81 Slices
  Title Author Publisher Format Buy Remix
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 9780253014993

2. Madden Men: Masculinity, Race, and the Marketing of a Video Game Franchise

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

Thomas P. Oates

IN AUGUST 2012, AS THE RELEASE OF EA SPORTSMADDEN NFL 13 video game approached, a months-long marketing blitz peaked with a series of advertisements featuring actor Paul Rudd and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. In the campaign, the two are presented as close, lifelong friends, whose bond is cemented by periodic Madden NFL marathons. The ads are clearly presented with tongue firmly in cheek. The friendship between Rudd and Lewis is offered as a whimsical premise. Rudd is a recognizable film and television actor, best known for roles playing middle-class white professionals. While appearing to be reasonably fit, he would never be mistaken for an NFL player, and though his movies are frequently about masculine themes (see, for example, I Love You, Man; The 40-Year Old Virgin; and Forgetting Sarah Marshall), he has never played the role of an action hero. Lewis, meanwhile, is black, was raised in poverty by a single mother in Lakeland, Florida, and was a major NFL star at the time, and hence a visible representative of hegemonic masculinity. The joke turns on the premise that despite the seemingly unbridgeable gaps separating affluence from poverty, white from black, icons of masculinity from the average guy, Rudd and Lewis are improbably buddies. Their friendship goes back to the cradle, as Rudd explains in the first ad in the series: “Oh, man, Ray and I have known each other our whole lives. We grew up together. Best friends!” The rest of the campaign shows the two friends playing the video game, engaging in verbal dueling, boasting, and performing other acts that characterize a certain kind of friendly masculine competition.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780892728060

Can you tell where this museum is located?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

If this romantic scene has you imagining an earlier time, picturing bonnets and buckboards, you’re on the right track. Every October the centuries melt away at this small village in the central part of the state and people cross this covered bridge into the 1790s. Men and women in period dress demonstrate what it would have been like to live a pioneer life in the North Woods, working at a water-powered sawmill or a blacksmith shop, spinning or weaving, traveling by buggy and bateaux, and feasting on bean-hole beans. Even the children are busy, dipping candles, making cedar shakes, and peeling potatoes. With the bridge, the mill, log cabins, trapper camps, and nature trails through the woodlands all around, it’s not a bad way to spend the first weekend in October. The museum here is no stranger to living history, dedicated as it is to telling the story of the long-ago lumbering life of the Maine woods. Every autumn it hosts this colorful event, transforming this community of 1,242 into Township Four, the place it used to be. Have you ever stepped across this bridge and back in time? Turn to page 100 if you can identify the museum or the community it is located in.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253012531

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.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780892728060

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.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780892728060

Ever given this precarious boulder a good shove?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Don’t mess with a glacier. That might be the story that this rock star would tell if it could talk. During the Ice Age, a sluggish sheet of ice and snow dragged the boulder some forty miles from its home before depositing it in a precarious position, balanced on a ledge halfway up a famous hill Down East. (According to local lore, the granite it’s made of is of a type that can only be found in Lucerne, a village south of Bangor, so everyone supposes that’s where it originated.) In the years since the ice melted, the plucky boulder has become a tourist attraction simply by sitting here and defying gravity. From the road below it seems certain to fall, and soon. (It also seems smaller than it is — a geology professor at UMaine has called it “about the size of my two-car garage.”) But it isn’t going anywhere. A bulldozer has tried to unseat it, as has an entire high-school football team, both to no avail. During the forties, after a local tragedy that made national headlines, a group decided it was best to remove the glacial erratic before it fell on someone’s head. Thus the bulldozer. The football team came later, and many others have hiked up the hill to give the rock a heave. Lucky for these self-appointed Sisyphuses the stone has a very pretty view — at least in their defeat they’ve had something to look at. Another green mound, much like the one on which the rock sits, lies nearby and beyond it, mountains and sea stretch in a paisley pattern off into the horizon. Turn to page 99 to learn more about this dramatic perch.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780892728060

Have you ever visited this sandy site?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Where’s the water, you ask? It’s an unusual looking beach, to say the least. Maybe it’s not a strand at all. These dunes are indeed in a coastal community, not far from Portland. In fact, it may be Maine’s most-visited seaside town. Difficult as it may be to believe from the look of things now, the site used to be a 300-acre farm producing potatoes, hay, and herds of oxen and sheep. Centuries ago, the hungry animals unearthed the mineral sea beneath the grasses and the farm fell by the wayside. Some geologists think maybe the whole area here used to be an ancient lake. When the winds howl, sandstorms tear across the dunes and there are trees that are half submerged in sand and still alive. In a state famous for its rockbound coast, this vast expanse of sand is something of a geologic anomaly, and wherever there are oddities there are people who’ll pay to look at them. It’s no different here. As they have since the thirties, visitors come in droves, paying the entrance fee and enjoying narrated buggy and walking tours through the sands. Nature trails wander throughout the area, a fifty-site campground is adjacent, and there’s a picnic area and a souvenir shop where you can buy sand paintings, moccasins, and Maine-made crafts of all types. See page 98 to learn more information about this sandy anomaly.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780892728060

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.

See All Chapters
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.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780892728060

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.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253014993

10. Yes Wii Can or Can Wii? Theorizing the Possibilities of Video Games as Health Disparity Intervention

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

David J. Leonard, Sarah Ullrich-French, and Thomas G. Power

THE DEBATE ABOUT EXERGAMING OFTEN APPEARS IN headlines such as “Can Wii Games Replace Regular Exercise?” and “Is the Wii Fit Better than Regular Exercise?”1 In this regard, virtual gaming has been reduced to a binary, a mathematical formula that treats participants as universal subjects and analyzes how well the games transport those bodies into virtual space. It reflects on whether these games have real-life impact on the universal game subject and how these virtual activities compare to their real-life brethren. Take one study from the American Council on Exercise, which after testing sixteen participants on six of Wii’s most challenging games – Free Run, Island Run, Free Step, Advanced Step, Super Hula Hoop, and Rhythm Boxing – concluded that virtual reality was distinctively different from the real world, in that twice as many calories were burned with the real “thing.” Emblematic of much of the discourse, the adherence to the virtual-real binary and its conceptualization of all participants as having equal access and opportunity demonstrate the shortcomings of the discourse surrounding virtual exercise.2 Furthering the establishment of this dualistic framework, the discourse focuses on the caloric impact–energy expenditure rates of virtual exercise games; it works to understand if exergaming is a substitute for real-world exercise. Yet there has been little effort to measure the impact of games on the physical body (core strength, balance) and, more important, the impact of games on identity, knowledge about fitness, health, and nutrition. In the end, these studies, more than the games themselves, disembody people and fail to look at how games change people in a myriad of ways, from the physical to the mental, from identity to self-worth.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780892728060

Can you identify this peaceful oasis?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

People often think that they have to visit this lovely coastal garden during late May and early June, when its signature flowers are in bloom. But the garden is such a stunning little anomaly it’s worth stopping by whenever it’s open. Not only is this Japanese-inspired oasis located on a Maine island, it’s widely considered one of the best in the nation — ranked eleventh in a survey of Japanese gardens in North America. Here you’ll find pretty pathways that wander beside reflecting pools and along a stream, little antique lanterns, stone bridges, and benches for quiet contemplation. The garden was originally built in the late fifties to rescue trees and flowers in danger of being destroyed. The transplanter was given a year to move the substantial collection of prized plants — which he did, installing them in what had been an alder patch across from a historic inn. The garden has undergone many transformations over the years, but it has always ranked among the state’s finest. Stop by during daylight hours from May 1 through October. If you think you know the location of this Far East oasis, turn to page 99.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780892728060

Do you know how this town got its name?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Welcome to New Milford. That’s not what this midcoast village is called these days, of course, and it’s a good thing, too, because that sounds like some place in Connecticut or Massachusetts. No, this cluster of more than a dozen eighteenth- and nineteenth-century buildings is one of two fine, white-clapboard hamlets in a town named for the prevalence of its alder trees. (Most people are more familiar with these two picturesque villages than they are with the town that contains them.) One of the state’s mightiest rivers runs through the community — right under this bridge — and it’s the reason for the town’s being. The forests along its banks were a pre-Colonial and early-American source of masts for ships. Legendary pirate Captain Kidd is said to have buried Spanish doubloons and diamonds in town when he paid a visit in search of spars, and the white pine masts of the USS Constitution spent the winter of 1796–97 here. The heyday of mast production was followed by a lively local shipbuilding industry, an economic mainstay of the community for most of the nineteenth century. Mills of just about every type — saw, grist, stave, shingle, plane, carding, and fulling — were set up in this particular village, and worked away from the late 1700s through the first half of the twentieth century. A freshet flushed out those on the north side of the river in 1896, though, and fire took care of those on the other bank in 1924. When the mills and yards were booming, the town was jumping, like the alewives in the river. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Edwin Arlington Robinson was born in a house on the bank of the river here in 1869, and he rose to fame penning poems about places like Tilbury Town. (But not New Milford.) To see if you’ve ever passed through here, turn to page 98.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780892728060

Are you familiar with this western Maine community?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Perhaps we should really be asking “Where in New Hampshire?” Motorists driving through this western corner of Maine are often unsure which state they’re in. This church is indeed in the Pine Tree State — but just barely. It sits about a mile from the border in a very quiet section of town on a road that slides in and out of the Granite State on its way north. The real question, though, is where is the rest of the village and, why is this sweet, white Unitarian church by itself on a corner with nothing else around but a cornfield? Meetinghouses, as all who have been to New England know, are usually at the very heart of a community. Someone who might have known why this church was built here was Admiral Robert Peary, famed explorer of the Arctic. He was once a surveyor in town. Orator and politician Daniel Webster could have had an explanation, too, or at least would have convinced you that he did — he once wrote deeds here to supplement the income he made as a teacher at the local academy. Hopa-long Cassidy, legendary Western hero, is another proud son of the town, created by resident Clarence Mulford in the early part of the twentieth century. And art great Eastman Johnson once painted landscapes here. But on this pretty late summer day no one seems to be around to ask. It just might be that everyone has gone for a paddle down the state’s most popular canoeing river, which is nearby. Or they could all be at home getting their prize produce together for the local fair — the state’s largest county fair turns this picturesque riverside town into a big carnival at the beginning of October each year. See page 100.

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

Load more