enjoyable; how they could improve how their finished products play, in oppose to furnishing them with as much violence, gore and expletives as possible. After all, it’s most definitely gameplay that matters most.

How do you feel about modern video games? Do you feel that the themes that are becoming ever present are acceptable, or should manufacturers return to their less violent, fictional roots? Are Apple’s iPhones and Android devices bringing old, true games back, through the creation of casual games, such as Doodle Jump and Angry Birds?

Please let me know your comments.