Microsoft word - preliminary_thoughts_on_thesis_2007_arava.doc
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.
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#
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
2. Turse, Nick. (17 Oct. 2003) Bringing the War Home: The New Military-Industrial-Entertainment Complex at War and Play. Online article.
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.
5. Malcolm W. Watson, Ying Peng. (1992) "The Relation Between Toy Gun Play and Children's Aggressive Behavior". Early Education and Development, Vol. 3,
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-
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
discovered - Genetic Link to Common Mental Disorder Found in Mice. WebMD
8. http://www.stanford.edu/group/diversity/coding.htm - an explanation about