“A glimpse of the possibilities”

A Review of Queerness in Play

It seems overly reductive to claim that any field is “characterized” by certain traits, but sometimes I’m tempted to resort to this tactic anyway after excellent first impressions of new work. So, by way of compromise I’ll say it this way: new scholarship in game studies is often influenced by the ways in which game studies itself is a developing and interdisciplinary field. And, in a strong recent example of this, the 2018 anthology Queerness in Play is at once a realization, a celebration, and a call for more work drawing from the intersections between queer studies and game studies. Contributors do a commendable job of keeping both the theory and the games they discuss accessible, and I imagine that this text will prove valuable to scholars and students alike. (I know I was taking notes for two of my other projects as I read!) Continue Reading

One Year

My 365 Days Playing FPS

Previous editorials at First Person Scholar have correctly discussed the important position held by middle-state publishing. I’m inclined, however, to talk a bit more personally about my relationship with FPS. The benefits I’ve had from my involvement are likely also felt by some other scholars involved in similar (and awesomely dissimilar) projects, but at heart this writing is in no way aimed at objective claims that can be assigned to every middle-state-publisher – this is just about the one I think of as partially mine. Continue Reading

Interview – Merritt Kopas

Part II: Consensual Torture Simulator & Erotic Games

Interview - Kopas

Merritt Kopas is a multimedia artist and game-designer. Her work includes LIM, HUGPUNX and Consensual Torture Simulator. She also curates free, accessible games at her online project forest ambassador. FPS Essays co-editor Meghan Blythe Adams spoke to her during a break at the 2014 Feminist Porn Conference, at which Kopas was a presenter. Here is Part II of that interview. Continue Reading

Spectacular Mortality

Intersections of Punitive & Educational Player-Death

Death in the game is a rupture not merely of the narrative of the game or the experience of play, but the player’s fundamental identification as player-character. Player-death meant to function both punitively and educationally models this conscious separation through various degrees of spectacle and even partially relies on it in order to function. Within the scope of this essay, I will compare different degrees of spectacle in death scenes in Skyrim, Too Human and the Call of Duty series before raising questions regarding how spectacle or the lack thereof in Skyrim and Dark Souls compare against the balance between punishment and education in a particular game’s version of player-death. Ultimately, this paper is intended less to provide definitive answers to these questions than as a launching-point for further inquiry into the intersections of death, the spectacle, punishment and education in games today. Continue Reading

Take Me To Your Breeder

Charmed Circles of Sexuality in the Mass Effect Series

This commentary aims to raise questions about the mandatory performance and privileging of particular sexual identities in videogames, first through examining the explicitly heterosexual narratives of classic game series like Super Mario and then the more narratively and performatively diverse romantic side-quests in modern RPGs. Continue Reading

Interpellation & Apocalypse

Communication, Coercion, and Identity in Journey

American game developer thatgamecompany is known for producing innovative games intended to provide players with moving, thought-provoking play experiences. In their most recent release, Journey, the player-character is a robed figure crossing a series of gorgeous landscapes toward a light emanating from a far mountain. Journey’s narrative simplicity, striking visuals, and innovative game-play have made it critical and commercial success, receiving many awards and becoming fastest-selling game ever in the Playstation Store (“Journey Breaks PSN Sales Records”). Continue Reading