The Rolling Stones
Satisfaction: That’s fixed in place.
Satisfaction: That’s fixed in place.
A couple of quick links worth reading:
From the Chronicle of Higher Education, Matt Kirschenbaum muses on the challenges and opportunities for future literary studies in an era when the material basis of authorship—including journals, notes, correspondence, and manuscripts—is increasingly born-digital in hamlet.doc.
And over at if:book, Dan Visel considers tabs, nonlinearity, and parallel reading styles in tab, tab, tab.
This kind of stuff is my music to my ears.
May mega-angels and their minions save the game industry…
The critics are unanimous as well: 98% on rotten tomatoes.
While for me the concern (if there ever was one) was sufficiently addressed recently by designer Clint Hocking, for mainstream games within popular culture, at a minimum — I’m interested to read the overviews, interviews and personal views, situated more in the realm of high art, from the new volume Videogames and Art, edited by Andy Clarke and Grethe Mitchell.
…Contributors provide chapters on, to name but a few, the relationships between videogame aesthetics and Japanese pictorial art, the development of Machinima and game art “modding”; videogames as literary devices; game concept art and fan art, the relationship between fine art and videogame art.
The book also includes interviews with major videogame artists such as Brody Condon, Joseph Delappe, JODI and Tobias Bernstrup.
The relationship between videogame art and the outside world threads throughout, and is also discussed in chapters outlining the use of artistic game mods in initiating discussion on Albanian blood feuds and on the development of politically challenging independent games.
The videogame industry is acknowledged and also challenged, by contributors looking for answers as to whether mainstream videogames can ever be an art form.
At least one chapter has a bent towards the “are games stories?” question: Jim Andrews’ paper “Videogames as Literary Devices”.
It’s been over two years since Façade’s release, and bits of coverage continue to appear in a variety of formats. In the unlikely event you’re not sick to death of it, please read on. (more…)
Hypertext innovator Stuart Moulthrop has been a guest researcher at the University of Bergen for the past two weeks. Over the past couple of days, Stuart gave a couple of wonderful lectures. In the first Stuart proposed that we supplant the commonplace notion of “content” based on withholding or separating off with the idea of “d8a” (pronounced ‘dataleet’), based on the ideas of giving in and giving out. Moulthrop encouraged the audience to consider new forms of secondary literacy based on an understanding of participatory procedurality. In his second presentation, today, Stuart showed several newer pieces of his electronic writing, including a brand new work, “Under Language,” in which the users’ interaction with parts of the poem/game affect the procedural properties of the work. Based on your reading of/interaction with particular lines of the poem, you might for instance, crash it, change its visual presentation, adjust its volume, or change a variety of its other properties. It is a particularly interesting work from the perspective of “codework” because the operations of the program are part and parcel of the work as it is presented to its reader in a particularly intriguing way that would be difficult for me to explain until you see the program in operation. “Under Language” is a work in progress, that Stuart has been working on while he has been at UiB, and one that I think will be interesting to a lot of people interested in codework and procedural literacy when it is published. But that is not what this post is about. This post is to notify you that we have discovered what the future of hypertext is all about. It is a Norwegian band named, simply, Hypertext. Moulthrop and I will attend their show tomorrow night in Bergen.
Ian Horswill is a researcher and professor at Northwestern University well-known for, among other things, his excellent AI, robotics and vision work, leading a computer science meets arts-and-entertainment lab whose members included Robin Hunicke (now MySims design lead) and Rob Zubek (of Breakup Conversation fame), and administrator of a progressive Animate Arts curriculum at Northwestern.
Ian is now working on some AI-based interactive characters with procedural animation, and blogging about it.
This is very exciting. I’ve known Ian for over 10 years, he’s a regular at the AAAI meetings and GDC, a long-time supporter of our crazy ideas, an encouragement for me as an industry guy to wade into academic waters, a member of Michael’s thesis committee, the list goes on.
His blog “Title TK” is added to the blogroll.
It’s all just going to be tweaking from now until spring for Will Wright’s magnum opus, 1up says after an encounter with the pre-release game at the Leipzig Games Convention.
Leonarado/Olats, the French branch of Leonardo, have recently published an online book, Phillipe Bootz’s Les Basiques : La Littérature numérique. A quick browse based on sketchy French language skills suggests that the extensively hyperlinked 15 chapter document provides a very good historical introduction to some forms of electronic writing, with a particular focus on francophone work, from the prehistory of electronic writing in avant-garde traditions, through hypertext, combinatory forms, and animated interactive poetry. Les Basiques would make a nice companion to N. Katherine Hayles’s Electronic Literature: What is it?.
A new issue of the Iowa Review Web has been published, guest-edited by Stephanie Strickland and Marjorie Coverely Luesebrink, and featuring the work of Donna Leishman. Titled “MultiModal Coding: Jason Nelson, Donna Leishman and Electronic Writing,” the issue features an in-depth double interview of the two artists, essays by each artist on the other’s work, essays by Talan Memmott on Leishman and Nelson’s work, and links to their works, including Leishman’s Deviant, Nelson’s Pandemic Rooms and much more. The issue provides a good case study on these two innovative electronic authors. I also note that TIRWeb is sporting a new interface. I think I like it better than the last, though I’m still not sure if I’m completely sold on the design.
You don’t realize it, but while you’ve been innocently building Tesla coils and general infantry, Grand Text Auto has been in ur museum installing ur art.
Starting October 4, 2007, the Beall Center for Art + Technology at the University of California, Irvine will be multiplied by 256 and divided by zero. And besides that, the Beall Center will host the exhibition Grand Text Auto, featuring work by the six of us: Noah Wardrip-Fruin / Mary Flanagan / Michael Mateas / Andrew Stern / Nick Montfort / Scott Rettberg.
There have a been a few blog-to-book transfers, but this exhibit and the associated events are, as far as we know, the first time blog has had such a manifestation in the physical space of an art gallery. (more…)
I’m just now getting a chance to write briefly about the July 28-29 Classic Gaming Expo, where I met up with Ian Bogost, among others, to work further on our book Video Computer System: The Atari 2600 Platform. Ian has a nice writeup at Gamasutra, more thoughtful than I will manage to offer here.
More than the frenzy of cartridge-swapping, I enjoyed writing and catching up with various interactive fiction folks, including the author of Fallacy of Dawn, the developer of the incredible Atari 2600 title Lord of the Rings, and the filmmaker behind Get Lamp.
There were some good anecdotes swapped, too. I liked Pong engineer Al Alcorn’s presentation the best; he put the birth of Atari in the context of the late 1960s, student protests, and the Vietnam War. Another gem was the talk by Jay Smith about the development of the groundbreaking Microvision and Vectrix systems. And other classic programmers regaled the crowd with technical details as well as amusing stories.
So, it’s true that CGE didn’t have the depth and breadth of discussion of a good academic conference, and there wasn’t much in the way of public outreach, and it was held in a city that would have made it hard for Harrison Bergeron to form a coherent thought. Still, you can’t be too choosy when it comes to classic game get-togethers. CGE was good a place to learn further about classic games, to see the artifacts of classic gaming, and to hear from some of those who were involved in creating those games. And you got to play games, too! If the event can turn into something better and more open, that will be great, too, but there were quite a few good things about this one.
Here are three excellent new articles, two in the Wall Street Journal and one from the New York Times.
“Stuck Holding the Electronic Leash“. To young kids, virtual pets continue to be a successful game genre; in fact some companies are cashing in like never before. Impressive!
Nearly 40% of men and 53% of women who play online games said their virtual friends were equal to or better than their real-life friends, according to a survey of 30,000 gamers … More than a quarter of gamers said the emotional highlight of the past week occurred in a computer world …
… technological advances could produce a computer with more processing power than all the brains in the world, and that advanced humans, or “posthumans,” could run “ancestor simulations” of their evolutionary history by creating virtual worlds inhabited by virtual people with fully developed virtual nervous systems. … “My gut feeling, and it’s nothing more than that,” he says, “is that there’s a 20 percent chance we’re living in a computer simulation.”
And speaking of the potential of games, don’t miss Clint Hocking’s thoughful rebuttal to Roger Ebert’s continuing narrowmindedness on the topic. (Although the comments have been hijacked by an insane troll from Canada.)
Check out Dennis G. Jerz’s excellent article about Adventure’s cave and Adventure’s code, (link updated) now out in the second number of Digital Humanities Quarterly and already trumpeted in Boing Boing.
The photos provide a nice hook and make a strong argument that it’s worthwhile looking at the real places digital works represent. These places are often not what we’d expect, and the differences can tell us something interesting about the places in question, or perhaps about our imaginations. Beyond the photos and the texts they correspond to, there is also some very nice analysis of the subculture of caving in this piece, and some compelling description of how it can be used to read the spaces and artifacts of the first text adventure. Finally, Jerz not only went to the earthy source of all interactive fiction cave-games; he took a parallel journey into Adventure’s source code, uncovering a great deal about the remote collaboration between Crowther and Woods. Overall, there’s plenty for IF fans and digital humanists to explore, and treasures to find.
I was fascinated to find that this talk, “Dungeons and Hyperlinks: Electronic Literature and Digital Narratives from Text Adventures to Hypertext,” was given recently at the hackerfest called Chaos Communication Camp 2007. It covers the development of a MUD, text adventure, and finally a Shockwave game based on Nika Bertram’s novel Der Kahuna Modus (Kahuna Mode). The Shockwave game is available, although it doesn’t run on Intel Macs, which makes it not available to me. I can’t find the Inform interactive fiction on the IF Archive or the author’s site. Even a trip to the Kahuna Mode MUD didn’t help me locate the warez. If anyone finds this, please comment about where it is.
And, the MC Frontalot video It Is Pitch Dark, shot by Jason Scott for his Get Lamp documentary on interactive fiction, has been semi-released. (Update: fully released; third from the top.) If you choke up to be a member of Frontalot’s Valued Sucker program, you can watch the video now in DivX or Quicktime format. Otherwise, like a differently-broken, more recent version of NeoOffice, you will eventually be able to find it online for zero dollars.
My dissertation, “Generating Narrative Variation in Interactive Fiction,” is now online.
If my slides and defense summary interested you, you can check out this long form writeup of my work. I guess there will be an “official” version coming from ProQuest/UMI before too long, too, via their open access option. I think that “official” in this case will mean that the papers I printed out will be scanned in again, imbuing the result with the authority of the page.
[picks jaw off floor]
what’s cable TV coming to??!?!
This Saturday, Sunday, and Monday UCSD’s Calit2 and CRCA will host a great selection of performances, installations, and screenings in collaboration with the SIGGRAPH 2007 Art Gallery. You can see “Crossing the Line” (Peter Jackson’s 4k short film), “Takashi’s Season” (live shadow puppets combined with animation), ATLAS in Silico (playful interaction with our new metaphor for life, metagenomics, on a 100 million pixel display), my collaborative literary game project Screen (running on a 12-screen version of UCSD’s new StarCave), and much more.
Members of the public are invited to volunteer, whereas those who are registered for SIGGRAPH (at any level) can sign up at the convention center (there are shuttles to UCSD every 20 minutes). If you’re not yet planning to come to SIGGRAPH, consider signing up for an “Exhibits Plus One Day” pass ($40) to see the sights at the convention center and register for the three days of art at UCSD. If you’re in town for Sandbox, early to SIGGRAPH, or just located near enough to come by, you’re in for a treat.
There are two new games coming out that look extraordinarily beautiful to me, based on their screenshots and video footage. Interestingly, in both cases, the developers have gone out of their way to make their visuals resemble pre-digital media forms: grainy, streaking, analog video art, and physical arts-and-crafts dioramas, respectively.
The standout item from the aforementioned IndieCade collection at E3 is (the premiere?) of The Night Journey, by celebrated video artist Bill Viola (I’m a big fan) and the USC EA Game Innovation Lab, in this effort led by Tracy Fullerton. Also see the description at USC’s site. Watch game footage at the IndieCade page. Haunting! (Viola has experimented with interactivity before, with Tree of Knowledge.)
Second is the stunning, much anticipated Little Big Planet, for which new in-game footage was recently released. For my money (and I might just have to purchase a PS3 so I can play!) it has the best art direction for a game I’ve ever seen, and the gameplay itself looks fabulous. Watch the trailer here, see more screenshots here.
Are these so beautiful because we’re nostalgic for the pre-digital days of yore? Or because it’s a pleasurable contrast to see older forms lovingly recreated in newer media? Or because those older forms are more mature, familiar and comfortable to us?
Or maybe it’s just that the craftspeople in these works simply did a damn good job.
Lists are sometimes interesting and informative; sometimes exclusive and off-putting (often the case with ranked lists), and sometimes seemingly arbitrary — and sometimes all three simultaneously! Of course, they’re always debatable: for example, witness the ongoing good debate over a canonical list of games.
The blog Indygamer, similar to Jay is Games or GameTunnel, compiles a large collection of reviews of indie games; here’s the variety of games discussed there last month alone. Yesterday one of the Indygamer editors posted a list of his favorite 27 art games. Taken as one guy’s opinion, it’s an interesting list, with some cool stuff I’ve not heard of that I’d like to play.
Another collection, probably with less for GTxA readers to discover (an exception blogged in my next post), is the showcase of indie games at E3 last month, claiming to “represent the indie scene”. The show was curated by IndieCade, which intends to hold a festival in 2008, that will probably effectively take the place of Slamdance as a high-profile annual indie game festival alternative to the Game Developer Conference’s IGF. (Note Slamdance’s Sam Roberts is now an IndieCader, their Festival Director.)
The list goes on… GameTunnel’s top 100 indie games they’ve reviewed since 2004 (Façade squeaks in at #99! :-D ) , Edge Magazine’s top 100 best games of all time, Next Generation’s top 100 for the 21st century…
In one small step for literature on the web, the MLA International Bibliography has decided to index scholarly web sites including thematic research collections, electronic archives, portals, language maps, research tools, teaching tools, blogs, discussion list archives, and video presentations. It’s great to see the MLA begin to acknowledge that much of the conversation and practice of literary studies now takes place on the web. The guidelines for inclusion are however much in line with peer-review practices of print journals: each site must be examined by an indexer; relate to language and literature; identify the editor and editorial board; have a stated editorial policy; identify the publisher, sponsoring organization, or both; and provide for archiving. I’m not sure if literary sites that would clearly fall into the common practice of literature on the web, such as The Iowa Review Web, the electronic book review, or the Electronic Literature Collection would necessarily meet all of these criteria. Does the fact that ebr doesn’t have a formal editorial board, for instance, mean that it should not be indexed, in spite of the fact that it has been the home of high-quality literary discourse for more than a decade? It will be interesting to see how this project pans out. To bring web sites to the attention of the MLA for consideration in the bibliography, send an email message that includes the URL to email@example.com.
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