Warning: This post contains spoilers.
The simulation of morality is nothing new. Much of moral philosophy for instance, relies on thought experiments such as the Heinz Dilemma, the Trolley Problem, and the Ticking Bomb Scenario in order to better explain, discuss, and grapple with various moral and ethical conflicts. We may even think of moral simulation as being as old as religion itself, which often uses parables and the promise of moral judgment upon death to exemplify and promote righteous behavior. In simulations such as these, we can better understand how we have come to understand what constitutes as right or wrong, as well as judge the morality of our own actions and beliefs. More recently, moral simulation has spread beyond the realms of philosophy and religion, addressing the secular mainstream and even finding itself as a type of commodity in the form of video games.
Morality and systems used to simulate and measure it have become important features of many popular role playing game series, including Fallout, Mass Effect, and Fable.…Continue Reading
A little over a month ago, a huge bomb went off in the Star Wars community, as merchandise for the newest film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, hit stores a whopping three month in advance, an event lovingly called “Force Friday.” Shelves were flooded with action figures, board games, apparel, and even notebooks, all for a film that hadn’t even been released yet. Stranger still, is that Force Friday was a huge success. Crowds of people showed up, waiting in lines and saving spots, all to buy merchandise for characters, vehicles, and worlds they don’t even know much about. In fact, much of what was released hadn’t even been seen until that day. Being both a fascinated scholar and a huge nerd, I realized I’d have to investigate.
Much like Black Friday, stores opened at midnight with freshly stocked shelves and a hoard of shoppers lined up at the doors. Being located in Carlisle, far from urban shopping epicenters, I believed that going after class during the day would be adequate for both finding people to interview as a scholar and stuff to buy as a fan.…Continue Reading
If you’ve been to any comic, manga, or video game convention within the past twenty years, chances are you’ve encountered some convention-goers masquerading as fictional characters in colorful, creative costumes. What you’re seeing are not amateur actors, untimely trick-or-treaters, or delusional folks going through cartoon-based identity crises. These are passionate fans, dedicated to representing their favorite TV, movie, game and comic book characters. These are cosplayers.
Cosplay, coming from the Japanese term, kosupure (コスプレ), is a portmanteau of the words ‘costume’ and ‘play.’ It’s a growing hobby in which fans create and wear costumes in order to show them off at conventions, enter contests, meet fellow fans, and further embrace their interests in the characters they’re portraying. Though originally the majority of cosplay was devoted to anime characters, the hobby has expanded to include characters from a variety of genres including science fiction thrillers, blockbuster action movies, and even occasionally characters that are entirely made up by the cosplayers themselves. Some are incredibly complex, such as the woman with sword and pink hair pictured on the left below, while some, like that handsome devil on the right, are a tad simpler.…Continue Reading
Leigh Arsenault is the Program Manager for Federal and State Policy at the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, where she oversees the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Before joining Aspen, Leigh served as a Senior Policy Advisor for higher education at the U.S. Department of Education. She also worked as National Youth Vote Director and National Policy Coordinator for Obama for America for the 2008 and 2012 elections, respectively.
THEO: Okay! So I’m going to pull up you’re LinkedIn profile.
LEIGH: Oh jeez, so you’ve been doing research!
THEO: Yes, I came prepared. . . .Okay, so you worked on the Obama campaign. How was that?
LEIGH: It was an incredible experience! It was my first job right out of college so I actually moved to New Hampshire when President Obama announced in 2007 that he was going to run. I worked the primaries as a campus organizer, so I moved to colleges across the state to organize student chapters of what was then called Students for Barack Obama.…Continue Reading