Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gaming for change

Getting your message across is like getting Australia's Murray-Darling River to flow – there are so many competing issues across many organisations and media. To cut through, advocacy groups are turning to online games. Mcvideogame was created to show all of McDonald’s alleged dirty secrets – the game includes taking the cows to slaughter and force feeding them GM foods. Disaffected! puts the player in the role of employees forced to serve customers under the dire circumstances apparently common to a Kinko’s copy store. Australia has the awful ability to boast one of the first racist online games, called Cronulla First, promoted by the fascist Australia First Party. What will be next? Maybe “Dodge the Drought”, where city slickers can save their virtual farm. Or maybe “Boiler Suit Larry” where Australians race to dig up and export precious metals and minerals from around the country to keep the economy on track. Game play can be a good way to help people understand the complexities of economic and social systems so no doubt there is more to come.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Do the proposed media laws matter?

All Australian media have been busy with discussions on proposed media laws currently before the Senate. The role of technology has been widely discussed, with two major streams of argument. The first says that the laws should not be passed as this will lead to a concentration of media, especially in rural and regional areas according to the Nationals. This argument also says that traditional media giants will come to dominate online media, pointing to News Corporation’s purchase of MySpace for US$580 million. A second line of argument says that technology will drive new forms of media, eg. Internet TV, and new business models that will disrupt the dominance of traditional media and quickly make obsolete these proposed laws. Google’s purchase of YouTube for US$1.67 billion is a strong sign of things to come. It is safe to say we will see a bit of both, with consolidation probably inevitable, especially globally, and the role of technology becoming more significant.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Emerging technologies can strengthen public policy

Consumer based digital influence campaigns show that emerging technologies can strengthen public policy by enabling greater scrutiny and participation. To highlight just a few: voting closes this week for the 2006 Children's TV Food Advertising Awards run by the The Parents Jury and Choice Magazine is asking parents to submit names of food products for review. From another angle, McDonalds’ has launched ‘Makeupyourownmind’ to respond to allegations against the company, such as dubious meat production, poor working conditions, environmental impact and marketing to children. Many have been critical, The Age said the move was driven by the release of the film Fast Food Nation and the visit to Australia by its writer, Eric Schlosser. As the ABC points out, marketing through the Internet is much harder to regulate, however bloggers love a fight and with this latest digital move McDonalds certainly has given them one.