Category: dissertation

Legendary Blandness

LegendaryLegendary is a pretty generic FPS game with some odd things in its design that really make it hard to enjoy. First of all, even for a game released in 2008 it looks really dated. Wikipedia claims it uses the Unreal 3 engine but it really doesn’t look like it.


For example, here’s a clip from Gears of War, released for PC in 2007:

Now compare this to Legendary:

Now Gears of War probably had a much bigger team and the difference isn’t all that large but it is noticeable.


I also post this video to point out a design choice the Legendary team made that is really hard to understand. That Legendary video is the second part of the walkthrough after you watch an obligatory intro movie that sets up the premise and the game is still telling you things like “hold left shift to sprint.” Now the thing is that the game isn’t just holding your hand for a long time and it tells you that all the time. Instead, you can’t run or jump until the game decides to introduce the mechanic to you. In the first couple minutes of the game there was something in the way that I wanted to jump over but hitting the space bar didn’t do anything. So I assumed that you couldn’t jump in the game. Then just a couple minutes later the game decides to allow you to start jumping. You can jump from then on but why in the world would you disable the ability to jump for the first few minutes of the game? It isn’t like there are any cliffs you can fall over or something. It is just ponderous.

Another weird design choice is that early in the game pretty much the only monsters are these lava creatures. It gets really monotonous. Then they switch to something else and they never use that monster again. That  just seems weird. There’s no reason why they would confine the lava creatures to just one part of the game or that they wouldn’t mix it up more. They just don’t.

Gameplay-wise, the game reminded me a lot of old-school SiN and I’m not really sure why. Maybe it is because killing the lava creatures often requires turning on water to put their fire out and stuff like that. Even though SiN is ten years older I think I had more fun playing it. Of course I’m ten years older too so that might have something to do with it…

There are some boss battles which are pretty standard and a partner who is largely on the radio (like SiN and a million other games). Then the end is basically incredibly anticlimactic.

Two thumbs down

Legendary, huh?
Legendarily bad, right?
Or just kind of blaah…


The Daily Almanac of Videogame History now available

For the past few months I’ve been working on a non-academic side project: a one-fact-a-day book about videogames. I call it The Daily Almanac of Videogame History and now I’ve put it up for sale on amazon for 99¢.

The Daily Almanac of Videogame History

I found one videogame-related fact for each day of the year (including one for Leap Day). Wherever possible I tried to cite everything from primary sources and I tried to highlight the strange or weird videogame-related things instead of just release dates (although there are some of those too) so although there web sites with similar “Today in Videogame History” themes I think mine is not only more accurate but has a different focus.

Strange items include a Judge who banned a kid from playing videogames, a town that only legalized arcade games a few years ago, and a Japan-only Xbox game called “N.U.D.E.”

Now I don’t have an excuse not to be working on my academic stuff. Although I could work on a sequel…

This is a man and he has a name: Edge gets bylines

A short followup on something I wrote way back in November of 2007 when I noticed that Edge magazine doesn’t give author credit on its articles.

Well, as a couple months ago that has changed because Edge now lists the authors of their articles:


The weird thing is that although the editorial for the first issue where they started listing authors they noted differences in some of the columns and layout but they didn’t mention giving authors credit.

Dissertation Abstract

I passed my dissertation defense. So here is the abstract from my dissertation:

Utilizing ethnographic methods, this work examines how attendees of computer gaming events held by the Gaming@IU club form a community that uses technology to bring people together rather than isolate them. It also analyzes the ways attendees perform unique forms of Whiteness and “nerd masculinity.” The primary data is drawn from LAN parties, computer gaming events where approximately 200 participants collocate their computers and play videogames with and against each other for up to twenty-four hours. Drawing on six years of fieldwork, this work uses participant observation and interviews to examine how LAN party attendees use the computer gaming events to create what Ray Oldenburg calls a “third place” away from work and school where friendships can be created and maintained.

On the basis of this data, the dissertation further examines the ways in which the statements of the LAN party attendees draw on a discourse of racial colorblindness as a way of dealing with the overwhelming Whiteness of these events, which is not reflective of the racial and ethnic diversity of the area. The work shows how an avoidance of discussion of Whiteness prevents the attendees from interrogating the role the LAN party’s organization may play in the racial makeup of attendees.

Focusing on male LAN party attendees interactions with female attendees, within gaming, this study also looks at the ways in which both the games played and the social norms of the LAN party encourage the performance of hegemonic masculinity while playing the videogames but allow the attendees to inhabit a more complicit form of masculinity which is not overtly sexist. The dissertation argues that by embracing non-normative masculinity outside the games but discouraging it within the games, the LAN party participants are professing openness and acceptance but are failing to live up to that ideal.

Dissertation Works Cited

Next month I will be defending my dissertation. This means I have to send it off to my committee this week. So since I had to get my chapters all together and formatted, I thought I would go ahead and share my works cited in case anyone is interested:


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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.

Mountains of Misogyny

It seems like the last month has been a great one for all the he-man-woman-haters not only in gaming but in comic books as well. (To be pedantic, not all the things I’ve seen are clear cut examples of misogyny. Some of them may more accurately be called examples of sexism against women.)

It started a few months ago with the case of who was having a launch event for Battlefield 3 and on the page describing the event they wrote:

“Nothing ruins a good LAN party like uncomfortable guests or lots of tension, both of which can result from mixing immature, misogynistic male-gamers with female counterparts. Though we’ve done our best to avoid these situations in years past, we’ve certainly had our share of problems. As a result, we no longer allow women to attend this event.”

This post got picked up by a lot of websites and the powersgaming people started editing and changing their website. (Missing out on saving some of the edits of their page is what was what finally convinced me to install the scrapbook firefox extension). At one point they posted a “misogyny statement” which read, in part, as follows:

This is the truth about the “misogyny” statement, why we had it on our event page, and the reason it was posted there.

We started these events back in ’99, and always allowed women to attend. Keep in mind this is a private function held on private property with no more than 25 attendees. I would say 1/4 of our attendees back then were wives or girlfriends or simply women we’ve met in the gaming biz. It was like having a bunch of friends over for a backyard BBQ; nothing more. But on one occasion we had a guy named “Joe” show up who was being a total jerk to a girl gamer named “Jane” (not real names) to the point where she complained to my daughter. We kept an eye on the situation, and yeah, Jane was right; Joe was a complete a**. Warnings to Joe went nowhere, so we tossed him out the front door and finished the event. Jane had a great time and remains a good friend of ours. Joe.. We never saw again.

Afterwards, we had to make a choice. Since we didn’t know this “Joe” guy before he signed up, how could we keep this from happening again ? Sure we could deal with it if another “Joe” showed up, but honestly we come to these events to have fun and relax, not to police morons like Joe.

So, we made a decision to invite guys only, and that “misogyny” post (below) was based on the above experience; that’s it.

Like most of their edits this too has been taken down. Luckily for me I was in the middle of revising my chapter on masculinity and these guys were perfect examples of performances of masculinity.

The thing that neither the people on the site nor any of the sites I saw criticizing them noted that aside from the obvious issue of punishing women for the actions of a man, the site is also full of casual sexism as well. The group’s message boards — and indeed the very posting that got them in trouble in the first place — has lots of examples of using pictures of women as sex objects. So even though the website has tried to erase all traces of their discrimination they still display their sexism on their sleeves…



In the comic book world, DC recently rebooted their comics (except in certain cases like Batman and Green Lantern and the Legion of Super-Heroes where they didn’t) and a couple of the characters, namely Catwoman and Starfire, were depicted as as basically vapid sex objects.

I bring up comics because the new Batman game is out and I don’t think I’ll be playing it because it seems to be “super duper sexist” (warning this link is written by someone pretending to be the Hulk and as such is written exclusively in caps which is really off-putting).



Even if the game turns out not to be so sexist, I know one site I won’t be reading about it on: Destructoid. I never really went to their site that often any way because I never liked them ever since they got their start at E3 back in the day by walking around while wearing a robot head and photobombing other people’s interviews.



So between this and reading that not only are some men who want to make videogames sexist but so are some of the people who make them, it has been a disheartening few weeks.

Is there any good news?

Internet Researchers 2011 presentation

As is my habit, here is the powerpoint slides from my presentation for the Association of Internet Researchers conference in Seattle next week:

As is always the case with conference papers this is severely cut down from the actual dissertation chapter. However, I hope that it makes the point that we need to reevaluate and redefine our assumptions regarding the concept of “third places.”

Digital/Media, Race, Affect, and Labor Conference Presentation

This week at the Digital/Media, Race, Affect, and Labor Conference at my alma mater Bowling Green State University, I presented the aforementioned second half of my dissertation chapter on whiteness at LAN parties. As promised, here’s the slides from my presentation:

It starts out the same as the previous presentation so don’t think it is the same slideshow or anything. Now to try to get the dissertation finished!