Fall 2014: We’re back in full swing!

Hello again readers, friends, and colleagues! It is the end of Week 4 here, and Think.Play has been in full swing since the beginning of the term. I wanted to write a post to convince everyone that Think.Players have not become zombies or victims of the night…yet!

For the month of October, Think.Play’s weekly meetings have been veiled in a theme of fright and horror as the Halloween fever infects all of our presenters and game choices. It has been a scary-good time!

This past week was a wide discussion on many aspects of horror in games, the forms that it can take, and the implications for gamers. It was a fascinating look into many well-known games, while Rebecca and Ana flexed their knowledge of some lesser-known gems as well. There is a good chance that the talk could appear on the blog within a short time in some form or another. Stay tuned!

Uncanny valley

Does this look familiar?

Grave picture

The surreal horror game Grave came up in the conversation. Is it done yet?

The week before we had a flashback to one of the earliest Think.Play events where Limbo and a dark room made for an enjoyable but foreboding group play experience. That game can be seriously creepy! We were also pitting players against zombie hordes in Resident Evil 4’s The Mercenaries mini game.

RE4 Merc. Picture

Silencing zombies for points? Cool.

I’ll end abruptly with a shoutout to a new group that is forming on campus that is separate but tangential to Think.Play. It is called Waypoint, and they are a group for students to discuss and work on video game development. If that sounds like something you REALLY WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN, please visit them on Facebook. Go on now, and make greatness.

– Jon


Games Considered Conference: Schedule


March 1st, 11am-3pm LLC South Performance Hall

[11:00 am – 12:30pm] The Panel

Conventions of Gender in Minecraft
Iris Bull, School of Journalism and Communications

This paper explores the perimeters of gender and sexuality in Minecraft (Mojang 2012) through a textual analysis of the “vanilla” (i.e. unmodified) PC version of the game. I describe how the genderless design of the game’s only default character, “Steve,” reproduces a masculinist fantasy on the frontier or homestead of a player’s choosing. By elucidating the problematic nature of gendered conventions in Minecraft, this paper demonstrates how genderless worlds ultimately limit feminist imaginations.

Performing Love and Labor: Intersections of Work and Sexuality in an Online Girl Game
Kelsey Cummings, School of Journalism and Communications

Popular culture has long been involved in the teaching of gender performance to its young audiences. In particular, representations of sexuality and romance play a key role in demonstrating to children how different modes of gender performance, influenced by class, race, and other identity types, should intersect with one another according to the dominant paradigm. In this paper, I will analyze how gameplay mechanics in an online “girl game” genre reinforce a particular form of encouraged gender performance, in which women’s sexuality is understood as a form of labor. I look at the “Jennifer Rose” games, which combine occupational and romance game models to equate women’s love and sexuality with work.

WiiFat: American Genealogies of Fascist Japanese Calisthenics Remediated
Bryce Peake, School of Journalism and Communications

This paper examines the history of exercise that gave way to Japanese conceptions of the social function of Wii Fit—a device that has so easily fit within the fat shaming culture of the United States. Historical in nature, it traces a surprising history that leads back not to some idealized fascist Japanese state, but from the Japanese postal service to the United States itself.

[12:30 – 1:00pm] Lunch Break

[1:00 – 1:30pm] Workshop: Hacking the Kinect, Oculus Rift with John Park

[1:30 – 2:15pm] Play Session: Oculus Rift & Kinect Demo; Free-Play Game Stations; Game Club Tabling;


Poster: Game Design and Place-Based Education
Alicia Kristen, Environmental Studies

Through the lens of place-based pedagogies, I am exploring how ethnoecological knowledge, attitudes, and skills in the Eugene youth community and among environmental leaders in order to inform my content. I am constructing storyboards for diverse quests within a game framework that integrate locally relevant content & practices. I will then take one chain of quests and develop it into a prototype using a mobile augmented-reality technology platform. Finally, I will pilot the prototype and evaluate user response.

My poster will visually synthesize data on applicable principles of game design and their relationship to place-based education in Eugene. It will also include a sample of quest-chain summaries, and one quest-chain displayed as it would appear on players’ mobile devices. QR codes will allow visitors to sample content on their mobile devices.

[2:15 – 3:00pm] Open Forum: The Emerald League hosts an informal discussion about TwitchPlaysPokemon

Games Considered Conference 2014


Founded in Spring 2011, Think.Play is a student-run group at the UO that highlights academic discussion of video games and video game culture. Think.Play hosts weekly meetings in the Knight Library where students are encouraged to take part in intellectual discourse. The Think.Play Steering Committee would like to announce plans to host an academic conference at the University of Oregon on March 1st.

We invite students, faculty, staff, and community members to submit proposals for panels, workshops, and papers that consider the topics of video game culture, production and consumption. We seek proposals that demonstrate a central thesis, from any and all disciplines, and especially those works that consider video game play, distribution, and development in Oregon. We also welcome submissions that propose a demonstration of video game-themed works of art for a one-hour poster session.

Possible proposal topics might be:

– video games based on television shows and/or movies
– the circulation of video games in public library collections
– representations of gender in Minecraft
– intersections of video games and porn studies
– an explanation of bloom lighting in relation to video game graphics
– militarization of video games
– ethnography and video game communities
– discovering sub-culture community through game play
– breaking into the gaming industry
– cyberbullying in online games
– representations of race in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games
– independent video game production in Oregon
– hacking, modding, and homebrewing video games
– finding mobility in virtual environments
– the transport of mobile gaming to African communities
– language and localization in video game distribution
– the used video game distribution market in 2014
– race and music in dancing games
– bar-cades and the cultural resurgence of arcade game play
– world-building in games
– games as a platform for education and learning
– applications of motion sensing technology specific to gaming
– artificial intelligence design for enemies in 2D scrolling video games
– video games and object-oriented programming languages

…anything else related to video games!

The deadline for submissions is 11:59 PM (Pacific) on Friday, February 7, 2014. Please submit all proposals to http://bit.ly/1mcmxSx

Individual Papers: Individuals submitting paper proposals should provide an abstract of 250 words of the topic and contact information. A paper presentation should run no more than 20 minutes with 10 minutes for discussion.

Pre-Constituted Panel Proposals: Panel coordinators should submit a 200-word rationale for the panel as whole. For each contributor, please submit a 250-word abstract, a short bio, and contact information. Panels should include 3-4 participants and should expect to run between 60-90 minutes.

Workshop Proposals: We seek workshop ideas that focus on video games scholarship and matters of professional game development. Topics might include: local indie-game development collaboration, art and motion-sensing technology, programming and mentoring, games development networking, indie-game publishing, etc.

Coordinators should submit a 350-word rationale (including some discussion of why the topic lends itself to a workshop format), a short bio, and contact information. For each workshop participant, please submit a title, short bio, and contact information. Workshops are intended to encourage discussion; contributors should plan on a series of brief, informal presentations.

Poster Presentations: We also welcome submissions that propose a demonstration of video game-themed works of art or game demonstrations for a one-hour poster session.

Proposal Deadline: Feb. 7th (Friday)
Notification Deadline: Feb. 9th (Sunday)
Conference Program Draft: Feb. 10th (Monday)
Event: Mar 1st (Saturday)

Please direct all questions about the conference and the submission process to: uo.thinkplay@gmail.com

Follow us on Twitter @UOThinkPlay, or on Facebook.

Conference Organizers:
Laura Barbour, Iris Bull, Tessa Freeland, Cory Ingram, Patrick Lee, Ana Dor Lind, Jon Paull, Rebecca Tobe

Autumnal Triathlon

Think.Play has just concluded the Autumnal Triathlon of 2013, our big end-of-the-term event!

The Steering Committee toiled over the Triathlon for the last month or so. Like last spring, we partnered with the Global Scholars Hall to host the event. The Global Scholars Hall Government donated $75 for drinks and snacks again to help weary bodies dance, solve puzzles, and crash cars. Big City Gamin’ and Pegasus Pizza generously donated prizes for the winningest players. Over 30 people came together tonight to compete collaboratively in three events:

  1. Just Dance (Wii): Highest Combined Score
  2. Pokemon Puzzle League (Wii): Highest Combined Score in Team Timed Event
  3. Burnout 2 (PS2): Highest Damage ($) Attributed in Multi-Car Collision (Crash Mode)
Team Name Members
Oretachi Emily and Lauren
Grumps Zack “Grump” Prichard and James “Not-So-Grump” Poling
Team Blitzkrieg Shadwick and Steven
Megiliza Megan and Eliza
Science Rash Jon Paull and Iris Bull
The Dream Team Ali and Patrick
Team Rocket Cory Ingram and Laura Barbour
The Hobbits Rebecca Tobe and Tessa Freeland
Supasupe Avante and Kendall
Platypus Ninjas Alex and Ana
Sidalex Sid and Alex Mayer

The Results

Teams were ranked against each other in each event. To determine the most “winningest” team, rankings in the three categories were summed.

Team Name Just Dance Pokemon Burnout Sum Total Ranking
Team Rocket 1 4 1 6 1st
Megiliza 2 1 7 10 2nd
Sidalex 4 3 6 13 3rd
Science Rash 9 2 4 15 4th
Team Blitzkrieg 5 8 5 18 5th
The Dream Team 10 5 3 18 5th
The Hobbits 11 6 2 19 6th
Supasupe 6 7 9 22 7th
Oretachi 7 9 8 24 8th
Platypus Ninjas 3 11 10 24 8th
Grumps 8 10 11 29 9th

The top (or lowest, however you look at it) 4 teams got to choose from 4 possible prize packages that split pizza gift certificates and Big City Gamin’ gift certificates. 3 other gift certificates were raffled for other attendees that did not place in the top 4, but Iris and Jon of team Science Rash forfeited their Big City Gamin’ gift certificate so that 4 people could win certificates in the raffle. Raffle winners were determined by lining participants up, assigning everyone a number, and then using an app to randomly choose winning numbers.

Everyone on the Steering Committee is so grateful for everyone’s contributions to the event—it turned out to be a fantastic pre-finals break!



Hi ho everybody, Jennifer here. For anybody who didn’t make it to October 2nd’s meeting and wishes they had, or for those who did and want to relive it all over again, we have this handy-dandy recording.  And if that’s not enough, there are slides too! We had a great time talking about translation, rebranding, redubbing, and all the other things that happen when a game is repackaged for the great wide yonder of foreign markets. It can be tough for the motherland to cut the apron strings, but she knows it’s a necessary sacrifice if her baby is to grow up strong, happy, and internationally profitable.

"Früher war ich auch ein Abenteuerer, aber dann habe ich ein Pfeil ins Knie bekommen."

“Früher war ich auch ein Abenteuerer, aber dann habe ich ein Pfeil ins Knie bekommen.”

In the process of researching for the talk, I turned up oodles of links, way too much information to cram into the discussion, so allow me to upend my collection onto your metaphorical desk. Enjoy the mess.


Legends of Localization (side-by-side comparisons of select retro Japanese games with their English counterparts)
A similar analysis of Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

Voice comparisons: Half-Life, Final Fantasy X, Metal Gear Solid 4, Mass Effect 2 in French (go to 5:37), German (3:41), English (3:53), and Italian (1:26)

Audio Atrocities, an ever-expanding compendium of the worst voice acting games have to offer. Consider yourself warned.

Kotaku: The Surprising Ways Japanese Games Are Changed for Americans and companion article Found in Translation

And proof it’s not just me who finds Pokemon names oddly pharmaceutical: Sporcle: Drug or Pokemon?

Professionals on the Process

An Inside Look at Video Game Localization (Thaís Castanheira, Gengo Translation Services). In Part I, she talks about assisting with the Portuguese version of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. In Part II, she gives tips to developers on how not to muck up the localization process.
Generations and Game Localization (interview with pro localizers/translators Alexander O. Smith, Steven Anderson, and Matthew Alt in Eludamos)
Official blog of LAI (Language Automation, Inc.)
PAX East 2011 localization panel
22 Tips for Better Game Localization (Epic Sound Audio Production)
Localization for Game Development (Joseph Stankowicz)

Academic articles

The big cheese in the world of localization studies is arguably Miguel Bernal-Merino, professor of media translation at the University of Roehampton in London. Seriously, he shows up everywhere: A Brief History of Game Localization, On the Translation of Video Games, Localization and the Cultural Concept of Play, Challenges in the Translation of Video Games

Things by people who are not Señor Bernal-Merino:

Creating Cross-Cultural Appeal in Digital Games (Mark Chen et al., slides of a presentation given by UW’s Digital Games Research Group)
Unleashing Imagination with Restricted Translation (Carmen Mangiron and Minako O’Hagan, The Journal of Specialized Translation)
Game Localization Management: Balancing Linguistic Quality and Financial Efficiency, (Michaela Bartelt-Kranz, Trans)
Cultural Localization: Orientation and Disorientation in Japanese Video Games (Francesca di Marco, Revista Tradumàtica)
Videogame Localization and Thing Theory (Jon Corliss, Columbia University)
Localization of Digital Games: The Process of Blending for the Global Games Market (Alexander Thayer and Beth E. Kolko, Technical Communication)
Pokemon, Localization, and Cultural Odor (Chris Bubb, Post Bubble Culture, a College of William & Mary blog on contemporary Japanese culture)

Play Night: Next Week and Beyond

Hey all–we’re fast approaching the end of the term, and as everyone’s schedule explodes with finals and other various projects, we’ll be winding down Think.Play activity. But fear not! This coming Wednesday is still a play night, where we’ll be partaking in party favorites such as Rock Band, Mariokart, and Super Smash Bros. The following week (the week of finals) will be a movie night, where the first Pokemon movie will be playing for your enjoyment.

To wrap things up, I’ll leave you with an image that I feel accurately represents our collective pre-finals week state of mind.

Sound in Games

This past Wednesday we discussed the use of sound in games, from soundtracks to sound effects. The focus was on games that used noises instead of words to allow players to communicate, such as Journey and Don’t Starve.


Journey allows players to communicate only through randomized chirping sounds. The jury is out on whether this is the most adorable form of player interaction.

Was the lack of direct player communication a good or bad game design decision? Most felt that it helped endear players to the game by creating a sense of uniqueness, while some thought that it made it somewhat frustrating in a multiplayer setting.

Soundtracks were also discussed, as well as their significance to setting a certain ambiance in a game. The Elder Scrolls series by Bethesda was a popular example of how a soundtrack could help change the tone of a game. What is it about the Morrowind soundtrack that makes it sound more fantastical, while the Skyrim soundtrack brings to mind an epic adventure, considering that many of the songs are the same? Compare for yourself:

Morrowind Theme:

Skyrim Theme:

Other topics covered were Deep Sea, a game that removes your sense of sight and forces you to rely on the sounds you hear to navigate through the terrain, and fan-made, game-centered music. For anyone interested in fan-made music, check out Miracle of Sound on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/user/miracleofsound) for some interesting tributes to popular video games.