Archive for the ‘New Media’ Category

Crazy Desperation

You haven’t updated your status in three fucking hours! What’s wrong with you! (Photo by Eneas de Troya, Creative Commons License)

I’ve been taking a break from Facebook for several days.  But it seems Facebook doesn’t like being “on a break.”

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Today I would like to start a discussion on the artistic integrity of games with 3 topics in particular in mind: revised endings, HD upconverts, and extended editions.  When I say revised endings, I’m talking about the Bioware idea of trying to revise the ending after having already released the game.  HD upconverts and reboots refers things such as Age of Empires II’s new HD edition that was recently released on steam.  Extended Editions I find to be something of a misnomer because in this case my example is the extended edition of Anna which I would argue is not so much an extended edition as the developer releasing an entirely new version of their game and saying “Wait! Wait! Give us a second chance!”  I have very mixed feelings on each of these.  They have merits, but there is a question of whether the change is too much and thus irrevocably and sometimes even negatively affects the game.  Let’s go through each of these and then see what kind of discussion we can generate. (more…)

Dear Esther is, in short, complicated.  It’s hard to describe.  In my brief research, the best description I have been able to find is “graphical masterpiece”, which was the description given by Joe Martin in his review for bit-tech.  Graphical masterpiece, however, does not really account for the music or the feelings it evokes, so maybe something more along the lines of sensuous masterpiece or a beautiful invocation of the senses, but neither of those quite sound right and that is not what I’m here to talk about.  I am here to talk about what Dear Esther is.  It is very complicated and certainly up for discussion so here goes. (more…)

Trolls at Play

CC Copyright by Betsythedevine

It is a truth universally acknowledged that despite personal hard disks that can store more information than the average public library, new search technologies, multiple ways of organizing a lifetime of intellectual endeavor into files, and folders, and libraries, if you nevertheless set out to find one single known file on your laptop you will never, ever locate it.  You will be condemned to an eternity of playing the “You know, I’m sure I remember I had a file about. . . ” game.  Serendipity, however, still holds a powerful sway over our actions, and sometimes the fruitful search for what we knew once existed turns up something we had forgotten we’d ever had.

Such was the case recently when I was searching for an article I was sure that I had written a number of years ago.  As I was about to conclude that I must have dreamed it, I stumbled across an antique e-mail in my draft folder, a message that I’d written back in October of 2005 but never sent.  Why I never sent it I don’t remember.  Clearly it was an e-mail that was involved in a rather intense discussion so maybe I was doing that all-too-rare of human actions: hesitating before I actually sent an e-mail.  But since this is me, that is unlikely.  Maybe I felt the discussion had been beaten to death or wouldn’t be of interest to others.  Maybe I hadn’t finished the message, although it looks pretty complete to me now.

Whatever the reason, I was startled to find how closely the e-mail was reflecting many of my current reservations about the rise of the clowd.  This post itself doesn’t explicitly concern games.  But the Bioware/Hepler controversy that I wrote about in my last post has made me realize I need to pay some serious attention to one of the most pervasive myths of the technoosphere: that there is a wisdom in crowds.

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"Why, Oh Why?" by Cayusa. CCLicence.

Sometimes you get a situation where all the worst aspects of our current new media environment collide and form a perfect storm of hideousness.  So when you take Reddit, add in a sprinkling of Twitter and stir it all with a bunch of rabid gaming fanbois you might expect something truly appalling to emerge.

Way back in the gaming Dark Ages (2006) a woman who was then a senior writer for Bioware gave an interview in which she expressed the opinion that game developers should build in an interface option that allowed players who were more interested in story and character interaction to skip the boring combat portions of the game in the same way that most story-driven games allow you to rapidly skip through all the story and dialogue in order to get back to ripping out entrails with a pike.  It is a pretty inoffensive proposal, all things considered.   She never says that games should be less combat-oriented, or that stories should play an even more prominent role, simply that there should be an option that allows for the gameplay preferences of a particular group.

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Bad Times for Love

Bad Times for Love. CC Copyright by Javier Noval

Occasionally you come across something on the Web that forces you to stare unflinchingly into the dark heart of humanity.  Well, OK, on the Web that happens more than occasionally and not simply when you are frequenting 4Chan.  Sometimes, however, the experience isn’t simply repellent and/or tedious but actually illustrates something profound about the evolution of human nature and its vexed relationship with digital technologies.

Recently, my friend Laurie posted an article about the impending Facebook changes from CNN’s Tech blog.  Peter Cashmore’s “You’ll Freak WhenYou See the New Facebook” highlights Facebook’s impending overhaul of its profile pages in order to introduce its new “Facebook Timeline.”  Some of you may in fact have had your profile switched already.  Cashmore acknowledges that most users will probably hate the change initially but then they will think it is the greatest thing since Al Gore invented the Internet:

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Pissing on Facebook

Now that is Streaming Media

An open letter to all my Facebook friends.
Is this really the best we can do?

I did some interesting things to day:

  • I went to a museum with my students, looked at stuff, got lost, distracted, ended up in a place I never intended to be and learned something new, engaged in random and unpredictable conversations with students and, twice, with a complete stranger;
  • I sat around a table over food and drink with my students and a colleague and talked about everything from writing to shopping for shoes to near misses with DC traffic to communications technologies.
  • I walked around in public with my students in the rain talking about our lives.
  • I wandered up to our department offices for no particular reason just to see who was there and engage them in random conversations about anything whatsoever.
  • On my way into the library, I spotted a librarian friend whom I hadn’t seen in several weeks and just went over to talk with her about nothing in particular. . .a conversation that suddenly turned thought-provokingly particular.

The day isn’t two thirds over yet and I’m exhausted.  Talking with people face-to-face, especially in groups, you never know what is going to happen.  Things get unpredictable very quickly and you have to work hard to keep up.  But people inspire you, provoke you, piss you off, and you feel better at the end of it, larger somehow, more substantial.

The latest Facebook overhaul (really just the first stage in a comprehensive roll-out of new services and functions) promises to leave me feeling a lot less exhausted in the future.  It also promises to leave me, or rather, to leave all  of us, shadows of our former selves.