Techtonics will return on July 11

Posted July 4th, 2017 at 11:00 am (UTC-5)
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(M. Sandeen for VOA/Techtonics)

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

App Roundup: RedZone; Medici; Life of Dad

Posted June 30th, 2017 at 11:30 am (UTC-5)
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A ReZone app map shows users the safest route to take if they find themselves in a crisis situation. (RedZone)

A RedZone app map shows users the safest route to take if they find themselves in a crisis situation. (RedZone)

Techtonics is always on the lookout for apps that have the potential to improve people’s lives – or save them as the case may be with two of the three notable apps that recently crossed our path – RedZone, Medici, and Life of Dad.

RedZone

RedZone is a navigation app that provides real-time insights into developing situations such as shootings, assaults and the like, and finds fast and safe routes so users can leave the area safely. Using a color-coded map, the app combines real-time crime and social data from government agencies with Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to guide users to safety in several countries, including Germany, Britain, U.S., and France.

According to its founder, Theodore Farnsworth, RedZone automatically sources crime data and adds corresponding tags to its maps of cities like London, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, and others. The maps also benefit from crowdsourcing and community collaboration to keep users aware of their surroundings.

As the app expands, it will include additional capabilities, such as delivering real-time notifications of criminally-active individuals in public spaces and during live events. To do that, though, the app needs access to data from public surveillance systems and law enforcement facial recognition databases. The plan is to enable users to identify potentially dangerous individuals whose image they happen to capture during a public event, for example.

Techtonics asked Farnsworth about the potential of these technologies collecting data about passersby who might not know they are in the surveillance crosshairs. He said the goal is “keeping the public safe, not exploiting the images of innocent passersby.”

For the moment, the company does “not hold onto any personal data or have databases with any personal information,” he said.

Medici

Medici is a new, HIPAA compliant app – and platform – focused on “reinventing the doctor-patient relationship” so that patients communicate directly with their existing medical providers. The chat feature allows doctors to provide more timely and customized medical care, particularly in emergencies.

Once users download the app, they then can send a note to their providers asking to join the platform. Physicians can also ask their patients to do the same. Once they are on the platform, patients can chat with their physicians, request refills, pay their bills, or set new appointments. Joining Medici is not free, however, and cost per interaction on the platform is determined by the provider.

A screenshot from the Life of Dad app, showing various options to categorize uploaded content. (Life of Dad)

A screenshot from the Life of Dad app, showing various options to categorize uploaded content. (Life of Dad)

The app is only available in the U.S. at the moment. Other apps include Doctors’ Circle, a video consultation app, and Doctor on Demand, which gives patients access to video chats with doctors in case of emergencies or even for general medical questions. You have to pay for the visit, although insurance coverage might still apply.

Life of Dad

Fathers celebrated their special day on June 18, but they typically are away from the spotlight the rest of the year. Life of Dad tries to remedy that by building a community around fathers and celebrating fatherhood, not just on Fathers’ Day. The app includes a camera, a community, and targeted original content.

The camera is fitted with thematic filters like the ones on SnapChat or Instagram, made by dads for dads. And the global community allows members to post pictures, discuss shared interests, or seek advice from other fathers. The idea was to make it easier for dads to connect to a like-community, engage with it, or just bring themselves up to speed on the latest news.

There are tons of other apps dedicated to fathers. Noteworthy among those is New Dad, if you want to find out how your life is about to change with a new baby. More established dads with a family in tow might find the Cozi Family Organizer useful to juggle all the events the various members of the household are involved in at any given time.

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Apple’s iPhone Turns 10; New Details Emerge About ‘Petya’ Data Wiper

Posted June 29th, 2017 at 2:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

FILE - This June 29, 2007 photo shows the new Apple iPhone in New York. (AP)

FILE – This June 29, 2007 photo shows the new Apple iPhone in New York. (AP)

Here’s Everything the iPhone Has Replaced in the Last 10 Years

On June 29, 2007, the first iPhone was born. It had a unique feel to it that continues to permeate new iterations of the device. And despite a bumpy start, connectivity limitations, and battery issues, it was an instant hit that went on to transform the industry and many others. Since then, it has replaced quite a few of the gadgets people used to lug around, including calculators, cameras, and paper maps and calendars. Writer Todd Haselton also laments that the iPhone and smartphones in general effectively killed face-to-face conversation and interaction.

Experts Say Petya Cyberattack Was About Data, Not Money

The cyberattack that exploited a Ukrainian accounting software and spread to as many as 65 countries netted the hackers very little money. This is why security experts now propose that the attack was not intended to collect ransom, but data. Kaspersky Lab security researchers say the Petya virus was disguised as ransomware, but was built to destroy. According to Comae Technologies’ Matt Suiche, Petya was deliberately wiping out or overwriting blocks of data on affected disks. “The ransomware was a lure for the media, this variant of Petya is a disguised wiper,” he wrote.

New Internet Safety Legislation Would ban Harassment-based Crimes

Proposed legislation making its way through the U.S. Congress makes several online-based harassment forms, including doxxing, swatting and sextortion illegal. The proposal specifically addresses cybercrimes against individuals and outlines punishments for them. Sextorting involves using sexual pictures obtained through blackmail against their owners. Swatting is the act of reporting an emergency to trigger a swat team response, and doxxing refers to disclosing personal information with the intent of causing harm.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

‘Petya’ Spreads as Questions Mount; Facebook’s Hate Speech Rules

Posted June 28th, 2017 at 1:57 pm (UTC-5)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

A computer screen shows a cyberattack warning notice reportedly holding computer files to ransom, as part of a massive international cyberattack, Kyev, Ukraine. (AP)

A computer screen shows a cyberattack warning notice reportedly holding computer files to ransom, as part of a massive international cyberattack, Kyev, Ukraine. (AP)

Massive Cyberattack Has Spread to More Than 64 Countries

Ukraine has managed to control the latest ransomware strain known as “Petya” or “NotPetya” that started Tuesday and spread to more than 64 countries. Petya showed up last year, but this updated strain has new capabilities. Its predecessor, WannaCry, wreaked global havoc in May. But security experts say Petya hackers have made little money and that the ransomware was not designed for that purpose. Some experts speculate Russia might be behind the attack.

Petya locked down affected Windows PCs pending payment in digital currency Bitcoin. Security experts blame Ukraine’s accounting program, Medoc, for spreading the virus. British security researcher MalwareTech suggests MeDoc was probably hacked and then used to push Petya to PCs loaded with the accounting program. Researcher Amit Serper with cybersecurity firm Cybereason said he found a vaccine to disable Petya on Windows systems.

Facebook’s Secret Censorship Rules Protect White Men from Hate Speech But Not Black Children

Facebook deletes about 288,000 hate-related posts every month once they are reported. But according to ProPublica, internal documents reveal secret guidelines for separating hate speech from legitimate discourse. The rules allegedly apply discriminately, so that incitement to violence, for example, was approved for targeting so-called “radicalized” groups, while comments against whites were deleted. When asked by Techtonics, Facebook did not have a comment but pointed out that it published a long article Tuesday, explaining the difficulties all online social media services face in defining hate speech before being able to deal with it.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Ransomware Attack Hits Europe; Microsoft Turns to AI to Fight Malware

Posted June 27th, 2017 at 1:53 pm (UTC-5)
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 Today’s Tech Sightings:

A computer screen shows a cyberattack warning notice reportedly holding computer files to ransom, as part of a massive international cyberattack, Kyev, Ukraine. (AP)

A computer screen shows a cyberattack warning notice reportedly holding computer files to ransom, as part of a massive international cyberattack, Kyev, Ukraine. (AP)

New Ransomware Attack Hits European Firms, Infrastructure

A massive cyberattack first reported in Ukraine has spread to Russia, Denmark, Britain and other countries. Hackers are targeting major companies, government agencies and infrastructure, banks, utilities, airports, and many others. In Ukraine, government agencies were unable to access their computers. In Britain, an advertising firm was among the victims, according to the BBC. The attack brings to mind last May’s massive Wannacry ransomware attack, but Tuesday’s virus appears to be a variant of Petya ransomware that emerged last year and was updated earlier this year and named Petrwap.

Microsoft Is Building a Smart Antivirus Using 400 Million PCs

As Europe reels from the latest massive cyberattack, Microsoft is turning to artificial intelligence to come up with an antivirus solution that works for millions of Windows PCs. To this end, the tech giant is relying on cloud data from more than 400 million Windows 10 computers to develop an antivirus solution that can detect malware behavior. If malware is detected, Microsoft said it will be able to develop a signature for it and isolate the virus on the cloud to protect all users.

Greenpeace Slams Apple, Samsung Tech for Poor Repairability

Teaming up with repair guru iFixit, environmental group Greenpeace reviewed a host of 40 phones, laptops and tablets to see how easy – or not – it is to repair them or replace their parts. While Apple’s iPhones didn’t fare badly, its iPads and MacBooks didn’t do as well. Samsung’s newest Galaxy S8 smartphone and Microsoft’s Surface line of hybrid systems were also panned for their lack of repairability.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

‘OMG!’ How Technology Is Changing Personal Interaction

Posted June 23rd, 2017 at 11:40 am (UTC-5)
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(M. Sandeen for VOA/Techtonics)

(M. Sandeen for VOA/Techtonics)

Snippets of text, emojis, likes and dislikes are upending social interaction. While offering immediacy and convenience, they are taking away face-to-face body language and nonverbal cues, crucial for human communication.

Technology is changing the way we communicate, “dramatically” shifting the way people relate to each other to channels like social media – a “2-dimensional medium which eliminates all of the non-verbal communication,” said psychologist Joti Samra, Clinical Director and Co-founder of Canada’s Boreal Wellness Centers.

“We are now increasingly, given technological changes, communicating in ways that are dramatically different from how we used to, e.g., communicating in 140-character snippets, communicating in such a way to garner ‘likes’ and ‘followers,’ communicating through pictures,” she said in an email. “And this has fundamentally impacted social [relations].”

Mobile devices put the world at our fingertips, making it easier perhaps to text someone, oceans away, who is “always on,” or post a social media comment. But this form of interaction doesn’t exactly qualify as “normal behavior” for creatures who are social by nature and who thrive on social interaction.

“Changes in the way we relate to each other matter tremendously,” she said. People need to “talk/process/convey through bidirectional communication and nonverbal [cues].”

And while some of that interaction relies on verbal communication, “nonverbal communication [tone, demeanor, eye contact, volume, etc.], is even a more important determinant of the way we communicate and our communication messaging,” she added.

Was that person being rude? It’s hard to tell on chat or in a text message. Only in face-to-face interaction can you look deep into a person’s eyes or sense their vibes – warmth, unease, trepidation, rudeness.

This is particularly true of teenagers and younger people, noted Samra. Growing up in a tech world, they learned to “communicate differently” in many ways, so that “the emphasis/value on in-person interpersonal connecting has been lessened.”

Ironically, the technology evolution that now gives people many different ways to interact with each other as they become more accessible or “always on,” also builds barriers between them, said Maci Peterson, co-founder of @OnSecondThought app, which lets users take back messages they sent in error.

FILE - South Korean high school students play games on their smartphones on a bench on the sidewalk in Seoul, South Korea. (AP)

FILE – South Korean high school students play games on their smartphones on a bench on the sidewalk in Seoul, South Korea. (AP)

“We are all on our devices at times when we should be engaging and interacting with other people or just paying attention to our surrounding,” she said. “And so whether you are at dinner and constantly pulling out our phone or walking down a street … you’re not engaging the people around you or not responding to them.”

She told Techtonics she does it too – frequently, even though it is considered rude behavior. “It is telling the people you are supposed to be spending time with that “whatever is happening on my phone is more important.”

Is technology to blame for this behavior? Peterson argued that there has always been something that “allowed us to build a barrier between us and those around us. Today that just happens to be technology.”

But the potential for misunderstandings is greater with digital forms of communication. “The demand characteristics are more likely to elicit perceptions of rudeness [by taking out the nonverbal element of communication],” said Samra.

“The anonymity or perceived anonymity of tech communication/social media also is more likely to allow those who are ALREADY rude/disrespectful to have more of a ‘free reign’ on how they communicate,” she added.

“It’s not necessarily that it is an enabler or that it makes me more rude,” said Peterson, in defense of technology. but that it fills a void.

With one small device, “I can access the entire world,” she said. Can face-to-face communication do that?

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Facebook Changes Mission Statement; Hackers Altered US Voter Data

Posted June 22nd, 2017 at 1:11 pm (UTC-5)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

Logos of the social network Facebook are seen on a beach during the Cannes Lions in Cannes, France, June 21, 2017. (Reuters)

Logos of the social network Facebook are seen on a beach during the Cannes Lions in Cannes, France, June 21, 2017. (Reuters)

Facebook Changes Mission Statement to ‘Bring the World Closer Together’

Facebook’s original mission statement was “making the world more open and connected.” But as the company approaches two billion monthly users, CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared a new mission statement: to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” In his announcement Thursday, Zuckerberg said connecting the world and giving people voice is not enough to make the world better and that more needs to be done to bring it closer together.

Facebook Offers Indian Women Tools to Protect Privacy

Facebook’s research has revealed that Indian women are reluctant to post profile pictures on their social media timelines for fear they might be abused. To address the issue, Facebook just introduced new security features that let Indian women prevent strangers from downloading, tagging or sharing their profile pictures. The social media giant collaborated with local activists to develop the tools. The new features also include overlaying images with additional design to dissuade people from copying them.

US Officials: Election Hackers Altered Voter Rolls, Stole Private Data

As the investigation into Russian hacking of the U.S. electoral systems continues to unfold, officials say hackers dug deeper and more extensively into state and local election databases in 2016. In Illinois, personal information comprised more than 90 percent of about 90,000 records that were stolen by Russian state actors, according to state officials. Writer Massimo Calabresi says investigators also found cases of voter data manipulation that were later discovered and corrected, but it is unclear if the perpetrators were Russian hackers.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

The Future, According to Jack Ma; Uber CEO Resigns

Posted June 21st, 2017 at 12:18 pm (UTC-5)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman, Alibaba Groups, talks with American television host Charlie in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., June 20, 2017. (Reuters)

Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman, Alibaba Groups, talks with American television host Charlie Rose in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., June 20, 2017. (Reuters)

Alibaba’s Jack Ma: AI Could Lead to 4-hour Workdays and World War III

Adding his voice to a chorus of visionaries warning about the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI), Alibaba Founder and CEO Jack Ma told CNBC AI automation could allow people more free time, perhaps leading to four-day work weeks in 30 years. But without oversight, he warned automation could also trigger a catastrophe. He noted technological revolutions triggered the first two World Wars, and suggested machine learning could be the beginning of the third technological revolution, possibly leading to the Third World War.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Resigns

Amid turmoil and mounting pressure from investors, Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick has resigned. The decision came as the cab-hailing service battles sexual harassment lawsuits and accusations of fostering a toxic culture. Kalanick said he accepted the request to step down so that Uber “can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight.” He will still serve on the company’s board.

Malvertising Drive Infects PCs With Ransomware Without Clicking Links

Cybersecurity researchers at Proofpoint have identified the ransomware that targeted universities in the UK and other entities around the world last week. The so-called Mole ransomware, according to researchers, is part of a widespread malvertising campaign that infected PCs whose users visited a compromised website, even if they did not click any malicious links.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Social Media Urged to Fight Political Bots; Most Web Apps Not Secure

Posted June 20th, 2017 at 12:48 pm (UTC-5)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

FILE - A 3-D plastic representation of the Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed logos of social networks in this illustration in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Reuters)

FILE – A 3-D plastic representation of the Facebook logo is seen in front of logos of social networks in this illustration in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Reuters)

Oxford Professors Tell Twitter, Facebook to Fight Political Bots

Top academic researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute are urging social media giants to take action to limit the widespread use of algorithms and bots for political propaganda. After analyzing millions of posts in nine countries, the professors leading the team described the bot technology as “one of the most powerful tools against democracy.”  Lead authors Samuel Woolley and Phil Howard said in their report social media firms “need to significantly redesign themselves if democracy is going to survive.”

Report: 99.7 Percent of Web Apps Have at Least One Vulnerability

Researchers at information security firm Trustwave have uncovered at least one vulnerability in 99.7 percent of web apps. And according to their 2017 Trustwave Global Security Report, the average number of web app vulnerabilities is 11. The report also notes that it took an average of 49 days in 2016 to detect unauthorized activity, a drop from 80.5 days in 2015.

Google Launches AI-powered Job Search Engine

Google’s new AI-powered search engine gives job-seekers a new option to make their search easier and more relevant. The new search engine lets users hunt for nearby jobs or specific types of job listings and further refine their search. The idea is to make it easier for users to search for all kinds of jobs on one website.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Uzbek, Other Video Game Bans Straddle Cultural Divides

Posted June 16th, 2017 at 11:30 am (UTC-5)
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FILE - A gamer plays 'Call of Duty: Black Ops"' in Los Angeles, California. (Reuters)

FILE – A gamer plays ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’ in Los Angeles, California. (Reuters)

Uzbekistan recently joined a long list of countries that ban video games for one reason or another. And while some games will get banned no matter the argument, an industry expert says a delicate balance is needed to satisfy local market expectations without sacrificing artistic expression.

Video games may be a product of Western society, but they have become part of popular culture, not just in the West. And as cultural mosaics, they often get banned – even in Germany, Ireland, and Australia, not to mention Uzbekistan, Iran, China, North Korea – countries that run the gamut from the conservative to the totalitarian.

“All creative media, including games, are carriers of culture regardless of how intentional that might be,” said Kate Edwards, Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) in an email interview with Techtonics. IGDA is a nonprofit professional association representing thousands of video game developers worldwide.

“They carry certain perspectives, assumptions and biases about history, politics, cultures, faiths, and so forth,” she added. “And as such, they can become targets of backlash when these sensitive topics aren’t handled appropriately.”

Not a year goes by without “at least one incident of game content being flagged or banned because it contains something that conflicts with local cultural values and/or expectations,” she said. Typically, the main objections are sex, violence, and profanity.

FILE - People stand near 'Sims 4' game characters on a wall during the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo, known as E3, in Los Angeles, California June 11, 2014. (Reuters)

FILE – People stand near ‘Sims 4’ game characters on a wall during E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, in Los Angeles, California, June 11, 2014. (Reuters)

Uzbekistan’s recent ban of more than 30 games, including The Sims, an innocuous life simulation game, and the more infamous Grand Theft Auto, cites violence, pornography, distorting values and social and political destabilization. The list of banned games is long and includes popular titles like Mass Effect, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, to name a few.

Some of these titles are combat games. Others are decidedly violent, albeit to varying degrees. But Mass Effect, for example, was banned in Singapore for same-sex scenarios. And the same is probably true with Uzbekistan’s ban of The Sims 4.

“Uzbekistan is a Muslim country, such an allowance would be frowned upon,” said Edwards.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia banned Nintendo’s augmented reality game, Pokemon GO, for being unislamic, encouraging gambling and polytheism, and for perceived political symbolism. But the game was banned in other countries as well because players focused on catching virtual Pokemon characters on their mobile phones were trespassing or risking their lives stumbling into Bosnia’s mine fields, for example.

Games with extreme violence and drug use have been banned in European countries and Australia, for example. Germany took issue with Dead Rising 3 for depicting humans as enemies and understandably frowns on games with Nazi references.

But there are other reasons as well. Pakistan banned Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Medal of Honor: Warfighter for their poor representation of the county, and Iran banned Battlefield 3 because of a scene that lays siege to Tehran.

FILE - Visitors play Battlefield at the Paris Games Week, a trade fair for video games in Paris, France, Oct. 29, 2016.

FILE – Visitors play Battlefield at the Paris Games Week, a trade fair for video games in Paris, France, Oct. 29, 2016.

While Beijing has a refined set of criteria by which to judge a video game, the destruction of China was a key feature that landed Command & Conquer: Generals on its list of banned titles.

“From the local perspective, they’re trying to allow content that more or less meets the local expectations of their society, based on their values, mores, etc.,” said Edwards. “So when a ban is enacted, it often comes from a position of cultural protectionism or in a more extreme case, from a position of trying to control the local public mindshare around specific issues [e.g., mindshare protectionism is the bedrock rationale for the Great Firewall of China].”

As part of her “culturization” work, Edwards frequently communicates directly with governments to discuss potential offenses and appropriate solutions. “In some cases,” she noted, “there is no recourse and they want to ban the game outright.”

But in other situations, they are more open to dialogue about the issues at hand. “And we can negotiate a fix that still can serve the creative vision of the game while also making the content more compatible with local expectations,” she said. “In my years, such negotiations and discussions have included China, India, South Korea, Morocco, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Greece, Singapore, and many others.”

The augmented reality mobile game 'Pokemon Go' by Nintendo is shown on a smartphone screen in this photo illustration taken in Palm Springs, California U.S. July 11, 2016. (Reuters)

FILE – Nintendo’s augmented reality mobile game ‘Pokemon Go,’ banned in many countries, is shown on a smartphone screen in this photo illustration taken in Palm Springs, California, July 11, 2016. (Reuters)

One could argue banning video games is a form of censorship, but Edwards cautioned that that definition depends on what the “censors” intend. “Are they trying to sway perception in a specific direction? Are they offended by how their culture, history, and/or faith were depicted in the game?”

“Some bans may not be as grievous if we better understand the motivation behind them,” she said. “Ideally, every country would be open-minded to all content and let the consumer decide what they consume. But we know this isn’t the case – not even in the U.S.”

That said, Edwards stressed that while game developers need to feel free to create whatever they want to create, they also have to “be mindful of the local expectations of various markets” if they want their games to be enjoyed worldwide.

“If they’re eager to share their game with more challenging content markets like China, the Middle East, and so forth,” she cautioned, “they have to be prepared to make changes to their content to make it more compatible with local expectations. Most typically, such changes are very small or surgical in nature and rarely disrupt the overall vision of the game.”

But she also implored governments to “strive to better understand the games medium and treat it with the same artistic fairness that is often more afforded to film and literature.”

“Games are a powerful medium that represent[s] a major cultural artifact of our time,” she said. “And it behooves countries to better understand what games represent – not just as a product for import, but as a legitimate form of artistic expression.”

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.