Day of DH 2012

Day of DH 2012 logoI 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.

Notes toward the concept of contemplative gaming

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