Kakwitene VR

Virtual Reality Endangered Language Revival and Retention with Onkwehonwehneha A.I. (Ancient Intelligence)

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This paper tracks the effectiveness of Endangered Language Learning through VR, observing how participants learn new Kanien’kéha words. To us, “effective” aims to increase memory retention, the speed of learning, and each learners’ confidence to speak Kanien’kéha outside of the VR experience in the physical world. But Kakwitene VR has no intention of assimilating Indigenous dialects into non-Indigenous definitions and languages. It will not translate over to world-views and experiences that are foreign to the specific Indigenous dialect presented. The base communications in Kakwitene VR includes audio and visuals that are experienced without providing non-Indigenous cultural interpretations and literal translations. Continue Reading

The Burden on Our Back

Conveying Nahua Survivance through Games

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Even now, it seems a novel idea that the game would feature a drastically different approach to gameplay than other games of the time. Even other Disney tie-ins of the same generation featured hordes of enemies requiring defeat; though the film Aladdin (1992) featured a protagonist who relied on wits to solve problems, the game adaptation (Disney Interactive, 1993) gave Aladdin a sword for most of its levels. Scratching beneath the surface of Pocahontas’s mechanics, however, reveals not a nuanced look at game design based on indigenous ways of knowing but rather an essentialized representation based on the related film’s already troubled representation of a generic, somewhat stereotypical version of Native American ways of being. 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

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

Dreaming of Zion

The American West as Place or Process in Fallout: New Vegas’s Honest Hearts DLC

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As a Western set in a post-apocalyptic Mohave, Fallout: New Vegas demonstrates that the big questions that drive Western history are durable and malleable enough to survive even the (fictional) nuclear demise of the United States itself. The fourth iteration of the Fallout franchise is set approximately 200 years after a civilization-ending nuclear war but is valuable for teachers of American history because several major themes of real-life Western historiography are embedded in it. In fact, as I will demonstrate in this essay, the game, and particularly the Honest Hearts DLC, can be used to not just demonstrate, but to allow students to feel why the questions that underlay the study of Western history have real resonance. Continue Reading

Game art, art game, indie game

Sketching the relation between the worlds of contemporary art and video games

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The interaction between art and video games might seem obvious since popular video games now have dedicated exhibitions in museums, as in the case of “Game Story” displayed at the Grand Palais in 2011 or “Design / Play / Disrupt” showcased at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2019. However, before this wave of institutional recognition during the 2010s (Colville, 2016; Ter Minassian, 2012), there were already connections between artistic practices and popular entertainment. Even if contemporary art is a multifaceted movement and difficult to define, the concept of experimentation, the aestheticization of everyday life, and the use of new materials are prevalent components (Millet, 2009). Continue Reading