Fall Term Cometh (or I guess it’s actually here already)

Fall term is here, classes have begun, and Think.Play is back in the swing of things. Last week we teamed up with UO Libraries and campus Event Services to host some gaming goodness at InterMingle. Big City Gamin’ seriously represented, providing prizes to the top three finishers in our N64 Smash tournament, including a cool $100 to the winner. Serious stuff! Many thanks to Big City for stepping up and helping to make the night a blast.

We’re all winners! (Some of us just win sweet prizes more often than the rest.)

Our first regular meeting of the term (Wednesdays, 7pm, Knight Library rm. 101) was last night. I was happy to lead a lively discussion about a few ideas and concepts that, for me, are fundamental to approaching the discipline of Game Studies: representation, algorithm, abstraction, and diegesis. I’m not going to try to reproduce the discussion here, but here’s a link to my slides if you’re into that kind of thing. The bottom line is that I was incredibly pleased: Think.Play really brought it, engaging with and productively challenging topic after topic over the course of the 2+ hour meeting. Thoughtful, inspiring stuff indeed.

I do want to add in some bits that aren’t in the presentation linked above, as when the discussion shifted to resources I stopped slinging slides and switched to web browsing. These are just a few things that I think students trying to find a way to synthesize an interest in Game Studies with the realities of their major requirements should know about:

  • Digra, in their own words, “is a professional society dedicated to advance the study of digital games, and to foster the development of research practices and standards in the field.” Hit their digital library for a huge amount of academic production focused on digital games.
  • ETC Press has a sizeable offering of academic and journalistic work on games available for free download and/or print-on-demand. Highlights include Well Played, formerly a book series and now the flagship journal of the press. This is a great place to browse, skim, find ideas/techniques you’d like to try, and practice your productive disagreement skills.
  • Rules of Play is a textbook by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, published in 2003. It’s a solid resource, and a great way for non-designers to get a little functional grounding on some complex topics at a glance.
  • Electronic Mediations is a book series published by University of Minnesota Press, and it is the real deal. This is a great first stop when you’re ready to step up your game and engage some broad, hugely important topics that are not game-specific but could be very productively applied to digital games in general. There are some heavy hitters in this series, and topics can vary wildly: from Lisa Nakamura’s Digitizing Race, to Alex Galloway’s Games of Empire, to Kate Mondloch’s Screens, there is a lot of ground covered. (Note: Kate is a prof here at UO, and she is awesome, and you should take her classes.)
  • Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is Anna Anthropy’s first book. This is a core text in that it defines, and attempts to catalyze, an ethic of creating (as opposed to an ethic of consuming) while simultaneously defining and violating the social boundaries that continue to encourage us to think of gaming (production and consumption) as dominated by young white men despite oceans of contemporary data to the contrary.

Also, here’s a link to a piece I mentioned, by Adam Tendler about John Cage and gamification, titled Purposeless Play. Even if you’re not familiar with Cage, do yourself a favor and click through: Adam has done meticulous, fabulous work embedding several video and audio files to elucidate his thoughts. Also, check out Adam’s live performance of Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano, available as a free download here.

Preparing a piano

Here’s the Deep Sea video that we watched:

Deep Sea (v 2.0 Audio) from Robin Arnott on Vimeo.

And last but certainly not least, you can go play Lim here.

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