As usual, here’s my powerpoint slides from my presentation at the 2012 AAA conference:
As usual, here’s my powerpoint slides from my presentation at the 2012 AAA conference:
An edited collection including my first official publication has been released: Encyclopedia of Video Games [2 volumes]: The Culture, Technology, and Art of Gaming. Edited by Mark J. P. Wolf, it includes a few entries written by me, such as this wonderful, guaranteed 100% accurate and authoritative entries on the history of Sony and the Playstation 1 and 2 (guarantee not valid in any country, world, or timeline):
I’ve included affiliate links to Amazon.com so if you decide to buy the two volume Encyclopedia of Video Games for the low, low price of $189 you can give me a commission:
Or, for my billions of readers in the UK you can buy it for the even more amazing price of £195.24!
If you live somewhere else, well… I don’t have an affiliate code for any other countries so just send me a blank check and I’ll send you a copy in 4-60 months…
In all seriousness, the price may be high but it is two hardcovers and over 700 pages in total. While I can’t speak for the other contributors I know that I put a lot of energy into my entries to make sure they had better and more authoritative information than wikipedia entries (of course now someone can just cite my entries in wikipedia ). I think there is going to be an ebook version out at some point so hopefully it will be available soon.
Here’s the slides I gave at Consoling Passions 2012:
I know I am probably a bit late to the game on this but I thought I would share anyway.
C-SPAN has a searchable archive of their videos and included in that archive is some pretty interesting archival footage of the USA government talking about how videogames are teh eval!
For example, here’s a clip from December 9, 1993:
Pretty cool stuff!
I’m still updating the blogroll. It is taking so long because for each link I’m adding, I’m also trying to look at the blogs they link to. Of course that means I have to look at their links and so on and so on.
Of course I’m not putting every link in the blogroll. I’m trying to be generous but I am also trying to make some (fairly arbitrary) limits on what I’ll link to. Obviously, if someone’s racist, sexist, homophobic, or something like that I’m not going to link to that person’s site. Luckily, I haven’t ran into any blogs that have content like that so far.
Other, perhaps more subtle, criteria include freshness. If someone hasn’t updated in over a year I’m not going to add that person’s blog. I think I’ve written about this before but it does sometimes hurt to cut the blog of a person who has written some really great stuff but seems to have abandoned blogging.
Another criteria: game design. I’m not really into making games so blogs that seem to be overly or exclusively devoted to designing games are proably not blogs I, personally, would enjoy reading. So I’m not linking to them.
The final major category is probably the most controversial: Nintendo. If a blog seems to be too Nintendo-centric, I’m more likely to skip it. While lots of people love Mario and Link, I’m not particularly enamored with them. I haven’t owned a Nintendo console since the NES and while I’ve got a Gameboy Advance SP somewhere, I never really played it. I don’t have anything against Nintendo, I just don’t really have much interest in reading or writing about them or their games. Which is, of course, highly ironic considering my contributions to the upcoming Encyclopedia of Video Games…!
I’ve switched to a new web host so some things may be broken. hopefully I will get things sorted in the next day or so. I know I have to get my blogroll back but it looks like I’ll have to do that manually so that might take a while.
I think the images are working but other things might be broken so be patient.
If nothing else messing with this is a good excuse to not be writing!
I’m working on updating the links and in the process trimming the blogs that sadly haven’t updated in over a year and adding new blogs I find. If there are any out there I should add, feel free to let me know.
A few weeks ago there was a lot of talk about Valve Software’s New Employee Handbook and some other things like a blog post by Michael Abrash, a podcast with Gabe Newell, and a story on Bloomberg Business Week. All of them paint a picture of Valve as being a Worker’s Paradise where there are no bosses and everyone can do what they want and everyone rides around on magical giant puppy dogs.
Somehow I have a hard time swallowing that pill. It tastes kind of bitter.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like Valve games as much as anyone. I like Steam. Portal 2 is the only game I’ve paid full price for in years. The New Employee Handbook paints a picture that is awesome. I would love to work there.
Well, let me modify that statement: I would love to work there as someone involved in making games. That’s a key requirement and the reason why I don’t really believe Valve is the Worker’s Paradise everyone seems to eager to want to believe it is. Even with statements from Portal co-creator Kim Swift claiming there actually are bosses at Valve, I think there is still a lot of work that isn’t taken into account in this idealistic story.
I’m a terrible grad student and so before I went all Marxist I wanted to make sure I was correct on who were the Proletariat and who were the Bourgeoisie. When I did I found out that according to Wikipedia, Bourgeoisie is derived from the Old French word for walled city which I think makes sense since I think the creative class at Valve are living a live largely walled off from the Proletariats who make it possible for the games to be made.
I’m sure that the designers and people coding the games probably find the situation described in the handbook and elsewhere to be largely accurate but what about the other people who work at Valve? What about the people responsible for keeping the Valve website up? Or playtesters? Or the people responsible for keeping Steam working? Or heck, what about the janitors or the people responsible for keeping the refrigerator stocked and clean? I really doubt that those people really have the freedom to do whatever they want or can just go off on their own and start making Half-Life 3 or something. I would love to be proven wrong, though.
I don’t want to trash Valve too much here. I really do enjoy their products. I just think that when we hear about something that just sounds too good to be true, we need to step back and look at what is left unsaid and ask some questions.
In other words… Don’t Believe the Hype:
In my last post, I wrote about hoping for more work on videogame history that went beyond the now standardized canon of videogame history.
Now, a Gamasutra article explores how even that standardized canon may not be all that accurate. The article shows that when it comes to the early days of videogaming, a lot of the details are fuzzy at best. If, as the article shows, the actual North American release date of Super Mario Bros. can’t be verified, then we have some real work to do.
I wonder if someone could get a kickstarter project funded for a multiyear project to do some in depth archival research and ethnographic work in order to heavily cite some of the history of videogames?
I thought it would be good to try to provide a brief history of LAN parties and LAN games in the intro to my dissertation. This has turned out to be a surprisingly tough thing to do.
Although there seem to be no shortage of great books about videogame history, there still seems to be some big gaps. As useful as books like The Ultimate History of Video Games, Replay, and Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Videogames are, I still had a lot of trouble finding the “first” game to allowed people to link together two or more personal computers together and play with one another. I’m not blaming these books at all because in all the history of videogames that is a pretty specific thing to try to find.
Moreover, finding the “first” of anything is pretty tough to do anyway if only in part because of the difficulty in defining what a “videogame” is. For example, Wikipedia has decided that “video” in “video game” traditionally refers to a raster display device if only because people who seems to be most interested in the article have chosen that definition.
I guess what I’m saying is that it would be nice if we could get some “new” history. Something that didn’t rehash the Atari-ET-Nintendo-Tetris highlights. Something that finds out something about the proto-videogames, home computing, and those other things.
Although it may have been a really warm winter, it is still winter. School starts again. Teaching again. Grading again. Not blog posting again!
In between trying to finish this dissertation, trying to find a job, teaching, and all that stuff I’ve neglected the blog.
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