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!Continue reading ...
"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:
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.Continue reading ...
Hello. Welcome to Gameology 2.0 (beta).
The site you see before you represents a major upgrade to Gameology.org. We're still running things with Drupal, but it's a much more advanced Drupal (6.x) than the ancient (4.6) software we were running (unpatched) at the old site. This new site should be much more stable, and much easier to use.
One major difference is that non-users can now become users simply by creating an account. This account will let you post comments (though you can still post comments anonymously) and submit CFPs, Events and Links for moderation.Continue reading ...
The organizers of the 2008 Meaningful Play Conference want to remind you that the deadline for submissions is soon:
So if you like waiting until the last minute to submit things, this is it!
Gamasutra has just published an excellent feature article on the history of the GCE Vectrex console, by Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton of Armchair Arcade (Matt is also a contributor to Gameology). Their article covers the history and hardware of this odd and wonderful system, which I'm quite fond of. As anyone who has recently visited my apartment knows, I acquired a Vectrex a few months ago and am eager to encourage guests to try it out. So far, I only have Berzerk and the built in Mine Storm, but those are plenty fun.Continue reading ...
I am increasingly fascinated with cultural forms which, though obviously unrelated to actual game technology, can tell us something about the aesthetics or textuality of videogames. This is a recurring theme in my dissertation work, and it leads to interesting finds like the one I present to you today. De Stijl was a Dutch artistic movement founded in 1917 and organized around its eponymous publication, De Stijl. Also known as "neoplasticism," the group was more or less guided by Theo van Doesburg and his philosophical concepts of aesthetics, which was to some extent based on the theosophy of M. H. J. Schoenmaekers. (Here's an interesting article by Jessica Helfand on the subject ).
Many De Stijl works are recognizable for their geometric precision and simple color pallets. Piet Mondrian's compositions in primary colors and right-angles are an example of this. I don't claim to be an art history expert, but as I understand it, van Doesburg's goal (articulated in a series of manifestos) was to find universal principles of aesthetics or a universal language of form that could be used in any context toward the same ends. While this often resulted in pure abstraction, this generally means stripping form down to its essential or minimal components so that any representational quality remaining is ambiguous.Continue reading ...
In the latest installment of the DiGRA Hardcore Column, Diane Carr discusses the role textual analysis can and should play in the study of videogames. Her column, "Un-Situated Play? Textual Analysis and Digital Games," responds specifically to some implications of the DiGRA 2007 call for papers and more generally to the emphasis on structuralist approaches within the field. The value of textual analysis is something that I, as a grad student in an English department, have long taken for granted, so it is refreshing to read Carr's succinct and compelling argument in its favor. In a nutshell, Carr is arguing that we should not dismiss textual analysis for its shortcomings, but rather embrace the strengths that it does offer for understanding games as sites of meaning production.Continue reading ...
M/C: A Journal of Media and Culture just published their most recent issue, "Error," which contains an excellent article by Elizabeth Losh on the whole SonicJihad episode. This was the snafu in which the highly paid consultant firm SAIC testified before congress about Islamist's use of the internet for recruiting, in which they provided evidence that the terrorists were modding videogames for training purposes. The "evidence" (video after the jump) turned out to be a fan-made video of Battlefield 2 with dialog taken from Team America: World Police. You may recall that Ian and Gonzalo at Water Cooler Games did much of the detective work that brought the real story to light.Continue reading ...
I used to be a regular viewer of Homestarrunner -- my wife and I faithfully watched each new Strongbad Email the moment it went up on the site -- but for whatever reason, as with most things, I gradually lost interest and found my way into new habits. On a whim, I checked up on Strongbad today, and was pleasantly surprised to find a good Strongbad Email that also gives me an excuse to write a blog on the dissertation chapter I'm currently working on.
The SBEmail itself is a riff on web comics, and Strongbad take shots at Penny Arcade, 8-Bit Theatre, and other. What got me interested, though, was his presentation of Saturday morning cartoons based on videogames. The premise is that all web comics are about video games, but videogames have historically suffered worse fates in the form of crappy cartoons. Especially in light of our recent conversation on abstraction, it's interesting to see how the challenges of negotiating abstraction through an adaptation are deployed for the purposes of humor -- especially the cartoon adaptation of the text adventure Thy Dungeonman.Continue reading ...