It may not be the GDC, but…

I hop on a plane Tuesday to head down to San Antonio for the Popular Culture Association national conference. The PCA is not the most prestigious conference, but it is turning out to have quite a few videogame panels. When I went to the PCA two years ago in Toronto, I was on the only videogame panel, now there are five. So while none of the big names will be there (besides myself of course!) hopefully it will turn out to be a good time.
So look forward to some pictures from the PCA!

EA University!

Something odd has happened here at Indiana University. IU has been taken over by EA Sports. Yesterday while going to the library, I ran across the following:
a flier on a ploe
Then later, while going to class I saw tons more stickers. So today, I brought my camera and in the four blocks between my office and the library I found:

There were more stickers elsewhere on campus (including a staircase that had a sticker on nearly every step) which I had planned on photographing but it started to rain. Regardless, someone has been busy with their “viral marketing.”

After some research, I found a couple articles about EA’s presence here on campus. It turns out that there is a student here on campus who is getting paid to put on the events that the fliers are advertizing. Of course in neither article is the fact that either directly or indirectly due to this guys efforts the campus is being covered with stickers.

Sloppy journalism and environmental issues aside, it is is pretty interesting that EA sees college universities such a big market that they would have campus reps that were charged with organizing glorified product demos for them. It is important to note that not only is the campus covered with these stickers and fliers, but that these gaming events are taking place inside university buildings. I wonder if I wanted to have a Tupperware party in a dorm if I would be allowed. The way I see it, there are two possibilities, that the university knows that these EA sponsored events are occurring and don’t care, in which case we have yet another case of advertising invading the university setting, or the university just doesn’t know. I’m not sure which is worse.

Of course, this isn’t to imply that I want to shut the guy down. I find it incredibly facinating. I wish I could get paid to put on some LAN parties or something. This whole thing is just another sign of how big videogames really are. And more importantly, how big EA is.

Is this kind of thing going on at other schools as blatantly as it is here?

America’s Army

If you are some sort of pack rat like me and have an unbearable compulsion to save anything videogame related, or if you are just interested in America’s Army, then you might want to check out the pdf about it. I haven’t read it yet, and honestly, I haven’t spent as much time with America’s Army as I should, but it looks interesting. And, again, I have a compulsion to download anything I see that might possibly potentially be useful in research at some undefined point at the future. Luckily, bits and bytes don’t take up much space…
I found it via a comment left over at Grand Text Auto.

Just a reminder…

I haven’t seen this or anything, but as a reminder, GSN, the channel formerly known as the Game Show Network, is going to be showing a documentary Sunday night. It will probably be horrible and nothing that anyone didn’t already know, but in my mind, even horrible things about videogames are interesting, simply because they are on the air and are being seen by lots of people who probably spend less time thinking about videogames than us academic folks and as such even horrible representations of videogames are for many the only representations that they may see.

So be sure to tune in tomorrow night! Its got Tony Hawk! It must be kewl!

I can’t escape it!!!

OK, this whole “I’m researching videogames” thing has started to get to me. I’ve been on spring break this week (whooo party! …or not) and I have been visiting friends who don’t own videogames (I know, I know, it is hard to believe that a) there are such people and b) that I, of all people, would be friends enough with them, but it is true). Now I”m home and trying to get caught up on school work. All day I’ve been looking at my lonely X-Box and thinking — “Man, I really should play a little bit. It’s been a week since I’ve played” but not out of some (at least overt) addiction, but out of obligation, like I am somehow obligated to play.
I know I’ve talked about it before, but it is weird that a hobby has now become some sort of job. A great job, but it still feels weird.
Anyone else feel that way?

A shocking, I say shocking, revelation

I was doing some reading this morning and found out something I didn’t know. We remember about the guy who shot Reagan back in the day, right? He did it to impress Jodie Foster. This story is pretty commonly known. Any time when they do a biography of Reagan they say this. While I was alive at the time, I didn’t remember WHY shooting Reagan was supposed to impress Foster.

The reason was that he was imitating Taxi Driver. That little bit of info goes pretty unreported when we the assassination attempt is discussed, at least as far as I can tell. Certainly, I might just be out of the loop. Now if he had done it in imitation of a video game, you can gaurantee that bit of information would be mentioned every time.

Look at Columbine. When it first happened, it was often said that there were three things that the kids were imitating. Now, chances are, if you ask the person on the street they will only say videogames. However, at the time there were also comments made against Marilyn Manson (I think though that it might have been shown that they didn’t even really listen to him) and the film, The Basketball Diaries in which there is a short scene where the star shoots some people in a school while wearing a trenchcoat.

It’s funny how the film accusations have fallen to the side. Now, this may come as a shock, but I am beginning to suspect that the media might be just a little bit less fair and balanced than they would like us to think….

The rant that will not die!!!

My rant is continuing to generate discussion. In fact, the whole conference seems to be stirring up debate. Is gamesstudies headed for its first rift? I hope not.

For my part, let me backpedal some more. I already posted about how I regret some of my language, but let me make clear, I implied that Dr. Palmer was an elitist bastard.

A couple of people have questioned if I understand what was really intended to go on at that confernece. I fully feel that I do. I’m not sure that ranting was the best way of making people understand my problem with the article. I don’t really have any problem with the conference. It is the way that it was presented in the article and some of the assumptions that still seem elitist and reproducing the bad of older disciplines that disturbs me.

That being said, bring on the comments. It is only through engagement that we will be able to prevent gamestudies from factionalizing. So let’s keep the talk coming.

…Even if you are all wrong! (that was a joke, seriously!)

Go with the flow

There is some discussion of work and how we need a way of talking about fun. In thinking of this I have long said that we need think of playing videogames as a performative act. We need to stop looking at the games and start looking at the players. (I’ve been saying that for almost 3 years now! That is a lifetime in videogame studies!) The fun is in the players, not the game. While his work has been criticized and it has ventured close to new age self help territory, I think that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work on “flow” can be of help in focusing on what goes on with the gamers and what is fun and how to talk about pleasure. I really recommend taking a look at Beyond Boredom and Anxiety for a way of thinking about pleasure and what happens when we are in the zone and why work sometimes is pleasurable.


Anyone out there doing some research on videogame players as a sub-culture? Using a little Dick Hebdige or Sarah Thornton? I’m getting set to do some work on that and it would be nice to see what someone else has done on it.

Ranting Results???

Now, I do not seriously think that little old me had any influence on this at all, but in the comments below, Walter Kim (of noticed that the article in question is no longer called “The Ivy-Covered Console” but is now called “Deconstructing the Videogame.” I haven’t had a chance to read the article again to see if anything else has changed, but it is interesting that at least a tiny little bit of the elitist connotations of the article have been removed.