The Critical GeoWiki Experiment (and maps and stuff)

For one of our seminars this quarter, Bola King and I are experimenting with the concept of a Critical GeoWiki. The idea behind it is to take a map, make it publicly editable, and try to put it in the hands of academics as a plaything/tool. I've created one of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and was hoping some people around here would like to play around with it.

An excerpt from my how-to page:

For games like those in the The Legend of Zelda series, movement through mapped territory is central to the game's components, both narratively and ludologically. Maps play prominent roles in these games, acting at once as tools for completing tasks as well as records of past travels. The Critical GeoWiki Experiment aims to inscribe the stories and deeds of the hero on the overworld map and provide a collaborative forum for academics to mark and analyze patterns that develop on the map of one game.

The map is powered by worldKit, a pretty versatile Google Maps clone that allows any jpeg image to serve as the landscape, making it well suited to video game applications.

For those of you with more Second Life leanings, Bola's GeoWiki deals with
mapping issues in that environment. We will both have extended individual writeups in the next couple of weeks, as the quarter is coming to a close!

Anyway, feel free to poke around and add some stuff to the maps. It's not super user-friendly, but I don't yet have the coding expertise to tailor the program specifically to my needs. If the idea proves to be useful, I'll focus my energies on developing a more custom tool.

I'd love comments on how well you feel a tool like this would work in an academic setting. The Zelda games, with more or less fixed environments, are well suited to this application, but are there other games that could benefit from a Critical GeoWiki, as well? How theoretically sound is the idea of looking at a game from a zoomed-out perspective like this?

LttP GeoWiki

Amanda, this is a very neat project, and I'd like to see your writeup sometime if you wouldn't mind posting it. I'm reminded of the Game Ontology Project in that your project attempts to define structural game elements and the relationships between those elements (e.g., Big Fairy is defined by the "action" of healing).

What I find especially valuable about this in terms of game studies is that it juxtaposes these ontological descriptions with a couple other "levels" of commentary, namely, commentary about the computational nature of the game and its mediation through various platforms (with the comment on "Trees full of bees," for instance) and critique at the aesthetic and narrative level. With all of this going on, I imagine it wouldn't be too difficult for the visual layout of the map to become cluttered, but the zoom feature helps with that (potential) problem.

Writeup and other stuff

Thanks for the comments, Lee. I'm glad you enjoyed the project! The end-of-quarter writeup can be found on the course website here.

As for the clutter issue, I hope to get some time this summer to sit down with the code and improve the interface. Ultimately, I'd like users to be able to filter icons to get different perspectives on aspects of the game, and also to be able to switch between the different maps of Hyrule. As I said before, the GeoWiki interface is not the most user-friendly, but hopefully I can improve that.

Bola King and I are working at getting our own domain up, so for now the live version of the Critical GeoWiki is here. Feel free to add on, and email me if there are any problems.