Tag Archives: gdc

March 2012 update

Wow, a lot has happened in a month.

Finished replaying Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: How Many Subtitles Can We Add. I played TSL with the Restored Content Mod (1.7), and, because of it, the game was amazingly good–better than the first one, even. I played these to remind myself of the references that I’d been seeing in Star Wars: The Old Republic back in Dec/Jan, but since finishing those two games, I haven’t really had much time to hop back into SWtOR.

Instead, I went to the Digital Media and Learning conference, March 1-3 in San Francisco. It was good, but the most progressive and interesting stuff came from panel talks and hallway conversations, imho, not the keynote or plenary sessions. I think this has to do with who I am, as the main events were a lot of proselytizing to teachers and policy makers. While the conference was happening, I started a Google doc to take DML 2012 collaborative notes (like the previous two years and at other conferences I attend). This year, we got some pretty good coverage (thanks to Cathy Tran and Kat Schenke).

Hung out in San Francisco *during* Game Developers Conference, March 5-9, and, as luck would have it, someone gave me their pass on Wednesday since they were leaving early. I totally squandered it and mainly went to the expo, but I did see a really great talk by Rich Lemarchand. The energy at GDC put DML to shame, and surprisingly, the innovative game play and talks that I did go to I felt were better and more substantial than those at DML. Too bad, it costs 17 times more to go to GDC than DML.

Was introduced to Draw Something, the mobile game where you and a friend guess what each other are drawing, kind of like Pictionary. I love how it’s encouraging a lot of people who don’t normally “do art” draw and be creative. It’s pretty much taken over as my idle activity of choice, leaving my twitter feed languishing.

Played Mass Effect 3, March 11-18. (Massive) spoiler warning!!!



Spoilerz aheadz!



There’s a bit of controversy over the ending. I thought the ending took away player agency in a way that was dissatisfactory, not letting me make choices that I thought Commander Shepard would make. (The most awesome rewrite of the ending is, by contrast, very satisfactory, and I’ll pretend that’s how it ended.) The synthesis ending is completely bizarrely space magic. And when I think about the whole game, I am a little disappointed that so much of if felt like I was just hitting a button to continue to watch the cutscenes play out. In many cases, there wasn’t really a choice to make, and most of the cutscenes felt like Bioware was just dotting Is and crossing Ts, methodically tying up loose ends from the previous two games.

These activities and events have basically prevented me from attending to my inbox, and it will take me a while to go through everything I marked with a star to check out later.


Digital Media and Learning conference 2011

Last week I went to Long Beach, CA for the Digital Media and Learning conference. It was great meeting a ton of people (too many to list, sorry), sharing a room with Moses Wolfenstein and Sean Duncan, having breakfast with fellow DML Summer Institute people, getting dinner with fellow Terror Novans, and seeing demos of really cool projects (cf below). The highlight of the presentations was definitely the ignite talks–quick 5 minute talks with an auto-advancing slidedeck. One presenter couldn’t make the second ignite session, so Alex Halavais took to the stage and did an improv talk with slides he had never seen before! And it was it was hilarious, on-point, and relevant!

Fiona Barnett's photo of Fab@Home

Last year, Jeremy Hunsinger and I set up an etherpad for the conference where anyone attending could collaboratively take notes and chat about the sessions. This year, I set up the same thing with a Google doc and blasted the url to Twitter periodically. I’m disappointed in the turn-out of the gdoc use, especially given that the theme of many of the talks was about collective and collaborative/participatory production and understanding of cultural artifacts, curricula, etc. I saw many people using laptops and iPads to take notes, but those notes will forever be sequestered, not shared. 🙁

My reasoning is that together we can attend everything. There were 7 concurrent tracks. Together we could have let everyone learn about each one.

As it is, I think the few of us who used the gdoc hit about a quarter of the sessions. I think for next year I’ll suggest an official gdoc or other collaborative note-taking tool be used.

There was also some backchannel activity in an IRC which got pretty snarky. I think that’s fine and quite entertaining but I wish naysayers in that backchannel would ask questions during the sessions they had particular problems with.

Overall, the type of talk around digital media literacies and games took a step backwards, I think… or maybe just treaded water from last year. There’s two things that contributed to this I think. It seemed like this year there were many more people coming from non-profits and non-academic places, so they had to be caught up with new-to-them ideas. Additionally, there was a confluence of people from different disciplinary backgrounds, so they too needed to step back a bit to lay some foundational common language down. One example was the IRC discussion about the label “gamer” and whether someone is a “hardcore” vs. “casual” gamer. I think it was a useful discussion, and, yes, it did help me better articulate things in my head. Yet games people such as the scholars who regularly attend GLS had already covered that ground a year or two ago.

Two highlights of the talks, besides the ignite talks, for me were both in a constructive/destructive technologies panel. Dan Perkel gave a fascinating study of deviantART community-based discussion regarding the sharing of work, ownership, privacy, “safe” space, and the nature of the interwebs. Stuart Geiger gave a very entertaining and eye-opening talk about Wikipedia bots and collective response to automated procedures, touching on guidelines and policies and how they affect user behavior and participation.

Next year, DML (March 1-3) will be in San Francisco right before GDC (March 5-9), so I won’t have to choose between the two again!