I participated in Day of DH 2012. This is the second year I’ve participated in this international, collaborative journaling of what DHer’s actually DO all day. Today wasn’t a very “digital” kind of day for me. In fact, the majority of the day was spent on meetings and activities tangentially related to digital humanities. So, I pitched my Day of DH posts as testament to the array of topics I end up speaking to as a specialist in media more generally. Eventually, I want to compile a survey of my experiences with all the often unanticipated practical/logistical issues that arise when a smaller, liberal arts college decides to get into digital humanities. For now, though, I’m pleased to have contributed to the Day of DH project again and I hope my posts prove useful in some way.
I was recently asked by Colette Bennett for comments for an article on the release of ThatGamingCompany’s Journey. Originally, she pitched it as a story on the burgeoning genre of “zen games,” or games designed to promote relaxation rather than spike adrenaline. As I was preparing my remarks, I started to wonder whether we were talking about this genre of games in the right terms. I am an English professor, after all.
What struck me was that while I knew exactly what kind of games fall into this category, the concept of gaming as a meditative practice spun me into a bunch of games and game experiences that wouldn’t seem to qualify. Playing “Green Grass and High Tides” on Expert in Rock Band is a “zen” experience for me. To get through the complex passages I have to get in this state of vacant attention where I can’t really hear the music and if I think about what my hands are doing I mess up. But rhythmic thrashing and barrage of color and sound that characterize Rock Band would appear to be the opposite of a “zen game.” Continue reading “Notes toward the concept of contemplative gaming”