Sometimes, they are gems (left on a post of definitions from a Hannah Arendt reading from years ago no less):
Can I just say what a relief to search out someone who really knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know find
out how to carry a problem to light and make it important. More individuals must learn this and understand this facet of the story. I cant
imagine youre no more fashionable since you positively have the gift.
I was going to read Zizek’s The Parallax view (since it was the third book bought at the same time as the other two) – but after reading a handful of pages, I realized my head just wasn’t into it. I need to be in the right frame of mind to read Zizek, as much as I love his work.
So – poking around my bookshelf of the many “to read” titles that have been collecting dust, I stumbled upon Kittler’s Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. I am only in the Translator’s Introduction, but so far am quite happy at how it connects to the last two books I’ve read in terms of media & tech history. While I have never been a big fan of psychoanalysis (or Lacan), I am a closet structuralist fan, and quite look forward to seeing what Kittler has to say, and how it fits in with the rest of what I have been reading. ”Not a Review” to come.
Finished reading Lisa Gitelman’s Always Already New: Media, history and the data of culture a few days ago. I have to say, I was quite pleased with it on a few levels. First of all, I bought in at the same time as Hayles’ How We Think. It was completely haphazard - I love Hayles’ work, and Gitelman’s book was recommended to me by a colleague – so it was much to my delight that in the opening pages, Gitelman discusses Hayles’ work – and wraps the book up with thoughts on the digital humanities.
Other than happy connections, I really liked how Gitelman set up the direction of the book. Interesting, clear and pretty to the point that history is not absolute; that it can be told from many perspectives and can (and often should) be cognate of the peripheral contexts that contribute to creating that history. The ‘example’ chapters were really interesting – I never knew that the phonograph was originally invented as a dictation/playback object. As a sociologist, it made me a bit warm and fuzzy to read about the social forces that shaped it into a musical device. Of course, I know that social and economic elements impact/influence/shape the form and function of objects, but often, history tries to be “about the facts” in a way that does no account for the nuanced ways that history is shaped. Indeed, Gitelman talks about the difficulty in tracing such histories of technologies (and objects), since often, it was only the ‘facts’ and milestones that were documented – not the subverted appropriation of the object over time until it is fully re-purposed as was the case of Edison’s phonograph.
I admit to being a bit confused heading into the section on ‘The Question of the Web” as she began with a part on the materiality of card stock and bibliographic content as ‘proof’ that could be constitutionally protected (referring to the 1968 court case of United States v. O’Brien and the burning of a draft card). But as I read along into the transition of digital copies, then digitally created content, I had my “hmmm … aha!” moment I enjoy so much when reading. The last section on the book focused on ARPANET and the development of the web… at first I was a bit ‘oh no, not this … again … ‘ but Gitelman brought be back by focusing not on the technological development (that I’ve read more times than I care to count) but on the process of documenting the process of development.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book – there were a few passages that I marked with a sticky tab for future reference – I would definitely recommend it for a good, thoughtful weekend read.
Program is up and it looks great. June 21-23, 2013. Montreal, QC. Bad timing for me personally (daughter’s high school graduation and kazillion affiliated events start the 21st) but will do my best to get to as many panels as possible – at least it’s local!!
The International Conference on the History of Game is the first event dedicated in its entirety to the ongoing research on the history of games in all its shapes. It brings together many researchers working in such disciplines as media archeology, preservation, museology and the formatting of history, as well as industry professionals. The development of games in the digital era represents the main object of inquiry, but historical research on all ludic manifestations will also be presented.
This is Not a Review: My thoughts on Hayles’ “How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis”
Finished reading Hayles’ How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis about a week or so ago and overall, I have to say I really enjoyed it … of course with a few “buts” in there for good measure. I really like Hayles’ writing style. I personally find it complex but not complicated. I find her tone very accessible even if I have to stop and think after a paragraph once in a while – I like being forced to ponder what I just read before moving on. The opening chapters got me thinking about the differences between traditional and digital humanities, how they can work together in a complimentary ways, about the different types of reading on and offline and the differences and values of them, the growing trend of interdiscplinary and networked research groups and what that brings to ideas of collaboration and results, and ultimately, the debate between narrative and database moving forward in thinking about structures of information.
As always, I was left highlighting and taking notes for future use – one of my favorites is the idea of “epistemic actions” – which, following Hayles “are understood to modify both the environment and cognitive-embodied processes that adapt to make use of those changes” (p. 98). One of the main goals in the opening chapters addresses ‘attention’ and how it is shaped and therefore, in turn shapes what is being attended to (in the case of the text, media and texts for the most part) … my favorite passage:
Weaving together the strands of the argument so far, I propose that attention is an essential component of technical change…, for it creates from a background of technical ensembles some aspect of their physical characteristics upon to which to focus, thus bringing into existence a new materiality that then becomes the context for technological innovation. Attention is not, however, removed or apart from the technological changes it brings about. Rather, it is engaged in a feedback loop with the technological environment within which it operates through unconscious and nonconscious processes that affect not only the background from which attention selects but also the mechanisms of selection themselves. Thus technical beings and living beings are involved in a continuous reciprocal causation in which both groups change together in coordinated and indeed synergistic ways” (p. 104)
It is particularly that last sentence that grabs me and makes me want to push my research further into this direction, beyond the avatar and back to my original line of inquiry of human-tech interactions and the ways it alters the very concept of identity.
I hate to admit it, but as I got further into the book, it seemed to lose something for me. The first two “interludes” (all the way up until midway through the 5th chpt actually), I started to lose focus. Chapters 5, 6, 7, & 8 were interesting, but I felt they were ‘examples’ of sociotechnical change, and how the role of the concepts of narratives and databases play within it, but each chapter felt extremely descriptive without that ever-craving “wrapping up” of ideas – purpose and point – in each chapter. This was harshest in the final chapter. A fantastically descriptive chapter entitled “Mapping time, charting data: the spatial aesthetic of Mark Z. Danielewski’s Only Revolution”. The chapter really made me want to read Only Revolution and experience this project in time/space/materiality for myself, but as the chapter was coming to an end, I realized that the book was almost finished, and there were only a handful of pages left. When I put the book down, I was left with the feeling that I had read 4 really great ‘examples’ of different arguments the opening 4 chapters developed, but I was left with wanting it tied up in a bow for me at the end. I wanted her to tell me how each chapter worked in terms of restructuring the way we think, perhaps it is wrong, but I wanted it spelled out for me – I wanted to hear HER conclusions, not be left pondering my own … what if I was wrong? What if I missed a key point? What if I just ‘didn’t get it’?!!! … but then, perhaps that is the whole point.
The Call for Abstracts of the 7th Vienna Games Conference FROG13 (27-28 September, 2013) is out. Vienna’s annual Games Conference offers an open international platform for leading game studies researchers and scholars, game designers, researchers and scholars from various other fields, education professionals, and gamers from around the world. The topic of the FROG13 is “Context Matters” and we are looking for contributions that explore, study and examine the contextual and situated aspects of game, design and play. Be a part when the magnificent Vienna Town hall converts into a vibrant playground for players, fans and games researchers.
Call 4 Abstracts
7th Vienna Games Conference
Future and Reality of Gaming – FROG13
Submission Deadline: 25 May 2013
CfP in detail: http://bupp.at/en/service-en/frog/frog-2013/
Exploring and Reframing Games and Play in Context
Vienna City Hall, Austria, Friday 27 to Saturday 28 September 2013; http://bupp.at/frog
So many of my friends have abandoned cable television (or satellite) for view-on-demand platforms like Netflix or Hulu (if you are lucky enough to live in the US). I admit to having enjoyed the convenience of Netflix (even if there offerings here in Canada are quite dated), I cannot argue with the pleasure of being able to watch an entire season of a favorite show in one sitting. But I don’t think I would ever want to completely convert my television viewing to an on-demand system. Besides the lack of options, if I am not set on a specific show or movie, I have a hard time figuring out what I want to watch when browsing through the menu. After spending hours on itunes looking to rent a movie or two for a recent 32 hour train trip (16 hours each way) I was hard pressed to find much even after a hundred recommendations from friends and colleagues, I settled on 4 titles that I admit to being happy with in the end. But that is not saying much in terms of the hundreds of options I had to choose from.
While it is nice to watch what you want when you want it, what I like most about cable television is the ability to simply flip through channels, pausing on something that catches your eye, watching for a few minutes, waiting to see if you get sucked in. I am the first to admit that more times than not, I am irritated at how much I pay for the channels that I have and so many times am disappointed that nothing is on when I want to watch television. But I would not trade my cable bill for the serendipitous moments of viewing bliss. Movies that I would never actively choose to watch (or pay for) playing on late night television end up being a lot better than I would have imagined (or perhaps it simply entertained me to the right degree for that moment in time….). For example, it was around midnight a few weeks back, and I was not tired, didn’t want to read or work, so I flipped through the channels and stumbled on the 1993 Tom Cruise film The Firm. I don’t much care for Tom Cruise, and I have never read a John Grisholm novel – needless to say – it was not a film I would have ever chosen to watch if I had to pick it out of a menu. But I must admit – I really enjoyed it. Or just the other night, everyone had gone to bed, and I turned the television on thinking I would watch some Home and Garden Television (my favorite channel along with the Food Network) for mindless background television, and I stumbled upon a new documentary on the Bones Brigade (skateboarding team from back when…). While I know that I would have chosen that one on my own – but stumbling upon it made it that much sweeter to watch.
Beyond the sense of serendipity I feel when I flip through and land on something I never thought I would enjoy watching, or stumble on a documentary I never knew existed, I also enjoy plotting out my work & life schedule around the time slots of my favorite shows. While it would be nice at times to be able to watch them all at once when I have a lazy Saturday ahead, I like that the shows are paced for me. I enjoy the anticipation you feel when you are forced to wait until next week to see what happens. I like to use them as rewards – knowing that my show comes on at 8pm, hustling to get my work done before then. Of course, I could do the same thing with on-demand viewing, but I am nowhere near as disciplined to wait – and not having a choice of when I can view it makes it feel that much more special (at least to me). Perhaps I am the odd one among my friends, but I still enjoy my cable television =)
[A nod to my friend Nikki Porter, PhD, and her poignant dissertation "Isn't it about time? American television networks in the face of temporal and institutional challenges 1970-1985" ]
2013. Wow. My blog is 9 years old this month! Some years blogging more than others – but still here. One of my resolutions for this year is to blog more. So, here we go!
Another year, another bunch of resolutions … of course, the usual suspects are on the list; eat better, drink less, work out more… I have a 2013 East Coast season pass for the Spartan Races. Aiming to complete all three distances to earn my Trifecta medal… will let you know how that turns out (races are in May, June & July).
But I also want to feed my brain more in 2013. 2012 was great in that I got to spend the majority of it focusing on my research. Most of my intellectual energy went towards getting my own thoughts and ideas out of my head and articulated out on (the proverbial) paper. But I didn’t get to read much for my own intellectual curiosity. I have bought books over the last year that have been gathering dust. On the top of that pile:
- How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis: N. Katherine Hayles. Just started this one a few days ago – loving it so far. Hayles is one of my favorite people to read. Her writing is very readable, and her ideas always thought provoking.
- The Parallax View: Slavoj Zizek. Another one of my favorite thinkers, will read most anything he writes. But there are a few ideas in this one that has made me think about the concept of hybrid-identity… perhaps reading it through will help me articulate a few points that have been bugging me…(on a completely random note, I was so happy to hear that my daughter got to read Zizek in one first year last year [Foundation Year Programme] at University of King’s College - they had such a great reading list!!)
- Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture: Lisa Gitelman. Haven’t read anything by her, but the write-up peaked my interest. I have been wanting to reopen the scope of my reading – the last year spent so focused on game studies and identity literature. I missed reading about the broader aspects of media, culture and technology that I loved so much in my undergrad years.
I have many many more books to read (thanks to a very great friend who donated a large portion of her game / media studies collection to me near the end of last year) – too many to list – but if I can read at least half of them, I would be happy. Besides reading, my goal is to blog about what I am reading – either synopsis’, thoughts they’ve provoked, etc. etc.
I also hope to play more. Videogames, board games, My video game playing has become all but non-existent over the last year or so. I hate to admit it – but not much on the mass market has been appealing to me. Might be time to dig a little deeper than triple A titles and “best of” lists… Any suggestions (ipad, Xbox 360, PS3 & PC) are more than welcome. I am not much of a FPS gal, but will give anything a go. I also want to play more board games. I miss having a group of people to play games from Scrabble to Ticket to Ride since most of my friends have moved away in the last year or two (darn academia!). I wanted to buy a game today, and put it back thinking to myself – who would I play with!? Regardless, games on my radar include
- Cards Against Humanity and its more PC sibling Apples to Apples - got to play both games with a great bunch of people in the last few months; just have to wrangle ‘em up again =)
- Puerto Rico. Played this quite a few times with my good friend Tam (who sadly no longer lives near me). Again, would have to find a few people to lure over to my place to play, but it’s always great fun.
Of course, always open for suggestions too – perhaps it’s time I start getting out of my house and joining in on the board game night’s I’ve been invited to…
My last resolution is to work at least 2 hours a day on my research/work. I would like to submit a journal article or two, and write a book proposal based on my dissertation (but with all the tweaks and changes that have I’ve been pondering since June!). I want to attend a few conferences budget willing, and hopefully get my name out there a bit more. Oh, and find a job in my field that nurtures my brain.
Ultimately, I want to stop dwelling on what hasn’t happened and start focusing on what could happen with some focus and hard work. Here’s to a productive and happy 2013!
I am giving an open talk tomorrow at my old academic stomping grounds tomorrow. If you are in the area, drop by!
RPG: Research. Play. Games. Adventure and Methods in Digital Game Research
Fredericton, NB – The Media Arts & Cultures program and the Dept of Culture and Language Studies at the University of New Brunswick Fredericton will present a public talk by video game researcher Dr. Kelly Boudreau entitled “RPG: Research, Play, Games: Adventure and Methods in Digital Game Research”, taking place at Marshall D’Avray Hall, Room 236 on the UNB campus on Tuesday, November 6th, at 1:15pm to 2:15pm.
The Media Arts & Cultures program at UNB is proud to bring the city of Fredericton this opportunity to hear from a successful game researcher. Dr. Kelly Boudreau has a PhD in Film Studies with a concentration in Game Studies from the University of Montreal. With a background in Sociology, her research focuses on player-avatar hybridity developed through the networked process of play in video games. In her talk, Dr. Boudreau will address innovative methods and opportunities for the academic study of video games.
Dr. Boudreau is a former resident of New Brunswick, hailing from Moncton and studied at UNB as an undergraduate student. She is pleased to return to Fredericton to share her recent research endeavors.
Later in the afternoon on Tuesday, Nov 6th, from 5pm-8pm, the Media Arts and Cultures program will also be launching its new teaching and student workspace in Marshall D’Avray 236. This space is intended for creative and flexible teaching about and with media, as well as a space for students to experience, develop and experiment with media tools. The room has recently undergone the first phase of renovations and includes gaming equipment to support the coursework for Media Arts and Cultures’ new selection of courses on game studies and game design. Join us for a few words about the ongoing project, the announcement of a new name for this space and some refreshments and gameplay into the early evening.
Once again, that’s Marshall D’Avray Hall, Room 236 on the UNB campus on Tuesday, November 6th, 1:15pm and 5:00pm. Both the talk and the launch party are open to the public and admission is free. We hope to see you all there.
Media Arts & Cultures at UNB is an Arts major that combines critical thinking about media and culture with creative work in a variety of digital forms. Understand media by making media with Media Arts & Cultures at UNB.
Geemu and media mix: theoretical approaches of Japanese video games
Edited by Martin Picard and Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon
Kinephanos is a bilingual web-based academic journal. Focusing on questions involving cinema and popular media, Kinephanos encourages interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research. The journal’s primary interests are movies and popular TV series, video games, emerging technologies and fan cultures. The preferred approaches include cinema studies, communication theories, religion sciences, philosophy, cultural studies and media studies.
Despite the global impact of games and series such as Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo, 1985-2012), Final Fantasy (Square Enix, 1987-2012) or Pokémon(Nintendo, 1995-2012), the theoretical stakes of Japanese video games (terebi geemu or simply geemu in Japanese) has managed to only capture the interest of a small group of fans of Japanese popular culture. At first glance, it may be difficult to identify specificities in video games made in Japan other than with the use of some loose categorisations ( J-RPG for example). But are there differences between games coming from particular countries or socio-cultural contexts? If one admits dissimilarities between Japanese and American or European games, what could these be and what could they mean for the gamers?
One way to better identify Japanese video games’ specificity could be to put in perspective their broad integration to an extremely dynamic media environment, the media mix (media mikkusu). While acknowledging video games’ strong ties to manga and anime, one might thus start by investigating this media mix itself, and subsequently, video games’ place within it in order to achieve this goal. Media mix, as Marc Steinberg demonstrates in Anime’s Media Mix (The University of Minnesota Press, 2012), is a popular culture and industry term that has evolved considerably from the 1960s understanding of various media being used in accordance with an advertising goal towards the practice of releasing interconnected works for a wide range of media ‘platforms’ (manga, anime, movies, etc.) and commodity types, generally through the promotion of a main character (kyara) and an attractive fictional world. From their introduction in this media environment at the beginning of the 1980s, Japanese video games are now increasingly getting both integrated and shaped by this system while still being understudied in regard to the ways in which its different modes of production and distribution affect gamers (not only in the actual play activity, but also in their consumption modes and cultural practices), and games’ content.
Therefore, this special issue aims to fill a lack present both in theories and analyses of (trans)national and (trans)cultural aspects of video games in the game studies community, as well as in interdisciplinary studies about the Japanese media culture. Admittedly, video games and popular culture are increasingly becoming subjects of interest within academia. Nevertheless, very few publications and researches have dealt with an examination of video games from a Japanese perspective, or even taken into account the possible specificities of Japanese video games. Since a theory of Japanese video games is cruelly lacking in the academic sphere, papers for this special issue would be an invaluable contribution to the fields of game and media studies, as well as Japanese studies.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
- Japanese video games and Japaneseness
- The specificity of video games within the media mix
- Aesthetics and game design in Japanese video games
- Analyses of contents, themes or recurring motifs in Japanese video games
- Japanese video games and otaku culture
- History of video games in Japan and study of its home market (Japanese video game industry; geemu sentaa [game centers]; cultural practices and preferred genres of Japanese gamers, etc.)
- Transmedia circulations in the media mix
- Amateur media mix productions (doujin geemu)
While Kinephanos privileges publication of thematic issues, we encourage writers to submit papers exceeding the theme, which will be published in each issue.
How to submit?
Please send an abstract of up to 1000 words, in English or French, by February 1st, 2013, to:
The abstract must include the title, the topic and the object(s) that will be studied. Please include bibliographical references, your name, email address, and your institutional affiliation.
Following our approbation sent to you by email (2-3 weeks after the deadline), please send us your completed article by July 1st, 2013.
Kinephanos is a peer-reviewed Web journal. Each article is evaluated by double-blind peer review. Kinephanos does not retain exclusive rights of published texts. However, material submitted must not have been previously published elsewhere. Future versions of the texts published in other periodicals must reference Kinephanos as its original source.
All texts must be written in MLA style. 6,000 words maximum (excluding references but including endnotes) with 1.5 spacing, Times New Roman 12pt fonts. Footnotes must be inserted manually in the text as follows : … (1) and references must be placed within the text as follows (Jenkins 2000, 134). Please include a bibliography with all your references, and 5 keywords, at the end of the text.
For the editorial guidelines, refer to the section Editorial Guidelines.
Kinephanos accepts papers in English and in French