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(2022) Ayshan, HanThesisVideo game trailers are an effective promotional form of intermediation that enables audiences to navigate and engage with old and new media. Although video game trailers function as advertisements designed to sell a game, they are also stories that provoke social media commentary and debate. Trailers aim to draw the viewer in, convey sound and imagery, and evoke an involuntary reaction of excitement and awe. In this thesis, I will be using the games Fallout 4, Watch Dogs 2, and Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. In the case studies, I investigate how viewers make sense of the promotional and storytelling aspects of video game trailers. I examine how video game trailers have the potential to arouse emotions and interest before viewers even play the game. Trailers provide an insight into the basic gameplay, not only into the gameplay but also into the story and the characters (protagonists and antagonists). They show audiences the video game theme genre and provide the viewer with a visual and auditory tool to entice possession. This project explores these themes, showing how video game trailers have an inherited cinematic quality but also how trailers actually spend little time presenting actual gameplay. There is a clear connection with movie trailers, teasing the events that will take place in the game and asking the player what will happen next. In this study, I used the methods of narrative analysis and textual analysis to analyse comments from YouTube, Facebook, and a survey of video gamers. The textual analysis of the trailers raises questions of representation and authenticity. In this research, I identified an incongruity between the representation of the core features of a game and the promotion of those features in the trailer. The narrative analysis of the trailers focused on storytelling and emplotment in the trailers. A key theme that has emerged from the analysis is that superheroes engage in vigilantism, a justifiable form of self-administered violence. Gamers may feel at ease with the violence used to correct perceived injustices. There is potential for gamers to consider the moral grey area of vigilante violence and romanticised vigilantism. With their enhanced ability to simulate complex interactive narratives for actual and simulated authenticity, video games offer a sophisticated engagement with players that contributes significantly to their widespread and universal support. The role of culturally created characters in the experience of playing a video game helps stimulate philosophical research. I explore whether normative audience expectations can speed up the development of cultural expectations about the relationship between the player and the narrative of the game and its audience. In this context, I examine case study video game trailers and ask what it means to revise our understanding of the relationship between power, law, and morality while playing the game. I examine and critique how the narrative, and thus the mechanics of a specific game, shapes our understanding of connection, power, law, or morality; I contend that prestige reflects normative privilege and law.
Cognitive aging in people living with HIV: concept development and empirical evidence from several longitudinal cohorts in Australia and beyond(2022) Aung, Htein LinnThesisWith widespread access to combination anti-retroviral therapy (cART) and HIV suppression, life expectancy among people living with HIV (PLHIV) is increasing more than ever. According to UNAIDS, there were 8.1 million older PLHIV (i.e., 50 years of age and over) in 2020 globally. Although HIV-associated dementia has become rare in the cART era, mild neurocognitive impairments remain prevalent among PLHIV (~30% in virally suppressed). With aging, there is an increasing concern that HIV may precipitate neurocognitive abnormal aging because HIV is associated with increased markers of aging (e.g., immunosenescence and hyper-coagulopathy) and multiple age and HIV-related comorbidities (e.g., cardiovascular diseases). Importantly, these comorbidities occur at an earlier age and at a higher rate among PLHIV compared to age-matched HIV-negative persons. Earlier, more severe and more rapidly progressing neurocognitive impairment would have major public health consequences for the millions of PLHIV and the healthcare system. The overarching aim of this PhD thesis is to determine whether having chronic stable HIV infection and suppressive ART is associated with abnormal cognitive aging including premature cognitive aging (HIV and age synergistically/addictively lead to much lower cognitive performance at a younger age compared to controls), accentuated cognitive aging (HIV and age synergistically/addictively lead to much greater prevalence and severity of neurocognitive impairment), and/or accelerated cognitive aging (HIV and age synergistically/ addictively lead to much more rapid progression of neurocognitive impairment). To address these questions, we used a range of scientific methodologies including a systematic review, and several types of advanced statistical analyses using national and international longitudinal cohort data. First, to contextualise the potential public health consequences of cognitive aging in PLHIV, we conducted a narrative review of the burden of established dementia risk factors among PLHIV. We identified that the burden of several major dementia risk factors is much greater among PLHIV than in the general population. Second, we conducted the first-ever systematic review evaluating the current evidence for premature, accentuated and accelerated cognitive aging among PLHIV. We determined moderate evidence for premature cognitive aging and strong evidence for accelerated cognitive aging, while accentuated cognitive aging had not been optimally assessed. Lastly, addressing the previous literature major limitations (low sample size, cross-sectional study design, low proportion of older PLHIV, and inadequate controls/norms), we quantified the profiles of cognitive aging in four longitudinal studies of PLHIV. We demonstrated robust trends for premature cognitive aging among PLHIV compared to age-matched HIV-negative persons. We also demonstrated that older PLHIV had a higher risk for both neurocognitive impairment and neurocognitive decline compared to younger PLHIV, while controlling for normative age effect. These results are indicative of both accentuated and accelerated aging, although our research identified the need for longer-term studies using very large sample size to assess these trends especially in PLHIV older than 70+. Based on these findings, we discussed implications for clinical practice and future research directions.
Empirical Investigations Into the Role of the Self-Concept in Product Semantics and Aesthetic Experience: An Industrial Design Perspective(2022) Sunstrum, FrederiqueThesisUnderstanding product semantics and affective perceptions of product consumers undoubtedly offer significant value for industrial designers and their design practice. Deconstructing affective perceptions is a methodologically challenging task as it is implicit and subjective and is influenced by an individual’s aesthetic experience. Accordingly, how products are perceived differs among individuals or consumers, particularly in the distinct experiences that contribute to constructing an individual’s sense of perception of self or self-concept. Furthermore, research has shown that individuals are implicitly drawn to products that reaffirm and communicate their self-concept. If an individual’s preferences for products can reflect or enhance their self-concept, this suggests that understanding the underlying perceptual processes between the self-concept and product semantics can productively inform industrial design research. The thesis research develops and adapts methods from the disciplines of psychology, marketing, and industrial design to investigate these underlying perceptual processes of the self-concept and its relationships to product semantics. The thesis research investigates the underlying processes through a study on kettles that discloses the variances in sensory and cognitive evaluation and judgements through the process of aesthetic experience. The thesis further investigates the cognitive influences of the self-concept to reveal the mental models associated with the visual aesthetics of product form and how this influences aesthetic responses through product personality congruence. The thesis argues that the self-concept is a multidimensional construct reflected, in particular, through an individual’s (1) gender identity, (2) personality, (3) aesthetic sensitivity, and (4) interest, taste, and goals, that plays a vital role in the aesthetic experience of products. The thesis’s findings indicate that these individual components of the self-concept are essential in that they interplay in how the symbolic meaning of product semantics is visually perceived. The outcome of this thesis assists in, primarily, revealing the underlying stages of visual aesthetic processing to understand how product semantics is perceived through an individual’s self-concept.
Quantifying various thunderstorm characteristics during high impact events using radar and satellite observations(2022) Ayat, HoomanThesisClimate change is expected to change the intensity and frequency of heavy storms. Thus, understanding different characteristics of this phenomena (i.e., intensity, size, speed, direction, etc.) is vital for the effective climate adaptation. Many extreme storms have small areas and short lifetimes (sub-daily/hourly) and can have destructive impacts, especially over urban areas. Therefore, it is vital to understand the nature of changes in these extremes to reduce the risk of their destructive impacts on cities. The overarching goal of this thesis is to quantify various storm characteristics, including their changes, using radar and satellite observations. Using an object-based technique, I compare the Integrated Multi-Satellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) and ground radar based Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor Quantitative Precipitation Estimates (MRMS) over the United States and show that the object-based storm properties are not sensitive to the observational platforms. However, there are differences that are statistically significant. Secondly, I investigate the error sources associated with different types of contributing data in the IMERG during the hurricane days occurred in 2016-2018 with MRMS as the reference. The results show that IMERG have better agreement with MRMS during the passive microwave (PMW) observations compared to rainfall estimates come from the combination of the interpolation techniques and infrared observations (morph/IR). Also, the quality of morph/IR estimates deteriorates with the longer absence of PMW observations. Thirdly, I establish an object-based climatology of rain systems using radar data near Sydney, Australia. The results show that rain systems in different seasons have distinct object-based characteristics, and these differences are dependent on their source of origins and also their positions over land and ocean. Using a two-step clustering algorithm, I have found five system types over Sydney peaking in different seasons. While overall rainfall statistics don't show any link to climate modes, links do appear for some system types using a multivariate approach. Finally, I show that there is a robust increasing trend of 20% per decade in sub-hourly extreme rainfall in the Sydney region over 20 years, despite no evidence of trends on hourly or daily scales. I am able to obtain this new result via a novel analysis of long-term radar data, including cross-checking between neighboring radars.
Indigenous Rights in Just Transitions: Conceptualising Aotearoa New Zealand’s Transition to a Low-Carbon Society(2023) Jayasuriya, UshanaThesisThis thesis aims to clarify the concept of a just climate transition. I focus on the Aotearoa New Zealand context to illustrate how we might understand what is involved in a just transition and how we can measure if any transition is just. Within this context, the rights and interests of indigenous peoples, in Aotearoa New Zealand, Māori, are particularly relevant (Chapter Two). The thesis explores what a just transition for and with Māori should consist of in a multicultural society. Chapter Three introduces the capabilities approach as a useful tool for clarifying the substance of a just transition and addresses some challenges that it must overcome. Chapter Four begins the process of applying the conceptual aspects of the previous chapters to the Aotearoa New Zealand context. This chapter outlines some of the options for clean, renewable energy options in Aotearoa New Zealand, including some potential ethical concerns that might relate to them. The chapter also considers some cultural considerations and how these may influence what a just option ought to be. In particular, the chapter incorporates some Māori priorities and demonstrates how these might impact what is just for indigenous peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand. Finally, in Chapter Five I outline the principles that capture the nature of a just transition, using other frameworks and principles as a guide. This chapter also covers some other considerations for just transitions, such as why we might want to move away from a purely economic focus and how we might address issues of energy poverty. In addition, I discuss how to balance between the urgency to act on climate change and other imperatives of justice, which is an issue that has been raised by indigenous scholars.
(2023) Estrada Gonzalez, VicenteThesisArtworks are increasingly experienced in non-traditional platforms, from digital collections on museum websites to virtual gallery tours, making it important to investigate the context-dependent and context-independent aspects of aesthetic experience. While some studies have shown that artworks in the museum elicit a higher visual engagement than when presented on a screen, others reported divergent findings. This thesis suggests that such discrepancies may be due to the interaction between the artwork's physical and contextual characteristics and investigates how diverse aspects of viewing behaviour change between the museum, on-screen laboratory, and virtual gallery laboratory contexts. Fifteen paintings by different Australian artists from the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) were included as stimuli for the studies in this thesis. Mobile and screen-based eye movement recordings were used to index visual engagement (number of fixations, total and average fixation duration) with artworks across the three different contexts. Our first study (Chapter 2) compared the visual engagement of museum visitors in the AGNSW to that of participants looking at their digital reproductions in laboratory. We focused on how aspects of viewing behaviour, including viewing distance in the gallery condition and eye gaze measures such as fixation count, total fixation duration and average fixation duration are affected by the artworks’ physical characteristics, including size and image statistics properties such as Fourier amplitude spectrum, fractal dimension and entropy. The effects of these factors on visual engagement were then explored in a virtual gallery replica of the exhibition (Chapter 3). In a virtual gallery context, we also tested the impact of two additional context-dependent factors: the curatorial arrangement and further manipulations of the relative size of the paintings. Overall, the results show significant differences in viewing behaviour across different contexts, but also that the effects of presentation contexts are modulated by the artworks’ physical characteristics. In the final two studies, the thesis explores the effect of mere exposure on viewing behaviour in different contexts (Chapter 4) and the spatial and temporal image statistics of fixated compared to non-fixated regions of artworks in both the museum and on- screen viewing contexts (Chapter 5). The results show that visual engagement in the museum, but not on-screen, is enhanced by previous exposure to digital reproductions of artworks. Finally, Chapter 5 demonstrates that fixated and randomly selected regions differed in both spatial and temporal image statistics with more pronounced differences in the on-screen viewing condition. In sum, the thesis demonstrates that a combination of context-dependent variables (e.g., navigation, curatorial setting and relative size) and the low-level properties (e.g., fractal dimension, amplitude spectrum, entropy) of artworks influence visual engagement.
(2023) Jackson, NathanThesisTwitch.tv (‘Twitch’) is a livestreaming platform known for the live broadcasting (‘streaming’) of videogame-related content. It is also the most popular livestreaming platform in most countries. Drawing upon over one thousand hours of ethnographic observation across twenty-one Twitch channels, and six months of part-time streaming, this thesis investigates how streaming persona is constructed and performed on Twitch. Streaming persona, the thesis posits, is to be differentiated from more straightforward readings of streamer identity as performance. This thesis instead shows that streaming persona is constructed and performed collectively by both human and nonhuman actors in a Twitch stream. It does this by intervening in five core areas of interdisciplinary concern. The first of these explores new ways of understanding perceptions of authenticity that are constructed and denied as a result of streamer decisions, including an analysis of ways that gendered streamer performances affect perceptions of authenticity. Secondly, this thesis presents a new perspective on the conflicting and negotiated agencies of different stream actors during a stream, including games and the Twitch platform as nonhuman actors. The third core area of interest extends existing scholarship on moderation and governance by investigating boundary-work as a playful activity performed by multiple stream actors, including focused examinations of boundary-work associated with game-centric practices, such as spoiling content, and toxic behaviours. Fourthly, this thesis presents a highly novel exploration of how time on Twitch is arranged and experienced differently by different stream actors and the associated temporal politics of the platform. And fifthly, it intervenes in existing research on both games and Twitch by examining (digital) games as stream actors that perform alongside the streamer, spectators, and platform, thereby presenting new ways to understand games, game play, and why streaming and spectating game play are compelling activities. The concept of streaming persona allows for an exploration of how social identities are constructed and performed through and with the Twitch platform and its users. As such, it provides novel insights into the sociality, culture, politics, and economics of Twitch.