Decisive Book Reviews
The Study of Play
Games, we know, do not have the best reputation in terms of representation. Through the decades, games have gained notoriety for excluding people who aren’t seen as their target audience: especially women, people of color, and people of different sexualities. On top of that, certain genres—particularly military shooters and horror games—have developed a reputation for stigmatizing people with mental illnesses. Too often these games equate people who have a mental illness with monsters and/or villains. For example, Silent Hill (Konami, 1999) …
Elise Vist is a third-year PhD student interested in autobiographical games as well as fan studies. In particular, she focuses on the negotiations of power between creators and their audiences. She is also a co-founder of the GI Janes, a group devoted to encouraging women in Kitchener/Waterloo to make, play, and talk about games. “We conduct research not just to mine data from informants, but to learn about their theoretical and pragmatic insights. […And] the goal of ethnographic research [is] an understanding of the cultural contexts in which human action takes place.” – Ethnography and Virtual Worlds 16. What are your overall thoughts?* It’s been over a year since I first picked up this book, so I can say without any…
Alexandra is a first year PhD student in the English department at the University of Waterloo and a copy-editor at First Person Scholar. Her research interests include narrative theory and game studies. More specifically, she hopes to treat video games as literary text to examine the change from literary to digital narrative. This article is the first in an on-going series on ludonarrative cohesion in videogames. The purpose of the series is to create a lexicon for discussing interactions between narrative and gameplay mechanics. If you’re interested in contributing to this series, check out our About/Submissions page. In this inaugural installment the author will be examining Bioshock: Infinite as a case study for ludonarrative dissonance. Clint Hocking coins the term, “ludonarrative dissonance”, where…
In this article I put forward the idea of procedural ethics. Procedural ethics is a way of studying videogames, videogame culture, and the videogames industry that focuses on both the computational and ethical aspects of gaming. This theory is born from the desire to move beyond some of the limitations of current theories used to study games, making questions of ethics and people central to any study of games. Procedural ethics argues that procedures are not just the in-game algorithms, images, and text that force the player to make a decision or to agree to participate in a particular world. Rather, they are made up of everything that went into that procedure being programmed, including the developer’s history, the community, and the player’s experiences, as well as the socio-cultural context surrounding the game and the player.
It would be safe to assume that I qualify as a horror fanatic. I’ve played a large quantity of games in this genre including: Quake, Doom, F.E.A.R., Penumbra: Overture, Bioshock, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, The Last of Us, Cry of Fear, Nanashi no Game, Dead Space, SCP – Containment Breach, Slender: The Arrival and Slender: The Eight Pages, Clock Tower: The First Fear, Resident Evil, System Shock, and a slew of others (many that I’ve watched but am not brave enough to play). These games share many common elements that solidify their position in the genre such as dim lighting, monsters, disorientation, analogue disruptions, and a thematic narrative wherein the player/avatar is subsumed within a labyrinth of horror that they must navigate through in order to resolve the anxiety and unease of both their environment and the stories they occupy. I think that the most enjoyable of these games combines engaging storylines within an environment that has more monsters and evasion as opposed to jump-scares and continuously present monsters. As time has gone on, however, I’ve noticed that similarities that draw the horror genre games together have become really monotonous.
As 2014 draws to a close, #GamerGate continues. A number of articles have been written in both popular and academic publications attempting to describe, critique, and comprehend GamerGate. What has yet to be discussed is the challenge of undertaking research into this amorphous, self-styled online “movement” — what sociologist Jennifer Allaway has designated a “hate group” (2014) — and its proliferation of avatars and media that have banded together underneath the GamerGate hashtag. GamerGate as an online phenomena is many things, but for the researcher, it is primarily encountered as a toxic space where critical inquiry is nearly always understood as a partisan or biased attack (see Allaway; Cross; Goodchild; Lutz; Straumsheim 2014). Even as it is organised through 8Chan and…
Today First Person Scholar turns two years old! We’d like to take this opportunity to look back on the year that was and to look forward to the years ahead. And so what follows are various ways of looking at FPS circa 2014—there’s a word cloud generated from all of the articles published this past year, stats on hits and popular articles, and thoughts from the FPS team. Before all that, though, we’d like to thank you for being a part of First Person Scholar for the past two years. Your readership, contributions, comments, favourites and retweets have made this site something we’re very proud to be a part of. Thank you!