Decisive Book Reviews
The Study of Play
Meghan Blythe Adams is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Ontario. Her main areas of interest in game studies are player death, difficulty settings, and the submissive elements of play. Previous editorials at First Person Scholar have correctly discussed the important position held by middle-state publishing. I’m inclined, however, to talk a bit more personally about my relationship with FPS. The benefits I’ve had from my involvement are likely also felt by some other scholars involved in similar (and awesomely dissimilar) projects, but at heart this writing is in no way aimed at objective claims that can be assigned to every middle-state-publisher – this is just about the one I think of as partially mine. In the summer…
Porpentine is indisputably one of the most important and challenging game designers and writers of recent memory. Her 2012 game, Howling Dogs, won the 2012 XYZZY awards for “best story” and “best writing” and her 2013 game their angelical understanding won a XYZZY award in 2013 for “best writing.” (And this barely scratches the surface of her extensive and varied body of work.) Part of what makes Porpentine’s work so important is her ability to communicate emotion within narrative and ludic structures in ways that respect the player’s emotional intelligence.
It’s no secret that digital games have a problem with gender representations. Research shows that women are vastly underrepresented in the medium and not simply as playable characters (Miller and Summers 735). Research also shows that when women do exist in games they are resigned to specific tropes and stereotypes that limit character development and which “[underscore] their secondary and exiguous status” (Behm-Morawitz and Mastro 809). While there is ample evidence of both the underrepresentation of and stereotyping of females, there has been less success explaining why such representative practices are damaging or why the game industry should address these problems.
Merritt Kopas is a multimedia artist and game-designer. Her work includes LIM, HUGPUNX and Consensual Torture Simulator. She also curates free, accessible games at her online project forest ambassador. FPS Essays co-editor Meghan Blythe Adams spoke to her during a break at the 2014 Feminist Porn Conference, at which Kopas was a presenter. Here is Part II of that interview.
We’re hosting a game jam! Well, not quite–it’s a pseudo game jam. It’s not located anywhere and you don’t have to program anything. We’re looking for written descriptions of the processes and procedures that make up a game. We call them procedural poems (see the example below). Here’s what you need to know: The prize (valued at up to $170). It includes: • Essential Books in Game Studies Persuasive Games by Ian Bogost. Rise of the Videogame Zinesters by Anna Anthropy. First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game. Winner’s choice of one Boss Fight Books. • An exclusive First Person Scholar t-shirt. *Additionally, if we receive over 20 eligible submissions the winner will also get a $100 Steam gift card. The time limit. The jam is open for one…
Merritt Kopas is a multimedia artist and game-designer. Her work includes LIM, HUGPUNX and Consensual Torture Simulator. She also curates free, accessible games at her online project forest ambassador. FPS Essays co-editor Meghan Blythe Adams spoke to her during a break at the 2014 Feminist Porn Conference, at which Kopas was a presenter.
As a film studies professor holding both an M.A. and Ph.D. in film studies, I spend my days telling people around me that games are not only “not a form of cinema”, but also that cinema is not a viable lens to discuss the visual nature of video games. This is rather strange, considering the department where I work is neatly divided into two relatively independent sections: art history on one side, and film studies on the other. Game studies have been, thanks to my colleague and former mentor Bernard Perron, present at the Department for over ten years now, but resolutely as part of the film studies section. With my colleague Carl Therrien, we now have 3 professors specialized in game studies, around 20 students doing M.A. and Ph.D. work on video games, an undergraduate Minor degree in game studies averaging 50 students a year, an official M.A. option in video game studies, and a game lab dedicated to historical preservation with more than 60 consoles and 2000 games. This suggests that it may only be a matter of time before our dual-headed department turns into a three-headed Gleeok.