Colloquium Explores Impact of Violent Computer Games, State-sponsored Surveillance in Syria

How computer video games influence violence in society and the impact of state-sponsored surveillance in Syria are the subjects of two upcoming lectures by video game expert Jason Shankel and Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The discussions are part of the Computer Science Colloquium hosted by the Computer Science Department and held at noon in Salazar 2016.

shankel.jpgTackling the topic of the impact of violent computer games on society on Thursday, Jan. 31, writer, coder, filmmaker and game developer Shankel is intimately familiar with "first-person shooter" and other games of a violent nature such as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and numerous others.

His lecture, entitled "Interactive Entertainment and Social Responsibility," examines the issues of social responsibility in electronic entertainment. "From video games to the Internet to mobile devices, the entertainment aspect of modern technology has become a very powerful force in society" Shankel said." And with great power, so the saying goes, comes great responsibility."

A software engineer and game developer with 17 years experience in the interactive entertainment industry, Shankel graduated from UCLA in 1992 with a B.S. in computer science and electrical engineering. In 1994, he joined Maxis where he worked on SimCity and The Sims and, most recently, was a lead gameplay engineer on Spore. Shankel is currently a lead prototype engineer at The Stupid Fun Club, an IP and creative development firm founded by SimCity and Sims creator Will Wright.

Eva GalperinEva Galperin is the International Freedom of Expression Coordinator at EFF, an organization that defends the rights of individuals in a growing digital world. Her Thursday, Feb. 7 talk - "All Your Bytes Belong to Us: The Changing Face of Internet Surveillance in Syria" - focuses on state-sponsored surveillance software being used in Syria to target journalists, dissidents, and protestors.

Over the course of the Syrian uprising, the Assad regime has used a variety of strategies to spy on activists, dissidents, and members of the opposition in Syria. This talk traces the evolution of Syrian surveillance from Deep Packet Inspection using US-made Blue Coat devices to campaigns of phishing and covertly installed malware, describes the current state of Internet surveillance in Syria, and speculates about possible future developments.

For more information, contact George Ledin at

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