Double Edged Sword
Advancements and innovations in technology sounds like an exclusively positive thing. How could a great technological breakthrough cause any harm? Something I found really interesting about the reading was this idea of improved technology and better services actually having negative side effects. For example, emails and made up online usernames had potential to be problematic, as in the case of Michael Campbell. This got me thinking about not only how advancements can easily become a double edged sword, but how it looks specifically in terms of communication.
Out of curiosity, I proceeded to look into the early stages of voice communication in videogames. Nowadays, voice chat is incredibly common, across a variety of genres, and is well known by most players. This idea wasn’t around from the inception of online games, though, and was only introduced in the early 2000s. Within a couple of years, voice chat was in its early stages across multiple platforms, from the Dreamcast to the Playstation 2 to the Xbox to the Nintendo DS. With an assortment of headsets and adapters, you could be talking with friends and strangers alike from across the world. But really how safe was this?
Cyberbullying is a word thrown around a lot when it comes to communication on the internet. There are many different forms, both direct and indirect, and is a suppressible but unsolvable problem. The development of voice chat simply created another avenue for one to be harassed online. While many videogame companies put forth efforts to prohibit cyberbullying and problematic voice chatting, it’s extremely hard to completely monitor and prevent it. To this day, you will still see an incredible amount of racism, sexism, homophobia, and so on over voice chat.
Though voice chat can be problematic, I’d still say that the positives by far outweigh the negatives. Personally, I’ve had countless more positive experiences through voice communication on videogames than negative ones. Voice chat has also evolved over the years on different games and consoles to allow for muting, blocking, and reporting. One of the most important things to me and my friends is being able to have these methods of communication to stay in touch when going off to college and when living in different states. In terms of the ideas of Small Pieces Loosely Joined, I can definitely see feeling the need to be critical and worried about new technologies sometimes, though it is also important to recognize that just as advancements were made before, they will continue to be made, and problems can be worked on. It is also expressly important that one realizes there are ups and downs to all situations: the double edged sword. I believe these pills are a lot easier to swallow now, living in such an advanced age, which is telling of how things were just 20 years ago.
As we all know, Wikipedia isn’t the most scholarly or credible source, though I feel that it has borderline decent information to reference. The page for voice chat in online games is short and sweet, providing a great basis for discussion. You can view that here.