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Hey, something seems different around here ...

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.

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cfp

CFP Eludamos Perspectives: Next Gen

Submission Deadline: 
08/01/2009

We are opening the call for a special issue of Eludamos, titled: "Next Gen."
Guest editors are Thomas H. Apperley, Darshana Jayemanne and Christian McCrea.

Console gaming has already had more than one ‘Next Generation’. PC gamers feverishly upgrade their rigs with each new state of the art FPS. Periodisation is often a major preoccupation for critics and publics interested in other media, but in the case of videogames the rapid pace of technical development seems to set the agenda of generational change. Games are caught up, culturally as well as aesthetically and technically, in their own futurism: each generation claims to be both anticipation and fulfillment of an imagined horizon of experience. Simultaneously, older technologies find new uses and contexts within the very conditions of their supposed obsolescence. Gaming is constantly speculating on its own future and recalling its past in order to coordinate a restless present. Just how coherent are gaming’s generations, and is the adoption of such classifications from the wider culture useful or counter-productive for academic game studies?

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essay

The Kohen Gadol has Horns: the Fates of the Giants in Dominions 3

Abstract:

This essay presents an analysis of the deeply layered mythological, apocryphal and midrashic references in a faction of pseudo-/crypto-Jewish Giants (Nephilim and Rephaim) in the PBEM strategy game Dominions 3.

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Erik Loyer's Stories as Instruments or Why Isn't Bigger Always Better?

Interactive media artist Erik Loyer, perhaps most well known to academics as Creative Director of Vectors: Journal of Culture and Technology visited the University of California, Riverside earlier this week to give a talk titled “Stories as Instruments.”

Loyer explained his design philosophy that games should break free of the restrictions of plot-centric progression and character focused instrumentality (his recent innovative iPhone game Ruben and Lullaby is a particularly illustrative example of this trajectory). Loyer points to the genre of the musical as an important influence and model for new forms of storytelling in games. Musical arias feature characters that step just outside the world in moments of intense expression. Loyer analogized this as a blend of first and third person perspective. The singing character in the musical is locked into the narrative space contextually yet elaborating that context. The best games, according to Loyer, allow the player to assume this role: doing things as they should be done logically in the world but also knowing what one is doing.

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National Center for the History of Electronic Games

The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY houses the Center for the History of Electronic Games. According to their website the museum "collects, studies, and interprets electronic games and related material and the ways in which electronic games are changing how people play, learn, and connect with each other."

They have a collection of 15,000 items and, according to Kotaku, every console ever made on display.

Without question, this is game geek heaven and a productive development for game studies. I have heard similar rumblings from other academic game research centers about developing collections of materials for the study of games, but funding, especially right now, seems to be difficult to acquire for this incredibly necessary effort in the development of game studies. Developing these kinds of collections would be an immense help to those of us interested in historical approaches to game studies specifically in light of the hardware-centric scholarship being done in MIT's platform studies.

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Art Games by Patrick LeMieux

Art Games is a solo exhibition by Patrick LeMieux, an MFA Candidate in Digital Media Arts in the School of Art and Art History at the University of Florida. The exhibition features custom video games which explore concepts of mark-making, viewer agency, subjectivity, and gameplay as critical entryways into the history and production of art. Each video game locates the figure of a seminal artist within the landscape of their own artwork. Modeled after the juxtaposition of Ad Reinhardt's stark, black monochromes and wry, pedagogical comics, the video games stage imaginary confrontations between the artists and their minimal works--interaction signifying interpretation.

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Becoming Dragon: Race and the War Machine in Battle for Wesnoth's “Flight to Freedom”

Well, its been months, rather than the “week” I projected after my last post, but that's life in Graduate school. This post also wound up needing to be much longer (three times as long) despite having a much narrower focus. Also, I haven't added anchors to make the footnotes work. Oh well - I'll try to make time to do so tomorrow. As this post involves a critique of the conventions of Fantasy as a genre, including J.R.R. Tolkien's classic Lord of the Rings (LotR), I hope to to draw at least as many hostile posts as I did with “Muslim Massacre, Roach Toaster and Iji.” We'll see.

Before I can get into Battle for Wesnoth (Wesnoth) specifically, I need to establish a baseline for racial and postcolonial issues in fantasy fiction, including games. This is the part that would be least controversial in a purely academic setting, but that I expect will be most controversial on-line.

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Muslim Massacre, Roach Toaster and Iji: Prejudice, Offense, Violence and Hope

One of the things that is too often lacking in Games Studies, and almost completely in popular writing about games, is comparison of work by different creators across the mosty obvious lines of "genre." In less than a month, Play this Thing has reviewed Tr00jg's turn-based strategy/puzzle game Roach Toaster, Remar's multiplot platformer Iji and Sigvatr's condemnation garnering Robotron-like Muslim Massacre as if these highly contemporary games were completely irrelevant to each other. (nota bene: in addition to being contemporary, these games are all single-programmer freeware)

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Study debunks common assumptions about MMO gamers

In the Technology section of NewScientist.com, David Robson reports on a study by researchers at the University of Southern California, the Palo Alto Research Center and the University of Deleware that dispel some common assumptions about gamers. Here's a link to the article. The article is short and the study focused on one MMO, Everquest II; however, it does offer some positive stats:
  • "Adult gamers have an average body mass index of 25.2, compared to the overall American average of 28"
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Vagrant Glory

Vagrant Story, I was reminded forcibly, is probably the best game of all time. Now, I know terms like ‘best’ are of course relative and subjective, but just forget that for a moment and let me tell you about this game.

I suppose it all goes back to the concept of ‘arthouse’. This is definitely an arthouse game, one of the first. You don’t necessarily enjoy a Pasolini or Warhol experimental film, but they’re definitely a harder kind of best than some blockbuster. They explore things and open new avenues. Similarly, not everyone will appreciate Vagrant Story, but that doesn’t mean that you should be so presumptuous as to ignore the cultural cringe - director Yasumi Matsuno is liek Pasolini, and who are you or I to question Pasolini? The game itself is admittedly stupendously complex, but think of the learning curve as being like salmon fighting their way upstream to spawn more salmon. Lots of effort, but good stuff waiting at the end. And death, but hey, every simile breaks down after sufficient abuse, much like a rubber band used to hold shut an exploding bank vault.

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