Category: general

Ethnographic tools

I’ve been interviewing people lately and I’ve been thinking about my equipment. It is a bit dated though and so I’m looking to replace it.

How dated you ask? Well, my main recording device is a Sony Minidisc recorder. It is a Hi-MD model, one of the last ones they made, so it can be uploaded to a computer. Like all minidisc recorders it does a pretty good job but it is six years old.

When I bought the player back in 2004, solid state recorders were pretty expensive but now they are really cheap. I don’t have an ipod or iphone so using one of those to record with isn’t really an option (although I’m thinking about getting an ipod touch since I’m missing out on that gaming experience). Of course the Zoom H4n is really sweet but I think that might be overkill.

The truth of the matter is that I have some affection for my old minidisc recorder. It really is a nice piece of hardware. It is just too bad that Sony waited so long to bring out a model that could upload to computers and that they saddled it with the terrible ATRAC format. Is this technonostalgia?

2010 the year we try to finish writing dissertations?

Last semester I was teaching 5 classes so I didn’t get much writing done. This semester I’m back to teaching only 2 classes so I am going to try to bang out drafts of the rest of this dissertation thing.
Of course that means I would have to look for a job and there aren’t many of those around at the moment…

For the next chapter I really want to get into what I’m calling “mixed-mode” communication. I’m interested in looking at how people will communicate both through computers (including things like phones even though I’m only focusing on gaming) as well as through non-computer mediated ways. How do people sitting near one another chose to talk over ventrillo or something and when do they talk directly to one another. Or when they might talk directly to one another but they are referring to something in the game like telling a teammate to go somewhere and using their in game character to point in the direction or something like that.

The Quiet Season

Quiet around here lately. I’ve been busy teaching 5 classes. I’m done teaching but I’ve got grading to do yet. I’m meeting with my advisers tomorrow and I hope they don’t yell at me for not writing anything this semester since I’m teaching so much. Mo’ money. mo’ problems…
I’ll post something more substantial soon. …ish

Girls are dumb… …according to Sony

So this guy’s girlfriend is so dumb she doesn’t notice the guy pushing buttons on the controller or that certain scenes keep happening over and over when he dies? Or are they saying that Uncharted 2 is full of long cut scenes? It is nice to see Sony stretching out and advertising games to new markets like straight white men… (seriously though who is this commercial for? Any guy watching it who might be remotely interested would already be interested in the PS3. Maybe it is just to generate general brand awareness?)

Is Gameloft videogaming’s version of The Asylum?

It isn’t much of a secret that I’m a fan of bad movies and one of the more infamous companies that make bad movies is The Asylum. They are the producers of a lot of films such as 18 Year Old Virgin, The Day the Earth Stopped, Snakes on a Train, The Terminators, and Transmorphers. As these examples show, The Asylym’s gimmick is that they think of a title that is similar to an upcoming film, make a film as quickly as possible, and get it into the video stores to piggy back on the original film.

Well, it seems like a videogame company has seen how easy it is for The Asylum to make money and has started making their own knockoffs. I was listening to the idle Thumbs podcast when one of the hosts mentioned Gameloft‘s “awesome” iphone games. Not having an iphone I can’t say if the phones are any good or not but I can’t help but think that they would be just as good as The Asylum’s films with titles like: Dungeon Hunter which I’m sure is nothing like Diablo,diablo

Blades of Fury which looks nothing like Tekken, tekken

Modern Combat: Sandstorm which looks nothing like Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat, cod4

Gangstar: West Coast Hustle which has no similarities to GTA: San Andreas, gta

and I’m sure that the fact that Guitar Rock Tour has a title so similar to Guitar Hero and Rock Band is just coincidental. rockband

Please tell me I’m not the only one hoping that Gameloft and The Asylum will hook up so we can get some games based on The Asylum’s films. That would be incredible.

Wasted away again — multiple games, multiple cultures

In the world of videogame studies there has been a lot written about Wow and MUDs and MOOs and fairly little written about FPS players so I’ve looked at the MMORPG stuff to see where it is similar to or different from my research interests.

I was listening to the latest episode of the podcast, A Life Well Wasted the other day and it got me thinking. If you don’t know, A Life Well Wasted is kind of like the This American Life of videogame podcasts. It is really good even if it doesn’t come out as often as I would like.

The latest episode is “Artists, Fans, & Engineers” has some great interviews with cosplayers and fanfic authors. Felicia Day’s work on The Guild has also been getting a lot of attention and in particular her song “Do You Want to Date My Avatar.”

Back in the 90s I participated in a comic book APA and did a little bit of comic book fanfic and I’ve read Henry Jenkins so I am familiar with fandom. I’ve never played WoW but I have played a little bit of City of Heroes, Lord of the Rings Online and I’m currently playing the free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons Online. Through none of this experience, however, have I done much team questing and never joined a guild. My experiences with anime, manga, and jrpgs is also pretty limited. I’ve seen a few anime shows (I grew up with Robotech), I’ve read Lone Wolf and Cub, and I’ve played Final Fantasy 7 and part of 8. However, when it comes to a lot of these less popular jrpgs I am clueless.

I got to say, this kind of cosplay and fanfic just doesn’t happen in First-Person Shooters. Sure, there is some but it just isn’t at the level it is among the mmorpg and jrpg players. There are certainly reasons for this, more story, a different perspective so you can see your character and character customization, and so on. But because of this they really seem to attract different kinds of people. There is overlap of course but the hardcore mmorpg and jrpg players don’t tend to be hardcore fps players and vice-versa.

I think that perhaps we really need to stop thinking about “videogames” as a monolithic thing and about “gamers” as belonging to a single monolithic group. Just as figure skating fans and hockey fans don’t tend to be the same people despite the superficial similarities of the two, neither are mmorpg, jrpg, and fps players (there’s some gendered aspects to those sports and I don’t think it is a coincidence that female mmorpg and jrpg players are much more common than female fps players. However, that is a matter for another post at another time.).

I guess what I’m saying is that videogames aren’t the same and neither are the players.

Yahoo pipes rss update

With some help from someone on the yahoo pipes message board (who did all the hard work. I’m not even 100% sure how the thing works to be honest because it uses regex and I don’t know anything about regular expressions) I was able to get a “beta” of my yahoo pipes videogame theory ultimate rss mashup working. here’s a link to the page for it. It asks you to put in some terms but the default ones work fine. (If there are any i’m missing let me know.)

This came about from the fact that delicious (I still want to type isn’t smart enough to search for synonyms. So if you search for things tagged “videogame” is won’t search for “videogames” or “games.” Additionally, just searching for “videogame” will turn up anything related to videogames which isn’t all that useful to my purposes. So what tag do you add? theory? academic?

So what the pipe does is runs all the combinations of one group of terms (in this case variations on the term “videogame”) with a second group of terms (in this case terms that people might use for videogame theory stuff). Because there are lots of sites that might be tagged with all the terms it also tried to filter out duplicates.

My next step is to take this basic pipe and also apply it to twitter and friendfeed searches with all the term combinations so that it will pick up any posts on those that might be of interest to videogame studies people.