“I’ll Fill”

By: Sebastian Faura

In the world of competitive gaming, oftentimes teamwork is what ends up making the difference between a win or a loss. The interesting (and somewhat troublesome) part of this teamwork is that many times, these teams are thrown together typically within 5 minutes or less. The clash of personalities means that if the team doesn’t get along, cohesiveness is lost, and typically leading to the loss of the match. The reaction and interaction of these people define the face of the community of the game itself.

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Tracer, a character from Overwatch, a competitive game that relies on good team composition. Source: ign.com

“I’ll fill” is a phrase commonly used by players who are willing to accommodate to the needs of the team, meaning that the player wants to work together with others to make sure that the team wins. This not only builds the idea that teamwork is important, but improves the perception of people to each other. A study done by Canadian researchers shows that despite teammates being from different social groups, working together strengthens relations, even helping to create bonds between the team.

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is one of the most renowned competitive games — but also one of the most toxic communities. Source: Gameskinny.com

On the other side of the coin, there are those communities that tend to elicit the negative parts of a person’s responses, and making them respond in an adverse way. This is sometimes referred to as “tilting” in games, where a player will lose composure, tending to play worse as a result of them losing focus and momentum in the game. Some of the most toxic gaming communities are attributed to primarily competitive multiplayer games that rely on teamwork in order to achieve victory. Most often, players will blame their teammates for their failure, and reduce the credibility and perceived friendliness of the community as a whole, despite there being helpful, understanding players out there.

News, Douglas Quan Postmedia. “Co-operative Modes in Video-games Hold Potential to Improve Teamwork, Reduce Bias, Study Finds.” National Post. N.p., 19 Sept. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.

Pearce, Alec. “The Top 5 Worst Gaming Communities.” Video Game News, Cheats, Guides, Walkthroughs, Videos, Reviews & Culture. N.p., 01 Mar. 2016. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.

A Trust Exercise

By: Sebastian Faura

In recent times, the trustworthiness of the media has come into question, notably any print or digital news sources. Due to the overall worldwide turmoil and the increasing amount of news with unfounded or false claims, the public has become arguably more skeptical than ever before. As a result of this, many media outlets and companies are making an active effort to win the trust of the public again.

In the dire circumstances of having even the sources of information come into question, companies have taken measures to listen to the public more. PR giant Edelman, for example, has run what they label as a “Trust Barometer” for the past few years now, gauging the overall trust the public has in the various media channels of the world. Their assessment for 2017 is currently that the public’s association with the media is distant, not only caused by misinformation, but the mixed signals given to the public by the most popular topic currently in the news: The administration.

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The Edelman Trust Barometer. Source: Edelman.com

Government tends to be the established foundation of trustworthiness in the news, and as a result tend to be the most solid information, albeit at times lagging behind dedicated news sources. However, the figureheads of the current administration have been contradicting each other in a serious way. Sean Spicer, Press Secretary for the White House and Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President have had conflicting opinions of the recently-resigned Mike Flynn. The polarized verdicts of these two members of the Presidential Cabinet lead to an image of uncertainty from the White House, eroding the public’s trust in the administration even further.

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Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President. Source: CNN.com

To further make matters worse, the president is currently in conflict with the press, publicly attacking multiple news sources, though unnamed, directs unwarranted and unfounded accusations against otherwise usually trustworthy sources of news.

 

Wilkie, Christina. “Trump Attacks ‘Out Of Control’ Media In Chaotic Press Conference.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 16 Feb. 2017. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.

Blake, Aaron. “Analysis | Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer Have Their Own ‘alternative Facts’ on Flynn’s Resignation.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 14 Feb. 2017. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.

Well, That Backfired

By: Sebastian Faura

Since the advent of the internet and social media, everyone has a platform to be able to communicate their opinions, hold discourse about specific topics, and generally share ideas with one another. This also allows for a wide variety of news sources, and the spread of information is quicker, gaining awareness to a singular topic or cause. However, this concept is a double-edged sword, due to the now apparent spread of misinformation. Though many technology and social media-based companies have started taking steps in order to verify news content put on the internet, in the meantime major figures have used the awareness of “fake news” to their own ends, exploiting the movement against it.

On the better side of the “fake news” movement, many social media giants and information aggregates are aiming to “vet” the flow of news on the internet. In order to ensure the information output from news sources is, at the least, based in some measure of fact, major web companies like Facebook and Google are teaming up to form a process to do so.

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Google Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Source: Business Insider

On the negative aspect of this, powerful individuals and organizations, primarily ones based in politics have used this trend of awareness to their own ends as red herrings and as a dissuasion tactic. This has been primarily done by members and proponents of the current administration, discrediting any opposition to the current president as another piece of fake news. This harks back to the days of the Red Scare and McCarthyism, where opponents threw accusations at each other and being labeled a communist was a black mark for anyone involved. The administration is trying to incur the same effect, discrediting any of its critics or opponents and effectively ostracizing them in the eyes of the people.

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Steve Bannon, Trump’s nominated chief of the National Security Council. Source: BBC

Beres, Damon. “Google and Facebook Join Forces for News Verification Project.” Mashable. Mashable, 06 Feb. 2017. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.

Massie, Chris. “WH Official: We’ll Say ‘fake News’ until Media Realizes Attitude of Attacking the President Is Wrong.” CNN. Cable News Network, 7 Feb. 2017. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.

Covering Your Tracks

By: Sebastian Faura

Recently, with the election of Donald Trump, a new cabinet has come into power, including a retinue of various political, financial and business advisers in order to aid the president in his new administration. One member of this cabinet is Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, having been brought on as a corporate adviser for the Strategic and Policy Forum. While this in and of itself is a dubious success, what would follow in the wake of this announcement would deal a heavy blow to Uber’s success.

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Kalanick speaking at a conference in Germany. Source: Wikipedia

After just over a week in office, Trump signed a temporary ban on immigration from seven Muslim-dominant countries, sparking a worldwide protest against the executive order. In response to this, many airports across the nation were packed full of angry citizens, protesting the ban and trying to free those detained by customs officials. Alongside this, the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance protested the ban by going on strike, not taking any riders to or from the airport. Uber, however, continued their service, and gained greater profits from the strike. This was met with ire throughout the country, and even gained a call to action, with the hashtag #DeleteUber being a trending topic for a period of time.

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Protesters stand outside JFK International Airport with a painted flag in distress. Source: USAToday

Making matters worse, Lyft, the direct competitor to Uber, announced within the same time period that it would donate $1 million to the ACLU in order to protest the ban. To try and match the same efforts Lyft was making and to earn their way back into good graces, Uber went on to pledge $3 million to a defense fund for those caught in the immigration ban. It’s unclear, though, whether or not this was done to fight against the immigration policy, or to stymie the damage done to the company’s image.

David, Javier. “Uber Pledges $3M to Travel Ban Defense Fund as Backlash Widens, Celebrities Join ‘delete Uber’ Call.” CNBC. CNBC, 30 Jan. 2017. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.

Blumenthal, Eli. “The Scene at JFK as Taxi Drivers Strike following Trump’s Immigration Ban.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 29 Jan. 2017. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.