Getting ahead of myself while getting behind…

I’m working on getting a syllabus together for my class on videogame culture that I”m going to be teaching in the fall. Should be pretty fun. I’m also getting to teach a course on action movies. I’m going to make them watch Tokyo Drift. Ha!

However, I’m also trying to finish a draft of my prospectus that was due two days ago.

And there’s a LAN party this weekend so no work done this weekend — except for you know, the work of playing games as part of my dissertation…

And I’m grading stuff.

And I’m going to get even more stuff to grade tomorrow!

You would think it was part of my job to teach and grade or something!

Although… perhaps I should remember this grading stuff when I’m making up this syllabus!

That’s good readin’

If you haven’t been reading gamepolitics.com’s posts of the transcripts of Jack Thompson’s Bar Trial, you have been missing some hilarious stuff including such jems as:

JT: Do you recall my cursing at you?

CJ: I do not recall you cursing…

JT: In fact, I told you to “go fuck yourself,” didn’t I?

JT: What’s the cut-off on how many faxes?

MOORE: Oh, I don’t know. You reached it, whatever it is.

JT: Anybody else ever reach it?

MOORE: No… Not close… You ruined my fax machine.

JT: I ruined your fax machine?

MOORE: It quit.

JT: Did it.

MOORE: Yes.

JT: What kind was it?

SMITH: Mr. Thompson, I’m going to ask you to step back. Step back.

JT: I’ll step back when the court asks me to.

DT: Let’s do this. We have a podium that’s pushed over… Let’s have all parties utilize the podium.

SMITH: Thank you, Your Honor.

DT: All right.

JT: What were you afraid of, Mr. Smith?

DT: Okay. That’s inappropriate.

JT: No. It isn’t inappropriate, Judge. I don’t mean to argue with you, but I’d like to know what Mr. Smith is concerned about.

DT: Mr. Thompson, I’m going to ask you to please utilize the podium as it is –

This is stuff you can’t make up. This cries out for dramatic reenactment.

Farewell to Break…

Appropriately as my spring break ends I finished Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It only took me something over a decade. Maybe one of these days I’ll finish Super Mario Brothers…

It was fun but like the Final Fantasy games I don’t really feel any need to go on to finish Ocarina of time. Maybe at some point I will but not now. Needs more guns.

de Certeau plays Zelda

The only two Zelda games I really ever played were A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. I probably played the first Zelda but not too much. I’ve never finished any of the Zelda games.

Way back in the 90s when Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was the latest Zelda game (and this was still 93-94 or something like it so the game was already a year or two old), someone in the dorms had a SNES, a system I never had, and we played Link to the Past as a group.
Then we got to a part that we couldn’t get past. You had to get to this other cave and we couldn’t figure it out. This was before gamefaqs was around and none of us had internet-connected computers at the time so it was the dark ages and we gave up.

Then around 98 or 99 I was living with some people and one of the had an N64 and Zelda Ocarina of Time. They had one of the gameguide books for it. We were getting pretty far in the game and then the guy who owned the N64 up and moved out, taking the N64 with him. Bastard!

So new I’ve gotten around to downloading a SNES emulator for my softmodded xbox and am hip deep in playing A Link to the Past. In playing it I’m realizing, not for the first time, that my sense of the direction or perhaps more accurately my sense of how geographic locations are connected is kind of weird.

I like to think that I’m pretty good with directions. I only got lost twice in Tokyo on my own and one time I was suspicious of the direction I was headed as soon as I got off the subway and the other time I should have just kept going a couple more blocks before I turned. But playing Zelda and wandering around in the dungeons? I got no clue. I might as well stop looking at the tv because I’ve no idea how I end up in one room or where I’m going in the dungeons. Similarly when I’m in the open world I’m constantly overshooting or totally missing the mark when I’m trying to get somewhere.

Of course being the academic dork I am I can’t help but wonder WWdCD? What Would de Certeau Do? There’s some scholarship out there about de Certeau and gaming but not as much as you with think. The importance of maps in videogames would seemingly make his writings about maps, directions, and architecture would seemingly make a good connection with map-based RPGs. Someone go write more of that stuff so I can read it, OK?

Spring Break….

Yay spring break….
I’m going to sit on my butt so long I get bed sores and play a whole lot of games.
Right now Zombie Master is still a favorite.
I’m also going old school with Zelda: Link to the Past and Defender of the Crown (NES version).

If I can clear some room on my hard drive I might get to Bioshock too this week.

Who needs human contact?

Videogame advertising in the news…

I have been meaning to write a post about my paper, “The Disappearance and Reappearance and Disappearance of the Player in Videogame Advertising that I wrote for the Digra conference last year. It has gotten a bit of a buzz lately (well as much buzz as a conference paper can get…) including almost making it into the “Game Studies Download of the top 10 academic papers. I made it to one of the “The 2008 ‘Shadow List’ – The Top 10 Research Findings that We Couldn’t Fit on our First Top 10 List.”

Before I could get around to tooting my own horn I read an article in the New York Times, “As Gaming Turns Social, Industry Shifts Strategies which talks about the increase of casual and social gaming. The part of the article that relates to my paper is this section:

Traditionally game advertisements, whether in print or on screen, have focused, naturally, on showing the game. But as it introduced the Wii, Nintendo devised a marketing breakthrough: Rather than show the game, show the players. In an entirely counterintuitive, brilliant move, most of Nintendo’s ads are now shot from the perspective of the television back out at the audience, showing families and groups of friends having fun together. Nintendo realized that emphasizing the communal experience of sharing interactive entertainment can be more captivating than the image of some monster, gangster or footballer on the screen.

However, as those who have either read my paper or were around when the home videogame market was starting will know, this simply isn’t true.

The early ads for videogames were all about showing the audience. Here are two pictures, one from a 2600 commercial and one from a Wii commercial that shows just how similar the two campains were:
Playing the Atari Draws a Crowd
Playing a Wii also draws a crowd

However, the Atari ads went even further because at least a few of them showed people actually plugging the machines into the electric outlet.
Wall Plug

The player has reappeared in videogame advertising time and time again. Every time the games introduce a new way of interacting with the machines then the advertisers will resurrect images of the player as an easy and effective way of demonstrating how to play the system.

Forget “Where’s the Stephen King of Gaming?” Where’s Stephen King’s games?

I was reading another one of these articles about the Shakespeare or gaming or the Stephen King of gaming and I began to think: Why aren’t there Stephen King videogames? Or at least games based on Stephen King books?

Clive Barker has lent his name to a couple of games, Undying and Jericho, but why hasn’t someone licensed Stephen King’s work? He has lent his name to at least one software title, Stephen King’s F13 (Gamespot has some images) but that was apparently some sort of screensaver-type thing and not an actual game.

Moreover, why isn’t there a John Grisham, Clive Cussler, or some other writers games? There have been games based on dead authors such as HP Lovecraft and Agatha Christie as well as literary characters such as Dracula and Sherlock Holmes (although those characters have been used by so many medium it is difficult to imagine that they wouldn’t appear in videogames). Of course there have been games based on movies based on books too such as Tolkien and JK Rowling but I’m not sure if those count.

Tom Clancy has made a lot of money from the Rainbow Six games an others. So why haven’t other authors tried to get in on the act? They can’t all be Luddites can they? I’m sure that someone has approached King about making a Shining or The Stand game but why didn’t they go through. Certainly the task of converting a novel to a game would be really tough but Is HP Lovecraft’s world can inspire a game couldn’t King’s? If Agatha Christie could inspire a game couldn’t Sue Grafton?

Where are the book-based games?

This is where I make the confession that removes any credibility I had left…

I don’t get Team Fortress 2. Maybe it is because I haven’t played enough of it but I don’t see what is so great about it. You run around you get killed you respawn. I spend a lot more time playing Zombie Master than I do TF2. Also, when is Monolith going to sue for stealing not only the style but also the music from No One Lives Forever? I realize they probably don’t have any basis for suing but, man, they should get a “special thanks to” credit or something.

I know, I know, I’ve lost all cred. How do you think I feel? You can just stop reading this crap. I have to live it!