Social Media and Digital Design

624 words | 3 page(s)

Social media and video games are two of the most prominent representations of the new media. Their effects on human communication, for example, in terms of language, however, are still open to debate, in so far as the newness of these media clearly means that all their potential repercussions can only be speculated upon. In her article “5 ways that social media benefits writing and language”, Mallary Jean Tenore identifies a growing consciousness of mistaken language use, the possibility to write differently than others, an emphasis on “short writing”, the importance of change and the invention of new words and meanings as some of the immediate benefits of the social media relation. Certainly, some of these points appear entirely evident: for example, new words and meanings are growing at an exponential rate because of widespread social media. Namely, more people are writing and having their voices heard because of this media, and each of these individuals and communities have their own “take” on how language. In addition, as Tenore points out, this imbues our language use with new potentials of creativity. While all the effects of social media on language may not be entirely positive – for example, poor grammar –, from another perspective social media reminds us that language is a type of living organism, constantly growing, a point that Tenore underscores is one of the strengths of the new social media. In this creative sense, social media does have a positive effect on language.

This newness, however, appears to be somewhat mitigated when considering video game writing. Namely, in this genre, an emphasis on traditional forms of narrative and stories are what remain compelling. This has not been changed over time – a video game with an engaging and magnetic storyline will draw the gamer into its world. Accordingly, strong characters, consistent plots and themes remain as important to video games as they did to ancient mythology. In this sense, video games are texts and even traditional narratives, something that make them surprisingly much more conservative than social media’s new forms of communication. Social media, in other words, takes communication itself as its highest value: social media such as twitter emphasize the speed and succinctness of delivered content. The content is not what is important in Twitter, but instead the form, as McLuhan stated, the “medium is the message.” Namely, Twitter’s message is that in the digital age what defines communication is its democratic qualities, in other words, that everyone can have their voice heard and networks of communities can be formed. This democracy of voices is accompanied by the speed of the medium in the form of instant communication. The video game in this sense is entirely different: it needs a carefully thought out story to be truly compelling and for this reason the content is decisive, which means the video game writer is decisive, just like an author of a book is decisive. Thus, the successful 2014 role playing Bravely Default ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voh6NEpwEVY ) is an example of how traditional forms of narration remain crucial to the success of video games.

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The story is a somewhat typical RPG narrative about saving the world and magical elements, however, it differentiates itself from other RPGs through the very specific nature of its characters and plot. Furthermore, the way in which the digital elements such as graphics work with the narrative create an all-immersive plot which engages the gamer. Digital decisions on how the game should look, in other words, are determined by the nature of the story one is telling. In this sense, the traditional nature of video games makes them radically different than social media: content is crucial in video games, whereas form is decisive in social media.

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