Squatter: how to simplify farming for the family to enjoy

So I’m back at it again at the dry humour that is guaranteed to go over your head thanks to my sub-par joke telling skills, also more media blogs and whatnot for the forth year running, and this sessions major topic is Gaming Culture.

The topic that I am tackling today is on the (in their words) ‘classic Australian board game’ known simply as Squatter and I have to say they’ve done a pretty good job of making an exiting game about an occupation that is about 40% hard work and 60% watching the crops gsquatter board.jpgrow and observing the livestock to make sure they remain healthy till they’re shipped off to become produce. Created by Bob Lloyd the game plays like the Settlers of Catan with a touch of Monopoly, with tiles on the board for your livestock in the middle and the monopoly style layout around the edges of the board. The idea is to go around the board actively upgrading your paddocks until they become irrigated (the blue squares) as well as fully stocked with sheep, first to do so wins the game.

The rules are pretty straight forwards with most of thembeing explained on the actually board through prompts for actions written on them instead of house tiles (like in Monopoly) as well as it’s own variations on the chance and community chest cards (here called tucker bag and wool sale) and in these comes the first unique aspect of the game cards.jpgwith the wool sale cards having a role in making the money for you based of special rules that apply to the cards and their respective tiles. They also have replacements for the stations and utilities in the form of prized stud rams which have the added benefit of increased income.  While looking at the way in which money has to be made does seem complicated at first once the basics are understood it becomes as simple as breathing.
The game can be played with 2-6 players although if you really wanted to you could play with one, if you can not find a friend but it can be quite the bore like that. I played this game around four or so weeks ago with my brother and sister when the power was out at home and we all decided to whip it out again after letting the dust collect on it for a few years and I have to say that it was enjoyable to play once again. You can defiantly see how the game is enjoyable however, much like farming, once you reach a certain point in the game it begins to get boring. Not saying that you won’t get a lot of fun out of the game, it sheep.jpgis still pretty enjoyable, it’s just that after a while it becomes pretty similar to the way in which farming has short periods of activity followed by long periods of inactivity. The tucker bag cards as well as the tiles do make it interesting but games can take such a long time (especially with 6 players) and as a result it does tend to become repetitive.

All in all I reckon this game is quite enjoyable until a certain point but usually by that time someone is close to finishing so i guess the mechanics of the game play out well in that regards. While it is made for 6 players that’s usually what leads to the game becoming a little boring due to the length of the game, so I’d recommend a healthy 3 to 5 player game to really get a good feel for the game as well as the most enjoyment possible.

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Welcome!

Welcome to ‘The Less You Don’t Know’ a blog about international media and communication and about what I have learned from the topic as well as my own views on said topics. If you want to know a little bit about me then you can find it all in my old blog, the link is here.

I will Try to update on Mondays but I’m hopeless with deadlines and I hope you enjoy the blog 🙂

Final Thoughts

Well it’s been fun, but its time to finish up on this blog. Looking back on the last month and a half on this topic, I have learnt a fair bit about the media in the modern age and issues that surround it. Things like the public sphere in the media to issues surrounding the ownership of news mediums, it has been some of the most interesting stuff I’ve learnt about. My outlook on media has definitely been altered by the many topics that our lectures have covered and the research that I did in making this blog.

From the information I have been given and had to research  I come up with a few things on the media oriented issues today:

  1. Media can influence us to do things, but not actions like murder, although I always found it stupid to blame TV and video games for violence…
  2. To look beyond the image and see the symbols and the the message it makes
  3. the dangers of total media control
  4. that public spheres are great places to discuss your opinion and forward concerns
  5. and the increase of CCTV cameras around the world is too damn high

These theories definitely changed my views in some areas, especially the one on images and semiotics.  I’ll admit I never did look into ads like that before, and images, like the Unhate Campaign, would have made me uneasy a few weeks ago.

I enjoyed doing this quite a lot. And I have sort of gotten used to the blog-making but its still. a bit of mess… hopefully I’ll get better at it in the future, although I think next time I’ll do video’s instead of words, writing isn’t my strong suit

Well that’s it for me, it has been fun writing this and I’ve sort of enjoyed it. So long and I hope you enjoyed the blog and finally one more message:

Video Games are an Art

The public sphere is a ‘space’ in which people debate concerns about certain topics, such as political ideals, recent events or certain television shows. Today, I’m going to discuss how video games are such a good topic for the public sphere to debate.

Now I know some people might read this and think about how much this has been debated already, what I want people to debate about is how the medium of video games can be used as an art form to express ideas or emotion.

Now the strongest image that most people see when the word “video games” comes up is the violence of games like “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield”. However, there are many games out there that defy this stigma. There are even games like “Spec Ops; The Line” that even point out the flaws of these games. A great example of this is the game “Loneliness”, a metaphorical game about depression and isolation from the world due to society.

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Now as you can see from the video, if you watched it, its quite a bland game, but the message you get at the end is strong. You go through the entire game as that dot at the bottom, and no matter how hard you try to make your dot join the others, you never can. Its quite frustrating and after playing it two times, I got pretty angry at the game. It’s only at the end when you get the message that the creator is trying to give about loneliness and isololation and how this is a leading cause of suicides in the western world.

now I know this game isn’t a popular media, but I support the use of video games as an art form to send messages, protests and emotion, and this game does it well in its simplicity. How it tries to show what it’s like to be alone through the dots is effective and can show make us feel in a way what it’s like to be truly alone. If more games like this were discussed in the public sphere, maybe more people can come to see how this medium can be used as an art.

You can find a link to the game here, it’s quite boring but keep on playing until you see darkness and the message at the end

Hearts and Minds: Media Control

“Whoever controls the media, controls the mind” – Jim Morrison

In the media world today, a majority of newspapers, television stations and internet websites are owned by a select group of people like Rupert Murdoch or the Fairfax Media. This can be seen as a dangerous thing as control over the media can lead to control over our views and ideas through the news mediums. Today I’m going to explain why, in my opinion, the media should remain a public domain.

If a single entity was to own all media sources it would be quiet easy for that person or group of people to sway the opinions of the audience through the news channels and other media forms. A great example of this is during the reign of Nazi Germany and the way Joseph Goebbels utilized the many forms of media to use strong propaganda and sway the German people to support the Nazis and idolize Adolf Hitler. These forms came as poster propoganda, news stories, film (the poster on the right is one of the most famous ‘non-propaganda’ films) and the famous weekly Goebbels broadcast on German national radio. It was through the media that these two were able to sway a large majority of the people to support the party and its views. This induce a huge amount of anti-Semitic attitudes throughout Germany and its annexed lands and resulted into Kristallnacht in 1938, the ignorance of Germany cruelty to Jews, gypsies and communists in central Europe as well as the Final Solution in 1942.

Rupert Murdoch 2011 Shankbone 3.JPG

Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Limited

The Nazi State is just one example of totalitarian control over the media to control the minds of the people. Today, the media in Australia is slowly coming under the control of a select group of people such as Rupert Murdoch and Fairfax Media. This enables those in control to decide what we see in the media and influence our choices through advertising and running certain stories on the news. For example, Rupert Murdoch, who is a staunch supporter of the National-Liberal Coalition, could use his media sources to encourage people to vote for them. He does avoid doing it due to trouble he gets into because of it, although he is a heavy critique on the current party in power, Labour Party.

The Nazi Era in Germany showed us how powerful the media could be in controlling the people and how far you could push its limits. If media ownership continues to consolidate under a few names, this could happen again. We need the media to remain neutral, much like the ABC (Australia) to ensure that the media doesn’t become bias and used for gain and control

The Unhate Foundation, Spreading Love through Controversial Ads

The Unhate Foundation, founded by the Benetton Group in early 2011, is an organisation that aims to encourage a more peaceful world. Their aims are to;

  • fight against hate and discrimination across the world
  • support the new generations of the world
  • to support these endeavours through the power of art

However, this post is about its controversial ad campaign launched in November 2011, called the Unhate Campaign. This campaign is the first effort of the Foundation to achieve its goals. What makes it controversial is the way they used the political leaders in their ads.

Upon looking at the six images we see the famous figureheads of countries and religions, like Pope Benedict XVI, President Barrack Obama and the Supreme Leader Kim Jong Il (that’s the actual title…) embracing their opponents on the world stage.

Just from what’s in the image alone is shocking to most people, however, the cultural impact these images had on these leaders’ people was outrageous. While done in good will with a message that is pure, the way it was done led to most people disregarding the message and leaning towards a stance of condemnation. To see these people whom some love, respect and follow is the ultimate insult to their country and themselves. In fact the one of Benedict with the senior Egyptian Imam was considered so disrespectful by the Catholic and Muslim world that the Benetton Group was forced to take it down by both sides. Following this, a lot of these leaders began to criticise the campaign and petition to the Unhate Foundation to pull down the images.

However, if these people were able to see beyond the image, they might see the message that the Unhate Foundation was trying to convey to the world. A message of love and ‘unhate’ (as they put it themselves). One where your background does not induce hate from rival countries. In my belief the way they have done this is well done, especially with the pairing of the leaders in the images, like Germany with France, South with North, the East with the West. It is the embracing of these foes that sends the sign that we should find within the images and embrace within our own cultures, one of peace, free of discrimination and of embracement of all people, no matter if we hate or love them.

A link to the Unhate foundation can be found here. Look them up, they are a great group that I fully support and their aims as a charity group are completely different from the run-of-the-mill charities that we see today. And if you want more on how controversial this was, just watch the video by the Young Turks and how they discuss their feelings on it (mainly the one on Benedict)

The “Media Effects Model” and Scepticism Towards New Media

The media effects model are the ideas of the effects that mass media has on the audience that sees it. Two main ideas are the ‘magic bullet’ and the ‘hypodermic needle’ theories. Both see media as an ‘injection’ of ideas, morals and influences directly into the persona of an individual who is watching any form of media. It is usually done by starting with the messages sent by the form of media and how the audience receives and decodes the message and how we ‘absorb’ it into our psyche. The main victim of these analyses is television and how its effects on the minds of viewers, specifically the youth, and how this leads to an increase of violence in society.

One of the main analyses on its effects was done by George Gerbner. His study on the effects of media on the minds of its viewers led to ideas that violence on the screen cultivates violence in society. This eventually led to blaming major media forms on assassinations, murders and general increases in violence around the world in the mid to late 19th century. Key examples could be the assassinations of John Lennon (1980), the murder of Jamie Dulger (1993) and the Port Arthur Massacre (1996). From each of these events, people became more and more convinced that the media effects model was accurate and that the forms of media were to blame for the increase in violence.

However, this model can be seen as flawed as in each of these cases showed that each was influenced by insanity, family dysfunctions and social ostracism. Taking the murder of Jamie Dulger for example; his killers, two twelve-year-old boys, killed him in the same matter as the movie “Child’s Play 3” leading to speculation that media was the reason for this act of violence and that it cultivated the bad morals that enabled them to kill the boy. But on closer inspection it was shown that they had a history of abuse such as a broken family, poverty, neglect and bullying was the main causes for them to do the act.

From this we can see that the model is flawed. It starts looking at the wrong end of the communication process, the sender, instead of the viewer’s past and the real influences behind their acts of violence. Today’s newest form of media videogames, is under the same scrutiny and is been studied in the same way, causing more scepticism about the effects of mass media. Hopefully, in these newer studies, they will help to prove that the effects of mass media is not the sole cause of the cultivation of violence and bad morals