Dark Souls Roundtable

Design, Difficulty, & Death w Prof. Jonathan Boulter

Podcast - Dark Souls

In this FPS podcast we’re talking about the game everyone hates to love, Dark Souls. FPS’ Jason Hawreliak, Michael Hancock and Rob Parker were joined by UWO professor Jonathan Boulter via Skype. They discuss difficulty, Heidegger, spatiality, narrative and aesthetics. SPOILERS AHEAD. Continue Reading

Interview – Chris Bateman

Part II - Imaginary Games, Hobbyists , & Mass-Market Players

Interview - BatemanII

First Person Scholar book review editor Michael Hancock recently interviewed Chris Bateman to talk about issues related to games including realism, mimesis, mythology, and game design in indie and AAA studios. Chris Bateman is a philosopher, game designer, and author – and has a doctorate (pending corrections) in game aesthetics, to boot. He has written a series of books on game design and philosophy, the most recent of which are Imaginary Games and The Mythology of Evolution. In game design, he was lead game designer and writer for games including Discworld Noir, Ghost Master, and Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition. Bateman researches and lectures at the University of Bolton. Continue Reading

Interview – Chris Bateman

Part I - On Realism, Philosophy, and Artgames

Interview - Bateman

First Person Scholar book review editor Michael Hancock recently interviewed Chris Bateman to talk about issues related to games including realism, mimesis, mythology, and game design in indie and AAA studios. Chris Bateman is a philosopher, game designer, and author – and has a doctorate (pending corrections) in game aesthetics, to boot. He has written a series of books on game design and philosophy, the most recent of which are Imaginary Games and The Mythology of Evolution. In game design, he was lead game designer and writer for games including Discworld Noir, Ghost Master, and Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition. Bateman researches and lectures at the University of Bolton. Continue Reading

DOOM

SCARYDARKFAST

Introduction: There Are a Lot of People Totally Opposed to Violence. They’re All Dead.

There are a great many videogames that can justify some claim or other for being seminal works that changed the course of the game industry, but id’s 1993 DOOM makes a better case than most. It pioneered the first person shooter genre, it popularized the shareware method of distribution, and, perhaps most significantly, it created a gamer culture, as its multiplayer brought people together in attempts to shoot each other to pieces. It is an appropriate subject, then, for the University of Michigan Press’ Landmark Videogame series, and for Dan Pinchbeck’s book, DOOM:SCARYDARKFAST. And while the book occasionally seems uncertain of its intended audience, in general, it is an excellent study of DOOM and what the game means for the first person shooter genre at large. Continue Reading

Pipe Trouble

The Politics of Definition

Commentary - Pipe Trouble

One of the perennial questions of game studies is the basic question of definition: what is a game? And many discussions surrounding games can be traced back to it. The narrative/ludology debate is an obvious one: is a game a story? It’s there in Ian Bogost’s caution against framing games as “limp skins” that don’t properly exist without the player to finish the circuit: does a game have to be played to be a game? And, most recently, it’s there in works created in Twine, works that address issues rarely, if ever, voiced in mainstream videogames: can these things be games at all? (For my two cents: yes; no, but it’s usually more interesting if it is; and yes, of course.) Continue Reading

Dungeons, Dragons, & Digital Denizens

Review - Dungeons Dragons Digital Denizens

If you’re immersed in game studies long enough—or just interested in videogames in general—you’re bound to pick up certain acronyms. FPS. RTS. MMO (or, if you’ve really been around long enough, MOO or MUD). And RPG, the abbreviation for role-playing game. In consideration of the quotation above, just what does the RPG have to offer us in terms of thinking about contemporary living? The answer may be a negative one; on the one side, the RPG has its roots in Dungeons & Dragons and fantasy stories, and those roots in turn lead to J. R. R. Tolkien, who famously declared that the use of fantasy was escapism. And on the other side of the Dungeons and Dragons relation, you have statistics and numbers, which lead to horror stories of obsessive grinding and wasteful time commitments. In their anthology on RPGs, Dungeons, Dragons, and Digital Denizens: The Digital Role-Playing Game, editors Gerald A. Voorhees, Joshua Call, and Katie Whitlock provide no definitive answers, and, indeed, any definitive answers for such a complex question should be suspect. What the book offers instead is three sections, sixteen chapters, some four hundred pages on how games commonly labeled as RPG are “designed, played, and made relevant to contemporary society and culture” (18). And while the book tends to dwell on particular areas of the RPG catalog more than others, the quality of the essays make it worth reading for anyone working on a game that fits under the RPG umbrella—and their variety offer several very interesting yet very different potential answers to our question. Continue Reading