33 Chapters
  Title Author Publisher Format Buy Remix
Medium 9780253017154

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.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253012531

6. Citing the Medieval: Using Religion as World-Building Infrastructure in Fantasy MMORPGs · Rabia Gregory

HEIDI CAMPBELL Indiana University Press ePub

Rabia Gregory

A BETRAYAL. A CURSE. THE AGE OF STRIFE BEGINS. . . . WARRIORS, heroes, and adventurers begin the restoration. . . . What role will you play? Join the battle for supremacy or let chaos rule. Shadowbane.” This resonant baritone voiceover to the cinematic introduction to Wolfpack’s 2003 massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) lists dualistic clichés of fantasy role-playing games as the camera pans over scenes of armed three-dimensional male bodies engaged in combat, shooting arrows, casting spells, wielding siege engines, and arguing over strategy at campaign tables. As the only opportunity for cinematic narrative in the game, this opening video informs each new player that the game loading on their screen offers more than the realistic mechanics of premodern warfare. The conflict they are about to join is purposeful, each player a participant in a tragic battle originating in religious violence, which will frame their game experience as part of a war-torn world’s history. The cutscene’s camera slowly pans over the runes etched on the blade of a bloody sword thrust into the shattered trunk of a dying tree, capturing a moment of tragic betrayal when Cambruin, a mighty human king, was transfixed to the World Tree. As his blood ran down the tree’s trunk, the Shadowbane blade petrified the tree, shattering creation.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253017154

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.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253017154

4. Henry Lowood: Archiving and Games

David S. Heineman Indiana University Press ePub

HENRY LOWOOD IS CURATOR FOR THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE & Technology Collections and Film & Media Collections in the Stanford University Libraries and a leading member of the Preserving Digital Worlds initiative funded by the Library of Congress. He has long been an instigator and an innovator in the emerging area of archiving games for historical analysis and has both produced prominent scholarship and taken part in groundbreaking archiving projects that continue to shape how we understand the historical importance of video games.

In 2011 Barwick, Dearnley, and Muir published an essay in Games and Culture that offered an overview and analysis of the most recent efforts in digital game preservation, wherein they concluded, “The preservation of computer games at present is based on imperfect solutions – the collection, storage, and display of computer games and paraphernalia, with arguably the more important issue of preserving gameplay being beset by legal ramifications” (387). These problems persist, they suggest, despite efforts by academic institutions, private and public museums, and state apparatuses to overcome them. Lowood’s work is largely directed toward proposing solutions for these obstacles, something he has accomplished by modeling preservationist and historical research that productively interrogates and successfully navigates a variety of academic, legal, and material concerns.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253014993

7. Keeping It Real: Sports Video Game Advertising and the Fan-Consumer

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

Cory Hillman and Michael L. Butterworth

IN THE UNITED STATES, FEW, IF ANY, CULTURAL ACTIVITIES, products, or experiences are immune to the often unrestrained hands of commercialism, marketing, and advertising in the ambitious and overzealous pursuit of audiences and consumers. Sports are especially subject to these conditions, evidenced by the following examples: advertisers spent approximately $10.9 billion on national sports broadcasts between the final quarter of 2010 through September 2011; NBC paid the International Olympic Committee $2.2 billion to broadcast the 2010 and 2012 Winter and Summer Olympics; CBS and Turner Broadcasting agreed to pay nearly $11 billion to the NCAA for the rights to the annual men’s college basketball tournament. Divisional realignment in college football has also been stimulated by the desire to create “megaconferences” in the chase for lucrative television packages with major networks, and the NCAA’s decision to determine its national champion of college football’s Football Bowl Subdivision with a four-team playoff beginning in 2014 came with estimates that the tournament could be worth as much as $6 billion.1 Meanwhile, fans spent $3.2 billion on Major League Baseball (MLB) team merchandise in 2011, marking an 8.1 percent increase from the previous season, and the typical NFL fan spends approximately $60 on apparel, snacks, and other merchandise during the week of the Super Bowl.2

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253012531

9. The Importance of Playing in Earnest · Rachel Wagner

HEIDI CAMPBELL Indiana University Press ePub

Rachel Wagner

THE ERROR PEOPLE TEND TO MAKE THE MOST IN THINKING about games and religion is to assume that the primary opposition at work is the idea that religion is “serious” whereas games are “fun.” I propose that a more accurate distinction is between being earnest as opposed to being insincere in one’s engagement with the ordered world views that religions and games can evoke. The importance of constructing systems or worlds of order into which people may willingly enter is a key feature of both religions and games. The greatest offense in both experiences is to break the rules, that is, to become an apostate, an infidel, a cheater, or a trifler, to fail to uphold the principal expectations about how to inhabit that particular experience’s world view. To fail in being earnest in following the rules is to cause a disruption of order, a breach in the cosmos-crafting activity that both games and religion can provide. Of course, not all experiences of religious practice and gameplay will fit this definition, but many of them do. This, I propose, is a fundamental similarity between religion and games, generally speaking: both are, at root, order-making activities that offer a mode of escape from the vicissitudes of contemporary life, and both demand, at least temporarily, that practitioners give themselves over to a predetermined set of rules that shape a world view and offer a system of order and structure that is comforting for its very predictability. While it is true that games offer such ordered worlds on a temporary basis and religion attempts to make universal claims to such rule-based systems, the root impulse of entering into ordered space reveals a deep kinship between religion and games that is startling and evocative.

See All Chapters
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

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253012531

2. Locating the Pixelated Jew: A Multimodal Method for Exploring Judaism in The Shivah · Isamar Carrillo Masso and Nathan Abrams

HEIDI CAMPBELL Indiana University Press ePub

Isamar Carrillo Masso and Nathan Abrams

THE VIDEO GAME THE SHIVAH (WADJET EYE GAMES, 2006) opens with the epigraph: “A Goy [non-Jew] came up to Rabbi Moishe to ask, ‘Why do rabbis always answer with a question?’ to which Rabbi Moishe replied, ‘Why not?’ ” In a similar Talmudic style, this chapter opens with a question: “Where has the pixelated Jew gone?” In popular culture, images of the Jew have been examined over many formats – art, film, television, cartoons, comics, graphic novels, online, and so on – but to date, despite their prevalence, images of Jews in video games have yet to be fully explored. This is partly because, in general, representations of race and ethnicity in video games are relatively unexplored and thus undertheorized.1 Furthermore, given the volume of research dedicated to analyzing the Jewish contribution to American visual culture, such as film,2 it is surprising to note that comparatively little work has been done on Judaism as a distinctive set of religious practices, behaviors, beliefs, and values. As a consequence, it is possible to read entire books on these subjects that have almost no references to Judaism qua Judaism.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253012531

3. The Global Mediatization of Hinduism through Digital Games: Representation versus Simulation in Hanuman: Boy Warrior Xenia Zeiler

HEIDI CAMPBELL Indiana University Press ePub

Xenia Zeiler

RESEARCH ON DIGITAL GAMES AND RELIGION HAS PRIMARILY concentrated on European and U.S. settings. Asian developments, except the Muslim Middle Eastern contexts of Syria and Palestine, have long been nearly completely overlooked.1 This is even truer when it comes to digital games that are related to Hindu and Buddhist traditions, regions, and audiences. Though in the first decade of the twenty-first century, several aspects of Hindu and Buddhist religions and digital media, namely the internet, began to be increasingly researched, so far this research has not extended to digital games.2 This is surprising since surveys, statistics, and projections on the role and importance of digital games in Asia or for audiences with Asian Hindu or Buddhist backgrounds regularly describe an ever larger percentage of users, as well as rapidly growing markets in the near future.

In this chapter I analyze Hindu deities and narratives in Indian-produced digital games and focus on disclosing negotiations of Hindu authority and identity in gaming contexts. I do so by discussing the first entirely India-developed digital game based on Hindu mythology, Hanuman: Boy Warrior (Aurona Technologies Hyderbad for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, 2009), a console game produced for PlayStation 2. This game has caused heated debate on the appropriateness of incorporating Hindu deities in gaming environments. The debate surrounding the game has focused on the concepts of simulation and performance as opposed to the (pure) representation of Hindu deities, such as Hanuman, who is a major character in the Indian epic Ramayana and is mentioned in other important Hindu scriptures.

See All Chapters
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.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253017154

1. Nolan Bushnell: Learning from the Past

David S. Heineman Indiana University Press ePub

NOLAN BUSHNELL IS THE PERSON MOST OFTEN ASSOCIATED with the origins of video games as a commercial enterprise. His list of “firsts” in the industry reads like an outline for the study of early gaming history: he created both the first commercial arcade game (Computer Space) and the first commercially successful one (Pong); he was a founding partner of the first wildly successful video game company, Atari; and he was instrumental in developing and curating content for arcades in both its “golden age” and in its “Chuck E. Cheese era,” named for the gaming-themed chain of family restaurants that he created. Though video games’ earliest beginnings would predate the launch of Atari by almost thirty years, their migration out of university computer laboratories and student unions coincided with Bushnell’s emergence as a shrewd evangelist of their potential to capture both a wider audience’s attention and, importantly, their coins.

Bushnell’s enthusiasm for games started early. He was one of the fortunate few who had the opportunity to play Spacewar! on the PDP-1 with the game’s creator, Steve Russell, an experience that Bushnell recalls as “mesmerizing.” “I spent every minute I could in that computer lab” (Bushnell in Melissinos and O’Rourke 24). He has been a longtime advocate of games that are centered on repayable, challenging mechanics over those that feature bloat, spectacle, and easy titillation.1 His influential perspective on game design was succinctly explained in 1971: “All the best games are easy to learn and difficult to master. They should reward the first quarter and the hundredth.” Recently, he has suggested that his “great hope” for such game design principles “is that video game methodology has an ability to communicate with young minds in an amazing way” (Bushnell in Melissinos and O’Rourke 25).

See All Chapters
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.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253017154

2. Chris Melissinos: Art and Video Games

David S. Heineman Indiana University Press ePub

IN HIS YEARS AT SUN MICROSYSTEMS, CHRIS MELISSINOSS official title was, in part, that of an “evangelist,” a role associated with street preaching, door knocking, dogmatism, and conversion. Those who hired him for the position of “chief evangelist and chief gaming officer” were no doubt themselves initially taken aback by his infectious enthusiasm for technology and, specifically, for video games. Talking about his time at Sun some years later, in an interview addressing the opening of the exhibition The Art of Video Games that he curated for the Smithsonian Art Museum, Melissinos reflected on having the opportunity to express his hope for technology’s future while at a Java Developers conference in 2009. “I made the point that technology is wonderful, and it gives us the opportunity to do many things, however none of it matters if we don’t find the humanity in it” (Bednarz).

If The Art of Video Games attempted to argue one thing, it is that a productive route to finding the humanity in technology is to approach that technology as an art form. Melissinos’s exhibit made a strong case that video games in particular might be understood as the work of artists who skillfully write beautiful code on the constrained canvas of a particular platform, who design experiences that provoke complex thoughts and actions from their audiences, or who merge existing art forms (music, illustration, acting, and more) into a novel expression of humanity.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253012531

8. Filtering Cultural Feedback: Religion, Censorship, and Localization in Actraiser and Other Mainstream Video Games · Peter Likarish

HEIDI CAMPBELL Indiana University Press ePub

Peter Likarish

USERS DONT ALWAYS PLAY THE SAME GAME. TWO GAMERS rush home with copies of a recent entry in their favorite fighting game series, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi (Atari, 2007). One lives in Japan, the other in the United States. Both tear open the packaging, choose their favorite character, and start fighting others from the television series. In numerous bouts with Vegita, Goku, and other popular characters, the game experience is nearly identical aside from the language displayed on the screen. Then, a strange thing happens. Both recognize their next opponent from the Dragon Ball Z television series, but the U.S. player faces off against Hercule, while the Japanese player fights Mr. Satan. Or the two may be adventuring in the classic role-playing game Earthbound (Nintendo, 1995). Their characters have been gravely wounded and both head toward a big white building with numerous windows. The Japanese player sees the nearly universal Red Cross symbol next to the Japanese kanji for hospital. The American’s character approaches the same building in the same location. The word “Hospital” is still emblazoned on the building, but the cross is gone. In each case, the two purchased the same game. The vast majority of the content is the same. What accounts for the differences?

See All Chapters
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.

See All Chapters

Load more