Alex Galloway will be disappointed to see this. All the hoopla surrounding the Hot Coffee Mod has discouraged modders in general. The external threat of legislation is thus impinging on the development of protocol. This is an aspect Galloway hardly discusses in his book.. Protocol is universal and as such offers itself for use to all with the requisite knowledge. But what does it matter if those with the knowledge fold due to external pressures and frustrations?
(there) are people who feel totally betrayed that either just hang out for the community side and could care less about GTA anymore, or have left altogether. (one key GTA modder) pretty much came to the conclusion that Jack Thompson and company were right about Rockstar being heartless, greedy, exploitationists and quit. And that guy had been around since the days of alt.games.grand-theft-auto on usenet.
We can see the same issues raised here, with Jack Thompson who has filed a cease and desist against Midway because someone created a character resembling him with the game’s Kreate-A-Fighter feature.
Alex Galloway was here yesterday and I had the priveledge of spending some time with him. I went to lunch with Galloway along with members of our class, then invited him to our class, and followed that with his lecture on Chains of Triumph and Webs of Ruin [i’ll post the podcast when it becomes available].
He is an interesting guy. Grew up in Seattle, went to Duke and studied with Jameson and Hardt, works at NYU. He really does something that few others can do, namely, marxist materialist analysis on infomatics. Plus, he plays plenty o’ video games.
In fact, he pretty much convinced me to try World of Warcraft. I already ran home and looked up the South Park episode:
What interests me most about this video is the way it plays off the separation of gaming life and lived experience. That division is pretty much the sole source of humor in the episode. It often manifests itself in the conflict between the excitement of narrative and the physical requirements of play. This is seen in the end of the clip when Stan’s dad tries to give him the sword and doesn’t know how. The narrative is undercut by what Galloway would call a nondiegetic requirement, calling up the inventory menu, etc. The scene is funny and then Stone and Parker exaggerate the emotional import of the action. Still, this is a moment that emphasises part of Galloway’s point, that the nondeigetic is gameplay, is part of the ‘narrative’ informing the action. I find this point important because it emphasizes the activity while deemphasizing the sort of out-of-body experience discourse usually used to describe gaming.
This is Gonzalo Frasca’s column at Serious Games Source this week. His basic claim is that not all games are AAA block busters and so different kinds and genres of games should be judged differently. For example, the success of a game like the Zidane headbutt game is different than that of say GTA.
I agree with Frasca, for the most part. Games do not need to be fun. In fact, I think that for the kinds of serious games he advocates to be effective they must unvariably be unfun. But, Frasca goes a little too far here:
he Zidane game was popular because it spoke to people about something that they cared about.
I can’t really buy that people found the headbutt game touched their sensibilities. Its kind of funny, but it does nothing to open up the issue nor does it speak to the event. It merely mocks it in pretty uninteresting fashion. This game does not speak.
The other game he references is Darfur is Dying and here I think he gets a little closer to what an effective newsgame or serious game should do:
Surely, Darfur is Dying’s gameplay could be better. So what? Who cares if it is not fun? What matters is that it is a product sound enough for people to play and learn more about a current event. Personally, before playing the game, the only thing that I knew about Darfur is that people were talking about it on the news. Because of the game, I googled more info and learned more about the situation. That is what turns this kind of game into a real success, regardless of graphics, replayability and fun.
Frasca is on point here when he identifies the effectiveness of the game as its sending him out to find out more about Darfur. This has to be how serious game affect their audiences, i think. At some point the game has to send the player out into the world.
My only question is to what degree the game sent him to look for more info. From one prespective, despite his self-reported lack of interest, he must have been somewhat inclined to look up info on Darfur because he elected to play a game called Darfur is Dying. How affective is the game in reaching the truly unaware? Perhaps an unanswerable question, but an important one, i think, if serious games are really to become a more expansive ideological tool.
These essays study why and how players meaningfully play Grand Theft Auto games, reflecting on the elements of daily life that are represented in the games.
I am very excited. We hadn’t even seen the table of contents yet, but I do know that Ian Bogost, who, among other things, maintains Watercooler Games with Gonzalo Frasca, who I cite often and who also works on Watercooler. I don’t know which is Bogost, but I like the idea of being in a book with him.
This is my first publication and the first time I tried out cultural studies or technoculture in general. I have been trying to back off the technostudies/game studies track in an attempt to cultivate a marginal expertise in some specialized area. However, opertunities keep arising in the gaming. Who knows?
Anyway, for the present, I am happy to be in a book that costs more than I would be willing to pay for it.