Infographics

One infographic I’ve used in class recently is this 3-D plotting of millions of player deaths in a particular videogame. Can a video be an infographic? If so, I think this is one. I used it to try to make a point about maps. How versatile they can be – how useful knowing how to represent different kinds of information and to read different kinds of maps in geography can be, not just for understanding the physical world, but for understanding all kinds of systems and constructs, even virtual ones.

Maps and related geographical tools aren’t just about reproducing the locations of mountains and rivers in the real world – they can display any variable(s) the mapmakers want, in any kind of space, and are ways we can make sense of just about anything, even if it’s something as strange as determining where the deadliest areas of a particular video game are.

I also just like this video because there’s something so weird and poignant about it (helped by the music) – these tiny points of light are places where people died, but they weren’t people, they were just characters in a video game – and what does that mean? Is it possible for statistical information from a video game to evoke a genuine emotional response? What’s the point of all this deadly, simulated shared activity we’ve embarked on, anyway? Is it just to have fun or are we contributing to something larger? Can we start to bring out those deeper implications using things like this video? etc.

While we’re on the subject (artful presentations of mind-bogglingly high multiplayer video-game statistics), I also like this infographic on the first two weeks of Red Dead Redemption:

What I like about this one (setting aside the moral issues involved in all the crime players seem to have quickly racked up playing this cowboy game) is the way it uses statistics and thought-provoking real-world analogies to indirectly boast of a game’s popularity. I’d rather see something like this than a more traditional advertisement. I wonder how many of the “jobs that don’t even exit yet” that we’re supposedly preparing our students for will involve detailed statistical analysis of imaginary worlds?

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