Video Game Round Up #2

I did a previous round up on gaming, which covered some basics on gaming, criticisms of the activity, some funny stuff, games as art, some anthropological work, and games and learning.

Here’s another round up, where I have focused on more traditional social science/anthropological themes, as well as related articles and blogging about game design.


Sande Chen, Towards More Meaningful Games: A Multidisciplinary Approach
“how to ratchet up emotional intensity – through narrative design, visuals, and music – to create more meaningful games”

The Brainy Gamer, The Elusiveness of Meaning
“Ueda’s process begins with an image and grows from that place, informing the way the game plays, how it feels, and what it means… The meaning of the image is conveyed through a beautiful weave of gameplay and narrative.”

Kyle Stallock, Diablo Fans Petition Against III’s Artistic Direction
New game demo with brighter environments and more color creates a fan backlash: they want a visual style for Diable III “coherent with the universe it belongs to”. See the video report here

The Escapist, The Age of World Builders
“That’s when it really hit me: This wasn’t just some level in a game. This was my vacation home in a digital environment.”

Ian Bogost, The End of Gamers
Gaming matures as a medium, and takes myriad forms

Owen Good, Can a Game Be a Tearjerker?
A journalist asks, and online readers respond about their saddest gaming experiences.

The Brainy Gamer, Narrative Manifesto
Video games and delivering “genuinely interactive narrative experiences to the player”


Brent Ellison, Defining Dialogue Systems
Dialogue as interaction, and how to build that into a game

Brain Ashcarft, The Meaning of Ninjy
Translators take the stage for big international hits, in this case Ninja Gaiden II. What would a ninja actually say?

Aaron Britt, Avatar
The definition and social history of the word

Design Issues

Michael Abbott, Embedding Social Activist Principles in Game Design
“every design decision ‘can potentially have social, moral, and political implications, and that each design feature can potentially convey social, moral, and political content’.”

Barbara Ortutay, Game Characters Get Smarter — and Less Predictable
Dynamic programming and users’ imagination make for changes

Only a Game, A Game Isn’t A Series of Interesting Decisions
Going beyond the “strategic decision” approach to game design to invoke other ways of being/involvement in a game

John Brandon, Simple, Innovative Games Offer a Breath of Fresh Air
Games beyond shooting, strategy, and the typical puzzles. Besides the games mentioned in the piece, forthcoming titles like Little Big Planer and Spore also offer innovation.

Brandon Sheffield, Dreaming of a New Day: Heavy Rain’s David Cage
Realism, emotion and gaming—an interview with the head designer of an anticipated game

Adam Barenblat, New Battlefield Bad Company Dev Diary Talks Audio
Nice video about the creative process that goes into the audio aspect of a game

Duncan Fyfe, Video Games Are the Silver Bullet
Video games, the potential for learning, and AAA titles

Michael French, Gaming Audience Will Hit 2.5bln by 2011
But only 3 in 10 games succeed financially

N’Gai Croal, Welcoming Our New Sweatshop Overlords, Part I: Will Wright On Outsourcing Content Production To the Players of Spore
Players drive content and thus design, not just the programmers. Click for Part II and Part III on the internet as sweatshop (damn, I am blogging and doing work for others for nothing…)


Leigh Alexander, Body Types: Why Ivy’s Boobs Are Such a Big, Big Deal
Gender stereotypes, “the flesh is weak,” and the lack of backlash—a female gamer and reporter provides her reflective take

Michael Thompson, Entertainment Software Association Study: 40 Percent of US Gamers Are Women
Get the social facts here

Edge, The Growing Role of Women in Gaming
Women increasingly come to gaming as players and developers

Tom Francis, The Dating Game
“Is a multiplayer game a stupid place to look for love?” Quite funny.

The Brainy Gamer, Venus and Mars in My Living Room

Tracey John, Designer: ‘Diablo III’ Gender Choice A ‘Big Debate’
The move from one-sex classes to being able to choose gender, and the debates within

Social Science

Tom Boellstorff, Ethnographic Methods and Virtual Worlds: Notes Towards a Typology
Studying virtual worlds and video gaming through qualitative methods, by the anthropologist who studies Second Life

Synthetic Worlds Institute, Arden: The World of William Shakespeare
Lessons learned from building a digital world in “which we could conduct social science experiments.” For some of their results, see here.

Terra Nova
A blog about virtual worlds, and the academics who study them

The Brainy Gamer, GLS – Beyond Games and the Future of Learning
James Gee, “passion communities,” and real knowledge. Media/anthropology has more on Gee and his “affinity spaces”

David Williamson Schaffer et al., Video Games and the Future of Learning
Educators and psychologists show how video games can be incorporated into school-based learning

Kurt Squire, Cultural Framing of Computer/Video Games
2002 article assessing the state of the research—good overview of relevant themes and literature

Jan Simons, Narrative, Games and Theory
Examining story and play through gaming

Mattathias Schwartz, The Trolls among Us
“Malwebolence”—NY Times Magazine piece on people who intentionally disrupt online communities

David Itzkoff, Rec-Room Wizard
Profile of Chris Chike, the teenage Guitar Hero phenom

Tom Magrino, NPD Breaks Down Gamer Habits
Extreme gamers as 3% of gaming US population, and play games on average 45 hours per week


PodBlack Cat, Dungeons and Dragons – Or Mazes and Monsters?
Returning to the roots of gaming through flow, the occult, and D&D

PC Zone, The Complete History of Open World Games: Part One and Part Two
Historical accounting of the genre in two brief parts

Heather Chaplin, Is That Just Some Game? No, It’s a Cultural Artifact
Preserving the game canon

Maggie Greene, Inside Out: The Pokemon Conundrum
Game studies meets Japanese history…

Steve Fulton, Atari: The Golden Years
Asteroids through Battlezone – how Atari changed gaming from 1977 to 1981

2 thoughts on “Video Game Round Up #2

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