AoIR8 Day 2: Friday early morning: Game Studies: Technology/Code/Culture

1. Race, Sex and a perpetually (re)constructing world: EverQuest and representation – Keith Massie
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EverQuest study. Lit review: women and gaming, race and EQ.
Mapped the different races in EQ to offscreen races.
Half-elves are always white, so humans can only have relations with high or wood elves?

[EQ seems to just follow standard fantasy conventions. Who’s responsibility is it to critique them?]

%rare = # rare classes / total races
Average %rare = 40%
white races were over, blacks under

Clothes are different on male/female avatars.

[From the screenshot, I’d reckon it’s EQ2.]

Male and female body animations are different where females are represented as weaker.

Looked at NPCs in the hub Planes of Knowledge.
Minorities and females did not hold the same kinds of roles as white males.
One of the suburbs is a cyber-ghetto. It’s visually dilapidated and is where all the black NPCs are.

[Still… ok, now what? Devs, gamers, who?]

2. The Wii-volution will not be televised: The XNA-cution of a business model – Casey O’Donnell
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Game company structures (eg. Activision owns a bunch of development houses and contracts others who might use resources from each other).

The Wii is not the real revolution happening in the games industry right now. The real one is Microsoft’s XNA agenda, opening up the tools and resources for game development. Despite what Nintendo says, Wii-ware is too cumbersome and costly for indie and hobbyists.

By not being completely open to developers, lots of people have to reinvent the wheel. And the fact that new consoles come out pretty regularly, the same people have to reinvent the wheel yet again to be able to use the new tools and such with the new consoles.

Microsoft has released XNA Express which has great promise for opening up game development. Open-source developers are great at making common libraries that span platforms and participate in a community of sharing.

3. Video game appropriation through modifications: Attitudes concerning intellectual property among fans and modders – Hector Postigo
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Understand cultural production through understanding modders and their tension with companies that own the properties being modded. “Prosumers” = merging of producers with consumers. [Maybe “conducers” would be better to not confuse with the term from video camera world? :)]

Superficially, there’s copyright law and other external constraints to modding, but there’s also internal constraints represented by community norms. So what happens when community norms clash with external constraints.

Example: GI Joe modding for Battlefield 1942 – they stopped when they got cease and desist from Hasbro with lots of fan lament and talk and flames. Then a different group made a GI Joe mod for Battlefield 2. And they were very open about not caring about copyright, using the badge of DeCSS.

Moral economy (from Jenkins): the norms defined by the community as the appropriate materials.

Moral economy of modders is finding a balance between love and constraints.

4. I am the camera: MMO machinima, posthuman agency, and textures of emergent culture – Cassandra Van Buren
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Critical posthuman theory and film studies (cinematic apparatus and ideology) to look at machinima.
Complex formation of flesh-space and avatar as camera/object.
Machinima is a way to hack narrative.

Different levels of remove (posthuman) – the body becoming machine. (cf. Haraway, Fukuyama, Thacker, Hayles (How We Became Posthuman, Writing Machines, My Mother Was a Computer))
Supposedly easier, cheaper, and more democratic than flesh actors and films.

What assumptions are operating in machinima? Do makers believe they have control?

For now machinima is a young white male thing. For now.
Could use posthuman masculinity (instead of geek masculinity) to describe this new shift where a different system of attributes are valued.

Double process going on, removed from flesh body *and* removed from in-game avatar.
Human -> avatar -> camera

Posthuman theory might be a way to get at the tension between ludology and narratology.

5. Devices of our own making: Control, structure, and law from the Bottom up – TL Taylor
Played the “more dots” audio for us. [Does she know about the Flash movie?]
Guild apps and mods for high-end control.
How do mods act as management tools? Assemblage is what’s important.

Mods change the nature of the game, not just superficial ui tweaks.
Mods also act as an agent. “You are the bomb.”
As if power-gaming sensibility has been exported to the masses. Normalizes gaming.

[So, not all raid groups use mods the same way. CTMod could be used by some to monitor progress and identify bottlenecks; with others, could be used to blame those who make mistakes. It’s all highly socially contextual.]

QA: do mod makers follow open-source or do they follow traditional development models? [Uh lots of talk that I didn’t write down.]
Q from Lisa Nakamura: does machinima use a diverse cast or do they also represent minorities and females less?

3 thoughts on “AoIR8 Day 2: Friday early morning: Game Studies: Technology/Code/Culture”

  1. yupyup, I know about the movie but I sort of like the pure audio experience of the file. Also, do you know if the movie was done by anyone in the guild? I seem to recall when I saw it that it looked like more a 3rd party thing.

  2. Yes, I think a 3rd party, but it might help audience members who have no idea what goes on in a raid get a sense of it, though, of course, it has a satire/make fun of them bent.

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