Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Islam and Judaism in an age of Internet


In week 9 we will consider how Islam and Judaism have appropriated and adapted to the Internet. First we will investigate how Muslims have been framed in popular video games though reading Vit Sisler’s article called “ “Digital Arabs: Representations in Video Games”.  Then we will consider how different Israeli Jewish groups have responded to the internet by reading an article I have written entitled “Religious engagement with the internet within Israeli Orthodox groups”. Looking at these reports and arguments together we will seek to identify what factors influence different religious group’s positive and negative reactions to digital media and how digital culture shapes religious group’s response to media more broadly.

11 comments:

Rachel Ann said...

First I would like to say that if you haven't checked out the website "Jewcy.com" then you definitely should, it's just like a Jewish Cosmopolitan.
Main point, the article about the video games was interesting because I did a research paper on games in Sociology about gender misrepresentation in video games. The Middle East is always portrayed as a mystical land in more fictional games, but games that are attempting to portray real world situations, such as the war in Iran/Iraq; Muslims are stereotyped into figures with head wraps, darker skin with no distinguishing features, and all are terrorist or extremist. Just like women in video games, they are never the hero, usually a sidekick, or in many cases a sex symbol. Dressed scantily, simply to add to the story, but not meant to be played as a character in the game, they are just "eye candy." In both situations, if you tried to imagine a game where Muslim or people from the Middle East are heroes and females are represented accurately, dressed from head to toe, and can be heroines of the game, it simply wouldn't sell. People have certain expectations now and to change them would result in a loss of profit.

Cal Smith said...

As I was reading Sisler's article I came to many realizations on the games I have played. Obviously I knew that the computerized representation of modern Middle Eastern soldiers was biased and somewhat off base, but the issue of civilians had never even occurred to me. It's true that the current war video games in our culture are the exposure that many young men get before joining the military. To give off the reality that sometimes civilian casualties are the result of war in the Middle East would not extenuate a positive face. It makes sense then that in Middle Eastern game developing studios the civilian casualty would hold the highest punishment in video gaming in an automatic game over. I'm not sure how many copies of these games by Middle Eastern developers are sold, but I'm almost positive that the lucrative and cutting edge games that US developers create reach more people. I do believe however that the user controlled army is almost always going to be the one that is portrayed in the positive virtual light, because video games want to make people feel good not guilty.

Karlie Willbern said...

I think the article about the video-gaming is interesting, because it is not something that I would have initially thought of to be "the media", but when you think about it video games have become such a large part of society that they are almost unavoidable. In the article it explains that Muslims are depicted the way they usually are in the media, which is quite stereotypically: wraps around their heads, dark skin, Arabic speaking. I think for the sake of the video games stereotyping people is probably for the best, monetarily, but I'm sure many Muslims are not happy with the way their ethnicity is depicted in video games.

Lynna Jezek said...

It is no surprise that Muslims are displeased with the way they are portrayed in video games; again, the the stereotypical "terrorist" persona is used in many games, especially in games created by the US. I was really not surprised at all that Muslims felt victimized by the media in terms of video games as well. It was interesting to see how media portrayals unfolded through media that my generation is more accustomed to. We as youth are no less subject to misrepresentations of Islamic people.
I was also not surprised at ultra Orthodox Jews being very weary of using new forms of media. New media usage by these Jews will be carefully planned out and justifications for internet use will have to be developed before ultra Orthodox Jews begin to accept the internet.

Claire Levatino said...

It had never occurred to me that video games could have an impact on the portrayal of different cultures and people, let alone the Muslim and Jewish faith. Video games are designed however to depict reality and so people begin to merge the fictional with what is real in their minds. Who can blame them though when Muslims in the video games usually are the bad guys and are depicted as scary, violent terrorists. Most mothers don't want their children playing these video games due to the violence, but for some reason they fail to be concerned that their child could receive the wrong image of a very real group of people and affect their perspective in life. It is understandable then that Muslims don't like how these games portray them and how Jews for this same reason are weary of media and affects on young minds.

Tamsyn Morison said...

We often don't realize the stereotypes that surround us everyday, and the prejudice we inflict on certain groups. The video game is a great example of this. Something as simple as playing a video game doesn't seem rude, however the characters in this game are based off a bias that all muslims are terrorists. This isn't fair, and is extremely derogatory to the islam faith as they are portrayed in a stereotypical way. Millions of gamers play this game and see these characterizations of Muslim and are a negative light is shone upon them the faith as a whole. In the second article I found it interesting how the different types of Jews view media in different ways. It isn't surprising that the ultra orthodox Jews aren't open to the media, while the the other more modern views of Judaism isn't as opposed to the effects of media. Media isn't supposed to be a recreational device, it must have a purpose.

Daniel Humada said...

Im not surprised at all that the muslims would be upset about the way they are portrayed in video games. ever since call of duty: modern warfare, muslims and middle easterners have become the main enemy of such games. they feel that the game teaches to hate muslims and that they are all evil and terrorists. the game makes it seem like killing muslims is glorious and patriotic.

Zachary Lix said...

After reading this article I can see that most of the video games I have played and almost all of the video games that appeal to younger generations all have the bias that was written about. Its almost like a mass indoctrination of the youth who are playing these games influencing them to see all Muslims the same. I find it interesting that most video games use the same stereotypical characters for the enemy in these games making them blend together while the 'Heroes' have individuality.

Paige Dusthimer said...

It is interesting to me the parallels between the media version and the video game version of Muslims, they are portrayed in very similar ways. Its odd to me that their representation translates into video games as well, though this image of them is portrayed in a negative light in almost every aspect of our lives, and by such a narrow means. Whether you are watching TV or playing a video game, Americans and other countries are impacted by these vague and most often misleading image of Muslims. In fact video games are even more crude about these stereotypes. Though video games give players the opportunity to choose for themselves, what are the chances they will? Most of these video games enhance our stereotypical representations of a race by being distinguished by only a few, very broad traits. It was also interesting to me that the image portrayed in these mediums are often stuck in a certain era, they lack modernity. I can even admit myself when I was young, thinking about the Middle East I as well imagined them in "historical fantasies".

Delma Ramirez said...

I thought it was really interesting how video games were considered part of the "media". Once I started thinking about the concept I realized that a lot of these games are online, which means that although they are sold and produced in the United States people from all over the world have access to them. The internet has allowed the stereotype of how Muslims look and the role they play in the game to be magnified via video games. In this day and era people are able to be teammates or enemies with people abroad through a "live" feed. This not only sets an extended precedent but validates why Muslims would have an issue with this.

Kit Galco said...

Video games are not meant to be accurate representation of cultures or history but are meant for entertainment purposes. This article is another example of how an industry can make a cheap buck by following common stereotypes since actual research would cost more and consume more time thus delaying the release of a game.