Educational Board Gaming and Counter Politics

A Short History of the Election Game

Cover image Election, 1972

The election simulator, borrowing nearly all of its mechanical traits from the Eurogame, is primarily about indirect player competition. The primary difference between these two genres is the election simulator’s simulation of voter manipulation. Regardless of why this genre has received so little attention, it is my contention that critical game scholars should include this genre as a part of the discourse on educational and historiographical game designs. What follows is a brief history of the intersection between educational board gaming and the election simulator with a discussion of the game Shasn as a case study. Continue Reading

Where Are the Disabled Sims?

Sims-disabilities-2-912x456

I am talking about disabilities. In a game franchise that is centered around simulated living, the creation of a universe intended to mimic the real world in which players can be and do and create whatever they wish, the utter lack of disabilities seems at best odd and at worst a willful neglect of a community that already sees a lack of representation in modern media. One in four adults live with a disability in the United States – 61 million people (CDC, 2018). The Sims has never been more inclusive to its player-base; this is why the exclusion of a major population seems so abrasive. Continue Reading

Interview: Melos Han Tani

Patterson - Han Tani Picture

Melos Han Tani (formerly Sean Han Tani) is a game designer from Chicago of Taiwanese, Japanese and Irish descent, currently living in Tokyo. He created the game All Our Asias (2018), and is one of the two members of his game studio Analgesic Productions, which made Anodyne (2013), Even the Ocean (2016) and Anodyne 2: Return to Dust (2019). From 2016-2019 Sean was a game design and game music lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Continue Reading

First Person Podcast Episode 31: 2019 Game of the Year

First Person Podcast Episode 31

This month on the First Person Podcast, we sit down with Chris Lawrence, Lia Black, and Patrick Dolan to discuss their all time favourite games of 2019. How have these games impacted the genre? What function do their narratives play through social commentary? We also talk about prospective games on our list for 2020. Continue Reading

A Chain of Memories

What does it mean to share a game?

Dorey Cover 1

When I play Final Fantasy VIII on my own, I’m not going back to play Final Fantasy VIII. I’m using it as a conduit to tap into the memories of that time of my life. It’s a way to feel the feelings I associate with listening in rapt silence to a friend’s reading of the game’s dialogue. It’s a way to remember coming home from school, homework done before the final bell rang at 2:45PM and begging my mom to buy more Cheetos for another late evening of RPGs with the first older person to treat me like my opinions truly mattered. Continue Reading

Moral-Making Through Gameplay

Life is Strange and Existential Simulators

Caldwell Cover Image

From arcades where people would take turns playing the machines, to console gaming with multiplayer options, to massive-multiplayer online games and online discussion forums, videogames are not always a solitary experience. Let’s Play videos, in which players record and upload their playthroughs of games, are a central component of many videogame communities. Since the Let’s Player narrates their feelings and choices in their videos, LPs “reveal a hidden layer of the game narrative: the story of the player and the experience” (Kerttula, p. 17). This is especially relevant to the discussion of morality and moral-making because the narration of the moral and ethical choices moves the discussion from an individual to a community space. According to Sari Piittnen, “LP narrations significantly feature complex moral evaluations, and explore the discursive means through which these are produced” (p. 4672). Continue Reading

Book Review: Video Games as Culture

Considering the Role and Importance of Video Games in Contemporary Society

Meda-Calvet - CoverCropped

I want to emphasize that this is not a book in which the reader will find untouchable truths: rather, it is a tool that explains, in a very clear and understandable way, some of the debates and discussions that are still open around video games and their communities. Hence, I would not dare to say that this is going to be a definitive or complete book, but the beginning of future works and new publications that will take as their starting point some of the questions that Muriel and Crawford have synthesized and summarized so well in it. Continue Reading