books? they still make those?

I was flipping through my copy of Electronic Gaming Monthly and saw an ad for something I don’t remember ever seeing an ad for in a gaming magazine before: a book! Of course it was for a novelization of Splinter Cell, but still, it was interesting to see in a gaming mag. Also of note was although it uses the logo for Splinter Cell, it doesn’t have a picture from the game on it, but rather a fairly generic picture.

On another note entirely, count me as a big supporter of Valve’s Steam. I’ve never had any problems with it that I know many have had, but the number one reason I am for it, is no more damn cd checks. Having built a new system and only gotten around to putting one cd drive in it, I have to say that cd switching sucks ass. The issue of switching cds was so irritating that I attempted to delve into the world of no-cd hacks, to no success.

One thing that I was originally in favor of regarding Steam was that on the older games like Counter-Strike in its various versions, Source and Condition Zero, didn’t have one of those stupid splash screens that tells you who made the game. So imagine my anger when HL2 had their stupid Valve screen. We know who made the game! Why do you need to remind us every single time we start the games? At least there is only one, I’m playing Deus Ex 2 and it has at least 3. Note to game developers: stop pissing off your customers! Seriously, does that stupid splash screen really help? Does anyone really think of Neversoft when they think of Tony Hawk???

gaming gaming gaming

I just submitted my final grades to the university, so my semester is officially over! Of course to celebrate, I have been playing lots of games. I still haven’t noticed any real trash talking on Counter-Strike:Source, so maybe trashtalkers really ARE 13 year old kids? It will be itneresting to see if lots of kids get Halk-Life 2 for Christmas and the ammount of crap in CS:S goes up noticably.
I’ve been trying to get into Deus Ex 2, but I just can’t seem to do it. Too much takling and the gun feels too wimpy. Continuing my long running hatred of the Unreal engine, Deus Ex 2 has already crashed once on me and this new computer never crashed on Doom 3 or Half-Life 2,,,
I’ve also been playing a lot of Civ3. It was all research, I swear! I got an A on the paper, so I guess I might try to publish it at some point. Below is a portion of the first page. Anyone interestested in the rest can drop me an email.

The Civilization games have been lauded as “The Best Game of All Time” by Computer Gaming World magazine and the “Greatest Computer Strategy Game of All-Time” by Time magazine, won countless other awards and is responsible for a slew of both spin-offs as well as knock-offs (Friedman, It has even been the subject of numerous studies into the educational potential of videogames having been declared by one scholar as, “a particularly intriguing tool for studying world history in that it allows students to examine relationships among geography, politics, economics, and history over thousands of years and from multiple perspectives” (Squire 9). Despite these accolades, the Civ games have not gone uncritiqued by scholars who have noted some of the Imperialist choices that have influenced the game designs.
While many traditional forms of explicit colonialism have fallen to the wayside, and historians have reexamined the way in which histories of colonization is presented, to a large extent, historically-inspired popular entertainments have failed to rethink the history which they purport to present. In wargaming and in historical simulations, issues are presented in a simplistic good vs. bad format which almost always either depicts the European as good while those whose lands were colonized as bad or they are depicted in such a manner that all civilizations have the same goals and structure. In this paper the ways in which Sid Meier’s Civilization videogames present a highly simplistic notion of colonization, imperialism and empire will be discovered. Also explored will be the ways in which the game reinforces traditional notions of good civilizations vs. bad (or barbaric) civilizations, what it means to be civilized, as well as the ways in which the game makes other civilizations appear either completely western or so inscrutably Other that the only way to deal with them is through eradication. The purpose of this is not to condemn the Civilization series, its creator, or players as “bad” but, rather, to demonstrate the ways in which the legacies of colonialism and classical liberalism continue to play themselves out in places as seemingly benign as our entertainments and how our current culture remains a Civilization of Colonialism.

Civilization and Colonialism and Empire

I just turned in my paper about Colonialism and Empire in the Civilization series. I’m certainly not the first to write about it. However, it did take me a while to hunt down those who have. So in the interests of making it easier for people to find sources about colonialism and empire in Sid Meier’s Civilization series, here is my Works Cited:


Avalon Hill.  “Civilisation.”  1981.
Bako Bitz.  “The Culture of Civilization III.”  Jan. 15, 2002.  Dec. 7, 2004 <>.

“Civilization (board game).”  Wikipedia.  Dec. 7, 2004 <>.
“The Civilization Legacy.”  The Official Civilization III Web Site.  Dec. 7, 2004 <>.
Chick, Tom. “The Teaching Game:  All I Really Need to Know I
Learned in Civilization.”  Jan 2002.   <>. The Official Civilization III Web Site.  Dec. 7, 2004 <>.
Civilization 3 Complete. Atari, 2004.  
Douglas, Christopher.  “‘You Have Unleashed a Horde of
Barbarians!’: Fighting Indians, Playing Games, Forming Disciplines.”
 Post Modern Culture 13.1 (Sep, 2002).  Dec. 7 2004.
Friedman, Ted.  “Civilization and Its Discontents: Simulation,
Subjectivity, and Space.” Nov. 22, 1997.  Personal Site.

 Dec. 7, 2004 <>.
Guha, Ranajit. Introduction.  A Subaltern Studies Reader,
1986-1995. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
Lammes, Sybille. “On the Border: Pleasures of Exploration and Colonial
Mastery in Civilization III Play the World.” Level Up: Digital Games
Research Conference.   Eds. Copier, Marinka and Joost Raessens.
 Utrecht: Utrecht University, 2003, 120-29
Mehta, Uday Singh.  Liberalism and Empire: A Study in
Nineteenth-Century British Liberal Thought.  Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1999.

Memmi, Albert.  The Colonizer and the Colonized.  London, Beacon, 1965 (1957).
Meyers, David.  “Bombs, Barbarians, And Backstories:
Meaning-Making Within Sid Meier’s Civilization.”  Forthcoming in
Ludologica: Videogames D’autore: Civilization And Its Discontents.
Vitual History. Real Fantasies. Ed. Matteo Bittanti.  Milan,
Italy: Edizioni Unicopli.  <>.
Moumouni.  “Pretty Historically Correct.” Jan. 20, 2002.  Dec. 7, 2004.  <>.

Poblocki, Kacper.  “Becoming-State. The Bio-Cultural Imperialism
of Sid Meier’s Civilization.”  Focaal — European Journal of
Anthropology 39 (2002): 163-177.  < >.
Sartre, Jean-Paul.  “Introduction.”  The Colonizer and the
Colonized.  By Memmi, Albert.  London, Beacon, 1965 (1957).
Squire, Kurt.  Replaying History: Learning World History Through
Playing Civilization III.  Diss. Indiana University, 2004.

Stephenson, William. The Microserfs are Revolting: Sid Meier’s Civilization II. Bad Subjects 45 (Oct 1999). Dec, 7 2004 < >.
“Wargaming.”  Wikipedia.  Dec. 7, 2004 <>.

Too Busy to Play Games????

Apparently not, even though I’ve got 3 papers due in two weeks and 20+ papers to grade by tomorrow (what do my students think? It’s my job to teach them or something? Kids these days!) I’ve managed to finish Half-Life 2 in less than a week and put in some record length sessions with Civilization 3.
At least the last one is for a paper. I writing about depictions of Imerialism and colonialism in videogames for a class on Empire and colonialism. Funny how you can shove videogames into any class.
My post about videogame girls continues to get comments. It is interesting to see the reaction to it. I got over 1000 hits one day with people reading it. I also got linked to by some porn blog, which caused some interesting reactions from people who came here from that site I would guess.
OK, time to grade. Weeee!!! A grad student’s work is never done…

My (Half-Life) 2 Cents Worth

While I didn’t stay up late for the unocking of Half-Life 2, I did get up a bit early to play and in teh hour and a half I’ve played, I give it thumbs up. I like the consistency of the sounds for things and I find the game to be a much more tense experience than the first one so far. Graphics are pretty but, like Doom 3, I find myself numb to them after a while and just sort of expect things to look that well. OK, back to playing… You know it really is inconsiderate of Valve to release this game right when I am supposed to be writing papers and grading!!!

You Don’t Know Jack… Thompson

There are two old sayings, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt” and “Brevity is the soul of wit.” However, when it comes to certain people, these sayings are fairly contradictory.

Our favorite anti-videogame lawyer, Jack Thompson has been answering some questions and the answers aren’t quite what some were expecting.

Over at Kotaku, when they aren’t busy making witty comments about my purchasing habits, have been having an email conversation with Jack Thompson who has provided some very short, but very telling answers to their questions.

Over at slashdot, the story was posted and some people don’t seem to want to believe it is legit. I feel fairly certain that this is indeed consistent with the Jack we all know and love. I made the following post:

People are saying that this is fake. But based on other email
comments I have seen from Jack Thompson, this is totally keeping in
line with his responses.

In a thread on a videogame forum
there are people who claim that they have
emailed Thompson and got such pithy responses as: “the rubbish is up
your cranium, take it out,” “you’re biased against lawyers. grow a
brain,” “No, actually it’s all about ignorant gamers,” “You don’t know
my motives, so don’t try guessing,” and “children are allowed to buy
them. do your research, junior.”

In another email exchange I’ve found, he basically says, that he would rather sue videogame companies than have laws passed.

Finally, Thompson is also famous for being the lawyer behind
the Two Live Crew obsenity trials, , and most bizarrely, claiming that Janet Reno was unfit for office in Florida
because she was gay and people would blackmail her because
of it (except by making a public deal of it, wouldn’t that make it
impossible to blackmail her). As well as harrassing a local DJ Neil Rogers who had to get a restraining order taken out against against him.

In short, Jack Thompson is certainly 100% capable of the odd
responses stated in the article. There is actually lots more odd things
that this lawyer has done. Do a search for “jack Thompson” and
videogames and tons of stuff will come up about him.

I find the fact that some are hesitant to believe that a lawyer would respond in or act in such a manner to be very interesting. It is because of this that I have decided that Jack Thompson and his anti-videogame violence efforts are in fact NOT real. He is, as U2 said, even better than the real thing. And what better type of layer to have crusading against a virtual entertainment than one that is hyperreal, or simulacra.

He is against a medium that some could argue is composed of simulacra (simulacri?), says things that we don’t believe are true and people don’t believe that he actually said the things people attribute to him.

Jack Thomson: Postmodern Attorney. You don’t have to believe in him because he doesn’t believe in you.

Oops, I did it again…

It seems like my last post has created a tempest in a teapot. Unlike the last time I got into a flamewar, I didn’t think anyone would react so negatively, and I didn’t even imply anyone was an elitist bastard this time!

While some of the comments are reasoned and sound, some sound like they protest too much. Sorry I implied that it was wierd to want to look at half naked videogame characters. And I’m sorry that my parents gave me a name that doesn’t fit in with your normative idea of what a name should be.

I’m glad that Tore over at vesterblog sympathises with me, because from the comments I thought I might be the only one who thinks the whole deal is a little weird.

Seriously though, someone explain the appeal of half naked videogame characters when pictures of real people are so easilly available. Please.

Ashamed to be a Gamer

I was in the local bookstore today looking through the magazines and for the first time in a long while I became ashamed to be a gamer. While looking through the rack of gaming mags I saw the following:

Girls of Gaming Magazines


Now I had heard about the things with videogame characters appearing in Playboy, but a whole magazine devoted to videogame women? That’s just sad. And a gaming mag using a woman to sell their mag? Is the game mag industry that competitive? So is there anyone out there willing to admit they bought either of these without a sense of shame or irony?