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A History of the GCE Vectrex

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.

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Bitmap Sprite Animation, Circa 1917

De Stijl cover art

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.

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It's beginning to look like a lot like MLA

What Gameology folks are going to the MLA Convention this year (Chicago, 27-30 December 2007)? I'm not, but I'm still curious to know if there are any particular Gameology or game studies meet-ups planned or if anyone be sharing news of the convention through Gameology?

I'm wondering how the growth in game studies and related positions is growing and curious as to whether how it's growing within MLA, outside of, and overall. Depending on how busy the folks are who are going to MLA, it'd be great to have a conference report on exciting MLA happenings!

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The Succession of Simulacra: The Legacy of Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007)

Submission Deadline: 
02/03/2008

The recent death of Jean Baudrillard has stimulated an engagement with
his work and its legacy across various fields both within academia and
beyond it. As seen in the recent “Remembering Baudrillard” issue of the
International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, his ideas continue to
foster productive discussion.

Many of Baudrillard’s terms and concepts, “hyperrality,” “simulacra,”
“alibi” and “the code” continue to proliferate in not only theoretical,
but popular texts as well. Whether or not we accept their validity, how

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Best Options for Easy (Meaning Fast and Extensible) Game Creation?

I'm working on a grant application to digitize archival materials and then make a game from them (and do lots of cool stuff with the digital archives with full text searching and georeferencing to make them more useful artifacts-into-data sets and such). I think the game will be a selling point of the project because it will be a pretty and "easy" way to see what the infrastructure for the digitized artifacts can do. In order to make the game work as part of the project, I've been looking at toolkits and builders for making games and the two that seem best are the Torque Game Builder and Neverwinter Nights Aurora Toolkit. While my project, like so many others, could use Flash, Flash doesn't migrate forward as nicely as I'd like it to and it can be cumbersome to create longer games. Something like OpenLaszlo that allows for the simultaneous creation of a Flash SWF and DHTML file that backends to a database would work, but I think the development time would still be a problem.

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The Philosophy of Computer Games Conference 2008

Submission Deadline: 
02/14/2008

We hereby invite scholars in any field who take a professional interest in the phenomenon of computer games to submit papers to the international conference "The Philosophy of Computer Games 2008", to be held in Potsdam, Germany, on May 8-10, 2008.

Accepted papers will have a clear focus on philosophy and philosophical issues in relation to computer games. They will also attempt to use specific examples rather than merely invoke "computer games" in general terms. We invite submissions focusing on, but not limited to, the following three headings:

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DiGRA Hardcore 18: Diane Carr on Textual Analysis

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.

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Visionary Landscapes

Submission Deadline: 
12/15/2007

Producing a work of electronic literature entails not only practice in the literary arts but sometimes also the visual, sonic, and the performative arts; knowledge ofcomputing devices and software programs; and experience in collaboration, interdisciplinarity, and hybridity. In short, electronic literature requires its artists to see beyond traditional approaches and sensibilities into what best can be described as visionary landscapes where, as Mark Amerika puts it, artists "celebrate an interdisciplinary practice from a literary and writerly perspective that allows for other kinds of practice-based art-research and knowledge sharing."

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The [Player] Conference

Submission Deadline: 
03/30/2008

The Center for Computer Games Research at the IT University in Copenhagen is pleased to announce The [Player] Conference, a conference for games researchers taking place August 26th - 29th 2008.

There is no escaping the player in games research. Whether the focus is on formal aspects of games or on studies of actual gamers, the player is an intrinsic part of the gaming situation. Despite this, the underlying assumptions that inform the notion of the player are often not made explicit in the work of game scholars, regardless of their academic background. This is problematic in itself, but even more so in the inter-disciplinary field of games research where unclear terminology may cloud communication across the borders of academic traditions.

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Elizabeth Losh on the Sonicjihad Debacle

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.

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