#RPG – Interviewed at Supernerdland

grim-header-final1

You can read my interview at Supernerdland HERE.

If you want me for a podcast, stream, guest blog/vlog or written interview just let me know.

#RPG Wil Wheaton as the Ambassador of Gaming?

standbyme2This blog poses a good question about Wil Wheaton’s new show ‘Titansgrave’, which is trying to do for RPGs what Tabletop did for boardgames.

Personally, I’ve found Tabletop interesting, but it hasn’t really switched me on to any games or helped me understand any of the games that it has covered as a learning aid.

RPGs do need ambassadors. Games as a whole and RPGs in particular have almost always been targets of scorn and panic and so they definitely need people sticking up for them. Is Wheaton the guy to do it though?

I’m afraid I’d have to say no, and I’m going to go into why.

1. He Breaks his own Commandment.

Admittedly I’m horrendously biased on this score, but the short version is that Wheaton is a dick, while professing ‘Don’t be a dick’. I’ve suffered this directly from him in relation to him inciting dogpiling and abuse (he publicised that I made a very brief mistake of exchanging in a whole four tweets with a Twitter bot, idiotic, but no huge deal) and I’m sure I’m not alone on that score.

2. He Came Down on the Wrong Side of Gamergate.

You can’t be a consumer or hobby advocate if you’re anti-consumer or if you’re attacking the hobby you’re supposed to be advocating for. Wheaton is supposedly not an idiot, yet didn’t do the bare minimum of research to successfully identify Gamergate as a (big, and remarkably successful) consumer revolt and instead went with the flow against it, buying into the false narrative of harassment and abuse.

Imagine if Rob Halford had testified in court that heavy metal was genuinely Satanic and that Judas Priest had intended to incite suicide, or that John Denver and Dee Snyder had testified before the PMRC against free expression. If those references are too old for you, imagine if Gabe Newell has sided with Jack Thompson.

Maybe via these, slightly hyperbolic examples, you can grasp some idea of the scale of betrayal we’re talking about here.

This single act has smashed his reputation to tatters amongst the broader gaming community and annihilated his credibility outside the ‘SocJus’ circles, eg, amongst your ‘common gamer’ (just ask #NotYourShield or #Gamergate).

Gamers as a whole, let alone RPG gamers, have long memories when it comes to moral panics against them. Wheaton is participating in a moral panic and this alone, quite apart from anything else, would disqualify him as an advocate for RPGs.

3. He Bottled it on ‘Spiritgate’.

Brought to book by ‘Goony Beard Men’ and ‘Rainbow Haired She-Twinks’ (Airport’s Law) over using the turn of phrase ‘Spirit Animal‘, he apologised.

He apologised for something which required no apology, to people who will never be satisfied by any apology, and didn’t learn the hard but important lesson about outrage culture that he should have. The same thing happened more recently to Joss Whedon who, again, failed to learn the necessary lesson.

TL;DR

The new show probably won’t do any harm, but also probably won’t appeal beyond the existing RPG audience. Wheaton, however, is a terrible ambassador for RPGs. Perhaps a year or more ago I’d have thought differently and while I have a personal bias against the man as a hypocrite and bully I think the reasoning is valid there and on the other points.

You can’t be a hobby or community advocate and, at the same time, lie about and defame members of that community and hobby. It simply doesn’t work.

Somebody call Vin Diesel.

‘Nuff said.

 

#RPG – Gorean RPG News!

Michael is back to work at a good ol’ pace, I’ve signed up a (fourth) artist to do the necessary cartography and they’ve undertaken to get that work finished by the end of the month.

I cannot apologise enough for the delays and I hope you can continue to be patient a little while longer.

Meanwhile, here’s some sketches to appease you :)

gor-illo04_sketch01

larl-hunter_sketch01

vart_sketch01

gor-illo03_sketch01

See? It's not ALL male-dom.

See? It’s not ALL male-dom.

#RPG Cartographer Needed

Having been let down several times now and with time a genuine pressure, I need to commission a map for the Gor RPG.

There are many existing online maps, such as this one, or this one.

The general terrain, locations and overall geography of the world is reasonably well established but contacting existing artists responsible for the better maps has not yielded any results and three separate people commissioned to do the work have had to pull out or have not undertaken the work or made any progress.

As such I need to try again as the final artwork is coming in, to get a map ready for the final publication.

Ideally I should like to have a map that recreates the tiled-floor of Samos of Port Kar (either in squares or a more RPG traditional hex-grid, with major settlements picked out by gemstones set into the tiles. This would be done with a Roman/Greek style to the iconography/map legend, making it somewhat colour/abstract based (ideally it will work in colour OR black and white).

Alternatively time/money requiring, a standard B&W map along normal fantasy map lines will suffice.

Please contact at grim AT postmort DOT demon DOT co DOT uk marked [Gor Map] and include a link to previous work and your rates for:

300-600dpi

A4 B&W hex/grid map.
A4 B&W standard map.
A4 colour hex/grid map.
A4 colour standard map.
Both.

Thanks.

Popular Ludology: Clarifying the Peer Review System

3433237898_273cb76416
I seem to have not expressed the peer review process we’ll be using well enough as some people seem to not understand. This must be my fault so I’ll clarify with reference to the previous post, and I’ll tighten up the language more later on for reference.

When you submit a paper it will be examined by the editorial staff and those who have previously submitted and had their papers accepted. It will be accepted or rejected on the basis of a simple majority (with 50% being a pass). Either way you should be informed.

This is not part of the review process. You could call this a simple ‘smell test’. Does this paper look/sound/smell like bullshit? Do the person’s credentials check out? The vote should only be necessary if there’s any strong objections to a particular process. This is not really any different to a single paragraph dissertation, written in crayon on toilet paper being rejected. Just more formalised.

If your paper is accepted you will be invited to the Popular Ludology email group. You do not have to accept and participation is not mandatory, but it will allow you to participate further as the journal and effort – hopefully – expand.

This group will form a democratic/meritocratic basis for organisational/journal level change in the future. That is its primary aim, to provide a pool of qualified people to vote on procedure etc.

A month will be given for papers to be accepted.

And please do submit. While the ‘theme’ for issue zero is defining and classifying games, any submissions on any game related topic are welcome. I’ve seen and read some interesting things from less conventional scholars and developers over the last ten months and would love to see some of their work more formally published.

At the end of that period the accepted papers will be collated and published in an ‘alpha draft’.

This is the point at which the actual review process starts.

This alpha draft will be made available publicly to anyone and everyone for open review, criticism and objection.

This is the peer review part.

We’re going with an open peer review for several reasons.

  1. It encourages participation.
  2. It encourages non-academic participation.
  3. It reflects a commitment to openness.
  4. There are many existing criticisms of the blind review process (not least that in the digital age it’s hard to keep).
  5. It’s potentially much, much more rigorous.
  6. It allows the authors to directly participate in the process and with their critics.

You should monitor this feedback and, as you feel may be necessary, make changes, clarifications and extensions to your paper over the following month.

Hopefully writers of papers will examine the feedback that they get and make amendments and improvements accordingly.

The final version of the journal (with any amendments, additions, retractions etc from review) will then be published. Papers may only be forcibly withdrawn against your will if 75% or more of the editorial and previously published authors agree in a vote.

This is where, I think, the confusion arises. This is intended more to be a meta-review process. Examining the criticism and seeing whether it is valid and then acting as a qualified group to remove papers that do not hold up, if the author cannot or will not do so themselves.

Voting procedures will be made public in the journal itself.

It should also be noted that we are aiming for a more rigorous scrutiny than currently exists within organisations like DiGRA, and which appears to have let through many papers and presentations that do not seem to hold up to basic standards. It’s also well established, but denied, that there is a great deal of hostility towards the concept of peer review in some of these groups and that what passes for peer review in the humanities is not at all what most people consider that term or procedure to mean.

I’m sure there’ll be lumps and bumps along the way and that idealism will have to give way to pragmatism at various points, but there’s no harm in aiming high from the start.

A great number of objections received so far seem to be based around the idea that this will be rejected by the existing academic structure or that it needs to be changed to be more in line with existing journals and organisations. Given that a central premise behind the setting up of this journal and in seeing a need for it is that there are severe problems with game studies and game studies groups and structures it would seem to be counter-productive to replicate those same issues for unneeded approval, while trying to fix their problems.

The aim here is not to replicate the efforts of DiGRA etc, but to do something different and useful and while I’m sure material good enough for academia will be produced, their approval is not especially wanted. As a pragmatic and practical resource, developer and designer approval and interest is much, much more important.

#Gamergate Steffan’s Challenge – Does DiGRA have an ID Politics Problem?

TL;DR – Even being as generous as I could, Steffan’s ‘25%’ challenge was blown through in an examination of DiGRAs 2015 conference schedule, even being mindful of personal prejudices and erring on the side of caution in judgements. This is only an informal survey, and a bit of fun (in examining how much ‘bollocks’ there was as well) but I believe it is genuinely indicative of a problem and a motivation behind the attempt to create alternatives via L4G and PopLud. Scientifically speaking statistical significance is usually set around 5%, a ‘p-level of 0.05. The results here show a p-level of ~0.32. Perhaps more concerning even than the ID politics, at least for me, was that over half of what was presented was ‘useless bollocks’, and that the presentation and language was nigh impenetrable. It was also disturbing to see how much bias was embraced and openly expressed and how many papers and presentations were concerned with efforts to alter people in some way, re-educate rather than educate, if you will. I do not buy into the DiGRA/DARPA conspiracy theory (funding is just funding) but I do wish people will strive for some objectivity and consider what they’re doing.

Information drawn from…

http://projects.digital-cultures.net/digra2015/files/2014/09/DiGRA2015_program.pdf

Some presentations were not detailed enough to make a judgement and so were excluded, as were some workshops and all ‘break activities’.

Presentation Title
ID Politics?
(Running total)
Bollocks?
(Running Total)
Total

From Game Studies to Studies of Play in Society

1

1

1

Game Elements-Attributes Model: a First Step towards a Structured Comparison of Educational Games

2

2

Costume Agency in German LARP

3

3

The Ludic, the Cinematic and the Paratextual: Towards a Typology of Video Game Trailers

4

4

Minigames as Metaleptic Self-Referentiality

5

5

Subversive Narrative Emergence in Gamer Poop: Queering Video Game Stories and Selves

2

6

6

Moral Panics in and Around 1980s Videogames

3

7

Roleplaying and Rituals For Heritage Orientated Games

4

8

EVE is Real

5

7

9

The Transtextual Screen: Exploring Crossmedia Intertextuality in Competitive Games and eSports

8

10

Start Up, Cash In, Sell Out, Bro Down: The Historical, Social, and Technological Context of a Toxic New Gaming Public

6

9

11

You Always BM in Hearthstone: Players’ Negotiation of Limited Communication Affordances

12

Better Off Alone? On the Significance of Asocial Gaming

7

10

13

Ludic Selfies: Playing with Mobile Phones in Grand Theft Auto V

11

14

Selective Realism: Suffering, Violence, and War in First- and Third-Person Shooters

8

12

15

Animal Crossing: New Leaf and The Diversity of Horror in Video Games

9

13

16

The Limits of the Evolution of Female Characters in the Bioshock Franchise

10

14

17

Authors from 3 continents presenting the book by Mark Wolf (ed.) Video Games Around the World

18

Real World, Real Monsters: Adapting Gothic Horror for Location-Based Augmented-Reality Games

19

Who Needs Enemies? Architecture as Sole or Dominant Agent in Game Design

20

GameChanger: Designing Co-Located Games that Utilize Player Proximity

21

The Gamification of the Gothic

15

22

A Multimodal Discourse Analysis of Video Games: A Ludonarrative Model

16

23

Analyzing Game Discourse Using Moral Foundations Theory

11

17

24

Exploring Multimodal Annotation of Videogames

18

25

A Double-Edged Sword: Work Practices in a Norwegian Game Company

26

App advertising: The rise of the player commodity

27

On Trash and Games – Tracing the Problems Targeted by Gamification

19

28

Central European Game Studies panel: History and the state of the art of game studies in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic

29

Independent gamework and identity: Social problems and subjective nuances

12

20

30

Hybrid Play and the Aesthetics of Recruitment

31

Game Studies in the Cinquecento

21

32

Games as a Genre of Historical Discourse. The Past on Fast Forward

33

It‘s the game you don‘t play: Sonic X-Treme and its self-appointed keepers

22

34

Towards a ludonarrative toolbox

23

35

Utopia, Ludonarrative Archaeologies and Cultural Knowledge

24

36

The Implied Player: between the Structural and the Fragmentary

13

25

37

Gotta Go Fast: A Study in Speedrunning

38

Bullet Hell: The Globalized Growth of danmaku games and the Digital Culture of High Scores and World Records

39

Chicago‘s Pinball Paradox: Understanding the Role of Pinball Regulation in Early Videogame Censorship

14

40

Piece of Art” or “Nice to Have”: What Professional Video Game Critics Say About Music in Games

26

41

Procedural Deformation and the Close Playing /Reading of Code: An Analysis of Jason Rohrer’s Code in Passage

27

42

Designing the Future of Democracy – Postmortem of the Near Future Expansion for Democracy 3

28

43

How to Outplay a Power Outage

44

Player Superstition as a Design Resource

29

45

Workshop: Nonlinear Histories of Independent games

46

Analysing Cultural Heritage and its Representation in Video Games

15

47

Early Computer Game Genre Preferences (1980-1984)

48

Time to Reminisce and Die: Representing Old Age in Art Games

16

30

49

Workshop: Games and Transgressive Aesthetics

17

31

50

Ethical Recognition of Marginalized Groups in Digital Games Culture

18

32

51

The Concept and Research of Gendered Game Culture

19

33

52

Hackers and Cyborgs: Binary Domain and Two Formative Videogame Technicities

20

34

53

Get Milk – A Game of Lenses

21

35

54

Deep Springs and Dry Wells: A Study of the Casual Civic Game Get Water!

55

Keep on Moving: Designing a Physiotherapeutic Exergame for Different Devices and Exercises

56

The persuasive properties of games for change. A case based analysis

22

36

57

How do ‚gamers‘ empathise? Suspension of disbelief and narrative empathy in games

23

37

58

Libidinal Player Types Framework for Gamification

38

59

The Well-Played MOBA: How DotA 2 and League of Legends use Dramatic Dynamics

60

Editors of Play: The Scripts and Practices of Co-creativity in Minecraft and LittleBigPlanet

39

61

Videogames and Slavery

24

62

Playful Laboratories. The significance of games for knowledge production in the digital age

63

Protest games in the 1980s Czechoslovakia: Beyond procedural rhetoric

64

Between the political and the post-political: exposing and concealing social conflicts in Polish history-themed board games

65

Inviting Grief into Games: The Game Design Process as Personal Dialogue

25

40

66

Digitising Boardgames: Issues and Tensions

67

Co-creative Game Design in MMORPGs

68

International Cultures of Creativity and Imitation

26

69

God and Gods in Digital Games

70

The Palimpsest and Gesamtkunstwerk of Dead Space: a Close Readin

41

71

The Stanley Parable: Dystopia and the Implied Player

27

42

72

Applying the Two-Factor Theory to the PLAY Heuristics

43

73

Defining the Global Ludo Polychotomy

74

The Tragedy of Betrayal: How the design of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus elicits emotion

75

Creating Stealth Game Interventions for Attitude and Behavior Change: An “Embedded Design” Model

76

The Pressures of Games on History

44

77

#GamerGate Birds of a Feather Session

28

45

78

Towards a historical analysis of the video game experience. The evolution of marketing discourse in the specialized press (1981-1995)

46

79

How gaming became sexist: a study of UK gaming magazines 1981-1995

29

47

80

Electronic Arts versus Blizzard: Real Games and the Large Studios that Make Them

81

Is Hacking the Brain the Future of Gaming?

82

Game and Videogame Ontologies

48

83

Teaching Game Studies: Course Post-Mortems and Syllabus Design

84

The Use of Theory in Designing a Serious Game for the Reduction of Cognitive Biases

30

49

85

How enterprises play: Towards a taxonomy for enterprise gamification

86

Understanding Player Experience Through the Use of Similarity Matrix

87

The Authority of Discourse Communities. Disseminating Technological and Industrial Celebration from Marketers to Academics.

50

88

Roguelike Universe: Drawing 36 Years of Roguelike Influence

89

Playing between rules: negotiating the ludic innovations of the MOBA genre

90

Interactive storytelling for open game worlds.

91

Taking a Look at the Player’s Gaze: The Effects of Gaze Visualizations on the Perceived Presence in Games

92

Cues and insinuations: Indicating affordances of non-player character using visual indicators

93

Failed Games: Lessons Learned from Promising but Problematic Game Prototypes in Designing for Diversity

31

51

94

From Theory-Based Design to Validation and Back

52

95

The Game of Georg Klaus

96

GameOff – a critical analysis of a digital game exhibition

97

Videogames as ‘Minor Literature’: Reading Videogame Stories through Paratexts

53

98

Whose mind is the signal? Focalization in video game narratives

32

54

99

Ideological Narratives of Play In Tropico 4 and Crusader Kings II

33

55

100

How gaming achieves popularity. The case of The Smash Brothers

101

Research on Prosocial Behaviors in Video Games: Content Analysis and Empirical Study

34

56

102

I wanna be a…”; the role(s) of gaming in teenage boys‘ decisions to study ICT

35

103

Problem gaming in an everyday perspective

104

What’s so funny about glitches: The practice of making glitch based gameplay videos

57

105

Video Games and the Culture of Laughter

58

106

The Joy of Discovery, Experimentation or Just Exploitation? The Roles of Glitches in Video Game Culture

59

107

Systematic Analysis of In-game Purchases and Social Features of Mobile Social Games in Japan

108

Exploring Playful Experiences in Social Network Games

109

Reflecting on the History of the Game Engine in Japan

110

Design and Role of Play Features in LEGO Brand Toys

111

Exploring ‘Iteration’ in Game Development: Elaborative, Opportunistic and Omissive

112

The jumpscare and the gamergasm: Embodied displays of affect in gaming videos

113

Intersecting Vulnerabilities in Game Culture: The Effects of Inequities and Stereotype Threat on Player Confidence, Identification and Persistence Across Gender and Race

36

60

114

Towards a non-binary configuration of coalition: Feminism, queer theory, and GamerGate

37

61

115

Affective and Bodily Involvement in Children’s Tablet Play

116

Gaming Experience as a Prerequisite for the Adoption of Digital Games in the Classroom?

117

A Practical Model for Exploring the Usefulness of Games for Classrooms

118

Integrating the Threads of Game Studies? Toward a Unified Account of Game, Gameplay, Player, Value and Aesthetics

62

119

We are Never Alone: Sharing Culture through “World Games”

38

120

Dealing with Uncertainty. Ludic Epistemology in an Age of new Essentialisms

63

121

Typology of realisms. An ontology-based model of types of realism in video games.

64

122

Shooting the game: filming and editing in video games

123

What We Leave Out: Diversity, Games, and Paying-to-Win

39

124

The player/ game dualism and its dialectical resolution: philosophical praxis, mimesis and techne

65

125

Workshop: Meta-Games and Meta-Gaming. An Anthology

126

Authenticity Quest: On the conditions of possibility for ‘being yourself’ in a computer game

40

127

Forced to Be Free, Partially: Participation Norms in Video Gaming Encounter

66

128

The Gaiety: Meditations on Arcade Player Practices

67

129

Digital gaming as a gendered technology: Nerdcore porn, intimacy and control

41

68

130

Poetic Thought: Making and thinking for transdisciplinary innovation

69

131

Playing with Love: Representations and Exclusions in Narrative and Mechanics

42

70

132

Hegemony As Process? The Communication of Ideology in Video Games and Its Effects

43

71

133

Performing in MOBAs: The Myth of Neutral Bodies and Game Design

44

72

134

Technological innovation and game design

135

On Board Games Played On Tablets, Smartphones, and other Computing Devices

136

Commodifying Gameplay

137

       

Total

44

72

137

Percentage

32.1

52.6

Notes:

This informal survey/study is a response to Steffan B’s challenge to examine DiGRA’s work and to show an inherent bias of 25% or more towards feminist/identity politics presentations and work.

25% is quite a high margin. Speaking for myself I would consider 5% (a standard definition of ‘significance’ in scientific circles) to be indicative of a problem, especially in a field so wide and diverse as gaming.

The conference’s theme was diversity, so one would expect a higher percentage of presented material to reflect this theme, so keep that in mind. As such this analysis is only a snapshop of DiGRA in 2015 reflected through their conference – which also occurred during #Gamergate – something that may also skew results.

I am one person, with a bias, who believes going into this that DiGRA has a major problem and that it, and the established Game Studies/Ludology structure needs challenge and reform. That said I also had biases that worked in their favour, my fondness for history for example. In an attempt to counter any bias I also erred on the side of caution (in DiGRA’s favour) wherever I felt there was sufficient questions about whether a topic or presentation was ID politics or not.

Definitionally, I considered ID politics to be at play with relation to the following broad topics. Diversity, representation, feminism, race and other *isms, PoMo philosophical denial of objectivity and, in a couple of places, a staggering lack of self-examination when reporting on past moral panics, without recognising that DiGRA is producing and perpetuating a current moral panic about representation and diversity.

As a little side bit of fun for myself I also examined the articles for whether they were ‘bollocks’ or not. ‘Bollocks’ being a slang term not dissimilar to ‘bullshit’ or ‘pure applesauce’ as Scalia might put it. Did these articles pass the smell test? Were they nothing but opinion dressed up in shiny language? Were they functionally useless? Were they offering any useful insight at all?

There were problems accessing some papers and presentations. The conference was not well documented and the papers from which the presentations were drawn were often hard to find or inaccessible.

It’s important to note a couple more things here.

  1. It is possible for ID politics motivated studies to produce useful and rigorous information. It’s just vanishingly rare. The mere invocation of ID politics does not, itself, render a study useless.

  2. Much of the material that got a pass may still be ID politics or bollocks.

  3. There was very little that I would have considered good enough to publish in Popular Ludology. Even things that escaped the ID or Bollocks labels were often useless and offered no insight into game design or betterment.

I have a few suggestions for DiGRA and contributors for the future.

  1. I am not an unintelligent guy and do not lack for vocabulary, even specialist vocabulary, yet many of these papers were virtually impenetrable in their language and presentation even for me. You need to work on your communication skills and this has reinforced for me the necessity of PopLud aiming for a more readable presentation.

  2. Video your panels and presentations.

  3. Provide links and/or downloads to the papers and materials presented at your conferences. Remote and post-hoc participation improves conferences.

As it happens, Steffan’s challenge was met, with a 32% level of ID politics. Perhaps more concerning was that well over half (52%) was bollocks. Bollocks material, while not directly harmful, is a huge waste of time and effort that could otherwise be spent genuinely improving games. Very few presentations or paper here, even from the non-bollocks ones, would be considered for use in PopLud. Only 21 (15.3%) were material I would consider suitable for publishing – and this is purely on the basis of whether they contribute in any useful fashion to understanding or improving games.

This is a problem.

#RPG – PROJECT Hardcopy AVAILABLE!

You can grab yours here, or via your localised Lulu store.

BUY PROJECT HERE

PROJECT is a role-playing game about heroic guardians of reality. After a terrible, supernatural disaster the world has been rent asunder and strange things have begun to bleed in all around the edges. Humanity has recovered to an extent and continues to fight these beings and forces from beyond known as ‘Entities’.

The group PROJECT is at the forefront of humanity’s defence, using the strange technologies and abilities of the Entities against them and reasserting reality one bloody fight at a time. In the game you will take the role of one of the heroic agents of PROJECT, modified through barely understood technology and thrown against the strange and deadly beings and events that press in on the Earth from its neighbouring dimensions and parallels.

In the process you may begin to discover things that you wish you didn’t know and that the battle for reality is not as black and white as you have been indoctrinated to think.