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Title: - Video Game Theory and Criticism  •  Size: 60166

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Friday 03-Mar
  • EA's "Black" opens like a film. So why doesn't it feel like one? (16)

  • Thursday 02-Mar
  • Considering Gravity (7)

  • Monday 13-Feb
  • The Medium Is Not The Message (21)

  • Thursday 19-Jan
  • All Your Readers Belong To Us (10)

  • Friday 13-Jan
  • Censorless Violence (12)

  • Tuesday 10-Jan
  • Disneyfied (Disney Fried?) (20)

  • Friday 30-Dec
  • The Escape from Xmas (14)
  • Videogames: Closing the Annoying Gap (24)

  • Tuesday 15-Nov
  • Gerbils (19)

  • Thursday 13-Oct
  • Suddenly Serious about Games (12)

  •    GDC: "Video Games are Nerd Poetry" Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Wednesday, March 31 2004 @ 12:14 AM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    “Video games are nerd poetry,” said Ernest Adams during his speech about the philosophical roots of video games.

    What follows is a tour of GDC in quotes. The selection is surreal, whatever I wrote down that I feel confident I got down correctly.

    read more (368 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 04:40PM by Anonymous


       GDC: A Sorta Summary Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Monday, March 29 2004 @ 09:10 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    Before last week, I never thought ideas had mass. I always assumed that the accumulation of thought was the slow reconfiguring of the cells in your brain, a sort of physical steady state enriched by laying down increasingly complex patterns on the same wetware.

    After a week at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose, I have to assume that knowledge has weight. My head was packed tighter than a Tokyo subway at rush-hour. And just when you can’t image one more idea sneaking in, here it would come, rushing the crowd with elbows up. Your chin sinks to chest as the load between your ears accumulates.

    read more (595 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/27 07:24PM by Anonymous


       GDC: Next Gen Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Thursday, March 25 2004 @ 08:30 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    This year, Microsoft set the tone for GDC.

    When the Microsoft team walked into the general interest keynote and regaled the crowd with a software strategy and fastidiously avoided talking about the Xbox 2, it was clear that the next generation of gaming could wait atleast another year.

    Overall, this is a not a bad thing. This industry and its fans has developed an unhealthy techno-fetish for new hardware. And while the staggering technical achievements built out of the hardware wars of the past years makes us want more, the financial and creative strain of keeping up threatens the entire enterprise.

    We need to go on a hardware diet.

    read more (417 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 03:39AM by Anonymous


       GDC: Seriously serious games Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Tuesday, March 23 2004 @ 11:41 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    I'm not sure about serious games. I've spent the majority of the first two days of GDC sitting in on the Serious Games Summit, and I'm still not sure what serious games are or why I should care.

    read more (759 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/27 08:09PM by Anonymous


       Do you know the way, to San Jose? Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Monday, March 22 2004 @ 07:40 AM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    This town looks like Disneyland after a riot. The buildings are colorful, idiosyncratic and new. But borded up, active businesses shoved up against empty bays. Trash blows around the streets and clots of flies hover over the sidewalk. Planes roar overhead on approach to the nearby runway, giving a sense of urgency nearby. But not here.

    San Jose is a city that is not. The warm air and cool breeze feel almost tropical. The city itself is dystopian—a place William Gibson or Warren Ellis would imagine, but without the clever genetic mutants and colorful drug users. Here, only the homeless people seem at ease.

    I’m looking at a dead pigeon laying on the sidewalk, headless, and I wonder: “What am I doing here?”

    Oh yeah, the Game Developers Conference starts tomorrow. Weird place for brain trust of the video game business to convene.

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 04:16PM by Anonymous


       GDC Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Saturday, March 20 2004 @ 05:00 AM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    General NewsLike so many others, Sunday I head to the Game Developers Conference. One trend I suspect is developing is around the increasing number of academics attending the event. I wonder what the game developers think about all these theorists hanging around. I guess I can ask them.

    I'll be there in my journalist capacity, seeing what's going on and looking for stories.

    At any rate, I think the growth of GDC as a time and place to think about games is a good idea. I'll let you know what I find out!

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 07:06AM by Anonymous


       Madrid Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Monday, March 15 2004 @ 03:57 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    Gonzalo Frasca and his team at have put together a simple and beautfiul game in response to the terror attack in Spain.

    You can play it on their site. I'll reserve critical judgement on the piece for a later date. But on a gut reaction, I think that this is an amazing expressive work.

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 04:14PM by Anonymous


       Princeton Video Game Conference Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Tuesday, March 09 2004 @ 10:09 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    I arrived at the Form, Culture & Video Game Criticism conference in a fog. Not a metaphorical fog but a rolling Transylvania fog so thick that even the locals seemed a bit unnerved by it.

    In fairness, there was a bit of uncertainly reflected in the fog. After all, this conference was sponsored by the Princeton English Department. English departments, as you might know, are the natural habitat of those awesome creatures,  "the literary critic." Fearing I'd be structuralized and deconstructed into a hyper -analytic corner and wholly consumed like other wayward wanna-be intellectuals, I pulled my coat around me and dove into a Princeton bar hosting the pre-conference social gathering

    In no time at all they surrounded me. Quickly the conversation turned toward video games. and no one seemed to want to leap into Foucault, not even the cheerful Brit, Barry Atkins (who I was to discover liked nothing more than making terribly complex things perfectly understandable).

    The next morning, we reached the rich and regal Princeton campus and climbed the stairs to the towering the lecture hall that was all very "Mr. Chips." Dark wood and leaded glass windows created a sanctuary feeling I'm sure it's designers intended while the hard wooden desks must have been designed with the philosophy of "break the student's body and their mind will grow."

    Co-organizer Roger Bellin set the tone of the conference with a call to think of games as "interesting and complex things filled with meaning." With that, we were off. The 14 presentations and papers attracted an audience of roughly 100 people scattered through the day, with many sitting patiently through the entire proceedings. The crowd seemed divided by students of culture, literature and computer science, a number of self-described "gamers" curious to see what the academics had to say, a couple of journalists and a few teachers.

    The conference provided a compressed picture of some of the intellectual activity going on in video game studies today. In a short summary, it was clear that early attempts to define the discipline or argue against a sort of "academic colonization" were hopeless. The ideas flowing into the area of video game studies from all quarters hold great promise to energize the notion of studying something as banal as video games. The literary critics were not going to leave our beloved game world, I discovered. Then again, neither were the musicians, lawyers, cultural studies folk, computer science departments or anyone else.

    The fact I gathered over and over again at the conference, and one I think that has been missed in the past, is that the variety of people studying games--even those who don't happen to call themselves "ludologists"--still share a common passion and pioneering spirit that all gamers have. Yes, even those literary critics care about games. They are not just looking for new flesh to cut into with their surgically sharp tools, new organisms to viciously slash into categories for serious study later.

    No, the people at the conference study games because they like games. They are interested in thinking and theorizing about games because they like playing games.

    With that perspective as a point, the counter-point was made clear. Some academics want to talk about games as a way of making games, or making better games. Other academics have no real interest in what happens with their insight, once produced and published. This distinction, knowledge for knowledge sake, is the sort of attitude that makes the game industry nervous.  So with no obvious industry presence (well, there as one guy with a Game Developers Conference shirt on) the tone of the talking was more open-ended theorizing. When the conversations turned tactical, it was about appropriateness of method, the limits of discipline and the rashness of talking about games in a tenure-track academic department.

    What the conference stood for, and what it signaled, were credibility, quality, momentum and clarity of the field of video game studies. Borrowing the prestige of Princeton's ivy, game's studies took another step away from the dubious shadows of the arcade and parent's basement. Bellin and Dexter Palmer did a commendable job of pulling together a surprisingly diverse and passionate group.

    As a  summary of my feelings about the conference, I'm more convinced than before that in our rush to stake out the field of "ludology" we may have left behind some of the necessary tools and personalities from the established disciplines (yes, those lit critics again!).  Likewise, I am more convinced than ever that without a rapid and passionate attempt to form video game studies as something in and of itself, then the area will collapse into something unrecognizable to the people that enjoy the games themselves.  And to keep from ending up there, we need to remember the fun.

    As a result, I'd say the best presentation of the conference was final speech, delivered by Atkins. I'll discuss the content in more detail below. But the nut of his speech was actually about the heart of the video game. Why do we play games? Because they are fun. Why did we start studying games? Because they are fun. If we think ourselves up, over and around the fun, then the research methods and conceptual apparatus don't matter. Video game studies will just be an autopsy, the patient having died.

    read more (4102 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/27 01:56PM by Anonymous


       Ivy Covered-Console Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Thursday, February 26 2004 @ 03:37 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    General NewsToday the New York Times follows-up Nick Wadham's AP story on academia and ludology with a nice piece of their own.

    buzzcut makes their list of game theory Web logs (Which I'm honored to be included among, terranova and the ludonauts).

    UPDATE: I just got a note from Michael Erard, the writer of the NYT piece. Apparently it was just coincidence that the AP story ran before his. Sorry that I assumed Michael was following Nick on that story. And I should add, both stories were very good. I don't think the field of ludology could have asked for better reporting!

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 06:29AM by Anonymous


       The Intimate Computer Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Monday, February 23 2004 @ 05:32 AM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    Lately I've been in the mood for a computer game. Despite the towering stack of console games sitting, waiting for review, and in spite of the inordinate amount of time I already spend sitting at my desk, I just feel like playing on the computer.

    In one sense, there might be some psychological reason behind this urge to play on the PC rather than the TV—the desire to turn my workspace into a play space. Maybe. But what I'm wondering is if it is something else. I've begun to speculate about whether there is an issue with the physical proximity of the player to the screen and the relative size of objects in your field of vision. That is to say, I am beginning to think that the computer is simply a more intimate game medium.

    read more (847 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/17 02:00AM by Anonymous


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