Mad/Crip Games and Play

An Introduction

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Content Notification: reference to self-harm

The first time I saw Poison Ivy, I fell in love with her. But I didn’t get to play Ivy. I had to play Batman. And Batman punished Ivy for being a Mad queer femme. He played the role of the legal system, and the legal system punishes people like her, like me. The logic of the game was patriarchal, sanist, ableist. The game made me hurt us.
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Savage Beasts

The Spatial Conflict Between Civilization and Nature in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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It is hard to talk about playing the fantasy role-playing game (RPG) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim without talking about its digital environment. Its vastness. The freedom with which players can move through it. With an impressive “16 square miles” (Hong p. 42) of digital landscape on offer, there certainly is a lot of world to explore. Continue Reading

Ritual of the Moon

Time and Reparative Game Design

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Much has been made recently about ‘crunch’ and the dangers of cramming development into bursts of unhealthy and inaccessible work habits. It has been written about in Kotaku, The New York Times, and many other places. The solution sounds so easy: just don’t crunch. Take your time. Live your life outside of making practices. But what are sustainable practices of making? Those which follow the ebbs and flows of sometimes the erratic and out-of-grasp force of creativity? Continue Reading

Embodying the Story

Haptic Narrative in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons


Famed German board-game designer Wolfgang Kramer suggests in his essay “What is a Game?” that a game, video or otherwise, “always has components or rules.” He goes on to say that “[t]he components are the hardware, the rules are the software. Both define the game. Both can exist independently from each other, but separately are not a game.” If we accept Kramer’s thesis, then the need for further discourse as it pertains to the physical devices – i.e. the components used to play a video game – becomes apparent. Continue Reading

Documentation, Periodization, Regionalization, and Marginalization

Four Challenges for Video Game Historiography

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As I understand it, and as others before me summarized it (Lowood & Guins 2014, XIII-XV), history is the study of the past through documents, and historiography is the study of the craft of history – the methods used by historians to write their histories. Historians often conduct their work in two phases: studying the documents to retrace the facts, and then organizing these facts and events into a narrative to infuse them with meaning. Continue Reading

It Gets Worse…

The Female Voice in Video Games

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Despite their historically tumultuous relationship with issues of gender and representation, many scholars and game journalists have argued that video games are generally moving in the right direction (Lynch, Tompkins, van Driel & Fritz, 2016; McNally, 2016), at least visually. While progress on the image front has taken us from scantily-clad polygon Barbies to humbly-garbed warrior women, vocals – we argue – have done the opposite, regressing from synthetic vowels to overdramatized breathy moans. Continue Reading

The Blame Game

How Video Game Workers Frame Barriers to Diversity

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The lack of gendered diversity within the video game industry is well documented. Research suggests that only 22% of the video game workforce identifies as female, a figure that declines further to 11% when we look only at core technical positions (Weststar et al., 2016). The issue of women’s underrepresentation, as well as sexism across the industry and culture, has become the subject of heated debate in recent years. The events of GamerGate in 2014, where female games journalists, developers, and critics became the targets of misogynistic abuse, stand out as a poignant example of the polemic nature of this topic. Continue Reading