Category: general

Super Bowl Sunday!

While I don’t really care about the Super Bowl, with the news that EA has exclusive rights to make NFL games, it will be kind of sad that the sports shows will only be able to have Madden as the computer game to predict the winner instead of running all the football games.

I’m in the midst of taking classes and don’t have much time for gaming myself, but am managing to find some time to play Dope Wars and was thinking about the differences between these little “time waster” games and the longer games that can take days to play. I don’t think that there has been much investigation between the different geneologies and purposes that they games have. Why don’t you go work on that and get back to me, ok?

The end of IU’s EA University???

With EA buying out everything, I was interested to see some local news about EA. I’ve previously discussed EA’s viral marketing and attempt to turn my school into EA University, well it seems that this is in danger of coming to an end! According to the Indiana Daily Student, the guy who puts up all those stickers (and there are new ones up, but my camera is in the shop so I can’t take pictures of them) is going “to leave void in campus program.”

While there is no doubt the guy does a great job and deserves every penny he gets paid, it seems odd that the article doesn’t seem to question the mixing of academics and consumerism. You would at least think it would mention all the damn stickers!

Whoever fills the “void” on campus, it will be very interesting to follow the how gaming companies continue to spend money on advertising on college campuses.

Last Post of the Year!!!

Winding down from the end of the semester rush, and getting reaquainted with my tv and computer.

Not specifically related to videogames, I found a few new tools invaluable for modern researchers.

The first, and everyone is talking about it, is Google Scholar. Sure, there are limitations to it, as some have noted, but when you are doing research on a topic like videogames but don’t care about violence, google’s quality sure cuts down the amount of time it takes to find stuff. And that, for me, is what I’ve been waiting for, is better quality in academic search, not quantity. Ebsco and jstor are cool and all, but sometimes they can be impossible to use effectively. Best of all, there is a search plugin for Firefox that lets you search just google scholar rather than have to go to the url to search it. I’ve found several articles that were in the traditional academic databases but didn’t turn up untill I used google scholar.

Another great tool for academic life is Abbyy’s PDF Transformer, which as one might imaging, turns PDF’s into text. There’s nothing that frustrates me more about writing papers than having to retype block quotes. With this, you just convert it to a .rtf file and cut and paste quotes to your heart’s content. Most classes use e-reserves now, which are just articles scanned into pdf files, and the converter makes it a lot easier. (most OCR software will do this as well, but the PDF Transformer is cheaper).

Amazon.com’s Look Inside the Book and Search Inside the Book feature which is great if you can’t remember where inside a book a certain quote was. If you are looking for a good quote, or a source for it, A9 is pretty good because is uses google’s database and also lets you use the “search inside the book” feature at the same time. There is also a Firefox search plugin for A9 too.

This next is kind of a dark tip, but related to PDF Transformer, at least in the way in which I use it is, because if you work at it a little, you can get access to page Amazon shows you (that file is on your computer somewhere if you look for it!) and using pdf transformer turn it into text. You can also look at more than just the 3 pages in a row that Amazon lets you by just “searching inside the book” for the page number. There is a limit to the total number of pages Amazon will let you see per day, however, as I found out when I tried to get a whole article from a book that way once…

LIke I said, none of those have much to do with videogames, but they certainly made my life easier and saved me a few trips to the library when I was writing about videogames

books? they still make those?

I was flipping through my copy of Electronic Gaming Monthly and saw an ad for something I don’t remember ever seeing an ad for in a gaming magazine before: a book! Of course it was for a novelization of Splinter Cell, but still, it was interesting to see in a gaming mag. Also of note was although it uses the logo for Splinter Cell, it doesn’t have a picture from the game on it, but rather a fairly generic picture.

On another note entirely, count me as a big supporter of Valve’s Steam. I’ve never had any problems with it that I know many have had, but the number one reason I am for it, is no more damn cd checks. Having built a new system and only gotten around to putting one cd drive in it, I have to say that cd switching sucks ass. The issue of switching cds was so irritating that I attempted to delve into the world of no-cd hacks, to no success.

One thing that I was originally in favor of regarding Steam was that on the older games like Counter-Strike in its various versions, Source and Condition Zero, didn’t have one of those stupid splash screens that tells you who made the game. So imagine my anger when HL2 had their stupid Valve screen. We know who made the game! Why do you need to remind us every single time we start the games? At least there is only one, I’m playing Deus Ex 2 and it has at least 3. Note to game developers: stop pissing off your customers! Seriously, does that stupid splash screen really help? Does anyone really think of Neversoft when they think of Tony Hawk???

gaming gaming gaming

I just submitted my final grades to the university, so my semester is officially over! Of course to celebrate, I have been playing lots of games. I still haven’t noticed any real trash talking on Counter-Strike:Source, so maybe trashtalkers really ARE 13 year old kids? It will be itneresting to see if lots of kids get Halk-Life 2 for Christmas and the ammount of crap in CS:S goes up noticably.
I’ve been trying to get into Deus Ex 2, but I just can’t seem to do it. Too much takling and the gun feels too wimpy. Continuing my long running hatred of the Unreal engine, Deus Ex 2 has already crashed once on me and this new computer never crashed on Doom 3 or Half-Life 2,,,
I’ve also been playing a lot of Civ3. It was all research, I swear! I got an A on the paper, so I guess I might try to publish it at some point. Below is a portion of the first page. Anyone interestested in the rest can drop me an email.

The Civilization games have been lauded as “The Best Game of All Time” by Computer Gaming World magazine and the “Greatest Computer Strategy Game of All-Time” by Time magazine, won countless other awards and is responsible for a slew of both spin-offs as well as knock-offs (Friedman, Civ3.com). It has even been the subject of numerous studies into the educational potential of videogames having been declared by one scholar as, “a particularly intriguing tool for studying world history in that it allows students to examine relationships among geography, politics, economics, and history over thousands of years and from multiple perspectives” (Squire 9). Despite these accolades, the Civ games have not gone uncritiqued by scholars who have noted some of the Imperialist choices that have influenced the game designs.
While many traditional forms of explicit colonialism have fallen to the wayside, and historians have reexamined the way in which histories of colonization is presented, to a large extent, historically-inspired popular entertainments have failed to rethink the history which they purport to present. In wargaming and in historical simulations, issues are presented in a simplistic good vs. bad format which almost always either depicts the European as good while those whose lands were colonized as bad or they are depicted in such a manner that all civilizations have the same goals and structure. In this paper the ways in which Sid Meier’s Civilization videogames present a highly simplistic notion of colonization, imperialism and empire will be discovered. Also explored will be the ways in which the game reinforces traditional notions of good civilizations vs. bad (or barbaric) civilizations, what it means to be civilized, as well as the ways in which the game makes other civilizations appear either completely western or so inscrutably Other that the only way to deal with them is through eradication. The purpose of this is not to condemn the Civilization series, its creator, or players as “bad” but, rather, to demonstrate the ways in which the legacies of colonialism and classical liberalism continue to play themselves out in places as seemingly benign as our entertainments and how our current culture remains a Civilization of Colonialism.

Too Busy to Play Games????

Apparently not, even though I’ve got 3 papers due in two weeks and 20+ papers to grade by tomorrow (what do my students think? It’s my job to teach them or something? Kids these days!) I’ve managed to finish Half-Life 2 in less than a week and put in some record length sessions with Civilization 3.
At least the last one is for a paper. I writing about depictions of Imerialism and colonialism in videogames for a class on Empire and colonialism. Funny how you can shove videogames into any class.
My post about videogame girls continues to get comments. It is interesting to see the reaction to it. I got over 1000 hits one day with people reading it. I also got linked to by some porn blog, which caused some interesting reactions from people who came here from that site I would guess.
OK, time to grade. Weeee!!! A grad student’s work is never done…

Playing to wait and Waiting to play

In anticipation of the release of the big games, Halo 2 and Half-Life 2, I’m going away from the FPS games. I’m preparing to write a paper about depictions of colonialism and empire in gaming and so I am starting to head towards wargaming for the first time. On the way there, I found a cheap copy of Civ3 and I’ve became 100% addicted to it in just the same way I was addicted to Civ2. Not really related to colonialism, but it will do until the “H” games come out.

Of course, if anyone knows of any games that deal with colonialism (apart from the Civ spinoff Colonization, that is), drop off a comment. There is always a lot of talk about “Why can’t games be about broader topics” and yet here we have some games that are about something as complex as colonialism and yet tends to treat the topic in rather black and white terms (with all the racial coding implicit in that statement).

But the Digra proposal deadline is just a couple weeks ago, so I need to get that taken care of first!

so much to do and so little time…

As we get to the middle of the school semester, the stresses of life as a graduate student are piling up. Students are giving me assignments, like it’s my JOB to teach them or something! And I have my own assignments due. I’m only writing one paper about videogames this semester, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not submitting to conferences. The PCA deadline is November 1st and the DiGRA is soon after, so if you want to submit to either, you better get a move on. Oh, and write me a proposal too while you are at it!

Since I do have my new computer, I am making time to continue to play videogames. Painkiller is taking up most of my time, but I’m also still getting killed by people online in CounterStrike. It is interesting how I manage to make time to play games, but not going to the recycling center… I guess I have my priorities in order! The big news is of course the new GTA game coming out soon. Just wait until our good friend Jack Thompson rears up his head to condemn it. I know he is busy suing people in England, but I’m sure he’ll find time to talk to some lazy journalist who doesn’t know anything about his credibility (or lack thereof in my eyes…)

Oh well, time to go grade some more student papers…

online gaming without nubes? Is it possible???

I broke down and did the old Steam pre-order of Half-Life 2. I know I’m such a sucker.
So even though I’m hip deep in Painkiller (I hate that swamp monster so much!!!) I couldn’t resist trying out the Source Engine version of Counter-Strike.

Guess what? I’ve put in 2-3 hours and haven’t seen any trash talking or people just acting like asses yet. Wow! Now I’m sure they are out there, but it is certainly refreshing to be alb e to play CS without jerks.

That most jerks don’t seem to be on the new version yet is an interesting phenomenon. Basically, the group of people playing CS:S right now are the hardest of the hard core and who have the money to spend to buy the pre-order. Which raises the question of who lamers really are. Are they really 13 year olds? Are they people who don’t have the computer to run the new version? Are they casual gamers? It will be interesting to see how the new CS community develops and what will happen when Half-Life 2 finally hits the shelves.

On a related note, CS:Condition Zero came with the Steam package I bought and while I was waiting for the Source version to download, I started playing it. It is fun to play with the bots, but boring as heck when you die. What I found interesting though was the fact that CS has one version of the maps, CS:CZ has another version and CS:S has a third. So we have a constant process of remaking the same maps (not to mention the older versions of some maps that have evolved through the betas of CS). It is an interesting process which has some similarities to Lucas’ constant tweaking of Star Wars. What is interesting, however, is that I haven’t found anyone lamenting about how the old versions of the maps are better, unlike the constant lamenting of the original versions of Star Wars.

Whether this is, again, a case of only the hardest of the hardcore playing the game at the moment, with criticisms yet to come, or somehow revisions of levels seem to function in a different way for players than revisions of films do for watchers is yet to be seen.

Despite the fact that CS:CZ comes with “Deleted Scenes” I wonder if some day there will be a “Special Edition” of Counter-Strike that features tons of various versions of the Dust and Office. If they reinstate the jailbreak and VIP modes and include Jeepathon2k you can count me in!