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Ethics and Games Series: Observer by Sherry Jones (Aug. 19, 2018)

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Aug. 19, 2018 - This presentation was featured at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Games and Simulations Network live webcast on August 19, 2018. The live webcast video was recorded and made available on Youtube, as well as made available in this presentation.

The featured game for study is the Observer (2017), a first person cyberpunk horror indie game voiced by actor Rutger Hauer. Philosophical theories discussed in this presentation are animalism and David Hume's personal identity theory.

Please feel free to watch the video in the slides while exploring the presentation.

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Ethics and Games Series: Observer by Sherry Jones (Aug. 19, 2018)

  1. 1. Ethics & Games: Observer Sherry Jones | Philosophy & Game Studies | Twitter @autnes
  2. 2. About this Presentation This presentation was featured at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Games and Simulations Network live webcast on August 19, 2018. The live webcast video was recorded and made available on Youtube, as well as made available in this presentation. Please feel free to watch the video while exploring the presentation.
  3. 3. Recorded Live Webcast
  4. 4. Official Trailer
  5. 5. ⧞ What is Observer ?
  6. 6. First Person Psychological Horror Indie Game ❖ Observer (2017) is a first person psychological horror indie game developed and published by Aspyr. ❖ Released on Playstation 4, XBox One, MS Windows, MacOS, Linux. ❖ Received recognition for its immersive world design: ➢ Winner - Best Setting in Game Informer's 2017 Adventure Game of the Year Awards. ➢ Runner-up - Best World award at Giant Bomb's 2017 Game of the Year Awards.
  7. 7. Game Story: Key Plot Points 1 of 3 ❖ In the year 2034, a cybernetic revolution enabled body augmentation with implants via nano-machines. ❖ The Great Plague of 2047 occurred with the nanophage, a software glitch-induced disease that transmits to bodies of augmented humans via wireless networks. The disease attacks both digital and biological human apparatuses. ❖ In 2059, a global nuclear war broke out and destroyed Europe. Chiron Incorporated seized control and established a military-run state called the Fifth Polish Republic in Poland.
  8. 8. Game Story: Key Plot Points 2 of 3 ❖ In the year 2084, Daniel Lazarski is a neural detective, also known as an “Observer,” working for Krakow Police Department (KPD). ❖ Daniel’s job is to obtain information for Chiron by hacking into people’s brains, whether the hacked person is dead or alive. ❖ Daniel got a surprise, wireless call from his estranged son, Adam.
  9. 9. Game Story: Key Plot Points 3 of 3 ❖ After Adam’s distress call abruptly disconnects, Daniel traces Adam’s wireless signal. The trace leads to a living quarter in Class C District, home to VR and Hologram addicts. ❖ When Daniel enters Adam’s apartment, he discovers a brutally murdered headless corpse, sitting in the middle of the room. ❖ Daniel seeks to discover whether the corpse is his son, Adam.
  10. 10. Game Situations and Themes ❖ Observer, as a first person psychological horror game, contains violent scenes and explicit language, and is more appropriate for mature players. ❖ Themes: Body modification (biohacking), neural hacking, plutocracy, corporatocracy, authoritarianism, excessive government intervention, oppression, loss of liberty, government surveillance; resistance, virtual reality, hologram, addiction, personhood, identity.
  11. 11. ⧞ Philosophies Relevant to the Game
  12. 12. Animalism ❖ Animalism is the view that all human beings are animals. This view: ➢ Rejects the mind/body distinction that the mind and the body are separate entities. ➢ Rejects the notion that human beings are simply material bodies, or have mental states separate from the body. ➢ Rejects the Human/Person distinction that personal identity is formed psychologically separate from the human body. ➢ Asserts that a “person” is not separate from the human. Rather, a “person” is a phase or a function of the same developing human.
  13. 13. David Hume’s Personal Identity Theory ❖ Philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) offers a personal identity theory (animalist identity theory) to explain what, exactly, a “person” is. ❖ Hume considers the identity of a “person” as a psychological “phase” that the body experiences. The body and the mind are not separate; the body offers sensory apparatuses, and the mind receives perceptions through those sensory apparatuses. ❖ The personal identity “phase” is composed of a chain of mental events related by causality.
  14. 14. In latter half of this presentation, we will discuss the ethics of cybernetically augmenting humans in the world of the Observer through Humean personal identity theory.
  15. 15. ⧞ Intro
  16. 16. Intro (1 of 4).
  17. 17. Intro (2 of 4).
  18. 18. Intro (3 of 4).
  19. 19. Intro (4 of 4).
  20. 20. ⧞ First Meeting Lazarski
  21. 21. First Meeting (1 of 46).
  22. 22. First Meeting (2 of 46).
  23. 23. First Meeting (3 of 46).
  24. 24. First Meeting (4 of 46).
  25. 25. First Meeting (5 of 46).
  26. 26. First Meeting (6 of 46).
  27. 27. First Meeting (7 of 46).
  28. 28. First Meeting (8 of 46).
  29. 29. First Meeting (9 of 46).
  30. 30. First Meeting (10 of 46).
  31. 31. First Meeting (11 of 46).
  32. 32. First Meeting (12 of 46).
  33. 33. First Meeting (13 of 46).
  34. 34. First Meeting (14 of 46).
  35. 35. First Meeting (15 of 46).
  36. 36. First Meeting (16 of 46).
  37. 37. First Meeting (17 of 46).
  38. 38. First Meeting (18 of 46).
  39. 39. First Meeting (19 of 46).
  40. 40. First Meeting (20 of 46).
  41. 41. First Meeting (21 of 46).
  42. 42. First Meeting (22 of 46).
  43. 43. First Meeting (23 of 46).
  44. 44. First Meeting (24 of 46).
  45. 45. First Meeting (25 of 46).
  46. 46. First Meeting (26 of 46).
  47. 47. First Meeting (27 of 46).
  48. 48. First Meeting (28 of 46).
  49. 49. First Meeting (29 of 46).
  50. 50. First Meeting (30 of 46).
  51. 51. First Meeting (31 of 46).
  52. 52. First Meeting (32 of 46).
  53. 53. First Meeting (33 of 46).
  54. 54. First Meeting (34 of 46).
  55. 55. First Meeting (35 of 46).
  56. 56. First Meeting (36 of 46).
  57. 57. First Meeting (37 of 46).
  58. 58. First Meeting (38 of 46).
  59. 59. First Meeting (39 of 46).
  60. 60. First Meeting (40 of 46).
  61. 61. First Meeting (41 of 46).
  62. 62. First Meeting (42 of 46).
  63. 63. First Meeting (43 of 46).
  64. 64. First Meeting (44 of 46).
  65. 65. First Meeting (45 of 46).
  66. 66. First Meeting (46 of 46).
  67. 67. Game Rhetoric About the Neural Detective ❖ The game shows that although Daniel Lazarki, a neural detective, is supposed to be a government’s tool of oppression, he himself is very much monitored and controlled by the Krakow Police Department (KPD). ❖ In the game’s counterfactual future, the government has great invasive powers, being able to access and control one’s biological functions and thoughts. ❖ Notice that Lazarki was asked to “shoot up” by his commanding officer with the justification that the act was for his health. ❖ Lazarki also acknowledges his plight when he tells Adam: “Careful what you say. This is a monitored channel.”
  68. 68. ⧞ Government Controlled Cybernetic Augmentation
  69. 69. Meet Biohacker (1 of 18).
  70. 70. Meet Biohacker (2 of 18).
  71. 71. Meet Biohacker (3 of 18).
  72. 72. Meet Biohacker (4 of 18).
  73. 73. Meet Biohacker (5 of 18).
  74. 74. Meet Biohacker (6 of 18).
  75. 75. Meet Biohacker (7 of 18).
  76. 76. Meet Biohacker (8 of 18).
  77. 77. Meet Biohacker (9 of 18).
  78. 78. Meet Biohacker (10 of 18).
  79. 79. Meet Biohacker (11 of 18).
  80. 80. Meet Biohacker (12 of 18).
  81. 81. Meet Biohacker (13 of 18).
  82. 82. Meet Biohacker (14 of 18).
  83. 83. Meet Biohacker (15 of 18).
  84. 84. Meet Biohacker (16 of 18).
  85. 85. Meet Biohacker (17 of 18).
  86. 86. Meet Biohacker (18 of 18).
  87. 87. Game Rhetoric on Biohackers (Cybernetic Augmenters) ❖ The game does not offer an optimistic view of cybernetic augmentation. The landlord is an example supporting this view: ➢ The landlord shown is a cybernetically augmented human. ➢ Being augmented, his reaction time to Lazarki’s questions is slow. ➢ The landlord is aggressive (although he could simply be alarmed by police presence). ➢ The landlord also has difficulty with accessing memory.
  88. 88. ⧞ Class C District of Virtual Reality and Hologram Addicts (Escape from Reality)
  89. 89. Class C (1 of 7).
  90. 90. Class C (2 of 7).
  91. 91. Class C (3 of 7).
  92. 92. Class C (4 of 7).
  93. 93. Class C (5 of 7).
  94. 94. Class C (6 of 7).
  95. 95. Class C (7 of 7).
  96. 96. Game Rhetoric on VR and Holograms ❖ The game does not offer an optimistic view of how virtual reality (VR) and hologram technologies will be used in the future. Here’s the logic: ➢ Premise: Most drug addicts use drugs to mentally escape from their despair about their reality. ➢ Premise: VR and hologram technologies are ways for the mind to enter into a fictional world, one that is not reality. ➢ ∴ VR and hologram technologies will be the new drugs of the future for helping the mind escape reality.
  97. 97. ⧞ Investigation of the Possible Murder of Adam Lazarski + Lockdown Initiated
  98. 98. Adam’s Apt. (1 of 13).
  99. 99. Adam’s Apt. (2 of 13).
  100. 100. Adam’s Apt. (3 of 13).
  101. 101. Adam’s Apt. (4 of 13).
  102. 102. Adam’s Apt. (5 of 13).
  103. 103. Adam’s Apt. (6 of 13).
  104. 104. Adam’s Apt. (7 of 13).
  105. 105. Adam’s Apt. (8 of 13).
  106. 106. Adam’s Apt. (9 of 13).
  107. 107. Adam’s Apt. (10 of 13).
  108. 108. Adam’s Apt. (11 of 13).
  109. 109. Adam’s Apt. (12 of 13).
  110. 110. Adam’s Apt. (13 of 13).
  111. 111. Game Rhetoric on Adam Lazarski ❖ The game scene offers evidence that reveals Adam Lazarski might be a revolutionary working against the Fifth Polish Republic. ❖ Adam might have orchestrated a bombing of a Chiron government building. ❖ A nice reference to George Orwell’s 1984 appears in this scene, hinting at the extent of government overreach into people’s private lives. ❖ The division between public and private spheres is dissolved/destroyed when the government has access and control over augmented bodily apparatuses. ❖ Cybernetic augmentation technology is used for mass surveillance and control (technological control and loss of individual liberty are the real fears).
  112. 112. ⧞ Resistance through Hacking
  113. 113. Hacking (1 of 3).
  114. 114. Hacking (2 of 3).
  115. 115. Hacking (3 of 3).
  116. 116. Game Rhetoric on the Limit of Technology ❖ Just as current wireless and internet-connected technologies, such as IoTs, self-driving cars, smart homes, have the problem of being hackable, so are the future technologies shown in the game. ❖ Some citizens seem to be able to corrupt data and evade police detection. ❖ Since the game suggests that the brain and the body can be hacked, the game is arguing that the mind/consciousness can be freed from the body. ❖ Hence, Lazarki is resisting the possibility that the corpse belongs to his son, Adam, by stating: “Adam . . . so this is your apartment. Doesn’t mean it’s your body.” The word “it” is used to objectify the body as a non-entity.
  117. 117. ⧞ Adam’s Computer: News of Insurgence
  118. 118. Insurgence (1 of 5).
  119. 119. Insurgence (2 of 5).
  120. 120. Insurgence (3 of 5).
  121. 121. Insurgence (4 of 5).
  122. 122. Insurgence (5 of 5).
  123. 123. ⧞ Lockdown + Fear of the Nanophage + Fear of the Cleaners
  124. 124. Lockdown (1 of 38).
  125. 125. Lockdown (2 of 38).
  126. 126. Lockdown (3 of 38).
  127. 127. Lockdown (4 of 38).
  128. 128. Lockdown (5 of 38).
  129. 129. Lockdown (6 of 38).
  130. 130. Lockdown (7 of 38).
  131. 131. Lockdown (8 of 38).
  132. 132. Lockdown (9 of 38).
  133. 133. Lockdown (10 of 38).
  134. 134. Lockdown (11 of 38).
  135. 135. Lockdown (12 of 38).
  136. 136. Lockdown (13 of 38).
  137. 137. Lockdown (14 of 38).
  138. 138. Lockdown (15 of 38).
  139. 139. Lockdown (16 of 38).
  140. 140. Lockdown (17 of 38).
  141. 141. Lockdown (18 of 38).
  142. 142. Lockdown (19 of 38).
  143. 143. Lockdown (20 of 38).
  144. 144. Lockdown (21 of 38).
  145. 145. Lockdown (22 of 38).
  146. 146. Lockdown (23 of 38).
  147. 147. Lockdown (24 of 38).
  148. 148. Lockdown (25 of 38).
  149. 149. Lockdown (26 of 38).
  150. 150. Lockdown (27 of 38).
  151. 151. Lockdown (28 of 38).
  152. 152. Lockdown (29 of 38).
  153. 153. Lockdown (30 of 38).
  154. 154. Lockdown (31 of 38).
  155. 155. Lockdown (32 of 38).
  156. 156. Lockdown (33 of 38).
  157. 157. Lockdown (34 of 38).
  158. 158. Lockdown (35 of 38).
  159. 159. Lockdown (36 of 38).
  160. 160. Lockdown (37 of 38).
  161. 161. Lockdown (38 of 38).
  162. 162. Game Rhetoric on the Nanophage ❖ Nanophage is a disease that spreads through wireless connections and can infect the mind and the body of those who have been cybernetically augmented. ❖ A lockdown is initiated in this scene. The Nanophage is treated like a pandemic like plague. ❖ The residents panic because they have not received prior warnings about the lockdown. ❖ The government seems to offer no chance for examination to those suspected for contracting the disease. This is evidenced by the residents fear of “The Cleaners” coming to get them.
  163. 163. ⧞ The Nanophage Plague
  164. 164. The Plague (1 of 10).
  165. 165. The Plague (2 of 10).
  166. 166. The Plague (3 of 10).
  167. 167. The Plague (4 of 10).
  168. 168. The Plague (5 of 10).
  169. 169. The Plague (6 of 10).
  170. 170. The Plague (7 of 10).
  171. 171. The Plague (8 of 10).
  172. 172. The Plague (9 of 10).
  173. 173. The Plague (10 of 10).
  174. 174. ⧞ The Immaculates (Unaugmented Humans)
  175. 175. Immaculate (1 of 40).
  176. 176. Immaculate (2 of 40).
  177. 177. Immaculate (3 of 40).
  178. 178. Immaculate (4 of 40).
  179. 179. Immaculate (5 of 40).
  180. 180. Immaculate (6 of 40).
  181. 181. Immaculate (7 of 40).
  182. 182. Immaculate (8 of 40).
  183. 183. Immaculate (9 of 40).
  184. 184. Immaculate (10 of 40).
  185. 185. Immaculate (11 of 40).
  186. 186. Immaculate (12 of 40).
  187. 187. Immaculate (13 of 40).
  188. 188. Immaculate (14 of 40).
  189. 189. Immaculate (15 of 40).
  190. 190. Immaculate (16 of 40).
  191. 191. Immaculate (17 of 40).
  192. 192. Immaculate (18 of 40).
  193. 193. Immaculate (19 of 40).
  194. 194. Immaculate (20 of 40).
  195. 195. Immaculate (21 of 40).
  196. 196. Immaculate (22 of 40).
  197. 197. Immaculate (23 of 40).
  198. 198. Immaculate (24 of 40).
  199. 199. Immaculate (25 of 40).
  200. 200. Immaculate (26 of 40).
  201. 201. Immaculate (27 of 40).
  202. 202. Immaculate (28 of 40).
  203. 203. Immaculate (29 of 40).
  204. 204. Immaculate (30 of 40).
  205. 205. Immaculate (31 of 40).
  206. 206. Immaculate (32 of 40).
  207. 207. Immaculate (33 of 40).
  208. 208. Immaculate (34 of 40).
  209. 209. Immaculate (35 of 40).
  210. 210. Immaculate (36 of 40).
  211. 211. Immaculate (37 of 40).
  212. 212. Immaculate (38 of 40).
  213. 213. Immaculate (39 of 40).
  214. 214. Immaculate (40 of 40).
  215. 215. Game Rhetoric on the Immaculates ❖ We learn that corporations expect citizens to undergo cybernetic augmentation in order to obtain jobs. Jobs, in the world of the Observer, demand efficiency from technologically-modified human workers. ❖ Immaculates refer to those whose minds and bodies have not undergone cybernetic augmentation and are free from government invasion. ❖ The term, immaculate, means “perfection and cleanliness.” In the Roman Catholic sense, immaculate means to be “free from sin.” ❖ The game does not offer a favorable view of immaculates; it depicts the immaculates as “holier than thou” religious zealots who are sinners by being prideful and by feeling disdain for the augmented others.
  216. 216. ⧞ Forced Disappearance
  217. 217. Disappear (1 of 41).
  218. 218. Disappear (2 of 41).
  219. 219. Disappear (3 of 41).
  220. 220. Disappear (4 of 41).
  221. 221. Disappear (5 of 41).
  222. 222. Disappear (6 of 41).
  223. 223. Disappear (7 of 41).
  224. 224. Disappear (8 of 41).
  225. 225. Disappear (9 of 41).
  226. 226. Disappear (10 of 41).
  227. 227. Disappear (11 of 41).
  228. 228. Disappear (12 of 41).
  229. 229. Disappear (13 of 41).
  230. 230. Disappear (14 of 41).
  231. 231. Disappear (15 of 41).
  232. 232. Disappear (16 of 41).
  233. 233. Disappear (17 of 41).
  234. 234. Disappear (18 of 41).
  235. 235. Disappear (19 of 41).
  236. 236. Disappear (20 of 41).
  237. 237. Disappear (21 of 41).
  238. 238. Disappear (22 of 41).
  239. 239. Disappear (23 of 41).
  240. 240. Disappear (24 of 41).
  241. 241. Disappear (25 of 41).
  242. 242. Disappear (26 of 41).
  243. 243. Disappear (27 of 41).
  244. 244. Disappear (28 of 41).
  245. 245. Disappear (29 of 41).
  246. 246. Disappear (30 of 41).
  247. 247. Disappear (31 of 41).
  248. 248. Disappear (32 of 41).
  249. 249. Disappear (33 of 41).
  250. 250. Disappear (34 of 41).
  251. 251. Disappear (35 of 41).
  252. 252. Disappear (36 of 41).
  253. 253. Disappear (37 of 41).
  254. 254. Disappear (38 of 41).
  255. 255. Disappear (39 of 41).
  256. 256. Disappear (40 of 41).
  257. 257. Disappear (41 of 41).
  258. 258. ⧞ SPOILER AHEAD! THE ENDING!
  259. 259. About the Ending (1 of 2) ❖ Daniel Lazarki discovered that the headless corpse was, indeed, Adam Lazarski, his son. ❖ Daniel later found his son’s severed head, but was contacted by Adam’s consciousness to not make neural connections with the severed head, as it had been infected with a virus. ❖ Adam’s consciousness revealed that he was hiding in Sanctuary, an abandoned virtual reality salon, because Chiron discovered that he was stealing Chiron’s data. ❖ It was Adam’s consciousness that killed the original Adam (his body) who worked with Chiron to send a virus to Adam’s consciousness to destroy it.
  260. 260. About the Ending (2 of 2) ❖ Adam asks to transfer his consciousness into Daniel’s mind for preservation, whether or not Daniel accepts this proposal. ❖ Before the transfer of Adam’s consciousness could be done, the KPD arrives and kills Daniel. ❖ “The lockdown,” essentially, was used by the government to track down a criminal, not to capture those who contracted the Nanophage disease. ❖ What Does This Mean?: “The lockdown” revealed that the government was using the narrative of the Nanophage to terrorize and control the citizens. Usurpers/political dissenters were removed by this method.
  261. 261. Applying Philosophy and Ethics of Animalism and Hume’s Personal Identity Theory to Examine the Game, Observer
  262. 262. A Review of Animalism ❖ Animalism is the view that all human beings are animals. This view: ➢ Rejects the mind/body distinction that the mind and the body are separate entities. ➢ Rejects the notion that human beings are simply material bodies, or have mental states separate from the body. ➢ Rejects the Human/Person distinction that personal identity is formed psychologically separate from the human body. ➢ Asserts that the “person” is not separate from the human. Rather, a “person” is a phase or a function of the same developing human.
  263. 263. David Hume’s Personal Identity Theory ❖ Philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) offers a personal identity theory (animalist identity theory) to explain what, exactly, a “person” is. ❖ Hume considers the identity of a “person” as a psychological “phase” that the body experiences. The body and the mind are not separate; the body offers sensory apparatuses, and the mind receives perceptions through those sensory apparatuses. ❖ The personal identity “phase” is composed of a chain of mental events related by causality.
  264. 264. On the Causality of Mental Events In The Treatise of Human Nature (1739), Hume explains that identity does not belong to the mind, but that it is composed of our perceptions (or mental events conceived from observations of the physical world). In other words, identity comes from our perceptions of the world and does not originate from the mind: “And here [in the case of personal identity] ’tis evident, the same method of reasoning must be continu’d ...The identity, which we ascribe to the mind of man, is only a fictitious one, and of a like kind with that which we ascribe to vegetables and animal bodies. It cannot, therefore, have a different origin, but must proceed from a like operation of the imagination upon like objects.” (259) (Book 1, Section 4, par. 15).
  265. 265. On the Causality of Mental Events In The Treatise of Human Nature (1739), Hume explains the role of the human mind the formation of personal identity, which is a “system of different perceptions”: “We may observe, that the true idea of the human mind, is to consider it as a system of different perceptions or different existences, which are link’d together by the relation of cause and effect, and mutually produce, destroy, influence, and modify each other. Our impressions give rise to their correspondent ideas; and these ideas in their turn produce other impressions. ...as the same individual republic may not only change its members, but also its laws and constitutions; in like manner the same person may vary his character and disposition, as well as his impressions and ideas, without losing his identity. Whatever changes he endures, his several parts are still connected by the relation of causation” (Book 1, Section 4, par. 19).
  266. 266. ⧞ Applying Animalist Ethics to Observer
  267. 267. Connection Between Animalist Ethics and Observer (1 of 4) ❖ Using Hume’s Personal Identity Theory, the following interpretations of the cybernetically augmented humans and the separation of consciousness and body in the world of the Observer could be made: ❖ Since animalism asserts that the mind and the body are connected and mutually influential, the cybernetically augmented humans are destroying their human identity, or turning themselves as a new species; they are using modified bodily apparatuses to experience the world, produce perceptions that are unlike ones formed by human bodies.
  268. 268. Connection Between Animalist Ethics and Observer (2 of 4) ❖ If personal identity (in the Humean sense) is but a psychological phase composed of mental events that are related by cause and effect, and that mental events are perceptions formed by bodily senses, then divorcing consciousness from the brain/body is impossible. ❖ Uploading consciousness to the wireless network, for example, would mean that only a “phase” of a person is uploaded to the network.
  269. 269. Connection Between Animalist Ethics and Observer (3 of 4) ❖ For Hume, identity is a “system of different perceptions or different existences, which are link’d together by the relation of cause and effect, and mutually produce, destroy, influence, and modify each other.” ❖ Therefore, Adam’s “consciousness” that is uploaded to the wireless network is but an “illusion” of Adam created by perceptions. ❖ Since personal identity is but a mere phase/product of the body and the mind, the identity of the original Adam produced by the mind and body is gone.
  270. 270. Connection Between Animalist Ethics and Observer (4 of 4) ❖ Ethics is a system of moral codes for ensuring the survival of human societies. ❖ Animalist ethicist would argue that since cybernetically augmenting one’s body involves changing one’s human nature, or destroying the “human” that forms society, then it would be unethical to engage in body augmentation. ❖ A new type of ethics would have to be developed for the non-animals. ❖ Currently, there are ethicist who are trying to develop ethics for robots. New laws for biohackers, neural hackers, and robots may have to be created.
  271. 271. Presentation by: Sherry Jones Philosophy & Game Studies SME Lecturer, Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design ISTE Games and Simulations Network Leader http://about.me/sherryjones Twitter @autnes sherryjones.edtech@gmail.com

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