81 Slices
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Medium 9780892728060

Can you identify this terrific tannenbaum?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

The festive fisherman who came up with the lobster buoy ornament was pretty clever. Evergreens can be found up and down the coast festooned with colorful floats, and they always seem fun and festive and fitting. But a Christmas tree actually made out of lobster traps is another thing altogether. That’s the kind of old-timer ingenuity — or the work of a crafty chamber of commerce — you don’t get in every port. (Cape Porpoise, incidentally, claims the first trap tree). But there’s probably no more deserving place for such a spectacle than this rock-ribbed city of 7,609. This harborside burg has become rightly famous for its fishing industry. It also knows how to party. Popular festivals bring some of the state’s largest crowds here in the summer. Come the holidays, Lermond Cove celebrates with a parade of lights, Santa arriving on a Coast Guard vessel, horses and carriages tugging people through the historic streets, and this “tree” getting lit. Have you ever seen the Lobster Trap Tree? Turn to page 101 to see if you’re correct.

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12. They Kill Mystery: The Mechanistic Bias of Video Game Representations of Religion and Spirituality · Kevin Schut

Heidi A Campbell Indiana University Press ePub

Kevin Schut

THE VIDEO GAME MEDIUM IS IDEALLY SUITED TO REPRESENT one aspect of religion: the experience of being a god. Game after game gifts players with supernatural powers. From Dust (Ubisoft, 2011) has players take the role of a Polynesian deity that protects The People mostly via reshaping entire islands. The title character of Bayonetta (Platinum Games, 2009) is a witch who can take on and destroy the forces of heaven. The Sims (Maxis, 2000) series of games goes small-scale and gives players the power of a local deity to micro-manage practically all aspects of an individual’s life. But such power fantasies, in the end, represent a rather limited engagement with religion. Imagining what it is like to be a god is an interesting thought experiment, but it does not really get to the heart of the meaning and practice of religion – at least from the perspective of religious adherents. Finding games that really deal with the internal experience of faith and its sociocultural impact is somewhat more difficult, but such games do exist. Historical simulations examine the role of religion in the building of empires, and narrative games engage religion on a wide range of levels. Books like Detweiler’s Halos and Avatars and Wagner’s Godwired: Religion, Ritual and Virtual Reality indicate that scholars are also starting to note the religious implications of both mainstream, big-budget video games and the smaller set of clearly religious games.

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Have you bunked in these cozy cabins?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

When the snow settles gently on this central Maine village, the population drops to about half of what it is during the summer. Maybe even less than that. Sporting camps like these make little boarded-up ghost villages, and the fishermen who come to troll for salmon are probably dropping lines for tarpon somewhere sunny. The family camps on the shore of this long lake are likewise closed for the season, and tourists disappear like Judge Crater, the New York Supreme Court associate justice who had a summer home around here and mysteriously vanished one day in the 1930s, becoming one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in U.S. history. These twelve camps are on a tiny island surrounded by communities with European names, underneath the shadow of “The Mountain” and just around the corner from Elizabeth Arden Road. They were constructed in the late 1920s by a local gentleman who actually built the island on which they sit, hand-filling an acre of water. Finding guests to fill the camps was never a problem. People have been summering in this area since before the turn of the century. A 1981 movie, set here but filmed in New Hampshire, introduced the nation to this land of lakes. Nowadays, kayak and canoe outfitters do a brisk business here, and in more recent years a golf course opened that has been rated one of “America’s Greatest Public Courses” by Golf Digest and continues to draw big crowds. Just not in January. See page 99 to learn the location of this wintry scene.

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11. Bridging Multiple Realities: Religion, Play, and Alfred Schutz’s Theory of the Life-World · Michael Waltemathe

Heidi A Campbell Indiana University Press ePub

Michael Waltemathe

IN RESISTANCE: FALL OF MAN, A FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER SET IN an alternative history, aliens have attacked earth and enslaved most of humankind and transformed them into supersoldiers. Some of the fighting in the game takes place in what is left of Manchester Cathedral in England, which in the alternative history is now infested by alien forces. As a result of this depiction, in the real world the Church of England took legal action against the publisher of the game, the Sony Corporation. The legal argument was that Sony had not asked permission to use graphic depictions of the cathedral in its product.1 The official reason for the legal action can be seen in the following quote from Church of England officials: “We are shocked to see a place of learning, prayer and heritage being presented to the youth market as a location where guns can be fired. . . . For many young people these games offer a different sort of reality and seeing guns in Manchester Cathedral is not the sort of connection we want to make.”2

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Have you motored through this historic mill town?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Without the man this mill town was named for, honest Abe Lincoln would have been minus a vice president. The Civil War-era second in command, Hannibal Hamlin, was the grandson of that early settler, and the veep’s father was the first physician in this riverside community. Hamlin is the most prominent politician associated with the central Maine burgh, but there were many others, from U.S. congressmen to governors. One local family alone produced four Republicans with national profiles. (Of course, the famous folks who once lived here weren’t all politicos — the inaugural graduate of Colby College spent his formative years in town, as did the Civil War hero who lent his name to Howard University in our nation’s capital.) Even the irascible Samuel Adams had something to do with the goings on here — he was governor of Massachusetts in 1795 when the little municipality was incorporated and he gave it his blessing. Like Adams, the first people to put down roots hereabouts were from greater Boston, and they brought with them farming traditions they learned in the Bay State. Apples were once an important crop, and cheese was also a big seller. When the Industrial Revolution hit, the town — like several others on the same river — turned to papermaking, but the mill closed years back. These days, the community is best known for a venerable, open-air museum of sorts — you might even say history lives here. Have you motored through on your way to the western mountains? Turn to page 99 to find out more about it.

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Can you recognize this colorful community?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Vermont might like to think of itself as the foliage capital of New England, but it’s lacking one thing only Maine can provide — the glorious contrast of blue-green saltwater. This tidal river in the midcoast, separating two closely entwined communities, is a prime example. It’s one of two major Maine rivers flanking a well-known town that is home to five distinct villages. If early settlers had their way, the place would be called New Dartmouth today, or perhaps County Cornwall. But the town got christened after an English duke during the reign of King George II. The area is renowned for its annual run of alewives, its Glidden Middens — oyster shell heaps — and its Catholic church, which is the oldest continuously operated Catholic sanctuary in all of New England. But this time of year its most famous feature is its hotly glowing hardwoods, radiant above river and bay. Turn to page 98 if you recognize this scene.

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10. Casey Hudson: Games and Emotion

David S. Heineman Indiana University Press ePub

THOSE FAMILIAR WITH THE ONTOLOGICAL DEBATES AROUND what kind of medium video games might be, what they offer that is distinct from other mediums, and what their relationship is to other digital texts are likely familiar with the suggestion that a defining aspect of video games is their ability to create a more intense emotional response than other media due to their representational and interactive qualities. This oft-repeated argument, offered with varying degrees of sophistication in both academic analyses in video game media outlets and online discussion forums, essentially contends that games create a kind of physiological investment that cannot be found in other media, thus amplifying the body and mind’s reaction.

Casey Hudson, former project director for Bioware’s Mass Effect series, has long had a guiding role in producing titles that push the edges of how video games function to generate a range of emotional responses by players. Games like Neverwinter Nights and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic continue to be heralded for how they were able to bring together thoughtful science-fiction/fantasy writing with novel implementations of player-choice scenarios, believable relational interactions with NPCs, and, especially in the most recent Mass Effect games, believable animation and acting that take place in fully realized environments. Most recently, Bioware developed a strong reputation for fostering fan-based communities around their games and, importantly, forging ongoing dialogues with those communities to further improve the quality of the game components on which the studio built its reputation.

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Have you seen the view from this island?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Behold the birthplace of Maine as we know it. Well, that’s what some people say. Many historians think these island outposts are where the first Europeans set up camp Down East, establishing the famous Maine fishing economy long before Chris Columbus ever made his little sailing expedition. Some scratches on a cliff face on the island across the harbor are thought to be evidence of a visit by Vikings about 1000 A.D. There wasn’t much to plunder and pillage here then, but the fishing grounds were world class — the Norsemen must have thought they’d died and gone to Valhalla when they got a load of the local cod. Fishermen from Portugal and Spain were likewise amazed by the seafood, which all but hopped into their boats, and some think they built fishing camps here before 1492, too. Of course, indigenous tribes were here long before that and the island in the foreground has a Micmac moniker. The big grassy rock in the background has a very unusual name for these parts (not to be confused with an island of the same name off Oahu). That island was never settled in any sort of numbers, though it did see some dwellings. The tramway seen in the picture was put in place by the Coast Guard to haul supplies to a fog whistle with national significance — it’s the only one housed in its own tower. No one heard the signal blow more often than Raymond Phillips, who lived in a small shack on the island all by himself from the 1920s to the late seventies. A former food scientist from New York with a degree from NYU, he left the city behind to become one of New England’s most famous hermits, preferring the simple life of a shepherd. Who can blame him, with this kind of view? Turn to page 100 to learn the name of this island.

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11. Ian Bogost: Anxieties, Procedures, and Game Studies

David S. Heineman Indiana University Press ePub

IN LATE 2012, IAN BOGOST PRESENTED A PUBLIC LECTURE AND exhibited some of his work at the University of North Florida’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum’s director, Marcelle Polednik, in a press release advertising the event, described Bogost as “one of the foremost scholars and designers of games and game theory. . . . [His work is used to] both reflect on and deploy the media of today to highlight timely topics and issues to a wider audience.” Most who have had occasion to read Bogost’s writing or listen to him speak would probably recognize that, in Polednik’s description, there is a lot of truth. Bogost’s work is widely read and cited both inside and outside academic circles, he is a coeditor of an influential series in game studies (MIT Press’s Platform Studies series), and he has produced thought-provoking video games that model how we might think about design itself as a kind of critical practice.

Bogost often discusses the subjects he critiques – games, academia, business, and so on – with a pervasive cynicism and a seemingly entrenched skepticism. His work tends to favor clarity and directness over hyperbole and obfuscation, a characteristic that makes it hard to believe he would be comfortable accepting the kinds of accolades that Polednik’s statement ascribes to him. In the interview in this chapter, for example, he is somewhat blasé about the success he has had in a relatively short period of time, suggesting that “someone would have made similar observations at that time if it hadn’t been me.”

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7. Chris Grant: Games and Press

David S. Heineman Indiana University Press ePub

ALONG WITH FORECASTS OF INCREASED DIRECT DEMOCRACY and a migration to virtual global currencies, one of the frequent predictions made by many of the early Internet prognosticators was that narrowly targeted news feeds would become the standard form of gaining information for those connected to the Internet. Specifically, many of them suggested that people would be able to find news that was specific to (and exclusionary from) particular geographic locations, particular ideological interests, or particular hobbyist pursuits. These targeted audiences would form communities and cultures around the news sites that appealed to them, creating a kind of feedback loop that kept the audience fixed and isolated. In the past twenty years of online journalism, some of this has indeed taken place. One of the best case studies for how it has occurred is unquestionably that of video game journalism.

Gaming journalism, popularized in the 1980s and early 1990s by thinly veiled adverti-zines such as Nintendo Power and Sega Visions and in youth-focused publications such as Gamepro (and, to a lesser extent, Electronic Gaming Monthly) joined much of the rest of the magazine industry in undergoing a significant sea change when the Internet gained in popularity in the mid- to late 1990s. In many ways, games journalism grew up with the medium it covered. As game publishers started creating more games meant to retain their aging player base, introduced a ratings system to make the content more palatable to parents, and started pushing toward multimedia, gaming journalism followed suit with more organized and focused writing, more objective and regular reviews, and more features that responded to the rapid pace of change in the industry.

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5. Ed Fries: The Economics and Politics of a Launch

David S. Heineman Indiana University Press ePub

THE YEARS BRIDGING THE VERY END OF THE TWENTIETH century and the very beginning of the twenty-first were an interesting time in the history of video games. A few years prior to the millennium, the video game industry experienced a gold rush the likes of which had not been seen since before the infamous crash of 1983. In the six years between the initial sale of the Atari Video Computer System and the year when millions of unsold Atari cartridges were buried in a desert landfill, no fewer than ten game consoles were put on the market, many backed by major tech-industry companies like General Electric and Magnavox or toy companies like Mattel and Milton Bradley. By comparison, between October 1992 and September 1996 at least twenty video game consoles or video game console add-ons were placed on the market. These included the Sega CD, Atari Jaguar, Sega 32X, 3DO, Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Nintendo Virtual Boy, NEC PC-FX, Amiga CD32, FM Towns Marty, Apple Bandai Pippin, Atari Jaguar CD, Casio Loopy, Tiger R-Zone, Pioneer Laser Active, Playdia, Neo Geo CD and CDZ, Supervision, Mega Duck and Cougar Boy, and Nintendo Stellaview (among others). This was a staggering amount of new technology flooding the game market in a very short time, and as was the case when a similar phenomenon occurred in the early 1980s, the vast majority of these systems failed to find an audience. In fact, the millennial transition period is probably more notable for the number of companies that found themselves forced out of the game console industry (including household names like Sega and Atari) than those that got their start in the period.

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6. Kellee Santiago: Independent Game Development

David S. Heineman Indiana University Press ePub

THE LAST DECADE OF VIDEO GAMING HAS BEEN MARKED BY THE rise of the “independent,” or “indie,” game. Enabled by the broader penetration of broadband into homes and by the creation of digital distribution networks on major gaming platforms (for example, Valve’s Steam on the PC, Sony’s PlayStation Network, Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade, Nintendo’s eShop, and others), game developers who work alone or in small teams have found new audiences and revenue sources for their work. Though most of these games have been relatively modest in their origins, some of them have found widespread commercial and critical success, success that has often prompted large publishers to scoop up promising or proven independent studios.1 Such was the case with thatgamecompany, a studio founded by USC alums Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago that was contracted with Sony Computer Entertainment to develop games exclusively for their platform.

In Santiago’s time with the studio (she left in 2012), the game that was probably thatgamecompany’s crowning achievement was Journey, a PlayStation Network title that received widespread critical acclaim (winning multiple “game of the year” awards from various press outlets and industry panels) and offered an emotional experience that many found both compelling and novel. In fact, in a brief review of the game I wrote for a game-related webzine, I suggested that the game “stands as a testament to the potential of the medium of gaming to produce something remarkable, artistic, universal, and beautiful.” Like many other commentators on the game, I attributed its success in large part to the creative freedom that came from developing a game with a small, independent team.

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3. Eugene Jarvis: Games and Design

David S. Heineman Indiana University Press ePub

AS LONG AS VIDEO GAMES HAVE BEEN A COMMERCIAL MEDIUM, they have appeared in arcades. Their success there has waxed and waned over the decades, and for much of the past fifteen years the arcade business has seen most game studios ceasing production of coin-op games, have witnessed more arcades shuttering their doors than opening them, and have seen their historical role as a primary driver of industry trends shifted toward a contemporary role as a niche part of the video game landscape.

Eugene Jarvis, for all intents and purposes, is the “last man standing” in the arcade business in the United States. Jarvis cut his teeth programming classic Williams arcade games like Defender and Robotron 2084 before working on popular titles like Smash TV and the Cruis’n series for Midway in the 1990s. The company he founded in 2001, Raw Thrills, Inc., is the only U.S. game developer regularly producing new arcade titles. In recent years they have produced arcade cabinets related to the Fast and Furious film franchise, the Terminator franchise, and the Batman films and have developed several original properties such as the Big Buck Hunter series. They have found success in placing their machines in Wal-Marts and truck stops and in bars and restaurants, as well as in many other locations outside of the traditional arcade space.

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10. “God Modes” and “God Moods”: What Does a Digital Game Need to Be Spiritually Effective? · Oliver Steffen

Heidi A Campbell Indiana University Press ePub

Oliver Steffen

IM NOT SURE HOW MUCH RELIGION YOULL FIND IN THE PATH,” writes Michaël Samyn, director of the Belgian independent studio Tale of Tales, in response to an inquiry.1 After all, The Path “is a short horror game inspired by older versions of Little Red Riding Hood, set in modern day.”2 Six sisters, aged nine to nineteen, are sent on an errand to their sick and bedridden grandmother. Mother tells them to stay on the path that leads through a thick and dangerous forest. The woods, however, promise adventures that can hardly be resisted by the girls. In the forest, they find strange areas and objects related to their characters and life situation. Most important, they find their personal wolf – a traumatic encounter, after which grandmother’s house becomes a place of surreal nightmares that end with the death of each girl.

The Path, which won awards for innovative game design, shows little overt religious symbolism, apart from some Christian crosses at the graveyard and the girls’ reflections about death. However, a glance at the developer’s forum reveals that players relatively often tie their play experiences to religious themes.3 Therefore, the game might be an example, on one hand, of the suggestion of William Sims Bainbridge and Wilma Alice Bainbridge that it is “possible that certain categories of games satisfy some of the same psychological needs satisfied by religion,”4 and on the other hand, of game researcher and designer Ian Bogost’s approach that games may have a spiritually relevant persuasive effect through their procedural representations and interactions rather than through their contents.5 In this chapter, I suggest a ludologically influenced religious studies approach to digital games.6 I am interested in the basic structural elements of games that generate religiously or spiritually relevant experiences in players. As a start, I examine a number of scientific and journalistic publications that, in their discussion of digital games’ effects, not only refer to religious terms, metaphors, and themes, but also provide details about the characteristics of the corresponding ludological structure. I offer a list of criteria to compare the spiritual efficacy of digital games – an essential aspect of the implicit religious potential of games. I then show that this efficacy may be understood and compared in terms of flow, meditation, empowerment, disempowerment, and morality. This catalog becomes the basis for my analysis of The Path, which is followed by a discussion from a religious studies perspective.

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Medium 9780253014993

5. Domesticating Sports: The Wii, the Mii, and Nintendo’s Postfeminist Subject

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

Renee M. Powers and Robert Alan Brookey

IN 2005 NINTENDO BEGAN RELEASING INFORMATION ABOUT their next console, code-named “Revolution.” The reception from the video game press was rather mixed. Ryan Block, covering Nintendo’s introduction of the Revolution at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) for the tech blog Engadget, had this to say: “The Revolution is a really unsexy device, all things considered – but it is a prototype, and [Nintendo] did hammer home that they want input from their adoring public. This may also just prove that Nintendo is serious when they say they don’t care about the hardware as much as they do about the gaming experience. They had to show something, and they did. It didn’t hurt them, it didn’t help them.” Mark Casamassina, writing for IGN, provided a more positive assessment: “At E3 2005, Nintendo unveiled the Revolution console. It is the company’s sleekest unit to date. The tiny-sized system is designed to be quiet and affordable. The revolutionary aspect of the machine – its input device – remains a secret.”1 Yet even Casamassina noted how the new console broke with industry tradition by not incorporating significant technological advances in graphic capability.

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