(Re)Coding Survivance: Sovereign Video Games Special Issue

First Person Podcast Episode 37

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Welcome to a special edition of First Person Scholar. Today, we’re introducing a special issue on Indigenous and Sovereign Games, called “(Re)coding Survivance,” edited by Michelle Lee Brown. Our podcast this month features a conversation between four amazing Indigenous game designers, developers, and scholars. Michelle Lee Brown, Beth LaPensée, Maru Nihoniho, and Meagan Byrne discuss game design, Indigenous futurisms, survivance, and so much more. Continue Reading

(Re)coding Survivance and the Regenerative Narrative

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The theme of this special issue is “(Re)coding Survivance” and is, as I understand it, supposed to be about how we might envision Indigenous futurisms via video game worlds. One of my Indigenous nations, the Washazhe or “Osage,” call ourselves “Children of the Middle Waters” and have special relationships with rivers. Thus, I turn to the source of much of our story to think about how to envision futures in a decolonial, “(re)coded,” or regenerative way. Continue Reading

Life Will Change

Ludonarrative Dissonance and Procedural Revolution in Persona 5

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Despite the revolutionary and rebellious tone of the narrative, many of the game mechanics deliberately deny player agency. While in some cases this can detract from the game argument, it has been suggested that game developers may consciously subvert the narrative with contrasting mechanics to create what is known as “ludonarrative dissonance” (Seraphine, 2016, p. 3) in order “to create complex narratives of trauma and suffering” (Kuznetsova, 2017, p. iii). It has been noted that complicity is a significant part of how a videogame enacts its argument on the player, and that because the player is directly responsible for the events in the game world, “games are well equipped to draw the player in” to the extent that they can even “make [players] feel for characters who may be traumatized” (Smethurst & Craps, 2014, p. 278). In what ways, then, does the dissonance between narrative and ludic elements impact P5’s overall argument? Continue Reading

The Queer Games we Play

Review of Video Games Have Always Been Queer

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Ruberg argues that “[q]ueerness and video games share a common ethos: the longing to imagine alternative ways of being and to make space within structures of power for resistance through play” (1). When I explained the argument to a professor, he said, “Oh, I didn’t know that could be queer.” When explained as Ruberg does, any game can be queer, and that’s exactly the point. Queerness is an embodiment of playfulness, one that allows us “to resist structures of power, or partake in alternative forms of pleasure, or inhabit embodied and affective experiences of difference” (15). But this kind of intervention and explanation is deeply needed at this point in game studies scholarship, as we can see more acceptance of queer game studies in multiple venues–the publication of this book being one of them. Continue Reading

First Person Podcast Episode 36

Pride Month Throwback

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Happy Pride month from First Person Podcast! On this episode we go back to a conversation that happened years ago to exhibit some queer games. Join Elise Vist, Rob Parker, Chris Persaud, and Matthew Perks as they delve into the discourse of queer game design. What is the main criticism of queer games? How did our guest experience Tusks and Dream Daddy? They will give you the relevant insight now. Continue Reading

A Failed and Unintelligible Analogy

The Phenomenology of Virtual Space in Kitty Horrorshow’s ANATOMY

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The virtual space of ANATOMY withdraws from players behind a barrier of static and screen glare where it becomes, in a Lacanian psychoanalytic sense, inaccessible to the process of narcissistic incorporation. In a subversive twist of convention, players are marginalized in order to hold space for the expression of digital-material agency, affecting a critical blow to the psychological processes, as digital media scholar Laurie Taylor theorizes, by which “the connection between the player and the player’s position in game space implies a type of identification.” Overtures of analog noise and VHS scan lines that scroll across the player’s first-person perspective articulate an aesthetic commitment to the affirmation of otherness. An unbridgeable distance stretches between us and ANATOMY, and into this distance tumbles that narcissistic fantasy of a video game designed to transport players inside immersive virtual worlds, where alien subjectivities are embodied firsthand and become sympathetically understood. Continue Reading

A Letter to the Editor

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This commentary is framed as a response to an editorial in the journal Game Studies (of which I’m a member of the review board), and I hope it’s clear that it’s an agonistic one: an incitement to further discourse. A playful bite but a real bite all the same.

Since this commentary was written in December 2019, the renewed attention to sustained anti-Black violence by police and other social institutions in the U.S. and beyond, as well as the increasing prominence of violence and harassment directed at East Asians, has helped to bring public attention to how racism continues to inflect so many aspects of our social, economic, and political lives. As we ask “what can game studies do” in this moment to support meaningful social change, recall that white privilege and prejudice against Black, Indigenous, mixed-race and people of colour (BIMPOC) in game studies was already one context of this exchange, and it’s one we can continue to dismantle together. Continue Reading