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Last of Us Review

Last of Us box artThe last Last of Us review? I’m reviewing the actual Last of Us game itself and not the DLC that just came out. Yeah. I know I’m late. Maybe I’ll write about Flappy Bird some time in 2015…

Now, I’m not a console gamer. So part of my dislike of the terrible shooting in the game might be because I’m part of the Glorious PC Gaming Master Race. Regardless, I’m really surprised that Last of Us won basically every award ever made. That isn’t to say that I didn’t like it. I did like it. But the parts I really liked were the parts where you are just ransacking houses which probably makes up a total of 30 minutes of the whole game.

So why didn’t I like it? Well, the reasons for that can be split into two categories: gameplay and story. And since the actual gameplay itself isn’t really much of a surprise, I’ll start with that in case there are any people that a) haven’t played Last of Us and still might and b) read this. So for the two or three people on the planet that this applies to, I’ll start off trying to avoid any spoilers and then move on to the spoiler talk.

Tastes a Little Gamey.

The worst part of Last of Us’ gameplay is just how game-y it is.

I think the worst example of this is the dumpsters. Throughout the game there are sections where you have to get over a fence or a wall but it is too high to climb over. So you have to find something to push up next to the wall so you can climb up on it and then over the wall. Almost always that thing to push is a dumpster and even though it is years after the apocalypse the dumpsters still roll around and move more easily than any dumpster I’ve ever tried to move (not that I’ve tried to move a lot of dumpsters. Maybe there are some that are super easy to move even after years of neglect but I haven’t seen them.)

If there aren’t dumpsters nearby then there is sure to be a conveniently placed ladder or board around which gives the game an excuse to have a nice interaction with the girl, Ellie, who is often tasked with being boosted up to wherever the ladder is.

Now, these scenes with dumpster moving and ladder fetching do make for a nice diversion from the combat as it gives you a chance to flex other mental muscles than shooting. Unfortunately, I needed that break because I hated the combat in the game. Again, maybe it is because I’m not a console player, but the aiming and shooting of the game was just painful.

<minor spoilers>

….. The few times you play as Ellie, the shooting is better. I read someone mention that Ellie is a better shot than Joel but I didn’t interpret it that way. I interpreted it as the game making it easier because Ellie is a kid. When playing as Ellie it seemed like Clickers went down easier than they did when playing as Joel. But, I might be wrong…

<end of spoilers>

OK. Let’s talk about the crafting system. It is really just terrible. I hate games where you have to gather items to make something that will just break or wear out so that you have to find more stuff. I’m looking at you Dead Island… In Last of Us, all the zombies and crafting made me feel like I was back looking for the red herb in Resident Evil. Luckily, because I could make shivs to open doors I didn’t need to be the master of unlocking… (Ha! in searching for the famous RE clip I found out that Last of Us does have a “Master of Unlocking” trophy!)

While the presence of so something like the crafting system is an obvious feature, one thing that I found equally annoying but less obvious was the ever-present waist-high wall. A big part of the combat is also crouching behind things. Conveniently, everything in the world is just the right height to hide behind. Even in sections where you aren’t fighting, the presence of these waist-high obstacles makes it feel like you are going to be fighting in that space eventually.

Last of the Plot

OK, now I am going to start talking about the plot.

Big Spoilers ahoy ….

The place where the waist-high walls was most irritating was also the point where the writing was the worst: the power plant. When Joel’s brother says something like, “We’ve been getting some bandits attacking us lately,” is there any doubt that as soon as you get done arguing with the brother that the power plant is going to be attacked?

And that predictability is one of the main problems with Last of Us. With a few exceptions, everything about the story is cliched and predictable.

Another example is the cannibals. Now, it wasn’t entirely predictable that the cannibals would turn out to be cannibals but it was obvious that they were Bad Guys™. Similarly, there’s a scene near the end where they are trying to build tension by not showing if Ellie is alive or not. But of course she is because she is the main character and they have already killed off one girl so they aren’t going to kill off another one. But they hold the camera on Joel for a really long time before panning over to Ellie to try to build tension and for me it was just tedious.

(Spoilers in this clip for the end of the game)

Tedious also describes how I felt about all the billions of cut scenes. I really don’t understand why developers so often feel the need to put in little cut scenes when it would be more dramatic to allow the player to actually do things. Maybe it is limitations in the game engine and it seems like Naughty Dog is pushing the PS3 pretty hard. But it is still frustrating to me because in too many instances it is hard to tell when the cut scene ends and I’m allowed to start playing again.

I think a lot of this comes from trying to be “cinematic” (whatever that means) but one scene early on shows that despite all their aspirations not everyone at Naughty Dog understands how cameras and editing really work. It can be seen in this clip about 10:55 in:

In that clip we have Joel’s brother save Joel from a zombie and blood splatters on the camera lens. Then the cut scene switches to an angle from inside the overturned truck and the blood splatter is still on the camera lens. That isn’t how it works. That would be a different camera and it wouldn’t have any blood to be splattered on it in that exact same way. Now, it could be argued that because the blood fades quickly that this was not a misunderstanding of how camera angles work but it was distracting enough that I remembered this scene from early on in the game and I even took the time to find a clip of this scene to make sure I wasn’t misremembering it.

Regarding cut scenes, I think the choice of what to cut out in the cut scene was also frustrating for me because I found the cut scenes tended to cut from combat to combat (or puzzles where Ellie has to get onto a floating platform again) and I would much rather have had more of the moments where they were just driving or walking down the road. I guess I wanted more of a The Road feel (even though I really hated a lot of the movie so much and I’ve resisted reading the book). One of the parts I liked the best was the part where you play as Ellie hunting down a deer. It was such a nice quiet and methodical scene that I wished that there was more things like it in the game. Now, I don’t want to turn the game into Big Buck Hunter but, like the parts where you are going through drawers in abandoned houses, I wanted more exploration and self-paced scenes.

The last thing I want to write about is the end.

“Apparently, there’s no way to extricate the parasite without eliminating the host. Fancy way of saying we gotta kill the fucking kid.

Oh noes! They want to kill Ellie!! Who could have ever predicted that? Except for anyone that really thought about it, I mean.

So the scientists wanting to kill Ellie was really cliched. It would have been more interesting if, like the college, there wasn’t anyone there. But that isn’t the worst part.

The worst part is that the reason they want to kill Ellie makes no sense. Because people turn when they get bit, they have established that the fungus that causes people to turn is in body fluids. So whatever prevents Ellie from turning has to be in her blood too. So they could just look at her blood. Even if it is in her brain why do they have to kill her? Can’t they do a biopsy? When someone has brain cancer they don’t just kill them (and there is also the fact that the fungus is not a parasite.). While you could argue that this is an extreme situation and they don;t have the facilities to operate, the very least Naughty Dog could have done is put in a line like that.

OK, so trying to kill Ellie doesn’t make any sense. Fine. I also really hated that I didn’t have any choice as to how I reacted to the news that they were going to kill her. I really didn’t like the fact that the game didn’t allow me to choose whether or not I would allow Ellie to die. That would have been a much braver game design choice.

There’s a post over at Polygon.com where they try to argue that it is a good and powerful storytelling choice to not allow the player to have a say in how Joel reacts because the player is not Joel. In the post Chris Plante wrote:

I like to think of the player as the driver on a road trip and the hero as the person riding shotgun. The player can steer the action, but ultimately the hero thinks and behaves on his own. And the player and hero are having a conversation, reacting and responding to one another, over the course of the journey.

I believe that if the player has complete control of the story — and I’m talking exclusively about big, cinematic games — then the writer has no control. Forcing the player to shoot the doctor is an elegant way of explaining this via action. You’re a participant in the story, but it is not your story to tell.

Personally, I disagree. For me the character is me and I am the character. I play a game because I want to control things. If I want to experience a person whose thought and behaviors I can’t control then I’ll read a book or watch a movie or tv show. I don’t want to ride shotgun. I hate rail shooters and this line of reasoning makes all games into rail shooters. If I can’t make the big decisions about how to behave in a certain situation then why should I make the small ones about who to shoot (and to write that who to shoot is a smaller decision than anything else in games is, of course, a commentary on what games do and don’t value. Not to mention that Joel has killed literally hundreds of people but balks at killing one more to save everyone… (and why does the game give you stats on the number of people killed at the end? Is it trying to make a statement or is it just some stat that we are meant to try to improve in the future?)).

Then there is the very end which I don’t really know what it means. I don’t mean Joel lying to Ellie. For me that was overshadowed by the choice to have Ellie be the playable character at the end. In the beginning of the game Joel’s daughter is the first playable character. Then when Joel is sick, Ellie is the playable character. Then at the end the player controls Ellie as they walk to the town where Joel’s brother is. Why? What does it mean that we are controlling Ellie and not Joel? Is it to make some kind of symmetry between the beginning and the end? Is it a symbolic handing over of the reigns to Ellie? Was it just a design derision so that the game could more easily show Joel lying? In an interview the designers talk about it a bit but it still seems like an odd choice to me.

The End.

Despite all these criticisms I liked the game a lot. I like it despite these criticisms because I think if these things had been addressed more satisfactorily for my tastes then the game would have been so much better. Maybe it would have won three hundred game of the year awards instead of just 200 or something…

Six thumbs up.

I usually
love zombies. I hate them here.
That’s award worthy…

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger Review

 

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

I’d heard a lot about Call of Juarez: Gunslinger [Download] on various podcasts so when it was on sale during the winter steam sale I went ahead and bought it.

The premise of Gunslinger is that you play an old bounty hunter in the Old West and you walk into a bar and start telling stories about all these famous outlaws that you fought. Because it is in the form of storytelling, there are times in the games where someone will say something like, “I heard about that. You killed 50 people that day” and you play that section shooting tons of people but then the game will stop and your character will say, “No, it wasn’t like that. I only killed 5″ and then you will replay the scene the other way. This video does a pretty good job of describing the game:

I found the game to be entertainingly told but other than that to be a pretty basic linear shooter with few places to vary from the main path.  There were also only a handful of different weapons which I found disappointing.

What I found most interesting about the game was how they worked with and around the limitations of the game engine. It uses the Chrome engine which is pretty enough and also powered Dead Island. What it doesn’t seem to be able to do, however, is animate mouths because no one in the game ever seems to talk on camera. All the storyline about telling the story is through cut scenes or voice overs. It has been a while since I played Dead Island but I seem to remember people talking in it so I’m not sure if this is the engine itself or more a sign of the design choices of Gunslinger.

Another interesting aspect of the game’s design is that the fact that at tomes the story will backtrack or be told with different facts means that the player is in effect replaying the same level twice (or more) which means that the game designers can make the game longer without having to create any more levels. Several of the levels also take place in Ye Old Western towns which might very well be the same town because they looked quite similar. I admit that I didn’t really bother to read all the text or pay that much attention to where the game was being set but there were times when I thought I was playing a level set on the same map as a previous one.

While these things work pretty well, not everything about the game works as well because some of the arcade game-style stuff feels at odds with the conceit that the player is experiencing a retelling of a story. For example, there are points for shooting multiple people that you can use to level up which draws attention to the fact that it is a game.

The most dissonant gameplay element is that each level has hidden “Nuggets of Truth” cards that you can collect and which tell you the historical facts behind the colorful story you are playing. While this is neat in concept, the reality is that because they are hidden meant that while I was playing I spent a lot of time wandering around in nooks and corners looking for these secrets and not playing through to the next part of the game. So while I liked the concept, the execution was more of a distraction than it should have been.

Overall Gunslinger is fun if you like old school shooters and are interested in storytelling in games and how the software used can influence how a game is made.

three thumbs up

Tell me a story
About outlaws and cowboys
Just don’t distract me.

 

Ecstasy of Order Tetris Documentary Review

 

Ecstasy of Order

Ecstasy of Order

Ecstasy Of Order: The Tetris Masters is about the 2010 Classic Tetris World Championship and follows some of the competitors in the days leading up to the tournament. After the success of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, which featured the underdog Steve Wiebe facing off against the “villainous” Billy Mitchell, it is easy for filmmakers to follow this formula and try to find a “good guy” to go up against a “bad guy.” While watching Ecstasy of Order, it is tempting to try to try to pigeonhole the participants into these categories. This is especially the case with Thor Aackerlund who gained some level of fame in his teen years by winning the 1990 Nintendo World Championships by using a special technique to move Tetris pieces faster than normal. Thor has all the makings of a “Billy Mitchell” character: Thor’s fame makes him a legend among long-time competitive Tetris players, he is a bit of a mystery to viewers because he isn’t one of the people that the film follows, and just before the tournament he posts that he has broken the Tetris record but doesn’t offer any proof.  I won’t spoil how it turns out but just let me say that Thor’s story is very compelling.

One of the things that I really appreciated about Ecstasy of Order is that not everyone in the film is a straight white man. By following a couple of women (one of whom is a lesbian) and a couple of Asian-Americans, the film shows that the gaming community is broader than most mainstream media coverage would lead you to believe. Additionally, by focusing on a variety of people, the film broadens its appeal by giving viewers a number of people to identify and root for.

The film also goes out of its way to explain Tetris and some of the strategies involved for those who have been living under a rock and don’t know what Tetris is. Some of the information comes off a bit superfluous for those of us who don’t live under rocks but even though the film focuses on the NES version of Tetris, it does mention some of the less well-known versions of Tetris (like an arcade version where all the blocks are invisible). For those who are looking for information on Tetris’s creation, I would recommend tracking down a copy of the tv documentary Tetris: From Russia with Love. Unfortunately it isn’t available on DVD but it is easily found online by searching for the title.

Ecstasy of Order is a compelling documentary with engaging depictions of the tournament competitors and recommended viewing for anyone that liked King of Kong or has binged on Tetris so much that they see falling blocks when they go to sleep. Ecstasy of Order is available on DVD and viewable online from a number of places.

Six Thumbs Up

Tetris pieces fall
Is Thor a villain or not
Watch the film to learn

 

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:

 

g4tvtwitter

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):

Capture1

Capture2

Capture3

Capture4

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

Capture5

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.

Capture6

Capture7

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:

 

Aarseth, Espen. 1997. Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

———. 2001. “Computer Game Studies, Year One.” Game Studies. July. http://www.gamestudies.org/0101/editorial.html.

Albertson, Tim, and Stuart Selwood. 1998. “Rows, Isles or Peninsulas? An Analysis of Computer Laboratory Layouts in Schools.” New Zealand Journal of Applied Computing and Information Technology 2 (1): 82–89.

Auslander, Philip. 2008. Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture. 2nd ed. London ; New York: Routledge.

———. 2012. “Digital Liveness: A Historico-Philosophical Perspective.” PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 34 (3) (August 27): 3–11. doi:10.1162/PAJJ_a_00106.

Barley, Stephen R. 1986. “Technology as an Occasion for Structuring: Evidence from Observations of CT Scanners and the Social Order of Radiology Departments.” Administrative Science Quarterly 31 (1) (March 1): 78–108.

Bauman, Richard. 1975. “Verbal Art as Performance.” American Anthropologist 77 (2): 290–311.

Boellstorff, Tom. 2008. Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. Princeton Univ Pr.

Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. 2001. White Supremacy and Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Pub.

———. 2002. “The Linguistics of Color Blind Racism: How to Talk Nasty About Blacks Without Sounding ‘Racist’.” Critical Sociology 28 (1-2) (January 1): 41 –64. doi:10.1177/08969205020280010501.

Bourdon, Jérôme. 2000. “Live Television Is Still Alive: On Television as an Unfulfilled Promise.” Media, Culture & Society 22 (5) (September 1): 531–556. doi:10.1177/016344300022005001.

Bowery, Jim. 2008. “Spasim (1974) The First First-Person-Shooter 3D Multiplayer Online Game.” December 30. http://www.oocities.com/jim_bowery/spasim.html.

Bruckman, Amy, and Mitchel Resnick. 1995. “The MediaMOO Project.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 1 (1) (March 1): 94 –109. doi:10.1177/135485659500100110.

Bruner, Edward M. 1963. “Encounters: Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction. Erving Goffman.” American Anthropologist 65 (6): 1416–1417.

Butler, Judith. 2003. “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay In Phenomenology and Feminist Theory.” In The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader, edited by Amelia Jones, 392–402. New York: Routledge.

BXBomber. 2004. “X-Band (SNES) FAQ.” June 17. http://www.gamefaqs.com/snes/588872-x-band/faqs/30773.

Chan, Dean. 2010. “Dead-in-Iraq: The Spatial Politics of Digital Game Art Activism and the In-Game Protest.” In Joystick Soldiers: The Politics of Play in Military Video Games, edited by Nina Huntemann and Matthew Thomas Payne, 272–286. New York: Routledge.

Colley, Steve. 2006. “Steve Colley’s Story of the Original Maze.” DigiBarn Computer Museum. February 18. http://www.digibarn.com/history/04-VCF7-MazeWar/stories/colley.html.

Connell, R. W. 1987. Gender and Power: Society, the Person and Sexual Politics. Stanford University Press. http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=citeulike09-20&path=ASIN/0804714304.

———. 2005. Masculinities. Second. Berkeley: University of California Press. http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520246980.

Connell, R. W., and James W. Messerschmidt. 2005. “Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept.” Gender Society 19 (6): 829–859.

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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.

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