Category: general

We Could Be Heroes…

I’m probably only the millionth person to make that pun, but oh well…

I’ve been playing City of Heroes lately — I’m a level 11 technology blaster. Thankfully, it is only a 21 day trial because otherwise I would flunk out of school!

I tried Anarchy Online back when they made their basic game free, but I only lasted about an hour before I gave up. I couldn’t figure out what to do or where to go — and since they just made it free, everyone on there was just as clueless as I was! So City of Heroes is my first extended experience with a MMORPG. As a comic book geek, I couldn’t resist (check out my eBay auctions! I need rent money!!!), but although I enjoy the game and like the world, there are some interesting aspects.

For those that don’t know anything about it, basically, you are a superhero of your own making and you get assigned missions and defend the normal citizens. Some of the missions, most in fact, require you to team up with other heroes to successfully complete the mission. I’m sure most of the other MMORPG’s do that too, but, at least in the beginning, you don’t know anyone playing the game, so you have to ask strangers to team up with you. When you think of it, for computer nerds and comic book geeks, this is kind of odd. The game is basically forcing you to talk to strangers. I don’t like to ask people in a store for help! It creates a very odd situation where you are forced to socialize and work together to survive, but at least in my case there is no bonding at all. I’ve played 3-4 hours a day for a couple weeks and still don’t know anyone. So am I just anti-social, or is this a situation where we are learning to work with anyone without having any personal bonds? I won’t even get into all the waiting around that goes on…

Another interesting aspect, which, again, I’m sure is common to many MMORPG’s is that around every corner there are bad guys. In City of Heroes, they are mostly gangs and are usually robbing someone. However, sometimes they are just standing around, but you can attack them any way. That is kind of an odd message: “Regardless of what you happen to be doing, if you are a certain type of person, it is not only ok to attack you, but it is GOOD to do so.”

Then there are also the citizens. They are totally defenseless. Without you they will be eternal victims. Sure it’s a game, but it would be nice if these automatons had some sort of agency. I might be interesting if they combined City of Heroes with the Sims.

OK, well, I have over 2000 points in debt that I need to work off! Spoon!

Now that we’ve decided that no one knows what cinematic means…

I got a couple interesting comments on my last post about “cinematic” and I’ve tried read a couple things that might relate, but nothing to change my opinion that cinematic is really a vague and nearly meaningless term. I think that a lot of it has to do with perception. I often read people writing that a game is “just like being in a movie” and I really don’t know what that means. I am much more likely to feel like I am actually THERE rather than in a movie. Is that a different way of experiencing the world or is that just a difference of word choice???

Moving on from that issue, I’ve been thinking about another term that gets thrown around. This time I’ve been thinking about “medium.” I’m not sure that this term actually means anything. Even if it does, is it a useful term? Are videogames a medium??? My thing is that I always like to think of videogames as kinds of games. So are cards a medium? Are board games? I don’t think they are. If they aren’t, then why are videogames? Is this a useful distinction to make???? Any thoughts? Should we ban “medium” from our thoughts and vocabulary from our hearts and minds????

Leavin’ Here!

Well, this time tomorrow I’ll be on my way to Vancouver for the DiGRA conference. I’m presenting a paper Friday about our perceptions of our body as we play First-Person Shooters. Unfortunately, not only am I on one of the short paper panels, but I also ended up on a panel with 5 people instead of four. That means that I get a whole 10 minutes to talk — and I thought cutting my paper down to 3000 words for the proceedings was tough! Oh well, still, it will be great to hobnob with other gaming people and to get to put some faces with names.

I wonder how you say “l33t” in Portuguese???

I just ran across Gamer Br, a Brazillian documentary on videogaming. I haven’t had a chance to watch it, yet, but according to the site:

Gamer Br is a Brazilian documentary about the game scene around here. It gives voice to gamers, producers, lanhouse owners, journalists, psychologists, anthropologists, politicians, government representatives and game enthusiasts about questions as professional gaming, market, ‘addiction’, piracy, policies of incentive, censorship and the so discussed ‘violence’ in games.

It sounds pretty cool and is available for download either via or from The only thing you have to risk is your bandwith, so you might as well download it! It is 765 MB and, according to, “The video is mainly Portuguese-spoken, with the according subtitles in English; when the interviewee speaks English, the subtitles are in Portuguese.”

Hopefully, I’ll be able to watch it this weekend and give a brief blurb on it soon!

EA tatoos were legit, I guess

Been pretty busy lately. But now that the Spring semester is over, I should be posting more regularly. I’m sure my faithful readers, all ten of you, will be glad to hear that.

Back on the first of April, I wrote about a press release that said that EA was tattooing IU students. At the time I thought it might have been some sort of April Fool’s joke since I hadn’t heard anything about it. However, it seems like it really happened. Warren Christopher Freiberg wrote a column in the Indiana Daily Student that has the title, Everybody Sells Out Sometimes and he mentions that he was one of the people that got an EA tattoo. The column is about the notion of putting a corporate logo on your body, but it does verify that the tattooing did take place.

I stand corrected.

Just catching up…

It is coming down to the wee days of the semester so I’m pretty busy with coursees and teaching. In fact right now I’m taking a break from grading before I go to a group meeting! On the bright side, I am sitting outside working on my laptop and using the university’s wifi, proving that Indiana University is, indeed, the most unwired college campus.

On the gaming studies front, I got my paper, “Gaming Mind, Gaming Body: Mind/Body Split for a New Millenium” into the Digra conference a record day early. Then I noticed that I had somehow been removed from the schedual, so I had a mini-panic attack and emailed people and got put back on. Of course, now I seem to be on a panel with game design people, which is odd, but at least I am on the schedual. Now let’s just see if I manage to get into the proceedings book rather than just on the DVD with the rest of the riff-raff!
On a related front, I’ve been told that my long in press essay in the Doom: First-Person Reader book from the Ludologica series is still in the works. Maybe some day I will get to read my own work in print. Except the book is in Italian… and I don’t know Italian… Of course that means that I can still put it on my vita with some confidence that an US jobs I apply for won’t be able to see how bad it is!!!

I did manage to find time to finish FarCry. As friends who have played it assured me, it did get better. It is interesting how a game grows on you. There’s a paper topic right there! Also it is interesting how a certian small feature can make or break the game. For me, the binoculars that would locate the enemy on the radar and the sniper rifle were essential to my enjoyment of the game. Before I had those, I hated the game. Once I got them, the game became much more fun.

OK, 9 more papers to grade and an hour and a half before my meeting. Think I can get them done before the meeting? Me neither. But I’m giving a test tomorrow, so I should be able to finish it during that.

There and back again…

So I made it back from the Popular Culture Association in sunny San Diego. There were 6 videogame panels in two days and although I missed a couple, the 4 I caught were great. If you’re looking for a nice conference to go to you could do worse than the PCA.
The flight back was a nightmare, however. I had a flight from San Diego that left at 10pm pacific time back to Indianapolis.. …via Newark! I had a 3 hour layover in Newark and didn’t get back to Indy until 11:30am the next day. A 6ft4 guy in the back of the plane ain’t a god time.
While I was waiting in Newark I also had a unique experience. I’ve got friends from all over the world so I think I’ve gotten pretty good at understanding non-native speakers of english. The woman working at the airport stumped me though. She had a Mexican accent, which, again, I like to think I can do a pretty good job of understanding. However, on top of that, she had a New Jersey accent! That threw me for a loop.
Waiting for me when I got back home was my newest addiction: DDR! I played it at the Game On exhibit in Chicago and realized that I am horribly out of shape, so now I am on the DDR exercise routine! The fat is just melting away!

g4m3rs 4 gØd part II: l33t 4 teh lØrd

Those with a good memory may remember that back in September I saw a flyer for a Halo party put on by a religious organization. I guess these guys were ahead of the curve. Over at Water Cooler Games, I saw a link to a story about The Saga of the XBox – ”How To Witness Using Halo 2” that talked about a couple of ministries using Halo 2 as a way of reaching people. The original article, How to Witness Using ‘Halo 2’ gives more details on it, as well as an interesting interpretation of the Halo story. As someone who once wrote an article comparing Doom to working in a corporation, I can appreciate interesting interpretations.

However, I wonder if they wouldn’t be better off using Painkiller which is about fighting demons anyway? Still, it is an interesting phenomenon. I wonder how they feel about the laws attempting to ban the sale of games like Halo 2 to minors?