It is indeed the lazy days of summer. I just want to lay in bed all day. But my adoring crowd of fives of fives of dedicated readers insist that I update my blog. Oh the responsibility of blogging!
Random game related things:
I’m playing through Half-Life again. I know that it has been talked about to death by many people, including myself, but it still has something going for it. Lots of people mention the great story, but even having played through the game more than once, I really don’t see where this plot is. Sure, there is a storyline, but I don’t really care about it at all. What makes it so interesting for me is just that it is put together oh well. Never are there places where you have to really guess what you are supposed to do which makes playing it such an intuitive experiences.
However, it is not all wine and roses. For a games that is this old, and is still being patched from time to time, I’m surprised that it has as many bugs as it does. Every time I ride an elevator, I have to jump at the end of the ride or else I get stuck and can’t move. It is incredibly irritating and serves to remind me of how fragile the reality of a game is.
On another topic, I don’t think I ever mentioned it but Dungeons and Dreamers is a facinating read. It is strongest when it concentrates on Richard Garriot of Ultima fame and somewhat weaker when it strays to other subjects such as the id people (which is probably weakened all the more by coming out after Masters of Doom). *Irony Alert* I think that by focusing so much on people, however, the book actually missed out on addressing a much more interesting phenomenon. I know, I know, I’m the guy who is always saying, “Videogames are about people!” and”Ethnography is da bomb!” but while the story of how Richard Garriot amassed a fortune, and helped to create an industry and then got forced out from the company he founded in his parent’s house is facinating, I think that it really serves as an illustration of a larger phenomenon of the corporatization of the gaming industry. Garriot’s story nicely illustrates how the computer software industry moved from something that people literally did in their garages, bedrooms and attics by themselves and hiring friends and family and marketing games themselves to a multibillion dollar industry which is driven by profit rather than artistic vision and now takes years and large groups of people to complete. It also signals the death of the autuer, which is in and of itself an interesting phenomenon in that to the vast majority of people who buy games they are an authorless medium. Had Dungeons and Dreams explored this aspect with a little more detail, it would have made for an incredibly facinating analysis. Oh well, I guess that’s my job!
I’m a cheap bastard. I hardly ever buy games full price. Well, I went to the evil that is Wal-Mart today and wow, they have lots of good games for $9.98! I finally picked up Max Payne (as well as Red Faction 2). Which points out the fact that, you know, I bought Red Faction 2, which is something I probably wouldn’t have done if they were full price. So of course, I just can’t wait untill ESPN NFL 2K5 comes out!
But anyway, to give you folks a heads up, there are some good deals lurking at you local Wal-Mart if you go past the boxes and look at the games in jewel cases.
EDIT: I’m refering to PC games. I don’t see consol games drop much below 19.95.
In order to get my language requirement out of the way for my phd I’m taking German this summer. The second summer session just started Friday (the day after the first session ended!) and we have to write a paper (in English!) using sources written in German. So what are some good internet available videogame essays written in German? I’ve run across a couple, but can always use some more.
I was doing a search for a Goffman reference that Geertz uses in Deep Play and I found a pretty cool posting called “Closely Reading DAoC” that makes some interesting insights into how Geertz is applicable to MMORPG’s. Go check it out.
As most readers know they caught the people who stole the Half-Life 2 source code. However, in doing my usual Google news search for videogame, I ran across an interesting article about the source code theft. According to the Modesto Bee, “ Arrests were made in the theft of video game blueprints. From the article:
SEATTLE (AP) – Authorities have arrested suspects in a case involving the theft of software blueprints for the hotly awaited action computer game “Half-Life 2,” the FBI said Friday.
Who knew that software had blueprints? At least that explains why Half-Life 2 has been delayed for going on a year now. I’m no game designer, but I think you actually have to type all the code into the computer rather than write on that blue paper with white pencils.
I was out playing Counter-Strike with some guys in the computer lab earlier, and while I know I am certainly not the first to say so, videogame scholars really need to read Clifford Geertz’s Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight. (Note that this is an condensed version. Go find The Interpretation of Cultures or another book it appears in for the full version). Not only is Geertz an entertaining writer (something that is all too often lacking in academia, but he makes some interesting observations on what makes play and games exciting and involving.
Robin Hunicke has some really great commentary on E3 over at her blog. Even though I’ve never been to E3, her thoughts pretty well match my own observations of it, especially in light of Tore Vesterby’s blog post that mentions that :
Gamespy is offering an official DVD of E3 coverage. I guess the booth babes are as important – if not more important – than the games when looking at their pre-order site and their promo text:
You’ll get 4 DVDs packed with over 200 game
previews, press conference coverage, looks behind-the-scenes, editor
cameos, even a booth babe featurette — over 11 hours of video, total!
Here’s my note to the industry: Yes, heterosexual men find women attractive. However, there are lots of other people in the world besides heterosexual men. Sure sex sells, but I tell you what, even I, as one of those who is in the target demographic, am getting tired of T&A. If we want T&A there are other places to get that. I get a dozen emails a day telling me where I can get that in fact. Everything has its place, and there is room for a lot more variety than the industry is giving us.
I”m editing an article for publication and as always happens in situations like that there are always little bits that have to be cut out. Cutting the out is always painfull and so rather than just deleting the paragraph I thought I would post it here. So here is something for people to mull over:
In the often cited “Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema,” Laura Mulvey writes that one of the pleasures of film is scopophilic, or based on looking (324). “[The] brilliance of the shifting patterns of light and shade on the screen helps to promote the illusion of voyeuristic separation” (Mulvey 324). However, in a FPS, the player is voyeristically looking at the main character because the player is the main character which means there can be no voyeuristic pleasure in playing a FPS because there is no one to watch. Indeed, even if one were to attempt to stop playing the game in order to look at one of the other characters and subject the character to a objectifying male gaze, the character would in all likelyhood shoot the player in a direct rejection of the voyeristic gaze. Additionally, what occurs while playing a Shooter is not a separation, but an immersion in that by using the first-person perspective, the player is encouraged to forget that they are playing a character and to feel as if they themselves are in the game. The pleasure in playing a First-Person Shooter is not in looking but in doing.
So I finally got around to adding some links to other game blogs. If there are any that I missed, leave a comment.
I was just looking at my web site visitor log and look who’s been visiting:
Hmmmm… It looks like someone at EA has found my blog. I tried some of the links, but I couldn’t get any of them to work. I’m assuming that perhaps they are some sort of internal company links or something. I wonder in what context my site is being linked to. It seems that nothing escapes their attention for long.
I, for one, welcome our new EA overlords…
Seriously, I have nothing against EA, I’m just interested in what is going on here. So, hello EA! Leave a comment or two!