Decisive Book Reviews
The Study of Play
In this Podcast (which is Elise and Emma’s last podcast!) we have a conversation about sex and sexuality in gaming that discusses a lot of topics that don’t really get covered in game studies very often! These topics Include: the difference between in game sexuality and sexualizing characters, the differences between depictions of sexuality in video games and depictions of sexuality in film, sexual awakenings via video games, our first video game crushes, Bioware games, queer representation, and “the gay button”. Furthermore, we wonder if women attracted to women can appropriate or inhabit the male gaze that is so prominent and games and we ask a lot of questions including: why does it feel like there are there so many queer women in game studies? When is sex in videogames sexy? When is it horribly unsexy? Will better graphics make a difference? And, ironically, did videogames make me gay?
If you haven’t already heard, this is my last contribution to FPS as Editor-in-Chief; I’m working towards finishing my PhD and so I am therefore happily handing the reins of FPS over to the supremely talented Alexandra Orlando. Elise and Judy are also stepping down from their positions on FPS to finish their PhDs and I need to highlight here, before I start, that their contributions to the publication have been incalculable. Thanks so much to both of you.
A First Person Video Essay: The Spectres of P.T. by Braydon Beaulieu, University of Calgary.
This month on the First Person Podcast four editors fan out in our ALL ZELDA ALL THE TIME episode. We play Zelda trivia, we wax nostalgic about our favorite Zelda games, we hard-core rag on our least favorite Zelda games, we talk timelines and aesthetics, and speculate on what’s to come.
A principle of game design theory is that constant feedback from the game-system is critical for a particular design to be ‘good’ (Salen & Zimmerman, 2005). From a usability standpoint, I agree, but problems arise when narrative information is conveyed with the same rigidity and specificity as an ammo count. This is one of the reasons that ludonarrative dissonance occurs in modern video games, which is broadly defined as the phenomenon in videogames where narrative elements stand in contrast to the interactive elements (Hocking, 2007; Yap, 2014:13). As a result, the story presented can become incoherent.
In the above comment on hackaday.com, commenter “matt” is referring to [Masterjun]’s (going by “true” on this message thread) hack, Total Control. In it, the games Pong and Snake were recreated within Super Mario World (1990), using what appeared to be random controller commands. In fact, they were frame-specific inputs exploiting various bugs to alter the source code on an original SNES running an unaltered game cartridge, all done live at the Awesome Games Done Quick 2013 event. Taking into account the very limited resources available, [Masterjun]’s effort in highlighting the flexibility of this medium is remarkable; simply by manipulating known input glitches, [Masterjun] changed the game as we know it.
Austin Walker is everywhere these days. As a game scholar, an independent critic, an occasional game designer, a Twitch streamer, news editor at Giant Bomb, and soon as editor-in-chief of Vice’s recently-announced gaming portal, Austin has been a paragon of thoughtful, incisive commentary and discussion in gaming culture. He also makes a podcast about tabletop roleplaying games called Friends at the Table.