Study finds low skilled gamers are more likely to be sexist

According to a new study, male gamers who are low or unskilled at playing online are more likely to demonstrate sexist behavior towards female gamers.

The study was conducted by Michael M. Kasumovic and Jeffrey H. Kuznekoff from the University of New South Wales, who observed over 163 matches of Halo 3 and coded the behavior of the players. The purpose of the study was to examine if the presence of a skilled female would be disruptive to the ego of an unskilled male, who may feel their sense of hierarchy is threatened (be it in a game or work environment).

The research team used Halo 3 because its a game that relies on skills and fast thinking, hence everyone starts on an equal footing. Plus all the subjects are anonymous and may not have a personal history with the research team or other players. Another reason is that because everyone plays as a SPARTAN soldier that has the appearance of being gender neutral.

Based on the data collected, male gamers who performed poorly were more likely to act hostile towards a female player. It was also noted that the unskilled player was less likely to act hostile towards a male player who was more skilled.The theory is that the unskilled male gamers would try to compensate for their failure by trying to act more masculine towards their female counterpart.

Meanwhile the study also found that male gamers who performed better were more likely to be respectful towards female players. This was because they didn’t fear that their hierarchy was being threatened while trying to get the attention of the female player.

All of the data was collected by observing and recording the actions of other players through Xbox Live, no consent was made and the team made no interactions with the observed subjects.

This has been the second major study done by Michael M. Kasumovic on the effects of video games on gender roles. It was reported over the weekend of July 10, that a study by him and Thomas F. Denson found that violent video games boosted the self-esteem of women gamers.

Looks like this may explain the behavior of those affiliated with the GamerGate movements, a legion of noobs that wants to protect their masculinity by lashing out at women gamers.

Written for Digital Journal 
7/19/2015
Original Article: Study finds low skilled gamers are more likely to be sexist

Op-Ed: Ellen Pao showed why only techies should manage tech companies

In only a few months, Ellen Pao went from being the face of gender discrimination in the Silicon Valley to a symbol of censorship. While some will blame sexism, her downfall is the classic story of why tech companies should be lead by techies.

After a crackdown of controversial subreddits in a move seen as an act of censorship and the dismissal of a popular administrator, the Reddit community was demanding her resignation. After much debate and damage control, Ellen Pao stepped down as CEO of Reddit on July 10.

Given her high profile discrimination lawsuit against, many have been quick to blame sexism of the Reddit community for Pao’s resignation. However this “social justice warrior” outlook is the most fallacious specter to examine her downfall (if you could even call it that). This instead is another classic example of why the leadership of tech companies should always be in the hands of the techies and not business figures.

 In theory, a business should be led by someone with the knowledge and experience in managing a business. However the rules in Silicon Valley are different while the guidance of old Wall Street are the foundations of failure. Tech is more then just an industry that aims to just make a profit, its the basis of an innovative and progressive culture. Old Wall Street is neither progressive nor innovative but a hound seeking a quick profit without a long term goal. Looking at the rise and fall of several tech companies will show a repeated pattern of why the leadership should be in the hands of the techies.

 

Under the leadership of Bill Gates, Microsoft was both a dominating force and a leader in the tech industry. That all changed when Steve Ballmer took over and the influence of the company began to decline. During his leadership, Microsoft failed to get a foothold in the emerging consumer tech market while most of their products failed to gain traction among consumers. When Ballmer left in 2014, Microsoft is only surviving because of Microsoft Office and the Xbox game consoles.

During Microsoft’s decline, Hewlett-Packard was having its own problems under the leadership of Carly Fiorina. Known as the company that established the Silicon Valley, HP fell into dismay with a series failures, bad acquisitions along with massive layoffs. Today her legacy remains controversial as many in Silicon Valley consider her one of the worst tech CEOs.

Another tech titan that fell from grace was Electronic Arts under the leadership of John Riccitiello. EA was once a leader of innovation in the gaming world, but that all changed when Riccitiello became CEO in 2004. Thanks to a series of gimmicks in an attempt to change the concept of the gaming industry, stock prices dropped while once loyal fans made EA earn the title “Worst Company In America” two years in a row.

Pao’s failure at Reddit is exactly the same reason why Ballmer, Riccitiello and Firoina failed miserably, none of these leaders were techies. When these companies were first established and during the height of their prosperity, it was the computer engineers who held most of the leadership positions. They had executives and managers with experience in business offering guidance but it was those who had a background in technology that had the real leadership roles.

However when the leadership role was passed to those who had no real experience in tech or were more business-focused, that is when it started to go down hill. Pao is a lawyer with experience in the finance industry; she had no real credibility to lead a tech company. Ballmer and Riccitiello were only involved in the business section of their respected company, they had no real understanding of how that technology aspect functioned.

On the other side of the specter are tech companies that are changing the world while being very profitable. Yet the leadership of these companies is still in the hands of those with a strong background in technology and computer engineering.

While Microsoft prospered in the 90’s, Apple was limping under several leaders who had little to no experience in managing a tech company. Everything changed when Steve Jobs returned to transform the company he established into the iconic brand that we know today. When Tim Cook took over in 2011, he had some experiences in managing a tech company but made the strategic choice to have techies like Scott Forstall advise him. This move paid-off as Apple has continued to prosper several years after the death of its founder.

At the same time, Google grew from a search engine service to become one of the largest tech service companies in the world. Besides maintaining the most popular search engine while providing a verity of digital services, its also one of the most popular companies among employees and job seekers. Google has a reputation of encouraging innovation while highly valuing and respecting its employees. Yet its leadership has been controlled by those with a background in computer science and while the current and former CEO were at one time a computer engineer. With a combination of progressive values and ignoring the advice of old Wall Street, Google has grown to become a leader in the global tech market.

Ellen Pao is a person with many talents and plenty of opportunities in the future, however having an Ivy League education does not make someone a “Jack/Jane of all trades.” History has shown that only the techies know how to manage a successful tech company while Pao is better setting up roots in another industry that will allow her to utilize her skills and knowledge.

Written for Digital Journal 
7/11/2015
Original ArticleOp-Ed: Ellen Pao showed why only techies should manage tech companies

Op-Ed: Grand Theft Auto V removed from retailer due to guilt and slander

Sexual violence is an ugly aspect of our society that has a lasting impact on the victims. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed in society and taken seriously by the criminal justice system.

Alleging one of the greatest cultural works encourages sexual violence and then strong-arming retailers with guilt isn’t one way to bring better awareness. Unfortunately a victim of domestic violence (going by the pseudonym of Nicole) chose to take this path by circulating a petition that slandered Grand Theft Auto V than bullied Kmart and Target Australia to remove it from their shelves.

It’s important to know that at no point in Grand Theft Auto V are players asked or required to participate in acts of sexual violence. There are also no moments in the game that features the player perpetrating such a criminal act on a female non-playable character (NPC).

The petition that circulated on Change.org claimed that Grand Theft Auto Vencourages and rewards players for sexually assaulting women. Her only evidence is a YouTube video that demonstrates a players encounter with a prostitute, a trivial feature that has been available since Grand Theft Auto III.

This is has not been the first time the game has been denounced for allowing players to have interactions with prostitutes. However most critics who have denounced the content have been taken seriously in resent years. This is due to a story influenced by Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson that presents an in-depth analysis of the American Dream in a post-2008 crash society. Bickering over an insignificant content to the game gives the impression that they are too stupid to understand its literary content.

Unlike the few irrelevant critics, this petition has fooled 40,000 users and convinced many that the game “encourages kids” to participate in some acts of sexual violence. The result has been two major retailers having pulled the game and reignite a controversy that should have been dead. Worse is that Nicole has had the audacity to brag about her action while demonizing gamers.

So it should not be surprising that the gaming community has come to Rockstar’s defense by circulating another petition while denouncing Nicole’s unfounded and damaging accusation.

Many have felt that Nicole’s petition was based on her not being informed of the game’s content and story, but that is just sugar coating it.The content of the petition was not based on misinformation or a response to Gamergate but the intent to damage. This was all about Nicole wanting to advance her own political ambitions by leaching on a social issue that matters to many.

Following in the footsteps of Jack Thompson, anti-video game activist and disbarred lawyer, this has been a moral crusade based on lies to deceive the public. Adding more insult, she is constantly referring to the game as a product targeted to kids while assuming gamers are kids. This despite the fact that the average gamer is in their late 20s and the game was made for adults.

Nicole is no hero looking out for those who been the victims of sexual violence. The real heroes are those who refuse to accept what happen to them while working not only to seek justice for themselves but for others. They are also the ones who are fighting to have the law take the crime seriously while pushing for stronger punishments against rapists.

It should also be noted that Change.org needs to to be held accountable for allowing such a petition to be passed around without checking its accuracy of its claim. Was the petition actually fact checked by an admin or does any social justice warrior gets a free pass?

Sexual violence is a problem that could only be addressed by fighting for the rights of the victims to seek justice, not slandering a work of art. In the end Nicole is no hero, she is just another opportunist pushing her own political agenda on the backs of those who have been the victims of sexual violence.

Written for Digital Journal 
12/11/2014
Original ArticleOp-Ed: Grand Theft Auto V removed from retailer due to guilt and slander

‘Grand Theft Auto: Online’ mod allows players to rape others

‘Grand Theft Auto: Online’ may have been developed to allow gamers to build their own criminal empire online, but some may have take it too far by developing a mod that allows players to rape others.

This mod was developed and used by a few players trying to “troll” the games online community and is not connected or endorsed by Rockstar Games.

The mod allows the player to manipulate their character and the environment to allow them to force themselves onto other innocent players in a very sexual manner. To develop such a mod would require a player to tamper with the game engine, which could get a player banned from the servers if caught.

News of the mod was first reported by players on Reddit with the username, mrerikmattila, who reported having such an encounter with a player named DEEPER_IN_DA_ASS. The user further elaborated the encounter with Patrica Hernandez of Kotaku.

Hernandez elaborates that while such encounter are rare, there have been videos found on YouTube showing hackers sexually assaulting other players in the game. She also hints that Rockstar may need to do another round of house cleaning to crackdown on hackers who tamper with the game engine.

News of the mod has repulsed many gamers who find it to be distasteful and disturbed by the fact some one took the time to make such a program. One user stated on Kotaku, “What the hell kind of person starts playing GTA and thinks, “I wonder how I can make these characters rape each other?” Worse, what kind of person then dedicates actual time and effort to making this a reality?”

Grand Theft Auto V was released on September 17 and it has been highly praised by critics as one of the greatest games developed for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Grand Theft Auto: Online is the multiplayer feature and it went live two weeks after the games launch.

Written for Digital Journal 
08/12/2014
Original Article: ‘Grand Theft Auto: Online’ mod allows players to rape others

Kevin Spacey’s performance in ‘Call of Duty’ has generated buzz

After the official trailer for ‘Call of Duty: Advance Warfare’ was unveiled, one of the most talked about moment has been the performance of actor Kevin Spacey as the main villain.

The game will be set in a future were Private Military Companies have grown to have great influence around while one of them decides to turn against America. Spacey portrays the villainous head of a PMC and is featured delivering a monologue to the viewer about the futility of democracy.

Spacey’s performance has been well-praised by pundits in the game media while gamers have welcomed his talent to the series. In no time his name started trending on Facebook and Twitter while gamers discussed his role on websites like N4G.

Scott Watson stated on Twitter, Well damn me it’s @KevinSpacey turning up in the latest @CallofDuty game. Is there nothing this man can’t turn his hand to? Looks EPIC \o/.

Lachlan Davidson stated on Facebook, Not really a CoD fan but I’d be interested to see Spacey’s contribution to the game.

Several gamers have refereed to Spacey’s involvement as making the game feel like “House of COD” or “Call of Duty: House of Cards” (a reference to House of Cards). Luke Plunkett of Kotaku added, “If there’s one thing that could revive my interest in this most flagging of franchises, it’s by injecting a little House of Cards in it (not literally of course, that’s not Frank Underwood, but the tone and the timing of the casting says it all).

Spacey has joined the ranks of many Hollywood stars who have had a performing role in the Call of Duty series. In 2008; Gary Oldman and Kiefer Sutherland both had a major performing role in Call of Duty: World at War. Oldman returned along side Sam Worthington and Ed Harris for Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Worthington would return for Black Ops II while Harris was replaced by Michael Keaton. Meanwhile the role of Elise T. Walker in Ghosts was performed by Stephen Lang.

Call of Duty: Advance Warfare will be the eleventh game in the popular series that has sold over 100 million copies and on average has 40 million active players a month. The game is set to be released on November 4.

Written for Digital Journal

Foxconn interns alleged to have sabotaged the PlayStation 4

A forum post published by users claiming to be Foxconn interns alleged that the PlayStation 4 was deliberately mishandled and sabotaged during the manufacturing process.
Several posts about interns sabotaging the PS4 during the manufacturing process had appeared on message boards in China. These post failed to attract attention until reports emerged regarding problems with the system followed by a forum posted on IGN.com by a new user claiming to be a Foxconn intern.

The post claims that the user, “qbroid,” along with interns in the same position, made efforts to sabotage the PlayStation 4 during the manufacturing process. “qbroid” reinforces his story by also posting claims made by other interns on how they deliberately mishandled or tampered with the console.

“qbroid” states that the sabotage was done in retaliation for how Foxconn mistreated them. The post said: Since Foxconn are not treating us well, we will not treat PS4 console well.

In early October, it was reported that Foxconn was forcing student interns from the Xi’an Technical University to work overtime to assemble the PS4 or risk having their diplomas withheld. The allegations came a few days after Foxconn CEO Terry Gou stated that young people are interested in “easy and relaxing jobs” at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

Foxconn is one of the largest manufactures of electronic products with clients like Apple, Sony, and Microsoft. It has also become infamous for its labor practices and working conditions that have driven several workers to commit suicide.

Written for Digital Journal
10/7/2013
Original Article: Foxconn interns alleged to have sabotaged the PlayStation 4

Review: Umami Palo Alto is a burger joint without the burger experience

Located on University Ave., Umami Palo Alto is the newest culinary experience to come to Palo Alto by offering a new take on the classic burger.

I first learned about this place from my friend Refugio Garcia, local freelance writer and avid burger enthusiast. Having opened only a few months ago, we were down for our regular evening of beers and burgers.

For our meal we started with Truffle’em Thin Fries along with Thin Fries while for our main meal we ordered a Manly Burger and a Truffle Burger. All of this enjoyed with a few bottles of Stone Pale Ale and Coke.

Neither one of us are fans of thin fries but we did appreciated how well it was cooked and salted. The burger was exactly to my standards with quality meat that was properly marinated and grilled. Helping the flavor was the bacon, truffle cheese and mix of veggies that took me to burger nirvana.

Despite serving a perfect burger, Umami Palo Alto has a lot of issues with the atmosphere and presentation that keeps it from becoming a good burger joint.

The most obvious would have to be the “fish out of water” decor. Walk in and you will be stumped to see the place decorated with book shelf’s packed with some of the greatest works of literature. This kind of decoration may work if this was a classy coffee shop, not a burger joint.

Its understandable that they have an urge to be original and attract the Palo Alto crowd; but there is a major difference between cliche and traditional. So obviously who ever planned the theme could not tell two apart.

With its unusual choice of decorations resulted in attracting a crowd that is out of place at a real burger joint. The crowd was mostly made up of either obnoxious vegetarians or food snobs whose idea of a “good burger” can be described as blasphemous.

The next issues has to do with the poor presentation of the meal. When our burgers were served it was just a burger on an empty plate – that is it! For restaurants in Palo Alto, presentation is everything and so it comes as a total shock when such a good burger is given a very bland presentation.

Finally to top-off all that is wrong with the setting; the final nail on the coffin is the moment when you realize this burger establishment has no bar. Sure they have an good selection of beers (like every restaurant in Palo Alto) but no bar. Also fountain drinks was not an option and we were forced to pony-up $3 per soda bottle.

The service at best was mediocre as our waitress only attended to us just to take our order and to bring out our order. Also most the waiting staff gave a vibe that feels like they are Stanford students who are upset that their parents forced them to get a job and they lacked the tech skills to join a start-up.

With great burgers but an empty meal presentation and an out of touch atmosphere makes Umami Palo Alto only good for an exploration by burger enthusiast. After that its back to the many other burger joints in the area that actually have a burger atmosphere.

Final Score: 2/5

Written for Digital Journal
02/13/2013
Original Article: Review: Umami Palo Alto is a burger joint without the burger experience