Author Archives: Henry Barragan


Ebert, Roger. “Video Games Can Never Be Art | Roger Ebert’s Journal | Roger Ebert.” All Content, 16 Apr. 2010. Web. 11 Aug. 2015.


There are those that argue whether or not video games would be considered works of art, and one of the biggest advocates on the topic is Roger Ebert. In the article “Video Games Can Never Be Art” by Mr. Ebert, explains his reasoning behind his decision for making his outrageous argument. As much as I respect him for what he has done in the past, I’m going to respectfully disagree.

Mr. Ebert starts on by saying that he still stands by his principle that videogames cannot be art. Even after a fellow writer urged him to watch a video by a game designer who was explaining why video games are art, he still declined the notion. Kellee Santiago, the fellow game designer who was the speaker in the video, was explaining how just like how visual art have evolved from cave paintings to something as grand as Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, video games have evolved to something more than just visuals in a screen. He argues that video games do not fall into this notion, by basically saying that the cave paintings the Kellee portrayed (the Chau vet-Pont-d’Arc in southern France) were forms of art because of the creativity of the artist behind it. He explains that the painter back then who drew these portraits where considered geniuses at the time because they didn’t have anything to build on in the first place.

Yet, he doesn’t realize how much creativity and skill developers need to have in order to make a videogame. Game developers have to use their creativity to create characters that are relatable and interesting to the player. They also need to have the skill to create the environment and scenarios for the character to interact with to feel the emotions that they want you to feel. They are very brilliant minds and talent behind the “mindless videogames” that Ebert does not see. Such as Shigeru Miyamoto, many of you may not know him by name, but he is the creator of Super Mario Bros. He was able to create a timeless character that everyone can recognize and the game franchise that has last 3 decades which still brings many smiles to many people in the world. In the gaming world, he is considered a genius because of this.

Later on he goes on to say that, “One obvious difference between art and games is that you can win games. It has rules, points, objectives, and an outcome. Santiago might cite an immersive game without points or rules, but I would say then it ceases to be a game and becomes a representation of a story, a novel, a play, a dance, a film. Those are things you cannot win; you can only experience them.” In a way this is kind of ironic because Roger Ebert is a big advocate to film, and many including himself have argued that movies can make you go through emotional experiences. So why say videogames can’t? This isn’t true now a days due to the fact that many videogames are more than just games with a clear objective, they ARE experiences that focus on choices. There are many games nowadays that make you go through many arrays of emotion throughout the game with the choices you chose. Such as “Final Fantasy XIII”, one of the main aspect of the game was to make you feel a connection towards the characters. So whenever something happened to them, you would generally feel mad or even upset because the fact you made them go through their scenario through your choice. Sure it’s true that many games are just mindless entertainment, however we cannot characterize those early games with the majority of games nowadays. That’s like saying a movie like Scary Movie is on par with Citizen Cane and Casa Blanca (which many considered to be the greatest movies of all time by the way)

So as much as I respect the man as a well-known critic, I have to disagree with his notion. Video games have evolved to be more than just simple games. They are works of art that can take you inter journeys that you can’t always experience in the real world. Whether it’s the bonds you make with your fellow soldiers in the Call of Duty franchise, or the friendships you formed with Donald and Goofy in Kingdom Hearts; video games can make you think, and feel through their engaging stories. Just like how a painting can make you think and feel the same way.


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Research Summary 4

Grisafe, Michael. “Can Culture Create Mental Disease? The Rise of “Hikikomori” in the Wake of Economic Downturn in Japan – Mind the Science Gap.” Mind the Science Gap RSS. N.p., 16 Nov. 2012. Web. 03 Aug. 2015.

As some might think that the effects of Hikikomori only effect the people around them, it could actually effect the surrounding citizens of japan. Michael Grisafe is the author of this article that I am presenting you today. He brings up the argument that Hikikomori can affect the future of japans economy a lot more than expected.

This articles seems very credible for what it is worth. The author may not be a reporter, but is actually a student in grad-school at the University of Michigan. Which in turn, we know he will give us some credible evidence and several works cited to try and drive his argument to the people that are reading his weekly blog. Which brings me to who exactly is he trying to tell this message towards. I personally believe his audience are the people who worry about hikikomori and understand the functions of the economy and how in turn when one economy falls, there can be effects to the other. Some of the sources seem to be a bit outdated by a couple of years, but he still is able to drive his point across with plenty of reliable evidence.

Mr. Grisafe starts his article by asking “What happens when a society’s cultural demands can no longer keep pace with the economy reality of the world? Who bares the strain and what happens when the burden becomes too much?” Which is saying what will happen to the country once the next generation of adults have been pushed so hard by societies standards, just give up. As much as 80% of these individuals are males, and many come from middle-class homes which are able to support as they barricade themselves in their rooms, however many hikikomori seem to lead lives of isolated desperation; Mr. Grisafe expresses. Traditionally, Japanese institutions have favored a very structured transition of youth from high school, to secondary school (College), to long term employment. However, those rare individuals who failed to follow this path and immediately obtain a job after graduation from secondary school were considered failures and rarely able to re-enter the labor market at the same level in the future. This is relevant to the fact when Mr. Grisafe explains that 50% of high school graduates go on to complete 4-year universities, up to 20% of them can only find low-paying jobs after graduation.

According to the author, some sociologist have suggested that these individuals are not rebels in the sense that they are rejecting one ideology and accepting another, but rather individuals defining themselves by rejecting the core values of the Japanese work and social ethic itself. They assert that the hikikomori are the result of these youth comparing themselves to the increasingly unattainable success of their parents. This topic has grown increasingly urgent in japan as the so called “First generation” of hikikomori who have been living with their parents for the past 20 years are approaching 40. Many worry not only for the fate of these aging hikikomori, but the social and economic consequences for japan as the hikikomori’s parents retire and pass away. As their parents die off, japan will be faced with the very real problem of integrating a large population of socially disengaged and unskilled individuals into society. This makes hikikomori both a personal and a potential economic problem.

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Blog Post 3

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Hikikomori Syndrome

Wang, Shirley S. “The Fight to Save Japan’s Young Shut-Ins.” WSJ. The Wall Street Journal, 26 Jan. 2015. Web. 29 July 2015.

Shirley S. Wang is a reporter for the New York Times and is the author of the article “The Fight to Save Japan’s Young Shut-Ins. Hikikomori, a word used by the Japanese that is used to describe someone who has left the reality of their lives to seclude themselves in their rooms. It’s a major problem in Japan, growing in rapid numbers every day. However they are more than just anti-social people who just don’t like to go out. They’re people who given up on their lives, they choose to stay indoors all the time, deny any form of interactivity with the outside world.

The Author is very credible to talk about this topic. She works for the New York Times, which is one of the biggest new sources in the country. She also has some very credible sources ranging from a American hikikomori that have been isolated for 6 months, to true the extreme hikikomori who have been inside their homes for about 14 years or even more. The text even includes very credible elements such as personal interviews to scientific statistics that have been recorder the past few years. She even cites her sources for her information.

According to Ms. Wang, the puzzling condition is often thought of as a Japanese phenomenon, affecting an estimated 500,000 to two million in japan. She even goes on to say that similar reports have been shown up in the U.S, Hong Kong and Spain. In Japan, hikikomori has been a household word since the 1990s, with many experts calling it one of the biggest social and health problems plaguing the country, Ms. Wang explains. Yet the causes and treatments of the condition-or even whether it’s a mental illness or not-remain poorly understood. Takahiro Kato, a professor in the neuropsychiatry department at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, is working with support centers to study hikikomori in a more rigorous and systematic way. Dr. Kato and a team of Japanese and international collaborators that include Alan Teo, a psychiatry professor at Oregon Health & science University, want to better define what hikikomori is. They also hope to understand the social and biological underpinnings of the condition to improve treatments.

According to Ms. Wang, Japanese experts point to strict parenting practices and pressure that children feel to succeed as contributing factors. Yet hikikomori often live with their parents, and these parents can be soft in forcing their children to go to school or leave the home, they just leave them be. People can even become hikikomori for the smallest of reason, Yu-chan, a 27-year old woman who considers herself no longer hikikomori, is working to home her computer skills to get a job, which would be her first. She said she was comfortable speaking, but her face immediately flushed a light pink. She trembled slightly during a brief interview when discussing the 14 years where she stayed home because of hurtful words friends said to her when she was 10. Ms. Wang even reports of a child who wasn’t able to recover until she was at the age of 33, and she started to become a hikikomori at the age of 14.

Shirley Wang concludes her article by reporting that, that the hikikomori syndrome has become such a big problem that there are many shelters where these people can go and get help like a rehabilitation clinic. Hikikomori is a real cause for concern, but can be helped. As a former Hikikomori, Yu-cahn expresses that “You can’t really take back lost time, Please try to take the first step out.”


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My True Communities

Okay, I going to be completely honest with y’all. I’m not going to write about something that doesn’t really portray the real me. Like, saying that I’m a full time member to the Hispanic community or even that I’m part of my high school Band community. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I don’t respect each of the group, I do love that I’m part of each one, however those aren’t the communities that I have the most connection with. At first I did consider these as my main affiliation, but the more I thought about it, there was only two communities that I felt closer to. They are the gaming and anime community. Now I can almost know what exactly some of y’all are thinking. “Oh, look another geek with no life.” Which in the past, I would of agreed with you.

Most people see this lifestyle as almost pitiful, pointless and weird. As a child, I even agreed with these allegations to the point I hated myself. Everyone kept calling me a nerd and a geek, you could even say I was bullied and stereotyped. They would call me a fat looser and would tell me to do other things like normal kids, and at one point I tried. But I just couldn’t give them up for any other lifestyle, they were the few things in the world that gave me the most comfort and pleasure. I remember just watching my most favorite anime just to get me through the day and feel pumped up. Watch this video and tell me that this anime opening doesn’t make you feel at least a little pumped. (It’s the English dub, for y’alls convenience)

Even the stories in games and anime helped me through some rough times in my life. My parents got a divorce when I was about the age 5, so it was at the age where I can kind of think a little to myself. I just remembered being so down trotted and wanted my family back, however that wasn’t the case. So my only outlet for my emotions where games and anime. I recall just being by myself and not bothering anyone at school because I just felt so upset. But it wasn’t till I found the anime “Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood”, and the game “Kingdom Hearts” that I felt happy again. (The video I showed you earlier is the first opening of Full metal Alchemist)

I can pretty much tell you now that I learned far more meaningful morals from the show and game, than from all my years of school so far. It may not look like much from the video, most people wouldn’t understand at first glance. But the gist of Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood was about two brothers who wanted to get their mother back from the dead however they were unsuccessful and both lost huge parts of their bodies. One brother lost his leg, and the other lost his whole body. So now both brothers must go on a journey in order to find a way to get their bodies back. Seems a bit cliché doesn’t it. But the more I watched it, the more I saw the questions and lessons it taught me. Like “how far will you go to save a loved one” and “stay strong because there are always people who are going to be in your side even in your darkest of times.”

Even the game “Kingdom Hearts” has a strange presentation but with a fantastic lesson. What it taught me is kind of similar to FMAB. That the bonds between friends can be the greatest thing to have. Yes, it may seem kind of like a lesson you learn from a Disney movie. Funny thing is, that’s what Kingdom Hearts Kind of is.

It’s a tale of a boy named Sora trying to rescue his friends from the darkness with the help of Donald, Goofy, Mickey, and other Disney characters. It may seem silly but it actually works really well. When I first played it, I honestly only played it because I got to visit many Disney worlds. But like FMAB, the more I got invested to the story the more I appreciated the friends I had in the real world because they were just like Donald, goofy, and mickey. They were always there to help me.

From then on, I felt as though I had a meaning to my life. I didn’t care what others said because I knew deep down that this was who I really am. Fortunally for me at the time I had made a friend with similar interests who showed me to my first anime and gaming conventions. That is when I knew I had found my niche. Now I’m at a new city and school so I have to start all over, but knowing that there still a community here makes me feel a whole lot secure. So you bet that you’re going to see me at the next meeting for both of these communities.

Anime Club:

Texas Gaming Organization:

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Research Summary #2

Fuchs, Erin. “Why It’s Crazy To Try To Set DUI Limits For Marijuana.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 19 Dec. 2013. Web. 19 July 2015.

Erin Fuchs is the senior editor at the “Business insider” website and is the author of this current article. In the article published on Business on December 19, of 2013. She proclaims that having a law that restricts the amount of weed in you while behind the wheel is unnecessary. She specifically states that the amount of THC in your blood that is recommended for the legal limit is too low.

According to Ms Fuchs, Colorado passed a law saying that presumes that you’re too high to drive if you have 5 nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of blood, even though there is insufficient evidence to tie that level of THC to impaired driving. When it came to marijuana, the policy has never been driven by science in the country. So there has never been a presumption that a certain level of THC in your blood means your high, Fuchs Expresses. She then exclaims that now that this law is in effect, people are goanna be more afraid to drive because even though they may have not even smoked, then could still be considered high because their THC levers are above the legal limit. Even if you took it a while ago, it is possible to still have the marijuana in your system depending on how long it takes you to metabolize it.

Fuchs then reports that several states have several DUI laws concerning driving while intoxicated from drugs, and some states like Arizona and Oklahoma have a zero tolerance laws, which means if you’re caught driving under the influence than you’ll be arrested on the spot. Yet, marijuana advocates say there simply isn’t enough evidence to link certain THC levels to impaired driving.

However, Fuchs reports that, there is some evidence that it’s not a good idea to drive while high. According to an interview with Dr Marilyn Huestis, when people smoke marijuana they lose some of their peripheral vision and can also affect your perception of time. This in turn can affect your ability to make decisions, multitask, and driver’s ability to hold the vehicle in the middle of the road. Ms. Fuchs also reports that experiments where run by the Washington TV station in which people volunteer to get high on pot and then drive on a course with a safety instructor. The results; one drove too slowly, while another almost hit the stations photographer. Despite these sign that driving high might be bad, even the federal government says there’s a lack of evidence that ties a certain level THC with a certain degree of impairment, according Ms. Fuchs.

So when it comes to figuring out how much is an appropriate amount of THC levels, Erin Fuchs still believes that it’s unnecessary to have such a limit. She proclaims that some people will be able to drive perfectly at a certain level of THC intoxication, while others may be impaired – so It’s inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone.


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