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Visualizing Text Adventures

thy dungeonman screenshot

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.

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Strongbad Email #181 - Web Comics

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Computers and Composition Online, Special Issue on Gaming

Submission Deadline: 
12/13/2007

Call for Webtexts

Computers and Composition Online Special Issue “Reading Games: Composition, Literacy, and Video Gaming”

Computers and Composition Online will publish a special issue on the intersections between composition, literacy, and computer/video gaming as a companion to the Fall 2008 special print issue of Computers and Composition. These issues will explore the social, historical, cultural, and pedagogical implications of computer/video games on literacies and the writing classroom.

We invite authors to submit proposals for webtexts that examine these intersections, taking into account not only the the rich field of scholarship that is developing in the areas of computer/video game studies, but scholarship in literacy and composition studies as well. Computers and Composition Online is committed to offering inventive webtexts that offer practical and theoretically grounded scholarship for teachers, scholars, and administrators, and we will be looking to continue that commitment in this special issue.

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Games, History, and Emotion

Ian Bogost gave a thought provoking speech at the Southern Interactive Entertainment and Game Expo recently which has been reproduced on his website. The title is “Videogames: Can They Be Important?” and in the speech he considers how videogames might be recognized as a form of expression capable of mattering on the level of literature or film.

Bogost does not explicitly say that videogames matter; instead his perspective seems to be that it will only really be known if they have impact until after we are dead, as people in the future experience the games. Thus, his recommendation is for designers to not “will” videogames to be artful, but to “live as people, as flawed, confused, aggrieved, dismayed joyful, surprised, hopeful people” and to “record those flaws, confusions, grievances, shocks, joys, surprises, and hopes.”

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Kwari

From today's Age newspaper:

Quote:
In development at Canberra's Micro Forte studio, Kwari lets players earn cash for kills.

This is not just a regular first-person shooting game with a prize for the winner - every element has been designed with cash in mind, which should radically change the way users play.

Every time you shoot another you make money and every time you are felled you lose money.

Here's the story. I wonder how the economics of this game will compare with the more established economies of games like World of Warcraft? Will there be 'Frag sweatshops' springing up in certain parts of the world? Perhaps an experiment worth keeping an eye on.

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Vectors Difference issue now online!

Vectors: Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular is pleased to announce the launch of its new issue devoted to the theme of Difference: http://www.vectorsjournal.org

The fifth issue of Vectors stages multiple examinations of the notion of difference as it plays out in a variety of spheres, discourses and practices, while also privileging race and ethnicity as a central through-line of digital culture, a recurring ghost in our networked machines.. Featured scholars include David Theo Goldberg/Stefka Hristova, Wendy Chun, Mark Kann, Jon Ippolito, Minoo Moallem, Jennifer Terry and Christian Sandvig. Vectors is produced by editors Tara McPherson and Steve Anderson, co-creative directors Erik Loyer and Raegan Kelly, and programmer Craig Dietrich with additional design by Alex Ceglia.

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IBM and Universal Avatars

Today, the BBC news, technology section, released an article entitled Universal avatars bestride worlds" It seems that IBM and Linden Lab are working on a way to allow avatars created in one virtual word to travel to another virtual world.

Quote:
It is going to happen anyway," said Colin Parris, IBM vice president of digital convergence in a statement. "If you think you are walled and secure, somebody will create something that's open and then people will drain themselves away as fast as possible," he told the Reuters news agency.

I’d have to say that although I don’t care for Mr. Parris’ drain analogy, I do believe he’s correct in that it’s necessary for both game design and academic communities to continually challenge assumptions about the way virtual worlds are created. However, it’s important not to forget some of the interesting work Psychology and Sociology has done in the study of how we create virtual identities.

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Location-Based Mobile Games (edited book)

Submission Deadline: 
12/14/2007

Hybrid Reality Games: Reconfiguring social and urban networks via locative media

Edited by:

Adriana de Souza e Silva, Ph.D. (Communication, North Carolina State University) souzaesilva at ncsu dot edu

Daniel Sutko (Communication, North Carolina State University) dmsutko at ncsu dot edu

Description:

Games are pervasive activities in human culture. The strong success of video and computer games during the last 20 years can make us forget that the physical environment has always been the primary playful space. But if computers helped take games to digital spaces, the popularity of mobile technologies takes them back to the physical. The pervasiveness of mobile phones, which allow us to walk around urban spaces connected to the Internet and each other, encourages the creation of a new type of game arena that takes place simultaneously in physical and digital spaces. In these games, communication, collaboration, and interaction occur in a combination of the physical and the digital—in hybrid spaces. In such games the players’ mobility and position in space indeed matter. Hybrid Reality and Location-based games transform the players’ perception of urban spaces, as well as the intrinsic definition of game space.

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What does it mean to write "I be a Troll in RL, Mon"?

I'm writing my dissertation on WoW, and my recent work has been on race in this game: both the ways the game's design depicts race, and the ways that players respond to that design. Right now I'm working on the latter, and I've noticed a funny trend in the way that WoW players talk about race: when they're talking about their own racial identities and bigotries, they tend to substitute in-game races for real-life races. Here are a couple of examples.

About a year ago, I witnessed the following conversation between two members of my guild:

Quote:
Mehet: YOU dont EvEN know who I be
Killa: nope, u don't know who i be
Mehet: I KNOW who u be
Killa: who do I be?
Mehet: Zingo [the name of Killa's main character]

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Left Behind Games Inc. Sent me a Nastygram

Let me preface this blog by saying that I thought very carefully about whether to post this at all. I'm not clear of the legal ramifications of blogging about this, but ultimately I decided that whatever action does come of the following, it affects the gameology community (which, by reading this, you are a part of), so it make sense to bring it before you all to see what you think.

If you've been following this blog for a while, you've probably seen that we've posted some rather critical remarks on the game Left Behind: Eternal Forces. Of course, we are far from alone in our criticism and are, in my opinion, far less harsh than some other reviews I've read. We're also a pretty small fish in a very large pond. Still, we're apparently on Troy Lyndon's radar as critics of his game because they've hit us with PR-spam here and here. On Monday, they escalated their response by sending me a nastygram threatening me with legal action unless I remove "false and misleading" comments from this website. The full text of their letter appears below.

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