Category: Papers and Essays

A paper I wrote for the class I’m taking about the Internet and how it affects popular culture. Limited to three pages, double-spaced, here is my analysis on YouTube and copyright laws.

What does it take to become an “internet celebrity”? Due to the methods of online media distribution that exist today, user-generated content can reach the masses with the greatest of ease, usually after a lot of work on the user’s behalf. However, when the law becomes involved regarding copyright issues, tensions run high between corporations, the creators of reworked media, and the fans who view these creations. This issue is the most prevalent on the largest video site on the Internet,, which is owned by Google. YouTube needs to clarify and stick to their currently vague copyright policies so that clever media creations, such as the trending practice of anime fan-dubbing, are not turned away after many hours of diligent work.

The crux of the YouTube copyright argument centers on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the idea of “fair use” in questionable media content. Established in 1998, the DMCA essentially grants the power for production companies “to demand that online content be taken off-line without due process to prove infringement” (Hilderbrand 55). The key phrase here is “without due process” – without any sort of trial of proof, YouTube is at the mercy of this law to remove the offending content without question. As YouTube’s online video services grew more and more expansive, users began to come across these types of issues, and many discrepancies and objections began to arise regarding the reasons for the content removal. While media conglomerates can point to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for solid legal backing, all that common users have to argue is the concept of “fair use,” which is an indistinct argument that really needs to be examined on a case-by-case basis. The concept of fair use started to grow in the famous VCR/Betamax case ruling, in which the definition of fair use was expanded to “reproduction of copyrighted content for educational uses–to include personal consumptive uses as a way to broaden the potential audiences for television programming and serve a broader public interest” (Hilderbrand 56). According to section 17 of the Copyright Act of 1976, however, additional facets to the fair use policy have been included, such as if the copyrighted material used would have a negative effect on its original market value, or if the amount of copyrighted material used would be considered substantial or not. At the same time, many YouTube users claim that the removal of their videos infringes on their freedom of speech, as protected by the First Amendment. While YouTube does allow users to fill out a complaint form if there are any objections to their content removal, these kinds of qualms seem to only be truly resolved at an intermittent pace, and can even be dragged out so that the user eventually gives up hope. The question remains then – how can YouTube alter their policies so that a user is more aware regarding what is or is not allowed on the website?

The solution to clarifying YouTube’s copyright policies lies in making the distinguishment clear between the forms of media that are on YouTube. Original content does not rely on any copyrighted material at all, as the media is completely provided by the user. Copied content typically relies on television broadcasting for material, as videos are put directly onto YouTube without much editing at all. Finally, appropriated material involves some copyrighted material being used for a different purpose than it was originally intended. With these distinctions, it is clear to see that YouTube has the biggest user objections regarding rulings over types of appropriated content. Machinima – a word derived from “machines” and “animation” – is an art form that has taken off on YouTube which relies on taking footage from video games and adding audio of different forms on top of it. One of the most famous examples of machinima comes from the Emmy-winning episode of South Park titled “Make Love, Not Warcraft.” In this episode, the creators took footage from the game World of Warcraft, with the help of game studio Blizzard, and created a story using that content. YouTube seems to accept this video form because users must generally create the game content themselves. However, a more recent and popular video trend has been that of the “abridged series,” which relies on shortening episodes from television while completely redoing the soundtrack, usually done through fan-dubbing. The most well-known example of this is “Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series,” created by LittleKuriboh, which parodied “Yu-Gi-Oh!” – a show about children’s card games. LittleKuriboh voiced each character and wrote humorous, original scripts to “ensure a reasonable degree of conformity among readings of the primary text,” despite relying on the original video material, which is essential for parodies of any sort (Jenkins 54). After episode one of Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged became one of the highest-rated videos on YouTube, the video website decided to pull the video, leaving the creator to be rather baffled (Billany). Over time, again with little explanation, LittleKuriboh’s YouTube page was suspended twice, causing a massive uproar amongst fans. Supporters cried out that the series was protected under fair use because it was parody and that creative outlets were being infringed upon. However, what is most bizarre is that with his new YouTube account, CardGamesFTW, LittleKuriboh has not reached the same level of popularity on YouTube, despite continuing the series. The idea that those with power online pose a threat is mirrored in South Park as well, as the powerful character must be slayed by any means necessary, even with the “Sword of a Thousand Truths.” In order to fully appease users, YouTube needs to fully distinguish what types of videos are problematic, which can only be done by taking a look at the different ways that users appropriate copyrighted media today. Some are used in outlets such as fan-dubbing, some work through machinima, and some just make poor music videos using copyrighted footage. It would be a challenge to do, but for the sake of the popular video community and copyright law, it is a step that must be taken.


Billany, Martin. “*miffed*.” Little Kuriboh’s Gran Torino. 08 Mar 2007. Live Journal. 2 Aug 2009 .

Hilderbrand, Lucas. “YouTube: Where Cultural Memory and Copyright Converge.” Film Quarterly, Vol. 61, No. 1, September 2007, pp. 48-57.

Jenkins, Henry. “Star Trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten,” in Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers. New York: New York University Press, 2006, pp. 37-60.

“Make Love, Not Warcraft.” South Park. Dir. Trey Parker. Comedy Central, 04 Oct 2006. TV.

Final paper for a video game class that I’m taking – the discussion of both narrative in video games and Metal Gear Solid 3 as the example were both of my choosing. I’ve been busy with assignments like this, so please bear in mind that we’re coming up on finals time.

“What a thrill…” – not only are these the first lyrics of the theme song to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, but it is also the way most fans of the popular video game succinctly summarize the experience it has to offer. Released in 2004 by Konami and directed by gaming auteur Hideo Kojima, MGS3 was a groundbreaking title that reached the limits of what Sony’s Playstation 2 console was capable of. At the same time, however, the title was critically acclaimed for what it brought to the table in terms of its cinematic and gameplay experience, especially regarding the game’s narrative. Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid 3 breaches most perceptions on how narrative in a video game works through the game’s historically real setting, the story’s subtextual correlations, and the player’s emotional connection to the protagonist.

One of the most intriguing things about Metal Gear Solid 3 is that it attempts to be historically accurate, which was a brand new concept for the series at the time. The original Metal Gear Solid, published for the Sony Playstation in 1998, had its events take place in 2005, while the story of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001) transpired in 2007 and 2009. Even MGS3’s successor, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008), had its story set in 2014. However, MGS3 went back in time to cover details of past events for the canon’s sake, and as a result, the game was set in 1964. The game makes you aware of this when you start the story, with text read aloud that says “After the end of World War II, the world was split into two – East and West. This marked the beginning of the era called the Cold War.” As expected of a work that dives into the intricacies of the Cold War, the primary tension in the story lies between the United States and the Soviet Union, as you traverse through the jungles of the USSR. However, when it boils down to the essence of the game, as the game’s player, we are not told that this storyline is an alternate path in time set in the Cold War era. Instead, what Hideo Kojima tries to do as director of MGS3 is make you believe that the events of the game could have theoretically occurred, but were instead covered up.

There are a few certain instances in the game where historical individuals or instances become very prevalent, typically with altered motives. Within the first ten minutes of the game, we learn that the infamous Cuban Missile Crisis was only resolved because the United States agreed to return a Russian scientist named Sokolov back to the Soviet Union. The game makes the claim that “the Jupiter IRBMs deployed in Turkey were obsolete and [the CIA was] going to get rid of them anyway” as a way to explain the “cover-up” of the resolution (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater). Later, at the beginning of the game’s second mission, a cutscene is shown which recounts a conversation between U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson and USSR premier Nikita Khrushchev. Since the public is not privy to these kinds of private discussions, there is no way to refuse that it ever happened, which only enhances the game’s compelling case. Finally, at the heart of MGS3 is the idea that political upheaval was truly in the works in the Soviet Union between the KGB and GRU factions. Americans typically associate with the KGB with terrible things, yet MGS3’s primary antagonist is one of GRU’s top colonels, who is trying to remove Khrushchev from power by obtaining a military tank developed by Sokolov called the Shagohod. Amazingly, in a politically-surprising move, the player becomes sympathetic for the KGB as the protagonist tries to quell GRU’s motives. As the story finishes, the game makes itself very self-aware, as just before the credits roll, a timeline of events scrolls, mixing in real-world events with canonical moments that preface the backstory behind the original Metal Gear Solid. However, it must be noted that before each MGS title, a disclaimer is generally shown that indicates that the story’s events are fictitious. Regardless, the player cannot help but consider what could have been, if this were the way history actually played out. MGS3 makes a bold statement trying to explain the events of the Cold War and it is this audacity that helps make it so recognized when it comes to discussing the narrative in video games.

When it comes to the subtext behind Metal Gear Solid 3, the narrative unveils many metaphors and symbolic correlations. It is nearly impossible to ignore the fact that MGS3 seems to play out like a James Bond movie. You play as “Naked Snake,” a CIA agent in the height of the Cold War who is on a stealth mission to save the world. During his quest, you encounter characters that follow typical tropes, such as the evil Colonel Volgin and the femme-fatale “EVA.” While those who are new to the Metal Gear franchise can play this game and still understand the basic plot, the game rewards the hardened series veterans with many references to the world’s canon. A prime example of this is the idea that Naked Snake eventually becomes “Big Boss,” an important character in the franchise and the villain in the original Metal Gear (1987) and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (1990) for the MSX2 home computer system. Playing a character that eventually becomes a villain, albeit a misrepresented one in the Metal Gear Solid storyline, is quite the unique experience. One could make comparisons to Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader in the recent Star Wars films. Yet, instead of watching Anakin’s fall from grace, playing MGS3 makes it seem as if you are personally responsible for Big Boss’ fall, since you were the one who controlled his actions. There is a moral dilemma that is discretely present in Metal Gear Solid 3, and while Naked Snake is a very endearing individual, knowledge of the franchise’s storyline enhances this ethical dichotomy that much more.

One of the themes that becomes highly evident when Metal Gear Solid 3 is analyzed is the concept of “scene” (Metal Gear Wiki). The first two titles in the MGS franchise generally take place inside buildings, likely because it was less demanding for the console to render these environments. However, MGS3 pushes the boundaries on the Playstation 2 by making the scene for the story primarily be the Russian jungle. After speaking with several friends who enjoy this game, they claim that MGS3 has the “best atmosphere” of any Metal Gear Solid title. With beautifully rendered environments and incredible sound design, it is easy to see why – the immersion in the game’s scene can only be perfectly expressed by actually playing it. Expanding beyond the physical interpretation of “scene,” a metaphorical one exists as well. Since the game is very political in nature by dealing with the Cold War, most characters have their own personal “scenes” or are affected by external agendas. The narrative in MGS3 stresses that when it comes to war, motivations can change very easily. Everything is relative and your enemy one day might not be your enemy the next. This could not expressed any better than through the character named “The Boss,” Naked Snake’s mentor. In MGS3’s narrative realm, The Boss is the ultimate soldier who heavily contributed to the Allies’ victory in World War II. However, soon into MGS3’s plot, The Boss defects to the Soviet Union and is eventually killed by Naked Snake, all because of the United State’s political “scene.” The Boss is by far one of the most intriguing characters in Metal Gear Solid 3, as some even make the correlation that she is a deity-like figure. The concept is relatively valid, as “her memory becomes central to the philosophy of virtually all the main characters, with the next game overtly depicting her as a Virgin Mary/goddess figure. Her final student, Naked Snake, is also featured as a Christ figure” (Ligman). The player can take what they want from the game on a subtext level, but Metal Gear Solid 3’s narrative so complex and present that it leaves itself open for deep metaphorical interpretation.

Metal Gear Solid 3 makes a tremendous case for the effectiveness of the narrative in a video game because of the player’s emotional connection to the protagonist. When one plays as Snake, he controls his actions in the jungle through a third-person perspective. Occasionally, a first-person view becomes vital to aim a weapon, but since MGS3 relies on stealth, this only truly important during boss battles. The concept behind the stealth genre generally allows for more immersion into the atmosphere because the player has to pay attention to so many details in the game space. Knowing the locations of all enemy soldiers and how they are moving is essential to beat the game on harder difficulties. In addition, MGS3 relies on a camouflage system that allows you to blend better with certain surroundings, allowing you to not be seen as easily by enemies. With these elements in mind, playing a Metal Gear Solid title in a solely first-person perspective would be a nearly impossible accomplishment. The player connects emotionally with the protagonist because he is worried about getting through the area without being spotted, because this generally ends in the player’s death. If the player messes up slightly, he is punished for it by essentially failing the mission, and he is in essence letting down Snake. However, that doesn’t mean that the player is completely limited in how he can direct the flow of the story during gameplay. Over time in the game’s story, Naked Snake faces bosses from the Cobra Unit, a group of The Boss’ creation. One of the more famous battles from the game involves an aged sniper known as “The End,” where the player has a multitude of options on how to clear the battle. While most players end up facing The End in a long, brutal sniper battle, there is also the option to wait or set the system’s clock forward seven days, in which The End would die of old age. Also, there is a brief moment in the game where The End can be seen before your battle with him, and one sniper shot to the head would kill him. Hideo Kojima has a track record of putting small easter eggs of this sort in his games, in order to have the player feel like they are synchronically involved in the game’s world and narrative while they play. In this style, a connection to the game’s protagonist is forged that generally is not present in other third-person titles because of the minute margin of error and the intense level of immersion that the gameplay has to offer.

In regards to what MGS3 has to offer in terms of the entire narrative experience, gameplay is only a fraction of what the title consists of. The Metal Gear Solid games are well-known for having some of the longest and most intricate plot-driven cutscenes in video game history and its third title is no exception. Some game theorists may argue that this is the franchise’s biggest weakness, claiming that “There is an attempt to create friction between the various characters but by their very comic-book nature it’s hard to sympathize with them and so engage with the dialogue” (Rowlings). However, the cinematic offering the game displays truly sets it apart from other games because it has to be done in order to tell the complex character relationships with other individuals, as well as with the world the game is set in. Cutscenes like this certainly make the narrative progression diachronic, but at certain times, MGS3 gives the player the option of pressing a button on the controller to see through Snake’s perspective. Whether this is giving an alternate camera angle as Snake peers around the corner, or if it is amusing in nature, such as when Snake is caught ogling at EVA’s chest, these varying angles not only enhance the immersiveness of the player as the protagonist, but it also allows for the player to participate in the cinematic scenes. With these cutscenes, MGS3 supports the narratology school of thought, in that “games should be held up next to other forms of narrative media and that while games and movies are two different things, [there are] significant similarities and differences between the two” (Thecatamites). Since these sequences are so similar to a movie, we cannot help but participate emotionally in the character arc that Naked Snake goes through. In the moment where Naked Snake loses functionality in one of his eyes just to save EVA’s life, we understand and can feel the sacrifice he made just for her. Equally so, when he fulfills his mission by killing his mentor The Boss, realizes that EVA is really a Chinese spy who has been using him, and then learns of the American government’s role behind why The Boss had to give her life, Naked Snake surely feels a deep and terrible sense of betrayal. As he stands in front of The Boss’ grave, giving a salute with tears in his eyes, it is easy to see why this scene typically ranks highly on a compilation of a gamer’s most emotional moments in a video game. With its powerful emotional moments, Metal Gear Solid 3 goes above and beyond in using the narrative to tear at our heartstrings by making us feel like we are attached to the protagonist in both synchronic gameplay and diachronic cutscenes.

Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid 3 consistently ranks among the best video games of all time primarily for what does in defining how a narrative can function in a video game. It can emulate real-life events such as the Cold War, making you believe as if this alternate reality really occurred. The narrative can also provide many symbolic correlations through its subtext, whether it boils down to tragic character arcs or heavy thematic content. Finally, a game’s story can create powerful ties between the player and the protagonist, even if a third-person perspective is used, simply because of the emotional ride the plot provides. In all of these aspects, MGS3 is one for the ages – it is almost no wonder why fans look back and can only say “What a thrill.”


Ligman, Kris. “The Women of Metal Gear Solid (Part 3).” The Hathor Legacy. 27 Jan 2009.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Dir. Hideo Kojima. Perf. David Hayter. PS2 DVD. Konami, 2004.

Metal Gear Wiki. “Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater” Metal Gear Wiki. 5 Mar 2009.

Rawlings, Tomas. “Narrative and Interactivity.” Game Research. 23 Oct 2006.

Thecatamites. “Narrative and Videogames.” Gaming World. 14 Sep 2008.

Something that I might be helping a fan of “WTF, Pokémon” with for a Youtube video series of his…

So I guess I’m supposed to comment on the first generation of Pokémon games for the Game Boy for Phil here. Sure, Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow defined a generation of gamers here in the United States, but let’s throw Yellow out of the mix temporarily. On February 27th, 1996, Pocket Monsters Red and Green were released in Japan, but that’s not what this retrospective is about either. Although I must say I’ve always found the idea of Pokémon Green intriguing. But I guess that’s why they made an homage to it with the Game Boy Advance re-releases in 2004, right?

Anyway, Pokémon Red and Blue were launched nearly simultaneously with the English anime on September 30th, 1998. Frankly, the Game Boy and the gaming culture as a whole wouldn’t know what hit it. In hindsight though, it’s clear why to see why the idea was so popular and why the games still hold a special place in fan’s hearts today. You explore an entire world through a third-person perspective as you encounter 151 different varieties of creatures, all the while trying to build the strongest team of creatures possible so your protagonist can be the best trainer in the land. Creator Satoshi Tajiri took his childhood love of insect collecting and turned into…bloodsport combat of these insects or something, but whatever, let’s get into the meat of these games.

Let’s bring something vital to Pokémon’s localization to the forefront – everyone remembers the slogan “Gotta Catch ‘Em All.” No, I’m not trying to make a pun about everyone’s favorite anime hero Ash Ketchum, 4Kids already went and shot that one to hell. However, if you think about it, catching each Pokémon type has NEVER been the ultimate goal in the games. This can be elaborated with other games later, but were you ever rewarded for completing your Pokédex because you’re Professor Oak’s good little bitch? Sure, you got the recognition amongst your friends and maybe it boosted your self-esteem a little bit, but there was no inherent, in-game reward for following the company slogan of “catching ‘em all.” Plus, with the onset of Datel’s Gameshark device, it was no longer challenging to fill up that encyclopedia of creatures. The biggest joke of completing your Pokédex legally was obviously the starter Pokémon. See, in Red/Blue there was no such thing as Pokémon MATING, so that meant that say if your friend’s Bulbasaur evolved into Ivysaur and you didn’t trade for the Bulbasaur for it to register in your Pokédex, you were FUCKED. Find a new friend, because it was game over in that scenario. I mean, the different Pokémon that varied between the two versions were easy to trade for, but hell, it was hard enough to find people who had Vaporeon. I mean, he’s the best first-generation variation of Eevee for battle in my opinion, but Jolteon and Flareon were SO much cooler looking. And let’s be honest, that’s what our ten-year-old minds went for at the time.

But no, that’s not what the game was really about, despite the infamous motto. Even though I did legally fill up my Pokémon Blue Pokédex, thank you very much. No, it was all about defeating the Elite Four at the Pokémon League. Along the way you had to face Gym Leaders and use your team to battle your way to victory. So let’s talk about the battling for a bit. Gotta say, this was genius on the creator’s behalf. You’ve gotta love how there’s a set of checks and balances between the different types of Pokémon. Although the battling system would grow over time with each game in the series, this was a fantastic springboard. However, understanding how the different types worked with each other is a MUST if you are going to excel at this game. And while a lot of them make sense logically, some of them just don’t. Bug moves against psychic? Dragon super effective against dragon? Something you have to memorize, I guess.

How about those Gym Leaders, though? You’ve got Brock, a rock trainer who you’ll never look at the same after the anime. Misty, the water leader…well same thing as Brock, actually. Lt. Surge puts a charge in you after you figure out some lame trash can puzzle. Erika tries to hide inside her girly gym, then you take on her grass Pokémon. Sabrina was a bitch to find after her psychic teleportation puzzle that drove you nuts. Koga had you working around invisible walls that were actually secretly visible before he used his poison Pokémon. Blaine tried to heat things up after you answered really easy trivia questions. And then Team Rocket boss Giovanni used his Ground Pokémon after you were slip-sliding around just like the Celadon Game Corner. And wait, TIME OUT. What happened to the Soul and Marsh badges? Did they just decide to trade names in the anime? Oh well, that always goes down in infamy among the hardcore fans.

You’ve got some great locations in these games. Get lost in Viridian Forest, visit some graves in Lavender Town, gamble a bit in Celadon City, visit a corporation in Saffron City, and…go for a sea ride on the right coast of Cinnabar. All right, seriously, it’s a must to touch on this. This game had several glitches, real or fake, that it was simply hilarious. The MissingNo cheat has long gone down in the annals of video game history as one of the most famous glitches of all time. Talk to the old man in Viridian City who teaches you how to catch a Pokémon, have him go through his spiel, fly to Cinnabar Island, surf up and down the right side of the island until you encounter MissingNo, then run. Your sixth item in your inventory will be duplicated at least a hundred-fold. CLASSIC. You’d also run into some ridiculously high level Pokémon that depended on the name of your trainer, so you’d have to be wary of that too. I came across level 132 Snorlaxes, but I’ve seen others come across Magnemites and Clefables…it’s crazy, I know. There were rumors of Bill’s Secret Garden that were squandered, there were people who legitimately caught Mew in-game, and people actually called Marill “Pikablu” for a while before his identity was known…I wish I were kidding you on the last one. But you’ve got to love some of the nostalgia this game has to offer.

The music is absolute gold. The Elite Four and Champion battles were epic. What’s not to love about the original? So why not make another one that tried to piggy-back off the anime in some fashion? Well, Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition made a splash on October 1st, 1999 in North America, in which you started with Pikachu as he followed you around. That’s right, just like Ash! You could “talk” to him to gauge his mood, and while they really tried to make this work, it just didn’t blow most people over. In addition, Jessie, James, and Meowth make special appearances when you encounter Team Rocket, so you could tell that the developers were trying too hard to take stuff from the anime. Now, if only Misty and Brock followed you around and you could just get pity badges from the first two gyms, then it’d be officially a rip-off. You could find original starters Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle in unique situations, so you could have all three to train, thus eliminating a main gripe of mine with Red/Blue.

By now, Pokémon Mania was really setting in, so Pokémon Yellow was one of the hottest-selling handheld games of its time. It met very high review marks, even higher than the strong grades Red/Blue achieved. So sure, you can tease about how silly some of the Pokémon looked – like how Raticate was so useless, training a Magikarp made you want to cry, and that Voltorb was the least inspired creation ever – but you can’t say enough GREAT things about these masterpieces. One thing is for sure – the Pokémon franchise would not be where it is today without its Red, Blue, and Yellow games.

A midterm paper that I had to write for my TV Theory class – thought it’d be relevant with digital media, YouTube, and the like…

If there was anything that the Obama presidential campaign yearned for in 2008, it was that we as a nation were beginning an era of change. As we see how our lives can be improved and altered, our eyes first land on the digital media industry. With the internet and all its possibilities, new devices with technological advances, and how television can be affected by these things, it is easy to see how the world is changing. For example, President Obama’s decision to post his weekly addresses to the nation on is one facet that symbolizes the change that is upon our nation. The choice to begin YouTube addresses is an ideal one because it expands the speech’s target audience, leaves the address concept open for growth, and accepts the booming digital media industry.

The decision to post weekly presidential addresses on helps to grow the intended audience and spread President Obama’s word further. When President Roosevelt began his now-famous “fireside chats,” these radio events were occurrences that could not be missed. However, in today’s fast-paced world, the radio has taken a back seat to the power of the internet. People often do not have time to catch events as they air live on the radio. The same holds true for television, hence the staggering success of the digital video recorder. To have President Obama’s addresses archived as public assess on the internet is just like having his spoken word saved on a digital video recorder. However, this stored footage loses its sense of “liveness” that it would usually carry on the radio or television. The idea “that the time of the event corresponds to the transmission and viewing times” (Feuer 14) is lost, yet the address’ accessibility allows more individuals to hear its message.

Not only are YouTube addresses a fantastic idea for greater exposure to the general public, but this move is also ideal for catching the attention of younger Americans. With a simple look at YouTube’s user base, a surprising amount consists of adolescents and those in their early twenties. These are individuals who will make a difference in the world one day, and with the expansiveness of the internet, people are becoming more and more accustomed to spending time in cyberspace. For as many random videos and blogs that are out there, surely a presidential video blog should get enough exposure for it to make a positive impact on the younger generation. An individual such as President Obama has already made a difference in many people’s lives and perhaps by reaching out to the cyber-community, the affected population could drastically increase. By targeting both the younger, internet-focused community as well as those who would not typically attend a live weekly address, the presidential YouTube addresses are a wise move to get President Obama’s word out to the masses.

By selecting YouTube as the home of the presidential weekly addresses, there is potential to expand the fireside chats into something greater by using the website’s resources. The ability for users to “subscribe” to a YouTube channel gives people the chance to closely follow the media that the White House puts out. The White House’s channel (“YouTube – whitehouse’s Channel”), where not only the weekly addresses are posted, but also where related videos such as President Obama’s recent speech to Congress are uploaded, currently has approximately 25,000 subscribers. If you compare this with the channel’s 250,000 channel views, it is reasonable to say that the channel needs more exposure, when one of the most popular Youtube channels, “Fred,” has about 880,000 subscribers and 208,000,000 views all-time (“YouTube – Fred’s Channel”). While it is astounding how so many people can find a kid who edits his videos to talk in a high-pitched voice so amusing, it is also shocking that the internet community has not fully embraced such a diligent effort to inform the American public on the events occurring in Washington, D.C.

The possibility to expand the weekly addresses into something bigger lies in the potential of user feedback. Even though the White House is embedding the YouTube videos on their own website (“Your Weekly Address”), allows for users to comment with text and respond in video form to other user’s videos. Unfortunately, the cyberspace phenomenon known as “trolling” often rears its ugly head on YouTube videos, especially when they center on controversial issues such as politics. On President Obama’s latest video, people have posted several hateful comments, but YouTube fortunately has adopted a community-moderation policy as a result where users can rate comments and potentially remove them (“2/28/09: Your Weekly Address”). These “trolls” see no repercussion in badmouthing the president, claiming free speech as they hide behind their cyber-identities. However, there are those who provide positive feedback, which could yield to possibilities in making the weekly addresses a very positive experience for the American people. The presidential addresses could be more entertaining, adding to its televisuality, if President Obama responded to certain questions or responses that other users had from his previous address. Not only would this give the president a more personable side to the public, but users would feel honored to have their response personally addressed by such an important figure. The only drawback is that it would take more time to fish through the video’s comments, something that those working at the White House might not have, especially if the channel gains more popularity. However, this change would not only redefine what the weekly address is for the better, but if it is done properly, it could portray the White House in a very positive light. By responding to positive user feedback and making the most of YouTube’s “subscriber” feature, the weekly presidential addresses could become something much more important to the American people than it is currently.

The most important facet of the White House’s shift of putting the weekly presidential addresses on is that they are embracing the booming digital media industry. The first step of this acceptance process was accomplished by understanding the power of streaming video. By making the weekly speech a video blog, President Obama has more presence compared to the radio addresses of the past and even President Bush’s addresses that were put in audio podcast form (“Internet Archive Wayback Machine”). Critics and citizens alike can analyze President Obama’s facial inflections and other minor visual details as he delivers his monologue, something that was not possible before. Radio and other audio-only forms were unique in the sense that viewers only had the sound to listen to, but with video, the entire package is intact. This could be seen as ontological, as it cannot be denied that radio is lacking video, but it is also ideological in how the varying mediums can change the intent of the president’s words. By using the ease of accessibility that lies in digital video, more information is transferred to the public than what would have been possible with audio alone.

The next process that had to be completed for the White House was to select a host for their video files. By choosing YouTube to host the official video blog of the President of the United States, an intriguing dichotomy was formed. On one hand, YouTube is undeniably the leader in video hosting on the internet. Other hosting sites such as Revver, DailyMotion, and Veoh can hardly even compare with the number of website hits that YouTube accrues daily. The White House would gain the most exposure by choosing this route, which is the most similar to a mass media source like radio or television that they could achieve at this point in time. Contrarily, something has to be said for the national government backing a corporation as powerful as Google, who owns If any corporation is close to gaining any semblance of a “cyber-monopoly,” it is Google, whose company has become a household name and verb synonymous for “searching online.” A government backing could only enhance Google’s power online, which could potentially be as dangerous as a typical corporate monopoly in the business world. However, this could also lead the government to understanding how important the internet is to the framework of society. A greater understanding of the cyber-community could lead to development of resources online not just for Google, but also for websites everywhere. Up until now, the internet has become as massive media form primarily on its own, with governments and top companies all over the world only seeming to take advantage of it with their own websites, instead of trying to encourage its development. With the White House essentially partnering itself with Google, it could yield dangerous results in terms of corporate balance in cyberspace, but it also shows that the government is placing their interests in the internet as a media form. By embracing this industry, the government has the potential to advance cyber media into the future with a powerful backing.

When President Obama started his “vlog,” or video blog, when he was a presidential candidate, not only was change imminent politically, but there was always the potential for change on the media front. The decision to have the weekly presidential addresses on YouTube was the perfect choice because it reaches a larger target audience, allows the concept to have future growth, and embraces the flourishing digital media industry. Even though these addresses don’t follow the live TV formula, President Obama has more presence because of this unique format of address, not to mention that there is potential for enhanced televisuality. It will be intriguing to see how future presidents adapt this video blog address format, but we can only now postulate what its long term effects will be.


“2/28/09: Your Weekly Address.” YouTube. 28 Feb 2009. Google. 1 Mar 2009 .

Feuer, Jane. “The Concept of Live Television: Ontology as Ideology.” Regarding Television (1983): 12-22.

“Internet Archive Wayback Machine.” Internet Archive: Wayback Machine. 06 Mar 2008. Internet Archive. 1 Mar 2009 .

“Your Weekly Address.” The White House. 28 Feb 2009. The White House. 1 Mar 2009 .

“YouTube – Fred’s Channel.” YouTube. 28 Feb 2009. Google. 1 Mar 2009 .

“YouTube – whitehouse’s Channel.” YouTube. 28 Feb 2009. Google. 1 Mar 2009 .

My first paper for this “Video Games as Culture/Form” class I’m taking. The assignment was to pick a pre-1985 game or system and compare the how the history is told about it between different sources. I selected the arcade title Dragon’s Lair from 1983…

Your Quest Awaits: Dragon’s Lair

Do something different and you’ll get noticed. It is an idea that has been repeated time and time again with great success in business, and it was no different in 1983 with arcade game developer Cinematronics. In a time where heavily-pixilated art made up the majority of the graphics in games, Dragon’s Lair stood out significantly for all the things it did differently. While several things lead to the game’s lack of success, both gaming enthusiasts and game developers praise Dragon’s Lair for the steps it took in a growing industry.

When video game industry was still trying to establish itself as an unshakeable industry back in 1983, imagination was vital when pouring quarters into the arcade machines. With the technology at the time, gamers had to imagine that the pixels on the screen were making logical shapes and that the rudimentary sound effects were sufficient in providing the proper atmosphere fore the experience. Then, out of the blue on a tremendous laserdisc, came Dragon’s Lair, a title that has since gone down in history. The tale of Dirk the Daring’s quest to save the princess Daphne infatuated gamers before Mario ever chased after Princess Peach, but the story wasn’t all that was enticing. It certainly didn’t hurt that the game played as what would essentially be known today as an “interactive cutscene,” which was drawn by Disney animator Don Bluth. This made the game look and sound much better than what arcade-goers were used to at the time, so the title was all the more appealing.

So many fans were allured to the game because of its originality and have since bonded over their adoration of Dirk’s adventure. This has resulted in the fan website known as Dragon’s Lair (Biordi). Most of these enthusiasts show their devotion to the game by posting in forums, sharing advice on how to assemble the specialized cabinets that the game requires, and showing off their impressive retro gaming setups. In this sense, video games are seen as objects to collect to these individuals. The discussion is mostly fueled by either the technology behind the laserdisc player interacting with the cabinet or making plans to meet up at arcades, all for the appreciation of the game. To these players, the criticisms regarding Dragon’s Lair go unnoticed, but they honestly wouldn’t have it other way.

Such criticisms of the title mostly center around either the demand that the laserdisc put on the system or the limited amount of actual gameplay. Since the game was not hardwired into the machine’s circuit board, the disc would at times wear out and even cause the laserdisc player to break because of the way the data would be read by the laser. In addition, “when a player protests a seemingly correct move ending in one of many death scenes, a swift kick or jostle of the game easily knocks the disc player out of alignment, rendering the game inoperable until it is repaired” (Ummagumma). Having a very expensive machine broken certainly did not help things financially, as the game brought in “around $1400 a week, about 80 times the amount of a conventional game at the time” (Ummagumma). This might be because the game was so notorious for requiring such precision when the player actually got to provide input to keep the game going. This lack of deep interaction along with the needed cost to able to play an arcade game meant it was better for some to just watch from the theoretical sidelines.

In ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics magazine, software developer Glen D. Fraser sees Dragon’s Lair as a game that was ahead of its time. By looking at the title for its real-time, interactive storytelling, it is not surprising to see why some call Dragon’s Lair and other video games works of art. Fraser has a personal history with Dirk the Daring’s expedition, as he recalls how the game’s “constraints allowed it to use a much more compelling “look” to tell its story” (14). In this sense, games are seen as an art form because of what makes them different from other forms of fine art. In a game, one is accompanied with a visual stimulus and is required to have a direct correlation with it that generally affects the result of the game. Film, television, and other forms of visual media don’t require such a personal investment from the spectator. In fact, sometimes games can be seen on a similar plane with movies, and Dragon’s Lair is no exception. Fraser believes that, at the time he wrote this magazine article, that video games were slowly approaching movies in terms of being able to artistically tell stories. However, “Filmmakers have a century of history and experience in telling stories in that non-interactive, viewpoint-controlled medium. There are major challenges to overcome once the viewer becomes an active participant and/or camera operator” (Fraser 15). As a game developer, Glen Fraser might have a slight bias with this perspective, but seeing how games have progressed in the ten years since the article, it becomes easier to see this viewpoint becoming more of a reality.

For as technology-driven and game-breaking of a title as it was back then, Dragon’s Lair has had several spinoffs and effects in the video game industry today. Dragon’s Lair not only spawned a sequel called Space Ace, after a boost in the game’s budget, but the original quest of Dirk the Daring was ported to several home consoles once console gaming took root in the industry. Unfortunately, one of the most infamous of these spinoffs landed on the Nintendo Entertainment System, where it would eventually come to be lambasted by the internet sensation known as the Angry Video Game Nerd. To sum up his confusion over how poor the port his, he asks “Have you ever played a game where the basic controls differ depending on which side of the screen you’re standing on?” (Rolfe). Pitiful spinoffs aside, in today’s gaming world, most analysts would claim that a well-fleshed-out narrative is essential to the success of a major title. Dragon’s Lair is arguably the first title to have the narrative be the primary focus of a video game and it has influenced many other titles since then because of its story-driven attention. A recent series that has taken this especially to heart is Metal Gear Solid, where the player completes a stealth mission in which the gameplay roughly equally splits time with cutscenes explaining the highly-intricate narrative. As games attempt to be more film-like in the future with their storyline structure, one must remember the laserdisc game that really started it all.

Dragon’s Lair has always been defined as a game that was different. Its graphics and sound were unlike anything in a video game at the time. The format in which it was played on was a technology that had not been fully established at that time. Finally, its narrative-intensive style was something that would set the bar high for other games in the future. Even though it had its setbacks along the way, fans of Dragon’s Lair and gaming developers recognize the bold steps the title took. After all, it certainly got noticed just for doing things differently.


Biordi, Bruno. Dragon’s Lair Fans. 24 Jan 2008. 29 Jan 2009 .

Fraser, Glen. “Real-time interactive storytelling.” ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Nov 2000: 14-16.

Rolfe, James. “2007 Videos.” 25 Mar 2008. 29 Jan 2009 .

Ummagumma. “Coin-Op Video Game History.” The Dot Eaters. 29 Jan 2009 .

Do you think being a well-known name on the internet helps you socially in everyday life? Here’s what I think – brace yourself for a long read. I’ll fix the long-ness of it on the fansite when I find out how to do a break.

As we take steps further into the future, we have to face the reality that the way we communicate is changing. Sure, those whose ages are hitting double-digits through those who have joined the workforce within the past five years or so are realizing how much the digital age is upon us. However, beyond that, there are MILLIONS of people that are still ignorant of how important of a role the world of cyberspace currently plays. For example, when I came back home from college for Thanksgiving, I was catching up with one of my uncles. Our conversation opened my eyes to those who are still accustomed to ways of old and are slowly making changes to today’s technologies.

“So what are you up to? What are you studying and what do you plan on doing with that degree?”
“Well, I’m a film student, and I’m really passionate about going into post-production – you know, editing, and all that. However, outside of class, I’ve been personally studying how cyber-media plays a role in today’s society.”
“Now, what do you mean by…cyber-media?”
“Hmm…here’s an example. See your DVR over there?”

Ignoring the fact that the Digital Video Recorder was at that point receiving digital input of the Detroit Lions laying an egg on Thanksgiving Day, it was an example that rung clearly with my uncle, who to his credit is an impeccably sharp man in his fifties. After he pointed out that there are times where it is very helpful to record your favorite shows and watch them later, I made the point that there are websites that put up television programs shortly after they air, essentially eliminating the need at times for a DVR or even television as we know it itself. People are getting their news through online sources such as blogs instead of picking up the paper or watching the local news program. There are vast communities such as Youtube, where videos of all kinds, some of those being television programs or films, are shared with others worldwide. On top of that, files are traded in peer-to-peer networks, so people can own copies (albeit illegal ones) of their favorite pieces of media. People of this generation cannot deny the impact these internet-driven phenomena have had on today’s society. That is the power of cyber-media. That is the power of the INTERNET and how it can change everything.

What role do I play in this, though? What role do YOU play in the power of the internet?

Chances are that if you are reading this, you likely have what is generally known as an “internet persona.” If people identify you through some internet moniker or nickname you have given yourself, as opposed to your given birth name, then you have an “internet persona.” This sense of who you are is defined and molded once you log in and participate socially in cyber-communities. It is what you have done online that either grants you a big, small, positive, or negative persona. Your persona is highly dependent on how others perceive you and this second personality does not necessarily reflect who you are outside of cyberspace. Interactions in the realm of the internet can certainly change lives however, whether for the best or worst. I am writing to attest how the internet community has altered my life and changed my social interactivity, whether I like it or not. Is it something I want to change or am I OK with being this persona in cyberspace? I guess I’ll have to keep writing to find out.

If you are reading this on my personal blog, then you likely know me by the name “Youko,” which, you guessed it, is my internet persona. Well, I’m known by either that or SMYNYouko, for things such as Xbox Live or Youtube. But let’s just go with Youko for right now. I’m not here to talk about what I’ve accomplished on the internet, what I have done to shape this online persona, or any of that. While I may mention things to prove my points, and it is possible that a future writing might involve “how to become a known figure on the internet,” that’s not what this entry here is about. And if you want to know when I’ll be releasing something, whether it’s a podcast or a video, again, this is not the kind of entry for that. But if you’re here for a critical look into how internet communities can shape social interactions, primarily how mine has been affected, then you’ve come to the right place. So sit down, grab a hot drink and get cozy. Looking at the snow outside gives me chills just looking at it.

All right, fine, I’ll do some brief self-plugging as a background. For the past year and a half, I’ve built this “internet persona” through a podcast called “Show Me Your News,” a video series called “WTF, Pokémon,” and being a moderator for Smashboards, the primary source regarding the competitive scene for Super Smash Bros. games. Now that that is over with, let the self-critiquing begin. I decided to get involved with the Smashboards community as an out from the anxiety/depression I was going through regarding a four-year relationship being grounded swiftly to a halt. Again, I won’t recap it, so go read it here if you care for the backstory. Since then, my life has been all about my studies, my friendships I’ve met through my studies, and the building and sustaining of this internet personality known as “Youko.” While I wonder every day how I will know when I’m ready to put myself back “out there on the market” in the real world because of that pain, there is a huge social wall that I seem to consistently run into.

I do not know how many of those reading this are in college, but let me spell something out that I’ve found to be quite clear. Other collegiate students can agree with me if they wish, but if there’s one thing I’ve discovered time and time again lately, it is this: The party scene is THE PRIMARY SOCIAL ATMOSPHERE in college. Now, I’ve been raised as a goody-goody all my life, and I’m proud of how my parents brought me up. Drinking has never been my thing and I have never had any alcohol, aside from communal wine at church. Because of this, I’ve always been taught to stay away from the party scene, and it’s just something I choose to do. There is nothing wrong with being clean and never trying any drugs, and in fact, I’ve been told by acquaintances online that they look up to “Youko” as a role model because of this. This is flattering and all, but I’ve been having doubts lately of how this clean lifestyle and this busy internet persona have affected me socially in college. Has it stunted my growth as a person, not being able to fully experience what it’s like to be a college student? Because I can tell you with 100% certainty that the “college films” portraying rampant drinking, sexual encounters, and the like have been the complete opposite of my “college experience.”

Look, I could defend the benefits of being well-versed on the internet, tooth and nail. Technology and cyberspace will be the way of the future, so how does it not help to stay up to date on digital information? To build a positive internet persona on an online community means you know how to politely deal with strangers and those that want to cause trouble. To produce media for an online community teaches you organization, fan management, product solicitation, and much more. Being in a position of power in a community teaches you how to be judicial, although I like to often say that it gives you a slight sense of cyber-masochism because of how much nonsense and torment you are consistently put through. All in all, having a strong online persona gives you confidence and improves your self-esteem because you are seen by people as a positive force in that community. However, what if it just doesn’t seem to make the transition to the real world?

I have found that even being at a college such as the University of Michigan, a school heralded for exceedingly bright minds, does not exempt you from typical social norms. Gamers and those astute with technology are on the outside looking in. Always. In online communities, we have unfortunately been made to believe that we are accepted in a social micro-chasm of what we perceive to be society, when it is in fact only others like ourselves. The unfortunate fact is that the majority of people, especially collegiate students, only see the internet as something that only centers on e-mail and Facebook. One is often ostracized for being involved in something so unique in cyberspace and it’s ironic for a guy’s perspective – women are naturally attracted to positions of power, but try telling her that you have a position of power on an internet forum. The subject matter forum is generally optional, but she likely will ask – but so help you if you say video games or anything that reflects the so-called “nerd culture.” It’s not something I’m not going to try and I wouldn’t suggest it on anyone. Or maybe it’s just that my position is so strange.

Most of us have our reasons for placing our roots in online communities and I see my path as one of social retreat. I retreated to Smashboards because I needed a place to find acceptance after life’s cruel ways regarding relationships decided to spurn me. I could have gone down an endless path of drugs and alcohol, but that goes completely against the way I was raised. It is this scruple that I’ve held onto so tightly that has repulsed me from the party scene in college, only leading me to yield to my internet persona even more. Moreover, I feel that the self-resistance when it comes to considering relationships again stems from the development of my online persona. Creating something in cyberspace and fostering its growth is VITALLY DEPENDENT on considering what others think of it. When you consistently try keeping fans happy of your work and who you are, an expression of your soul, an uncertainty grows regarding rejection. Transfer this rejection worry into everyday life and TA-DA, you have the reason why it is stereotypical for every man to be scared of putting himself out there and asking a woman out. I wish I could say that I was past all that after all that I learned from my previous relationship, but I sometimes wonder if building a positive internet persona has regressed who I am in some way.

I won’t say that everything that has come from being “Youko” online has been a failure. That would be ridiculous. I’ve learned a lot of skills that will help me in a professional life later down the road. I’ve made friends on the internet from all walks of life and locations. That alone has given me great perspective on how to deal with people and to learn how to listen to everything they have to say. If I were to put myself “back on the market,” if you will, I feel that I would have the confidence to feel good about myself. As one of my roommates told me, “you have to believe that they will be DAMN lucky to be with you.” If I already feel these things about myself, am I just borrowing this from my deeply-set internet persona, or is it something else? No, I’ve handled a relationship before; I know what it takes to sustain something like that, maybe even more so than most people. Maybe the problem is not just how my personality in cyberspace has been formed, perhaps it lies in the constructs of society as well. Perhaps it lies in what is expected socially of the typical college student.

I should really wrap things up before this becomes overtly long-winded. To those of you that have relationships in high school, do not EVER take them for granted. If you are going to different schools at the end of your high school career, you better brace yourself for the possibility of that relationship ending. I wouldn’t recommend a long-distance relationship to anyone, from personal experience, and if you’re maintaining one at the moment, you are a stronger and luckier person than I ever will be. I don’t think I’ll even consider a long-distance relationship again with the way I’ve been hurt. If you’re in a relationship past your high school career…I could say so many things, but I think it’s all been said? I know some of you who are married and say that you just have to wait for the person who’s meant for you. I think I’m just at an impasse regarding how I go about finding those TYPES of people.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read): You are hindered socially in college if you do not yield to the party scene, making things rather frustrating. Building an “internet persona” can help you in many ways, but one should be wary of how much they put into building and maintaining one. Maintaining a positive identity in an online community is dependent on having others perceive you in a positive light. If this worry about what others think about you transfers, you could be in a compromising position.

I have to find out how to feel good about myself socially this break before the semester starts up again. So help me. And fuck you, parties. Any feedback or suggestions are welcome.