Once upon a time you could count on videogame ads to either have agro angry rock in it or pretentious orchestral music. Not any more. They have weird music in them. The first one that I noticed was the Gears of War Trailer featuring Mad World.
Then Lost Odyssey had Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit
Now Grand Theft Auto 4 has Miles Davis’ Move
Maybe it is just me but it is just kind of odd to hear Miles Davis in commercials for a videogame.
Perhaps videogame culture is changing. At the LAN Party I went to last weekend there was something new there. There were women! At least 4 of them and they didn’t know each other or anything. It was pretty amazing.
So I spent Saturday at the local gaming club’s LAN party. From noon Saturday until noon Sunday. OK, I didn’t make it until noon Sunday. I left at 6am. I guess I’m getting old.
I had another reason to think I’m getting old at the LAN party. Dell was there with some college gaming league thing and if you signed up they gave you a tshirt and some other swag. As part of the sign up they wanted my birthday. It was then that I knew I was old. Why? Because the years on the form didn’t go back far enough for me to enter my year of birth…
The lan party was pretty fun other than that. I played in a DotA tournament and lost in the first round. I played in a Call of Duty 4 tournament and lost in the first round. I played in a Counter-Strike: Source tournament and lost in the first round. I played in a Team Fortress 2 tournament and …actually won. I got lucky enough to be on a team with someone who was really really good and we mopped the floor with everyone. I also won a videocard in a drawing. It is a pci-express card and my motherboard only has agp.
However, it turns out that when I got hom and set my computer up again it didn’t start for some reason. So I guess I’m going to be putting that videocard to use sooner than I anticipated if I can’t get my current system back up and running (I booted into vista using my second hard drive but even if the main drive is plugged in the system won’t boot. It is SATA though so once booted into Vista and I plug it in the drive shows up so I was able to get my documents off it so that is a sign that it might be fixable. However, the bios is acting weird so I don’t know if I trust it or not).
Anyway… it was some good videogame culture and a good time all around.
I didn’t do any interviews or anything but it was some good old fashioned ethnographic participant/observation.
I’m working on getting a syllabus together for my class on videogame culture that I”m going to be teaching in the fall. Should be pretty fun. I’m also getting to teach a course on action movies. I’m going to make them watch Tokyo Drift. Ha!
However, I’m also trying to finish a draft of my prospectus that was due two days ago.
And there’s a LAN party this weekend so no work done this weekend — except for you know, the work of playing games as part of my dissertation…
And I’m grading stuff.
And I’m going to get even more stuff to grade tomorrow!
You would think it was part of my job to teach and grade or something!
Although… perhaps I should remember this grading stuff when I’m making up this syllabus!
The only two Zelda games I really ever played were A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. I probably played the first Zelda but not too much. I’ve never finished any of the Zelda games.
Way back in the 90s when Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was the latest Zelda game (and this was still 93-94 or something like it so the game was already a year or two old), someone in the dorms had a SNES, a system I never had, and we played Link to the Past as a group.
Then we got to a part that we couldn’t get past. You had to get to this other cave and we couldn’t figure it out. This was before gamefaqs was around and none of us had internet-connected computers at the time so it was the dark ages and we gave up.
Then around 98 or 99 I was living with some people and one of the had an N64 and Zelda Ocarina of Time. They had one of the gameguide books for it. We were getting pretty far in the game and then the guy who owned the N64 up and moved out, taking the N64 with him. Bastard!
So new I’ve gotten around to downloading a SNES emulator for my softmodded xbox and am hip deep in playing A Link to the Past. In playing it I’m realizing, not for the first time, that my sense of the direction or perhaps more accurately my sense of how geographic locations are connected is kind of weird.
I like to think that I’m pretty good with directions. I only got lost twice in Tokyo on my own and one time I was suspicious of the direction I was headed as soon as I got off the subway and the other time I should have just kept going a couple more blocks before I turned. But playing Zelda and wandering around in the dungeons? I got no clue. I might as well stop looking at the tv because I’ve no idea how I end up in one room or where I’m going in the dungeons. Similarly when I’m in the open world I’m constantly overshooting or totally missing the mark when I’m trying to get somewhere.
Of course being the academic dork I am I can’t help but wonder WWdCD? What Would de Certeau Do? There’s some scholarship out there about de Certeau and gaming but not as much as you with think. The importance of maps in videogames would seemingly make his writings about maps, directions, and architecture would seemingly make a good connection with map-based RPGs. Someone go write more of that stuff so I can read it, OK?
Yay spring break….
I’m going to sit on my butt so long I get bed sores and play a whole lot of games.
Right now Zombie Master is still a favorite.
I’m also going old school with Zelda: Link to the Past and Defender of the Crown (NES version).
If I can clear some room on my hard drive I might get to Bioshock too this week.
Before I could get around to tooting my own horn I read an article in the New York Times, “As Gaming Turns Social, Industry Shifts Strategies which talks about the increase of casual and social gaming. The part of the article that relates to my paper is this section:
Traditionally game advertisements, whether in print or on screen, have focused, naturally, on showing the game. But as it introduced the Wii, Nintendo devised a marketing breakthrough: Rather than show the game, show the players. In an entirely counterintuitive, brilliant move, most of Nintendo’s ads are now shot from the perspective of the television back out at the audience, showing families and groups of friends having fun together. Nintendo realized that emphasizing the communal experience of sharing interactive entertainment can be more captivating than the image of some monster, gangster or footballer on the screen.
However, as those who have either read my paper or were around when the home videogame market was starting will know, this simply isn’t true.
The early ads for videogames were all about showing the audience. Here are two pictures, one from a 2600 commercial and one from a Wii commercial that shows just how similar the two campains were:
However, the Atari ads went even further because at least a few of them showed people actually plugging the machines into the electric outlet.
The player has reappeared in videogame advertising time and time again. Every time the games introduce a new way of interacting with the machines then the advertisers will resurrect images of the player as an easy and effective way of demonstrating how to play the system.