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PRELIMINARY THOUGHTS ON THESIS. SUMMER 2007
Being an Israeli I have a tendency to deal in my work with topics like war, violence, escapism and reality. I'm interested in the individual-human side of conflicts and in the way the media reflect and change reality. Political aggression, risk management and the process of making an active decision of a first strike by a single person or by a group, issues that have influenced millions of lives in the Middle East, have been topics of great interest to me. The current situation between Israel, Syria and Iran - the new "Cold war" that evolved here, evoked my thoughts on the personal level choice, what would I do as the one with the power? What process and forces derive a person to "push the button"? The same question can be situated in a non war scenario either on a more personal or abstract level. What makes a person or a child choose to attack? When is aggressiveness an intrinsic behavior that just needs to be provoked? And when is it a conscious choice that a person needs to make. For my last major studio project I've researched how Google image search, the media, represent reality and whether this reality is an index of the normality perception of people in a certain place. I was interested in the way the representation of the media creates and changes public attitudes towards conflicts and politics. For example, all images related to Israel were derived from conflicts and implied aggression. All images related to the U.S. and war had no conflict or aggression in them. For my thesis I want to explore aggressiveness as an element of war and violence. I want to investigate the process of becoming aggressive from a psychological point of view, and the role of the media in this process. I want to research the connection between interpersonal aggression and political aggression, and to use gaming and toys as tools to create a change on a personal level, in order to create the change on a wider Can a game change the world? "By giving kids toys like this, I hope to give
them some sense of what it might be like to (live on Earth) in 100 years. That's why I think toys can change the world." (Will Write talks about his game Spore at the annual Technology, Entertainment and Design conference in California 2007). Games and toys play a rising role in today's education, politics and propaganda. In the last 10 years the U.S. Army has spent billions of dollars on creating many toys and war games, as training tools for its soldiers, as free downloadable games for soldiers who want to be recruited and for the civilian industry in support of it's actions and manifesto. (Nick Turse, commondreams.org. 2003) The Hezbollah had launched its new video game "Special Force 2: Tale of the Truthful Pledge" where players get to shoot Israeli soldiers and bomb Israeli tanks after the "Second Lebanon war". A Hezbollah spokesman explained: "In this game you can be a partner in the victory. Fight, resist and destroy your enemy's Merkava tank in the game of force and victory. The game features the battles that took place in southern Lebanon in July between our strugglers and the Zionists. Special Force 2 also offers mental and personal training for those who play." (WARFARE 2050 On the other hand the use of games in supporting and enhancing awareness of social issues is rising. For example, the new game PeaceMaker, winner of "Best Transformation Game" in Games for Change Festival where players play as the Prime minister of either Israel or Palestine in order to achieve regional peace, reached the top 20 sales list in all video games and #2 in PC games with it's Amazon package on July 2007. And organizations and communities as Games for Change are becoming more Playing a game or playing with a toy requires active participation from the user. The player has to make conscious and unconscious decisions through the process of playing, and can be exposed to new information. If it succeeds in being also fun or challenging, it can be a strong tool for creating a change. How is a change made? "With change such a pervasive element of existence,
one might expect that the nature of change and of the ways of affecting it should be clearly understood. But the most immediately given is often the most difficult to grasp…" (Watzlawick 1974). A change can be made on a behavioral, personal or on structural systematic level. On the behavioral level there have been many experiments on changing behavior by positive or negative reinforcement. In organizational consulting and coaching creating a change is the main goal. One of the more popular methods used today in creating a change is "Positive Psychology". It is a new approach developed by psychologist Martin Seligman who helped change his profession's focus from what's wrong with people to what's right with them. Positive psychology creates a change by enhancing the stronger elements in a personality / organization. My idea is to take the same approach, and to apply it to creating a change in people's aggressions by enhancing the stronger elements in their personality. Isolating "the aggression gene" – How can aggression be reduced? I've
started to study aggression and realized that the subject is huge and I need to narrow down my interest in this field. The first decision that needs to be made is the age group of the target audience. This depend on finding the critical age that aggression evolves in children, researching more on how children express aggressions and the known ways of dealing with it. From that research I would make a choice between positioning my toy as an educational tool or as an experience based game for either children or grownups. The second element is gender. "Boys will be boys". That Is how the American President, Ronald Reagan, reacted, when his National Security Adviser informed him in the Oval Office of the Israeli bombing over Iraq's nuclear facilities in June 1981. Is aggressiveness and war only a boy's territory? Sex differences in aggression arise prior to puberty. As early as first year of age, boys prefer to throw or hit when angry and girls prefer to cry, and by 8 years old girls begin to employ relational forms of aggression. (Potegal & Archer, 2004). World history shows that the majority of aggressive world leaders where men. I have yet to decide if I design my project in accordance to gender, or whether the gender will not be a significant issue. General questions and inspirations. The project is designed to explore and
answer, from a wide perspective the questions that I am asking about my world. 1. Can
a change be made by people? If small groups will start a change and create positive
communication, can it create a change on a global level? 2. What can make people
interact on a global scale better? By reducing aggressiveness on a personal level, I
hope to enhance communication and interaction on a global level. 3. Can stupidity be
wiped from the world? (Stupidity equals aggressiveness as an answer to conflicts, lack
of communication and prejudices). 4. The role of the media in global political affaires
- Are people questioning the information they are getting from the media? How close to reality is the reality that is being showed in the media? Who controls the information? – All those questions together are parts of my research and interest and will be segments of my final project. I'm not sure yet how or if I would combine the media aspect in the For the last 6 years I've been working in the commercial industry as a designer working on different aspects of the design process and concept developing, from a junior designer position following a given identity and concept, working only on the technical aspect of executing a design, to an art director working with clients on their marketing strategies and their graphical language developing. My favorite and most challenging part of the design process was to find the right design solutions to convey an accurate message. My goal now is to choose my own agendas. I want to be my own client in the industry, and develop the same strategies and tools for my self in order to convey my concepts. I want to work on an actual product, to explore and develop my concept from an artistic activist point of view dealing with social issues and to solve the problem from a designer point of view, designing a product that can actually make a change. Fields of study – domain mapping - relationships
Project proposals – very rough ideas
Toys for change (01)
The final project will be a toy for children. By using positive psychology methods, the interaction between the child and the toy will enhance his self esteem, hence, reducing his level of aggressive behavior. Toys for change (02) The final project will be a toy/ game for adults. The
player will be given real life situations and will need to decide how to react. For every aggressive or non aggressive move the player will get a positive or negative Arcade shooting game The project will be an arcade shooting game in which
the player makes choices which character to shoot. The characters symbolize different sides in a political - social conflict. By the decision making process the player will be forced to think and analyze his own choices and attitudes. Interactive gallery / public space installation The project will be placed in a
space where random people walk across it, in a gallery or in a public space. More emphasis will be on the interactivity. The project will provoke the pedestrians. It will harass them verbally and ask for a physical aggression reaction. User/ player will have to physically interact with installation in an aggressive manner in order to play. Either shoot with bare hands making a gun shape, shout very laud on the project, kick a physical object or hit something in order to get reinforced. Precedence
1. Orwell, George. Animal Farm. – A satirical book that deals with intrinsic human nature, control, and totalitarian power that went wrong. – It is related to my project because it touches aggressions and violence from a psychological aspect and told through a story that young people can relate to. Lord of the Flies. (1954) – A novel about a group of young boys on a disserted island. Through the story the children transforms from a civilized group to a savage mob. – This book is related to my project because it deals with violence and aggression with in a group, and because it's heroes are children. 3. WarGames (1983, MGM). Director: John Badham. Writers: Lawrence Lasker & Walter F. Parkes. - A young man finds a back door into a military central computer in which reality is confused with game-playing, possibly starting World War III (from IMDB) – This movie is related to my project with its being a social commentary about the cold war and the use of power. It also deals with decision 4. PeaceMaker - a video game about the middle-east problem. Users play as the prime minister of either Israel or Palestine. The events are driven from real news. The user needs to react to the news and bring peace to the area. – This game is relevant for me as I am Israeli, and is related to my project in its activist voice, it's gaming/ interactive essence and in the way it gives it's users the power to make their own choices. http://www.peacemakergame.com/ 5. VANTAGE – an interactive game using an aerial image of downtown Baghdad. The player chooses whether to fire upon various icons: buildings with civilians, buildings with soldiers, or mosques. Each building icon generates new images in the background, either images of prisoner abuse or of civilian causalities. If enough of one building is destroyed, the screen diverts and a new level appears. (from thirdplacegallery.org) http://www.kenmarchionno.com/vantage/start2.html# BIBLIOGRAPHY
1. Klepek, Patrick, (13 Mar. 2007) "Will Wright: 'Toys Can Change the World' - Hopes Spore will teach kids about the environment". Online posting. A gamers blog. http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3157972 2. Turse, Nick. (17 Oct. 2003) Bringing the War Home: The New Military-Industrial- Entertainment Complex at War and Play. Online article. http://www.commondreams.org/views03/1017-09.htm 3. Watzlawick, paul, Ph.D., Weakland, Johan, Ch.E. and Fisch, Richard, M.D. Foreword by Erickson, Milton H., M.D. (1974) CHANGE, Principles of Problem formation and Problem resolution. New York, London: W.W.Norton & Company, 4. Fargo, (26 Jun. 2007) "Can a game Change the World?". Online posting. http://www.fileplanet.com/fileblog/archives/2007/06/entry_293.shtml 5. Malcolm W. Watson, Ying Peng. (1992) "The Relation Between Toy Gun Play and Children's Aggressive Behavior". Early Education and Development, Vol. 3, http://www.leaonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15566935eed0304_7 6. A research: Finger length ratio (2D:4D) and sex differences in aggression during a simulated war game. - http://www.princeton.edu/~dominic/2007%20- %20McIntyre%20et%20al.%20-%20Wargames%202D4D.pdf 7. Potegal, M., & Archer, J. (2004). Sex differences in childhood anger and aggression child and adolescent. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 13(3), Related links and articles:
1. http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/links/toys/ - article about toys as a culture change indicator. In ethnics and American culture. 2. http://jcr.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/42/6/667 - Cognitive-Affective States Predict Military and Political Aggression and Risk Taking - A Content Analysis of Churchill, Hitler, Roosevelt, and Stalin Jason M. Satterfield 3. http://warfare2050.blogspot.com/2007/08/divine-victory.html - a blog entry on a Hezbollah video game, where players get to play Hezbollah soldiers fighting the 4. "The battle of the Serai" - http://warfare2050.blogspot.com/2007/08/maten- siniora.html - a blog entry on a Hezbollah video game where players get to kill 5. http://www.warresisters.org/wartoys2003.pdf - leaflet against war games. 6. http://www.beliefnet.com/story/119/story_11958_1.html - The Psychology of Real Happiness - Psychologist Martin Seligman helped change his profession's focus from what's wrong with people to what's right with them. - Interview by Wendy http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/news/20030124/anxiety-aggression-gene- discovered - Genetic Link to Common Mental Disorder Found in Mice. WebMD 8. http://www.stanford.edu/group/diversity/coding.htm - an explanation about 11. http://www.yardwear.net/blog/CategoryView,category,Design.aspx

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