81 Chapters
Medium 9780253014993

4. The Social and Gender in Fantasy Sports Leagues

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

Luke Howie and Perri Campbell

Since the mid-1990s, fantasy sports participation has grown at a significant rate. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, just under thirty-two million people over twelve years old play fantasy sports in North America (including Canada). In the United Kingdom, two million people participate in fantasy Premier League soccer games.1 The financial impact of fantasy sports is measured in billions of euros and dollars.2 Most people cite early 1980s rotisserie baseball leagues as the precursors to the contemporary online fantasy sports experience, but there is some evidence that rudimentary forms of fantasy sports have existed since the mid-1950s.3

In this chapter we provide an account of ongoing research being conducted with the members of a long-running fantasy NBA league based in Australia and their wives and partners. The league began in the late 1990s as a hobby for ten friends who had attended high school or college together, and all played competitive basketball, some to professional and semiprofessional levels. It is played online but features many offline supplementary activities, including a live offline draft party, elaborate mechanisms for choosing the draft order (referred to by participants as the “lottery”), and detailed, ongoing discussions about strategies, statistics, and trades taking place year-round. There are benefits to understanding fantasy sports as a site for advertising and marketing, as gambling, and as a problematic regulatory field.4 We are studying fantasy sports leagues as a social occurrence that takes place in online and offline realms where gender matters and takes various hegemonic forms.

See All Chapters
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.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253017154

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.”

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253012531

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

HEIDI 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 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

See All Chapters