I’ve added some more resources that may be useful to you: A number of articles and research volumes, as well as two example whitepapers (in draft form).
Last week, I talked briefly online about James Paul Gee’s notion of “affinity spaces.” It’s a terrific idea that works very nicely in terms of game culture, but really ramifies across most digital culture.
I’d hoped to have this to you last week, but here is a short chapter of Gee’s to read if you have time, together with a 2.5 page explainer I wrote to contextualize his argument for our purposes.
Take a look, if you have a moment, and see what you think. Later tonight I have a set of whitepapers to share (if I haven’t posted them already) together with sample outlines of student-written work. Look for these after 9PM on Monday 4 May.
Gee, Affinity Spaces
Includes quick intro to Twitch, but mostly an explanation of what whitepapers can do for us.
Yes, this is disorganized. I’m just putting material online: I’ll reorganize it ASAP. Meanwhile, here’s a gamification whitepaper whose title should make you very, very nervous (“Brainhacking employees… for their own benefit”? Really?)
Here’s a terrific example of a whitepaper that happens to be addressing material immediately related to our own interests.
The scholarship on livestreaming is fairly thin, and mostly unable to gain enough traction to make sense of its topic. Why? Because if game studies sometimes had trouble knowing how (and why) to “make sense” of video games, then livestreamed games via Twitch make the challenge ten times greater. Think of the challenges that an older relative — one who typically exhibited scant interest in games or internet culture — might have in “decoding” a Twitch broadcast. Take my mother’s comments, for example:
- “Why would I watch someone play a game?”
- “There are too many things on the screen.”
- “The chat is scrolling too fast I can’t see it.”
- “Why are there so many heads in the chat?”
- “Why doesn’t the player respond to their questions?”
- “Is he going to talk about something on his program?”
- “Is he allowed to vape like that?”
- “Where are the other players?”
- “He doesn’t seem very good at the game. Why would I watch him play this game?”
- “Wait, why are people giving him money?”
One bright spot, though, has consistently been T.L. Taylor’s scholarship, including her recent book, Watch Me Play. I’ve included a copy attached to this post. If you get a chance before Thursday, take a look at Chapter 6, LiveStreaming as Media.
IT IS FOR USE BY MEMBERS OF THIS CLASS ONLY. Do not steal copies of this book.
Updated with one of two audio files, see below.
It is a beautiful Monday morning in Oxford, Ohio, and it will be 63F today. Also: The roof of the house we rent seems to be full of roofers and their hammers, which is both surprising and loud. Let’s consider that a bonus feature of today’s audio recordings.
I’m still editing
the first two recordings for today: Look for those later today.
Update: Here’s a short talk that reprises some of our themes, namely that (1) the forms and methods we can use to talk about technologies like games are often surprising; and (2) that we need to remember that “technology” isn’t a box of wires or a chrome-plated artifact or a snippet of code from a program: It is a means whereby humans extend themselves through space and time. The alphabet, the electric light, the combustion engine cannot be understood insofar as we reduce them to dumb products on a shelf or drawings in a book.
Meanwhile, by a stroke of luck, our consideration of streaming is actually very timely: Be sure to take a look at the clips below, and if you are able (and willing), consider signing up for Facebook’s service and spend some time on one or more streams. What do you think of what you see? How does it compare to Twitch, Youtube’s services?
Articles on Facebook's new platform from CNBC and the Verge are OK, but mainly cover news from NYTimes.
Finally: The reports on streaming from Q1 were out on 1 April: The consultancy Streamlabs provides interpretation of raw figures captured by Stream Hatchet. Reports like this one are now the de facto source of popular analysis of these mind-boggling data.
In some alternate universe version of Miami University, in some eerily similar version of Oxford Ohio, today is the start of spring break. And it is here, too. Kinda.
If you want or need to take some or all of this week in order to regain your balance, I encourage you to do that: The months ahead are going to be difficult. A little time for personal rejuvenation and reflection can be good. We’ll do everything we can to make that work for you, both now and at the semester’s end.
Of course, if you want to return to coursework in earnest, I can get behind that, too. Happily, if complex video games are your thing, then this week offers a fairly pleasant distraction as we get back into schoolwork — by immersing yourself in fantastic worlds that demand your (almost) undivided attention.
The video included in this post offers a quick overview of MMORPGs [Massively-Multiplayer Role-Playing Games] by way of one of the most venerable offerings in that genre, World of Warcraft. The video itself isn’t really a must watch (I’m trying to get the technological kinks ironed out of this new system: There are a lot of plosives in audio track, for example). But whether you are playing Warcraft this semester or are engaged in a different MMORPG altogether, it is worth knowing a bit about that game.
this week’s goals
Near the end of the video, I talk about what I hope you’ll be able to accomplish this week. The goal is for you to achieve some kind of mastery of the game: Its rules, its systems, its avatar-control. Ask yourself, for example: Can you easily take a screen shot? Can you chat when someone prompts you? When another player asks you to trade, can you indulge her? If someone is harrassing you, can you put them on mute? Can you report them? When it is time to level-up your character, do you have a sense of the choices you are asked to make?
None of which is to say that this information will do much for you on its own. But ready-access to that knowledge is a pre-requisite to diving more deeply into these games and the human communities that they foster.
So again, for this week: Play the game. That may not seem like much, but it is really asking a lot: Look for opportunities to engage with others, chat with them, learn from them. Just about anything you do in the field will pay off next week, when we start our fieldwork in earnest.
Look for another post in a day or so.