Category: general

Call for Papers and a Job Opening

Over at Frans Mäyrä’s blog Frans has posted a couple calls for papers:

Double CFP: Continuum Approaches to Digital Game Studies Book Series (Edited Collection on Digital Role-playing Games and Edited Collection on First Person Shooters)

These two collections will be the first two titles in a larger series of edited volumes, Approaches to Digital Game Studies, published by Continuum. Each book in the series will be organized around a thematic or functional genre of game. Although digital game genres and the criteria for defining such genres are contested and dynamic categories, exploring the promises and pitfalls of genre is precisely one of the goals the series hopes to accomplish. Additionally, the series will bring the insights of a variety of scholarly disciplines to bear on the analysis of digital games in order to better understand the nature of this medium, its role in reshaping civic life and its impact on the production, circulation and contestation of global and local cultures.

Potential chapter contributions will be vetted by the series Review Board and invited manuscripts will be reviewed by the series Editors and approved by the Review Board.

Series Review Board:

* Mia Conslavo, University of Ohio
* James Paul Gee, Arizona State University
* Helen Kennedy, University of the West of England*
* Frans Mayra, University of Tampere
* Toby Miller, University of California, Riverside*
* Torril Elvira Mortensen, University of Utrech*
* Lisa Nakamura, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
* Gareth Schott, University of Waikato
* Mark JP Wolf, Concordia University Wisconsin
(* indicates commitment still subject to final contract)

Series Editors:

* Gerald Voorhees, High Point University
* Joshua Call, Grand View University
* Katie Whitlock, California State University, Chico

Edited Collection on Digital Role-playing Games: “Dungeons, Dragons and Digital Denizens: Digital Role-playing Games”

One of the most popular and culturally significant game genres, digital role-playing games (RPGs) generate a rich tapestry of technologies, players, communities, cultures and commercial forces. This edited collection, provisionally titled, “Dungeons, Dragons and Digital Denizens: Digital Role-playing Games,” is designed for a broad academic audience and will feature essays that either examine specific games or consider the genre as a whole.

We invite scholars and critics to contribute to this edited collection of essays exploring the theory and criticism of digital RPGs. The collection will publish essays on digital RPGs that engage the theory and criticism of console, computer and/or massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). However, contributions not focused on MMORPGs are especially encouraged.

Contributions from all academic disciplines and geographic regions are invited. The collection and series aim to advance theory and criticism by bringing different voices and perspectives into conversation. However, critical inquiry is preferred.

All contributions must be the original work of the author and cannot be published elsewhere, unless author retains copyrights. For co-authored essays, all authors must agree to submission of work.

For consideration, please send an abstract to gamestudies.books@gmail.com by September 15, 2011. Abstracts should be 500 words and must outline a theoretically grounded approach to a specific game or set of games. Completed essays must be 7000 words (including notes and references) and Continuum uses Chicago Manual of Style for references. Reprints will be considered on a case by case basis.

Provisional Timeline:

* Abstracts will be accepted until September 15, 2010
* Abstracts will be evaluated and requests for manuscripts will be issued by October 15, 2010
* Completed manuscript will be required by January 15, 2010
* Revisions must be completed by March 1, 2011

Edited Collection on First Person Shooters: “Guns, Grenades and Grunts: First Person Shooter Games”

Known for their graphical extravagance and social recognition, first-person shooters have long held a highly visible position among digital games. This edited collection, provisionally titled, “Guns, Grenades, and Grunts: First-Person Shooter Games” is designed for a broad academic audience and will feature essays that either examine specific games or consider the genre as a whole.

We invite scholars and critics to contribute to this edited collection of essays exploring the theory and criticism of FPS games. The collection will publish essays on FPS games that engage the theory and criticism of console, computer and hand-held FPS games.

Contributions from all academic disciplines and geographic regions are invited. The collection and series aim to advance theory and criticism by bringing different voices and perspectives into conversation. However, critical inquiry is preferred.

All contributions must be the original work of the author and cannot be published elsewhere, unless author retains copyrights. For co-authored essays, all authors must agree to submission of work.

For consideration, please send an abstract to gamestudies.books@gmail.com by November 15, 2011. Abstracts should be 500 words and must outline a theoretically grounded approach to a specific game or set of games. Completed essays must be 7000 words (including notes and references) and Continuum uses Chicago Manual of Style for references. Reprints will be considered on a case by case basis.

Provisional Timeline:

* Abstracts will be accepted until November 15, 2010
* Abstracts will be evaluated and requests for manuscripts will be issued by January 1, 2011
* Completed manuscript will be required by April 1, 2011
* Revisions must be completed by July 15, 2011

Queries and questions may also be sent to gamestudies.books@gmail.com.

Gerald Voorhees, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Games and Interactive Media
Nido R. Qubein School of Communication
Drawer 33
High Point University
High Point, NC 27262-3598
Tel: 336.841.9174
Office: Qubein 356
http://www.communication.highpoint.edu
Co-Chair, Game Studies Area
Popular Culture Association National Conference

http://www.pcaaca.org/

Also potentially of interest is a job posting for my Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University:

Indiana University
Department of Communication and Culture
Digital and Social Media

The Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Digital and Social Media to begin Fall 2011.

We seek a humanities-trained Ph.D. whose primary area of research expertise and training is in digital media studies focused specifically on the social dimensions and potentials of digital media. This applicant will be expected to interact productively with colleagues in one or more of the department?s three areas: Rhetoric and Public Culture; Film and Media Studies; and Performance and Ethnographic Studies. The applicant must have a well-developed research program and teaching experience in digital and social media. She or he will be responsible for developing an introductory lecture course and advanced undergraduate courses, as well as for actively shaping and teaching graduate offerings in this field of study.

We particularly encourage applicants whose research involves specialization in areas such as:

Social networking

New technologies of political advocacy

Ethnographies of new media

Convergence and participatory cultures

Digital video

Games and gaming

Candidates are expected to have a strong research agenda and a commitment to excellence in teaching. Preference will be given to those who have their Ph.D. in hand by the date of appointment. Applicants should send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, writing sample, and three letters of recommendation to: Professor Barbara Klinger, Chair, Digital/Social Media Search, Department of Communication and Culture, 800 E. 3rd Street, Indiana University, Bloomington IN 47405. Review of applications will begin December 1, 2010 and continue until the position is filled.

Indiana University is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. The university actively encourages applications and nominations of women, minorities, applicants with disabilities, and members of other underrepresented groups.

If anyone is thinking about applying for this job and have any questions about the department or IU, feel free to contact me. My contact info can be found at the About link at the top of the page.

Blog Post About Other Blog’s Blog Posts

I ran across a few interesting blog posts recently and I thought I would share them.

The first is an old post about Goffman and Portal. For a Goffman fan like myself this was a fun article looking at the ways in which Glados’ dialog moves between on-stage and back-stage. It is a bit long but still fun.

I found that post via a post from brainygamer.com where he discusses how he managed to get Portal as a required text for a class at Wabash College. I hope that he posts some updates on this once the semester starts. I’m curious as to how well a videogame was integrated into a class that isn’t about videogames. I’m especially interested to hear how some of the instructors of the course who might not have played a modern videogame before manage with Portal. I suspect their experience will reflect that of a writer for the New Yorker trying to play modern videogames for the first time. He found that “video games—especially the vivid, violent ones—are ridiculously hard to play. They’re humbling. They break you down. They kill you over and over.” I can see some of the faculty in my department having this same reaction and that really having a negative impact on how they teach the game.

Next, in the past I did some research early depictions of videogame players in advertising and early news coverage of videogames so I found this blog post about how back in 1983 OSHA got a game called Hard Hat Mack pulled off the shelves of a store to be particularly interesting.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I had found most of these stories from the Twitter feed of Game_reader. Finally, I find something useful on twitter!

The Pirate Academic in the Digital Age

Or maybe it should be the Digital Academic in the Pirate Age?

Anyway, I’m backing up my data including stuff I have on dvds since I’ve heard burned dvds might not last very long. I see that I have around 500 gigs of stuff including various videogame documentaries, news coverage, websites, interviews, youtube videos, and newspaper and magazine articles. Some of the stuff is pretty rare so I would hate to lose any of it. I bought two extra drives and my plan is to back up everything on both of them and take one to my parent’s house so I have off site backup (I’d love to set up something like a pogo plug at my parent’s house but I’m still a poor grad student.). I have the idea that this stuff will be useful as research one day but the truth is that I’m something of a low level hoarder (I don’t have a pet so there’s no danger of finding its dessicated remains under a pile of junk and there’s not much chance I’ll be burried alive by bits and bytes).

The problem with all of this is that, as you may have guessed from the title, is that while a large amount of that data has been obtained by using my dvd recorder to record stuff off of television probably just as much if not more of it has been downloaded from bittorent sites. So I’m a pirate. MPAA you can come and get me. There might be some illegally downloaded music on my computer so RIAA you can come and get me too.

I don’t deny the legality of it. What I do question is the morality. Let’s face it, the odds of my getting sued are pretty slim. Moreover, academia has a pretty long record of infringing on copyright anyway by making copies of articles for students without paying for them. Heck, I’ve even done it with a book that one of my advisers edited.

On the other hand, most people in the media are helpful to academics and I’ve actually gotten a free copy of an episode of a show from a cable network when I emailed them about it and I have had a couple indie documentary makers send me stuff when I inquired about it. So maybe I could get copies of some of this stuff through legal means. Does getting it through piracy make it less moral? I think so since I don’t have permission even though I doubt they would care since nearly all the stuff I’ve downloaded hasn’t been available for purchase (which is kind of weird since there is a demand for this stuff since I still get hits on the post I made about the video game documentary Tony Hawk hosted so there must be some people out there who want to see that stuff (although I guess in that instance they did make that available for purchase since it is listed on Amazon). Moreover, I haven’t uploaded the stuff that I was given by the cable channel or the documentary maker so I must feel like it is somehow a bad thing and a breach of trust (the cable company did make me sign a form promising I wouldn’t share the tape).

I do feel like being an academic does make a difference. I’m not downloading this stuff just because I want it. I like videogames and all but I’m not that fanatical that I would download every video I find related to computers or videogames. But is “it’s for research!” a valid reason? I’m sure that the judge wouldn’t think so but I’m not so sure what an ethicist would think.

So until I hear from an ethicist or the MPAA or RIAA brake down my door I’ll just wear my pirate hat with shame.

…And no I won’t send you a copy of my stuff.

Jack Thompson Li(v)es!!!

I just noticed that Jack Thompson was on Eagle Forum Radio back on June 5th. Eagle Forum is a super right wing group created by Phyllis Schlafly who thinks that “By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don’t think you can call it rape.” The show is also apparently co-hosted by her son, Andy Schlafly, who is the creator of Conservapedia and the effort to write a conservative translation of the Bible. With this group you know it would be an interesting show…

I took a couple hours of my life and listed to Jacko lie, lie, and lie again and I thought I would list the lies and omissions that were made on the show:

  1. Right off the bat they introduce Jack Thompson as a lawyer and neglect to mention that he has been permanently disbarred.
  2. Jack starts off trotting out the same old lies about studies having proved that video games are bad for you. His favorite is to mention some elusive Harvard study that did MRI scans of people but no one has ever found the study he is talking about. The closest studies I’ve found are a 2003 study and a 2009 study that were both done at IU Medical and were both sponsored by The Center for Successful Parenting.
  3. Jack said that a Kaiser Family Foundation found that kids play videogames 8 hours a day when what they really found was “8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to using entertainment media across a typical day” and that they only played videogames approximately 1hour and 13 minutes a day (but watch tv nearly 4 and a half hours a day)
  4. He then blames the Columbine shootings on videogames but that isn’t enough for him. He then goes on to say that the reason the news media doesn’t cover school violence more is because the media (even Fox news) is in the pocket of the videogame industry!
  5. Then Jack cites Dave Grossman and claims that the military uses videogames to desensitize soldiers. In reality the military uses videogames to teach teamwork and hand-eye coordination.
  6. In the midst of all this Phyllis Schlafly claims she has never heard any of this before.  This is a funny claim since you would think she would learn something about someone before having them on her show, and since she mentions her son has been active in this area. Additionally, Jack has worked with various branches of the Eagle Forum for a while.
  7. Jack also claims that the videogame industry makes more money than the film industry.  While it may be true that the gaming industry makes more money than Hollywood does at the box office, movies also make a lot of money internationally, dvd sales, pay-per-view, and other sources.
  8. Jack does admit that the majority of videogames made are not violent but then he says that non-violent games don’t sell. …If that is the case then why do they make them?  Of course it is not true as a glance at this month’s sales chart will tell you.
  9. He also claims that Lee Malvo one of the Beltway Snipers trained by playing Halo. There’s no evidence of this ever happening.
  10. He talks about the FTC testing to see if children can buy M-rated games but neglected to mention that the video game industry did better than movies and music at shielding kids from violent content.
  11. Jack also claimed that the killer in the Virginia Tech killings was addicted to Counter-Strike. He claimed that the New York Times said this. This is wrong, too. The New York Times did a large article on the killer and the second page of the article does state that when he started college, “Perhaps he would no longer retreat to video games and playing basketball alone the way he did at home.” But the main source of Jacks claim here is a single post on the Washington Post’s website that claimed the killer played Counter-Strike but that post was quickly removed when the story’s writer was unable to verify that he ever played the game.
  12. The last statement from Jack that I’ll talk about is perhaps the weirdest: He claimed that the reason that more men than women are dropping out of college is that the men are playing too many videogames…

Of course I should be revising my dissertation and not fact checking Jack Thompson.  I guess that I can always blame Jack if I drop out of college…

Roger Ebert apologizes to the “kids”

As was the case the last time Roger Ebert wrote about videogames, the gaming websites are all talking about his latest post about gaming. He writes:

I was a fool for mentioning video games in the first place. I would never express an opinion on a movie I hadn’t seen. Yet I declared as an axiom that video games can never be Art. I still believe this, but I should never have said so. Some opinions are best kept to yourself.

Well that’s fine. I’m glad he saw the light at least a little bit. However, I have the same problem with this “apology” as I did with his last post about videogames. Let’s look at the title for his post: “Okay, kids, play on my lawn.” Just like the last post he is still implying that videogame players are children. Sure, in this case, he is using the old cliche about old people and responding to people who wrote that he only dislikes videogames because he is old. However, it is still the second post in a row that he has made a connection between videogame players and children.

One step forward. Two steps back.

(White) People Are Strange

I’m currently writing a dissertation chapter on whiteness at LAN parties. That makes it a kind of coincidence that there’s an article over at Kotaku about the fact that the characters in the movie Prince of Persia are mostly being played by white people.

What’s most interesting about that article isn’t the actual content of the article itself but the comments. Any bets on what race most of the people commenting about how race shouldn’t matter are?

The Site is Borked.

As you can see (if this is the newest post when you are reading this) I’ve messed up the site.

I use 1and1 for hosting and I’ve never had any problems but I decided to update wordpress and it required a newer version of mysql than the one I was using.  My plan with 1and1 doesn’t allow me to have more than one mysql database at a time so I backed up the database, deleted it, and created a newer one. Then I try to import the backup and it fails.

I opened up the sql file in a text editor and all the posts are in there but I don’t really know how to get them out. So I found an old wordpress backup and uploaded it but as you can see it is 3 and a half years old.  After 3-4 hours of trying to figure out stuff I’m calling it a day. So until I figure out how to get the data out or do it all manually some rainy day, the site will have a bit of a gap in it.

Where have you gone Jack Thompson

Once upon a time Jack Thompson was the nemesis of gamers. Then he got permanently disbarred but that didn’t stop him as he claimed to be fighting the Florida Bar and probably lots of other crazy things. He also started writing an occasional column for some online conservative site.

Now, however, he seems to have disappeared. Once a search for Jacko on google news showed up all sorts of antics by him but now searching for Jacko on google news just returns the occasional story mentioning him as a foil and stories about other people named Jack Thompson. (I wonder if the actor Jack Thompson ever gets people accusing him of hating videogames?) Jacko hasn’t even posted a column since August of 2009.

I wonder if Jacko has just given up or if he’s planning some new media frenzy. I kind of hope he keeps at it because his insane claims sure were entertaining even if there were some people who believed his lies. [ad#ad-1]