Category: general

Writing is over. now it is time to get defensive

So after two long weeks of writing my exams, I am finished. I turned the last two in yesterday. Now all that is left is my oral defense next Monday. I’ve never been through a defense before, so I’m not entirely sure what to expect. I’m trying not to worry about it because that isn’t going to do any good, is it? However, I think since it is called a defense I should be defensive, right? So I plan on saying lots of things like, “Well, that’s a stupid question” and “what do you think it means?” With an attitude like that I can’t help bud pass, right?
Invetween now and then I plan on sitting on my butt a lot and playing games. Oh, and apply to a couple conferences…

While writing my exams, I did play one game. After hearing so much about Planescape Torment, I decided to hunt down a copy and try it out. I’ve certainly got to respect a game so highly regarded that fans have made their own patch for it. I was a D&D nerd for a couple years back in the day (even though I could never really find anyone else who wanted to play), so I’ve had a fondness for the RPG genre, but last RPG I played was the cutscene-tastic Final Fantasy 7 and 8, and that prety much soured me on the genre for several years. FF7 was a novel experience for me since I’d never played any of the others, but I got half way through 8 and just got bored. The final straw was when I realized that I was really only playing in order to play the card game within the game.

The reason why I wanted to play Planescape was that it is quite often one of the games that are brought up when people talk about emotional impact in games. Indeed, the game is quite wordy. In fact fans have taken all the text from the game and made it into a book. However, I have to admit, about half way through the game I realized you could just hit enter and the numbers to go through the dialog and I just started skimming. Maybe it is because I’ve spent all summer reading around a book a day, but I didn’t have much patience for the dialog.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the game and I fully admit that the story was intersting. However, it was just a little much for me.

However, I still wonder, was it the story that was interesting for me or was it the motication for the tasks I had to perform? I know that once a character died before I had gotten around to completing two small missions involving a secret that character had I was irritated that I couldn’t complete those missions. I didn’t care that the character had died. Similarly, in the dialog trees that were mainly concerned with relationship stuff I would just pick the answers that I thought would give me the best result, not out of some sense of obligation or emotional attachment to the characters.

I often wonder what people mean when they say that games have a good story. I’ve got a paper about the fact that Half-Life had a rather simple plot, but it was well told. Years ago in an interview where I was asking a person what they liked about certain games and the person said that Unreal Tournament had a good story. I wish I would have asked him what he meant by that because certainly Unreal Tournament doesn’t have much of a story at all. I think for me the appeal of Planescape ended up being that mission screen and that there were always more things to do and not the story or the emotional impact. I don’t doubt for a minute that some people found the story of Plaenscape to be the most interesting thing about the game and found the missions to be simply getting in the way. I wonder, however, are there other people who say they liked the story but might be referring to the missions? Or if there can really be a distinction between the story and the mssions at all? For several years I’ve been thinking about the importance of the initial premice and the importance of the narrative itself. I suppose I will be thinking about it for several more years untill I get somewhere where I can make some sense of it.

I thought everything was on the internets???

The tubes, the tubes, won’t someone think of the tubes?
Back in 2001-2002 TBS used to show a latenight block of programming from the Burly Bear network that was apparently shown on college campuses. On that late night block there was a lot of crap, but there was also one of the best videogame-related shows I’ve seen: Dave and Steve’s Video Game Explosion.

Well, Burly Bear died (apparently it got acquired by National Lampoon) and Dave and Steve was lost to the sands of time.

I can’t believe that in this era of youtube and google video that I can’t find any episodes of this show online somewhere. All I can find is archive.org’s cache of the tbs page and two lonely images:
daveandsteve.jpgdavestevepic2.jpg

How am I supposed to satisy my lame urge to college every videogame related program I can find, if I can’t find it?

Realistically, however, it does illistrate the difficulties of being interested in studying this kind of ephemera. If you don’t record it and keep a copy of it when you see it, it might be gone. Recently, I was able to contact MSNBC and get a copy of the episode of when Henry Jenkins was on Donahue’s MSNBC show but in a case like Burly Bear where it has gone out of business, how likely is it that National Lampoon will even know what I’m talking about, let alone be willing to help me?

The moral of the story is, RECORD EVERYTHING!!!!

Duke Nukem to Use PhysX card?

Here’s my first ever bit of rumor mongering!
It has previously been reported that Duke Nukem Forever is going to use the Meqon physics engine. Well, last year, Meqon was purchased by AGEIA. Now AGEIA is the maker of the PhysX physics accelerator card. So putting 2 and 2 together seems to me to lead to the conclusion that Duke Nukem Forever will use the PhysX card.
Of course that all depends on whether or not Duke Nukem ever comes out and if AGEIA is still around when Duke Nukem Forever finally comes out

Now I”m seriously getting jealous!

What does a guy have to do to get some press around here? First fellow IU Communication and Culture grad student Konrad Budziszewski gets to teach his class Games, Gamers, and Gaming Cultures this summer, but he also gets written about in an IU Daily News article, “Course examines video game culture” (and called a professor even though he is, like me, still a PhD student!) and has that article picked up by Game Politics and even Gamespy!
Now, CMCL instructor Cynthia Duquette Smith gets mentioned in a IU Daily News article, “Professor studies how online games affect gender views.”
What about me? What about THE Bryan young?
Seriously, though, it is great to see friends and colleagues here at IUs Department of Communication and Culture get some attention. Mad props all around!

I am going to have to start taking one for the team…

First I missed the Bloodrayne movie and now, I’ve missed my chance to see Stay Alive. The local theater monopoly Kerasotes has started something they call the Five Buck Club which is a deal where you get to see certain movies for the titular price of $5. Basically, it is an attempt to get people to come to movies that have been out a while and so its just a step between first run theaters and the dollar cinemas. However, it is only for films that have been out for a few weeks. Last week Stay Alive was still regualr price, and now, this week its gone! NOooooo!!!!!!!!!! I’m just going to have to start going to crapy movies on opening night if I want to make sure I see them… Can I deduct my tickets as research expenses???

Oh snap! PC Gamer just got served!

A few months ago the US version of PC Gamer magazine changed their format. Now they have seperated their previews, reviews, and columns into sections based on genre. It’s interesting, but it raises questions of whether or not they might be throwing junk in just to make sure they have something to fill out that section that month. Apparently not all of the other gaming magazines are impressed with PC Gamer’s new format.
In Computer Gaming World, there is a feature called “5, 10, 15” in which they have little summaries from the magazine 5, 10, and 15 years ago. In the April 2006 issue CGW writes:

1996 – We had a wacky idea to break the entire magazine into sections by game genre. It was like a collection of minimagazines, each kicked off by a columnist followed by news, previews, and reviews. It was a bold, original idea with one problem: where to put the games that defy simple categorization? You could just cram them all into one section that runs the gamut. Or trash the idea altogether… just like we did by 1998.

Back from Vancouver… again…

So I got back from presenting at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies in Vancouver. I had a pretty good time in Vancouver. However, the conference itself wasn’t all that usefull. Suprisingly, there aren’t that many people at a conference primarilly about film that are interested in videogames. Although the society changed its name a few years ago from teh Society for Cinema Studies to the current appellation, I think I heard people at teh conference say “SCS” more than “SCMS” by a factor of two to one. Sure, SCS is easier to say, but one can’t help but feel marginalized when someone says something to the effect that, “We shouldn’t forget television people. They get overlooked to often.” If television people get overlooked at SCMS, then one can only imagine what it is like to primarilly interested in a medium other than film or television!

However, take heart, because all but one of the graduate students from IU presented papers on topics other than film. The conference is going to be in CHicago next year, so I’ll probably go ahead and submit something again. If it was farther away than that, I might not bother. However, the more nonfilm or tv people go, the better. Anyone want to put together a panel for next year?

Also, I’ve added a couple more links to the blogroll on the main page, so be sure to take a look at them. I’ve got the links set for random since I don’t want to be responsible for prioritizing them. However, they are all nice blogs, so check them all out.