All posts by LDua_mdst485

Hearing people – your fascination with ASL is a problem

Thanks to social media and the internet, the Deaf community has been able to share more of their culture and language. From YouTube to TikTok, videos in ASL have been increasing in volume. While this is a pro, there also lies another problem – hearing people can also upload their American Sign Language (ASL) videos.

Enter TikTok.

@kaytlynasl is a self-proclaimed hearing ASL student of 7 years. She posts TikToks of herself signing and interpreting songs and her follower count, comprised of mostly hearing people with little to no knowledge of ASL, sits around 300k. Her stated goal is that she creates videos for accessibility and wants to uplift the Deaf community. She has a sizeable following and many of her followers comment that they are learning ASL from watching her videos. Katlyn’s song interpretation videos even landed her a gig interpreting at a concert.

The problem?

Katlyn, in hearing people’s eyes, is amazing at what she does. Her signing is cool and beautiful – but to those in the Deaf community and fluent in ASL? Her signing is a little less than subpar. Her ASL is full of inaccuracies and structural issues; she is very clearly not ready to be out in the field at all. As a matter of fact, she’s just a student and isn’t certified – and her ASL teachers and mentors have discouraged her from uploading. This poses an issue with her hearing audience learning from her – they’re learning butchered ASL that can’t be used in the real world. Those in the Deaf community have requested that she take her videos down because she is spreading misinformation.

Katlyn has ignored all concerns from those in the Deaf community and continued uploading. March 2021, she posted a TikTok namedropping a Deaf creator who reached out to her. She then explained the situation and asked if she should stop uploading, emphasizing her 300k following count. This set off a chain of events as she sent her hearing audience to attack the Deaf creator for giving her feedback and those in the Deaf community felt frustrated at her lack of accountability. The fact that she cared more about the opinions of her hearing audience versus those in the Deaf community that contacted her, emphasized even more that her content was not in the best interest of the Deaf community.

@dontblink.182

We want hearing learners to be able to actually use their sign, this is not access. This is for show, and we have said it for years. @kaytlynasl

♬ original sound – banana

Katlyn has since deleted all videos on her account due to the backlash.

This is not an isolated incident. Hearing people who believe that ASL is trendy tend to use the language in order to gain clout and a following on social media. Why? Because other hearing people put them on a pedestal for knowing even the tiniest bit of ASL.

@rosaliee_ospina is another creator on TikTok that has been criticized for using inaccurate ASL in order to gain a following. In comparison to Katlyn, Rosaliee doesn’t really sign much of anything. In fact, Deaf individuals have pointed out that she’s signing gibberish. If you look closely, you can catch an actual sign or two. There isn’t a semblance of sentence structure or anything – she just slaps the words “ASL” on her videos and hearing people flock to it. She is notorious for blocking any Deaf creator that has reached out to help her learn ASL and openly mocks Deaf people who are concerned about her misrepresentation of ASL.

@thatwitchblog

#duet with @rosaliee___ thanks for adding captions, and flash warnings, but you still haven’t fixed your terrible sign, and ableism. #deaf #deaftiktok

♬ Deep End – Fousheé

Katlyn’s comments section on her goodbye video signify what the problem is – hearing people don’t care that ASL is a language and they don’t care about the accuracy.

“Imagine gatekeeping accessibility then non stop complaining about how there isn’t enough inclusion. This a big easy for lack of accessibility GATEKEEPING”

“This is so sad, you guys ruin and cancel everyone for everything. She made such wonderful and accessible content.”

“I’m hearing and I loved your content mainly cuz I’m a beginner at ASL.”

Never mind that it was pointed out that her ASL was inaccurate. Never mind that even her own teachers told her to stop. Never mind that those in the Deaf community said she was spreading misinformation and actually not making accessible content at all. (Also never mind that she isn’t certified and has never graduated from an interpreting program so it’s actually illegal for her to interpret at concerts.)

If it’s entertaining it doesn’t matter. Every year before COVID hit, someone would send me a viral video of a white ASL interpreter interpreting a rap song at a concert. “This is so cool!” they would say. “ASL is such a beautiful language!” another would coo. Hearing people have this inherent idea that ASL is cool. They invite interpreters on TV to entertain them with rap battles, despite having no Deaf people in the audience.

What they don’t understand is that they’re fetishizing the language and othering it. When hearing people exotify ASL, they then ignore that it’s a language used for communication. By using ASL for entertainment, it causes people to take it less seriously and mock it. ASL isn’t meant to be gawked at and it doesn’t exist for the purpose of entertaining hearing communities. The only people that benefit from using ASL for clout are hearing people – Deaf people suffer the consequences.

Now, to clarify: there isn’t anything inherently wrong with a hearing person learning ASL.

Most people in the Deaf community encourage it and you will find that many are happy to support and educate a student. I have been learning ASL and engaged with the Deaf community for almost a decade – and I have never once been mocked for my learning by anyone in the Deaf community. Every day I learn a new sign because language is always evolving. I have learned signs from professionals, random people I encounter in the street, and even junior high students – learning another language is all about gaining the ability to communicate with more people.

But honestly, learning ASL is the bare minimum. Just because you can sign doesn’t mean you understand Deaf culture or Deaf signs. Do you regularly interact with the Deaf community? Do you understand that ASL and English are two separate languages and have completely different structure and rules? Do you know the history and struggles that Deaf people have faced under the oppression of hearing people?

Learning ASL is a somewhat different experience than learning other languages – learning ASL means learning Deaf culture because ASL is steeped in the community’s history. When you chose to ignore the Deaf community’s input on your ASL journey, it signifies that you do not respect Deaf culture.

And quite frankly – the Deaf community is better off without hearing TikTok’ers who make music covers but can’t even manage to correctly sign the ASL for “music” anyway.

Virtual influencers: replacing humans with technology

Final Fantasy is one of the biggest franchises in video game history with over 30 games to its name as well as movies, comics, and other merchandise. It was always staple in my household growing up as I would watch my older brothers play what was an interactive movie for hours on end. While it was and still is a titan in the gaming industry, it’s not as commonly known among those who don’t dabble in a video game or two. Color me surprised when in 2015 the protagonist of Final Fantasy 13, Lightning, was announced to be an official model for Louis Vuitton. No matter how much I love Final Fantasy, I had to laugh. She wasn’t even real, how viable is that in the business industry?

Fast forward to 2021 – virtual models and influencers has completely taken off. And they’re successful to boot.

Miquela Sousa – better known as Lil Miquela – is a virtual influencer/model created by company Burd. While the company doesn’t like to formally address her as an influencer, she does bring in quite a sum of money from paid partnerships. As of this post, Lil Miquela has over 3 million followers on Instagram and 2.7 million followers on TikTok. She has modeled for brands like Calvin Klein and Samsung and made almost $12 million in just 2020.

ModelingCafe Inc., a company specializing in CG modeling based in Tokyo, initially created character Imma for fun. Imma is astoundingly realistic, which thrust her immediately into the spotlight and soon into the modeling and influencer business. Imma has around 300k followers on Instagram and recently partnered with Amazon Fashion to launch her own clothing line. Her success has led to the company creating other virtual influencers, such as Imma’s brother Zinn and fellow model Ria.

What’s even more surprising is that both Miquela and Imma haven’t been in the business very long – at most a few years. Yet they’ve already amassed success that would take a real human being quite some time to build.

But what’s the appeal?

Here’s the thing with virtual models – they’re not real. Which means they’re not affected by the things that real human beings are affected by. They can’t get sick with COVID and call in sick to work – they can be on site from anywhere in the world. You don’t have to worry about whether or not the modeled clothes fit their frame – the CG modelers will make it suit their body shape no matter what. Blemishes and the occasional stray strand of hair aren’t a concern. Virtual models are truly the idealistic model for a business – they exist to be positioned and managed.

Well they lose that human appeal, right? Personality is what draws people to influencers – fans only stay because of loyalty.

Actually, virtual influencers have got that covered too.

Lil Miquela’s profile on Instagram reads: “#BlackLivesMatter Change-seeking robot with the drip” followed by a link to her TikTok account. Imma and her brother Zinn’s profiles reads “I’m a virtual girl. I’m interested in Japanese culture, film, and art” and “virtual human. In the fake plastic earth.” followed with links to the company that created them listed as “management.” All of these descriptions paint pictures of different personalities.

Virtual influencers have a human team behind them that creates their personality and interests. Their posts are specifically curated to showcase this crafted personality to be more relatable to the audience. Lil Miquela’s party girl nature is completely different than Imma’s relatable posts lamenting about whether she should block her brother on social media. Even Zinn’s posts occasionally feature pictures that aren’t even him but screenshots from TV shows he watches and recordings of concerts that he (pretend) went to . Virtual influencers aren’t limited to their modeling – they’re carefully managed from the ground up. From what movies they would recommend to growing body hair, virtual influencers mirror a human to a tee.

The biggest factor surrounding the rise of virtual influencers is that they aren’t limited to one skillset. A company can take or make any character and apply any skills needed to promote them.

League of Legends, a competitive online game created by Riot Games, takes a completely different route from the previously named virtual influencers. The game itself is based in combat with a diverse cast of characters related to the basic setting through scattered lore. Using playable characters from the game, they promoted K/DA as a virtual pop group and released the single POP/STARS in 2018. Real musicians provided vocals for the characters and the song has gained 400 million views on YouTube. In a unique promotional campaign, they also created character Seraphine and promoted her on social media. Her Instagram showcases that she is an indie music producer, who even releases songs on SoundCloud. In 2020, they released a collaboration between K/DA and Seraphine while also confirming Seraphine as a new playable character. K/DA’s second single, MORE, has around 77 million views.

There is no doubt that virtual influencers are ideal for business. They are perfectly framed in whatever light the company desires without the hassle of paying them, worrying about scheduling, and other human concerns. While this is an amazing step in technology, there is something dreary about it as well. What does this mean for the future? Will virtual models replace human models? Do virtual models have rights that need to be protected? What are the ethical dilemmas here?

I’m both fascinated and puzzled by what this means for the industry.

Western accolades – why do you fear awarding Asians?

Commentary: There's nothing 'foreign' about Minari - The Aquinian

The 2021 Golden Globe Awards took place just a few days ago and it was truly a reflection of the times. Celebrities, unable to walk the red carpet due to COVID, hired photographers and other staff to have photoshoots at home. They gussied up as best they could while sitting on their sofas waiting for announcements. The Golden Globe Awards is known for celebrating both American and international films and television, which made the online audience accessible for those around the world. While stars and others alike celebrated their wins and nominations, the Golden Globes had a controversy that had been bubbling under the radar.

When film Minari was nominated for Foreign Language Film, it stirred conversation online – both positive and mainly negative. Minari follows the story of a Korean family immigrating to Arkansas and details the experience of adjusting to the American life in the 1980s. The family converses in both Korean and English, with Korean-American actors Steven Yeun and Alan Kim as well as Korean actors like Yeri Han and Yuh-Jung Youn. Due to the usage of the Korean language in the film, the Golden Globes stated that Minari was not eligible for other nominations because it was being counted as foreign film – despite being filmed in America, having an American director, and featuring Asian American actors.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Associate (HFPA) rules that a film must be 50% in English to be eligible for main awards. This isn’t surprising as critically acclaimed films like The Farewell and Parasite have also been ineligible for awards due to the movie being mainly in an Asian language. The problem comes from the inconsistency of said rule.

“In the foreign language category, the HFPA’s strict 50-50 language rule has fluctuated in the past, allowing films such as “Babel” and “Inglourious Basterds” — both of which coincidentally starred Brad Pitt — to be nominated for best picture, drama, with “Babel” winning the prize.” (Jen Yamato, Los Angeles Times)

Inglourious Basterds is only about 30% in English, with the rest of the dialogue in German, French, and Italian.  So what circumstances allow the 50-50 language rule to be bent? Apparently no one knows, but an investigation on the HFPA about the lapse in their ethics and lack of diversity on their 87 member board might clue you in. The 50-50 rule is even stranger when you consider that the United States does not have an official language – English just happens to be most commonly used.

Minari, a film about another aspect of the American experience in America with Asian-American actors and an Asian-American director – is considered foreign simply for having a language other than English. The Farewell, a film about another aspect of the American experience in America with Asian-American actors and an Asian-American director – is also considered foreign simply for having a language other than English. Inglourious Basterds, a film about an alternate history of Nazi Germany with American and European actors and an American director – is not considered foreign despite not being based in America and having several languages other than English.

What is the difference then?

If anything, it has more to do with the western misconception that “American” equals cishet white people. It doesn’t have anything to do with the language – Asian people just aren’t considered for western success.

Rina Sawayama: "Us pop girls are really trying to lift 2020 in the only way  we can!" | Features | DIY
Rina Sawayama

This isn’t anything new with western accolades. British pop star Rina Sawayama was not considered “British enough” to be eligible for the Brit Awards and The Mercury Prize despite living in the United Kingdom for 25 years and having a right to work in the UK and permanent residency. Part of the entry process is to provide proof of citizenship and because Sawayama has retained her Japanese citizenship, she was not eligible.  But in 2005 Antony and the Johnsons, a New-York based group and resident of the United States, was eligible because they owned a British passport. Many have called out the gate-keeping nature of the Brit Awards as problematic, even describing it as “border control.”

Just this year, the Brit Awards changed their eligibility guidelines thanks to the outpour of support for Sawayama, with twitter trending #SawayamaIsBritish in the UK. The new rule states that artist who have been a UK resident for more than 5 years qualify.

Even if Asian people from Asia succeed in the west, western accolades continue to shut them out. The Grammy 2021 nominations confused many when South Korean band, BTS, was only nominated for one award even with their dominance on the American music charts rivaling the likes of Doja Cat and Lady Gaga. Expert predictions assumed that the band would at least be nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album but when the nominee list came out, many claimed that BTS were snubbed. Acts like Justin Bieber, Harry Styles and Dua Lipa were nominated despite BTS’ submitted album, Map of the Soul:7, outselling the nominees. Taylor Swift and BTS were the only artists in all of 2020 to sell half a million copies of an album in the United States, yet only Taylor Swift’s album Folklore was nominated.

While some take comfort in the fact that BTS at least have one nomination, it can’t be ignored that BTS were shut out of last year’s Grammy awards as well despite having one of the most successful tours of 2019 and only received a nomination once they sang a song in English.

JUNGKOOK BTS on Instagram: “bts with taylor swift ✌🏻” | Billboard music  awards, Taylor swift, Bts boys
Korean band BTS with Taylor Swift at the Billboard Music Awards

The language barrier appears to exist as an excuse for western award organizations to ignore and discredit work based on the need to other Asians. Board members for awards need to not only be diverse in their background, but cultural understanding as well. By diversifying the members, they would be able to see that the American experience is varied in its makeup. Americans love to brag about America being a melting pot of cultures – then why not celebrate the different languages and cultures that make it so? By limiting what media is worthy of celebration, it closes the door on sharing the various perspectives that art, film, and music have to offer.

“The Dark Side of K-pop” narrative is rooted in xenophobia

Blackpink from YG Entertainment

As an Asian-American, Korean popular music which is widely known as K-pop, was never unknown to me. Like any other form of music, K-pop was always there – so the recent surge of coverage in American media is somewhat odd. It’s as if America is a late bloomer to anything outside of America and now we’re watching the west try to play catch up with the K-pop wave, which has already made its home around the rest of the world. K-pop blew up in the late ‘90s and early 2000s and has become better known in recent years for its flashy choreography, vibrant colors, and meticulously put together groups.

And every few months, an examination of K-pop’s “dark side” appears.

Again.

And again.

The K-pop industry is notorious for its treatment of its stars, referred to as idols. Idols are celebrities who have undergone extensive training (dance, vocal, media, etc.) and are produced by a company. This isn’t actually restricted to just Korea as China and Japan also have idols, but a lot of the whispers about the K-pop industry are more popularized. Rigorous years of training, strict dating rules, lack of autonomy – the infamous “factory manufactured idol” is common knowledge. The discussion that “idols are like robots” is had every time a K-pop act blows up and it’s unavoidable, especially considering how prevalent it is in the industry. Scandals from prostitution to abuse fill the crevices of the industry.

But the strangest thing to me, is why there is such a fixation on the salaciousness of the K-pop industry.

Now don’t get me wrong – that’s not to defend the industry. As a matter of fact, I actually don’t even really like K-pop. In the same way I can name maybe Shania Twain as the only country singer I ever listened to actively, I can name maybe two K-pop groups I listen to regularly. But there’s something uncomfortable about the American media pushing that K-pop idols are nothing more than puppets and robots and then Hollywood shoe horning Asians into roles where they are unfeeling robotic entities who have no autonomy in their lives.

The stereotype of Asians being docile isn’t anything new as Asian women are often touted as submissive and obedient in media and Asian men are often shown as undesirable because they’re not as “masculine” as other races. So it doesn’t seem like a coincidence that Americans are looking at K-pop idols as something with no autonomy or voice.

Therein lies an inherent problem with American reporting on the K-pop industry and it’s the tendency to other Asians based on racist stereotypes. Because of these caricatures of Asians, American media is having a difficult time acknowledging the boom of the K-pop industry and is incapable of separating K-pop from the racist lens they have of Asians. They can’t help but look for negatives because that is what supports their preferred narrative.

Often people look at the K-pop industry scandals and comment “wow how can Koreans let that happen!” and “I don’t understand that culture”. The most popular arguments fall under the notion that the same scandals just don’t happen in the American music industry.

I’m here to tell you that it does – you’re just not paying attention because it’s American.

The recent Britney Spears documentary, Framing Britney Spears, has sparked a conversation online about the safety of American musicians. People are flooding to Spears’ support (and rightfully so), but the most commonly asked question is “how could anyone let this happen?” Unfortunately, Spears’ struggle against her family for independence isn’t private knowledge. It’s been public knowledge since 2008, when her father received control over her financial assets. For over 10 years Spears’ situation has been reported time and time again, but only now is it finally being acknowledged. It isn’t rare for injustices in the American music industry to be glossed over.

Michael Jackson, a legendary music icon, will forever be associated with Leaving Neverland, a documentary following the stories of the survivors of his sexual abuse toward minors. But that doesn’t stop anyone from playing his music at family events or his media presence even after death. Surviving R.Kelly is a documentary that details the decades of sexual abuse R.Kelly got away with in the music industry – and he did it all in plain sight. R.Kelly’s infamous sex tape depicted him engaging in sexual acts with a minor and instead of reprimanding him for it, it was turned into a part of culture. From Dave Chapelle’s skits to homages in other songs, R.Kelly’s sexual abuse was well-known, especially among those in the music industry. And in the year of 2021, he still hasn’t answered for his crimes.

Pop singer Ke$ha suffered emotional abuse and gender discrimination at the hands of her music producer, Dr. Luke and still hasn’t won her lawsuits. Dr. Luke continues to make music for acts like Doja Cat, Kim Petras, and more.

One Direction, formed by Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell, known for acts like One Direction and Fifth Harmony, has a reputation of taking away the creative freedom (overall freedom really) from his artists and setting up “slave contracts”. A contract leak showed that One Direction were not allowed to speak poorly of him, and two members suffered from anxiety while in the group. A recording from a member of Fifth Harmony was leaked where one of the members states “They are making decisions on a regular basis to fuck us over, to make us literal slaves, like literally slaves” while being comforted by another member. None of this seems to impact Cowell’s career as he continues to land gigs as a judge on music shows and creating new bands.

The list goes on from P. Diddy’s alleged slave contracts to Megan Thee Stallion suing her record label in order to release new music.

So why don’t Americans spotlight these issues in the same way? In the same way that Koreans might say “well that’s how it is in the industry”, Americans turn a blind eye to the injustices in the American music industry as well. It is a well known fact that the American music industry is predatory, but it is chalked up to a “dog eat dog world” – if you want success you have to suffer for it. If American musicians are being controlled and media manufactured, it is because that’s the price they must pay for fame.

But it’s much easier to be critical of something in another country than it is to be critical of something in your own country. It’s easier to look at another country and say “that’s wrong and something should change” because you’re not expected to act with that knowledge. When looking at your own country and saying “that’s wrong something and should change” that responsibility falls on the people in that country. By writing narratives about docile Asians who must be controlled and pairing that with the rise of the K-pop industry, while also ignoring that the same plights are had in the American music industry, it becomes xenophobic.

While there’s nothing wrong with exploring the negative intricacies of the K-pop industry, it is xenophobic when the lens is directed at it only because it is an “other”.  I wish American media would focus less on the problems in another country’s music industry and more on the problems in our own music industry, but that also asks for American reporters to step back and reexamine their biases. That will probably take another ten years or so. In reality all I can ask is that anyone reading this understands that when being critical of another country, first think about whether or not you are critical of the same thing in your country. If you struggle with this thought, then that should give you the answer.

Are microtransactions in games an avenue to gambling addictions?

Everyone spends money frivolously on at least one thing. Pre-COVID, I attended the movie theatre monthly. It didn’t matter whether the movie was decent or objectively trash, it was a minor activity I could splurge an extra $20 on. Fast forward to current times, mid-COVID – I have a lot of extra cash with nowhere to go.

The inability to really “go” anywhere seems to be taking its toll on people. Recently, I had a conversation with a close friend about how their family is doing during social distancing. They stated that yes, they were worried about their family’s health, but more than anything they were concerned about their parent’s gambling addiction.

What is a gambling addiction?

Don’t most people enjoy spending a little money for the possibility of a win? My parents sometimes indulge in a scratch-off or the occasional Powerball ticket. I never thought of it as a problem, but that is most likely because my parents have the ability to say “okay, time to stop.” Gambling addictions may sound lightweight, but it’s actually quite the public health concern. It’s classified as an impulse-control disorder and can harm psychological and physical health. People with a gambling addiction struggle with the ability to stop.

And what about the symptoms? “Returning to gamble after losing money” and “lying to conceal gambling activities” sound like rather normal reactions when getting caught unnecessarily spending money, but that’s where gambling addictions become a threat. It’s hard to identify and easy to conceal. Gambling addicts may feel a personal investment in their gambling with little payout and continue to feel a sense of achievement. They may spend a large amount of money (that they may not even have) for a reward that is objectively less.

It’s not about the reward itself at that point, it becomes about the feeling of winning against small odds.

Gambling in COVID

You can imagine that having excess money accumulate over months of social distancing can make one feel as if they have more freedom to spend recklessly. While my friend’s parents haven’t been making trips to the casino as often due to COVID, they’re still getting their gambling fix through other means – smart phone app stores.

“They can find all these video games through the app store,” my friend explained. “It’s not a slot machine, but you can keep going and going until you’re satisfied with your digital reward. It’s the same thing.” Most phone apps you download nowadays have the option of paying in exchange for a little something. Microtransactions have became a norm among all apps and video games.

Micro transactions appear to bank on pushing the limitations of a person’s impulse-control. Facebook was when free games with microtransaction began (seriously, reading the history of micro transactions make you realize that Facebook games were testing the waters) but one of the most popular current forms of this are gacha games. Gacha games are free games that let you essentially “roll” for a chance to get a limited character, outfit, etc. You’re basically turning your real-world money into fake money to get an item that doesn’t exist in reality but in a digital space. With COVID and our inability to really go anywhere, this seems like a real threat for anyone trying to pass time playing any phone app or video game with microtransactions.

One such game that’s blowing up right now is Genshin Impact. The game launched late fall of 2020 and before the end of 2020 already gained around $6 million every day. Like most gacha games, Genshin Impact is free with optional microtransactions. The game’s gacha allows players to roll for characters or weapons, with rare characters and weapons changing every 2-3 weeks. One article notes:

“The game’s rarest characters and weapons have an absurdly low acquisition chance of 0.6 percent; that rises to 5.1 percent for other characters and middle-of-the-road weapons. A pity system guarantees players will unlock a rare item every 90 rolls; a more common item, every 10 rolls. Even with daily play, it could take players months to possibly acquire a specific rare character or weapon. With the game’s rarest characters (referred in-game as “5 stars”) available only for a limited period (usually three weeks), Genshin Impact is designed to perpetuate FOMO.” (Indiewire, 2020)

A 0.5 %to 5.1% chance of acquiring a digital award isn’t even 50% of a chance yet Genshin Impact is making bank. Using the idea that a player is guaranteed a rate item at some point, the game succeeds in making players feel as if they’re actually making some sort of progress by spending money. Of course that’s not to say the fault is entirely on the companies for exploiting this as people are responsible for themselves, but it’s a tactic seeped in psychology. Genshin Impact players can pay $5 for 300 Genesis Crystals (the in-game currency) to pay for extra goodies, which doesn’t seem like much until you realize that Genesis Crystals aren’t actually what is used to roll for characters. Players must exchange Genesis Crystals for Primogems at a 1:1 ratio. 160 Primogems allow players to roll a single time while 1,600 Primogems allow players to roll 10 times.

So let’s do the math. 300 Genesis Crystals gets a player 300 Primogems. It takes 160 Primogems for a single roll.

300 – 160 = 140.

300 Primogems only gives a player 1 roll with 140 Primogems leftover.

And it isn’t a coincidence that players have 140 Primogems leftover. Players can also spend $0.99 for 60 Genesis Crystals, converting into 60 Primogems. For two rolls, players can spend $6. The most expensive purchase, $99.99 for 6,480 Genesis Crystals (converting into exactly 6,480 Primogems) gives players about 40 rolls. Players are guaranteed a rare character or weapon at 90 rolls, which means that even the most expensive microtransaction doesn’t guarantee that players even get the rare item.

With the cost and low percentage of success, players are encouraged to spend money again and again. This definitely reads like a slots machine at a casino – each machine is programmed to reward less than the money put in, which gives the casino profit. The slim chance of winning doesn’t even register for most people as they believe “it’s just $5″ until it turns into “it’s just $100.”

Microtransactions in videogames can put anyone at risk of developing a gambling addiction under the innocent visuals. Of course there are precautions that responsible adults can take, but the problem with microtransactions in games is its accessibility. This could be seen as an easier avenue for a gambling addiction to be born, especially because there is no age limit to an app or video game (because really – all you need is a password or a parent to buy their kid that rated M Dead by Daylight). Kids can start gaining an addiction early on and we hear plenty of stories about children spending $16k on an iPad game.

In our current day and age, there doesn’t seem to be many solutions. Every individual is different and the only thing we can really tell one another is to be mindful of spending. Recent conversations on Twitter have stirred discussions on prevention practices. I for one am trying to be a little more mindful of that excess money I mentioned earlier…especially because I play Genshin Impact. I haven’t spent any money yet, but everyday it looks tempting.

Blog Post 1: Graduating during COVID

During the onset of COVID-19, most Americans believed that the pandemic would subside within the span of a year. 2020 graduates had the unique experience of graduating and moving onto a new segment of their life without an actual celebration. Many universities canceled their ceremonies – rendering the gown and cap seemingly useless. Their families didn’t get to cheer for them as they walked across a stage and they had to wait for their diplomas to be mailed to them without the pleasure of accepting it on stage. 2020 graduates then struggled with the frustration of knowing that all their effort over the years felt unrewarded.

New Year’s has passed and it is now 2021. COVID-19 is as rampant as ever – perhaps even more so. While vaccines are finally available in Minnesota, there is no telling when it will be regulated to every Minnesotan.

Just the thought alone emerges with complicated feelings, but 2021 graduates have the advantage that 2020 graduates did not – trial and error. During 2020, universities tried various methods to ensure that their graduates could celebrate. The most common method was an online virtual celebration, where peers could congratulate each other in a chat box. This came with its own challenges as livestreams froze, names were skipped, and more. The effort was appreciated as most of the complications occurred due to the last minute planning.

But 2021 graduates have quite a few months to go before graduation, which means they have more time to plan and offer insight to the university before the ceremony. 2021 graduates can contact their universities and share ideas. What do you want to see? What would you like offered? 2021 graduates have the time to take it upon themselves to let their university grow its options and work as a team with its staff. You would be surprised at how a single suggestion can grow multiple branches of action.