January 6, 2010 Archives

Read Amer Ajami's GameSpot review of Jedi Outcast (three parts), and compare it to Ian "Always Black" Shanahan's "Bow, N*gger."

This article, State of Play, will help you pin down the differences. I am far more interested in the issues raised by Shanahan's piece than the precise, technical analysis presented by Ajami. Ajami's review is perfectly good for what it is -- an assessment of a commercial product, useful for those who are considering buying it. On the other hand, Shanahan's piece opens up a huge array of emotional and intellectual possibilities.

Several of you noted that you found the thoughtful review of Myst to be more interesting than the by-the-book review of Lego Indiana Jones.  As we continue to develop our ability to look at games critically, and to articulate what we find, our exposure to "New Games Journalism" will help us identify ways to go beyond "How do you play?" and "Is it fun?"

So... what do *you* think is valuable in new games journalism?  How does it relate to the gaming anecdote that you wrote for Ex 1? What problems and limitations do the readers and writers of new games journalism face?

Due Today:

Ex 2: Game Review

Write a review (about 500 words) of any game you have played recently, on any platform. Follow the conventions of a good game review.

Ground-breaking games Atari Adventure (actually 1979), Rogue, and Mystery House

Assigned Text:

Mystery House Gameplay

A 2006 review of the 1980 Mystery House reflects the impatience modern gamers may feel with this title, but still respects the game's historical importance

It's a long review... skip to http://www.sydlexia.com/mysteryhouse7.htm

Assigned Text:

Atari Adventure Gameplay

There's a good reason why games of this era often depended on text to deliver subtlety and depth. Strongbad really wasn't far off when he made fun of "Secret Collect."

Play Atari Adventure online yourself. (Those duck-like dragons are beloved icons in the retrogaming community.)

Assigned Text:

Rogue Gameplay

There are 4 separate pages in this Gamasutra article on Rogue:

I wasn't able to find a good video walkthrough of Rogue (the term is just too generic, and YouTube turns up far too many false positive hits.)

So, before you try sampling Rogue online, watch a video of an experienced player talking us through a more modern "Roguelike" game, Ancient Domains of Mystery.

Note that the epic music was just added by the videographer -- it's not actually being supplied by the game.

Assigned Text:

Williams and Smith

Introduction (1-15)

What can you tell about how the audience of this book differs from the audience for Koster's book? How is that difference likely to affect the content? What reading strategies have you developed to improve your interactions with this kind of text?

Update, 04 Jan: Smith was kind enough to send me a near-final copy of the introduction, which I have posted on GriffinGate under "Handouts." If your textbook hasn't arrived, the e-text will buy you a little more time.

I've reported marks for all the Ex 2 submissions that were in the slot as of about 3pm. I enjoyed reading them, and learned quite a bit about your gaming preferences (and about games I haven't played).

As always, please let me know if you have any questions about upcoming work.

Upcoming Work

Online Participation

  • Before I quit for the day (around 5:30 or 6) I will close down the discussion for the first day's topics. If you haven't returned to reply/respond/reflect on the issues your peers brought up, you have a bit more time.
  • Susan has done a fantastic job putting good content and engaging with me on her blog.  She started posting early, she has insightful things to say, and she responds quickly.  I hope to see more evidence of peers talking to each other, too.  Great work, Susan. 
  • Cody's response to peer-chosen readings attracted a comment from someone connected to a website that hosts debates; the poster recommended his own resources on the violence-in-games debate. The commenter is doing a little self-promotion on our blog, but I didn't flag it as spam because the content really is relevant.  This is early evidence that if you post something online that's relevant and current, people outside the class will find it useful.
  • I liked Matt's observation about the humanity of Pac-Man, and it looks like the stirrings of a good conversation are brewing on Keith's comparison of a traditional and new games review article, Jeremy's discussion of the merits of Pac-Man's simplicity, and Beth Anne's comparison of the of the thoughtful Myst review and the informative Lego Indy 2 review.
  • I also enjoyed reading pepole's reactions to Mystery House, Rogue, and Adventure.  (Keith, I've posted a link to a site that lets you play Rogue, so perhaps the video will make more sense now.  Let me know.)
  • Jessie added a video clip to liven up her review of Assassin's Creed II (I think we know what game you've been playing lately, Jessie!)
  • Shellie says she's never thought so much about "fun" before, and she finds it's kind of fun to look closely at fun. (I'm looking forward to hearing more from you on that as the course progresses, Shellie.)
  • There's a lot more great stuff out there. What did you find that you thought was worth talking about? If you create a blog entry in which you link to the online discussions you think are worth promoting, not only will you be able to find those discussions later, you will encourage other people to follow the link and join in.
Remember that one of the ways you can earn credit for the peer review is by being the first to post a comment on a peer's blog entry, and I am asking everyone to post 2-4 comments on peer blogs for every assigned reading.  Let your classmates know when they've shared a thought that helps you, and join in your voice when your classmates ask for your opinion. 
Readings & Reading Quizzes

Tomorrow morning, the readigns for the first section of Koster are due. 

Update, 5:30pm: The GriffinGate quizzes for the introduction to Williams & Smith and Koster from x-109 are open. 

They are (generously) timed, not because I really think each one will take 60 minutes, but so that you will have the time to search and re-read.  These quizzes are open book, but you should already be familiar with the readings before you start the quizzes.

This set is due at 11:55pm on Thursday, and your score will be reflected in your online participation grade.  (Since this is the first serious batch of GriffinGate readings quizzes, I've set the system to accept half-credit late submissions for another 24 hours.)

I'll be happy to answer any questions.


I've posted 20 minutes of an introduction to the concept of theory in game studies.  It's one of the discussion topics for tomorrow.  Post a thoughtful response on your own blog, and then create the two-way links that I mentioned in yesterday's note.

Peer Review

Note that there is a related activity, a peer-review exercise, that was open this morning at 11 and continues for 24 hours.  From within Turnitn.com, you'll be asked to read 3 game reviews written by your peers, and answer some questions about each one.  Then your answers will be sent anonymously to your peer. (Be honest, but also be constructive.  Your negative points will have more merit if you can also make solid good points about strengths.)

NGJ Proposal

Also due tomorrow morning is your proposal for a new games journalism article.  (See tomorrow's schedule for the link to that page.)

Recent Comments

Shellie Polly on Theory and Games: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Mic
Beth Anne Swartzweld on Participation Portfolio 1: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Eli
Matt Takacs on Participation Portfolio 1: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Mat
Jeremy Barrick on Participation Portfolio 1: My finished product: http://b
Susan Carmichael on Participation Portfolio 1: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Sus
Jeremy Barrick on Participation Portfolio 1: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Jer
Susan Carmichael on Koster, 110-139: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Sus
Beth Anne Swartzweld on Jerz and Adams: Storytelling in Computer Games: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Eli
Beth Anne Swartzweld on Case Study: Zork: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Eli
Keith Campbell on Jerz and Adams: Storytelling in Computer Games: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/Kei
          1 2
03 04 05 06 07 08 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30