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Ring in my Pocket

This little essay is about cultural privilege and, eventually, video games. It just takes a little while to get to the games, so bear with me.

When I decided that being a "sensitive guy" wasn't good enough, and that I wanted to better understand who I was in terms of what the experience of others was like, I made a horrid discovery. I had a ring in my pocket - no, not just a ring, but THE ring, the "one ring to rule them all." Worse, I'd been slipping it on and off heedlessly, nearly unconsciously.

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Sex, Games and Fatherhood

As I'm writing this, my 2-month-old son is sleeping on my chest (in a wrap-type sling). I said that my comments on Gameology (regarding sex, relationships and romance in gaming) would be a combination of the academic and the personal. This post is going to be more toward the personal end of the spectrum.

My review of the Void went live on Play This Thing! last night, and I'm thinking about how that review turned in part into a discourse on Eastern Philosophy - and the review partially into an analysis of how I played that game.

I've been thinking about process a lot lately - the processes of human growth and development, the process of becoming a parent (a much longer and more complicated thing than reproducing, though human sexual reproduction is a wonder in itself). This has also brought my thoughts back to philosophies that are about process and becoming, rather than telos (ends, goals).

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Sexual and Romantic Content in Games

Having recently become a father, the issue of graphic and gratuitous violence in games has been in my thoughts lately. It probably says a lot about me that this leads me to wonder where all the games with sexual and romantic content are.

So, no, this isn't an anti-violence screed, though I am thoroughly bored with bodies that explode and splatter in viscerally rendered 3d. It's more of a pro-sex, or specifically sex-positive screed.

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Digital Project Pipeline

Many institutions have and are creating digital humanities centers to support the growing needs related to digital humanities research. For local researchers, additional support is always great news. In terms of the larger academic landscape, this is also great news because it means a stronger overall infrastructure for support for research that's interdisciplinary and technically demanding (e.g.; demanding of older computers and machinery, high level computing resources, community critical knowledge mass, etc.).

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Videogames and Digital Media at SCMS 2011

Are you going to the 2011 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference? If you are, you'll be glad to know there's a good representation of videogames and related topics on the schedule. This is thanks, mainly, to the nascent Video Game Studies Interest Group, which has sponsored several of these sessions. When I planned my travel to the recent MLA conference, I benefited from Mark Sample's list of digital humanities sessions. Therefore, I thought a similar list of SCMS sessions would be helpful, so I've included one below. I've listed sessions that explicitly mention videogames or something digital, but if I missed one or you know of one that should be added, please let me know!

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Indie games and "that solitude whose final form is one's confrontation with one's own mortality"

One Chance: One Chance, by AwkwardSilenceGamesOne Chance: Opening screen

"One Chance" by AwkwardSilenceGames is the latest short, clever, experimental, depressing gamelike experience (SCEDGE) to make rounds as Something Interesting to Look At. That this game will someday soon be part of someone's conversation about whether games are art seems inevitable, if not for the painterly textures of its abstract, pixelated imagery, then more so because of the validation implied by diverse channels through which this game has appeared on my radar. These channels include reddit, where the comment threads pick apart the moral implications of various choices, and my twitter network, where the game is compared (favorably, it seems) with William Gibson's self-destructing, poetic experiment in digital and literary obsolescence:

The Agrippa of games! RT @marcruppel: One Chance: a game that allows the player just that: one chance at a playthrough. http://bit.ly/epeIasless than a minute ago via Echofon

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A Letter from the Digital Front

I have a couple of ideas I've been chewing on for gameology, but all I've completed recently is a couple more reviews for Play This Thing! The first one is on Brendon Chung's "real-time turn-based" space strategy game Flotilla. You may remember Chung's freeware title, "Gravity Bone" - this game shows his quirky sense of humor as well. The other review is my take on the history of a genre as much as it is about the recent"Space Hulk" port Alien Assault. Let me know what you think.

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Art Appreciation & Gaming?

I have a new review up at Play this Thing, of Cryptic Comet's new PBEM TBS Solium Infernum.

In working on this, I became wrapped up in just how contemplative the game is. No animations, no time pressure, just interesting art, design, and flavor text (but almost no plot). I'm working on a paper on the deliberate incorporation of board game elements into original video games, but some of what I came up with isn't what I'd expected to find.

Thoughts?

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A Videogame Canon

What are the greatest or most important videogames of all time? Which games are most deserving of archival priority, and which should we recognize as part of cultural or institutional knowledge?

These are the questions asked in 2007 by a committee of game scholars, developers and journalists (Henry Lowood,Warren Spector, Steve Meretzky, Matteo Bittanti, and Christopher Grant). The result, in no particular order:

Spacewar!, Zork, Sensible Soccer, Civilization, Warcraft, SimCity, Doom, Tetris, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Star Raiders.

Certainly, any top ten list will generate some controversy. Some of those games listed above are no-brainers, other's less so. Still others are real head scratchers.

Anyone familiar with the discourse of literary studies over the past few decades will be well aware of the intellectual and political stakes in canon-formation, but a simple look through Digg or Cracked.com reveals how much appeal a top-ten list can have.

More importantly, the kinds of questions a game canon raises are useful pedagogical ones, and so this past semester I led a seminar with our mission to investigate them further. In what follows, I want to reflect on the seminar -- which I think was moderately successful -- and reveal our findings: a new list of games to add to the original ten.

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Strategy Game Reviews

It's been too long since I posted anything to gameology. Most of my work online in the last year has been for Play This Thing! and I'm looking into becoming a regular blogger for Alltern8. My hope is that doing a daily blog will help keep the juices flowing, allowing me to post more often here as well.

In case you're curious, here are links to my reviews for Play This Thing!
(newest to oldest)

Gratuitous Space Battles

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