81 Chapters
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Medium 9780253017154

9. Jamie Dillion: Gamers, Community, and Charity

David S. Heineman Indiana University Press ePub

SINCE 2003, THE CHILDS PLAY CHARITY HAS RAISED MORE than twenty-five million dollars in efforts to purchase new video games, game consoles, and other toys for patients in children’s hospitals. The organization was founded by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, the creators of the wildly popular Penny Arcade webcomic, a three-day-a-week strip that is primarily based on skewering tabletop and video games, game culture, and related topics. The organization’s press kit explains its origins: “In response to the media’s negative portrayal of gamers, the pair called for the gaming community to donate to Seattle Children’s Hospital during the holiday season” (Child’s Play). The charity’s program coordinator and developer is Jamie Dillion, who oversees many of the day-to-day operations for the organization and often represents it in the press.

Though Child’s Play is not the first charitable organization created primarily for gamers, it is certainly the most successful. Every year the organization engages in Web-based holiday-season fund-raising efforts, holds memorabilia auctions and other fund-raising events, offers workshops and presentations at the various Penny Arcade Expos, and otherwise raises the profile of the charity through efforts at publicity. The 501(c)(3) organization is relatively small in its actual staffing and organization, but it has a large amount of leaders in hundreds of “local” game communities (mostly online instead of geographically situated) that it works with to best coordinate fund-raising efforts. This means that Dillion is in a somewhat unique position of being able to observe the similarities and differences in how various pockets of game culture (and various gaming communities) approach a similar objective: fund-raising.

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Medium 9780892728060

Do you know the name of this central Maine mill town?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

It’s very clear from this autumnal photograph that Milburn is a mill town. Milburn? That’s the name this county seat used before it decided to assume the Abenaki name for “place to fish.” The surging Kennebec, which wraps its arms around the little island pictured here, provided the power for grist- and saw- and woolen mills in years past. The 12 ½ acre isle is literally the heart of town, and its steep sides posed many problems for Benedict Arnold and his men during their Revolutionary march to Quebec — they had to heave their bateaux over its steep walls to get upriver. Many years later, in 1920, the rectangular building in the center of the image was built as a power station, its inners generating 16,000 horsepower in its heyday under Central Maine Power. Today, though, the central Maine town of ten thousand that grew up around the river is not known so much for electricity as for paper — it shares a mill with the burgh immediately to the south, the border running right through the factory’s compound. The municipality is also home to one of the largest of the state’s fairs, a massive agricultural festival claiming to be the oldest annual fair of its kind in the nation, and also the country’s tallest cigar-store Indian. A sixty-foot wooden sculpture, it was created by an artist affiliated with the respected school of art named after the town. It’s also where the HBO movie of Richard Russo’s excellent Empire Falls was shot. To learn more about this central Maine mill town, see page 99.

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Medium 9780253014993

3. Neoliberal Masculinity: The Government of Play and Masculinity in E-Sports

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

Gerald Voorhees

We’re at a point where only about forty people in the U.S. can make a living playing video games. I’d like to get it to a hundred. I think we’re a year or two away from that.

SUNDANCE DIGIOVANNI, quoted in Richard Nieva,
“Video Gaming on the Pro Tour for Glory but Little
Gold,” New York Times, November 28, 2012

While scholars have begun to investigate the professionalization of gaming, I take it on only to the extent that it is an exemplary site for thinking about the sportification of digital games, a broader sociocultural phenomenon that emerges at the juncture of neoliberal rationality and distinct – often competing – constructions of masculinity circulating in contemporary Western culture. Indeed, the sportification of digital games has led to the creation of national leagues, international tournaments, and corporate-sponsored teams of professional cyberathletes, but it is not rooted in these institutions or in the professionalization of players; rather, they are both effects of the hegemony of the sportive mentality. The games are objective things defined by protocological affordances and constrains, but their status as sport and the practices constituting the process of sportification are a result of the meaning attributed to them by player and fan communities.1 In this chapter I examine the cultural implications of the figuration of digital games as sports, often called e-sports, focusing on the production of an intelligible subject position at the nexus of neoliberalism and masculinity.

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Medium 9780253012531

5. From Kuma\War to Quraish: Representation of Islam in Arab and American Video Games · Vít Šisler

HEIDI CAMPBELL Indiana University Press ePub

Vít Šisler

VIDEO GAMES INCREASINGLY RECREATE REAL-WORLD EVENTS and spaces, making tangible connections to the outside world. In doing so, they use real people, places, and cultures as their referents, opening new forms of representation.1 Since 9/11 there has been an increase in video games, mainly first-person shooters, produced in the United States and dealing with the representation of the Middle East, Islam, and Muslims.2 For example, in the popular Kuma\War (Kuma Reality Games, 2004), players can “replay” missions from the real military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. These missions navigate players through Iraqi and Afghani cities, including many Muslim holy sites and mosques. They also feature Sunni and Shia Muslim characters, who are portrayed mostly as enemies in the narrative framework of insurgency, international terrorism, and religious fundamentalism.3

Simultaneously, many video game producers in the Muslim world have started to produce their own games dealing directly with the representation of Islam and Muslims. By doing so, they attempt, first, to provide their audiences with more culturally relevant representations and, second, to educate the outside world about Islam and Muslim culture.4 For example, the Syrian real-time strategy game Quraish (Afkar Media, 2007) allows the player to witness the origin of Islam and “replay” key battles from its early history, including the defeats of the Iranian Sassanid Empire and the Byzantine Empire. Although Quraish and Kuma\War similarly use what Ian Bogost in Persuasive Games calls the “expressive power of video game[s],” the images of Islam and Muslims these games offer are significantly different.5

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Medium 9780253014993

1. The Name of the Game Is Jocktronics: Sport and Masculinity in Early Video Games

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

Michael Z. Newman

ALTHOUGH IT MAY NEVER BE SETTLED WHICH VIDEO GAME deserves to be called the first, it’s notable that two games based on racquet sports always come up in talk of the medium’s origins. Tennis for Two, a demonstration using an analog computer and an oscilloscope at Brookhaven National Laboratory (1958), and Pong, the first hit coin-operated game from Atari (1972), are in some ways quite similar.1 Both are competitions between two players given the ability to direct the movement of a ball, which bounces back and forth between them. Both are examples of sports games, a genre that would prove to be among the most enduring, enjoyable, and lucrative in the history of electronic play. And both can be placed within a tradition of masculine amusements adapted from professional athletics, which had already been popular in American society in penny arcades and around gaming tables for more than a half century when electronic games were new. We can regard Pong not just as an early and influential video game, but as part of a history of sports simulations and adaptations and as an electronic version of tavern and rec room amusements such as pool and Ping-Pong, from which it gets its name.

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Medium 9780892728060

Ever been to this Maine castle?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Quakers and guns, this place has seen it all. With its wide lawn, towers, and fortresslike façade, this central Maine institution has a medieval air about it. It looks as though it could withstand a catapult siege. That’s the first of many ironies about the building, which sits in a village between two of Maine’s largest cities. Though it appears rugged and defensible, the peculiar-looking edifice’s history is rooted in nonviolence. A group of Quakers migrated to this quiet farming community from New York state shortly after the American Revolution, and built a seminary on these grounds in 1848. They built their new school on 330 acres, amid a grove of oaks and overlooking one of the state’s largest rivers, and to this day have an active church in town. Those buildings are long since gone, and in the twenties or thirties, the Tudor-style castle shown here was put up in their place. For the better part of 150 years it was an educational center. It served as a girls academy for a long time, and later became a co-ed, college-prep boarding school. The campus was occupied until 1989, when the school went under and the facility was subsequently purchased by the state and then left vacant for a decade. In 2000, after extensive renovations, it reopened as an academy of a different sort. The property’s Quaker history has proved a bit problematic for this new educational institution, though, because the new school wanted to use guns on the grounds and the Quaker family who donated nearby land to the previous tenant did so under a provision that specifically forbade firearms. The situation has been tricky, but it looks to be sorted out. Check page 100 to see its location.

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Medium 9780892728060

Can you identify this 1800s church?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

The holidays mean a little something more in this midcoast town. Some historians now believe that the first Thanksgiving in the New World was actually celebrated four hundred years ago not far from the site of this pretty white church. (Sorry, Plymouth. Nice rock, though.) Don’t care much about history? Perhaps beaches and celebrities are more your thing? Then you’ll be glad to know that one of the finest strands in Maine can be found here. This beach town (population 2,100 or so) played host to the 1999 flick Message in a Bottle, starring as the strand on which the very message of the title washes up (Kevin Costner and Paul Newman co-starred). The people who live here tend to associate themselves with several distinct villages — what Maine town isn’t broken into several villages, by the way — and you can bet they’re thankful to call this place home. Have you ever celebrated Thanksgiving here? If you think you recognize this historic hamlet and its 1802 Congregational Church, turn to page 98 and see if you’re correct.

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Medium 9780892728060

Do you recognize this hill named for a Roman god?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Aroostook County is about as flat as Maine gets. The County may be big — and boy is it big — but it’s not very tall. The state’s northernmost county is larger than the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island — combined. But the whole is about as hilly as the pancakelike ployes for which the Saint John Valley is famous. This here eminence, all 1,700 feet of it, is as lofty as lofty gets in Aroostook, rising straight up from a level plain. The hill sits on the border with Canada, lording over the Saint John River Valley, and the first settlers to the area were lured from New Brunswick by the promise of prosperous farming. The name of the local community comes from Greece via a British army chaplain, who held a service at the summit in 1790 and commented that the hill looked like the one in Athens dedicated to a Roman god. This geomorphic buckle factored heavily into geopolitics in the early days of the United States. It was integral to a boundary dispute between the young country and the Brits that dated back to the Treaty of Paris 1783 and almost led to bloodshed in what was called the Aroostook War. More recent controversies (we’re talking in the early 2000s) occurred when a Maine-based developer announced intentions to locate twenty-eight turbines on the side of the hill to make Maine’s first wind farm. These 389-foot windmills would create enough power to electrify 25,000 homes — many more than can be found in this town of 1,488. And unlike the Brits, these outsiders won — the turbines were constructed in 2006 and today this mini mount looks much different. See page 99.

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Medium 9780892728060

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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Do you recognize this great lake?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

If it weren’t for a small change in the wording, we might be calling all the people who live near this great lake the Flintstones. The original name of the community here was Flintstown — it was part of a grant given to a Revolutionary captain whose surname was Flint. Of course, many Maine villages were swallowed up when towns incorporated or joined with other municipalities, and that’s just what happened along the shores of this massive waterbody. At forty-seven square miles, this isn’t the state’s largest lake — that would be Moosehead — but it is the deepest. Even before the Flints moved in (the lake’s name is an Abenaki word for “large open water”), everyone has wanted a piece of this basin. In 1877 there were even armed clashes here between corporations interested in the flow of water to their downstream mills, a conflict — the Basin Dam War — that spun into the courts for years. In the following decades, the mills quarreled with the nascent tourism industry. The new hotels needed water levels high enough to move their cargo — affluent summer guests — while the mills were more concerned about letting enough water get downstream. Now the challenges facing the lake are issues like Jet Skis and the invasive effects of milfoil. Makes one long for the simple times of Fred and Barney, Wilma and Betty. See page 101 if you recognize this great lake.

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Have you ever sailed to this famed fishing island?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

This all could have been yours for a pound of tobacco and a gallon of rum. That, according to local legend, is how much was paid for this midcoast island by the Hanover, Massachusetts, deacon who lent it his name. Though its popularity with tourists today testifies to the island’s beauty and charm, you might not have wanted the place back in the eighteenth century. Originally called Newaggin, it was surrounded by small isles known to be popular roosts for pirates, squatters, and assorted rogues. Ghosts, too, supposedly. So maybe smokes and brew were a fair price. Hard to believe so these days, when the roses explode in the bright sun, yachts loll at anchor, and throngs of summer worshipers cascade over the famous bridge here to set up for the season. One of five distinct settlements in a quiet midcoast community — the town itself is said to be home to more isles than any other in the country — the island has a year-round population of about 500 and dangles so far out into the Atlantic people have called it Land’s End. It’s conjoined to another island — they used to be called the Twins — and was only connected to the mainland in the twenties. It’s better known as home to a famous lobster pound than it is for its lobstering fleet, but it nonetheless played an important role in the development of the lobster industry — this is reputed to be where the idea of stringing traps together in long lines was first introduced. It’s also where the sport of tuna fishing began in earnest in Maine, and every July the community still hosts a popular tuna tournament. Deep-sea fishing put this island on the map, and helped it become the popular resort it is today. It might not be the pearl of the mid-coast — that’s a term associated with its twin — but unlike another Maine place with the same name, it’s no mistake either. For the name of this famous island, please turn to page 98.

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Have you crossed this covered bridge?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Could this be the covered bridge that Jumbo the elephant once walked gingerly through, testing the timbers to make sure that the lions and tigers and bears of P.T. Barnum’s circus could cross safely? Perhaps it’s the one built under the supervision of Jefferson Davis, before he became president of the Confederacy? Or maybe it’s the span that a Portland film company attempted to blow up during the filming of a silent movie? Of course, it couldn’t be the latter. Pine Tree Pictures was successful in its bridge demolition and the Union Falls Bridge, like more than 100 of the covered bridges once standing in Maine, was blown into the history books. Because covered bridges have been heavily romanticized as icons of a simpler time, they are all surrounded by legends and lore. This one, too, has its own claim to fame — but it involves neither pachyderms nor rebels. It’s the only bridge remaining in Maine to be shingled top to bottom; the others are made of board and batten, lattice, or other types of siding. This span stretches seventy-three feet across Kenduskeag Stream in a quiet section of a town of 2,500 in central Maine whose name alludes to both Greece and a book of the Bible. The bridge is used only for local traffic, one vehicle at a time. There are only nine covered bridges remaining in Maine, which narrows down the odds for those inclined to guess. (As for Jumbo, he stepped lightly across the old international covered bridge between Calais and St. Stephen. According to one report, the elephants were never asked to open their trunks at customs.) To find the location of this storied span, turn to page 98.

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Can you identify this inspirational isle?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

With a single glance you can understand the romantic appeal of this place: a lovely Victorian house on a tiny windswept isle, lorded over by highlands, surrounded by the Atlantic. This beauty is what attracted a virtual parade of writers to this island on the Down East coast. If ever there has been a lighthouse that was home to more authors, poets, and playwrights than the one pictured — suffice to say, we can’t find it. The first scribe to land here was likely Bernice Richmond, who bought the island after the Coast Guard deactivated this light, used to protect a chilly harbor, in the 1930s. Next up in the 1950s was children’s book author René Prud’hommeaux, author of Hidden Lights, The Port of Missing Men, and The Sunken Forest. She was followed by playwright Gerald Kean. And most recently it was owned by William C. Holden III, a retired banker who wrote several novels while living here. In Our Island Lighthouse, Bernice Richmond describes the allure: “It is hard for people living on the mainland to understand the contentment found on an island… I couldn’t put into words… how terribly important it was to sleep on the island with sea sounds encircling me. I couldn’t explain how I looked forward each morning to that first rush of salty air through my kitchen door.… ” If you can identify this inspirational isle turn to page 100.

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Have you ever found this forgotten fort?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

If you’re like many Maine motorists, you’ve driven within a mile of this old blockhouse dozens of times and never known it was there. Built in 1809 to protect a busy midcoast shipbuilding harbor, the fort sits just off Route 1 on an island few Mainers realize is an island, overlooking one of the area’s largest rivers. The solid little citadel was the focal point of an impressive compound at one time, with heavy bunkers, palisades, and a waterfront battery, and it was garrisoned for much of the nineteenth century, as a 1985 archaeological excavation revealed. And the site saw a few tense moments — it was threatened with bombardment during the War of 1812, and fifty years later the Confederate cruiser Tallahassee passed menacingly by not far downriver. Today the fort still sees quite a bit of action, but its many invaders are armed with nothing more threatening than cameras, Frisbees, and overflowing picnic baskets. (The solitary ranger who now mans the octagonal fort would be instantly overwhelmed if the park’s many day-trippers mounted an uprising.) Home to an interesting historical display, the blockhouse is one of the nation’s best preserved forts from the period and became one of Maine’s earliest state-owned parks, purchased in 1923 from the U.S. War Department for $501. Wide, grassy swaths overlooking the river and views of seals and ospreys have since made the spot popular among locals and those taking the scenic back way to a famous resort harbor not far down the road. Things are totally serene on the scene these days — especially under a fair May sky — but there are a few visitors who wish they could blast an unsightly old power plant out of the view across the river. See page 101 to learn where to find it.

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Where in Maine?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

For the better part of two decades the editors of Down East: The Magazine of Maine have asked our readers to play a game with us. We publish a stunning photograph of a unique location in the Pine Tree State — sometimes instantly recognizable, sometimes not — and drop a few hints about the historical or geological anomalies of this special place. Then we invite our readers to guess where it is by writing us a letter. We also ask them to tell us a little about their own personal connection to this unidentified corner of the Maine landscape. Have they ever visited this waterfall? Do they own a cottage on this island?

To say that “Where in Maine?” is the most popular feature in Down East is like calling the view from Cadillac Mountain “pleasant:” an understatement of the highest order. We receive more mail for these short items than other magazines receive for entire issues. The responses range from one-line emails — “It’s Perkins Cove in Ogunquit!” — to long, handwritten letters recounting childhoods enjoyed on the pictured shores of Sebago Lake or summers spent at the family cottage overlooking this exact view of Monhegan Harbor.

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