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Thoughts on the PS3 from a Windows computer gamer

Now that the PS4 is out, I finally bought a PS3. I know… I’m poor. Give me a job and I will be happy to spend my money on expensive consoles. I thought about buying either a PS3 or a 360 for a while but decided on the PS3 because I don’t want to pay to play online (I’m poor) and there are more exclusive PS3 games I haven’t played.

So on Black Friday I ordered the PS3 with Last of Us and Batman Arkham something or other and it arrived on Monday. Setting it up was interesting so I thought I would write up my impressions. (Spoiler: I’m not really impressed so far)

I plugged it into my tv and plugged an ethernet chord into it and started it up. The setup process was pretty easy but I thought it weird that I had to put in the date and time manually. Can’t it just get that from the internet?

It set its output to 1080p but my cheap Polaroid-brand tv is only 720p. I could still see the text so I just figured I would let it go and change it manually later. I went into the settings and ended up in bluray and dvd settings. I think I found the output settings but I didn’t change it because I figured if it ain’t broke I won’t try to fix it.

Getting it connected brought up one of my least favorite problems with non-computers: cryptic error messages and no way to fix them. I last experienced that when I had an ipod touch that wouldn’t download updates and I finally got it to work by running a vpn to my university. The PS3’s error was no less cryptic. It tried to get online and after a while it couldn’t. It threw up an error message with a strong of numbers. I look online to see what people say about it but as it usually the case there were a bunch of different errors. No way to get to ini files or anything like that. So I just restart it and it magically works…

Next I get to the dreaded updates. I had heard the PS3 is constantly updating and it was true. There are tons and tons of updates. People used to say that about Windows too but with computers you can at least do something else while it downloads updates. Not so with the PS3 (for example, while I’ve been writing this I’ve been downloading and installing an update on the ps3.)

I’m really surprised at how bad the PS3 is at running multiple apps at once. Some stuff can’t be downloaded in the background at all. Even when it can, you have to click the button but even then you still have for the system to do something before it will even let you download in the background! I tried to background download Uncharted 3 and it said I would have to wait 7 minutes before I could do that!

So I left it on and went to sleep. I got up in the morning and the game didn’t show up so I start the download again. I went to class and when got back the game has downloaded. But it hasn’t installed yet. There were all these files: Uncharted Multiplayer, Uncharted Single Player, Uncharted 2D movies, Uncharted French language pack. So I install the single player part. But it still doesn’t show up. So I install the multiplayer part and the 2D movies. Then the game finally shows up.

Alright, the game is installed so I can play it. I click on the game and the screen goes black. The screen goes black a lot. No indication that anything is going on. If that happens on a computer that’s a bad thing. But I guess it is just business as usual for the PS3. Now, once the game gets started I get a loading indicator. Of course, my computer has an SSD that my Steam games are installed on so it doesn’t take forever to start unlike the PS3. Now, to be fair I cold install an SSD on the PS3.

Satisfied that the download worked I go to download Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. The background downloading works better for this though. So I watch something on Netflix while it downloads. I go to check out the download status and somehow it is trying to download Uncharted 3 again… grrrr….

To wrap it up, the PS3 is no computer. I realize it is old technology. But I guess I’m still not a console guy. I’ll play the PS3 exclusives but I think I’ll stick with my gaming computer and my roku for most of my gaming and media watching needs.  If nothing else I’ve got a bluray player!

Is G4TV a ghost town?

I was never a huge fan of G4tv but it did have good access to videogame events like E3 and occasionally good interviews and Ninja Warrior. Now it seems like a ghost town.

First, it was supposed to become the Esquire Network in April of 2013 and they fired all their on-air staff and recorded the final episodes of their shows. Then April came and they were all like, “no, no. We meant September!” Then September came and they made a last minute switcheroo and instead kept G4 and made Style the Esquire Network.

So what about G4 then? Well, apparently nothing.  Their website hasn’t been updated in months:

g4tv

Their last tweet says that their twitter is moving to Esquire TV’s account:

 

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The links on their website to their forums don’t go anywhere. As far as their programming is concerned, they just keep airing the old episodes of Attack of the Show and X-Play and other random stuff like reruns of Lost and Airwolf.

So why is NBCUniversal keeping the channel around? Is having that channel on cable so valuable that they might possible one day maybe want to put something on it? (Probably). It just seems odd and a waste.

…But I don’t even have cable so what do I know?

 

even at just a Penny, the Arcade’s price is too high…

I’ve been reading Penny Arcade since it started on loonygames. I don’t read them any more. And I won’t go to PAX as long as Mike Krahulik aka Gabe is involved no matter how many people say it is an inclusive and welcoming place.

I first stopped reading Penny Arcade back in 2010 or 2011 during the Dickwolves debacle. What I found most frustrating about that whole thing wasn’t the original comic strip. I didn’t find it that bad. I can see why people would though. It was Gabe’s inability to show a similar understanding of why people might be upset about a rape joke that made me stop reading Penny Arcade. As the timeline I linked to shows, Gabe and Tycho didn’t just disagree with people who didn’t think it was funny, they ridiculed them and were jerks.

So I stopped reading their comic.

But after a while, I started occasionally reading the comic again.

Then in 2012, Gabe threw his support behind a card game about tentacle rape that eventually got pulled from Kickstarter. When someone questioned his support of the game, Gabe replied to the criticism with snarky and mocking tweets.

Another offense, although quite minor in the overall pattern of what I view as terrible behavior, was the Penny Arcade Kickstarter. I saw it as kind of sleazy and taking advantage of the good will of their fans. But, that isn’t that big of an issue.

Then in June of 2013 Gabe initiated two separate twitter flame wars about transgendered people. The first, which didn’t get much publicity started on June 7th (it might be hard to follow these because Gabe tweeted so many times and because of how twitter does their timeline but I’ll start with the screengrab of the oldest tweets first and then move to the more recent ones):

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Then, on June 20th, some people noticed that a panel at PAX Australia had a description that some people found disturbing.

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Somewhere along the line, the issue of transgendered people came up again and Gabe showed that he had learned nothing from the tweets that happened on June 6th.

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This resulted in posting an apology of sorts on Penny Arcade and Gabe promising to donate $20,000 to charity.

The makers of Gone Home, The Fullbright Company, decided not to attend PAX because of this. And other people debated it as well.

Throughout all of this, I had posted some comments on blogs and tweeted about this but what made me take the time to document the reasons why I won’t read Penny Arcade or attend PAX is the news that during an interview at PAX, Penny Arcade’s business manager, Robert Khoo, asked if there was anything that he had done that Gabe and Tycho resented. Gabe responded:

I think that pulling the dickwolves merchandise was a mistake.”

To which several people in the crowd cheered.

Other people have probably written about this and done it better than I have but that was the straw that broke the camel’s back and forced me to write about it.

By using the cliche “straw the broke the camel’s back,” I want to emphasize that it wasn’t just one thing that made me stop having anything to do with Penny Arcade or anything Mike Krahulik aka Gabe is involved with because it wasn’t just one thing. I’m sure lots of people will still support Penny Arcade and still attend PAX. They are free to do so but I won’t be one of them.

Hopefully, by posting all these links and screen captures I’ve shown that Gabe has a pattern of saying, writing, and doing things that that are insulting and infuriating and I’m not willing to give him the benefit of the doubt any more. For me, the price of doing so it too high.

Edit:

Since I posted this Mike Krahulik has posted a clarification. I don’t really find his explanation of why he said what he said to be entirely satisfying. Actions speak louder than words. I hope he means it but I will need to see him do a lot of good things before I give him the benefit of the doubt again.

 

 

 

 

Dissertation Abstract

I passed my dissertation defense. So here is the abstract from my dissertation:

Utilizing ethnographic methods, this work examines how attendees of computer gaming events held by the Gaming@IU club form a community that uses technology to bring people together rather than isolate them. It also analyzes the ways attendees perform unique forms of Whiteness and “nerd masculinity.” The primary data is drawn from LAN parties, computer gaming events where approximately 200 participants collocate their computers and play videogames with and against each other for up to twenty-four hours. Drawing on six years of fieldwork, this work uses participant observation and interviews to examine how LAN party attendees use the computer gaming events to create what Ray Oldenburg calls a “third place” away from work and school where friendships can be created and maintained.

On the basis of this data, the dissertation further examines the ways in which the statements of the LAN party attendees draw on a discourse of racial colorblindness as a way of dealing with the overwhelming Whiteness of these events, which is not reflective of the racial and ethnic diversity of the area. The work shows how an avoidance of discussion of Whiteness prevents the attendees from interrogating the role the LAN party’s organization may play in the racial makeup of attendees.

Focusing on male LAN party attendees interactions with female attendees, within gaming, this study also looks at the ways in which both the games played and the social norms of the LAN party encourage the performance of hegemonic masculinity while playing the videogames but allow the attendees to inhabit a more complicit form of masculinity which is not overtly sexist. The dissertation argues that by embracing non-normative masculinity outside the games but discouraging it within the games, the LAN party participants are professing openness and acceptance but are failing to live up to that ideal.

Dissertation Works Cited

Next month I will be defending my dissertation. This means I have to send it off to my committee this week. So since I had to get my chapters all together and formatted, I thought I would go ahead and share my works cited in case anyone is interested:

 

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Silberman, Steve. 1995. “O Bolo Mio.” Netguide, May.

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Soukup, Charles. 2006. “Computer-mediated Communication as a Virtual Third Place: Building Oldenburg’s Great Good Places on the World Wide Web.” New Media & Society 8 (3) (June 1): 421 –440. doi:10.1177/1461444806061953.

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Steinkuehler, Constance A., and Dmitri Williams. 2006. “Where Everybody Knows Your (Screen) Name: Online Games as ‘Third Places’.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 11 (4): 885–909.

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Taylor, T. L. 2006. Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture. The MIT Press.

Thornham, H. 2011. Ethnographies of the Videogame: Gender, Narrative and Praxis. Ashgate Pub Co.

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American Anthropological Association presentions

As usual, here’s my powerpoint slides from my presentation at the 2012 AAA conference:

Encyclopedia of Video Games with cool stuff by this guy with the thumbs

An edited collection including my first official publication has been released: Encyclopedia of Video Games [2 volumes]: The Culture, Technology, and Art of Gaming. Edited by Mark J. P. Wolf, it includes a few entries written by me, such as this wonderful, guaranteed 100% accurate and authoritative entries on the history of Sony and the Playstation 1 and 2 (guarantee not valid in any country, world, or timeline):

I’ve included affiliate links to Amazon.com so if you decide to buy the two volume Encyclopedia of Video Games for the low, low price of $189 you can give me a commission:

Or, for my billions of readers in the UK you can buy it for the even more amazing price of £195.24!

If you live somewhere else, well… I don’t have an affiliate code for any other countries so just send me a blank check and I’ll send you a copy in 4-60 months… :-P

In all seriousness, the price may be high but it is two hardcovers and over 700 pages in total. While I can’t speak for the other contributors I know that I put a lot of energy into my entries to make sure they had better and more authoritative information than wikipedia entries (of course now someone can just cite my entries in wikipedia ;-)). I think there is going to be an ebook version out at some point so hopefully it will be available soon.

Consoling Passions 2012 Presentations: Rhetorical Incoherence at Play

Here’s the slides I gave at Consoling Passions 2012:

Some Cultural History of Videogames

I know I am probably a bit late to the game on this but I thought I would share anyway.

C-SPAN has a searchable archive of their videos and included in that archive is some pretty interesting archival footage of the USA government talking about how videogames are teh eval!

For example, here’s a clip from December 9, 1993:

Witnesses testified concerning violence in video games produced for Nintendo and Sega. Graphic scenes from a number of Sega games were shown throughout the hearing.

Pretty cool stuff!

 

Roll on Blogroll, Roll on!

I’m still updating the blogroll. It is taking so long because for each link I’m adding, I’m also trying to look at the blogs they link to. Of course that means I have to look at their links and so on and so on.

Of course I’m not putting every link in the blogroll. I’m trying to be generous but I am also trying to make some (fairly arbitrary) limits on what I’ll link to. Obviously, if someone’s racist, sexist, homophobic, or something like that I’m not going to link to that person’s site. Luckily, I haven’t ran into any blogs that have content like that so far.

Other, perhaps more subtle, criteria include freshness. If someone hasn’t updated in over a year I’m not going to add that person’s blog. I think I’ve written about this before but it does sometimes hurt to cut the blog of a person who has written some really great stuff but seems to have abandoned blogging.

Another criteria: game design. I’m not really into making games so blogs that seem to be overly or exclusively devoted to designing games are proably not blogs I, personally, would enjoy reading. So I’m not linking to them.

The final major category is probably the most controversial: Nintendo. If a blog seems to be too Nintendo-centric, I’m more likely to skip it. While lots of people love Mario and Link, I’m not particularly enamored with them. I haven’t owned a Nintendo console since the NES and while I’ve got a Gameboy Advance SP somewhere, I never really played it. I don’t have anything against Nintendo, I just don’t really have much interest in reading or writing about them or their games. Which is, of course, highly ironic considering my contributions to the upcoming Encyclopedia of Video Games…!

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